A wolf was hunted by other wolves. Knowing there is no way out, the wolf dressed like a sheep, started to eat grass and decided to hide inside a flock of sheep. In the end, the wolf got killed by a sheep who had no idea who she killed (ancient saying).
This story starts very far away, in the powerful and rich Empire Of The Pleiades. The empire rules over more then a hundred terraformed planets and is one of the most powerful states in the galaxy. Like in any rich place, there are people looking to make money in an illegal way: through drugs, prostitution, gambling or, as it happens more and more often, through slavery. The emperor strongly opposes to all. Mafia leaders have been executed in public. However, the most humiliating punishment of all, used for traitors, is to take them to surgery, transform them in women and throw them to Betelgeuse VII. But, even so, there still are mafia factions, that hide in the dark.
The emperor of the Pleiades, like all emperors before him, strongly hate sexual minorities and transgender people. When found, such people are to be transformed in slaves and used in the most humiliating works. There is one mafia leader, Stromboli, which is the only one tolerated by the emperor, because he finds and kidnaps such people. The emperor sent a special order that Stromboli will never be arrested and will have free access to any place in the empire. So, Stromboli used this to his aid. He took as slaves many people, even those who are not 'guilty'.
Everything worked fine, until one day, when the emperor found out that his son, the next person to take the throne, is a hidden cross-dresser. Unfortunately, Stromboli found out this too. So, he started to blackmail the emperor, to gain more and more power. This bad situation lasted for a few Earth years, until one day, when the Emperor's son could not take this any more and committed suicide. From that point, the emperor wanted Stromboli dead.
Where on cosmos could Stromboli hide, against one of the most powerful men in the galaxy? There are other empires, too. The Newton Empire could be an alternative, but that empire would also hunt him down, to keep peace with the Pleiades. The Old World, the systems surrounding the Solar System, could be also a good destination, but there, the emperor could send his elite troops in an invasion, only to get Stromboli, dead or alive. The Polaris Empire should also be a choice, but it is in a cold war with the Pleiades. He could also try to run to UV Ceti, the system ruled by anarchy, but there, at any time, a booty hunter will kill you for the bounty on your head.
There is only one way out. Not much time ago, Betelgeuse VII was a paradise for transgender people and rare sexual minorities. But now, that planet is a nightmare, because its sun will soon go supernova. People from Betelgeuse VII terraformed another planet, Betelgeuse S, at ten light years away. There, incredible body transformations are possible. That is the only way out.
So, Stromboli takes his best friend, Rodolfo, to Betelgeuse S. There, he wants to completely transform his body into another man and gain another identity. Things go just like this... but not quite.
Stromboli goes to surgery. The doctors should transform his body completely: new hands to lose his fingerprints, new feet to change his footprints, new teeth and new eyes, DNA modifications, larynges surgery to change voice, skin transformation, anything so that he would become a new man.
Stromboli wakes-up in his spaceship, instead of a hospital bed. He feels his body so different. First, he moves his hands, but finds out that his fingers look like those of a woman, with nails painted in black. Shocked, he looks at his body. He finds himself in a black knee-long dress. Immediately, he can see breasts. He has breasts, like those of a woman! And his feet are covered with pantyhose.
"Nooooooo!" shouts Stromboli, with a female voice.
"What a fuck?" he says again.
He is no longer the tough guy that scared to death transgender people and those from sexual minorities. He is a transgender woman! What happened? And the transformation is completed! He is shorter then he was before, thinner, completely looking like a man. He even moves his fingers under the dress, to find out that... he has female genitals.
He wants to shout again... but is afraid to hear his female voice.
He looks around. The spaceship is flying towards a planet. He tries to touch the command panel, to change trajectory, but the onboard computer responds:
"Fingerprints unknown! You are not allowed to operate the ship".
Yes, his ship is equipped with an automated reconnaissance device. He tries to scan his eyes... but it all fails. He had light brown eyes... but now they are black. He tries a bioenergy scan... but the computer already performed this... and found 'unknown person'. Then, he tries a DNA scan... but again, it is a failure.
The transformation is complete. Not much of the original body remained. The doctors on Betelgeuse S grew organs in vitro and almost replaced all his body with those of a woman.
Suddenly, on the screen, appears the emperor of the Pleiades, saying:
"What do you think, Stromboli? That you could escape me? You blackmailed me and you killed my son. Now, you are to pay for all this. I will not kill you, but give you a worse punishment. You are to land on Betelgeuse VII as a cursed person and live all your remaining life with other cursed people... until their star will go supernova".
Then, Stromboli finds out something else: a picture of his best friend, Rodolfo, with a knife in his belly. It is clear: they killed him.
Unable to do anything, Stromboli watches his spaceship landing smoothly. The ship passes through the atmosphere and gently lands on the ground, in a corn field. It is night out here. As the ship lands, the doors open and the onboard computer announces:
"Self destruct sequence initiated. The ship will explode in 300 seconds".
Stromboli grabs a few things from the ship and runs out. Unused with his new feet and unfamiliar with female shoes, he falls first. There is no time. The explosion will be powerful. He knows this very well. He runs again and falls into a ditch. There is not much time, he better hide here. The ship explodes. A powerful, bright light, is visible. He gets down inside the ditch, into water and mud, covering his ears. The blast wave flies over his head. He stays for a few minutes more, thinking about pieces of metal or other debris that can be blown by the explosion.
Then, he moves away from the ditch. If anyone has seen the blast, will come and try to pick-up something. He is wet, dirty, hungry and very angry on his new body. But this is it... this is his new body. This is what he is now, a woman.
"I must take care of my new body" whispers Stromboli.
But... only hearing his new female voice, makes him angry. He curses the emperor and anyone that made him suffer like this.
He manages to find a road. That is good, it could lead to civilization. It is hard, if not impossible, to survive alone. The road goes through a forest. There, he spots some light. Not knowing what it is, he goes in that direction. He finds out very soon.
Not too far away, he can see the source, in the forest. A few reflectors and lanterns are pointed to a tree, which is filled with colored paper and other ornaments, like a Christmas tree. In front of that tree, there is a person that looks like a woman, singing to the tree and taking care of it. That person eats something, then drinks something and throws the liquid to the tree, at its roots. Stromboli watches, thinking what to do. That person lights a cigarette and gives one to the tree, putting it in the branches.
"I love you! You are the only one to me! There is no other one in my life and there will not be".
Again, Stromboli watches how this person hugs the tree and kisses its trunk, gently cuddling the branches. He remembers about panophiles, a rare sexual minority. He found a few panophiles and sold them as slaves. There was one in love with a train engine... and Stromboli destroyed the engine in his face and forced him to watch all. There was another one, a virtualophile, in love with a computer avatar... and Stromboli forced her to destroy the avatar in exchange for her freedom... but he lied. This made him happy, to do what hurts the most. But now, he is watching a panophile being in love with its tree. He even watches how that panophile starts masturbating while hugging the tree. Well, there is another surprise for Stromboli: the person he was watching is not a woman, nor a man, it is a hermaphrodite.
He watches all, thinking what to do. "I should kill this creature. But first, I will tie it with ropes, then burn the tree and force it watch all. And then, I will put it on fire, to burn together with its beloved tree". The panophile finishes all, kisses the tree and then moves a bit away. It lights another cigarette for itself and one for the tree, putting it in the branches. It prepares a place to sleep, near the tree. Watching this, Stromboli prepares himself to attack. He can see food, a place to sleep, clean clothes and cigarettes. All these things are useful. He uses the dark to come closer. He knows very well how to kill with bare hands... but he is not used to these hands, to the hands of a woman. But still, he has to do it, to get something to eat and to smoke. He moves closer... but at some point, his shoe makes some noise. The panophile turns towards the source of noise, while Stromboli thinks what to do.
"Hi!" says the panophile. "I am Tasha and this is August, my partner. Who are you?"
"I am... just passing by", answers Stromboli, not knowing what to say.
"I never seen you before. You are not from our town. Oh, your clothes are dirty. What happened to you? Do you need help?"
"No, thanks", answers Stromboli. "Just don't tell anyone that you've seen me here".
"No problem. Nobody will get past me. Do you want something to eat?"
"Yes, thank you".
"Well, I don't have much, but feel welcome. Here you are... some bread, fresh eggs and some vegetables. And if you want cigarettes, here you are, feel welcome to take from my packet".
Stromboli eats. Well, this is not much, compared to the food he was used to... But still, his body is hungry. He eats, then drinks hot tea, then smokes. They both gather on a blanket, smoking together. Stromboli sits near a hermaphrodite, near a panophile. His female hand holds a cigarette. At less then one meter away, Tasha's hand, with pink nails, is holding a cigarette too. Stromboli's feet, covered in pantyhose, are sitting and even touching Tasha's feet, covered in leggings. He can even see a small bulge between Tasha's feet, made by its double genitals. If only Tasha knew how many people Stromboli killed before... if only... but without knowing, it tries to get closer, to get some body heat. Stromboli sent to slavery many cross-dressers. Only seeing such people and made him angry... but now, what should he do?
Tasha is only friendly. Stromboli tries its best to be the same... but suddenly, he finds a small razor blade. He takes it and in less then a second, he cuts Tasha's neck veins. Then, he takes what food he finds, Tasha's identity card and clean clothes. He changes clothes and takes everything that is useful. Then, he finds dry branches and make a fire, burning the tree and Tasha's body. He sleeps there, near the fire. In the morning, he lights a cigarette again, watching his female body and thinking.
"It makes no way to fight against it. Stromboli is dead. Now, I am a woman in all aspects".
Then, he thinks what to do. It is time to accept the reality. So, he says it, first whispering, then louder, then even louder, then screaming:
"Stromboli is dead. I am Cindy".
Why Cindy? When he was a teen, at high school, he and a few classmates made a party. Some boys dressed as girls, using clothes from their girlfriends. His girlfriend, Cindy, wanted to do the same with him, but he refused.
"Come on, darling, please, be Cindy II for one night!"
"No, I will never be!"
"If you really love me, you will".
"It is not that I love you, but... I am a man in all aspects".
Later, when he joined the mafia, he confessed about his classmates and their girlfriends. He sold them all as slaves, including Cindy. He sold the only girlfriend that ever loved him as a slave, to gather a better position and trust within the mafia.
"Stromboli is dead. Now, I am Cindy!"
What is left from the old Stromboli? The brain and a few body parts. But even those parts have the DNA changed. He is no longer a 'he' at all. Stromboli died. Now, only the soul remained. He is a 'she' for the remaining of its life. Stromboli died. Now, she is Cindy. So, Cindy takes the last things belonging to Stromboli and puts them on fire.
Cindy starts walking again, on the road. She thinks about all those who Stromboli killed or sold as slaves. Better if they were killed... but as slaves, nobody knows how much humiliation they endured. How much pain? How much suffering? Stromboli ordered other mafia leaders to be transformed into women and thrown to Betelgeuse VII. Well, not only heads of the mafia, but also judges who refused bribery and state officials who refused to accept his bloody money. Maybe, one of them is hiding nearby.
Cindy follows roads for the whole day. She does not want to enter the nearby town, knowing that Tasha is dead and its relatives will look for a way to find its body. Tasha was the last person killed by Stromboli. But now, Stromboli must die forever, while Cindy must take control. Cindy must find a way to survive in this world... but where?
In the end, Cindy reaches another town. She enters the town. Her feet are very tired and painful, after walking such a long distance. As she enters the town, she can see people. The people of Betelgeuse. They are so different from any other place in the galaxy. Guessing by their clothes and their appearance, some are men, some women, but a significant part are hard to define. They are so unusual. Guessing by their voices, it is also hard to say what gender they have. They way they dress is a very unconventional one. Even more, there are people with horns, people with long teeth like those of vampires, people that have something in common with animals and many unusual outfits.
"Is this some sort of carnival?" asks Cindy for herself.
Well, it does not take much and Cindy reaches what appears to be the town center. There are a few shops around a large concrete square. There, she sits and lights a cigarette, trying to recover after the long trip. But just as she sits, two people come and sit on the same bench, near her.
"Hi!" says one of them. "I never seen you around. Are you new?"
"Yes, I am new here".
"What is your name?"
People gather around. There is no way to run, at least with her tired feet. Cindy has to go through, to listen to them and to answer their questions. What will they do?"
"Where are you from?"
"I am from the Pleiades", answers Cindy. "I mean, I were. They threw me here without saying much".
"From the Pleiades?" asks someone.
"What do they think this place is? They throw anyone here?"
"What did you do?"
"I did nothing", answers Cindy. "All I did, I refused bribery from a slave dealer".
"Don't worry, Cindy, nobody will harm you here", says someone.
"Do you want something to eat?"
"You need to register as a citizen of Betelgeuse VII. Then, you will get a free home and you will live with us".
"Thank you! I never found so much kindness", answers Cindy.
"And who threw you here?" asks someone.
"Stromboli", answers Cindy.
"I wish someone could pierce a knife in its heart!"
Here are the people that Stromboli hated all his life... and the people Cindy has to live with, for the rest of her life. Cindy finds out that they are not mentally ill, by far. They are friendly and try to help her in any way they can. Very soon, they take her to the online panels to order an identity card and citizenship. Very soon Cindy gets an abandoned house, that belonged to someone who managed to flee out of Betelgeuse. Also, very soon, they try to help her find a job.
But is Stromboli really dead? No, nobody can transform completely over night. The same happens for Cindy. She needs time to adapt. People here say bad things about Stromboli. The same hate that he had for transgender people and sexual minorities still exists. Cindy needs time, time to adapt, to find her way. She avoid to be to close to anyone, because inside her, Stromboli wants to kill.
However, as time passes, she feels how Stromboli vanishes with every day. She choses to be a lonely woman, at least until she will be able to do anything else. But, in the end, Cindy accepts to have a partner, a hermaphrodite that looks more like a woman. This is what finally kills what little remained from Stromboli. However, all the way to the end of her life, Cindy will never say a single word about the time when she was a 'he'.
However, people on Betelgeuse VII know that they don't have much time left and there is no way out, unless people from Betelgeuse S will come and save them. The sun, Betelgeuse, started neon fusion. It has a large inert core. The neon flame started in the core and progressed outwards. Neon fusion restored the equilibrium of the star, delaying its death by a few Earth years. However, this fuel will not last for long. Very soon, neon got exhausted in the center and fusion continued in a shell, surrounding the core. For a while, the core is heated by this shell, but... As neon is exhausted, the flame moves away from the core. At some point, it will be too far to heat the core at all. Also, as it moves away, pressure and temperature decrease, to the point where neon fusion can no longer be sustained.
When stars fuse heavier elements, like carbon, neon, oxygen, magnesium or silicon, they lose most of the energy as neutrino radiation. Inside those stars, at the huge pressure and temperature encountered there, all photons are high energy gamma rays. When two gamma ray photons collide, they can produce a neutrino - antineutrino pair, losing part of their energy. As this happens, the star loses energy and needs to fuse its remaining fuels faster then ever.
It will not last long until oxygen fusion will start... and from that point, the clock will be ticking much faster, because as temperature in the core grows, the neutrino radiation also grows exponentially. All this time, from the outside, the star looks the same, but on the inside, it is a fight between death and life, a fight where life has no way to win, despite all sacrifices done.
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