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Swell Memory (Otherness)

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Uhura moaned and thrashed as the organism surged again inside her. Its plastic corpus flowed to caress and support her body, jiggling as the force rippled through it. Her head rolled to the left, towards the sound of Sulu's keening whimper. Her eyes fluttered open to watch the organism turn him over and push his legs wider apart, then closed again to endure, to savour, another aching rush. A helpless smile played across her face as her mind flashed back to their hike up here.
Sulu had cajoled her to keep going. The walk wasn't difficult and the scenery was exquisite, but Uhura was preoccupied. "Don't worry about it," he'd told her, "you know better than anyone, those two fight all the time and they always get over it. Jim knows Spock is right, he just needs time to figure out a way to spin it so he can be right too. Which he will, and everything will be fine again. You'll see. Besides, aren't you even a little excited to meet this Oracle?"

She was, of course. It was a xenolinguist's dream to encounter a creature with so distinctive a communication paradigm, a haptic transduction apparatus far more refined than the Vulcan system. With only the oblique but passionate confidences of the locals to prepare her, Uhura hadn't known quite what to expect when she reached the cave. She knew that it was big, that it was strange, that it had some ability to express moods and desires by visual and gestural display but that the most phenomenal stuff happened when it touched you, interfacing directly, consciousness to consciousness. From the way it reportedly archived memories in the form of feelings and scraps of knowledge and passed these back to subsequent petitioners, Uhura wondered if "Almanac" weren't a better translation than "Oracle."

It was Sulu who first spotted the organism, once they finally located the cave's mouth, and who first moved into its field of perception. It wasn't much to look at, dormant, just a film of algae or some other viscous matter coating the surfaces of a rocky alcove. When it noticed them, however, it drew itself together, coalescing into a rippling jelly blob about as big as a pony with increasingly vibrant flashes of blue light shimmering from its core and diffusing along its innumerable tendrilous extensions. It moved silently, not so much crawling, slithering or rolling as pulsing, shifting its bulk from within its already reaching, probing feelers.

"Holy—" said Sulu, staggering back. It extruded another wavering tendril in their direction.

It resembled no sentient life form Uhura had ever seen before. From the natives' descriptions of 'tentacles', she'd pictured something like an octopus or perhaps a jellyfish. This was more like an enormous protozoan. A slippery, sweating membrane contained a mass of translucent fluid, in which were suspended materials of other colours and textures. These included opalescent discs, which drew together near the surface of the contours facing them as it approached; Uhura guessed that these were photo-sensitive receptor cells. The shivering light emanated from metallic-looking dentritic structures within the cytoplasm, or specifically from when these freely-moving bodies made made contact with one another; the conductive fibres of a discontinuous nervous system?

"Hi there!" Sulu held out an open palm for the entity to touch. It seemed to hesitate for a moment, light shading from blue to green as it raised one oozing pseudopod and stretched it into five points, imitating his morphology, before wrapping that tentacle around his arm and drawing him forcefully towards its core.

Sulu cursed and stumbled forward, and Uhura leapt to grab him around the waist and pull him back.
"No!" She swatted at the tethering extension and it immediately recoiled, the entire organism flowing backwards into its damp nest. It flickered a dull sporadic red, withdrawing as much as possible into its self.

Uhura checked Sulu's arm for injury, then examined the residue on his sleeve and her hand.

Sulu glared into the alcove warily, afraid it might launch itself at them again. "The townsfolk said it wasn't aggressive!"

"I don't think it meant to be," Uhura said slowly. For a life-form with no face or body to speak of, the Oracle was doing an impressive job with its contraction and fitful flickering of communicating submission and humility. She's not sure why she interpreted it that way, the signals could just as easily have read as anger, but somehow she knew it was sorry.

"You're right," Sulu said, rubbing at the back of his hand where the creature had touched his skin. "It didn't realize we were different, that we wouldn't know what to expect."

"What it expected us to expect," Uhura smiled.

"How do I know that?"

"It's in the touch. Recursive tactile intuition. We're absorbing its surprise at our surprise when it tried to—what?" She frowned, thoughtful, then her eyes grew wide. "Sulu, I think the locals bork the Oracle."


Uhura laughed. "I can't believe I didn't see it coming. The way they kept getting embarrassed talking about how pleasurable the pilgrimage was, how impossible to put into words. Even the dirty songs they were singing, they used the same euphemism for 'orgasm' as they do to refer to this thing!"

"Oh," he blinked. "Huh. But we shouldn't—I mean we can't . . ."

"I don't know. I think their leaders kind of expected us to, and their medical and religious experts certainly thought it would be good for us. I don't think it would be unethical. It's not harmful to the creature, if that's how it communicates and survives. Assuming it wants to, of course; it is sentient, it should be able to choose."

"You're going to do this."

Uhura looked back over her shoulder at him as she crept deeper into the cave, hoping the organism would read her intentions and not feel cornered. "You don't have to if you're not comfortable. Just wait outside."

She heard Sulu's boots scuffing the stone floor, then the rustle of him loosening the collar of his shirt. "When in Elliatab . . ."

Which was how Nyota Uhura wound up reclining on a cytoplasmic cushion, covered in sweet-smelling non-Newtonian fluid while eager tentacles squeezed her flesh and invaded her apertures.

The organism was responsive and respectful, and it desisted with any particular motion as soon as it sensed that she found it unwelcome, but it also held no assumptions about what she would or would not find pleasurable. It learned quickly to stay away from her open eyes and out of her ear canals, and not to entirely cut off her air flow, yet it managed to touch her in ways she'd never thought of, and ways no other partner could. It pinched and sucked at her lips, her throat, her wrists, her ribs, hipbones, labia, clit, thighs and knees and the arches of her feet. She could feel that it relished osmotically drinking her juices as much as she did, and it quaked with green ecstasy when it discovered how to make her squirt. Penetration was completely unlike any kind she had experienced before; it didn't push in, rigid like fingers or a phallus or even soft-hard like a tongue. It nestled into her lips, squishy and slippery, pressing all over until her cunt opened to welcome it, to slurp-swallow it up and expel it again with the spasming of her own muscles. It poured upwards into her like honey in reverse, rolling and squirming and expanding from inside until she was bursting, thrashing with a stretch-ache-euphoria. It poured into her ass, too, trickling farther than she'd felt anything reach, then retreated to a more comfortable depth of penetration when she clenched down in fear that it would thread right through her.

The Oracle flowed and ebbed around and inside Uhura until she was barely conscious, until she didn't know to do anything but come, over and over, then it finally allowed her to sink through its body to the floor and sleep, cocooned in twinkling, blood-warm slime.

"I wish we never had to leave here," she heard Sulu murmur hoarsely as they drifted off to sleep.

"Me too," she answered. "Good thing we can't ever come back."