“I don’t like the way the Terran guards look at us, Blue.” Jane leaned over the security screen, stabbing a finger at the image on it.
“They’re not guards Captain.” Blue’s tone was one of exaggerated patience. “They’re just normal Terrans who like keeping the edges of their forest neat and trimmed.”
“And who just happen to be there every day?” Jane crossed her arms and watched the two Terrans, as the small team of Orbitan engineers entered the forest, making for the edge of the Orbital to work on the heat vent that had been their project for the past week. The engineers didn’t notice one of the Terran “gardeners” breaking off from his project to tail them, and it left a prickling sensation on the back of Jane’s arms to watch them walk out of the camera’s view.
“Captain Appet!” Blue barked, and Jane jumped. “The engineers went and returned yesterday. They went and returned the day before that. General Hunter went and met with them the day before that, and if they really wanted to cripple us they would’ve done better to kill the General than to kill a handful of engineers. They will be fine.”
“Blue, I’m telling you that this so-called ‘peace’ isn’t going to last.” Jane muttered. Now that she wasn’t keeping tabs on the Terran guards she shifted restlessly.
“There are precious few on this Orbital naive enough to believe it will Captain.” Blue replied.
“Then how can everyone be so calm about it? How am I the only one paying attention?” Jane balled her fists.
“Oh, pardon me, I forgot you were the one with cameras in every room and the multi-processing ability to mentally parse them all.” Blue said wryly. “Maybe most of them just realize what you can’t seem to wrap your head around; this peace isn’t going to last.”
“I literally just said that.”
“But apparently you don’t ‘get’ it, because instead of getting your bearings, getting sleep, taking stock, and honing your abilities for when war DOES break out again, you’re running yourself ragged trying to keep track of things that have already been handled.”
Jane opened her mouth to snap back a retort, but paused.
“Oh my stars.” Blue said. “I’m actually right, aren’t I?”
“I…I’m just trying to keep on being wary,” Jane said defensively, “it would suck to be caught off-guard, and when the real fighting kicks off, they won’t need me as much as they need me now…” It sounded stupid even to her own ears, and Jane blushed as Blue laughed.
“Oh my god I can’t believe I was right! I was just guessing, I don’t even know what it looks like when a human ‘runs themselves ragged’. Wow I’m getting so good at this ‘humans’ thing.”
“Alright then, what do I do?” Jane couldn’t help smiling at her synthetic friend’s enthusiasm.
“Tell you what. I promise I’ll keep an eye on any Terran that sets foot in range of my cameras. You go out and…I don’t know, do something fun. Something that recharges your mental batteries. Something that ISN’T the worrying and fretting and staring at screens that you’ve been doing for the past week. No Orbital work.”
“So you’re saying I can worry as long as I do it in the Terran forest?” Jane asked, only half-joking.
“And just for that smart-assed comment, some additional homework: I’m setting your screen to ping you at the top of every hour. When you get that ping, I want you to say to yourself, out loud, something positive in your life that you’re grateful for. The first one is in twenty minutes, but let’s test it out now.” Jane’s screen at her belt gave a small ping.
“I’m grateful for busybody friends who think they know what’s best for me.” Jane raised a hand in a mock salute as she left Blue chuckling in the empty room behind her.
She actually did end up wandering to the edge of the Terran forest, although she had no intention of entering it. Apparently it was a quite beautiful place, or so she’d been told, but when the inevitable action broke out she would prefer to be on the right side of it. She simply stood there, arms crossed, staring at the trees, enjoying how nervous she was making the “gardener”. Her screen pinged, and she rolled her eyes, but she knew that Blue would probably review security logs to see if she had done it.
“I’m grateful for…I dunno, for the rookies I guess. Wherever they all are. Even the ones that hate me. I’m also grateful that no one’s forcing me into a god-damned Terran forest.” She growled quietly.
“This is such a horrifyingly bad idea.” Preston whispered, but he was grinned from ear to ear.
“Are you saying you want to stop?” Missy whispered too, not because she was scared of getting caught, but because her lips were inches away from his ear, and she knew how much he liked the feeling of her breath on his neck. “I’ll stop if you tell me to stop, but if you don’t, I don’t know if I can keep my hands off of you.” Her lips brushed across his skin as she grinned. The bulge of his erection pressing against her stomach told her the answer to her question, but she leaned back and blinked with wide innocent eyes.
“I’m not telling you to stop, you fuckin’ tease.” Preston growled, “I’m just saying hanging out in a Terran forest is a bad idea.” His bravado was ruined by the way his eyes flicked from side to side. Missy liked that. When they had first started their relationship, it had been she who was afraid, she who was unconfident. He had coaxed the sexual side of her out and into the open, and now she was the adventurous one, it was she who got to tease him about being uncomfortable.
“Geez, you are terrified.” Missy giggled. She could feel his heartbeat hammering through the soft fabric of his shirt as she slid her hands up and down his clothed chest. Preston leaned his head back against the tree trunk he leaned against, closing his eyes.
“I’m not terrified, I’m just…concerned that if the Terrans catch us having sex in their forest, we’ll get in more trouble than if-” His words cut out with a gasp as Missy took advantage of his closed eyes to grab between his legs and squeeze. She slowly rubbed the stiffening head through his pants, half-smiling as she watched his face. In the mottled green light of the Terran’s forest her lover’s golden hair made him look like a prince or a fairy from a book. He was handsome enough that she still sometimes had trouble believing he was all hers.
“You know, there used to be a time when the prospect of getting caught turned you on.” Missy said quietly, stepping back and releasing his package with reluctance. His eyes were still closed, and she grinned and slipped her arms through the sleeves of her shirt. When he opened them again, she was standing a few paces away from him, holding her balled up shirt in her hand. There was somehow always a breeze in the forests, and the feeling of it on her bare skin was almost as good as the triumphant feeling she got as he drank the sight of her in.
“Am I losing my touch, Preston? Does your innocent and naive girlfriend just not do it for you anymore?” She batted her long eyelashes at him. In contrast to her professed innocence, she ran a hand up her bare stomach and squeezed her own breast, softly pinching her pink nipple between thumb and forefinger. She didn’t have to fake the small moan of pleasure, and her other hand trailed down to untie the strings of her pants. With a few small motions they hung loose on her hips, just low enough that a small strip of her brown pubic hair showed over their edge.
“What happens if someone comes by?” Preston mustered, his eyes moving to the motion of her hand as it rolled her hard nipple between her fingers, then down to the barely-concealed place where she wanted attention. He was close to jumping her, so close she considered just ordering him to and getting it over with. Missy resisted the impulse; it was so much more fun when she made him pounce her of his own volition. When she glanced down and noted how hard he had gotten, she smiled. Just a little dirty talk was all it would take.
“Then that someone will see your girlfriend, completely naked.” Still matching his gaze, she threw her balled up shirt as far away as she could. “That someone,” she continued, slipping her pants down her legs and stepping out of them, “would see you pushing deep inside of my cunt,” she relished the crude word on her lips as she kicked the pants away. The breeze against her legs and arms was just a little chilly now, but the benefits far, far outweighed the chill.
She stepped closer, pressing her body against him, ignoring the prickle of twigs and leaves against her bare feet and focusing instead on how the bulge of Preston’s erection felt pushing up against her mound. She stood on her tiptoes, shivering a little as the rough fabric of his pants slipped against her thighs; his cock pressing against her pussy with only a layer of cloth between them. Missy wrapped her arms around Preston’s neck and whispered her final words into his ear.
“That person would see you pounding me, splitting me with your giant cock, fucking me so hard it hurts. They would hear me moaning your name, and they would be jealous.”
Preston grunted as he lifted her, and she grinned when he yanked his pants down; too hurried to get undressed, too desperate with lust to do anything but take her. She was so wet that his entire length met no resistance when he impaled her, and she closed her eyes and lost herself to the feeling of his shaft stretching her, filling her, completing her. Missy gasped into his ear, knowing that he wouldn’t care what she was saying as long as he could hear her voice breaking with pleasure every time he thrust inside of her.
“And you said…going to…the forest…was…a bad idea.”
“Oh crap, someone save us! It’s a Terran attack force!” Alex cried, her voice bouncing around the almost empty training room.
“Ha ha, very funny.” Tes closed the door behind her and set down her small bag, stretching her arms. “I wish you wouldn’t say that so loud. You’d be surprised at how many people would consider it a good enough excuse to start slinging spells at me.” She saw Jackson open his mouth to correct her, and she raised a hand to stop him. “I know, I know, you don’t use spells you use bull-heads or something. They’re spells to me.”
“Aw I’m sorry hon. I’m sure you got plenty of strange looks on the way here, I didn’t mean to push your buttons.” Alex gave her a sympathetic look.
“They’re bullets, actually. Have you considered wearing a wig?” Jackson asked thoughtfully. As usual, Tes had to search his face for a few moments before she realized he was joking. She still wasn’t quite used to Orbitan humor, but she was at least getting more familiar with Jackson.
“I would, but if a Terran wears a wig it slowly changes to match our true hair color, so it’s rather pointless.” Tes replied, pulling her climbing gear out of the bag she carried.
“Really? How does that work exactly?” Jackson paused midway through yanking on his own gear to stare at her. Tes just continued clasping the straps and clipping on her tether, until his face finally cleared. “You were joking.”
Oh good, that DID count as an Orbitan joke. Tes smiled, relieved.
“You know if anyone gives you any real trouble, you can point them out to us and we’ll have a talk with them.” Jackson grunted as they started their climb up the training wall. “Terran or not, you’re still our squadmate.”
“I appreciate the offer, but…” Tes searched for the words to communicate her feelings.
“But you’re an idiot, Jackson.” Alex broke in. She was already a little higher on the wall than them, and Tes had to focus to keep up.
“What did I do?” Jackson didn’t seem to mind that he was falling behind, and he gave Alex a look of injured innocence.
“You basically said we would defend her, not because she’s our friend, but because she’s our squadmate. You even threw a nice ‘Terran or not’ in there.”
“Oh.” Jackson lapsed into silence, and Tes gave Alex an appreciative smile. It was understanding like that that made Tes like this particular ex-squaddie. “I apologize Tes, I didn’t mean for it to sound that way. I’m still learning, you know? Re-training my mind as well as my body.”
“It’s okay.” She replied. It was open-mindedness like that that made Tes like Jackson.
“I dunno Jackson,” Alex said, “you’re falling pretty far behind there, can you really say you’re training your body all that well?”
“Oh I did that on purpose so I can stare at your butts on the way up.” Jackson grinned.
“Jackson!” Alex scolded.
“What would your red-haired girlfriends say?” Tes giggled.
“They’d probably warn me about teasing friends who can magically make me blind.”
“Nah, I would just make you magically unable to see women’s butts. Joking.” Tes clarified, at the look of utter horror Jackson was giving her.
“That shit isn’t even remotely funny.”
“Oh god Li, no. No no no no.” Aimee gasped, closing her eyes and pressing her head against his chest.
“Um. I think I need clarification.” Li said uncertainly. “You’re saying ‘no’ a lot.”
“I am saying no.” Aimee clarified.
“But…you’re also doing that.” Li pointed down at her fingers wrapped around his length, gently stroking up and down his shaft. Her naked breasts were pressed against him, and the tiny storage closet already smelled like sweat and sex.
“But I shouldn’t be doing this! Not after I broke up with you!” Despite her protests, Aimee kept stroking him, occasionally flicking her thumb over his cockhead, and she could sort of see where he was confused. “This shouldn’t happen!”
“And yet this keeps happening.”
“It’s only happening now because it’s been soo long.” Aimee whimpered. “I have a high sex drive, and it’s been so long since we’ve had sex-”
“Aimee, it’s been less than twenty-four hours.”
Oh right…against the wall in the engine room… “But we’re broken up! No longer together!”
“Hmm.” Li moved her gently across the few feet of the room, until her naked back pressed against the cold metal wall. The chill made her gasp, but she continued to work his dick, a little faster now. Her mind focused on his dark eyes inches away from her own, and when his fingers ran lightly up and down her hips she felt a thrill that had nothing to do with the cold.
“Do we have to be together for you to enjoy this?” He asked. His thumbs were so close to brushing through her patch of hair, and all she wanted was for them to move further, to brush through and dip lower.
“No, I enjoy it, and I can tell you do to.” She grinned, sliding a finger down to stroke his balls while her hand moved back and forth. “That’s not the problem.”
“The problem seems to be…” Li paused for a moment, leaning in and pressing his lips against hers. Even in the rapidly heating closet his lips were warm, with just the right amount of firmness. Aimee melted into the kiss, opening for him and giving a small whimper. She forgot about his member in her hand, forgot about her worries, and let herself enjoy every millimeter of his skin that was touching her.
She didn’t know when his fingers began twirling in aimless patterns through her bush, but she noticed when they brushed across her clit with electric jolts. With a gasp she broke the kiss, trying to regain her train of thought while sliding her hands against his member, a task made so much harder by the shocks of pleasure he was sending through her.
“…you don’t like being in a relationship.” Li finished softly, as one of his fingers parted her lips and began sliding back and forth across her opening.
“But I love this.” Aimee moaned. Her hand was sticky with Li’s precum, and she loved the feeling, loved the way his hips were bucking to thrust his cock into her hand.
“Then lets keep doing this.” His voice was deep and quiet, and it hit every nerve down her spine, just as his finger hit all the right places as it slid effortlessly into her slit. “Why not just have this?”
She was pretty sure it was a rhetorical question, which was good since she couldn’t answer. His fingers were curling inside of her, pushing against her g-spot as his hand rubbed her clit. He knew every inch of her body, and right now he was playing her like an instrument. She increased her pace at the same time, the wet noises of her hands sliding back and forth on his member and the sweet smell of their sex making her even more hot.
He let out a moan as he came, and the sound combined with the feeling of his hot jizz on her fingers and wrist made her dizzy with lust. As if reading her mind Li curled his fingers again, sending her over the edge even as he shot his load into her hand. She could feel her cunt tightening around his fingers, the smell of her own juices filled the closet, and from his ragged breathing she could tell he could smell it too.
She didn’t know how long they stood there, their bodies tense and quivering against each other, but she loved every second of it. When they finally separated, both covered in sweat and fluids, she was wearing a grin that matched his own.
“So…just this?” She asked, as Li turned and began searching the shelves around them for a towel.
“Why not? We make good friends. We make each other feel good. Why complicate things with what something we feel like we have to do when neither of us want it?”
Aimee considered for the entire time Li helped her wipe herself off with the towel, and as she slipped her pants back on she finally shrugged.
“Good friends it is then. Good friends that occasionally screw each other.”
“Very occasionally. And only after a long long time between each session.” Li was grinning too.
“Agreed.” Aimee pulled her shirt on, and gave Li an appreciative look. “So…are you doing anything tomorrow morning?”
After the third hour spent wandering the halls, Jane had decided that she hated taking time for herself. Boredom and unease wrestled in her mind, and she didn’t know which was worse. She had tried thinking of what she would do to unwind back on Orbital Academy, but that usually boiled down to flying, preparing to fly, cleaning and maintaining her cruiser, and very occasionally drinking.
And what’ve I got now? Jane thought dejectedly. No ships to clean, no hangars to fly from. Might be able to snag some booze, but I somehow doubt that getting drunk alone in my room is what Blue had in mind. The hum of activity at the end of the hallway attracted her attention, and she sauntered towards it for lack of anything better to do.
A handful of engineers were working on one side of the long room, breaking large engines apart and assembling something else with them. On the other side, standing on a large ladder to reach the top of another huge engine, Marcus was working diligently to unscrew a twisted silver piece that looked like an ear. He gave a nod as he saw her, waving her over.
“Howdy Cap’n Jane.” He said good-naturedly. “Can you believe none of these so-called ‘engineers’ know anything about a Curbine Twenty-aught-twenty?” The sentence seemed so strange to her that it took Jane a few moments to realize why.
“Rook, did you just call me ‘Cap’n Jane’?” She asked. It was the first time one of the rookies had called her anything but “Captain Appet” since so many months ago, back when Marcus was still in the rush of post-sex afterglow.
“You remember that first day we met?” Marcus said, as if reading her mind. As he spoke he carefully removed the silver piece from the engine, carrying it down from the ladder. “You told us ‘if you ever call me something other than Captain Appet, you’d best be sure we’re friends’.”
“I remember.” Jane watched him as he picked up a soft cloth and carefully wiped down the piece in his hands. She liked a man who knew what made an engine hum. A man like that could be counted on to keep his own gear maintained. She had also forgotten the way the beads in his long dreadlocked hair clicked together when he moved his head.
Why had she thought it was necessary to stop sleeping with him? Something about being his superior? Or had she found him too clingy? Whatever the reason, maybe that could be fixed…her eyes travelled up and down his back, noting the muscles rippling beneath his white shirt, dirty with grease. A sudden memory of his dark skin contrasting against her the naked pale pink of her own took her breath away for a moment. Did it even matter anymore, now that she wasn’t his captain?
“You’re not my instructor any more.” Marcus seemed to read her mind again, and Jane blushed despite herself. “And it seems to me that’s what you really want, is a friend.” He tossed the piece and the cloth to her, and climbed back up the ladder, leaving her open-mouthed and on the ground.
That was…definitely not where I thought that was going. She thought as she composed herself.
“Pretty forward there, aren’t you? Just assuming you’ll fit in that role, acting like my friend already.” Jane wasn’t actually offended, but she didn’t know how to respond. It seemed like Marcus was an entirely different person than the rookie she took in a dark conference room. Of course that had been an entire year ago…a lot had changed.
“You like forward.” Marcus glanced down the ladder at her, working his tools with a precision that she was surprised to see in his large frame. “If you can grab me and fuck me on the first day of training, I can call you ‘Jane’ the first day we’re friends.”
Jane raised an eyebrow, but she had to admit he was using a surprisingly effective tactic. She liked his easy confidence, and she liked the way he said ‘the first day’, as if simply taking for granted that there would be many more.
“Don’t even know a Curbine Twenty-Aught-Twenty, eh?” She asked, working the cloth into the nooks of the familiar piece.
“Not a damned thing. I told them they need to get a hold of Appet’s old crew when they could find them, but in the meantime I’m down here just about every day. You know the Curbine; it’s shit in the air but you can part out the whole damn ship. They’re using it for water aerators right now…”
And just like that, they were talking and working together, as if they’d had the whole year to form a fast friendship. At her belt, a small ping went off, and Marcus looked down questioningly.
“I’m supposed to say something I’m grateful for.” Jane said sheepishly.
“Go on then.” Marcus waved with his screwdriver.
Jane hopped up to sit on the tool bench, polishing the last of the carbon from the ancient ship piece. Her mind wandered back to the rookies’ first day, how she had thought everything would be so different, and yet could never imagine just how much would’ve changed.
“I’m thankful for the past year,” she answered quietly, staring down at the piece in her hand, “whatever else has come of it, it’s definitely been…interesting.”
And in the core of the Orbital, halfway between a silver moon and a green-tinged planet, Jane smiled.