Alesha surveyed the asteroid with some dismay. She’d ended up in that remote corner of space out of necessity, avoiding the hot pursuit resulting from an unfortunate simultaneous chance encounter with both a ship she’d robbed years ago and barely remembered (but its captain recalled her very well indeed) and a crack anti-piracy vessel. Her hasty leaps in and out of hyperspace had finally shaken them both. But here she was now, on the bleakest, barest rock she’d ever seen that could politely be called populated.
However, it did have a temple of the Goddess. And as a devotee of the Lady of the Spaceways, Alesha could hardly leave without paying her respects. So she picked her way across the plain of gray dust and depressed-looking lichen until she reached the temple gate.
If the priestesses are anything like this wretched rock, I’ll skip the blessing, Alesha thought, then sent up a prayer of apology for shallowness. All the same, she didn’t retract the thought.
She entered the temple, knelt to a statue of glum gray rock, and, with yet another silent admonition not to be shallow, placed her offering— a small but very fine statuette of some tentacled creature, carved from a bluish-green gem and stolen from an alien craft from which she had barely escaped with her life— at its glum gray feet.
By the time she was done with her prayers, she already had a polite “Wish I could, but I have to get back to hyperspace” refusal of the blessing in mind. Then she turned, and saw the priestess.
Though clad in rough robes of a moldy-looking green, the young priestess shone in them like a diamond in mud. Her black hair tumbled down her back in a wild profusion of curls, her lush body pulled her robe tight in all the best places, and her smile radiated sincere delight that only grew as she gave Alesha’s body, in her battered space leathers, a very thorough once-over.
“Welcome,” said the priestess in a voice that made Alesha think of spiced honey and hyperspace and all things sweet and exciting. “My name is Kanani. Would you like a blessing?”
“I’m Alesha, a pirate in service to the Goddess in her aspect as Queen of Thieves. And I would love a blessing.”
Kanani’s smile widened into an outright grin. “Me too.”
She led Alesha into a private room, then closed the door behind them. The room was much as Alesha had expected, dull gray rock with a bed of sad-looking green, but it also contained Kanani. Alesha had no complaints.
Kanani, though voluptuous, was short; Alesha was half a head taller and, though lean, was undoubtedly much stronger. But all priestesses have a tight grip. Kanani seized Alesha’s wrist in the ritual clasp, then gave the sacred twist that drove Alesha to her knees on the cold stone floor.
“Kneel for the blessing of the Goddess,” whispered Kanani. “I embody her; I am her. I stand to accept your worship and give you her blessing.”
Alesha swallowed. No matter how many times she received a blessing, it always filled her with awe as well as delight. Reverently, she undid Kanani’s belt and let the robe fall into her hands, then folded it and set it aside. Kanani stood naked before her; the Goddess stood naked before her, in all her glory.
Alesha took a moment to behold Kanani’s plump breasts and hardening brown nipples, the swell of her thighs and belly, her graceful legs, and the place of worship between them. In the cold room, she could feel the heat of the priestess’s skin. Then she bent her head and began her worship.
The priestess’s pink folds tasted tangy, and rapidly grew slick. She trembled as Alesha licked at them, sometimes using her fingers as well. Alesha rubbed and teased and tasted to her heart’s content, doing her best to please, and could feel that she was succeeding. She would have liked to go on forever, but soon Kanani began to gasp rhythmically, and Alesha knew she was near her climax. She could deprive neither the Goddess nor her priestess of the ultimate offering, the gift of joy. Alesha flicked her tongue against Kanani’s clitoris until the priestess cried out, then relaxed and caught at Alesha’s shoulders for support.
After a moment to recover herself, Kanani said, “The Goddess accepts your worship. As do I: well-done.”
Alesha grinned. Worship was always accepted, but praise was optional and blasphemous if not sincere. “Thank you.”
A mischievous light flickered in Kanani’s dark eyes as she said, “You’re welcome. Would you prefer to receive your blessing as you are, or on the bed?”
“On the bed, please.” Alesha’s knees were beginning to hurt. Also, she wanted to touch more, skin to skin.
With the same irresistible twist, Kanani yanked Alesha to her feet, then led her more gently to the bed. There the priestess laid her down, stripped her of her leathers and the softer undergarments beneath, and lay down beside her.
The blessing was usually more leisurely than the worship, and this was no exception. Alesha and Kanani took their time exploring each other’s bodies with touch and sight, smell and taste. The room no longer felt cold. Kanani’s skin was soft and her mouth hot, and her hands always found the places where Alesha most wanted to be touched. After a long and delicious time, prolonged until Alesha had to bite her lip to stop herself from begging, Kanani finally used her fingers to bring the pirate to a climax that nearly made her see hyperspace.
“The blessing of the Goddess is yours,” Kanani murmured in Alesha’s ear. “Go forth and steal something worthy of her.”
“Thank you,” Alesha replied. “I’ll do my best.”
She lay for a while panting and sweating and content, wrapped in Kanani’s arms. What luck to land on this unpromising-looking asteroid, and receive a blessing like this! Though, she supposed, if the Goddess was involved it wasn’t luck at all.
“So,” Alesha said at last, idly stroking Kanani’s shoulder. “How do you like the temple?”
“I love being a priestess,” Kanani said. “I love feeling the Goddess within me, and passing on what she has to give— and what I have to give. But to be truthful, I don’t much like it here. I know I haven’t ever been anywhere else, but there have got to be more interesting places out there. Right?”
Alesha hated to say it, but pretty lies had never been her style. “As far as I can tell, you’re living on the most boring rock the Goddess ever placed in space. Sorry.”
Kanani heaved a sigh so huge that Alesha felt mildly guilty for enjoying the way it made Kanani’s breasts shift against Alesha’s chest. “I knew it!”
Alesha propped herself up on an elbow. “Then why stay?”
“I was born here,” the priestess replied with a shrug. “We get few visitors, and the temple is poor. I’d need money for passage and it’d be a lot because we’re so out of the way. Not many ships come here at all, and some of the ones that do seem kind of… sketchy.”
“Sketchy, as in pirates?”
Kanani made a playful flick at a lock of Alesha’s rough hair. “Depends on the pirate. But there was this one ship that looked sleek and fine, and the captain said he’d take me for free, without even a blessing. I was all ready to go, but luckily one of the older priestesses pulled me aside. She said, ‘You idiot, why do you think he turned down the blessing? He doesn’t want the Goddess’s attention. Once you're on the ship, what's to make him let you off? You could end up scrubbing the hull for the rest of your life.’”
“There’s some bad people out there. She was probably right.” But even as Alesha spoke, she knew what she had to say. Where it would end, no one could know— except, she supposed, the Goddess. But Alesha hadn’t come this far by being afraid to take a leap into the unknown. And she liked the young priestess, with her sweet kisses and her tumbled dark hair and her dreams of making her own leap into the unknown.
Alesha caught Kanani by the wrist, making her squeak in surprise: that gesture was one normally made by a priestess to a worshipper, not the other way around. “Come with me. No charge, no tricks, no hull scrubbing. You can travel with me for a while and see more of the galaxy, and get off once I land in a place you like enough to stay.”
Kanani’s eyes brightened with unshed tears until they shone like stars. “Do you really mean it?”
“Of course I do.” Alesha cupped the priestess's hopeful face in her callused palms. “What self-respecting pirate wouldn’t want a gorgeous priestess at her side, even if it’s just for the space of one jump? And the Goddess is watching already, so you should feel safe. I mean from me. I am a pirate, so it’ll be a dangerous life as long as you’re on my ship. But I could drop you off somewhere interesting before I do any piracy.”
Kanani sat bolt upright. “Oh, no. If I’m coming, I want to go all the way. Piracy and all.”
“That could be pretty far,” Alesha said. “And if you stick around long enough, you'd need to learn to fight. I don’t know if it would be proper to use the sacred twist for anything but the blessing…”
“It wouldn’t, but you could teach me other things,” Kanani replied with an airy wave of her hand. “I learn fast. And I’m very good with my body.”
Alesha’s head was spinning. She’d had affairs and blessings, cross-space relationships and one-revolution stands, but she’d never invited anyone to her ship for more than a few wild hours in her cabin. She’d always been a solo. And now, on the strength of nothing more than a blessing and an impulse, she’d invited this space-struck priestess right into her life.
I must be out of my mind, she thought. But if it was madness, it was the same sort that made pirates.
“I mean,” Kanani said, suddenly awkward. “If you want…”
Alesha grinned. “I want. Get your stuff, Kanani. We’re leaving this rock for good.”
A few hours, a talk with the chief priestess, and the purchase of a small (glum and gray) duffel bag later, Alesha boarded her ship with Kanani by her side. She was pleased to see that Kanani looked properly impressed with the vessel's predatory sleekness, shining steel fittings, and total lack of gray and green.
“What’s her name?” Kanani asked.
“Theft of the Goddess.”
Kanani laughed. “Oh, that is perfect. It’s like I was meant to be here. Unless lots of pirate ships are named for the Goddess…”
Alesha shook her head. “I’ve never seen another. Here, sit down. I want to show you hyperspace.”
Kanani sank into the co-pilot’s chair. “What’s it like?”
Alesha hesitated. No one could ever describe hyperspace. Most people didn’t even try. Finally, she said, “It’s like having the Goddess hold you in the palm of her hand.”
She rapidly programmed in the coordinates. As Theft of the Goddess leaped into drive, Kanani reached out with her left hand, catching Alesha’s right wrist in a priestess’s strong grip. Alesha responded automatically, curling her own fingers around Kanani’s wrist. Before the coruscating glory of hyperspace drove all other thoughts from her mind, Alesha squeezed as hard as she could.
There were no guarantees in life, least of all for a space pirate and a priestess with stars in her eyes. But whatever fate found them on the other side of space, they’d arrive with the marks of each other’s fingers on their skin.