tagSci-Fi & FantasyAnna Ch. 04

Anna Ch. 04


Thanks so much to everyone who's reading and giving feedback! This will probably be the last chapter for a while, so I hope you enjoy it.


Anna woke up to the smell of hot coffee, a much-maligned staple of a miner's life. Societal elites reviled it as a commoner's drink, preferring chemical concoctions with as much or as little caffeine as they cared to add, or any other sort of stimulant. Coffee was just that, plain and simple, drunk black and kept for years in a ship's storage compartment, freeze-dried and bitter. Anna had grown up with it, and she loved it. The smell reminded her of her father. He'd always smelled like a mix of coffee and oiled metal, and she kept her eyes closed for a moment, imagining that she was with her parents again, that her mother was brewing the coffee in their tiny kitchen while her father finished up the last-minute repairs to the equipment they would use that day. Then the smell grew stronger, and she opened her eyes. Varan was sitting next to her, fully dressed in a gray jumpsuit and boots, and he had two cups.

"Sleep well?" he asked.

"Fine, thank you," Anna replied, blushing slightly. He didn't seem any different today than he had before. What had she been expecting? "Where did you go last night?"

"I had business to finish," he replied, shrugging.



"I thought maybe...never mind." She sat up, holding the blanket over her chest. "Is that for me? I love coffee!"

"I thought you might." He handed her one of the cups and sat back, smiling a little at her modesty. "Every real miner appreciates a cup of coffee in the morning."

"And the afternoon, and the evening." Anna finished the old saying with a laugh. "It was practically all my father drank. My mother had to sweeten hers, but I grew up with his taste for it." She sipped the steaming brew. "Mmm...this is delicious."

"Freshly ground. I have investments in several coffee plantations on one of the nearby planets, and I supply all my ships with the best."

"Your workers must love it."

"They do." No false modesty about that. "I use the best I can find."

"Pretty rare for a mining magnate," Anna suggested with a smile. "That's one reason why my father worked freelance, he said that at least only he could be held responsible if our equipment gave out, or the food went bad, or we got stranded, instead of complaining to a superior who would blame us anyway."

"Most of the mining magnates around here aren't really miners," Varan grunted. "They have the money to get it done, but they don't have the will for it. Like that fool last night who thought about out-shooting you. He inherited his company. His mother was a good miner, but he knows very little about the actual work."

"I'm afraid I didn't make a friend out of him," Anna confessed.

"He wasn't worth the effort," Varan replied dismissively, draining his coffee. "Finish up. There's some food in the kitchen, and clothes on a stool for you. When you're done, meet me in the port. I have a meeting today with several companies wanting to sell me things, and I want you along."

"All right." She drained her own cup, then took his from his hand. "I'll clean them up."

"Just put them in the autoclave, it'll take care of it." Leaning in briefly, he stroked one hand down the side of her face, brushing the hair out of the way and giving it a quick tug. "Put this up."

"I will," Anna replied, controlling the pleasurable shiver that ran down her spine when he touched her. Varan stood up and was gone through the door in a moment. Anna stood and walked quickly into the kitchen, dropping off the cups and picking up the clothes he had there for her. The food he left out was simple, a protein spread on toast and a pink plum. Anna munched through both of them quickly, noting to her surprise that the spread was real peanut butter, then hurried into the bathroom to change. Her pussy, she was pleased to note, was feeling normal again. All the swelling had disappeared. She thought about the night before and blushed, feeling a heat in her abdomen. Would he want her again today? She hoped that he would. Cris had told her that patrons varied in their wants. Some would take her only once for a whole contract, others would want sex every hour. Where would Varan fall? She cleaned her teeth using a rinse and quickly brushed her hair, then pulled on the clothes he left behind. It was a jumpsuit like his, only white. The smart fabric sized itself to fit her, there were even built-in underwear and boots. Anna looked herself over in the mirror. She looked like...herself, she decided. No special new version, no Anna 2.0. Just herself. And happy. She tied her hair up and walked out, making her way to the flyer port in good time. Varan was already sitting inside waiting for her. She got in and the doors sealed. Varan didn't say anything, just opened the doors and eased the flyer out into space. The tint engaged, the port closed, and they were on their way.

Neither of them spoke much during the ride, but this time the silence wasn't awkward the way it had been before. The ride back to Ceyla City was smooth, and Anna watched with interest as they headed towards the industrial center, a place she hadn't gotten to see in her one week of "freedom". They entered a large habitation bubble full of warehouses and ports, each one holding a ship that was either being loaded or unloaded by workers. "My company lot," Varan explained. He parked his flyer next to a tall silver building. "My office is at the top, but we'll be meeting with the salesmen in the demo room."

"What is your company's name?" Anna asked as they exited the flyer.

"Reliant Operations. The parent branch, at least. There are a lot of subsidiaries."

Anna had heard of it before. Reliant was a big name in the fringe-mining field, specializing in rare minerals and difficult locations. One of her father's friends had contracted with them a few years ago, and tried to get her father to sign on as well. But he was fiercely independent, and refused. Anna sighed, and pushed the memories from her mind.

They walked into a simple hall, undecorated except for a gold vein running through the metal floor. The woman at the front desk looked up when they entered, nodded to Varan, then looked back down, busy at her computer. Varan led Anna down a hallway and through the large doors at the end of it. They opened up onto a completely different place. It was rocky, and bright with sunlight-artificial light, Anna realized, but it looked very real. The floor was sandy. By one of the rock walls a group of three men were waiting, wearing suits and looking a little uncomfortable in the heat. Anna felt a moment of deja-vu; she had been here before. Then it hit her. "Devil's Tower," she murmured.

"Good, Elsiane." Varan looked pleased. "I wanted my demo room to imitate something real, and Devil's Tower is pretty rough. If it works here, it's more likely to work out there. I do extensive field testing before I side with any product, but this can help me narrow it down. The rock is the same composition, the same density as out there."

There was no doubt that the men they were walking towards were surprised to see a woman accompanying Varan, but they all recovered their aplomb. Introductions were made, with Anna being introduced as a consultant. "What do you have for me, gentlemen?" Varan asked once they were through.

"You advertised for a new method of deploying ropes," one of the men, a Mr. Winkle, said smoothly. "Our company has used flyer technology to create a mini-lifter, which is a secure platform that will simply lift the miner to the location he chooses. In some ways it negates the needs for ropes at all, but if you insisted upon using them, it could lift you into place to guarantee a secure hold."

"Devil's Tower is often caught in electrical storms," Varan said mildly, but everyone could hear the edge of disdain in his voice. "Electrical storms play havoc with machinery of any kind. It isn't like being on an asteroid, where I wouldn't need a lifter anyway. The last place I would want to be is three hundred feet in the air on a faulty lifter that was about to drop due to interference."

"The lifters are battery operated!" the salesman protested. "Impervious to electrical interference."

"Are the computer chips controlling the lifter operations impervious as well?"

"Of course."

"Does your warranty specifically state that?"

"Well, no...it's never come up before."

"Consider it up, and talk to me when you have something more reliable." He turned to the next man, Mr. Prethian. "What do you have?"

"Current deployment efforts rely on good eyesight and a steady hand for placement," the man said, cutting right to the chase. "That might happen once, but what we're offering is a tracking system that follows the trajectory of the first rope, human deployed, then assists with magnetic impulses in the placement of the next ropes, at one foot, two foot or meter intervals. This reduces time spent shooting and having to redo faulty casts. We use a standard piton, which spreads to a standard hold upon impact, and the only addition we've made is magnets in the core. The only additional electronics come in the handle of the casting device, which helps with placement. Even if the electronics were disrupted, the device would still function perfectly well as a manual caster."

"Interesting." Varan stroked his chin. "And the price?"


"Hmm." He turned to the last man. "And what does your company have to offer?"

"Our change is in the pitons themselves." The last man was smaller and frailer than the others, and Anna had already forgotten his name. "Our pitons guarantee casts that will hold, no matter the rock composition or the penetration angle. They are specially designed to spread to varying circumferences depending on the density of the rock, and adjust themselves immediately upon impact. If their system is disabled, they still extend to a standard hold. Of course," he added obsequiously, "While they are more expensive initially, the save on wear and tear in the pitons themselves will more than pay for the investment."

It sounded good, and Varan was stroking his chin in a considering way. But Anna remembered some incidents at Devil's Tower that made her frown. Varan noticed it. "What?"

"If you cast into something hard, like granite, the piton hold will be fairly minimal, right?" she asked the man.

"Yes, to save on wear and tear," he repeated.

"And if you cast into something like sandstone it will be wide?"

"Of course."

"What if you cast into a hard rock that is surrounded by a soft rock?"

The man looked puzzled. "That isn't very likely, is it? Erosion being what it is, the strata would be very pronounced...we've run dozens of tests and never had a problem."

"Do you have one of your casters with you?"


"May I see it?"

The man looked uncertainly at Varan, who nodded. He handed over a rope and piton thrower, new and shiny. Anna hefted it for a moment, then sighted along her arm at the wall, thirty or so feet up. She cast and the piton shot out, firing its fingers into place in the rock. Anna loaded another rope and shot that one about five feet away from the first. "So, assuming I was working on this line and I had gotten the other rope as close as I could by hand..." Not waiting for comments, she stepped forward and rapidly climbed the rope, stopping about twenty five feet up.

"So I'm up here, and I need to reach the other rope for some reason," she called down. "Tools, helping someone else, anything. Devil's Tower is a high-stress area of ground, it's built up and re-baked during the stormy season. The rock is very strong in one direction because of the direction of the wind, and very weak in the other. So when I reach over, maybe swing a little to get to the other line..." She started to swing, reaching out, hoping that things would go the way they were supposed to...

They did. There was a sudden crack as the thin section of wall the first piton was shot into broke away in a flat sheet, and Anna was falling. She grabbed the other line twenty feet above the ground and swung around on it, keeping her circle's radius as small and tight as she could, then shimmied down to the ground. She walked back over to the three stunned salesmen and Varan, who was looking unreadable.

"That was always the problem at Devil's Tower," she told them, dusting off her hands. "The walls get built up in the firestorms when the volcanoes get going, but the rock is only strong in one direction. We had pieces breaking away all of the time, and sometimes it was really difficult to get to a safe rope. Different densities, you know, from one season to the next."

The last little man looked absolutely appalled. "I've never seen such a thing!" he exclaimed. "If we hadn't made sure our equipment was top of the line, we would never have brought it to Mr. Varan!"

"Next time, be positive." Varan spoke finally, and his voice was rougher than normal. "Gentlemen, I've seen enough. Mining doesn't have to be fancy to be effective. Send me your offers, but Mr. Prethian has preference. I care less about saving money than ensuring the safety of my workers." He took Anna by the hand; his grip hurt. "We're going."

They left the demo room, but instead of going back out to the flyer, they entered a lift. It took them up to the top of the building in a matter of moments. Varan wasn't looking at her, but she could feel tension in him, and it scared her. What had she done wrong? Maybe she had been out of line, but it would have been negligent of her not to point it out.

The lift opened into a large open office. There was a desk, and one wall was entirely transparent, offering a beautiful view of the stars. There was a holoscreen here, probably for conferences, and a couch and several chairs around a low table. Everything was stark and colorless, black or white or gray. Without preamble Varan pushed Anna onto the couch. "Did you find it amusing to risk your life just then?"

"What?" Anna asked, momentarily dumbstruck.

"That little trick with the ropes. I didn't have any other fail safes in there, Elsiane, it was supposed to be a demonstration only. What do you think would happen if you got hurt under my watch?"

"I knew I would be alright!" Anna insisted. "I've done that move a hundred times at Devil's Tower. I knew how far I could go."

"Well I didn't." Suddenly he was beside her, gripping her face in his hands, his ruined face close to hers. "You think it was negligence that got me this fragmentation? I've mined asteroids for longer than you've lived. It was chance, a pocket of reactive gas, almost unheard of on that type of rock. It blew and left me like this. You don't take foolish chances, Elsiane, not to prove a point, not like that. Not ever, especially not with me." His voice was burning, intense; his whole body felt like an inferno so close to hers, blazing with furious energy. Anna began to tremble, partly from fear and partly because of his overwhelming energy, flowing into her.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I didn't mean to upset you. I'm so sorry." She was shocked by what happened next. One second he was glaring at her with his gargoyle mask of a face, fury written in his every move. The next moment his body was crushing hers back against the couch, his mouth pressed tightly to hers. The kiss was hard, urgent, and suddenly Anna was burning as well. She closed her eyes and returned the kiss, wrapping her arms around Varan's waist and pressing her groin against his. It was too much for him. In a second his hands were tearing at her jumpsuit, ripping open the front and pulling it down quickly. He pinched one nipple hard, squeezing her breast, the gentleness of last night devoured by his intensity. Anna moaned against his lips and arched her back, signaling her approval, wanting more. Suddenly he was off of her, picking her up. Anna found herself tossed onto her feet facing away from him. She put her hands on the arm of the couch to steady herself. The rest of her jumpsuit was ripped open down to her ankles. She turned to look back but suddenly couldn't. Varan had his hand wrapped in her hair, which had come down during her fall. He forced her head up, away from him, towards the starscape out the window. She felt his other hand on her lower back, squeezing her ass, before dipping down below and roughly fingering her dripping cleft. Anna gasped, clenching around the invading fingers. She wanted something different, she wanted more...

Without any more foreplay, Varan opened his own suit just far enough to free his cock and drove it instantly deep into Anna's pussy, bottoming out in the first thrust. He didn't stop to give her time to get used to his length like he had before. He immediately started to drive into her, moving hard and fast like a piston, the one hand holding her hips still, the other gripping her hair like reigns. Anna was gasping, groaning like an animal in heat. With one hand she reached back to touch where they were joined. When her fingers felt his thick cock disappearing into her body, the strangeness, the power, the intimacy of it drove her into a fast orgasm. The walls of her pussy tightened around Varan's cock and she cried out as the pleasure wracked her body.

This time Varan didn't come with her, though. It was as if he wanted to punish her by fucking her, and he didn't say anything, just breathed hoarsely and dropped her hair, putting the other hand on her hip and thrusting into her faster and harder than before. His long cock slid deep inside of her, his hands pulled her back to meet every thrust. His fingers dug into her hips so hard Anna felt sure they would leave bruises, but she was too wrapped up in the incredible fuck to care. She kept her head bowed like a penitent, willed strength into her arms to keep her upright, anything to keep him inside of her, fucking her, punishing her pussy with his dick, fulfilling her needs with every stroke.

"Varan..." she said his name, softly at first, then louder. "Oh, Varan, ahh...Varan, mmm, yes, yes, please yes, ah, Varan..." she called out to him, wanting him to find release, to find pleasure. The worst punishment now would be for him to go unfulfilled.

"Varan, come in me, oh god, please, come in me. I want you, I want you to fill me, please, oh fuck, give it to me." She heard him moan slightly, and felt his hands move against her ass. She pressed back against him. "Shoot it into me, let me feel it, let me feel everything." She felt another orgasm starting at her toes, curling up through her legs and making her stand on her tiptoes. "Varan, don't make me come alone! Give it to me!" She was screaming and didn't realize it, caught up in the rapid feeling of bliss overwhelming her. "Varan, fuck!" Unable to control her own orgasm any longer, Anna threw her head back as it swept up her spine and into her head, leaving all her limbs tingling and her lungs straining for breath as she threw herself back against his cock. The sudden intense pressure, coupled with the beauty of her arching, glorious body, was too much to withstand. Varan groaned and thrust deep, pistoning in and out of her as he spilled all of his seed against her womb. By the time he finished coming, trembling and sweating with the exertion, Anna's arms had lost their strength, and almost her legs. She had collapsed over the arm of the couch, breathing heavily, her knees buckling.

Slowly Varan pulled out. Anna started to fall, but he had enough strength left in him to grab her body and pull her with him as he fell forward onto the couch, twisting so that she rested on top of him and not beneath. Anna felt as limp as a rag doll in his arms. She was barely aware of the kisses he pressed on her brow, the now-tender way he held her, rubbing her abdomen with one hand.

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