tagSci-Fi & FantasyThree Square Meals Ch. 048

Three Square Meals Ch. 048


Irillith drummed her fingers on her golden armoured arm impatiently while she waited for someone to let her into this ungainly spaceship. Compared to the exquisitely designed warships of her own people, Terran ships looked crudely angular, lacking any kind of grace or beauty. Still, she did have to admit it had a certain predatory brutality to it, but she would sooner go to her grave than say anything positive about their ship to these Terrans.

She hesitated for a moment, icy fingers of dread clawing at her heart as she abruptly remembered that the Mael'nerak was definitely not Terran. She remembered all the tales Tashana had told her, and she had barely slept the last two nights, her rest tormented by horrible nightmares. Having witnessed his true, terrifying nature back on Quanthos, Irillith still hadn't figured out why he seemed to be hiding behind this pretence of being some kind of benevolent Terran hero. Still, at least when he was pretending to be "The Lion of the Federation," she recalled, rolling her eyes, he didn't leave her quaking in fear.

The airlock door spiralling open drew her immediate attention, snapping her back to the situation at hand. John was waiting for her on the other side of the airlock, and he said in a friendly voice, "Welcome to the Invictus, Irillith."

Eyeing him suspiciously, she stepped through the outer airlock door, the cases containing her belongings floating along behind her. She glanced around, wary in case this was a trap, but everything seemed to be safe enough. She removed the golden helmet from her head, tucking it under her arm, and looked around the interior of the ship. The corridor ahead of her was spotlessly clean, and was flanked by heavy double doors, before it ended at some kind of tube with one side glowing red, the other blue.

John gestured for her to follow him down the corridor, and he smiled at her pleasantly, as he said, "I'll take you to your quarters. You can either stay up on Deck Two with the rest of us on the Officers' Deck, where the rooms are slightly bigger, or Deck Four, which we use as the Guest Quarters. The rooms are smaller there, but you'll have more privacy."

Irillith paused a moment, as she mulled over the choice. Recalling her mother's explicit instructions, she replied firmly, "I'll stay on Deck Four."

John nodded agreeably, and they came to a halt at the end of the corridor in front of the red and blue glow in the tube. "Step into the blue side to go up, the red to go down," he explained. "When you reach the floor you want, just step out of the tube."

He walked into the blue side, and then floated upwards, ascending smoothly and effortlessly. Irillith leaned in tentatively, and looked around before stepping into the tube. She felt herself lift off the floor, and she couldn't help but smile at the pleasant sensation of levitating through the air. She was impressed at this ingenuous replacement to the tedium of waiting for elevators, but Irillith quickly reverted back to her scowl when she neared Deck Four, to avoid letting John see her happy expression. She stepped out of the tube gracefully, and her luggage followed behind her silently.

"Take your pick of any of the rooms," John said generously. "We aren't using any of them, so use more than one if you need more space."

He picked a room at random, and strolled inside, then gave her a quick run-through of all the amenities in the quarters. Irillith sniffed with disdain when she surveyed the room, trying to find fault with it. It was spotlessly clean, without a speck of dust in sight, and was functional if not particularly aesthetically pleasing. She couldn't really complain about the utilitarian quarters, and it would prove more than adequate for the several weeks she would need to be aboard the ship.

She curled her lip with disgust and replied, "Fine, I'll stay in this hovel, if it's the best this crate can offer."

John frowned at her surly tone, and she felt a surge of delight at having upset him, but kept that pleasure from her expression.

He nodded towards a clock on the wall and said, "The ship's chronometers are set to twenty-four hour Terran standard time. We tend to eat meals at nine in the morning, one in the afternoon, and seven at night, but it varies a fair bit. You're welcome to join us for them, or you can eat here on Deck Four in the ship's Galley."

Irillith glanced at him and asked, "Are we leaving immediately? I want this over and done with as quickly as possible."

John leaned against the doorframe into the quarters, and asked her, "We can leave right away, but are we going to be escorted back across Maliri Space again?"

She shook her head and said, "Our patrol ships have been made aware of the nature of your vessel, and my presence aboard. We will be able to leave unhindered."

John looked distracted for a moment, then nodded with satisfaction. "We'll be departing in moments," he said confidently.

"How long until we reach Trankaran Space?" Irillith asked him impatiently.

John paused for a moment, looking away distantly, then replied, "Eleven days of travel time in total. Four days until we reach Geniya Space Station, four more to reach the Core Worlds, as we have business there. Then it will take three more days to get to Trankaran Space. Our business might take a few days to resolve, so there might be a small delay."

Irillith managed to stifle a gasp, expertly masking her shock. His ship was fifty percent faster than anything the Maliri had! To try and distract him from watching her expression too closely, she snapped imperiously, "I never authorised any detours. I demand we go straight to Trankaran Space!"

John's eyes narrowed and he said in a steely voice, "You're in no position to demand anything. This is my ship, and we go where I say, when I say it."

A shiver of fear ran up her spine at his tone, and she decided it would be wise not to push him any further. She turned away, and pretended to focus intently on her luggage. Taking the hint, John left the room, so Irillith darted over to the door, closing it behind him. When it was sealed, she breathed a sigh of relief, and then turned back to her belongings.

The first thing she unpacked was an electrical pulse detector, and she clipped the red-hued curved crystal visor over her eyes. She did a quick sweep of the room, and immediately spotted several audio and visual snooping devices, as she suspected she would. Removing the visor, she replaced it in her case, and then took out a holo-pad that she hooked up to her right vambrace.

It took her just under five minutes to create a convincing audio and video loop, which she could feed to the cameras, concealing what she was really up to. She engaged the program, which linked into the video and audio feeds of the devices in her room. It showed her removing her armour, climbing into bed, and then falling asleep. The program then called a looped subroutine that cycled a sequence of her sleeping on the bed, her chest rising and falling as she supposedly slept peacefully.

Once that was out the way, she set up the remote hacking portal, and hooked it up to her right vambrace. She removed the piece of armour from her arm, and set it aside carefully, then stripped off the rest of her armour. When she had changed from her form-fitting combat jumpsuit, and into a long, figure-hugging dress, she sat down again on the bed to check on the hacking portal's progress.

The firewall protecting their ship was crudely effective, she grudgingly admitted, but breaking through that would only take her a few more minutes that she had originally anticipated. She got to work, and eight minutes later she was in, their data network laid bare. She glanced through the summary of the Invictus' network and systems, eagerly searching for anything particularly juicy. She swore animatedly when she realised that links to a research and schematics drive had been recently disconnected, with that server physically separated from the network.

She was about to give up any hope of finding anything useful, when she noticed a fully intact camera footage database archive. Eyeing it hungrily, she rapidly tapped away commands, and a broad grin spread across her face when she realised it was fully intact. Irillith turned her attention back to her vambrace, and pressed several more buttons, triggering the extremely powerful computer system stored within.

There was a hazy glow that appeared above the vambrace, and then tiny glowing purple blocks began to appear, swirling slightly before clustering together. They stacked rapidly as they formed a digitised representation of a four inch tall, androgynous purple-skinned sprite. It stood silently, its eyes tightly closed, as it finished booting up.

"Hello there," Irillith said softly to the tiny digital creature.

It opened its big luminous eyes a moment later, and after it blinked, the diminutive creature flickered, and then took on a female appearance.

"Are you my creator?" The minute sylph-like creature asked in wonder, its wide eyes trusting and innocent.

Irillith nodded, smiling at it warmly as she replied, "That's right, little one. Would you like to help me with a task?"

The pocket-sized electronic sprite nodded eagerly and said, "I'd love to help you! What would you like me to do?"

Irillith explained a detailed set of criteria, then sent the digital construct on its way. It scampered off joyfully, darting through the hacking portal, and infiltrating the security camera archives. Irillith knew full well that you always had to handle AIs delicately, but when they were born, they were just like children; naive, trusting, and so easy to deceive and exploit.


John strode away from Irillith's room, and stepped into the grav-tube, floating upwards in the blue glow. He walked out onto the Command Deck a few moments later, and Alyssa spun slightly in her Executive Officer's chair up on the Command Podium, smiling at him and giving him a friendly wave. He walked up the illuminated steps to stand at her side, then watched as the Invictus lifted off from the deck of the Docking Bay, and began to climb skywards as they headed for orbit.

He looked up at the overhead map, and gazed distractedly at the image of the Invictus as it eventually left orbit, before making steady progress to the Nav Beacon. Alyssa had fully plotted their route out of Maliri Space, and once the Tachyon Drive had powered up, she engaged it, sending the ship surging effortlessly into hyper-warp.

His mind kept drifting back to the beautiful blue-skinned woman several decks below them. As horrendously annoying, spiteful, and basically evil as she was, he couldn't help feeling attracted to her.

Alyssa glanced up at him, and said teasingly with a smile, "I didn't know you were into bad girls."

John was startled from his thoughts, and looked down at her sheepishly. As amazingly helpful as it was having Alyssa constantly listening in to his inner monologue, it did set him up for some embarrassing moments as well.

He smiled at her and replied firmly, "I'm not. I hate all that stuff normally. All the game playing, the scheming, and the bullshit." He then looked chagrined as he admitted, "But there's something about these Maliri women I find very attractive."

She grinned at him and said sympathetically, "Come on, let's go and have a chat."

She rose from her chair, holding out her slender hand for him to take, and led him down the steps and into his Ready Room. They walked over to the sofas there, and when he sat down, she sat sideways across his lap. He encircled her with his left arm, and began to absent mindedly stroke her swollen belly with his right hand, where she still carried all the cum that Jade had fed her earlier. Alyssa shivered with delight at his touch, and then watched him patiently, waiting for him to start the conversation.

"Where is everyone?" John asked her innocently, attempting to change the subject.

She laughed and said, "Nice try, mister! I'm not falling for it though. Now, tell me why you want to fuck that malignant bitch downstairs?"

There was no disapproval or jealousy in her tone, and he could sense her genuine curiosity over their telepathic link.

He chuckled and said, "I wouldn't have put it quite like that, but I do feel drawn to her. It's not just Irillith, I felt that same attraction to all the Maliri women we encountered."

Alyssa giggled and said with some amusement, "Even Edraele?"

John nodded, and actually flushed as he looked guilty, stopping before he revealed more.

She smiled at him reassuringly, and said gently, "I know what you're thinking remember, and as I promised you ages ago, you can tell me anything. Talk it through with me, it might be helpful."

He smiled at her, and reluctantly admitted, "Yes, I thought Edraele was beautiful, just like all the other Maliri women we met. With Irillith, I think she's an absolutely horrible person, but that just makes me feel something else..."

"Go on," Alyssa said encouragingly. "No judgement, remember."

He took a big breath, and then stared into her bright blue eyes as he said in a quiet voice, "She makes me want to break her. Not physically of course, but the way she behaves feels like a challenge. Part of me wants to crush that defiance, and make her submit to me. I've never felt that way before, and it scares me..."

Alyssa nodded and looked thoughtful, not perturbed in the slightest. "You're dominant with us girls, but there's no dark edge to it," she told him supportively. "It feels playful, and is very exciting, but we all know you'd never hurt us."

John smiled at her, feeling immensely relieved that she was taking his confession in her stride. He said to her insistently, "You know I wouldn't actually do that to Irillith, though, right?"

"I know," she told him lovingly.

"Thanks for being so understanding," he said to her gratefully.

The blonde girl smiled at him, then leaned in for a tender kiss. She sat back afterwards, and continued thoughtfully, "This could well be your Progenitor nature making itself felt. We know that the Maliri have been heavily modified by Progenitors in the past, and perhaps part of you is responding to that, recognising that they've been deliberately designed to serve you."

He pondered what she told him, and said, "I know that Ceraden warned us against trusting Irillith, Edraele, or any of the other women there. I don't, especially after the Fulmanax, and what happened to you in the palace."

"So why did you agree to Edraele's plan? It's not really like you, you're normally so cautious," she asked him curiously. "With Irillith aboard, she'll see what kind of upgrades we've done to the Invictus, and inform her mother about it the first chance she gets. If Edraele is every bit as treacherous as Ceraden says, she'll probably try to have us killed when we return to Valaden, so she can just strip all the tech she wants from the ship."

John looked away distantly and said quietly, "I'm not sure why. Your arguments are foolproof, and It goes against every bit of common sense to follow down this path. I don't know if this is coming from the Progenitor part of me, but there's this gut feeling I have, that I need to see where things lead with the Maliri. I feel certain it's the right move..."

Alyssa watched him for a long moment as he thought about it, and tried to identify what he was feeling. "What makes you so sure?" she asked him finally.

He focused on her face, and paused as he tried to put his feelings into words. "We could easily walk away. Even now, we could dump Irillith off at Geniya Space Station, and just forget about the Maliri. When we met Edraele though, I wasn't terrified of her, as Ceraden warned I should be. I was curious, and there was something else..."

"What?" Alyssa asked him curiously.

John sighed and said reluctantly, "Amusement. I know it sounds crazy, but knowing that Edraele was outright lying to my face about everything, while plotting and scheming against us, felt... amusing, like she was a wilful child acting out. By agreeing to her deal, it felt like I was indulging her infantile games, curious to see where it would all lead."

"I'm glad you feel so blasé about our safety," Alyssa said with a wry smile.

John shook his head, and said, "You know that's always been my highest concern." He shrugged and said, "As I said before, if we have second thoughts, we can dump Irillith off at Geniya either on the way there, or on the way back and be done with it."

She nodded, and said agreeably, "Sounds like a sensible plan. We can play it by ear."

John smiled at her and said, "Thanks for this chat. I do feel better after talking to you about it."

She grinned at him with delight, and said, "It is my job after all." She glanced down at her curved tummy and added, "As your XO, I lighten your load, and help you with heavy burdens."

John laughed heartily, and hugged her tightly, her relentless flirty optimism making him feel much better already. "Are you going to tell me what the other girls are up to now?" he asked her playfully.

She grinned at him and said, "Only because you were a good boy, and let me help perk you up. Calara is working with Dana on the new armour designs. Jade is working on honing her shapeshifting, and Rachel is with her, as she wanted to continue researching our lovely Nymph."

"Have you got any plans?" he asked her with interest.

She nodded eagerly, and said, "I'm still working on the designs for the body armour, so I was going to head down to Engineering, and work on those." She paused, with an excited gleam in her eye, and added, "Unless you want to roleplay me being Irillith, and you can put me in my place?"

John looked a bit startled and said, "Thanks, but we better not go there. Besides, Jade drained me dry only half an hour ago."

Alyssa grinned at him and said, "Well, if the wicked ice queen stresses you out over the next few weeks, just grab one of us girls, and we'll be delighted to help you unwind."

He chuckled and nodded, smiling at her appreciatively, then helped her rise to her feet. "Let's head down to Engineering. I'm curious to see what Dana and Calara have designed so far."


It took the tiny AI sprite a couple of hours to trawl through the camera archives, and retrieve the relevant data that Irillith was looking for. She had dismissed it in her usual fashion once the task was complete, and then sat down to review the dozens of hours of recorded video that had been assembled. She had asked the digital construct to look for footage where any kind of lengthy conversations occurred amongst the crew, and from a quick glance at the sources for this data, the vast majority came from the bedroom cameras.

She started to play the first sequence in the retrieved footage, which was actually taken from some kind of roomy office area, tagged as data from "Ready Room cams 01-03 composite". John was accompanied by that simpering blonde-haired slut; her name was Alyssa, Irillith reminded herself from the recording. The two of them flirted for a while, and then the Terran whore pulled out John's cock, and Irillith stared at the image in shock. He was at least twice as big as any of the handful of Maliri men she had dalliances with over the years. Even more astonishing was watching the blonde girl somehow manage to swallow down his full length, and then blow him enthusiastically, without any obvious signs of discomfort.

Irillith rewound the footage several times, telling herself that she was just checking to make sure the footage wasn't faked. She felt herself grow flushed, and quickly decided to move on. After she finally got over that surprise, Irillith watched in open mouth amazement, as John hosed the girl down with a vast volume of semen. She was appalled that any woman would let herself be so degraded by a man, but this debauched girl, Alyssa, seemed to absolutely revel in the experience. Apart from the disturbing revelations about John's anatomy, everything they were discussing was of no consequence, so she skipped to the next scene.

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