Here it is, 2549.76, and they still haven't prevented the common cold. I'd been sneezing non-stop for hours. It wouldn't be so bad but at every sneeze MIHA, or Mia as I disaffectionately call it, would demand a 'check' of my carbon based life-form unit.
Machine Intelligence Health Assessor. BULLSHIT! I think that the person who programmed this P.O.S (short in the jargon for, you guessed it, Piece of Shit.) had no liking for the human species at all.
I'm James Taylor, or Taylor, James as Mia likes to call me. I'm a Senior Mechanical Repair Technician, or commonly known 'Mech Tech' in the thirty-ninth Space Fleet. My being all that I can be, meant years in space repairing ancient beat up tubs the old fashioned way, with muscle and sweat. Yeah, we have the VR bots and goggles, but I don't care for that new stuff.
The Virtual Reality goggles tend to give me a real headache. The vision control specialist has never been able to get me a pair that will work right. I shun them due to the pain; I feel it just isn't worth it. I'll use them only if I have to. Life in space meant traveling on a tub for an entire mission, so getting in for a 'refit' on the goggles was not likely to happen for about two more years.
We're on the exploration and survey ship SF5595. Since VR has become so commonplace nowadays, it seems that techs like me have all retired to greener pastures. I'm forty-five years old, single, and hate VR. I'm the only male Mech Tech on board.
There are two officers who are male, and the rest of the ships crew is women. Our Captain is Linda James. First officer is Thelma Stewart. John, the one officer I like, is Chief Science Officer. Thom is the Chief Med. Officer. He's all right, but I think his VR sex partner is male, so I tend to stay away from Thom while off duty.
There are three other Mech Techs, like me who keep this tub afloat. There are also four bridge crew who fly the tub. So, most of the crew are women, all believers in the VR Gods of love and work. You see, sex with a real human partner has gone the way of McDonalds Big Macs.
The VR can give a person any type of sex they would want or need. Include the 'machine' portion and the choices with it, well; I've never been really surprised about the VR machines taking over as much as they have. Since they tap into the cerebral cortex directly through a scan plug, VR can sense and 'know' what you desire in an instant. Allegedly it makes for a 'perfect' lover.
Me, I prefer to have sex the old-fashioned way, down and dirty. One on one. Problem is, nobody on this tub likes it that way. Matter of fact, I have only had two partners in sex that way. My first was in High School, and her parents found out and shipped her off to Class Seven.
That's where sexually 'active' people were sent to be 'fixed'. No person in his or her right mind would actually have 'real' sex now. Babies came from tubes and 'samples' and sex was with the VR and its toys. It made it so much 'neater' and 'fulfilling' that way. Again, BULLSHIT!
My second partner was a gal on an old tug. We'd 'been' with each other quite a few times. She really got off on doing it the old-fashioned way. I didn't mind that she 'used' me; since that's the only way I like to do it anyway. So, you can understand when I say that for me real sex was far removed from my daily life.
I'm the 'monk' of SF5595. Oh sure, I do on occasion masturbate, but right at orgasm Mia starts questioning and wanting to 'assess my condition' usually declaring a medical emergency. Not the best of ways to end a satisfying time. I've figured out ways to circumvent Mia, but it's a pain in the ass to do.
My maintenance team had been chosen for me before this trip ever started and since they were all women, I'm constantly reminded about my monk status. They tease me and sometimes, off duty of course, they flash the old perv. I don't mind too much since I can get relief on my own, but it is a rather mean thing to do to a shipmate.
The one thing that keeps me in the service is the fact that I have been saving up for years and right now I am only a little bit away from full retirement. I have well over the amount of credits to give me a generous and lovely time on a remote planet on a remote island, and maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to find a woman who will like sex the way I do. Then it will be a happy life for me while I'm young enough to enjoy it. This trip will put me into 'retirement city' and I'm going to be a very wealthy and happy individual at that time.
Since most of 'our' work is now done via the VR and Bots, I am truly the dinosaur of the space age, but my skills are needed time to time and I have the reputation of being able to 'fix' almost anything with nothing. Hence I'm filling a niche most of the time.
We just dropped off cargo at the mining camp on Nevus Seven, and we're on route to the edge of the known galaxy to investigate some newly found planets and asteroids. After that, we're due to pick up some cargo at Tomar Two. Traveling much faster now since we have less mass on board, it won't take too long for us to reach our destination.
John and I had to go out and do an extra-vehicular inspection, part of our routine maintenance schedule. I was suited up while John and Thom were having some words about the medical implant on John's arm. It had been bothering him quite a bit. I had just clamped and sealed my helmet in place when the whole ship shuddered. There was a brilliant flash of light and I suddenly found myself free floating in space.
It took a moment to get my bearings and see what had happened. I could see that John and Thom were floating outwards away from the ship. I jetted over to them and saw that there was nothing to be done for them. My COM link wasn't working, so I didn't know what was going on onboard ship.
I tethered John's and Thom's remains to my work line, and jetted back to the ship. It was tough going, but I was able to maneuver to the lower rear airlock and re-board. As soon as the airlock cleared I had women all over me; questions firing right and left. The Captain quieted them down and started her grilling.
"What the hell happened?"
"I think we were hulled by a meteor Ma'am. The Science and Med officers are dead Ma'am. They were pulled out with unsealed suits when the rock got us. They never had a chance. John was worried about his implant and Thom was checking it out when it happened."
I watched her as I gave my report and saw that my statements shook her up pretty badly. She paused, gathering herself, and then the command 'self' of her took over.
"I need a complete serviceability and safety check as soon as you can manage it Tech."
"Yes Ma'am. I'll go right out and do the over scan of the hull since I'm suited up."
"No. You'll stay inside and use the VR bots. I can't take the chance of losing my senior Mech Tech on a walk outside right now. Have your crew do the scan with the bots. You get unsuited and do the assessment. I need to know what we are up against ASAP."
I really didn't get her at times. She could be 'overbearing', but she did have the command of the ship, and her first duty was to the ship and crew, so I grudgingly started to get unsuited and indicated two of my crewmembers to get the bots. The third assisted me in getting my suit off.
"What happened out there? How did they die?"
"We weren't 'out there' as you put it. We were in the airlock; there was a brilliant flash of light, and the next thing I knew I was swimming in space. John and Thom didn't have their head gear on since they were checking out John's arm."
"The 'roid hit the airlock?"
"As far as I know, yes. We'll need to be cautious when we get into that area to inspect it from inside as there could be leakage. The bots will let us see the damage on the outside, but we will probably need the VR systems check for the inside first."
'Jim, are you O.K.?"
"Yeah Theresa, I'm O.K. Just a little shook up. I had just sealed when the rock hit. It doesn't get any closer than that. I'm going to miss John though. I really liked him. I know that losing Thom will hurt us too."
"What about Thom? You know he kinda had a thing for you. You knew that didn't you?"
"No, but I knew he liked the male VR partner. I just didn't like being around him. I'm not bi or Hom, so it would never have been a 'relationship' like he wanted anyway."
"Why don't you like the VR? You could be having normal sex all the time if you would just relax and use it. I use it and look how well-adjusted I am."
"We've had this talk before Theresa, you know about my headaches and the head plug. Besides, there's nothing like flesh to flesh, skin to skin, believe me."
"UGH! That sounds so gross! I'll stick to the VR and the Bots. They can work on the cerebral plug too you know."
"Yeah, like I want them poking around my central cortex like that."
My inspection of the ship was not to bring any kind of good news. The 'roid' had slammed into us at an unbelievable angle. I could see that the odds of it hitting us like that were astronomical, probably around a trillion to one or so. This didn't bode well for us.
Our VR main trunk had been severed with a huge chunk totally gone; the secondary backup was parted too. It appeared to be repairable though. Our life systems were spared, but the control functions to the engine room from the bridge were shot. On board was enough fiber optic cable and trunk line to fix the controls but not the VR mains. We'd have to rob some existing systems, but not too much.
I wasn't too worried about the VR systems, since I rarely used them and they were secondary to the operations of life support and ship control, but the Captain and crew around me were more than a little bit upset. I didn't see why all the concern for the VR system as it was mostly for controlling Bots.
"We can't use the bots to inspect the hull?"
"No Ma'am, we can't. The VR system is out and the local system needs the mainline trunk to operate. The odds of an accident like this were so far out there the fleet engineers never thought that it could happen."
"I'll need a volunteer for an extravehicular inspection."
"Ma'am, with all due respect, I'm the only one qualified to go out and make that inspection."
I had known that this would happen. That's why I had wanted to get back out there and see for myself the damage to our ship from the outside. I was the only one left with the experience and training to go out in a suit.
"The rules are clear on this Mech Tech Taylor. It requires two people to do the inspection, an officer and a Mech Tech. Since you're the only one qualified, other than me, I'll go with you. We'll suit up in ten minutes and do the inspection together."
Our First Officer, Thelma, was agitated and finally overcame her need of command respect to interject her thoughts.
"Ma'am, you can't go out, you're the Captain and you can't put yourself in 'the line of fire' so to speak."
Thelma was right, but the Captain was the only other qualified person on board. To take someone new to space walking, without the right training, would be suicidal. There are just too many things that could go wrong outside.
Many times people got claustrophobic or worse, space sick, in the suits. The cleaning system could handle so much, but at a certain point, well, bile is not a pleasant smell in the suit. It also plugs up the works and causes the system to go into maintenance mode, which could shut down life support. A very unpleasant and untimely death soon follows.
We did our inspection, the Captain and I, and she was impressed with the damage control we'd done, as well as my skill at traveling around a ship in flight 'at speed'. I had a lot of practice on the outside of ships in flight. That's why I'm so confident in going extravehicular during flight at speed.
Getting back inside, the Captain was quiet as we changed out into ship dress. Standing next to her with her in her bodysuit I noticed for the first time that her trim body was nicely proportioned. I started to get an erection seeing her breasts outlined with hard nipples sticking out like they were. Airlocks are notorious for their coolness.
Ship dress was normally baggy overall suits. They hid a person's body well enough to make it difficult to know if they were male or female. In most cases anyway. I think that the designers had done that on purpose to cut down problems on board in the pre-VR days, and it had just stuck with the fleet since then.
"Well, how bad is it? I need to know as soon possible so I can contact Fleet and get some parts and help on the way, Taylor."
"Well, I don't think you're going to contact Fleet anytime soon Captain. The VR main trunk also carried our commlink to off ship. We're in flight with no communications, and no controls other than safeties. It will be at least three days before I can get controls back on line, and that will be with everyone working 'round the clock."
"DAYS? We don't have days; our window on drop from light speed is in about seven hours. If we're not dropping out at that point we'll be in unexplored space. Can you imagine, our safeties controlling us in unknown space at speed? I need you to get us under light speed in less than seven hours."
"Captain that won't be possible. We need to have retro-boost on cancellation of flight speed and with the mainline trunk down, well..."
"I don't care Mech Tech Taylor; get this tub under light speed ASAP, UNDERSTOOD? In the mean time I think we need to send a message drone back. Hopefully someone will hone in on the beacon and get our message."
This is where my crew and I work hard and produce an outright miracle in a novel or on the video. However, miracles didn't follow our story and we were far into unknown space by the time we were able to get any control back.
I still didn't have enough to drop from light speed, so for all practical purposes we were in an irretrievable position. We'd gone so far into the unmapped and unknown zone that we'd never be found.
The Captain was not happy with the news when informed by Thelma, but there was no helping it. When the Captain saw me next it was twenty hours later, at dinner. I was eating my 'cream of steak and eggs', almost falling asleep sitting there trying to eat, when she walked up to my table.
"What's your prognosis? How long until we have any controls at all, that will do us any good? We can't continue to trust the safeties for too long. They've been known to fail."
"I don't know Captain. We've nothing to repair the main trunk with as far as VR goes, and the secondary is butchered up pretty bad. With any luck at all I'll be able to borrow some trunk from the damaged rear pods and use that to effect basic control utilizing the secondaries. It will be non-VR manual only though."
"What do you mean 'borrow' from the pods? You can't borrow from other systems on this ship. Everything is set for utmost efficiency as designed. To borrow is to screw up the efficiency."
"Yes, we can Captain. I can borrow from three of the rear pods because the rock destroyed their seal. All plant life in them is dead and there is no need to have good trunk going to waste at this point in time. We still have nine pods. We are only missing the three aft pods."
Pods, as you might have guessed, is where our gardens were. They recycled the water and air for the ship, and produced our food base for survival. While losing three pods wasn't ideal, we could survive for a long time, a very long time especially since we were now two crewmembers short.
There were ten of us left, and nine pods. Each pod was capable of sustaining life for four people for about ten years. After that, we needed to be close to a planet that could support us. Original design and crew complement had set a one pod per crew member guideline for safety.
Later, just before crashing in my bunk for a shortened but much needed sleep cycle, I went to the observatory to watch the stars streak by. I was usually alone at that time of cycle but now I had company, lots of company.
"Hi Tech Taylor, mind if we join you?"
My whole maintenance crew plus the First Officer was there. This was unusual but considering the circumstances, understandable. We all had a need to 'see' where we were going. We were seeing this strange new part of the universe, where no one had been before.
"Not at all. Quite a view isn't it Ma'am?"
I was always respectful of officers, since they could make your life hell if you weren't. Thelma had never given me any reason to doubt that she would be any different from the Captain. Cold and aloof, she was quiet on station, and I never saw her at any other time. She wasn't a 'cold fish', but she wasn't exactly a warm and outgoing person either.
"Yes, I guess you would say that. I find it disturbing and not just a little bit frightening. We are about to be officially 'lost' in a moment and that's something I don't like to contemplate at all."
"Yes, I can see what you mean Ma'am. It can be a scary place. I've been here before though, so it doesn't bother me too much."
"You've been here before? I thought this was unexplored space?"
"Not here, but in this situation, I've been in this situation before. Sorry Ma'am. I didn't mean to let you think I'd been in this sector before. Nobody has been here before, ever."
"In this kind of situation? You've been in a severely damaged ship out of control, just like this?"
"Yes Ma'am. I was on the Minx Six explorer."
I heard the gasps and felt the tension run through the room. You see, the Minx Six had been the second ship I served on and things on its maiden voyage had gone very bad. Two of four of our engines were taken out and in the ensuing mess we lost our whole command team. I ended up being the highest-ranking person on board with a crew of fifty.
It was caused by another 'roid too. It had careened through our command deck straight into the engine room and engineering section. It had taken some time to get things into a livable shape. We'd almost bought it several times, but each time my maintenance crew and I had been able to come up with a save.
The Captain had died in my arms. There was nothing I could do. Nothing at all. I had liked the Captain and his death was hard on me. He understood my motives in being in the Fleet. I was like a son to him. A son he never had. I grieved like a son for him too.
The years since that dark time had been good ones, for the most part. There had been changes to ship design and command structures since then. Yet whenever the Minx Six Explorer was mentioned people would shudder. Some of the deaths had been very slow and painful. When we were rescued the rescuers were sure that all on board were lost.
Finding us alive surprised them. After all, we'd been drifting in space for about six months by that time. I'd managed to keep everyone's spirits up all the while stealing, modifying, and flat out re-engineering ships systems to keep us alive.
I'd been given commendations and offered officer's bars. I turned them all down. I just wanted to be a Mech Tech that was all. My decision had caused some hardship and hard feeling towards me in the years since, but I was not officer material, I knew it, even if those above me didn't.
Nobody on this ship knew that I had been on the Minx, until now. This was going to make things uncomfortable for me. Some people had gotten ideas about my serving on that ship back then and I didn't want to live it all over again. I still had nightmares about those fateful days.
I was soon left alone on the ob deck. I watched the stars and thought back over my life. This was it, I was certain of it. There wasn't going to be a 'save' on this one. We'd already gone past the fail safe return point, whether the Captain and First officer knew it or not. We didn't have enough fuel to get back now.
The next days were full of hard work and quite a bit of cussing on my part. We eventually regained control of the ship. The Captain left us in light speed, seeing that there were no planets or systems nearby on the sensors.
We couldn't spare the energy to slow down without having some sort of way to replenish fuel. Turning around was out of the question as well, since we'd traveled far enough that the closest inhabited planet was beyond our reach too.
Her objective was to find the next planet and drop out and search for fuel and other items we'd need. We'd continue to explore as our orders stated. I guess she thought by keeping us busy we wouldn't fret about being lost on a one-way trip.
The VR system was totaled. The women took that very hard. I didn't understand why at first until about two weeks after the incident with the rock. I was in an access tube checking over the engines. My youngest and actually best Mech Tech, Jennifer, was helping.
It was hot and somewhat uncomfortable work. Being close to the engines at any time was not fun. Now however, with the added pressure to keep them in top shape, it was real bad.
Jennifer was in her skintight body suit, her overalls being way too hot to work in where we were. I was in my body suit also. They were like, well, remember spandex? From way back in the nineteen hundreds? That's a body suit. The material is thinner and more resilient now, but the stretchiness and body conforming ability was similar.
Jennifer was a well-endowed young lady. As she was working around me I couldn't help but notice her nipples sticking out and the shape of her beautiful shaved mound. (Yes, that tight and that stretchy) I caught her looking at my body a few times too. She was nervous as hell and not able to concentrate at all on the job, which was very unusual for her.
I heard the clang of a wrench bounding off the Drive framework, and then Jennifer started cussing. I was able to grab the wayward wrench before it careened into an place we couldn't get to. It wasn't good to have loose things floating around in this area.
"God damn it. Fucking wrench. I can't seem to hold onto anything anymore. My hands are just shit. Fuck I hate this."
"Take it easy Jennifer. It's not that bad. We're just about done and I have the wrench, no harm done. Scope a chill."
"Oh sure, you can sit there and work so calmly. Mr. Monk ... fucking maintenance monk Taylor, the VR hater. You fuck."
Her anger towards me caught me by surprise.
"Whoa ... what the hell's gotten into you? I've never heard you say that kind of shit about me before. What'd I do to you anyway?"
Her face took on an apologetic countenance. I could see she hadn't meant what she'd blurted out so suddenly.
"I'm sorry Jim. I know it's not you. It's just that I'm tense ... you know?"
"Yeah, being in a fucked up ship in strange space does that to you."
I understood her feelings. Way back when the Minx Six incident had happened I'd seen things like this. People got weirder and weirder the longer we were seemingly out of control. It hadn't been pleasant most of the time, and once in a while some people had gone off in unexpected ways. So far, our crew had done far better.
Jennifer continued, wanting to say something, but she seemed unable to broach the subject with me.
"No ... our situation with the ship isn't what's bothering me Jim. What does it to me is the God damn VR machine is fucked and I can't get..."
She paused and then bit off what she was going to say. I didn't understand, so I pushed a bit.
"You know. I can't ... pleasure myself. It's really messing me up Jim. I need something ... bad. I haven't gone without like this ever before. The longest was back when we refueled at Base Five and that was for only four days."
"Try masturbating. It works for me."
"What do you think I've been doing?" She snapped. "I even made up a phallus in the machine shop for helping along. That damned Mia gets all in a tizzy when I orgasm and pesters me with all the details of my heart rate, breathing and junk. She seems to think I'm having a medical emergency. It's driving me crazy. I need ... I need ... Hell, I'd settle for doing it the old fashioned way right now ... anything to lose this feeling I have."
She looked into my eyes and it unnerved me just a bit.
"Yeah. Well, Mia is a pain in the ass. I figured out a few ways to circumvent her spying on me, but with the VR down I suppose those won't work anymore."
"Wait a nano, if Mia knows that two humans are together having sex, she overlooks certain things ... right?"
I didn't like the direction the conversation was headed in now.
"Well, that's what the programming was built like way back when it came out. Whether or not that part is still imbedded or not, I don't know."
"Want to find out?"
I missed her meaning concentrating on fixing the damaged systems as I'd been doing. I automatically thought of the 'system' and how to check it out.
"Look, we're pretty much up to our ears with trying to keep this tub running as it is. I don't have the time to dig into the layers of programming in Mia to find out about that. That's a huge job for a crew of programmers, let alone this maintenance crew on this ship."
"That's one way of checking. I was thinking of another ... Jim. I mean, you're a guy, I'm a woman ... you have what I need and I think I have what you need ... let's work a deal."
Her voice had gotten husky and soft. Alarm bells were ringing in my large head, but my small head was all for taking up Jennifer's proposal. Which do you suppose she saw first? Traitorous prick I had, showing her that I was interested. Her hand touching my shaft through the body suit was a stunning shock to me. It had been years since a woman had touched me in this way.
"You're larger than the machine VR mate I have. Does it get as hard?"
"Uh, yeah I suppose it does. But when it shoots it goes down for a bit, sometimes for a long time."
"Downplay," That was in my thoughts, knowing what she wanted now, I knew that wasn't going to happen. I kept it to myself though.
"How long does it take to get back to fully charged status once that happens, Jim?"
Her hand was rubbing my shaft and I was getting close to showing her how long that would take. I could feel one building up inside and if she didn't quit doing that real quick I'd have to go change out of my body suit. I could tell Mia was about to start her warnings any nano now too.
I was correct about that.
"Warning, Taylor, James, heart rate accelerating. Blood pressure erratic, breathing labored. Medical emergency in five ... four ... three..."
"Halt Mia. Sensor overload suspected. Check levels six A, C, and D, level five and level fourteen."
Jennifer stopped what she was doing and was staring at me with an incredulous look.
I was uncomfortable with the look she was giving me.
"You told Mia to check out of order."
"Yeah. She'll check in the order I gave her and I've found that it takes her exactly seventy seconds to finish that particular systems check. Next I'll have her check level one, level twelve, and then level eight. That route takes sixty seconds. No alarms will go off and no reports, at least until she's done with the checks. Hopefully by the time she finishes those checks I'll have normal heart rate. That is, as long as you keep your hands off me."
"Clever. I never thought about that. Two minutes ten seconds of time. Interesting."
"Yeah, when one can't stand the VR or its machines, one figures out ways to circumvent the systems. I've had years of practice."
"You'll be a God to the rest of the crew Jim. Especially if Mia overlooks couples having sex."
"Uh ... YES."
"I'm not some male whore for the pleasures of the crew."
"You're not a whore. Think of it as being a life saver or perhaps a good team player."
"YES. YOU HAVE TO, FOR THE CREW."
"ABSOLUTELY NOT. I WON'T DO IT."
Our voices had risen to shouting. The last thing I needed was a 'job' taking care of the needs of the females on board ship. I'd never get a chance to get anything done. It also brought back memories of Minx-Six too.
"What are you two arguing about down there?"
The Captains voice rocketed down to our level in crisp and precise modulation. Typical.
"Nothing of importance Ma'am. Cadet Jennifer was just trying to make a point to me that I disagree strongly with. Nothing about the maintenance or operation of the ship ... exactly."
"Ma'am," Jennifer yelled out, "I was telling Jim ... I mean Mech Tech Taylor that he could help the crew out tremendously with our personal issues since the VR and Bots are offline."
I whispered as loudly as I could without the Captain hearing me, trying to get her to shut up before I was in a world of hurt.
"Jennifer, knock it off. Ixnay on the exsay."
She looked at me and smiled the most devious and nastiest kind of smile I'd ever seen.
"You wish. Listen up sailor boy, there's a whole crew of women up top ready to kill for relief. You're our only source for that relief and I'll damn well tell the Captain what I need to in order to get the relief for all of us. Suck it up bucko."
Jennifer started to climb out of the well with me following. Within a few minutes we were out and the Captain was listening closely to Jennifer as we headed down the tube to the main bridge.
I was only following along behind them as my quarters were real close to the main bridge anyway. I intended to lock myself in my cabin and not talk to anyone unless dire consequences presented themselves to me.
Since I'd intentionally dropped back a little at a time, they didn't notice me slipping into my quarters until the door was closed and locked. I needed to have some alone time. My whole life was fucked, and I could see my planned retirement was so many gamma-rays in space too. How would I ever be able to use my retirement funds now?
An hour or so later 'dire consequences' showed up knocking on my door in the form of Captain James. I'd heard them all talking, but I'd blocked out their words by using my headphones to listen to music. They were turned down, so I could hear any emergency alarms if necessary.
"Mech Tech Taylor I need to see you in my quarters. NOW."
Her voice carried through the door as if she were standing in my quarters with me. Considering that soundproofing on board was nearly state of the art from World War One ... yes, from way back in the early nineteen hundreds, it didn't surprise me. Secrets on board ship were few and far between. Sound carried in this tub, like a microphone to an amplified speaker.
I could hear I was in for it. There was no doubt about the tone of the Captain's voice meaning business. I walked the short distance to her quarters, seeing the rest of the females giving me looks the whole way. I saw anticipation and a certain something else in their eyes and it wasn't comforting to me.
"Ma'am. Mech Tech Taylor reporting as ordered."
I'd never been in here before and I was surprised that her quarters were not as large as mine but then I also had a work bench and tool locker in my quarters too, so I suppose since my quarters did double duty the designers figured I needed more space than the Captain would.
"Come in and allow the door to close please ... Jim."
Alarm bells went off inside my head. The Captain had never called me by my first name like this. Never.
I waited. I knew what this was about and her using my first name like she did shouted to me where this conversation was headed. I know you're probably thinking, a man's dream come true, right? Well, considering that most of the damned women on this tub had jerked me around so long, I had some deep issues in wanting to 'help' them out in their 'time of need'.
They'd conveniently ignored me in favor of the VR Bots, and then teased me whenever they felt like, knowing that I refused to use the VR systems. I knew that when I masturbated, they could hear everything I did too, and I'm sure they'd laugh at me behind my back too.
The VR system and how it worked, meant that while plugged in, their minds could conceive of most things that normally one would have to actually say or do, so eventually after getting used to using a VR and it's Bot, one would actually lay almost comatose while 'online' with the Bot. The person wasn't aware of it, because in their minds, they were active participants.
"Cadet Johnson has a valid point Jim. She knows that while most of the time women don't need... 'Relief' since we have the VR systems, she also is very aware that we're in a situation that isn't normal by any means. We've been several weeks without the VR systems now and it's starting to show up in the crew."
"Call me Linda, please Jim."
"That wouldn't be right Ma'am. You're the senior officer, the Captain. I, by rule, must call you either Captain or Ma'am. The general lobby rules of conduct state..."
Irritated, she cut me off.
"The general lobby rules of conduct only apply in known space and normal operations, Jim. We're in unexplored, unknown space at the moment and for the foreseeable future. As the Captain I'm allowed latitude to suspend certain 'rules' in emergency situations, for the betterment of the crew. I feel that this situation calls for a less formal way of communication while we're being personal like right now."
"Yes Ma'am. I mean ... Yes Linda."
"That's better. Now, about what Jennifer has mentioned to me. I agree with her that something needs to be done. The VR system is important to morale and since we've lost that system we need to come up with unconventional ways to keep morale up. Since you're the only male onboard at the moment it puts you in a certain ... spot."
"Linda, I just don't think that..."
"You know the crew Jim. They're good people. All of them. They'll try their best to do their duty, but eventually their minds will start to dwell on things that are not good to dwell on. Having a mechanism for relief is important. Don't you think?"
"Well, yes Ma'am ... I mean, Linda. I suppose..."
"Then, since you have the right equipment to help alleviate some of that particular type of stress, I, as a human being, not as your Captain mind you, would like to see you do the right thing. We need you Jim I'll be straight up with you on that. We need you and what you can do for us. We won't make it hard for you and we'll make sure that you get the proper respect and attention for your needs as well."
"I want to do the right thing Linda, the problem is in the past..."
"The past is gone Jim. We're in a new situation and in a new space. We're not where we were a month ago and we may never be back where 'normal' exists. Everything has changed, probably forever."
"Yes. I see that, but still I have some hard feelings about..."
"For the good of the crew and the ship, could you put those feelings aside for now? At least until we can figure out what the better course of action will be anyway? Jim, I need you to come through for me now. You're the best Mech Tech in the fleet, bar none. I knew all about the Minx Six Explorer and how you saved the day back then. You did what was needed and necessary to keep people alive and healthy the best you could. You performed miracles, and everyone that survived that time has attested to that fact. That's exactly why I asked for you to be assigned this ship and this mission. I need you to come through for me like you did on Minx Six. Please?"
"You knew that I served on Minx Six? You never let on that you did. Why?"
"You know as well as I do Jim that space exploration ships like this one need the very best. I searched for quite some time to put together this crew. You were my first and only choice for Senior Mech Tech, simply because of your performance on the Minx Six. Everyone wanted you on their crew. I had an edge. The Captain of the Minx Six was my uncle. So ... will you do what we need you to do Jim?
"Linda, it's not all that simple. I'm not a machine, nor am I a whore that can turn it on just like that. Certain things on my side of the equation will need to work out before I could possibly do any good for the crew ... like that. I'm not sure they're up to doing that at all."
I'd known that Linda was related to the Captain of the Minx Six. I'd seen a picture of her and her family in his quarters during the long six month wait for help to come. That was no surprise to me. That she'd known I'd served on the Minx Six was though.
"Oh. You mean you expect special treatment then?"
The look she gave me wasn't a good one. I saw that she misunderstood my intent.
"No ... not ... exactly. I mean that I'm not a VR Machine. I can't just walk in, lie down and turn on. I will need ... assistance. Those that will be with me that way will have to work on the 'meeting' just like I will. It requires reciprocation. That's what I mean. Any special treatment would be the female crew member wanting to please me like I will be pleasing them."
"We're aware of that. We're not totally without some humanity Jim. We're also not totally ignorant about sex either."
"Maybe VR sex, but real sex? The VR system, to my knowledge, reads the desires for each person through their minds and acts instantly. I can't do that. I don't think you fully understand how things will be ... like that. It's different in real sex versus VR sex. Almost totally different. I can't read minds or sense desires directly like VR. There's bound to be some disappointed women onboard sooner or later. I won't be able to help it."
"We'll work around that. I know that all the crew currently on board now uses male VR Machines. That's a help. At least I think it will help. I've ordered the crew to study up on old fashioned sexual contact and how things were done before VR. That will help too. We're not going to hang you out to dry Jim. We're going to be as human about this as we can be. You may not get love per-se, but you will get cooperation, full and complete."
"You're having them study on sex? How in the world is that being done?"
The only stuff on board that I knew about was some contraband things I'd brought onboard my first day with the ship. It was illegal to have. My suspicions were building.
"We have, on file and accessible, old movies, magazines, and books. They're in the library. The files haven't been touched by any of the crew ... except you ... ever. They're watching the movies and reading up on real sex from that material."
I saw instantly that the Captain knew. She had known all this time. I was fucked in more ways than one.
"Oh shit. You knew about my stash?"