tagSci-Fi & FantasyFading Stars Ch. 01

Fading Stars Ch. 01


Fading Stars

01: Encounters

Author's Notes:

As usual, thanks to my lady love, for invaluable input. Thanks also to bikoukumori (edits at warp speed!), BuckyDuckman and JagFarlane. Your input and support during the beta phase was essential.

All participants in sexual acts are the equivalent of adults. No artificial lifeforms were harmed while writing this story. This story contains space futanari and cat girls.

* * * *

The command cradle's bioseal opened before her. Div/A F03 stepped into the circular space, shielding her eyes from the glaring radiance. The mainframe ship was currently orbiting a binary star, its sensor sails extended to collect as much data as possible. Several dozen holographic displays orbited the figure in the center of the room, two showing optical information and, much to her dismay, immense levels of light. The captain half sat, half reclined naked in her cocoon, six long, flexible data probes connecting her spine with ports all over the room and a seventh, softly throbbing probe disappearing between her thighs.

"I have received your message, captain," she said. Acknowledging her existence for the first time, the captain raised her head and her blue eyes flickered to life.

"I'm sorry should I have caused you any inconvenience, Researcher Div/A F03," she said, her voice cracking from long periods of disuse. One of the probes disconnected itself from its port, slithered across the floor and pulled a protein drink canister into reach. Several screens winked out of existence until the command center was shrouded in the familiar dim blue light she was used to. The captain sipped at her drink, sighed and placed the canister between her feet.

"I am planning a project but it is quite a long shot. The network wouldn't approve of me sending a whole team on what might probably be nothing more than a miscalculation of an aging unit," the captain said. Clicks around the room announced she was fully disconnecting herself from the ship. With a wet, sucking noise, the throbbing probe lodged between her thighs retracted into the cocoon, leaving the captain to shudder for a moment from the sensation.

"While browsing the archives for cross-references regarding the astronomical phenomenon we are currently investigating, I stumbled upon a series of disconcerting reports, dating as far back as twenty cycles ago. The first was a simple error message detailing the inability to contact one of our long-range scouts who has moved beyond the edge of the galaxy, into the void. For all we know, that scout has vanished without a trace."

Pacing the command cradle, the captain stretched her limbs. Her actuators whirred and her joints creaked softly, the faint blue traces of her circulatory system slowly picking up speed.

"Maybe his ship is simply beyond communication range?" Div/A F03 politely asked.

"The network thought so as well. A relay ship was dispatched. It too vanished without a trace but not before transmitting some unsettling observations. The outer edge of the galaxy had changed."


"Yes. The star chart data sent by the relay ship didn't match with our archived version."

"Hardly surprising. Even a galaxy does change-"

The captain raised a hand, cutting short Div/A's interjection.

"It's not just about the distance between star systems or new suns being born. Quite the opposite. Missing planets. Stars winking out without any apparent reason."

"That's troubling."

"I did some predictive calculations. This phenomenon is slowly spreading, inching ever further into the "northern" edge of the galaxy. If my analysis is correct, the Nor Republic might be the first major galactic power in its way."

"Do we have any idea who or what might be causing this?"

The captain picked up her drink and took another long gulp before answering. "There are few factions capable of altering the galaxy on such a massive scale," she eventually said. "Unless they have stumbled on some kind of forgotten Precursor doomsday device, that is. The Nor and Zuthrians are rather cordial at the moment. The Gravos have been too occupied with their own civil war to be a factor on the galactic stage."

"What about the Faceless? Or the Grey? Or... how are these others called? Humans?"

"We can rule out the Faceless with almost a hundred percent certainty. They are infiltrators, conquering by slowly insinuating themselves into an existing government. Why would shape-shifters blow up the systems they could settle instead? Besides, they have been rather quiet since the Nor caught them sneaking into the Republic a century ago."

The captain called up a map of the galaxy, the spiral slowly spinning through its axes. Colored overlays displayed the borders of the major galactic powers. A handful of star systems scattered across the galaxy flashed in a dull grey. "The Grey are without a unifying government or even a territory to call their own. Their egos simply won't allow a larger number of them to work together. The odds of them being able to destroy star systems are below two percent."

"The Humans then?"

The captain shook her head. "No. They haven't even discovered faster-than-light travel yet. Despite the Grey meddling in their affairs for the last six thousand years, they have been surprisingly slow in their development. I am convinced we are dealing with something new, something unknown here."

"What do you need me to do?"

Div/A F03 waited for her captain to continue. She was among the most junior crew members on this mainframe ship, having been codemerged only three weeks ago and, as such, she was in awe of being personally summoned by the highest authority on the ship. The captain directly interfaced with all the data streams connecting the widely-scattered Silician ships and, as such, even with the almighty Core itself.

"It is time for an extended field study," the captain went on, much more energetic. She even smiled. "The network can't spend any major resources on this report but I am willing to authorize a mission regardless. I want you to load up on information on the Nor and join their navy as an embedded researcher. A shuttle is being prepared as we speak."

"How secret is this mission?" Div/A F03 asked.

"No need to alert the Nor just yet. The last we need is a galaxy-wide panic."

"Anything else?"

"Yes. I have instructed the Augmentor to expect you. You will receive a suite of upgrades including a wireless network node, internal displays, legacy data jack, full-body recorder, extra storage, defense systems and a Diplomat's Enhancement. We can't have you on an alien world without a means to digest their food and vacate the waste, now can we?"

"Understood. I'll see him at once." Div/A F03 saluted sharply and left the captain. The senior Silician sighed. Stars fading. Planets vanishing. This could only mean the work of something ancient, powerful. And hostile. Dark days were ahead and the simple joys of science for science's sake about to end. The Silicians would go to war but first they needed to find out what kind of enemy they would face. She hoped sending one gifted and well-prepared researcher would be enough. The captain slid back into her cocoon and spread her legs. Recognizing the weight placed upon it, the cocoon initiated the coupling sequence. The probe emerged and easily found her opening. It wasn't strictly necessary for operation of the ship but the feeling of being filled up by a warm, throbbing member was incredibly relaxing. It also kept her from losing herself in the endless data streams. She activated her probes and hooked her consciousness into the network again. Until Div/A F03 returned she had enough to do. That binary star still held many secrets.

* * * *

Div/A F03 walked briskly through the corridors of the mainframe ship, heading for the cybernetics clinic. She was excited. Going from handing spanners and data tablets to her instructors to an independent field study! Around her, the mainframe ship hummed and whirred, sections of wall panels reconfiguring themselves as she went past, accessways opening and closing as the ship tried to predict the way she would pick. Other Silicians she passed were busy with their own research and development or simply relaxing in twos, threes and fours, with their bodies locked together in arousing combinations. A small, rebellious part wanted to postpone her meeting with the Augmentor and join them. Thus far the joys of recreational coupling had been denied to her due to her constant learning and upgrading processes. Shortly before the captain had summoned her she had been cleared to participate but, as things were now, that had to wait. But once she had settled into her new role, there might be time for some quick xenobiological studies on the side.

A bioseal gurgled open in front of her and she entered the cybernetics clinic. Not only were those Silicians who got hurt during experiments and away missions treated here, no, the biomechanics here were also responsible for upgrading their fellow Silicians and bringing new ones into this world. She walked through a clear, biosealed tunnel. To her left, huge machines were manufacturing body parts from blue blocks of bio-plastics and metals while, to her right, three codemerging tables sat ready. Div/A F03 lingered for a moment. It felt odd seeing these tables from the other side of the clear panes. She still remembered how it felt, awakening on the cold, unyielding metal bed when a new consciousness had been downloaded from the network into her inert, fully grown body.

She shrugged and resumed her walking. Standing here and reminiscing would spare her from the laser-scalpels and nano-injectors only for so long. Leaving the tunnel, she entered the cyber-clinic proper. A wide-shouldered Type-A male awaited her, his whole optic ridge replaced by a visor-display. Two mechanical arms, fitted with a dizzying multitude of medical implements, hung over his shoulders. He was shrouded in a clear plastic schmock and she noted with a hint of amusement that he had disengaged his phallus, instead opting for a chromed plug with pulsing LEDs instead.

"You are late," he said matter-of-factly. "I expected you one minute and seven seconds ago."

"Passing the codemerging tables had me stand and think for a bit," she said. "You know what to do?"

"The frame has already been prepared. Tell me which arm to weaponize. You will be able to access the network with the other one."

Together, they walked into a booth. On an illuminated shelf, covered by sterile plastic hoods, her new implants awaited. In the center of the room a Silician-sized metal frame, suspended from the ceiling by a multi-jointed arm, waited. It wasn't her first visit. Over the last three weeks, several pieces of optional hardware had already been implanted so she knew what to do. Grasping the side of the frame, she stepped into footrests at the bottom of the device. Sturdy clamps locked her ankles in place. She reached over her head and inserted her hands into the interface pads located at the top end of the frame. Again, sturdy braces closed around her wrists and elbows, fixing her in place. Padded supports swung into place as the whole frame tilted, holding her face-down at about chest level.

"Initiating inhibitors," said the Augmentor, his unaltered hand in an interface panel of his own. Div/A F03 felt her body go numb. Snuffed out were all the exciting sensations and even that small bit of arousal she had from seeing the command cocoon pleasuring the captain.

"Use the left arm," Div/A F03 mumbled.

"Understood," the Augmentor confirmed. "Initiating network connection. Sweet dreams."

* * * *

The Nor Republic was the dominant political entity in the "northeastern" parts of the galaxy, consisting of several hundred inhabited star systems and quite a lot of uninhabited ones. The Nor, slender humanoid creatures with a wide variety of natural hair and eye pigmentations, were a highly structured and technologically advanced civilization. Three millennia ago they had discovered space flight; thanks to contact with other spacefaring races like the Grey or the Gravos, their technology had evolved rapidly. Most Nor had latent psionic abilities, often manifesting as heightened empathy or baseline telepathy. There were many philosophical or militaristic organizations within the Republic dedicated to amplifying and expanding these powers, most notably the Mentalist Corps. Those deemed worthy to join often displayed powers of amazing strength and destructive potential, with Psychokinesis and Matter Alteration preferred disciplines among those with a warlike bend. Silician psychologists have found most Nor to be cool, calculating individuals when compared to other Precursor races with little patience for spirituality which put them at odds with their closest neighbors, the Zuthrian Dynasty.

Silicians were always welcome in the Nor Republic thanks to their inherent compatibility with computers and electronics. Many Silicians had found employment as scientists, technicians or IT specialists in the Republic so her appearance at the Norwan Naval Academy wouldn't raise any suspicion. It also meant that Div/A F03 would keep access to the network through relative proximity to others of her kind, a calming thought indeed.

Div/A F03 stopped consulting the archives and disconnected from the network. She had been moved to a recuperation cocoon, with soothing healing fluid caressing her skin. Her limbs and torso throbbed in numerous places where the insertion and cutting points for her augmentation process had been. She consulted her internal medical systems. According to her health monitor, she was at eighty-five percent operating capacity. One by one her newly added augments booted. Most of them she already knew about. Full-body recorders were popular for sharing research data and for entertainment purposes. More internal memory was always welcome as was the hidden weapon inside her left forearm. The Diplomat's Enhancement was unusual. Normally, Silicians dieted on highly concentrated energy bars, their weight and composition calculated such that little waste remained. But now she sported a second digestive system tuned to work with less optimized foods and an expulsion system for the wastes terminating between her thighs and the firm orbs of her posterior musculature. She gently reached below herself and brushed the anal sphincter with her fingertips. It was incredibly sensitive, sending arousal levels through her on par with what she could coax from her other opening. She caressed herself, softly gasping as waves of pleasure emanated from the sensitive region. She could get used to this.

Before she could explore herself in earnest though the Augmentor joined her, his mechanical arms whirring and clicking softly. Deeva withdrew her fingers and sat up.

"All systems green," he needlessly announced. "Your shuttle awaits. While you're in transit the remaining tissue damage will heal completely. How do you feel?"

"About as ready as I'll ever be." Sighing, she rose from the cocoon.

After rinsing the remnants of the healing fluid off her, she put on body plating for the first time. On board the mainframe ship nobody bothered with clothing unless to protect oneself from radiation, electrical currents or vacuum. The insides of the ship were comfortably temperated, contaminant-free and Silicians, though aware of the concept of modesty, could easily dial down their arousal level before it became a problem. The outside world was another matter entirely and prancing around naked on an alien world would cause undue levels of excitement in the natives and leave her open to contamination besides. So she clad herself into the skin-tight plastic sheaths, colored a subtle matte black with silver accents. They consisted of half-shells able to clip around her limbs and torso with flexible joints where it mattered. It was odd not to feel the gentle current of warm air flowing over her skin and the impact-resistant plastic made accessing her subcutaneous pouches much more difficult. A small price to pay for added protection.

Div/A F03 picked up a hardshell case with her few belongings. It contained mostly data chips on Nor technology, how their computers operated, documented weaknesses of their IT infrastructure. Subterfuge wasn't an inborn trait of the Silicians but it never hurt to be prepared. A plasma pistol, a few extra sets of body plating, some freshly synthesized pleasure probes and energy bars for the trip rounded out her kit. She left the cubicle and walked briskly towards the sleek, triangular wedge of her shuttle waiting in the hangar.

* * * *

It had been a slow day so far despite it being the last week before the new semester started. Most prospective applicants had handed in their paperwork well in advance and Denek had precious little to do behind his reception desk. A small holo display, discreetly tucked away behind a lush Starflower planter, showed the Hoverball semi-finals between the Zuthrian Dynasts and the Norwan Paladins, graceful bodies arcing through the air, the small ball trailing neon for the spectators' benefit as it was thrown at the goal triangles on their eighteen-feet stalks. The camera zoomed onto one of the Dynast players, a black-skinned female with a barely tamed mane of white. Borne on twin jets of repulsor energy, she reached up, her ample breasts nearly bursting from the flimsy golden tank top she wore. Deftly she intercepted a nigh-impossible to halt pass before using the missile to stun one of the Nor ground players with a deadly accurate throw to his head.

The door to the reception area opened. Denek straightened up and brushed a strand of his long, purple hair behind his ear, inadvertently touching the small data jack embedded next to it. The new arrival was a Silician and he had to remind himself to shut his mouth. She wore some kind of clothing, a sleek black number with silver accents, but she could have gone naked, so tightly fitted was her outfit. If it was an outfit at all and not some kind of grafted-on augmentation. Silicians were infamous for all the cybernetic stuff they could cram into themselves. Or onto themselves. Denek shivered as he remembered some of the juicy stories senior officers had boasted about when drunk.

She had small breasts and a nice set of curvy hips, gently swaying with each graceful step which brought her closer and closer to the reception desk. The sunlight filtering through the glass roof overhead played over the blue skin of her bald head. In one hand she had a compact hardshell briefcase. Denek cleared his throat.

"Welcome to the Nor Naval Academy. How may I serve you?"

The new arrival placed her briefcase on the reception desk and fixed him with a long, curious gaze. Her eyes were a bright blue, like LED-backlit orbs. He shifted under her stare as she seemed to scan him head to toe, from the strands of his purple hair down to the -- thankfully hidden by the desk -- bulge in his uniform.

"My name is Div/A F03. I want to enroll in the academy, preferably as a cadet on one of the training ships. My specialties are science and IT, obviously," she added with a playful smile.

"Div-slash-A F-oh-three?" Denek felt stupid as he struggled with her designation.

"The first part designates me as a member of Division A, the scientists. The latter is my generation indicator. I am the 3843rd model of the Type-B female science officer currently in existence. Nice to meet you. For expedience's sake, call me Deeva."

"Well, Deeva then. The last scheduled entrance exam was three days ago and you can't enroll without passing it," Denek said. "You'd have to wait six cycles for the next one in the winter semester."

"Waiting that long is unacceptable. Can I speak with one of your superiors please?"

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