tagNovels and NovellasBattle for the Known Unknown Ch. 13

Battle for the Known Unknown Ch. 13

bybradley_stoke©

Chapter Thirteen
Intrepid - 3754 C.E.


Beatrice licked her fingers lasciviously as she savoured the sour taste of Captain Kerensky's vaginal juices and smiled seductively at her lover. The captain gasped. Her eyes shone bright. She shuddered with a final orgasmic spasm from the frenzied sex she was enjoying with Paul's wife. Beatrice's tongue was still moist from the lovers' commingled saliva and the juicy evidence of passion dripped from her vagina. Nadezhda had made love with many women in her hundred and twenty years of life, but she'd never experienced orgasms of quite the intensity that she'd had with this Venusian.

Beatrice rasped her tongue over the captain's shaven pate while she pinched at the lips of her equally shorn vulva. Her smile was so enticing that the captain was anticipating the time when she'd recovered sufficiently from the lovemaking that never seemed to tire Beatrice and they could resume. Beatrice recognised how fatigued her lover was and let her relax recumbent on her huge mattress.

"What's your theory about the Anomaly, Naddy sweetheart?" Beatrice asked as she leaned over the captain's bosom. "Do you think it's an alien visitation?"

"I'm not sure," said the captain. "I know that's what most people think and I'm sure that's why the Interplanetary Union has gone to such incredible expense to launch this mission, but I'm not convinced."

"And why's that?"

"I don't know. I guess I just don't believe this is how a superior alien intelligence would reveal itself. Why haven't we found other evidence of alien civilisations? Humanity has spread to every last corner of the Solar System and as far as I know we've not found a single alien artefact and certainly no aliens. Why would they reveal themselves by means of an Anomaly that has no measurable gravity, emits no radiation and has no fixed shape? I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that it was nothing more than a natural phenomenon, perhaps associated with dark energy or hidden spatial dimensions."

"The universe is vast," said Beatrice. "The light from the nearest galaxy, Andromeda, left it two and a half million years ago. It's taken twenty-five thousand years for the light from the centre of the galaxy to reach us. Surely, in all that immensity there must be something out there?"

"But why would an alien civilisation ever be interested in us?" Nadezhda wondered. "And given that the universe is so huge, what chance is there they would even find us? In any case, there's been no concrete evidence of aliens in over two thousand years of astronomy. We keep sending probes to the stars, but we never find evidence of any life form that's more advanced than a bacterium."

"Perhaps the human race just hasn't been looking hard enough."

"I think we've had rather more pressing concerns. And how do we even know that we'd like what we found? Anyway, it's not as if we haven't tried. Ever since the twenty-third century, after the environmental mess on Earth was finally sorted out, we've been sending robotic probes out across the galaxy. They must be hovering around almost all the stellar systems within a radius of a hundred light years. When these probes were sent out it was during an era when people thought it be no more than a matter of time until we had the scientific knowledge and technology to colonise the stars. And what's happened since then? Most probes didn't survive the journey and although they were programmed with highly advanced artificial intelligence and the ability to reproduce, the whole endeavour resulted in nothing more than a holographic library of inhospitable exoplanets. The probes most certainly didn't discover new civilisations, cities or orbiting colonies."

"So what do you think happened to that first generation of robotic probes?"

"I think they just malfunctioned. Technology fifteen hundred years ago wasn't nearly as advanced as it is today."

"You don't think they were intercepted by aliens?"

"If that's the case, then why haven't our probes ever found any sign of little green men? There's never been such a concerted effort to establish colonies in other star systems since those optimistic days and that's mostly for practical and economic reasons. Even the fastest space ship takes hundreds of years to get to the nearest star. A robotic probe can travel somewhat faster than a space ship, but the amount of fuel required is just prohibitive. It's just not economically viable. However, it did seem in those optimistic days that those early expeditions had a chance of success."

"Why's that?"

"They were designed to use the materials they found in space to reproduce themselves, so if they'd survived the journey they'd have been able to spread across the galaxy. That was in the days before self-reproducing hardware was prohibited because of the risk of runaway destruction. Imagine what could happen if these robotic probes followed their programmed instructions too assiduously and gobbled up everything they found. It would be chaos. Even though there are countless films and books about alien civilisations and the like, we're still a long way off from having the resources to colonise even the nearest stellar system."

"You don't think aliens can travel faster than light?"

"Of course not," said the captain sadly. "The history of science ever since the 23rd Century has been one of diminishing returns. Everything seemed possible in those heady early days. It seemed that every decade there was a new theory to explain the anomalies and oddities of the universe, but with each advance the chance of ever breaking free from the mundane reality of sub-light speed travel seems to have become ever more remote. I can understand how people used to think. Economic growth was almost exponential. Scientific knowledge seemed to grow on a similar curve. But nowadays that all just seems like an illusion. Since the middle of the last millennium there's been nothing at all like the fantastic advances of knowledge and technology that seemed so natural in the early years of space travel."

"So you think progress has slowed down since then?"

"Very much so. Just compare the scientific advances in the centuries from the start of the 19th Century with what's happened in the last thousand years. There's been no new theory of physics as monumental as Special or General Relativity. No advances that compare with the invention of the motor car or aeroplane. Whatever curve now describes scientific progress, it's most certainly not exponential. I'd say it's kind of levelled out."

"You really are a kind of philosopher, aren't you, Naddy," said Beatrice admiringly. "You must do a lot of reading and research."

"I've had a great deal of spare time while travelling across the Solar System," the captain admitted. "But isn't this the kind of conversation you'd expect to have with your husband? He's an academic, isn't he? I'd have thought you'd always be talking about things like Relativity, Quantum Physics and so on."

"Well, yes," Beatrice said, "I suppose we do. But Paul's conversations are very different to yours. He's mostly interested in describing how things are or might have been. He doesn't speculate on things like alien intelligence, hyperspace or the curve of scientific progress. Paul isn't especially interested in anything that can't be measured or analysed."

Captain Kerensky squeezed Beatrice's vaginal lips between her forefinger and thumb. She leaned over and licked the skin around the labia majora that was so completely smooth that Nadezhda assumed that her lover had opted for genetic enhancement to inhibit hair growth. The treatment must have been sophisticated because it actually had the reverse affect on the long blonde hair that was now radiating out over the mattress. None of Nadezhda's Saturnian lovers had hair and certainly not tresses that cascaded down to the waist and was so uniformly thick.

"Does Paul know that you and I are lovers, sweetness?" asked the captain.

"No," said Beatrice. "And I'd much prefer it that he never finds out."

"Isn't he an anarchist? Anarchists don't normally practise marriage or even expect to have lifelong relationships. Why would it be a problem to him?"

"It's far better for him to believe that I am his and only his."

"Isn't that deceitful? I've told Colonel Vashti about our relationship and she doesn't mind at all. She told me that she's got other lovers anyway. Wouldn't it be better to be honest with your husband?"

"No," said Beatrice firmly. "No, it would not be. Paul isn't a man who'd be happy to share his wife with another woman. Or with another man for that matter."

"Shouldn't you respect his wishes? After all, you only got married relatively recently. Don't your marital vows mean anything to you?"

"Not at all," Beatrice cheerfully admitted. "I have sexual needs that far exceed what Paul can satisfy. Or even you, Nadezhda darling." She inclined her head and kissed the captain on the mouth, as if to stress how little her passion for her Saturnian lover was diminished.

Although Captain Kerensky was sure that it was far from wise to maintain a relationship with Beatrice, she had no desire to bring it to an end. From the first time that she and Beatrice had made love, every subsequent encounter only further deepened Nadezhda's addiction for the Venusian's body. Moreover, Nadezhda still desired Vashti even as she ached for Beatrice.

"Colonel Vashti is a peculiar woman," Beatrice commented and not for the first time. "Has she ever told you how she came to be so unusually endowed?"

"Not at all," said Nadezhda. "She doesn't really talk about her past." Then she asked, slightly alarmed: "Have you and she...?"

"No," said Beatrice thoughtfully. "Not yet."

That really wasn't the answer that the captain wanted to hear and her composure buckled at the suggestion. The captain wasn't really comfortable with the fact that both her lovers made love with other men and women. This wasn't the first time in her life that Nadezhda had shared her lovers, but she was now part of a far more unsettling web of sexual intrigue. Nadezhda's series of wives and lovers normally followed one another in a sequential fashion. This was a pattern occasionally punctuated by wild extramarital affairs that was the natural consequence of spending so many months and years aboard space ships millions of kilometres from home.

"Would you...?" Nadezhda almost sobbed. "Could you?"

Beatrice smiled reassuringly and stroked the captain's still erect nipples with the tips of her fingers. "Whether I do or not is of no matter, Nadezhda darling. I shall always love you and you will always be welcome in my arms."

This was, of course, the natural prelude for a renewed bout of rapturous lovemaking between the two women that was somehow enhanced rather than diminished by Nadezhda's knowledge, which she never doubted, that the two lovers who dominated her waking thoughts—and featured prominently in her dreams—would have no compunction or reservation about consummating their mutual fascination with one another. Just as Beatrice often wondered about Vashti's provenance, so too did her brown-skinned lover about Paul's sexually charged wife.

Again and again, Nadezhda was brought to an orgasm that left her in anticipation of the next. Finally she could take no more. She shuddered with desire but was too exhausted to meet Beatrice's insatiable demands. She fell into her lover's arms. Her nose pressed into Beatrice's bosom and their legs intertwined. Captain Kerensky didn't know and didn't care how long they were slumped on the mattress as she gasped breathlessly in the residual spasms of ecstasy.

And then her reverie was abruptly interrupted.

There was no prologue. There was no soothing call to arms from the female voice the captain had chosen for the ship's computer. There was just a shrill alert that urgently notified the captain that there was an emergency that required her instant attention.

Still naked, the captain jumped to her feet. Nadezhda disregarded the vaginal juices trickling down the inside of her thighs and dashed over to the nearest console.

A holographic image filled the room above which flashed in insistent crimson the words Red Alert! Captain Kerensky raised her hands to her shaven pate and pressed her palms against her forehead.

"Shit! Shit! The Intrepid is under attack!"

"Attack?" asked Beatrice whose normally beatific expression broke into visible concern. "Who from?"

"I don't know," the captain replied. She studied the data that appeared on a holographic screen. "A fleet of space craft. They're all relatively modern. Well, a lot more modern than the Intrepid. They're registered in different parts of the Solar System."

The holographic image confirmed the captain's words. It displayed the space ship as a huge pencil shaped object that could not have been filmed from inside the ship and was generated from the set of data transmitted from the ship's surface. What it displayed was a swarm of small craft all around and about the ship. A few larger space ships were hovering a few hundred kilometres behind. The image was illuminated by flashes of bright lights as the Intrepid's automatic defence systems identified and destroyed as many incoming craft as it could.

"What's happening?" Beatrice asked.

"The ship's defence system is eliminating as many enemy craft as it can," the captain explained. "However, this is an old ship. Even though its defensive capability has been upgraded, it can destroy most of the enemy space craft but not all of them. Once they've attached themselves to the ship's hull, the Intrepid's external defences are useless. The ship can't destroy them without damaging itself."

As she spoke, the room was filled with images of military officers that were broadcast from the levels of the ship where the soldiers were quartered. A cacophony of spoken requests for information filled the captain's bedroom as she stood naked and bewildered in the midst of rather more holographic data than she could immediately assimilate. She spoke as calmly and dispassionately as she could, careful to activate an image of her official avatar rather than her actual naked body.

"We are being attacked by unknown hostile forces," the captain said. "The data suggests that the Space Ship Intrepid may become compromised. We must take immediate aggressive action."

With that the many images flickered off, leaving Captain Kerensky once again alone in her bedroom with Beatrice. She slumped onto a hoverchair and pressed a fist into her mouth.

"What can you do?" Beatrice asked as she walked over to her lover and placed a comforting hand on Nadezhda's shoulder.

"Nothing," said the captain. "Nothing at all. The enemy fleet is composed of modern siege engines. It's very likely that some will penetrate the Intrepid's defences and attach themselves to the ship's hull. We can't repel them with nuclear or antimatter weapons as that would damage the ship and imperil the Intrepid's life-support systems. We can fend off the enemy while the space craft are still in space and although so far the Intrepid has destroyed..." the captain referred to a digital display, "...35% of enemy vessels, it can't destroy any attached to the hull. There are no commands I can give that could be more efficient than what can be done by the Intrepid's artificial intelligence."

"And what happens next?"

"The space craft that have attached themselves to the ship's hull are drilling through the outermost shell. The Intrepid is attempting to ward off invasion with its internal defences, but it's limited to what it can do without causing irreparable harm to itself. You see those low domes dotted over the ship's exterior like a plague of warts. Those are the enemy's siege engines. They patch the surface so that as the space ship is being attacked, the Intrepid's life-support systems are not damaged while their laser drills cut through the twenty metres of external shell. The enemy infantry inside the space craft will then be inside the ship where they will be safe from the Intrepid's external weapons. It will then be a matter for the military forces inside the ship to engage with the enemy forces."

"Why was there no warning of this attack until now?"

"Modern space-craft have sophisticated cloaking devices that a ship of this antiquity can't detect. The Intrepid isn't a warship. It was designed as a space cruiser for long distance travel. It wasn't originally equipped to repel this kind of onslaught. The speed of the siege is far faster than the space ship's systems can handle. Look! Several dozen attempted incursions have already been successful. Our only hope lies with the soldiers and their professional skills."

The captain surveyed the holographic display that filled all the available space in her bedroom. Flashes of light indicated where warheads were exploding in space and destroying the space craft that were still heading towards the Intrepid. Other flashes took place beside the larger space craft from which were emerging yet more small space craft. The space vehicles that had survived the onslaught were attached to the Intrepid's exterior and morphing into bubonic domes.

"You can see how many intrusions have been successful," remarked the captain as she activated a section of the image. It grew to fill almost a quarter of the bedroom and showed figures in military space uniforms who were flying out from the holes punched into the soil of the Intrepid's outermost level. The figures flew upwards on hover-packs attached to their shoulders and drifted down onto the lawns and pathways. The invaders carried a variety of weapons, but they clasped a standard issue laser rifle against their chests.

"Who are they?" Beatrice wondered.

Again Captain Kerensky referred to the holographic display. "It's a mixture. Various kinds of uniforms. Jihad Martyrs. Infantry of Zion. Shakti Warriors. Soldiers of Christ. All they've got in common is that they belong to one or other of the rogue religious fundamentalist colonies that are scattered about the Solar System."

"Well, at last they've all now found a common cause," Beatrice remarked ironically.

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