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“Please enter.”

The door slid open, whisper silent, and Maris entered Thrawn’s private quarters.

“Good evening, Commander Thrawn. You requested my presence?”

Thrawn stood up. He had been seated at his desk, apparently examining holoproj documents of some sort or another. Despite her best surreptitious efforts, she hadn’t quite been able to make sense of them before Thrawn had powered down the projector. Now, as he approached to greet her properly, Thrawn’s unsettling crimson eyes narrowed speculatively at Maris. “That was excellent Cheunh, Maris,” he remarked in the same language. “You are making rapid progress in your studies.”

Maris felt her cheeks warming at the compliment. “I have an excellent teacher,” she said, again in Cheunh.

“Indeed.” Thrawn’s expression was inscrutable. Did he notice her blushing? Did he understand what it signified in humans? Did he know that she found him attract—

“I invited you here tonight for a specific reason,” Thrawn continued, switching to Basic. Although oddly accented, he was practically fluent at this point.

“I see. How may I help?” Maris too switched to Basic. Clearly, this was to be business, not pleasure. Or even language lessons. Still, each and every one of these meetings was an opportunity for reconnaissance: She might learn something valuable, and information about the inhabitants of the Unknown Regions could rake in the credits that their currently empty cargo hold would definitely not.

Thrawn, however, seemed oblivious to the thoughts racing through Maris’s head. With one gentle hand at the small of her back, he ushered her over to his desk, and they stood side by side in front of it. “I would greatly appreciate your assistance in interpreting these images,” he said as he pushed a button on the console built into his desk. The holoprojector whirred back to life—

—and artificially exaggerated, wanton moans filled the air of Thrawn’s private chamber. The blue-tinged, three-dimensional image of a female Zygerrian taking a male Trandoshan’s scaly, prehensile cock followed a half-second later.

Maris was certain her cheeks were flushed a brilliant crimson. Jorj Car’das’s tastes were too banal; this had to have come from Rak’s personal onboard collection of holoporn. How had he found this?!

“The recording of these images is clearly meant to be titillating,” Thrawn remarked, “but I do not understand why they should be so. What is so appealing about watching two genetically incompatible species mate?”

“Um, well, uh…”

“Neither of these individuals are members of your species, either. Yet you find holographic representations of their…” Thrawn said a word in Sy Bisti.

“Copulation,” Maris supplied the correct translation into Basic automatically.

“Copulation, yes, thank you. Yet you find holographic representations of their…copulation” – Thrawn rolled the word around in his mouth like he was tasting it and found the flavor only partially to his liking – “appealing. Is this manner of miscegenation common in your Galactic Republic?”

“Wait a minute.” Maris didn’t appreciate the judgmental tone of that last question. “What does it matter? These are consenting adults, and what consenting adults do is none of our business—”

“So, is it normal for humans to consider other species attractive and suitable as mates?” Thrawn interrupted.

“Well…sure. I-I mean, I suppose. Sometimes…”

“Do you consider me attractive?”

Maris blinked. She was stunned speechless. She was so surprised, in fact, that she’d stopped blushing.

“You do.” Thrawn answered his own question, matter of fact, like he was stating the hour of the day. He gestured to the holoporn. The Trandoshan’s reptilian tongue was laving the edges of the Zygerrian’s open mouth. “Mouth to mouth contact is regarded as sexual among the Chiss. I take it the same also true among humans?”

“Yes. It’s called kissing.”

“I see. May I…kiss you?” Thrawn’s conversion of noun to verb was unprompted and flawless.

Maris’s blush was back with a vengeance, but she nodded in the affirmative. She’d fantasized on more than one occasion about this very thing.

They kissed. Thrawn was a good kisser, teasing, insistent but not aggressive, nipping at the corners of her mouth and sucking on her bottom lip, then her upper one, until she opened for him. His tongue, when it slipped inside, felt smoother and warmer than a human’s, and wetter. He tasted as sweet as Nabooian shuura fruit jam, thrilling, intoxicating, and he made Maris feel lightheaded— Her pulse was racing— She craved more—

“Yes, that’s right…”

Somehow, she’d ended up on her knees in front of Thrawn, and the front of Thrawn’s trousers were already open, and his erect cock, twice as large as the largest human’s, surely, throbbing and purple at the tip, was painting streaks of fragrant fluid where it brushed against her forehead.

She guided that huge cock into her mouth; her lips cracked and split from the strain…oh no, was she bleeding? There was a sensation of wetness dripping down her chin. But no, she was too aroused – too hungry, much, much too hungry – to care. It touched her soft palate, her tonsils, and pushed down her throat. Maris moaned, muffled words she couldn’t quite make sense of herself, even though they were her words, and Thrawn moaned right along with her. A pulse of fluid, viscous and honey-thick, rose through the shaft and poured down her throat—

Somehow – she couldn’t think, couldn’t remember – she’d ended up lying on her back on the hard, bare surface of Thrawn’s desk, and Thrawn was between her bared, outspread legs, and that huge cock was stretching her unnaturally wide, ready to be driven into her—

How had she gotten here—?! She wanted to protest, but she couldn’t. Why couldn’t she? No, she wasn’t ready for this. This was happening too fast; she hadn’t wanted it this way—!

But it was too late. Far, far too late. Maker, it hurt! How it hurt! The initial pain of insertion was sickening, nigh intolerable, in fact…but then equally intolerable was the pleasure which followed on its heels as it went deeper. She felt as though her very spine was on fire, disassembled, kicked into hyperspace by a poorly-programmed jump. That giant cock bottomed out and began to its inevitable pistoning motions. Now every thrust was so intense it rattled her teeth.

“—like to converse during sexual intercourse. Is this also true for humans?”

What the hells— Was…was Thrawn…talking…while he fucked her?!

“—Republic of how many thousands upon thousands of distinct sentient species? All of them cooperating and living in harmony with each other under the wise rule of a single Supreme Chancellor?”

What…what the…? No, no, the Republic was governed by democratically-agreed-upon laws. Palpatine was just the elected Head of State; he wasn’t some eternal Emperor for life. Ugh, she didn’t understand what Thrawn wanted, and the relentless thrusts were accelerating. The pleasure was exquisite, annihilating all coherent thought, all reason. She felt full, so full. Her pitiful human brain was struggling to cope with the sensory overload. Was he asking her something important?

“—and these erotic fantasies between species – are they a sign of universal love and social egalitarianism, or are they about degradation, disgust for the different, the will to dominate the weak? Is this Palpatine you’ve mentioned truly the benign figure of authority you claim? Would one such as myself be welcomed into a society such as yours, or are, in fact, the peoples of your Republic afraid and filled with destructive hate—”

Thrawn froze abruptly. He was ejaculating inside of her, and it felt abnormally hot, then burning cold. The contradictory sensation swamped Maris’s already-overwhelmed senses, and it was addictive, like illegal intravenous spice, and distantly, she realized she was trembling uncontrollably, craving more and more and more

“Please, Maris, explain your views on this subject.”

“I-I, ooohhh…”

When, after what had seemed an age the length of the life of a star, her orgasm arrived, the sheer, all-consuming intensity of it made Maris scream and scream and scream until she could scream no more.

* * *

Their diverting evening had passed in a flash, and somehow, before she knew it, Maris was standing at door to Thrawn’s private quarters, bidding him goodnight.

“—something refreshing, isn’t there, to the Chiss notion of intimacy, of lovers whose chemo-signaling make them physiologically incapable of lying to one another? I would have presumed that it would be an unforgettable experience for one who has never previously had the pleasure, though perhaps I was mistaken—” Thrawn was saying.

Maris was woozy-headed and exhausted from hours upon hours of engaging, vigorous conversation with Thrawn. She wasn’t understanding any of it anymore. To be perfectly honest, she was just wondering why she felt so damn sore. Not just her throat, either. Her entire body. But all they’d been doing was talking

“—has been most enlightening, Maris. My sincerest thanks to you for your assistance.”

Oh, whatever. She’d worry about it in the morning.

As far as she was concerned, the impromptu reconnaissance had been an unmitigated success. She just needed to organize her thoughts, and she would do that. Soon. Once she had some privacy.

“You’re welcome and good evening, Commander Thrawn,” Maris said with fondness in her very best Cheunh.