tagSci-Fi & FantasyStarship Traveler Ch. 03

Starship Traveler Ch. 03


Starship Traveler: Chapter Three:


"We will be moving through an opening between chambers. In order to do this, I will spread apart some of these hanging tendrils and we will move between them."

"Okay, like a curtain."

"That would be a good analogy. I will attempt to shield you from contact with the tendrils, but remember that they are just part of the structure of the ship. They are benign. They bring air for you to breathe, the raw materials for the synthesis of the items you require, and they carry away waste. They are nothing to fear." He carefully eased her through a surprisingly small opening.

"I am just more used to flat, smooth, dry, mechanical types of things. All this is a little too organic for me. Is this the room with the immersion pool?"

"No, this is the central chamber. All other chambers connect to this room in a radial pattern."

"Lead on."

Xeno slowly, steadily helped her to another opening and as they slipped through he spoke, "This is the room with the immersion pool. There is also a reflective surface in which you may regard your image in this room." Revekah noticed that the scent that pervaded the ship seemed stronger in here; again she was reminded of the ocean beach at low tide and something else, something sharp, like lemons or pine, but just not quite the same. It was not unpleasant, but kind of tickled the back of her throat.

"How big is the immersion pool?"

"If you stand up in it, the liquid will come up to your chest. It is only about two of your arm's spans wide and long."

"Is the bottom of it the same stuff as the floor?"

"Yes, the bottom is irregular and made up of the same materials as the walls of the chambers."

"I knew it was too much to ask that I not have to swim with the snakes too." Revekah was very aware that the snake description had overridden the 'guts' one in her mind. It was hard to figure, both seemed equally unbearable.

"It is big enough for both of us to get in at the same time?"

"Yes, but it will be difficult for me to keep from accidentally making contact with you."

"I think I need to keep holding onto you. I don't want to touch the bottom yet. But I want to hold onto one of your stronger arms. They feel more normal to me."

"We can do that."

Revekah transferred her grip back to his larger arm and they began to walk forward. She was feeling carefully ahead with her feet when she felt the dampness turn to wetness, and then the floor fell out from under her and she found herself plunging into deep warm water. She shrieked and convulsively clutched at his arm, wrapping both arms and her legs around it, pressing her cheek against his skin. Xeno stood very still. "Revekah, I am not initiating this increased contact."

She kept her frantic embrace of his arm and grated out. "I know. I just sort of panicked. At least I am not running away. It looks like I am running toward."

"You see me as a source of security?"

"I see you as a lesser of about a billion evils." Slowly she unwound her legs and began to feel for the bottom. The floor of the pool did not feel very much different from the floor she had been walking on and she gradually loosened her grasp around his arm, keeping just one hand firmly anchored to him. The water was warm, almost hot tub warm, and had a very strong scent of the sharper astringent smell. She could feel her skin starting to tingle and her loins began to itch and tickle. "I get what you mean about sensitive membranes."

"Are you in pain?"

"No, not pain, not yet." Revekah ran her other hand down her body and rubbed at her skin, going through the motions of washing even if she was as clean as he claimed. "How often do you immerse yourself?"

"About twice per one of your normal human sleep cycles."

"Really that often?"

"It promotes gas exchange through my skin. And I enjoy the sensation. I am going to submerge my body now if that would not disturb you."

"As long as I can hold onto your arm, it will be okay." Revekah was realizing for the first time that she needed that contact to feel safe enough to keep from panicking.

Xeno lowered himself into the fluid and remained submerged for several minutes. At first Revekah was slightly alarmed, wondering if he could drown. But he communicated to her, "Remember, I do not breathe through lungs like you. I can absorb the gasses I need to survive through my skin."

By the time he stood up, her sex felt swollen and hot. It was everything she could do to keep from rubbing at it to soothe the heat and itching. She was squirming in discomfort. "I need to get out. It is really starting to bother me." Revekah waded to the edge of the pool, but there was not any type of step and she shied away from the idea of crawling up over the edge, touching the tendrils and loops of stuff that made up the floor with her hands and body. "How can I get out?"

"I will get out and you can grasp my arm and I will lift you out. You will need to release my arm so that I may lift myself out." Revekah reluctantly released her determined grip on his arm and watched as his two strong arms effortlessly lifted him from the water. She looked at his feet closely for the first time and idly observed he had three widely spaced toes similar to the hands on his strong arms, but with webbing between them.

She gave a silly giggle, "My, what big feet you have."

"You find the anatomy of my feet amusing?"

"It was a joke, a line from a children's story."

"I am not familiar with much of your folklore. I have not had time to study very much of the data that I recorded off your internet." Xeno leaned down and presented his arm to her and she wrapped her arms around it. Revekah found herself being lifted easily from the water and deposited onto the 'dry' surface. Almost immediately most of the uncomfortable itching sensations stopped.

"If you want to regard your physical appearance, the reflective surface is this way." He slowly turned and began to take small measured steps in another direction. "The reflective surface is designed to show all sides of your physique. At this stage of your visual adjustment I am not sure exactly how much you will be able to see, but you should be able to see your face clearly. It is like a three sided booth. There is not sufficient space in there for both of us and I would block your vision. You will need to take a step forward. I will be right here behind you if you need assistance."

Revekah took a hesitant step forward and then another. An image swam into her view and she leaned a little closer. She found herself looking at a picture of herself as a young woman, perhaps in her late teens or early twenties. Her lack of hair was a little odd, but she reminded herself that it would be growing back. Her hair had always grown fast. Almost without thinking she reached out to touch the reflected face, but her hand did not touch anything solid, and the image distorted like she had disturbed the surface a reflective liquid. Pulling her hand back, she spoke softly, "Hello, I never thought I would see you again." She thought about all those times as she had aged when she had wished for her youth back, regretting all the things she had not done. Now she had it and all those opportunities missed were so far behind her that it seemed almost a cruel joke.

Xeno's voice in her mind was very soft, "Revekah, for every missed experience you leave behind, I will give you a thousand new ones. We will see the universe. I have so much to show you and share with you. Do not regret what you leave behind. We have a wonderful adventure ahead of us."

"How long have you been doing this?"

"Explored the universe?"

"Yes, how long have you been having your adventure?"

"I left my planet on board an interstellar ship for the first time approximately 27,500 of your years ago. I spent the first 10,000 years training on board another ship. After that I have had my own ship. I accumulated enough wealth to pay for my ship after another 10,000 years. I have been sole owner and an independent trader since then."

"How old are you?"

"I am over 35,000-years-old."

"And I can live that long?"

"Much longer, theoretically there is no limit. A Traveler can live forever, barring unforeseen accidents."

Revekah continued to stare at her image, "Am I your first ship partner?"

"Yes, I very much wanted a human female for a ship partner. It is very time consuming to travel to your planet. Your galaxy is at the far side of the explored universe and there is very little of the radiation that the starships feed on in that zone of the universe. It takes many decades to prepare a ship and then a great deal of encouragement to persuade it to venture into what it regards as a desert. I needed to accumulate a great deal of wealth before I could fulfill my dream of having a human companion. I will be the only Traveler with so rare and desirable a ship partner."

"Do you go back to your planet?"

"I return only occasionally, perhaps once every few thousand years. While I carry some items of cargo, most of the commodities I trade are information and technologies. I have provided transport to passengers on one occasion."

Revekah's stomach rumbled and she realized she was suddenly starving, "I am hungry. Do I need to go back to the room with the raised surface to eat?"

"Yes, Revekah, the raised surface is a discrete portion of that room. As best as I can explain, it is a different life form grafted onto the ship, very much like the matter conversion systems that synthesize the items we need."

"Then let's walk back to that room. Is that going to be 'my' room?"

"It can be if you want it to be."

Revekah thought about it, "It's funny. Humans are very much accustomed to personalizing their spaces, making them their own by filling them up with things, mostly useless things. I wish I could hang up a picture or paint the walls."

"That is a bit of a dilemma. One of the instinctive qualities of the ship is a very strong drive to rid itself of any foreign objects, much like your immune system fighting off infections. It took a great deal of genetic modification and training to get it to allow our life forms to coexist inside of it. It is very difficult to modify that behavior set."

"Well, it was just a thought. Let's walk back and I will think about what I want to eat." Revekah found it took too much of her concentration to keep her balance and to control her impulses to shudder or jerk away as she felt the contractions and movement in the soft wet tubes and fibers that her feet were sinking into with each step. She clung to Xeno's arm and cringed when she could see dangling tendrils, hanging down like jungle vines. He carefully held his large strong arms over her head, protecting her from them trailing across her skin. She could not focus enough to communicate the simplest of foods until she was safely up on her bed.

Revekah yawned and blinked, "Let's just try for something simple, I am getting pretty tired." She focused her mind and imagined a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on soft white bread and a cold glass of milk. It was something she had eaten a thousand times before and it was easy to remember. When Xeno brought her the sandwich she took a bite and frowned, looking at it. It did not taste quite right, it seemed a little bland and the bread had no flavor at all, just texture and appearance. It was not bad, just not exactly right. "I guess I am a little worn out. I kind of messed this up." The milk was perfect and she drank the whole glass and asked him to make her a second one. "I didn't realize I was so thirsty."

When she finished drinking her second glass of milk and dropped it casually over the side of the bed, she asked, "Can this bed be made wider, about this wide?" She held her arms out wide. "It would give me room to crawl around a little more."

"It can be made wider, but then it will be closer to the level of the floor."

"The floor will not crawl up over it, will it?"

"No, it knows to leave these sort of things exposed."

"As long as it does not get up here with me, I don't think I would mind being lower."

"I would 'loom' over you more."

"I am getting used to how tall you are."

As the bed changed shape she found herself hanging onto the raised sides and peeking over. She could see the floor pretty clearly. It felt like she was on an island surrounded by a sea of squirming snakes. The color was almost lavender, but there were streaks and spots of colors that were like the color in the air. Other places it glowed rich bright yellowish white, almost like a light bulb was shining through from down below.

Revekah imagined a warm wet terry washcloth and the chamber pot once more. "Thank you, Xeno. Could you please give me the illusion of privacy? It is human nature to wish to be alone at times like these." After she was finished, she experimentally dropped the washcloth over the side of the bed and watched curiously as the coils shifted and twitched, slowly enveloping the foreign object and pulling it down out of sight. She commented to herself, "One hell of a shag carpet." She sighed and put the pot with its embarrassing contents down and watched it slowly sink out of sight. She shook a finger at the floor, "Now clean that up good. You don't know how gross it seems to think it might just be lurking down there somewhere for me to step in later." And then she giggled.

Xeno's voice was in her head, "The ship has no ability to hear you and is incapable of understanding that instruction. I assure you that any foreign objects will be completely broken down into their atomic components."

"I was just talking. It is customary for humans to talk. We talk all the time. We talk to things; we talk to ourselves, hell we just like to hear the sounds of our own voices."

"I understand. It is a trait common to many sentient species, mine included, compulsive communication."

"I am going to sleep for a while. I have had enough adventures for one day."

Again her sleep was crowded with dreams. She was at some kind of zoo, looking at the snakes through glass. She had hold of her Daddy's hand and was peeking around his leg at the huge pythons that were lying torpid and motionless in a cage. Her Daddy was teasing her, singing a silly children's song, "You are being eaten by a Boa Constrictor," His fingers were tickling her as he sang. She was squirming and giggling but then one of the snakes slowly raised its head and looked straight at her. Its body began to seethe and undulate as it began to crawl toward the glass, its tongue flickering in and out. Revekah screamed and began to sob, trying to pull further away. Her Daddy gripped her tightly and pushed her toward the glass, teasing, "Here it comes, Revekah, it's coming to eat you!"

She screamed and screamed, then she heard Xeno's voice in her head, "Revekah, wake up."

She was sitting up, shaking in fear. "I didn't remember that. It seemed like it really happened, but all my life I did not remember him doing that."

"The adult male in your dream was a parent figure?"

"Yes, my father. I must have been only three or four."

"Are you still feeling frightened?"

"Not so much, I still feel tired. I think I will try to go back to sleep." As she lay back down she asked, "How much of my dreams can you sense?"

"Your dreams are cloudy and confused, some sensations and images stand out and then disappear. I only become aware of the most intense emotions. Your dreams happen very quickly, lasting only a few seconds. It is not the same as when you are awake."

As she drifted back to sleep, she wondered if that one experience so early in her development had set the pattern for her lifelong fear of snakes. "Good night, Xeno, thank you for waking me up. That was a very bad dream."

"You are welcome, Revekah. Good night." Revekah wondered why she had said that, 'good night'. She was sure that they were so far from the sun that it was perpetually night now.

Her next dream was one she had had all her life. She was feeling aroused, wanted to make love, but it seemed like the man she was trying to seduce was too busy to notice. She was doing everything to attract his attention, sitting in a provocative position, squirming and sighing, giving him smoldering, sultry stares, but nothing she could do would get him to pay any attention to her. The man in her dream was not someone she knew and the dream frequently happened in a busy public place. This time she was riding on a train, traveling through the night and the man was in the seat opposite her. Other people were sitting all around. Deliberately she brushed her foot against his leg, trying to get him to look at her.

She woke to find her hand between her legs, touching her throbbing sex. It was dark and she lay back, continuing to lightly caress the hairless mound between her legs, feeling the heat and moisture there. She thought back to the first time she felt Geoff touch her there, the instant raging arousal that took complete control of her mind. He had a magic touch that had always made her melt.


She jerked her hand away, shocked and embarrassed. "What?"

"You are awake?"

"Yes, damn it." Her voice was frustrated and angry.

"You were self stimulating. Why did you stop?"

"Because you were in my fucking head, I can't do this with an audience."

"It is important for you to know that I will always be in your head. I cannot stop hearing your thoughts anymore than you can stop thinking them. It is also impolite for me to 'spy' on you without your consent. That is a little bit of a double bind, but it is important that I be open with you that I am here and I am listening and sharing your experiences. You can choose what you are willing to engage in, but I cannot choose not to listen."

"Did it bother you that I was, um, self stimulating?"

"Only the negative emotions associated with stopping. I sensed your frustration and then I experienced my own. Up until then I was rather enjoying sharing those sensations with you."

"So, if I do this kind of thing, do you have to say something while I am doing it, so I know you are there? Can't you just assume I know and am trying not to think about it too much, so I can, um, self stimulate more effectively. It, um, kind of requires focus and concentration to successfully self stimulate. When you talk it distracts me."

"Do I understand you correctly? You are giving me overt permission to share the experience with you while you are self stimulating?"

"Do you need permission?"

"I have already told you, Revekah, I will not force you to do anything you do not want to do. That includes sharing sexual experiences with me. In fact, from your original reaction to our discussion about sharing sexual experiences, I got the distinct impression that you felt very strong negative emotions about sharing sexual experiences with me."

"Xeno, this is too weird. I am making some huge adjustments here and the idea of having sex with you, you touching me sexually, is too freaking weird. The idea that you hear every single thing I think, feel all my physical sensations, actually seem to enjoy my emotions is, in many ways, already like being raped. I do know that is how you communicate, but it is fucking horrible to realize there is nothing I can keep private and just my own. Every single random impulsive thought is there open to you. I am not only naked physically; I am naked in all ways. Don't get me wrong, if you had not been here to explain and answer my questions I would have gone completely insane with terror. As it is, I am barely holding it together." Revekah stopped and realized she had been talking faster and faster, the words just pouring out of her. Her body was huddled in a tiny ball, her arms tight around her knees. She was trembling with effort to keep what little control she had left.

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