Inspired by, and Dedicated with love to, my dear friend Annie
I lay dozing in the pilot's couch, periodically performing a one-eyed visual scan of the control instruments. As usual all readings were in the green; which was good since the ship was flying on automatics.
I'd lifted from the moon's deep space launch site 35 days ago on a 10 year resupply mission to New Earth, the fourth planet of Proxima Centauri. It was pretty much a trash hauling mission and, for all practical purposes, I was just along for the ride. Union regulations required a qualified pilot be aboard on all missions but the ship was perfectly capable of making the trip without any help from me. Of course, the main computer could fail I guess... but that had never happened in the past 200 years, and the ship was far too complicated for me to operate with out the main computer anyway.
I had signed on as a commercial cargo pilot shortly after being kicked out of the Space Defense Force, following an unfortunate incident involving Annie, the Wing Commander's eighteen year old daughter. I told the court martial panel that I'd have to be crazy to do anything like that. They apparently agreed with that assessment and decided they didn't need any additional crazy pilots.
It's a good job and I get to visit a lot of interesting new places but it's dead boring, not to mention lonely, between planet falls. I've always thought they should at least require a female co-pilot be added to the mandatory crew...but haven't been able to sell that idea as yet.
Just as I drifted back into my reverie involving the Commander's lovely young daughter, a loud warning horn blasted throughout the ship! Panic stricken, I snapped bolt upright, my eyes wildly seeking the cause of this rude interruption. Adrenalin flooded my system as the 'fight or flight' syndrome kicked in but, of course' neither fight nor flight was a realistic option. I slowly regained some semblance of rational thought and realized that the Proximity Warning klaxon was sounding and its red warning light flashing. I could also feel the thrust of the Anti-Collision jets taking evasive action to avoid collision. A large mass of something was nearby and rapidly moving closer! Peering out through the thick front and side ports I saw nothing except the unmoving star field against the absolute blackness of deep space.
Well, something was damn well out there! These systems don't make mistakes like that; much less two systems simultaneously. Something was going to impact my ship! There was no time reach the escape capsule or even to don a space suit. It would be an exercise in futility anyway; I'd be long dead before any rescue ship could possibly reach me, even if anyone tried - which they wouldn't.
Resigned to my fate, I waited for the hull to be breeched by an asteroid, a piece of space junk, or whatever it was that I had been lucky enough to have found in the vast emptiness of space... and then I was going to die; quickly and quietly in the hard, cold vacuum that existed outside the hull. Well hell, if I'm going to die I might as well be comfortable I thought, as I resumed my previous prone position on the command couch awaiting the inevitable.
Suddenly the anti-collision jets kicked off and the warning horn fell silent. The flight deck became so quiet I could hear the hydraulic servo motors making their normal minute corrections in the ships attitude. Apparently the crisis had been averted.
Just then I heard a soft thump, as something bumped gently against the outer hull. Well, at least it was a soft collision, I thought. After a few more moments of thunderous silence, I heard another sound from the outside hull. It sounded as though an air lock had mated itself to the main exit hatch.
Thoroughly confused now, I peered out through the window of the entrance hatch and, instead of the normal blackness of deep space, I saw a well lit corridor leading to another ship! Now I was even more confused...what were the chances of another ship finding me in this vast emptiness between the stars, especially without contacting me by ship-to-ship radio before docking? This was getting weirder by the moment.
I moved to the communications console to make sure the system was turned on. As I finished a successful self-test on the comm gear, I heard a soft knock on the exit port hatch. What the hell was going on? Who comes knocking on your front door when you're millions of miles from the nearest planet?
Peering out through the entrance hatch port, I saw a space-suited figure peering back at me! Without thinking of the ramifications, I spun the dogging wheel, unlocking the hatch, then pushed the hatch outward. The suited figure caught the hatch door and pushed it out until it locked in the open position, then stepped into the cabin.
The face plate of the suit was so darkly tinted that I couldn't see the person inside. After checking some sort of gage fixed to the right arm of the space suit, the figure seemed satisfied and reached up to release the helmet seal.
As the helmet was removed, the head of a beautiful young female was revealed! Her short black hair gleamed in the bright flight-deck lights and her soft, sensuous lips curved up into a broad smile. Her dark cat-like eyes were slightly slanted giving her an exotic appearance.
"Greetings Earthman, got room for a hitch-hiker in distress?" she asked in a soft, slightly husky voice.
Thank you God for providing in my hour of need, I thought rather irreverently. But what was this "Earthman" stuff all about?
Unsealing the body of her space suit without waiting for an answer, she quickly worked her way out of her suit and stowed it on a hook near the open hatch. Turning back to me I noticed she was wearing a uniform of some type consisting of a loose black and red tunic with black, form fitting trousers. Black leather-like ankle boots completed her uniform.
Pretty fancy for a space pilot I thought. I was clad in my usual in-flight uniform; white Jockey briefs with a frayed waistband.
"Where the hell did you come from," I asked in a bewildered tone.
"Zanc Romular," she replied curtly, as though that explained anything at all.
"Right!" I responded. "Is this some kind is a surprise inspection to test my emergency procedures? Who are you... and what the hell is a Zanc Romular?"
"I do not understand your phrase 'Emergency Procedures', Zanc Romular is my home planet and my name is Anezenanix," she replied rather tersely.
"OK, This is going nowhere! You've got me completely confused now. How about we sit down and you can tell me just what in hell is going on here," I said, guiding her to the empty right pilot's couch then eased myself into the command pilot's left couch.
"Look, I can't even come close to pronouncing your name so if you don't mind I'll just shorten it to Annie," I said, smiling at my own private joke. "My name is Dave, by the way. Now, let's start over. In simple words, tell me the whole story about how and why you came to be here."
She stared at me for a moment then, apparently deciding I could handle the truth, began her narrative.
"First of all Zanc Romular is a planet orbiting the star you know as Ursa Minor."
"That's ridiculous," I interrupted with a snort. "That's hundreds of light years from here and, at least to me, you don't look nearly old enough to have made THAT trip!" My god I thought, if she were telling the truth she'd have had to have traveled half way across the galaxy... that's impossible! She must be suffering from oxygen deprivation. Either that or she's been smoking something funny.
"Thousands of years ago, my people developed a hyperspace drive which makes the term 'light years' meaningless, at least in the context of space travel. With this drive we can jump across time instead of through it, you stupid creature... and stop interrupting me if you want to hear the story," she snapped.
Properly chastised, I sat back with a rueful grin and said, "Sorry, please continue."
"Anyway, with the use of hyperspace drive, we have explored most of the star systems in this galaxy and, as far as we know, the planet you refer to as 'Earth' is the only other populated planet in our small backwater corner of the universe. We have been monitoring Earth for a few thousand years now," she explained. "My main drive unit failed a few sleep periods ago and I was trapped in normal space until I could fix it. I was running low on oxygen when I spotted your ship and decided, to hell with the rules, I was going to make first contact a little ahead of schedule."
"I apologize for my manners," I said contritely. "It's just that you scared the hell out of me... and near-death experiences tend to make me grumpy!"
"Ok, you're excused for your less than enthusiastic welcome. I'm also sorry that my unannounced arrival frightened you but, as my comm unit is not compatible with your antiquated equipment, I really had no choice in the matter," she explained rather sarcastically.
"All right Annie, so we got off on the wrong foot, but we've both apologized so let's try to get to know each other better. If you are really from another star system, how is it you speak English so well," I asked tentatively, hoping she would loosen up a bit. I knew that we had both recently had been convinced that our deaths were imminent and were still edgy. What we needed now was to relax and get our heads screwed on straight again.
"Well, as I said, we have been monitoring your planet for a long time and, for the past hundred years or so, you have been radiating electromagnetic waves into space like mad. We have monitored everything, from political speeches to I Love Lucy. That gave us the opportunity to study your customs and languages. And, by the way, I also speak fluent French, German, Russian, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese."
"Ok, but if that's true, why haven't you contacted us before now," I asked.
"Up until now, you fools have been too busy trying to kill each other off with your petty little wars. First it was swords and spears, then gunpowder, and finally nuclear weapons! That's not a situation that encourages strangers to come knocking on your door," she responded with a wry grin. "Instead, we've spent our time learning your habits and value systems."
"That also makes sense I guess, at least from your point of view. Have you encountered anything you find confusing? Perhaps I could help clear some things up for you," I offered, trying to placate her.
"Well," she responded, "The one thing that doesn't make much sense is your method of procreation. Our people reproduce by laboratory cell cloning but, as I understand it, you do it by something you call 'sex' whereby the 'male' places 'seeds' within the 'female' in some manner. The process is a little vague as your broadcasts never speak of or show the actual process, except in the most general manner," she explained. "We, on the other hand, do not have Male or Female entities, only 'oneness'. Our procreation process produces perfect replicas of ourselves. It would seem to us that the process that you employ would produce unpredictable, and often undesirable, results. Why would an advanced civilization utilize such an unreliable process?" she asked.
"It has some other, more subtle, advantages," I said, lying back and grinning at the overhead panels. "Am I to understand that your people don't indulge in any pleasurable physical contact?"
She looked at me with a puzzled frown. "Pleasurable physical contact?... I don't understand. Are you still referring to the procreation thing?"
"Sure, in the course of your studies, you must have picked up on our concept 'love'. There are many forms of love, but what I'm referring to now is the mutual attraction between adult males and females. Well, procreation is a subset of that type of love that involves what we call 'sex'. This is nature's way of insuring the survival of the species.
However, sex is so enjoyable that often we humans indulge in sex with no thought of procreation, just for the sheer joy of it!"
"Very interesting," she mused. "I will have to ponder this concept. In the meantime, do you have anything I might find pleasurable to eat? I've been so busy trying to repair my ship, I completely forgot about food until now."
"I have no idea of what your people consider food but let's check the freezer unit and see if anything looks appealing to you," I replied, offering my hand to assist her to her feet. The flesh of her hand felt warm and silky to my touch and, as I looked at her beautiful face, I felt a stirring in my loins.
Watch it, I thought. You don't even know if she has any sex organs; at least as you would recognize them. Also, since you're only wearing a pair of tatty undershorts, you've got no place to hide how glad you are to see her.
I pointed her toward the galley area and followed as she walked to the rear of the command deck. I couldn't help noticing how good her hard, tight butt looked in those form fitting uniform pants! She sure looked human, I mused as I watched her sensuously swaying ass. That's a good sign anyway.
Unaware of my lecherous thoughts, she asked, "Do you have steak? I've noticed that steak seems to be a very popular food on Earth and I'd love to try it."
"Yeah, I'm sure I have some steak in there somewhere. By the way, do you know that steak is the flesh of a domestic animal called a cow? Is it acceptable to your customs to eat dead flesh," I asked, forcing myself to abandon my inspection of her butt.
"Yes," she replied with a smile. "We also raise non-sentient creatures for food but I don't know how they compare to the taste of 'cow'. I believe cow meat will be compatible with my needs however."
God I hope so, I thought. This was going so well, I'd hate to kill her with a T-Bone!
I checked the auto chef's menu and programmed two "Sirloin with Mushroom" meals, one rare and the other well done, then punched the Start button. "I'm going to have a cup of coffee while we wait. Would you like to try that also," I asked.
"Ummm...yes. As I am going to have to rely on your hospitality for at least a few sleep periods, I might as well experience as many of your customs as possible."
Hmmm, now that opens up some very interesting possibilities, I thought.
Handing her a cup of coffee, I watched her as she tentatively raised it to her lips and took a small sip. "Yuckkkk," she exclaimed! "It's bitter! How can you drink anything that tastes so bad?"
"Just a minute," I said, taking her cup and adding two sugars and a little creamer. "Here, try it now. I think this should take the bitterness away," handing the cup back to her.
"Much better," she pronounced, after taking another small sip. "Very good, in fact."
A musical tone sounded, indicating the auto chef had finished it's magic. Removing the meals, I placed the two plates on the table. "Ummm, that smells good," Annie exclaimed, pulling the rare steak to her side of the table. After showing her how to use the knife and fork to cut the steak into edible sized pieces, we settled down to enjoy our meals. I watched her face closely to see if she approved the taste of dead cow. Apparently she did because she polished off the rare 14 ounce sirloin and pushed herself back from the table with a satisfied smile on her face before I had even made a dent in mine.
I punched up two pieces of apple pie with ice cream for dessert, which she devoured with great gusto; both of them!
Jezzzz I thought. She must be just a growing girl! Oh well, I'm not that fond of apple pie anyway!
After I cleared away the remains of the meal, stuffing the whole lot into the recycler, Annie yawned and stretched, emitting a loud and most unladylike belch. Looking very satisfied with herself, she announced that it was now the start of her normal sleep period.
"Where is your sleeping area," she asked innocently.
"That may be a slight problem," I responded. "You see, this is a cargo craft and the crew quarters are rather cramped. I'm afraid if you want to sleep here we'll have to share the sleeping couch. It's alright with me, if you don't have a problem with it."
"No, why would I have a problem with that. After all, you probably saved my life and we'll be asleep anyway. I'm used to making do with whatever's available," she replied with a quizzical look.
"Right, what's the problem?!" I replied, grinning at her, feeling like the cat that just caught the Royal sparrow!
I showed her to the sleeping cubicle, then returned the command deck to perform and log the end-of-watch inspection. After checking that all systems were in the green and that we were still on course and on time, I stepped into the 'freshener and let it's ultrasonic waves clean my body. After the terrify ordeal of an imminent space wreck, I was smelling a little gamy. Stark terror does that to a person.
Returning to the sleep cube, I found Annie wrapped in my only light blanket, curled up asleep with her back toward me. As I lifted the edge of the blanket to slip into bed, I was confronted with the sight of Annie's cute naked butt staring back at me. Wicked thoughts flashed through my mind as I slid quietly under the blanket.
Well, actually, these thoughts had been with me ever since she'd removed her spacesuit helmet and I'd seen that my mystery visitor was a beautiful young woman - the sight of her bare butt just brought them raging back to the forefront!
Without coming fully awake, Annie murmured something in a language I didn't understand and cuddled back against my body. Since the bed wasn't designed for two people, the only way I could get comfortable was to put my arm across her body. As I did so, my hand fell upon her breast! Well, lucky me! She mumbled something else and I lay very still so that I wouldn't wake her.
After a moment, I realized that not only was my hand resting on her breast but that my fingers were resting on a pert little nipple. Slowly I moved my fingers, softly stroking her nipple, feeling it expand and harden. Just as I prepared to explore further, Annie whispered softly, "What are you doing?"
I froze like a deer caught in the headlights of a speeding Land Rover. What the hell had I been thinking of? Well, of course I knew what I had been thinking of but why did I take such a foolish chance?
"I have no idea what you were just doing Dave, but for some strange reason that I don't understand, it felt sooo good; please don't stop," she continued.
"I didn't realize you were awake, Annie," I said in an attempt at damage control. "I only was saying good night to you... it's an old earthling custom!"
"I don't remember any reference to such a custom in our databases," Annie whispered, " but I think it's rather nice! It made my nipple all hot and tingly... and I got a really strange feeling in my stomach. I've never experienced a feeling like that before. Whatever you were doing, please continue."
"That's a pretty normal reaction Annie, at least for female earthlings," I whispered, my hand resuming its exploration her firm, silky breast. I realized I was having some pretty normal earthling reactions myself, as her sweet little butt pushed back against my groin! Nuzzling her neck, I kissed her ear, causing her to shudder violently.
"Ahhhh... What was that???" Annie exclaimed, now wide awake.
"That was just a little kiss. You've never been kissed before?" I asked in amazement.
"No, of course not. We have noted several references to that custom during our electronic surveillance, but I was under the impression kissing involved the mutual pressing of lips," she replied.
"That's the most common type of kiss but there are a lot more places where kisses can be very pleasant. Would you like to experience a lip kiss?" I whispered in her ear.
Annie nodded her head. "Yes, I think that would be very informative," she said, rolling over onto her back.