Aelinor had just finished her morning chores around her hut in the deep woods and was looking for the herbs and other plants that reinforced her reputation as a witch. She didn't much care for being called a witch, but the locals thought that her nostrums and potions were magic. She had been at the job of hedge witch for most of her adult 30 years and expected to die of old age any time now. But, since there was no one else around who knew as much as she did about the medicinal properties of plants, she felt that she just had to keep on doing her job as long as she was able.
Aelinor had never married, partly because she wanted to stay out of the sight of the local lord. If she could hide from him, she could avoid serving the mandatory 2 weeks in the castle brothel every year. Also, she had never really seen a man who could hold her interest for more than a few minutes. So many men seemed intent on taking advantage of their superior status over women. Most men were so afraid that she would turn them into a toad that they tended to avoid her. Since she had long ago learned to satisfy her sexual needs by herself, she had no need for a man.
On this day, she had decided to visit a part of the woods that was usually avoided because of its reputation for harboring a malign spirit. She didn't believe in such things, but she had not visited the area before because of its distance from her hut. She had so thoroughly picked over her usual haunts that she was forced into this virgin territory, and she had high hopes of finding what she needed before winter set in.
She was running a quick survey to see just what was available before picking her plants. Suddenly, she heard a voice in her head. At last! A female, and one mature enough that she won't panic when I talk to her ... Aelinor, please listen to me; I won't harm you, but I need to talk to you. You can answer me by just thinking what you want to say.
"Who are you, and how are you able to play this trick on me?"
Aelinor, please pay attention! I told you that you don't have to talk out loud, just thinking of what you want to say is sufficient. I am harmless to you. I am not human; I am not a spirit; I am a machine. Please calm down and let me explain why I am here and what I need from you.
"OK ... oops ... sorry." I don't know what a machine is; I don't know if I have ever seen one. You haven't told me your name, you must have one. I would be more comfortable talking to you if I had a name to use. And how do you know my name; I never told it to you!
You can call me Armor. I don't have any other name, but that word describes me quite well. I was sent here to rid Earth of the invaders. The Glaxoi have taken over the Earth and are running it for their convenience and amusement.
No, Armor, that can't be true. I have seen High King Achmed with my own eyes. He is just a human as I am!
I am sorry to tell you this, Aelinor, but that was a Glaxan wearing the body of Achmed. The Glaxoi are beings of pure energy who can take over the body of an organic being, such as a human, and wear that body just like a suit of clothes. The difference is, once they don the body, they cannot escape it. Kill the body and the Glaxan dies along with it.
OK, Armor, for the purpose of discussion, I'll accept your statements, but why would I want to kill the Glaxoi?
Oh, joy! Aelinor, I am so glad that you have a mind that can reason and question; that will make things so much easier once you fully believe me. The Glaxoi invaded Earth approximately 11,472 years ago. Close your eyes and let me show you what Earth was like before the Glaxoi showed up.
Scenes of everyday life flashed through Aelinor's brain, each scene staying just long enough to register what she was "seeing." This seemed to go on for hours as Aelinor was shown slices of life on Earth during the 22nd century. She got a general feeling of happiness from the people she observed, with no hint of the general dread that everybody experienced in her time.
Armor, that was wonderful. Was it true? Did people really live like that over 11,000 years ago?
Yes, Aelinor, all of what you saw was true, and I did not edit the scenes just to show you the good parts. All of human life was as happy as that.
In that case, why did it change, and why are we living the miserable existence we are now?
It was all because of the Glaxoi. They are beings of pure energy and their food is derived from the emotions of organic beings. The more intelligent the being, the more food the Glaxoi are able to extract. The stronger the emotions, the better "tasting" the extracted food becomes. Humans are capable of supplying the Glaxoi with the highest quality food they can find anywhere in the galaxy. For the Glaxoi, living on Earth is like having a continuous banquet.
The greatest problem, from the human point of view, is that the most tasty food comes from emotions generated by pain and misery. As an example, take the castle brothel. The pleasure the men might feel is like scraps of bread, while the pain and humiliation that the women feel is like the finest cut of meat cooked to perfection. Sure, they could live off of what the men supply, but they truly enjoy what they take from the women. The social structure of Earth has been changed by the Glaxoi to promote these feelings of misery and dread.
OK, Armor, let's say that I believe you, and I'm close to doing that, what can I do to change things?
I thought that you would see it my way, Aelinor, once you had the whole picture. The first thing you need to do is look down at your feet. Just to your right is a small amulet lying on the ground. Slip that on, and we can go from there.
Aelinor looked down where Armor had instructed and saw a small amulet on a golden chain. It was quite beautiful, and it was a piece of jewelery that any woman would be pleased to wear. She slipped it over her head and was immediately struck a mighty mental blow! Aelinor actually staggered from the shock, but also immediately realized that it was worth the momentary discomfort. She now had available the entire body of knowledge of the human race up until approximately 11,000 year ago. After that, the memories were limited to what Armor had actually observed, and that was not much, considering that he had spent most of that time in a obscure segment of a forest.
She could see, now, why this area had the reputation of being haunted. Every female that had come his way had been greeted by Armor, and she had run away after no more than a few exchanges of thoughts with Armor. For over 11,000 years, Armor had been trying to recruit a savior for Earth, and Aelinor had been the first one to hear the whole story without panicking. By the nature of his construction, he had been forced to ignore men as potential candidates.
Aelinor could now see a kind of glow off to one side. She seemed to be pulled toward it by an irresistible attraction. Armor said, What you see in front of you is my being. I am a suit of armor which will let you identify those human bodies occupied by Glaxoi. I will also render you well nigh invincible and invulnerable. Some things can harm you while you are wearing me, but none of them were available to the Glaxoi when I was constructed. The next step is for you to don me, but I must warn you that once you put me on your body, you can never take me off. If you are willing to become the hero needed to free Earth from its bondage, remove every bit of your clothing, but retain the amulet. As you don me, I will conform to your body and become like a second skin.
Aelinor was absolutely enraptured by the idea that she could return Earth to the near paradise that it had been before the Glaxoi had arrived, so she unhesitatingly followed Armor's instructions. The order she was to use in donning Armor was obvious, so she proceeded with alacrity. The first item was the "pants" which provided protection from the waist to the ankles. As she slipped on the pants, she felt something push against her urethrae and anus, tubes seemed to slip inside her painlessly. When the tubes were in place, she could no longer feel them. As soon as they slipped into place, she knew that she would no longer have to piss or shit like ordinary people; Armor would handle that for her. She had also felt something slide into her vagina and she realized that she would no longer be troubled by her menstrual cycle.
The rest of the armor went on easily, but held no surprises like she had gotten around her crotch. She slipped into her helmet and Armor completely surrounded her. Armor said, Now you know why I had to find a female human to wear me. My builder was a woman, and I don't know if she had a weird sense of humor or was just the world's greatest chauvinist, but no male could cope with the accessories at the crotch of my structure.
Aelinor laughed at this and asked, What do I look like, now? I can't see myself, so I don't know if I will frighten away everybody I approach.
As soon as she asked the question, she could see that her appearance had changed, but only for the better. She now looked like a very beautiful 22-year-old woman with hair the color of silver, not the gray of old age, but the beauty of youth. She was her old 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and buxom, but not top-heavy. Her waist and hips were just the right shape to attract the attention of any man, and her body showed prime muscle development. She was neither thin nor fat, but that happy medium that is the envy of everybody who sees it.
As you can see, Aelinor, you will have to wear clothes just like everybody else if you don't want to attract attention. Your skin still has the texture of human skin and anybody who touches you will never be able to detect that I am covering you. Your skin is still sensitive to the touch and your sex organs are as responsive as for any woman of your apparent age. Furthermore, no man would ever detect that your vagina is protected or that sperm could never reach your womb. As a result, you have a body made for pleasure if you should ever want to exercise that option, but I hope that you will put that off until the Glaxoi have been driven from Earth.
No problem, Armor. I'll get dressed and you can fill me in on the other things that I should know. I realize that I have all of the knowledge that I need, I just don't recognize it, yet.
Oh, by the way, Aelinor, you are as immortal as I am. You will continue to live and maintain your present characteristics as long as I do. I hope you don't mind.
I'm not quite sure how to take that, Armor. Had you told me of the immortality business up front, I might not have been so hard to convince to put you on. On the other hand, I'm not sure that perpetual life is all that great. I'll let you know in a few thousand years.
On another subject, Armor, what do I do for weapons? Am I strong enough to wield a sword, now, and who will train me to use it?
Don't worry about strength. I will impart you "with the strength of 10 men" and the reflexes to go with that strength. Your speed and agility will be increased in proportion. I already know how to fight with every conceivable weapon, so all you have to do is relax, and let me do the work.
I also am embodied with several weapons you have never seen in action. For example, point your left forefinger at that rock and think "lightning."
Aelinor did as requested and the rock exploded from the heat generated by a lightning bolt that struck it as it arced from her finger.
Now, point your right forefinger at that rock and think "fire."
Again, Aelinor did as requested and the rock exploded from the heat generated by a fire ball that struck the rock as it was blasted from her finger.
Aelinor, I recommend that you save those weapons for the direst sort of emergencies, because they are too much like magic to be accepted without question in this era. However, you could use them to convince any Doubting Thomases that you do have remarkable powers.
For your "conventional" weapon, I have a dagger for you to wear which has some remarkable properties. I suggest that you wear it on your left side so that you can easily draw it with your right hand. Replace your regular knife with this dagger. It will function as a normal knife for every-day use, so you won't miss your old one.
Aelinor donned the new knife and pulled its sheath around to a point just in front of her left hip. At Armor's command, she drew the knife and threw it at a convenient tree. She had no experience in throwing a knife, but it traveled to the tree and stuck its blade soundly in the tree. She then gave a mental command "return" and the knife returned to her hand, ready for further use.
I know that you were surprised by that, and so would be anybody else. But, remember, that was just a small demonstration of what I can do for you. It doesn't look like it, but that knife can also function as a sword or rapier, as occasion demands. Just relax and let me control it. You can override me if you need to, but don't make a practice of it, or somebody innocent could be seriously injured.
Armor, I still need to collect my herbs and such, so don't bother me for an hour or so. Aelinor collected what she could immediately use and headed back toward her hut. On the way, she used the public road for part of her trip, and that's where she first made use of her new powers.
An elderly peasant was pushing a wheelbarrow while his teenaged daughter walked beside him. Three soldiers came riding toward them and noticed both Aelinor and the girl. "Hey, look at that! Some juicy plums, ripe for the taking," said one of the soldiers. Two rode toward the man and his daughter, while the other rode toward Aelinor.
The soldier said, "Halt, wench, and move to the side of the road. I would have my pleasure with you."
When he said that, Aelinor let Armor take over. She drew her dagger and advanced purposely toward the now dismounted soldier. He laughed and taunted, "Ah, a saucy one, hunh? Well, that will make it even more fun when I take you!"
Aelinor put down her basket of herbs and mover purposefully toward the soldier. He was considerably larger than Aelinor, so he wasn't worried by her dagger, particularly since he had chain mail on under his tabard. When she got close enough, the dagger suddenly morphed into a rapier and stabbed the soldier in the right eye and on into his brain. He died in only a few seconds.
Aelinor looked toward the old man and his daughter and saw that a soldier was about to cut the old man's belly open. She threw the dagger at the soldier and hit him in the chest, hard enough for the dagger to crash through bone and into the soldier's heart. He, too, died before he could do any real harm.
The other soldier had ripped the girl's bodice open exposing her immature breasts. He reached for one just as the returned dagger now struck him in the neck. It pierced a carotid artery and the man sprayed his life's blood around the scenery. Again, the knife returned to Aelinor.
The old man and his daughter were unharmed by the encounter, except for the tear in the girl's dress, but that could be easily repaired. Aelinor quickly relieved the three soldiers of their purses and gave the small amount of money to the peasants before sending them on their way. She was not ready quite yet to answer a lot of questions, since she needed answers herself.
Aelinor chased away the soldiers horses and made the scene look as if there had been a robbery. She just wasn't ready to advertise her presence until she'd had several long conversations with Armor. She returned to her hut and started to fix some supper, even though she was not hungry. Armor stopped her with the statement, Don't bother eating unless you really want to. I will supply all of the energy you need from the sunlight I absorb. I will also suppress your hunger reflexes, so you will never again need to eat, except for recreational or social purposes.