The door of the pod slid open, and there stood Jennifer. I looked up at her with a ‘deer in the headlights’ look, and she laughed, shaking her head. I was utterly confused. “Don’t worry,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not going to have your body modified that much,” she said in a reassuring voice. Vanessa walked in behind her and sat down on the bed. She looked different, but I was too distracted to notice at the time.
I had to shake my head clear and force a smile. I thought she already knew about my ‘hacking’, but evidently the AI had not yet told her. I stood up and glanced around the pod, seeing Kim give me an odd look, evidently not too keen on what exactly she had seen. I picked up the generic gray clothes and slipped them on before nodding to Jennifer. “I guess I’m ready, then,” I said with a maintained, forced smile. If she knew that I was hiding something, she hid it well.
As we walked toward the med station, I finally started paying attention to more than what was going on in my head, and what I had just done. Jennifer was now taller, nearly seven feet. She looked far more muscular, more toned; though she wasn’t any less attractive. Kim walked behind me, wearing only a smock. Looking around the ship, I was impressed by how clean and sterile it seemed, though there weren’t any cleaning devices or people tasked with such things to be seen. We passed an open viewport as we headed for the med station, and I couldn’t help but stop and stare. Sure, I’d seen pictures of the Earth from orbit hundreds of times in the past, but actually seeing it with my own eyes, up here miles above the earth… it was something else. “Dear Gods…” I murmured, temporarily frozen in my tracks.
Jennifer laughed and nudged me forward. “Yeah, yeah, I know. Felt the same way.” I tore my gaze away from the planet I’d grown up on, and shook my head a bit. Would I ever see Earth again, once the ship headed toward whatever colony we were bound for?
The med station was as impeccably clean, and as gray and dull as any other part of the ship, though the med tubes and various other apparatuses looked rather interesting. Again, I didn’t have much time to examine things before I was led to one of the tubes, which looked like a round coffin that only opened partially. Fortunately, I’m not claustrophobic, since it was just large enough for a person. I climbed in without too much difficulty. Once I leaned back, I felt my consciousness pulled away from me.
I fell asleep? I thought. I leaned forward as the top of the tube slid open. I hadn’t even seen it close. “That was quick, I guess…” I muttered as I climbed out. Everything seemed somewhat shorter, smaller even. My entire body was sore, as if I’d worked out for several hours for the first time in years. I glanced around, blinking, before I was face to face with my sponsor Jennifer. She did not look happy.
Her face displayed a sneer and a look that could kill. “What the FUCK is wrong with you, Ryan?!” she screamed, her fist swinging around and hitting me square in the nose before I knew what happened. There was a sickening crunch from what I could only imagine to be my nose breaking. I was dimly aware of a substantial trickle of blood coming from my nose. I don’t recall hitting the floor, but half of my body was numb as I looked up. She gave me a swift kick to the ribs, and I saw stars. “ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID?!” she screamed, grabbing me by my hair – that hurt even more – and hauling me to my feet.
Gods, I’d never been in so much physical agony in all my life. I winced in pain, shut my eyes, and tried to breathe; coughing as my lungs wanted for air, but my chest didn’t want to expand. Dear Gods, please let me survive this… I prayed. There was a slap across my face, which I almost didn’t feel in the wake of the debilitating pain. “I… I’m sor…” I slurred, trying to speak something coherent, but didn’t get much of a chance before I felt a fist to my lower abdomen, doubling me over as Jennifer let go of my hair.
“What part of ‘I’M responsible for what YOU do’ DIDN’T YOU UNDERSTAND?!” she screamed. “I had to hand deliver your goddamn computer!” She paced back and forth across the space in front of me, everything else blurred. I couldn’t focus on much else. “Trying to hack the system?!” she almost wailed. She glared down at me again, and I curled up, trying to minimize the effects of another expected blow. Her fists were balled up, and I noticed the stinger on her right hand. “You’re not worth this much fucking trouble!” She dove at me and slammed the weapon into my shoulder. The world exploded around me; pain was the only sensation, before welcome darkness.
Consciousness, for once in my life, was not what I wanted. What happened the last time I was awake was not a pleasant memory, and it was still quite fresh and vivid. I knew I was awake, at least partially, before my body came back to mind. Gods, how I hurt. I was on a bed, but that didn’t do a whole lot to ease the throbbing all over my body, especially my nose. It wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered it being a few… what? Minutes? Hours? Days ago? I just couldn’t tell at that point.
I opened my eyes, blinking away a film of weariness. Everything was blurry until I blinked a few more times, and then started to recognize the inside of the pod. I wanted to think of it as my pod, but I had to remember I was property, and didn’t really own anything. I reached a hand up, gingerly feeling my nose. It was back in place, though still sore like the rest of my body. “He’s awake,” said a gentle voice. It took me a moment to process the sounds, and realize the voice belonged to Vanessa. I rolled over to face her, finally getting a decent look at her.
Vanessa was now a fair bit taller, just short of six feet, but she looked, well, not exactly younger, but more youthful, if that makes any sense. Her features were a bit sharper, and she had a radiant smile as she glanced past me. Her breasts were firmer, though not a whole lot larger. She had lost the wrinkles on her face indicative of a difficult life.
“So he is…” came Jennifer’s voice. She didn’t sound particularly thrilled. I sat up and glanced toward her, blinking a few times to make sure my eyes were working. My body was still sore. She was sitting in a chair with the laptop in her lap. She stared at the screen, a glazed and annoyed look on her face. She looked to me and smirked. “The Darjee gave the damned thing back.” She stood up and held onto it with one hand, making me wince at the haphazard way she handled it. She strode over and tossed it into my lap. “Why in hell would they do that?”
I was quick to catch it, and turn it to face me. I had to resist the urge to cradle it like a pet, as much as it meant to me. “I haven’t the faintest clue,” I admitted, keeping my voice low and my eyes down-cast. The screen displayed the Windows desktop, which made me wince. It looked like Jennifer had been digging through my files, though I doubted she’d find anything worth looking at. Of course, that’s not to say that such content didn’t exist.
I shut it down before turning it back on and selecting Linux at the boot screen. As it went through the brief start up, I lifted the computer gingerly, noting that it was a lot lighter. Inspecting the bottom, I found that the usual battery was missing, and had been replaced with something else. I didn’t feel like taking it out while the computer was on, so I left it alone. Once the Linux desktop was on display, I checked the battery. My jaw dropped. CURRENT POWER: 99.99%. REMAINING BATTERY LIFE AT CURRENT USAGE: 30413 HOURS AND 13 MINUTES.
“That’s impressive…” I muttered. I’d likely find a lot of things in the near future to be impressive. I pulled up a calculator program, and divided 30413 by 24, which gave me a little over 1267. Divided by 365, that meant that I had over 3 years of battery life. “So much for needing a solid connection…” I muttered.
Jennifer walked toward the exit of the pod, and opened the door. She looked back and rolled her eyes before saying, “Don’t get into any more trouble than you already have, alright?” Before I could look up, she was out the door and it closed.
Vanessa slid up next to me and put a hand on mine. “I saw what she did to you, when you were dragged back here…” she said softly. As my eyes rose to meet hers, she had a pained look on her face, which didn’t seem to suit her well. “She was very surprised when the AI called her out, and she came back with your computer.” Vanessa turned her face away, her expression easing slightly. “She said that maybe your beating had been unnecessary… I think she meant it as an apology, even if she doesn’t say so to you later.”
I closed the laptop and set it aside, sighing softly as I leaned my forehead against her shoulder. “Thanks…” I murmured. The pain that had suffused my body was still there, though more as a dull ache than anything else. “How long was I out?”
Vanessa thought a moment, running her fingers over my hair before replying, “About a day and a half. Kim is with another, um, sponsor. Not permanently, just as part of some sort of deal Jennifer made.”
At once, I was somewhat jealous, but I had to remember that I wasn’t in charge, didn’t have a say in much of anything. I’d have to do the best with what I had. I inhaled slowly and deeply, taking in Vanessa’s scent inadvertently. She smelled wonderful… exotic, erotic, clean, and smooth. My hand slid up her back, feeling her body lightly. It was almost intoxicating.
Her reaction was somewhat surprising, but not unwelcome. She moved closer to me, pressing her body to mine. I realized the only things between us were the generic gray clothes we had been given. I inhaled again, and her scent assaulted me like a drug. I wanted to take her, to feel her body in every way possible. She didn’t seem to have any objection. It would have come as a shock if she hadn’t felt my swollen member pressing against her through cloth. “Make love to me…” she said softly.
That made me blink in surprise. I leaned back enough to look her in the eyes, her face a restrained look of need. She wasn’t a slut like Kim, but I could tell she wanted it. It was not just a matter of the look on her face. I could smell her want, feel the way she moved. She was wanting, willing, able, and ready to get pregnant. She leaned in closer to me, her eyes drifting partially closed, her lips parted just slightly. I leaned forward and kissed her, tasting her lips tenderly. She kissed back eagerly, but passionately.
I let a hand slide up her back, to tangle my fingers in her hair. It was wonderful. It has to be what they did to us… I thought. I wanted badly to step away and go back to my computer, but I couldn’t pull away. It didn’t just feel good, embracing Vanessa, kissing her like a lover and guiding her clothes up and off, breaking the kiss only briefly. It felt right. While the kiss was broken, she took a moment to tug my shirt up and off, and then met my lips again, her tongue daintily teasing my own and baiting me into her mouth. I chased after it, loving the sensation of her warm, full, firm breasts against my chest.
I guided her onto her back, while she worked at my lower garment, slipping it down after a moment to free my swollen member. I wasn’t sure how quickly she would move, but she wasted no time. She slipped her legs around my waist and dragged me closer, while her arms were around my torso. She kept her lips on mine, engaging in the most drawn out, passionate kiss I’d ever experienced. As wonderful as it felt, I didn’t miss a beat when I felt her warm, wet haven rubbing over my manhood.
As closely intertwined as our bodies were, I didn’t need any direction to maneuver my member into her. It was fantastic, pure ecstasy as I slowly spread her open, making her my own. She moaned softly into my lips, but didn’t break the kiss. If anything, she kissed even more desperately. I remained inside her once I hilted, letting her adjust, but she didn’t seem to need that. She rocked up against me, encouraging me into motion. I gladly obliged.
I don’t recall exactly how long we coupled like that, but it was wonderful the entire time. It felt wonderful, but I later realized that I wasn’t as sensitive. It was like I had a much longer fuse. That was likely one of the changes Jennifer had made while I was in the med tube. None-the-less, when I finally went off, I flooded Vanessa’s haven with cum, filling her up and driving her into what had to be her fifth or sixth orgasm. She held me tight, held me inside her, and finally broke the kiss. She panted for air, a satisfied look in her eyes, and a tender smile as she looked up at me.
After cleaning up and relaxing for a few minutes, I opened my computer back up and re-checked the battery. Clearly, I didn’t need to worry for a long time. As I pulled up the network connections, the ship’s network was once again readily available, though now labeled in English after the system had translated it. A quick search brought up a channel of communication with an AI, hopefully the one I’d communicated with earlier. As I started typing a message into the text box, there was an instant reply. “Welcome back, Ryan. Are you ready to continue?”
I sighed softly and shook my head. This is going to take some getting used to, I thought. “Why do you wish to test me so?” I typed in, and hit send.
“Our primary task is the defense of the Confederacy. This is a highly complex task. It has long been planned to make the most out of every human extracted who can contribute reliably, whether it be in the form of procreation or otherwise. Your genetic makeup has some very desirable allele combinations, but that is far from the only purpose you might serve.”
“I do not wish to fight. I’m not a warrior. Not by a long shot,” I replied.
“Your 2.2 violence score has already indicated this.”
I had to think a moment, rubbing my chin. I had a short goatee, well trimmed. That must have been another change. I glanced down and realized that I also no longer had an oversized stomach. Changing my focus back to the conversation with the AI, I started typing again. “I thought you said that the CAP score I was given was assigned based on what you figured I wanted.”
“The CAP test is set up to detect false answers that would generate a higher score. It is easy to detect when someone selects an answer that is not true to their personality, and to assign points lower than what they would have gotten, had that person been honest. Your answers to the violence related questions and scenarios were truthful, and those generated the 2.2 score in that area. It is one of only a handful of sub-scores known to be correct. The fact that you lied on numerous occasions while selecting the lowest scoring solutions made it difficult to give you an accurate score. There is a 97.6% chance your score would have been above a 7, but given your behavior you were rated at 6.4 to prevent you from volunteering without further investigation.”
“Aren’t you forthcoming…” I muttered aloud.
To my surprise, there came another reply. “Yes. Can you be convinced to take the test once more, this time answering truthfully?”
I typed my response, “What happens if I score over 6.5?”
“You will be given the choice to either remain a concubine, or be assigned a different path.”
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