Red and blue uniform tops, black trousers and golden neckerchiefs littered the footpath up the slight hill like a trail of fabric breadcrumbs. Captain West noted with a sinking in her stomach that her crew members and friends were nowhere to be seen. She pushed away old-fashioned ideas of people evaporating into thin air, leaving only their clothes. Well, their clothes and their former friends. The stories had called it a rapture, of people en masse being pulled into the heavens. Nina took a deep breath. Let the anxious, catastrophizing thoughts go.
Her comm chimed. She hit the button and let out a terse “Still alive” before silencing the thing. Nina could picture Katya at the reception board, sucking her teeth, eyes narrowing before she’d shrug off the captain’s rudeness and go back to filing her nails.
A noise struck Nina from her revery. A very human sounding noise. And a familiar human noise. It was a cackly, raspy, foghorn of a laugh. Nina’s heart soared as she sprinted up the extra few meters to the crest of the hill. She stopped in her tracks at the utterly puzzling sight before her.
On the down slope of the hill, Nina stood upon, there was a small rocky beach and a navy blue lake, some fifty meters across. To the shallower part of the near side of the lake were five or six human figures. Three she recognized as members of her lost away team: Security Officer Vanessa Mateo, whose laugh had given her away, Chief Science Officer Brooke Lynn Hytes, one of Captain West’s oldest friends, and Chief Security Officer Kameron Michaels. There was something deeply unsettling about Hytes and Michaels, and it took a good thirty seconds for Nina to process it. Two of her coldest officers were acting uncharacteristically playfully.
What’s more, as Nina continued to try to wrap her head around what she was seeing, she would come to understand that what she was watching was her away team, having shirked their duties to their Captain and the Federation, skinny dipping with locals. The more she stared and stared, the less she could comprehend it.
There was Brooke, her long hair pulled down from its usual practical updo, and her long arm wound into the water, seeming to hold onto Vanessa’s waist. Meanwhile, Vanessa was somehow slung around Kameron like a backpack, only on her front. The Chief Security Officer had somehow managed to not wet her chin-length auburn hair, but Nina couldn’t see either Mateo or Michaels’ faces because they were so intensely pressed together. Vanessa rolled her hips and oh--
Captain West found herself overcome with the feeling that she shouldn't be seeing what she was seeing. Because this was improper and unethical in so many ways-- that’s her chief security officer with her assistant. Well, now she’s more handing her assistant off to the chief science officer and… yeah, that feeling of wrongness wasn’t going away.
Nina, without thinking, flipped open her communicator and said the three words to get herself out of the situation.
“Beam Me Up.”
They flowed together like the water that joined them, connecting and disconnecting in a swirling, natural rhythm. The rocky bottom was too deep for Vanessa to stand on; she allowed herself to be handed off from one lover to the next. Brooke held her while Kam played with her, while Brooke kissed Kameron and Vanessa kissed Brooke and Kameron pressed her lips to Vanessa’s shoulder. Vanessa could barely keep her eyes open, the world around them was so bright and full of reflections and refractions and the swirling of motion and the vibrancy of life itself.
They approached multiple climaxes again and again, always holding off, never going quite that far. Going to completion meant it would end, and they were not interested in the ending or the beginning, only the being. Vanessa only opened her eyes a crack when she felt an unfamiliar presence approaching their trio. One presence split in three, or perhaps only two. There was an unfamiliar hand which placed itself delicately on Vanessa’s hip. Unfamiliar, but not unwanted. Vanessa pressed her forehead into the neck of whichever one was holding her. She couldn’t tell anymore, they had blended into one.
Tentatively, Vanessa opened only one eye. Blinking to adjust to the harsh sunlight reflected in the glassy waters around them, she identified another woman. Tan, statuesque, with a long face, brown eyes and sizable tits. She looked at Vanessa with kindness. Vanessa found the woman’s hand and wound their fingers together. Brooke/Kameron shifted Vanessa’s weight to their other hip, allowing her to lean over to Brown Eyes.
Brown eyes had full, kissable lips. Vanessa ran her finger over those lips, anchoring herself before she dove in. Brown Eyes had lovely lips, lovely hair, lovely tits, such smooth skin, Vanessa let herself fall deeper and deeper in love. There was a slip, and she came unrooted from Kameron/Brooke. Gratefully, Brown Eyes was there to keep her afloat.
Familiar and unfamiliar hands drew lines on her shoulders and chest. Kameron/Brooke pulled her back in, and Vanessa was once again with them. There was some rocking, and the other presence she’d sensed grew its own face. She was also gorgeous, also with tan skin, but a thinner nose, rounder cheeks and eyes like storm clouds. She was the one who was now behind Kameron, running her long fingers up and down her lean body like a musical instrument. Vanessa smiled, feeling in her own body the pleasure her lover was being given.
They communicated with eyes, hands, bodies, movement. All one body, connected by the churning water. For a moment, when she heard a voice speak, she didn’t recognize the language. But she knew what was said, and she followed the rest of the movement, let the waves of limbs all around guide her, like wind in a sail. It wasn’t until she was walking on the pebbly shore, heading toward a hub of earthen bungalows with thatched roofs, that she finished processing the voice and the words. She did not know which face the voice belonged to, but she knew its message:
Come along and follow us, to Eden.
“This is why, West. This is exactly why we don’t send single person away teams!”
Officer Ganache was not wrong. Nina had safeworded without the slightest preparation of what she was going to say to her crew about the lost away team. She couldn’t make sense of what she had seen. It could have been a mirage or a hallucination. She insisted Asia examine her blood for toxins and strange chemicals. Nina couldn’t tell how long she stayed locked in her private chambers before Head Administrator Cyril “Silky” Ganache let herself in, demanding some kind of an explanation.
Captain Nina West could only give a shrug, her eyelids still singed with the motion of the figures in the water. The repercussions of her sharing that information. Their careers. Their lives, families -- and who were those local women? Nina had only been able to focus on her friends, but the locals, she recalled, were gorgeous as well. Not that-- not that she thought of her subordinates that way-- not that she would ever-- “For everybody’s sake,” she told Silky. “We’re going to… forego further intervention to wait for the results of the tox screen.”
“Captain,” implored Silky, her knuckles discoloring as she clutched the back of a chair. “If our girls could be in any danger--”
Nina’s brows furrowed. “I don’t… I don’t feel like they’re in any danger.”
“You can’t be sure.”
“I suppose I can’t, but… it doesn’t feel like there’s anything… to be afraid of.” Nina shut her eyes and rubbed the insides of her wrists against her eye sockets. God, listen to her. “I just. Stand by. And let me know when there are any results.”
She still wasn’t looking, but she felt Silky do that thing with her face, the pouting of the lips, scrunching of eyebrows, and she heard the telltale heavy breath. Nina smiled. Silky hated the idea of leaving their girls out there, she disapproved of Nina’s decision, and she was frustrated, but she’d follow Nina’s direction. She’d see that things got done in the meantime.
“Thank you,” Nina sighed and fell back into her double bed. Silky gave a noncommittal hum in response.
Even though she’d gotten a full 8 hours last night, Nina was asleep before her door vacuum-sealed behind Silky.