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The Scientere and the Captain's Case

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Synopsis:

What happens when a crazy inventor discovers a shiny metal case floating outside her space station? The Scientere Exremus is always looking for inspiration for her inventions so she hauls the item in. And it stands to reason that such a curious bit of space trash would have a homing beacon. The case itself is actually very valuable to Cpt. Dasho of The Galleum. That lost item will bring essential relief to the ship captain's pressing problem and she desperately wants it back. Their meeting poses an interesting question that only rigorous science can answer.

 

 

The Scientere and the Captain’s Case

 

 

The alarm claxon sounded throughout the space station but its lone occupant couldn’t hear it over the music that blared through her headset. She was listening to a new space opera that she downloaded from the compression signal beamed up from Kalente. She liked being by herself high above the planet, it was quiet. Well, relatively quiet if you discounted the occasional jam sessions while she was diving deep into the creative well. Amedrelda Thotzmith was considered crazy on a good day but she was crazy smart. Her inventions were successful enough that she could afford to live above the clouds and out of the lands of ordinary people. It wasn’t that she thought she was better than everyone else, they simply bored her. And if there was something Ames hated most in all the worlds, it was boredom. It only took a few minutes for her to finally notice the flashing lights five feet from her face. Eyes widened behind her yellow tinted goggles, the color of which nearly matched her hair. Her pale blue face paled even further when she thought about all the possible things that would set off her proximity sensors. It could be radioactive space debris, rocks, or even trashed dumped by a passing ship. For whatever reason, the area around Kalente was a hotspot for dumping trash right before ships engaged their star-drives.

“What in the frozen fecal cankerous radioactive substrata could that possibly be?” She gazed longingly at her incomplete circuit board then pushed up her goggles and regretfully made her way out of the room and down the passageways to the control cabin. At least she had artificial gravity. She would have never bought the station without it. It may have made her tits sag but at least her food stayed down. Ames brought up the cams for outside the station and cycled through until she found the one near the sensor alert. She was distracted by sudden movement out of the corner of her eye and reacted much too late when the station cat landed on the control board. Two things happened at once. The cam view of the sensor alert was replaced by some sort of Kalente mating ritual, and all the speakers in the station started playing the soundtrack to that mating ritual. “Fecker, you wretched animal!” She grabbed the feline and pitched him behind her. Ames was about to cut off the video feed when she stopped as she witnessed the strange contortions on the screen. Then the alarm klaxon had her shaking her head and she quickly shut down the video. But not without hitting the button to save it first. “I’ll just come back to you later.” She laughed to herself and it wasn’t an unusual sound in the station.

“Alright, let’s see what we have here…” There were a number of items that had set off the sensor. Most looked like your average space junk but in the middle of the small debris field was a gleaming silver case. “What in all the blue stars is that?”

“Meow.”

She gave a kick behind her. “Feck off, Fecker!”

A little tingle ran through her when she noted the case was close enough to retrieve with the grappling arm on the Gannon side of the station. Having no point of reference like one would have for a ship, she named the directions of her station after the stars they were facing. If she were facing the control room, Gannon was off to her right, Tandor was to the left. Front was actually the planet Kalente, rear was Disha. The ‘top’ side face Allore, and the bottom was pointing toward Callumne. Allore was actually what the planetsiders referred to as their north star. It was a beautiful white giant. Without another care in the world, Ames sprinted out of the control room and down the connecting passages to the Gannon grappler. She hadn’t been this excited since a passing cruise ship had dumped a load of data blocks full of expired entertainment programs from the Dentari system.

The truth was, Ames was getting bored with just her own company. She hadn’t been able to come up with a good invention in at least a few cycles of the Kalente moon. She lacked inspiration and was starting to suspect that she’d have to go down dirtside to find it. Once she snagged the case and moved it into the air lock, she used the grappling arm to bat the other debris away from the station. In a fit of evil menace, she sent them all toward another floating facility that was owned by a rival scientist named Gilius Jobel. He didn’t live on the station like she did, but he used it as a collection place for data and space matter. With another round of cackling laughter, she hit the last one and hoped for maximum damage. “Collect that, Jobel!” She really did hate the man, but not nearly as much as he hated her.

Her job done, Ames hit the button to rad scrub everything in the air lock, then cycled the atmosphere inside so she could take a look. Before opening the door, she peered through the window. It looked like a simple suitcase of sorts, gleaming silver in the airlock lights. She went to hit the switch to open the door when her attention was distracted once again. “Meow.”

“Goddamn it Fecker! Get away from the door! I swear, if you sneak in this room again I’m just gonna space you! Little asshole cat…” The cat wasn’t really hers, he came with the station. Ames continued muttering even as she slid the cat along the smooth walkway back in the opposite direction. She was pretty sure it had become a game to him. Before he could come back she opened the door, ran in and grabbed the suitcase, and pulled it back out. “Holy shield, but that’s heavy! I better scan this sucker first.” While the case was heavier than she expected, Ames was still able to drag it into her lab and load it into the spectral analyzer. She watched as each value reading came up on the screen. “Rads normal, heavy cad count good, non-volatile, non-incendiary… metal, plastic, and electronic components…” She scratched her head, then moved the goggle strap to the side slightly, and scratched her head again. That just mussed her hair even more thus giving her a legitimate look of insanity. “What the black hole hell is inside?”

Ames opened the door of the analyzer and stared at the case that rested so innocuously on the holder. “Only one way to find out…” Before she could over-think it, she reached out with her gloved hands and popped the locks on each side. With a snick and a hiss, the top slid slightly then raised open like one of the giant clamshells from Beta 7. The inside was made from molded soft material that conformed to the items nestled within. She counted ten things, each with their own place. One looked like a microphone only with a flexible neck for the end. She suspected it was a massager. The next two items appeared to be finger extensions, then there were three shiny metal probes. They were thin rods, maybe no more than two fingers across, with bulbous ends of varying sizes. In the second row there was a bottle of some sort of gel, a handheld speculum that was in the shape of a ‘u’ with bulbous ends, a palm-size shape that was covered in small ridges and had flexible elastic straps attached to it. The last item in the case was a lot larger and had a wave like pattern along the length of it. It looked like probe or wand of sorts but it was purple and strangely pretty. Ames cocked her head one way then the other, just trying to make sense of it all. Suddenly it dawned on her and she looked over to where the black station cat was cleaning a front paw. “Fecker, I think we found someone’s medical instrument kit!”

She recorded images of the contents after that, then closed the case and took another image of the entire thing. After she was all done, Ames hauled the entire thing into her private quarters until she could do a little research to see if it would sell planetside. There was no sense keeping that kind of item on the station if she could profit from it. It was late by that point and despite the fact that the sun was rising on the planet directly below her geosynchronous orbit, she was exhausted after nearly twenty hours of activity. Ames stripped, stepped into her sonic shower, then finished the rest of her sanitary duties and crawled into her bunk. It wasn’t really a bunk because she preferred more room to stretch out, but all stations called the bed a bunk. It was stupid really. And thinking about the stupidity of traditional station names was exactly what finally rolled the crazy inventor into her dreams.

 

***

 

“What do you mean you dumped it?”

The man standing in front of Captain Jinda Dasho made even her seem large, and she was only about five foot six. It wasn’t her physical size that intimidated everyone, it was her stern glower and sharp tongue. There was also the fact that she was the captain, therefore paid all their wages. He practically shook in his ship shoes. “I…I’m s…sorry captain! But you said to space anything that was in the pile by the door. Someone must have put the case there after you left.”

She wanted to scream at the porter until her face turned blue but she abruptly realized the little man was right. Someone had indeed placed the case by the door after she left. They had received a mail shuttle while in orbit around the backwater planet of Kalente. Her wrist com chimed right after she got to the bridge and assumed command position. She had been waiting for that particular delivery for half a space year. Nearly a thousand creds and multiple jumps to get to a fixed point where she kept a shipping address. The crew had started to complain about the tension on the bridge and she knew she had to do something to relax or she’d kill them all. It wasn’t easy being a single captain traipsing through space with no one of interest on board worth trysting with. And after all that work to bring something on board that would help the situation, and some damn space fool dumps it out with her trash. Feck that. They were four hours into their trip and there was no way she was going to wait another six months or waste a thousand more creds when the other case was practically within her grasp. After all, she had a tracking beacon for it, it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Staring straight into the purple irises of her porter she raised her wrist com near her face. “Attention bridge, full stop and reverse course to Kalente.”

“Captain?”

She narrowed her eyes at the quivering man in front of her and spoke to the voice that responded from the bridge. Lt. Seenon had been her first mate for three years and was currently standing command duty since the captain had just gone into downtime. “That’s an order, Lieutenant!”

“Yes ma’am!”

There was no noticeable difference when the ship stopped and turned in space, nor did she notice when the Galleum went at speed in the opposite direction. Finally she nodded to the porter and he gave a salute and quickly scrambled away.

About four hours later Lt. Seenon hailed Cpt. Dasho on the coms. “Captain, we’re approaching the place where we last engaged the star-drive. What are your orders?”

“Scan the surrounding area for our trash dump debris. I activated the beacon for the item I’m looking for, check for repeating sub-string signal. Let me know as soon as you find anything.” Thinking she’d be better off in the middle of the search, Cpt. Dasho decided to head to the bridge herself.

All eyes turned towards Jinda as the door hissed open and the she stepped onto the bridge. “Captain on bridge!” The members of her team gave her a quick salute. Even if she was strict, even if her bad moods were legendary, her crew respected her. Cpt. Dasho was small but strong still. She preferred to dress in black, instead of the standard gray ship jumpsuit. Black pants with a pocket on the left thigh, tucked neatly into black boots. Strapped to her right thigh was a holster that connected with the utility belt at her waist. The holster housed a custom blaster loaded with energy dissipation rounds that would not penetrate through the hull of the ship. It worked quite well on living creatures though. Cpt. Dasho finished the outfit with a long sleeve black top and her ever-present wrist com. Her face was almost pixie like with its finely arching dark brows and lightly pointed chin. Her dark hair was straight and formed a severe line that followed the curve of her jawline. Some called her beautiful but lately most called her bitch. “Well?”

Lt. Seenon looked up from his console. “We didn’t find any debris where we dumped before star-jump…”

“What?” Cpt. Dasho’s immediate rising ire was obvious to all. In an age old instinct to hide, one young ensign slid down in her chair.

Her first mate continued on as if he hadn’t just been interrupted by the spawn of Kazaan. “As I was saying, there were no debris but the signal is emanating from a space station relatively near the dump zone.” He hit a switch and brought an image of the station up on the main screen.

“What in all the black hole hells is that?”

Lt. Seenon glanced at her out of the corner of his single eye. “That would be the space station, Captain.”

“Bollocks!”

Used to his captain’s tirades, Padyun Seenon just shrugged. “Would you like us to hail the station?”

Cpt. Dasho looked at him incredulously. “You mean you haven’t already?”

“Well, actually we did. There was no answer. We’ve already confirmed there are at least two biologicals on board, neither of which should pose a threat. According to our readings the docking hatch is unlocked. I can send a shuttle team over to board and retrieve your…case.” He made a face that wrinkled the ridges of his deep green forehead. Jinda Dasho always thought the combination of vertical ridges running over the apex of her first mate’s smooth head made his one large eye look like an exclamation point.

Thinking about the sensitive nature of her recent purchase, Cpt. Dasho shook her head. “No, I’ll go over and get it myself. You have the com until I get back, Lieutenant!”

Lt. Seenon was used to his captain’s penchant for doing things herself. He usually just chalked it up to the fact that she didn’t suffer fools easily and was convinced that nothing would get done right if she didn’t do it herself. That was why he didn’t try to argue her out of going, he merely saluted and returned to the captain’s chair. He knew who the owner of the station was, the name came up on its beacon. It was a name that was known in certain circles throughout the galaxy. Scientere Extremus Amedrelda Thotzmith had a reputation for being as brilliant as she was crazy, it would be interesting to see if his captain came back in one piece. He laughed from his seat on the bridge and the same hapless ensign cast a furtive glance his way. She was full human so he tried winking at her in reassurance like he’d seen the captain do over and over again. Then he remembered that he only had one eye and sighed.

 

***

 

Ames was using a plasma welder trying to cut a hole into the center of a ship saddle for the long-haul catheter line. She had just finished knocking out the oval of metal when the proximity alarm sounded again. She pushed her goggles up to the top of her head with her free hand and looked off toward the control room. “What the blue blazes is it now?”

“Meow.”

She looked down at the cat who was chewing on some wiring in a storage bin. She kicked the box and he took off running. “Stay out of my stuff or I’ll singe all the fur off your useless body!” Rather than make good on her threat she carefully shut off the plasma cutter and stowed it away in another lockdown bin for hazardous tools. A second pulsing alarm started before she could head into the control room. “Well now I know what the proximity alert is, someone’s at the door. Fecker, we’ve got company!” She took one look around her disastrous lab and shrugged. “I’m a scientere, not a cleanup assistant.” When she got to the shuttle lock she looked through the portal and saw a woman inside. “Oh my, she’s certainly a handsome specimen!”

Cpt. Dasho noticed the station owner peering through the porthole. “Hello?”

“Hello!” Ames waved at her while carrying on a litany of words almost under her breath. “Yes, wave…this is what we do when people come. I just smile and wave and say hello…”

Nervous to be in the air lock so long, Jinda Dasho addressed the figure on the other side of the door. “Can I come in?”

“Who are you?”

The captain sighed. “I’m the captain.”

Ames looked at her curiously. “The captain of what?”

“Of my ship?” Now Dasho was confused. How could someone not notice a star class ship outside her window?

“Ship?” Amedrelda Thotzmith, Scientere Extremus, sometimes got so caught up in the details of her genius that she missed the larger things in life. Though you didn’t get much larger than a star class ship. She brought up the control screen next to the entry hatch and sure enough there was a giant ship off her Disha side. “Oh, so sorry. I didn’t see you out there. Did you hail me?”

Cpt. Dasho was losing her patience. “Multiple times. Listen, can I come aboard now? I don’t particularly like standing unsuited in the entry hatch of a rad-wasted space station.”

Ames was taken aback. “Rad wasted? I’ll have you know this station is as sound as a…” She never got to finish her declaration because another alarm blared throughout the station and the light over the entry hatch started flashing.

“Seal compression loss in twenty-five seconds…”

The surly captain’s face changed to one of panic. “What was that?”

“Oh sheeta shet!” Ames immediately starting punching in the code to unlock the main hatch into the station. As soon as it opened she reached in and pulled the captain through, then slammed the door again. The lock engaged seconds before the airlock blew and sent shuttle careening away from the space station.

Cpt. Dasho’s surprise lasted just long enough to register the spinning shuttle then she quickly activated her com. “Lt. Seenon, if you would be so kind as to grab my shuttle please? There’s been a slight mishap here at the station and it was blown out from a faulty airlock.”

“How are you going to get back to the ship, Captain? That’s the only airlock with shuttle connect capability.”

Jinda Dasho gazed at the crazed-looking scientere as the woman stood mesmerized watching the shuttle spinning away from her station. She interrupted the other woman’s focus. “Do you mind if I send a team over here to repair your airlock?”

Ames pulled her gaze back inside the station to her guest. “No, that would be greatly appreciated. “

Cpt. Dasho activated her com back to the ship. “I guess I’m not going anywhere just yet. Can you send a team over her to start repairs on the airlock?”

Her first mate responded smartly. “Yes, captain. I’ll get someone right on it.”

When the com shut off she cleared her throat to get the station owner’s attention. “Do you always welcome guests so…abruptly?”

Ames spun back toward her visitor. “Oh! I’m so sorry about your shuttle! Erm…” She looked around trying to remember what one does with a guest. “Would you like to come in?”

“Meow.”

“Would you look at that! It’s a Paklovian ship cat!” She bent down and scooped up the black cat, cradling it in her arms. “These things are rare and priceless, where ever did you find one? What’s its name?” She delicately lifted the tail but didn’t know how to tell what sex a feline was.

Ames shrugged. “That’s Fecker, and he came with the station.” She began leading the captain through the connecting passageways to her main living space. She directed her to sit on one of the bolted couches and took a seat next to her. It was much too close for propriety but Ames didn’t know better and Jinda’s attention was on the lovable little cat. “So what brings you to my station, Captain?”

“Oh!” Cpt. Dasho realized bemusedly that she was being a rude guest. She looked up and was met with a pair of sparkling blue eyes. “I…uh…” She tried to focus her gaze out, to take in more details of the Scientere. She wore a tan coverall of some strange material, perhaps flame resistant. Her skin was blue but too pale for a native of Kalente and her blonde hair was pulled back into a messy twist that was further tangled by the large yellow-tinted goggles that had been pushed atop her head. She was thin as most scienteres tended to be. While geniuses at a great many things, scienteres were notoriously terrible about remembering the basics like eating and sleeping. Giving herself a mental shake, she smiled and set the cat onto the floor. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t get your name.”

Ames laughed nervously, realizing too late that her close proximity to the captain was highly distracting. She smelled so…clean. “Sorry. My name is Amedrelda Thotzmith, but you can just call me Ames.” She held out a hand to touch fingertips with the other woman and Cpt. Dasho held out her finger in response.

Jinda recognized the inventor’s name right away, after all the woman was famous. “Greetings, Ames. I am Captain Jinda Dasho but you can call me…”

The scientere interrupted, having known a few captains in her time. “Captain?”

The captain shook her head and smiled. “No, Jinda. Now Ames, about the reason I’m here…”

“Oh yes, I assume it’s not for the company.”

Jinda raised an eyebrow. “Well the company is lovely.”

The clueless scientere glanced down to where the station cat was rubbing against the captain’s tall black boots. “The company?”

“I meant you. But I’m actually here for a case that got flushed right before we left orbit a little over eight hours ago.”

Ames perked up suddenly. “Your med case! Yes, I found it. It did seem valuable and I was going to try and sell it planetside if no one showed up to claim it.”

“My med…what?”

The scientere tried again. “You’re medical instrument kit?”

“That’s not…” Jinda blurted out, then she stopped and her face turned red as she realized she would have to explain what was in the case to the spaced woman next to her.

Ames abruptly jumped up from the couch and pulled the captain up as well. “I’ve got the case next to my bunk, you can tell me what it is in there.”

The blush didn’t go away with Ames’ words, if anything it got darker. When they arrived in the inventor’s cabin Jinda watched as she moved the case to the stow-table by the bed and released the clasps that held it shut. Forgetting her current company she leaned forward slightly and licked her lips. After all, she had been waiting six months for the package. As soon as all the items inside were viewable, Jinda gasped. “Ooh, those are perfect!”

“Perfect? What are they?”

Jinda swallowed nervously and tried to explain. “Well see…as the captain of my ship sometimes it gets lonely for me on those long hauls. And being captain, I can’t really fraternize with any of my crew because it just wouldn’t be right. You see, the stress builds up with no way to release…and a woman just gets tired of her own hand…”

Ames held up a hand of her own to stop the captain. Her mind flashed back to those thirty seconds of video that Fecker brought up on her view screen earlier. She pointed at the case. “Are you telling me those items are for humanoid sexual pleasure?”

Cpt. Dasho looked back at her in surprise. “Are you telling me you’ve never seen items intended for humanoid sexual pleasure?” Ames shook her head back and forth. “Holy ships! Didn’t you uh, explore at all when you went to Denobie to complete your Scientere Extremecy? I mean the planet is famous for two things, scienteres and titillarians!”

Ames shrugged. “I guess I never saw a reason to. I dallied with a few classmates but they were disappointments all. Why humanoids think it’s so pleasurable is beyond me.”

Jinda sputtered. “Disapp…beyond yo…really? You’ve never orgasmed so hard that you saw stars without a nearby porthole?”

“I don’t think I can.”

The captain looked at her strangely. “See stars?”

Ames shook her head. “No, orgasm. I’ve tried touching myself and it just never does anything.” There were two reasons why Ames had no problem discussing the subject of sex with a complete stranger. The first was that she really was clueless about what modern social norms dictated as taboo subjects in polite company. The second was her insatiable curiosity about all things unknown. She had never understood sexuality and sexual response no matter how many titillarians she came across on Denobie. For the first time she was with someone who seemed knowledgeable on the subject. And for that and that alone Ames was willing to roll back her awareness to that of a student, eager to learn. “Can you show me?”

“What?” Jinda nearly swallowed her tongue. She was completely taken by surprise at the popular inventor’s words. But the expression on Ames’ face never changed. “You’re serious?” Ames nodded and Jinda’s mind started racing. It probably wouldn’t be any different than finding someone random at the next station leave and at least the strange scientere would be medically sound, if not mentally. What could it hurt to humor her, it wasn’t like either of them were going anywhere any time soon. Lt. Seenon would contact her when the airlock repair was finished so she may as well find something to kill the time. “So if we do this, how would you like to start?”

Ames had been staring into the ship captain’s dark brown eyes, they almost appeared black in the lowered light of her cabin. She admired the woman’s clean jawline and straight nose. And when she spoke her teeth were so white. She startled when she realized the red lips she’d been staring at were moving. “Oh, I’m sorry. Um…how do you normally begin?”

“Well where I come from, we usually start with a kiss.”

The scientere’s face lit excitedly. “I know kissing!” She immediately lunged forward and only succeeded in knocking heads with the unsuspecting ship captain.

Jinda slapped a hand to her throbbing forehead. “Ow, damn, feck!”

Ames rubbed her own sore head and looked down. “I’m sorry, I just got so excited that I could contribute some knowledge to this experiment.” She peered up through pale lashes at the attractive captain occupying her bed. Not thinking again, she let her initial thoughts pour out of her mouth. “You’re really quite aesthetically pleasing.”

It was the captain’s turn to look startled then and a smile came over her face. She was starting to figure out the awkward scientere. She decided to give Ames one last opportunity to change her mind. “So you really want to go through with this…experiment? What would be your purpose?” She’d known a few scienteres in her day. While they were all scholars at heart, scienteres had a core of curiosity that drove them and they never did anything without purpose.

“My purpose? Why for the pure discovery of it alone! And I’d always wondered if there was something lacking in me or if I was missing the proper data to achieve an acceptable conclusion. Perhaps you will be more knowledgeable in such things.”

Cpt. Dasho cocked her head at the strange woman with the even stranger proposal. “We certainly have the time, it will be a few hours minimal until my crew can have your airlock repaired. I could return to my ship wearing a suit but I’d rather not take a spacewalk if I can help it.” She was about to say more but they were interrupted when the station cat jumped onto the bunk.

“Oh no you don’t!” Ames scooped him up and walked the nosey cat back over to the door, then unceremoniously tossed him out. She shut the door again with a ‘wish’ sound and went back over to her bunk. She looked up and met the captain’s eyes and realized the other woman was holding back laughter. Ames was oblivious to the reason why. “I’ve always found that experiments go best with no interruptions.”

Jinda shook her head from where she sat on the bed. “Truer words were never said. Why don’t you have a seat next to me?” She patted the surface of the bunk just to her left. Ames complied and immediately leaned forward again, only to be stopped by Jinda’s hand. “How about I start this, okay?”

The first kiss was peculiar to Ames’ perception. Their lips were dry but warm and the captain kept her touch purposely light. When Jinda started moving those red lips against hers she immediately responded in kind. It was pleasant and thrilling to do something that she hadn’t done in nearly ten space years. It was made even more exciting by the fact that they were conducting an experiment. Few things got Ames’ juices flowing quite like a good examination and analysis session. For Jinda, it was a slightly different experience. The scientere was certainly cute enough with her shimmering blue eyes and dimples marked deep into each cheek. But she seemed a bit stiff as they sat kissing on the bunk. More than a little prideful about her experience with all things sought during a good shore leave, dice, alcohol, and women, she strove to elicit a reaction from the reserved woman. She opened her mouth just slightly and brought the tip of her tongue out to trace Ames’ lips. At the same time she began accelerating their kiss, she brought her right hand up to gently caress the smooth skin of Ames’ neck.

Ames gasped against her and shivered at the ticklish motion. She murmured against the other woman’s mouth. “That tickles…”

Jinda pulled back slightly and explained in a way her new partner would best understand. “Sometimes ticklishness is a response to sensitivity that can later change to a sexual response.”

The scientere smiled. “Can you do it again?”

“How about this instead?” Jinda brought both hands up to cradle Ames’ jaw line and pulled their lips together again. This time when she opened her mouth to tantalize Ames’ with her tongue, the scientere responded by opening hers slightly as well. She tentatively poked her own tongue out and moaned when Jinda rubbed the two organs together.

They kissed for a few minutes before Ames was forced to pull back and take stock of her physical response. “My body temperature feels warmer than normal, that didn’t happen last time I had a sexual encounter. My respiration rate has also increased. Are those normal responses?”

Cpt. Dasho nodded. “Those are actually at the bottom end of the spectrum for expected response. Would you like to continue?”

Ames nodded. “Absolutely!”

“Would you like to get a little more comfortable first?”

The scientere cocked her head to the side in thought. “Is this where we remove our clothing and assume the nude state to ready ourselves for coupling?”

Jinda looked at her in surprise. “Um, no. I just want to adjust our clothing a little to compensate for the increased body temperature.”

“Oh, good thinking!” Ames quickly unzipped her jumpsuit down to her navel. She wore no breast support underneath, only smooth skin peeked through the gap in the tan fabric. Ames noticed that Jinda seemed fascinated by the exposed skin and she smiled with the realization that the captain was attracted to her sexually. She noted that the severe countenance of the other woman had changed since they began the experiment. Jinda’s face was flushed and her lips were parted slightly. Ames grinned at her, liking the response that she had caused in the other woman. “Would you like some help with your clasps, captain?”

Jinda’s head came up to meet those strange blue eyes and she flushed at being caught gawking. With a shake of her head, she unclasped her black shirt, willing the air to cool her body as fast as possible. “I can get it, thanks.”

No sooner had she reached the top of her belt when Ames gasped aloud. “That is beautiful! Can I touch it?” She was staring intently at the colorful spiral tattoo that took up most of Jinda’s chest. The captain nodded so Ames reached out to trace the center, right over her sternum. “Is that a Fibonacci spiral?”

Ames’ touch was light yet Jinda shivered with it. She had to focus to answer. “Yes. I’ve got an Archimedean spiral on my back.”

“Why?”

Jinda shrugged. “I don’t know. I saw them once and always thought they were beautiful shapes, perfect. I wanted a little of that perfection on my body I guess. I added color because the universe is full of it and should be represented.”

The scientere’s wandering hand moved slightly to trace the top portion of the spiral where it was inked over Jinda’s pectoral muscle. She brought the other hand up to feel both sides at the same time. “My Scientere Extremus thesis was about the potential relationship between the Fibonacci spiral pattern and the program components of a star-drive. I hypothesized that if you could program the drive to replicate the spiral when it cycles through its breakdown inhibitors then you could achieve twice the current known max drive speed. But I’ve never been able to work on an actual model to prove that theory…”

Cpt. Dasho kissed her to shut her up. On the second round the kisses were more forceful and Ames participated with even more excitement. Her hands remained on the captain’s chest while Jinda had brought her own hands up to tangle with already mussed blond hair. When they pulled apart again Jinda smiled to note that Ames’ eyes were still shut and her lips looked kiss swollen. “Do you need to do another analysis of your physical state again?”

Ames’ eyes popped open, confusion clearly written in the blue depths. “My physical state?” Then those same eyes widened as she became aware that the experiment had completely slipped her mind. “Yes, well…erm, my physical state is certainly…heightened. I’m also quite warm.”

“Would you like to compensate again for the increased temperature?” Ames nodded. Jinda moved her hands just inside the uppermost part of Ames’ jumpsuit opening. Then ever so slowly, she pushed it further open and off Ames’ shoulders completely. She continued to follow the material down the scientere’s arms all while never breaking their gaze. Ames helped at the end by pulling her arms out of the sleeves until the top half of the jumpsuit puddled in a tan mass behind her on the bunk. Ames shivered and Jinda drank in the other woman’s hardened nipples and dark areolas, distinct against the pale blue skin of her breasts. She covered those breasts with her hands and looked back up into Ames’s eyes. “Are you cold?”

The scientere shuddered with the contact to her sensitive nipples. “Tha…that is not a recordable response right now.” She found her focus once again, eager to see the rest of Jinda’s tattooed upper body. “Would you like to remove your shirt as well, captain?”

Jinda hadn’t moved her hands while they rested on Ames’ breasts, she just savored the hard points digging into each palm. But before she answered the scientere’s question, she caressed the small breasts in her grasp. As her fingers moved in opposite directions against the smooth skin, her thumbnails grazed the large nipples. The thumbs pressed and massaged only three times before Ames gasped and moaned with her touch. It was incomprehensible to a renowned scientere that she would not know that two parts of her body could be connected in such a way. That was why it came as such a surprise that the captain’s manual manipulation of her breasts could cause such a strong twinge down in her groin. In a moment of shock she moved a hand down to grab herself and shuddered with the contact against her most sensitized sexual organs. Jinda immediately responded by pulling her own hands away from Ames’ breasts and grabbing Ames’ away from her groin. “Nuh uh. What kind of scientere would you be if you start skipping steps now?”

Ames felt like she’d been exercising on the giant running wheel installed in her rec bay. In all the reasons she had hypothesized, Ames had never once thought the experiments would elicit such a reaction from her body. “I’m so sensitized right now.” She met Jinda’s smiling eyes. “Is that normal?”

Cpt. Dasho nodded. “Absolutely.” Then without another words she stripped off her own shirt, exposing the breast support underneath.

The scientere waved toward the extra bit of fabric. “Can you…?” Knowing what she was referring to, Jinda immediately removed the support. Both women sat on the bunk side by side, their torsos facing each other. Ames took in the beautiful design and coloring of the spiral. “Can I see the other side?” Jinda turned in the opposite direction so Ames could see her back. She shivered when the scientere’s finger came up to trace the symmetrical spiral. “It is truly a beautiful merger between science and art.”

Cpt. Dasho turned back around and gazed at the half nude woman in front of her. “I could say the same about you.”

Ames mouth opened in shock. “Me? Beautiful? Surely not, I’m a Scientere Extremus!”

Jinda burst out laughing. “And you think that scienteres can’t be beautiful? I can personally attest that you are very…aesthetically pleasing. Should we move on to the next part of our experiment?”

Breath sucked into Ames’ lungs at the new look that she saw in Jinda’s eyes. “What part is that?”

“Well we’ve done well with the kissing so far, now we will bring our hands into play. Why don’t you lay down on the bed and get more comfortable.” The scientere complied, excited to be moving on to the next phase. Especially if it was as pleasurable as the first one. Ames remained on her back, with the top portion of the jumpsuit bunched slightly below her. The discomfort was minimal and quickly forgotten when Jinda removed her belt and blaster holster, then reclined next to her and began touching the scientere’s upper body. The captain leaned closer and brought her lips into play, gently kissing the skin beneath Ames’ ear, and working her way down along the scientere’s jaw. At the same time her fingers traced a ticklish path from Ames’ neck to graze across her chest muscles. She moved back up to claim Ames’ lips as her right hand fully enclosed Ames’ left breast. Jinda moved back and forth between each one, rubbing and pinching the obscenely hard nipples below.

After only a few minutes of such manipulation Ames jumped and shuddered with light release. “Oh!” Jinda stopped and pulled back at the sound of Ames voice, realizing what had just happened. She immediately stilled all motion of her hand and the scientere spoke again. “What was that?” Amazement colored Ames’ voice and the captain just smiled down at her.

“I believe that was your first taste of orgasm.”

Ames smiled delightedly. “Well that was certainly pleasant!” She was startled when the woman above her started laughing. The scientere had been laughed at before for her fanciful ideas and strange demeanor and it never made her feel good. “What is so funny?”

Cpt. Dasho gazed down at her devilishly. “My dear Scientere Extremus…that was only a taste! You haven’t experienced the real thing yet.”

Curious, Ames responded. “Well how do I get there?”

In one smooth motion, Jinda moved to cover the scientere’s body with her own. They both groaned as sensitive breasts rubbed together and Jinda began kissing her again, more fiercely than before. At the same time she stimulated Ames’s mouth and tongue, she pressed herself firmly against Ames’ groin. The tingling that had started earlier with her breast manipulation increased tenfold and it felt natural to thrust against the woman above her. She was torn between wanting to grasp at the smooth skin of Jinda’s back, and moving her hands higher to grip the captain’s shining black hair. The hair won. As soon as her grip tightened she was rewarded with faster motion from the other woman. Pressure built down low as the captain continued her exquisite thrusting. Ames could barely breathe with the way their mouths feasted on one another, desperately filling each other with bits of themselves. And it was a feast because no matter how much she swallowed Jinda’s tongue, the captain would pull it back teasingly to start again. She marveled at the throbbing that had started where they connected hardest. She pulled her lips away to speak aloud. Jinda grinned at the way Ames’ eyes rolled back but didn’t stop her thrusting. “Feels…so different. So much…pressure building. Body temperature is extremely ugh…extremely high, respiration is…mmm, so good…um, respiration has increased to...cardio…levels…oh!” Orgasm struck unexpectedly in the midst of her scientific soliloquy. A yell was drawn from her lips as she shuddered against the thrusting captain. After only a few seconds of Ames’ personal response, Jinda followed her into scientific oblivion. When they were both spent, the captain collapsed on top of the awestruck scientere.

Even as Ames’ body twitched and shuddered below her science partner, her mind raced forward and fingers ached to enter her observations into the station computer. It was beyond anything she had ever expected, and certainly more than she’d experienced in the past. Nothing could compare to the rush of orgasm through each limb of her body. Jinda jumped a little when Ames’s fingers twitched against her sides.  She raised her upper body up and rolled off to lay next to the scientere. “What’s wrong?”

Ames’ eyes were bright with excitement. “That was amazing, completely outside the parameters of expectation! I have to go record my findings!” She started to raise up and was startled to feel Jinda’s hand push her back down again. She met the captain’s gaze and saw that same humor from before.

“Or you can stay here and catch your breath.”

The esteemed Scientere Exremus looked at her curiously. No one had ever kept her from writing down her analytic conclusions before. “Why would I do that? I need to record my observations before they slip from this fallible humanoid memory. I have a theory to flesh out.”

Cpt. Dasho laughed. “There’s only one problem with your theory.”

“How would you know of any problems when you haven’t even heard it? What makes you think there is a problem?”

Jinda gazed at the scientere and moved her hand over to finish unzipping Ames’s jumpsuit. “The experiment isn’t complete. And you can’t accurately record your observations and form a theory when the data is incomplete. Are you ready to continue?”

Ames was baffled at how something as innocuous as mere spoken words or a lingering look could immediately cause her body temperature to rise. But the captain certainly knew what she was doing and if she said the experiment wasn’t finished, well Ames had learned in the past to always trust the expert. She nodded and waited to see what would come next. “I’m ready, captain.” In a surprising move, Cpt. Dasho stood from the bunk and removed her boots and pants, then stripped her underclothes until she stood nude for Ames’ viewing pleasure. The words that left the scientere’s mouth were anything but scientific. “Your body is exquisite!”

Jinda looked down at her with a smirk. “And how is your body?”

Catching the very pointed hint, Ames grabbed the bunched up jumpsuit at her waist and pushed it and her underclothes the rest of the way down her body until she was able to kick the entire mass onto the floor of her cabin. “Is that acceptable?”

The captain drank in the glorious flesh spread out on the bunk. Ames’ skin sported little burn marks here and there from various experiments that got out of control. She didn’t have the muscle definition of Jinda’s usual type, but she was attractive even so. “That’s perfect. Spread your legs just a little, please?” When Ames complied, Jinda crawled back onto the bed and nestled her hips between them. It didn’t take long for the kissing and teasing touches to escalate things back to their heightened state of pleasure.

When Jinda pulled away from Ames’ mouth the scientere whimpered at the loss of connection.  “Oh, don’t stop!”

The captain caressed the full bottom lip of the other woman and reassured her. “I won’t. It’s going to get better, I promise.” Then in a move that made the needy scientere even more distraught, Jinda stood from the bunk and stepped up to the silver case. She looked over the implements nestled deep within their protective lining and tried to decide what to choose first. She considered the relatively inexperienced woman looking up at her with wide green eyes and grabbed a few items from the case. When she climbed back onto the bunk she didn’t settle in above Ames like she had before, instead she moved off to Ames’ right side. She held up the first item for the prone woman to see. It was a metal probe, the one from the case with the smallest bulb at the end.

Ames looked at it with fascination. “What is that for?”

“It’s for penetration.” Jinda bent closer and took the nearest nipple into her mouth. Ames’ body arched off the bed with sudden intense pleasure. That pleasure only increased when the captain moved to the other nipple. At the same time she lavished attention on Ames’ breasts, she moved the length of the probe down toward her mons.

As soon as the smooth metal rod slipped between the Ames’ sexual folds she moaned and grabbed frantically at Jinda’s head. Her fingers twined into the captain’s hair with almost painful force. She shuddered when the smooth bulb moved even lower until it smoothly and persistently teased her vaginal opening. Nothing had ever felt so good. “Please!” Her voice was a desperate whisper, begging for something she had never experienced before. It was nothing at all she could compare to the poor imitation of sexual contacts of her past.

Jinda’s teeth bit lightly at Ames’ nipple as she expertly flipped the probe and started its insertion. Ames’ vaginal muscles clenched down on the bulb as it traveled a path so rarely touched before. As if sensing her limits, the captain reversed direction right before she reached the end. She kept up the slow thrusting pace even as she moved her mouth from Ames’ breasts up to the scientere’s parted lips. When she pulled back again she whispered to the panting woman below her. “How does that feel? Do you want me to stop so you can analyzed your physical responses?”

The scientere had a crazed look in her eyes when she responded through clenched teeth. “Do…not…stop!” The captain laughed and stopped anyway, ignoring the way Ames continued to pant as her heart raced with excitement. Then she slowly removed the probe and the scientere’s whine turned to a defiant demand. “No!”

Jinda looked down at her and set the probe aside. “Yes.” Even as she denied Ames’ pleasure, her hand was in motion to grab another implement. The next thing she put into use was the massager. With the press of a button, the flexible ball at the end came to life. “I think you’ll like this…” She slowly ran the vibrating head down Ames’ abdomen to just tease the top of her mons. When she saw pale lashes flutter shut with anticipation she moved even lower until the vibrating head rested just above the hood of the scientere’s clitoris.

The reaction was instantaneous. “Oh feck!” The scientere’s hips bucked at the intense sensation driving into her groin. Jinda backed off the pressure considerably and lowered the speed to let the feeling build a lot slower. Ames had threaded her right hand back into the captain’s dark hair as the left grasped at the covers below. She could feel that familiar aching pressure building inside and her breathe came out in panting gasps. Just when she thought she could take no more, the sensation stopped. The first tear broke free from the woman’s pale lashes and she begged to get that feeling back. “No, no, no…please don’t stop, Jinda!” Then she began babbling as her desperation to reach that pinnacle increased. “The data isn’t finished, please keep going!”

Jinda set the massager aside and moved her hand back to take its place. She looked down at the beautiful woman below and felt a twinge in her own groin as Ames bit her bottom lip. Jinda’s fingers slid easily through the abundant wetness that coated the entirety of Ames’ mons, lips and vaginal opening. She pulled her hand away again and before Ames could protest, Jinda brought her glistening fingers to the scientere’s lips. “Taste…” A look that was all hot curiosity met Jinda’s. Ames dutifully parted her lips and the captain painted them with her own flavor.

“That’s… different. Not sweet, not salty…” Her words were cut off when Jinda leaned down and kissed her, tongue removing every last bit of wetness from her lips.

“It’s delightful.”

Ames looked back at her with some trepidation. “Do you really like it?”

The captain smiled at her. “I love it, feel.” She took Ames’ left hand and brought it to her own mons, letting the scientere feel the captain’s wetness. Without any prompting at all, Ames let her fingers enter the folds with excited abandon. Jinda’s clit hardened and she moaned at the sudden contact. Despite being the one leading the entire interaction until that point, Ames’ touch left the captain undone and the scientere quickly took over.

Ignoring her own arousal, Ames rolled to her side to better access the captain’s body. She thought the sexual pleasure of release was the pinnacle of the entire experiment but suddenly an entirely new world had appeared before her eyes. She watched as Jinda’s dark lashes fluttered shut and the captain’s mouth parted ever so slightly. As Ames caressed her in full she found the captain’s vaginal opening at the down stroke of her movement. It seemed only natural to slip her fingers inside after that. Even though all the signs of pleasure were right in front of her, she longed to hear the captain say it aloud. “Do you like that, Cpt. Dasho? Do my fingers meet with your approval as they caress you deep inside?” And to emphasize her words, the scientere stroked her long fingers even deeper into the moaning woman.

Faster than anyone else before, the Scientere Extremus was driving Jinda mad with pleasure. She moaned as the strokes deepened and couldn’t help her own begging. “Feck but you feel so good…I need more, want more…”

Not stopping the motion of her fingers, Ames leaned closer to whisper in the captain’s ear. “What do you need?”

“Clitoris…I need more stimulation.”

Ames’ lips parted as she thought about that hard bundle of nerves that she had just felt moments before. She moved even closer and caressed Jinda’s ear with her tongue. “Can I taste you too, captain?”

“Oh!” Cpt. Dasho throbbed with the pleasure at Ames’ request. She no longer worried at the scientere’s lack of experience. She knew it would take the lightest touch to start a chain reaction within her. “Yes!”

The woman that had suddenly taken over their tryst was forced to remove her fingers as she made her way down the bunk to get a better view of Jinda’s sexual organs. The captain had collapsed onto her back the moment Ames’ fingers entered her and now lay spread out for the scientere to enjoy. Something shiny caught Ames’ attention and with a smile she reached for the largest metal probe that still lay untouched on the bunk. After she had made herself comfortable between Jinda’s legs she looked up at the captain and met the woman’s nearly black gaze. There was heat in their look that neither woman had experienced before. “I want to pleasure you like you pleasured me.”

Jinda’s breath caught at the thought of it. “I would love that.” Before she could dwell further on the mystery of the sexy scientere, the probe entered her in full. It slid in so easily, and back out just as fast.

Ames noted the captain’s level of wetness and her increased respiration rate. She could feel muscles gripping the large bulb at the end of the probe and shuddered to imagine the pleasurable implement held tightly within her own walls. Keeping up the pace for a few minutes she could tell when the captain really started to need her. Jinda’s hips began raising ever so slightly to meet her thrusts. To reward the pleasurable response, Ames brought her free hand to the captain’s abdomen to hold the writhing woman in place then lowered her mouth for the first taste. It was sweet and intoxicating, similar but not really the same as her own flavor. She flattened her tongue and licked a path from the thrusting probe all the way up and over Jinda’s clitoris. Remembering her own experience with the intense vibration of the massager, she backed off the pressure a bit and replicated the move.

The pleasure of just the right touch took Jinda by surprise and her hips thrashed on the bunk, or tried to. But they were held in place by an unexpectedly strong scientere. “Of feck, just like that! Don’t stop Ames, you’ve got me just like that!” And Ames didn’t stop. She experimented by moving the probe shallower, then compared Jinda’s response to the one she got when she took the probe as deep as she could. After that she tried alternating speeds, first fast, then slow. She mixed speed and depth, with fast and short, then slow and deep. She mentally recorded the captain’s responses, both physical and verbal.  Then she went slow and shallow, and ended with fast and deep. Through it all she never altered that steady pace of licking that went the entire length of Jinda’s folds and over the top of her hard, distended clitoris. It was the fast and hard motion that elicited her final response. Despite Ames’ holding her down, Jinda screamed and her back arched off the bed with convulsions of intense pleasure. Ames continued her stroking and thrusting until the captain collapsed back to the bunk and her hands weakly tried to push her away.

The scientere abruptly stilled all motion, and slowly removed the probe. Then out of pure curiosity, she inserted three fingers deep inside the captain’s vagina and reveled at the pulsing gripping muscles that seemed timed by heartbeat alone. Jinda cried out again at the feeling of Ames fingers entering her. Seeing the captain’s continued state of arousal, Ames thought she’d try something more. She began moving her fingers inside, thrusting in and out at the same time she brought her mouth down to suck on the hard bundle of nerves. The captain’s reaction was more explosive than before. “Feck!” Her orgasm was instantaneous. Just like that, the Scientere Extremus had a lot more data to add.

The captain didn’t take long to recover and before Ames knew it she was pulled up and lying on her back on the bunk. Then Jinda was in motion again, bring the massager down to tease the scientere. Surprise washed over Ames’ face. “Oh, how am I stimulated again so fast? It feels so good…”

Jinda moved down her body and nestled between the prone woman’s legs, just as she had done moments before. “You’re close because bringing someone else to orgasm is an incredible turn on. I bet you didn’t figure that into your data did you?”

Ames looked down and met her eyes and her voice was a whisper with the rising pleasure. “No, I didn’t.”

Before she could spiral too high, Jinda removed the massager and reached up to place it in Ames’ hand. “Hold this for me.” Ames never even got a chance to ask why. Her words were stilled on the tip of her tongue when Jinda brought the last untouched item into play. Ames was so wet that it didn’t take much to thoroughly coat the entire length of the thick purple wand. Looking up at the intrepid inventor, she called out softly to her. “Are you ready for this new one?”

Ames looked back at her fearfully, taking in size that was noticeably larger than the previous probe. “Will it hurt?”

Cpt. Dasho gave her a serious look in return. “If at any point I hurt you, I will gift you with my ship. I promise only pleasure.”

The scientere’s eyes widened. “Then I’m ready.” She sucked in a breath when Jinda slowly began to work the wand into her opening. As soon as the tip entered she stopped all motion to let Ames acclimate to the sensation. Then she brought the first and second fingers of her left hand up and gently ran them along the skin that was to either side of Ames’ clitoris. The distended flesh nestled snugly between each finger. “Oh!”

As the pleasure started to build again with each stroke, she slowly moved the wand deeper inside. Jinda went in very little at first, before sliding the molded purple wand back out. Each time she completed a thrust, she moved it even further on the down stroke. Within a matter of minutes the purple expanse was disappearing almost completely within Ames. Purposely keeping the thrusting at a slow pace she called out to the woman whose chest was heaving with unimagined pleasure. “Ames…”

It took immense effort but he scientere was able to open her eyes and return her blue gaze to the captain. “Ye…yes?”

Jinda nodded toward the massager. “Bring that back and replace my fingers.”

Ames did as she was told, knowing enough by the point to keep the massager speed low. Even armed with that knowledge she wasn’t prepared for the intense feeling that emanated from deep inside her. As soon as the massager touched the skin above her clitoris the captain began thrusting with abandon. Fast and deep she took the scientere until a keening sound emanated from the woman’s mouth. Ames’ vision grew dark and spotty, like she was staring out into the deepest of space. Pressure increased in her head and she forgot all about experiments, data, and extrapolating theories. Jinda’s steady driving penetration coupled with the massager’s near magical ability to elicit response had the scientere screaming through her orgasm and beyond. Her hoarse guttural shouting echoed off the metal walls of the cabin until both voice and consciousness failed her. She collapsed to the bed and Cpt. Dasho smiled into a soft thigh at science done well. The Scientere Extremus fell like a star through the heavens and it was glorious.

She waited and when Ames didn’t rouse right away she decided to remove the wand from her depths. She set the implement on the bunk out of the way and grabbed the massager from her scientere’s limp hand, and shut it off. Jinda moved back up to lay next to Ames and watched as life slowly returned. First pale lashes fluttered open, but blue eyes still weren’t seeing anything. Then in stages, the rest came back. Ames drew in a deep breath, and her head turned with eyes focused intently on the captain’s face. Her voice breathed wonder and delight. “That was unbelievable! Perhaps I had simply done it wrong all those years ago. Is normal sexual interaction always like that?”

Cpt. Dasho just looked at her for another second then burst out laughing. “You are the one who is unbelievable. And adorable.” Then, suddenly and inextricably, an idea came to her as she stared down into those fascinatingly intelligent blue eyes.

Ames cocked her head where it lay on the pillow, trying to analyze the captain’s look. “What is it?”

Jinda smiled down at her and took a tentative first step. “How would you like work out your Fibonacci spiral theory on a ship with an actual star-drive?”

Shocked eyes gazed back at her. “And leaved my space station?”

The captain pressed. “Are you working on anything right now?”

Ames considered her lack of projects and shook her head. “No, I’m not. What are you proposing, captain?”

“Well, I’m currently in need of a Chief Science Officer, which I know is considerably below your esteemed experience and skill. However, it would give you abundant opportunity to work on your theory. And I have a large lab that will be one hundred percent under your purview.”

Ames looked skeptical. “How large?”

Cpt. Dasho looked around the room and tried to remember the specs of the main lab on board The Galleum. “About the size of this station.”

“Holy ship!” The exclamation slipped out before Ames could stop it. Then the intelligent scientere closed her eyes took a few minutes to think over the proposal. Finally she opened them again and addressed the woman that would be her captain. “And what do you get out of the deal? You could find a science officer at any large docking station. Why bring an unknown intellect on board?”

Jinda grinned. “Well I was hoping that when you developed a working prototype, you’d install it in my ship first.”

Disappointment sped through Ames and she refused to admit the reason why. “Oh, well I suppose that makes sense…” She looked away, toward the far wall of her cabin.

The captain reached out and gently caressed the scientere’s cheek, pulling lightly to bring their gazes back together. “And I was hoping you’d be interested in performing more experiments too.” The smile she got from Ames could have powered an entire fleet of star-drive ships.

“I’d like that very much. You realize that my station cat will have to come with me.”

Jinda nodded. “I happen to love ship cats so that’s not a problem.”

“And my experiments can get kind of loud and…messy.”

The captain’s eyes twinkled with amusement. “I’m counting on it.”

“Oh.” Then Jinda’s meaning dawned on the scientere and her eyes widened alluringly. “Oh!” She took a deep breath, already thinking what she would need to pack and what would stay behind. “I supposed I should start gathering my things then.”

Before another word could be spoken between them, they were interrupted by Cpt. Dasho’s wrist com. “Captain, we’ve completed repairs to the air lock and re-engaged your shuttle. You may return at your convenience.”

She spoke back into the com but never took her eyes off Ames. “Thank you lieutenant. I’ll be returning shortly. I want you to select a team of porters to come back over to the station and help our new Chief Science Officer pack up her gear for movement to The Galleum. Scientere Extremus Amedrelda Thotzmith has agreed to join our crew. She will be taking over the port side lab and will need her equipment and tools moved there.”

“Aye aye, captain!”

As Jinda finished her com call Ames was already off the bed and in motion. She took all the pleasure implements over to the water closet and ran them under a sterilizer, then brought them back and packed them into the captain’s case. She gave the lid a shove and with a hiss and a click it was closed once again. They both got dressed in silence. Ames watched with rapt fascination as Cpt. Dasho tucked her pant legs into her tall black boots. Her lips parted just a little as Jinda strapped the blaster to her thigh once again. Her captain looked dangerous and…oh so appealing. Cpt Jinda Dasho picked up her case and walked quietly behind Ames until they reached the air lock where it all began. The scientere turned and stared at her guest awkwardly, not sure how things should proceed. The captain had just moved into power over her and she wasn’t sure what the protocol would be for personal interaction going forward. Jinda broke the silence. “Well, I should get back to the ship, but I’ll see you soon.”

Ames swallowed and nodded. “Yes, Captain.”

Jinda abruptly set the case down and stepped close to the scientere. “Ah, that is the dilemma, isn’t it?” Ames nodded. With the gentlest touch of her hands to each side of Ames’ face, she drew their lips together into a thorough and deep exploration of facts and feelings. The data collection for both was invaluable. Then they pulled apart slowly until the captain could once again look into those sparkling blue eyes. “How about this then…while I love being your captain, I will never actually be your commander.”

She meant for them to be equals. Ames let out a breath as she realized that Cpt. Dasho was giving up a bit of power just to keep her happy. All the data pointed to the logical conclusion and Ames nodded. Jinda’s words made complete sense. “I suppose I better let you get to it then. And I should go pack.”

The captain picked up her silver case again and stepped through the airlock door. She called out just before Ames could shut it to cycle pressure to that of the shuttle. “Don’t forget the goggles!”

Ames nodded and smiled knowingly, then closed the hatch.