tagSci-Fi & FantasyWelcome to Nockatunga Station

Welcome to Nockatunga Station

byChloeTzang©

Welcome to Nockatunga Station

by Chloe Tzang


© 2017 Chloe Tzang. All rights reserved. The author asserts a moral right to be identified as the author of this story. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review.

Well, I’ve never tried a Science Fiction Erotic Horror Alien Non-Human Group Sex sort of Mind Control semi-Non Consent kind of a Horror-Romance Halloween story before, but hey, as an entry for the Literotica 2017 Halloween Competition I wanted to try something different and this one seemed to fit – I wrote the concept for this one about two years ago as a three page outline at one of the very first Writing Workshops I went to. Obviously alien sex doesn’t float everyone’s boat but I do hope you enjoy the story itself. Anyhow, so this is a whole range of new categories for me and what can I say, it’s my first try so don’t be too harsh on me. And I was totally confused about what category to put this one in but Science Fiction seemed the closest fit … hope you all agree and enjoy it. …. Chloe
* * * * * *


Feeling all right in the noise and the light
But that's what lights my fire
Hellraiser, in the thunder and heat
Hellraiser, rock you back in your seat
Hellraiser, and I'll make it come true
Hellraiser, I'll put a spell on you

Hellraiser, Motorhead
* * * * * *


Hellraiser dropped in to real space, on the mark. Half dazed, vision a blur, muscles spasming, Zima fumbled for the comp reboot coz it’d hung again. The Captain regained coordination faster, flicked the switch to manually reboot systems. This time main comp came up smooth and fast. Not like last time when they’d been completely blind for five minutes. Transition fried components. Not every time, but often enough and then you were running blind until you got it fixed.

“Outer coms beacon signal, incoming,” Fredricks managed.

“Location?” the Captain asked.

Zima fed the numbers from the beacon into the comp, got them transferred into nav. Fingers flickering, eyes focusing blurrily on her displays as they wavered in and out of the interface. For a second she saw through the walls of the ship and into … something … something the human eye shouldn’t see.

“In the envelope,” she reported. Behind her crash seat, she could hear Fredricks vomiting. She did that every time.

“Second Dump,” the Captain said, finger hitting the switch, phasing them into the interface, then back into real space again, this time with greater solidity.

“Holy Jesus and all the Saints.” O’Reilly said what half of them were thinking. “We made it.”

“Oh ye of little faith,” the Captain said, rather drily. Then, after a long pause, “Third Dump.”

Hellraiser shed more speed as they flickered through the interface and back yet again. Fredericks vomited. Yet again. Numbers reeled across the display, flickering before Zima’s eyes, coming in below light-speed now, slowing fast with every dump and everything on the boards was green.

“Fourth Dump,” the Captain said. Once more reality wavered, flickered in and out, strange things at the edge of vision, hearing colors, seeing sounds.

“Vanes ‘re yellow, not so fast, not so fast, we’re in the yellow, slow them down,” Engineering. Scotty, her voice a mumble. “The vanes can’t take it that fast, not until we get new ones.”

Shedding velocity with every dump. The light-speed wave front of their arrival now far ahead of them. Racing through the system, signaling their arrival to anyone monitoring. There was no subtlety about coming out of jump space. Not for a trader like Hellraiser anyhow.

Zima snagged an energy pack from the holder on the side of her crash chair, popped the top, drank thirstily despite the godawful metallic taste in her mouth but you got used to that, never taking her eyes from the numbers as they rolled down the console, confirming the image display of vectors and speed. “In the envelope.” The words came more naturally now.

“Nockatunga three hundred twenty minutes Light,” Fredricks reported.

Five hours and twenty minutes until news of their translation into system reached Nockatunga Station. Another five hours for the reply to arrive, all while Hellraiser continued to dump V. Or not, if something went wrong. Like a vane blowing. Then they’d be a C-charged jump-ship at near light-speed careening out of control across the system. If they hit anything at this speed, it’d be a mini-nova.

“Okay,” Engineering said at last, twenty minutes later. “Vanes ’re green again.”

A long time between dumps at this velocity. In a few hours, Station Control would be blaring klaxons, alerts sounding when that long interval between dumps was detected. Suspecting a run-away. They’d really have to replace those vanes, dammit. Another expense, and a big one.

“Fifth Dump.” Another flicker, a flare of energy, velocity markedly slower now. Out of one danger zone and into the next.

“Send,” the Captain said. “Encrypted. Trader Ship Hellraiser inbound to Nockatunga, requesting berthing assignment. One week stopover. Offloading cargo for transfer to Matheson and Company. No passengers. Requesting Station Shiplist. Requesting Cargo Listings for on-shipment to Tuataupere and Apia.” Their next destinations. “Append the cargo list for Matheson, forward to them. Ask them if there’s anything for on-shipment, get us listed on the board.”

Dumping velocity steadily, they’d arrive in thirty hours, plus or minus. This was when the ship was most vulnerable. Pirates preyed on fat merchant ships wallowing in after dumping velocity from translation, lightly armed, slowing.

Vulnerable.

Like Hellraiser.

“Got an info dump from the beacon, Captain.” Fredricks, her fingers flying on her console.

“Put it up.”

“Almost … loading … it’s coming up … coming up … got it … coming through.” The image flashed into the main display.

Nockatunga system schematics, adjusted to their entry point. The system’s best current map. Planets. Asteroids. Rocks as best anyone knew and there were always surprises. Nockatunga station itself, way out in the Trojan Ring. Out-system and in-system traffic. Three inbound ahead of them. One outbound. In-system traffic looked busy. That was good. Busy meant cargo for on shipment and Nockatunga was a big station.

Busy system to service. Growing. One inhabitable planet, big agricultural sector, two planets with borderline atmospheres and domes, asteroid miners, space industry. Mines. Refineries. Manufacturing, both orbital and on-planet. Sixty three out-system jump-ships on station. Two military, the rest traders. Like Hellraiser. Competition.

“Five Skkk-kkik ships,” Fredricks was doing a quick scan of the ship lists. No competition there. “Three Ashaninka and what the heck are they doing here?” Likewise. “Two !!*.” She even managed the clicks. Methane breathers. Who knew what they were doing. Enigmatic at best, methane breathers but they had their own sector on most stations, trading god knew what between themselves and occasionally across the barrier. “Six Swire Line, four Tse Shipping, eight Kabushiki Line, six Angelicoussis, three from Beirut. One Lykes Line. The rest, independents.”

Like Hellraiser.

“Going to have to hustle for cargo,” Wong said. The purser. Busy bringing up manifests. Tenders from on station. Maybe a little out of date but she’d get an idea of volume, bids, requests for bids, tenders, how fast shipments were moving. Maybe even get some bids in on the off chance.

“Mark coming up,” Zima reported.

The Captain didn’t even look. Reached out. “Sixth Dump,” and Hellraiser flickered out of reality, transitioned back in again with another sudden flare of dumped energy. More V lost, getting close to in-system speeds now, they could coast for a few hours before the next dump. Out of jump space safely, but now that they were down to in-system velocity another kind of danger occupied their thoughts.

“Man the boards,” the Captain said. “Arm all weapons. Four hour shifts until we dock. Next dump at shift change.”

Thirty hours. Four hours on, four hours off. Even within systems like Nockatunga, with a half-way decent Navy patrolling shipping lanes, pirates existed. A ship like Hellraiser?

Prey.

Tension rose at the boards. Scanning. Monitoring. Looking for anything. Any sign. This far out, five hours Light, Station could do nothing. Hellraiser was on her own, wallowing in, fat and not quite helpless. She could fight, but when all was said and done, she was a trader, built for cargo.



Hellraiser was virtually real time, moving at a crawl. No more dumps. Now it was all real-space engines. Thrusters. Real-space braking. Station chatter on the coms in real-time now, no time-lags. Station to ship. Ship to Ship. No ships Hellraiser was familiar with though, no familiar names to call up and catch up on news. Current Station Ship List flickered up on one console as Fredricks adjusted the displays. There’d been some changes since they’d picked up that last inner beacon info dump. Mostly departures. More than expected.

“Station course and berthing clearance received,” Zima reported, flicking data across to the Captain’s console.

“Going with it,” the Captain said, his voice flat, his fingers flickering in the shimmer before him. “All hands, secure for braking in five minutes. This one’ll be easy.”

It was. A gentle braking roll, shedding more V under the thrusters, closing the station.

“Nockatunga Station to Hellraiser. Power down main engines, tugs are on your bow and stern.”

“Hellraiser powering down main engines.” At a nod from the Captain, Scotty flicked the switches, the humming of the main engines died. Mechanical clangs, echoing reverberations, slight jerks.

“Docking Control here. Latched on, reeling you in, Hellraiser.” A different voice. Small movements, jarring, gentle acceleration, almost unnoticeable even to an experienced spacer. More movements, more noise, more clanging as the Captain and the First Officer completed formalities with Nockatunga Customs. Shipping Manifests. Crew lists. Health certifications. Signing off on this. Signing off on that. All while keeping an eye on the displays monitoring docking.

The Purser, Wong, she was on her own console. Replenishment. Air, Water, Stores. Chemicals for hydroponics and for recycling. New filters. Galley stores. A myriad small items the ship needed to keep functioning. Boost mass. Scotty was with her, arguing over the new vanes she wanted for the jump engines. Wong flicked the order form to the Captain.

He looked at it. Filed it for consideration after docking was completed.

“Talk to me about the vanes after we’re docked, Scotty,” the Captain said. He was busy checking. The shipping market was already reacting to their arrival, traders guessing at what she carried based on her last ports and her listed destinations. Bids were starting to come in, customs had notified Hellraiser that an inspector was on the way. A couple of priority bids flashing on the console, priced well above the market.

Cryo-containers? Those were either corpsicles, severe injuries or illnesses being sent off-planet at huge expense, or frozen embryos. Agricultural or human? The crew were never keen on bodies, but if the money was good, anticipation of an added bonus usually offset the superstitions surrounding bodies on ships. The Captain flicked those ones to the First Officer to check out. Low mass, high return? That was always good.

Live passenger bids? That was unusual. Hellraiser had half a dozen passenger cabins. Right now filled with high value cattle embryos in cryo boxes. Semi-arid agricultural and mining plant like Nockatunga was always a good market for those. Passengers bidding over the standard fare for passage out though? That was unusual. Good margin.

After a brief second’s thought, the Captain accepted, filling all six cabins. Eight passengers in each? That’d be a pain in the ass but bids accepted, the credits were in escrow and transferred in to Hellraiser’s accounts instantly. Just like that, it’d turned the next leg to Tuataupere green. He and the First Officer grinned at each other. Bonuses for this trip were looking good for everyone. No problem paying for those new vanes now either.

The Captain signed off on the order, flicked it back to Wong and Scotty. Scotty looked up, smiling. One less thing to worry about, one more thing for her to do during the stop.

More clangs, jarring thumps. Other connections being made. Not just the grapples locking them to Station. Access tubes. Service connections. Power. Water. Oxygen. Waste. Coms lines. All the myriad means of ensuring that Hellraiser would function with her main power shut down.

Stillness and silence.

“Hey mate, Docking Control here,” the drawling voice on the intercom said. “Welcome to Nockatunga Station, you’re all good. Customs will be along in a sec. Sit tight ‘til then, they’ll get a bit shitty with ‘ya if ‘ya open the access hatches before they get there.”

“Thanks Docking,” First said. “Where do you blokes drink, buy you all a beer after we get off.” He’d been here before. Knew the ropes.

“That’s good of ya to offer, mate,” Docking said. “Cricketer’s Arms, Dockside, up on third level. Just ask at the hatch for Snowy and Trev. They’ll point ‘ya in the right direction. How many of ya? Any of ya sheila’s?”

First looked at the Captain. “Me and Scotty’ll take care of the ship,” the Captain said. “Give everyone the shift of, start unloading cargo oh nine hundred station time tomorrow.”

“Docking, there’ll be a dozen of us,” First said. “Half the crew’re sheila’s.”

“Sheila’s?” the Captain asked, flicking the com off for a second.

“Splits,” First said, flicking the com back on.

”Grouse, mate,” Docking replied. “I’ll tell the door to expect a mob of off Hellraiser, get ‘ya mates rates and everything. Sheila’s drink for free.”

“You Snowy?” First asked.

“Nah, I’m Trev,” Docking said. “Snowy’s me mate, he’s the ass bandit.”

“Trev’s the fucking Banana Bender,” a second voice cut in. “We gotta run, Hellraiser. Got a ship leaving, be seeing you at the Cricketers, then.”

“Right,” First said. “We’re buying the first round.”

“Ace,” Docking said. “Docking Control releasing Hellraiser, you can hook up to station power and services once Customs ‘ve been through ya. If ‘ya get Smithy, watch out for the fucker, he’s a fucking dropkick, don’t try and pay that fucker off or he’ll do ya. The rest’re okay, just slip ‘em the usual and you’ll be right.”

“Thanks mate,” First said, grinning. “Hellraiser out.”

* * *


They didn’t get Smithy. They got Keagan. She was a looker. “Hellraiser? You’ve been here before,” she said, reading the manifest of her comp. “All freight through Matheson? Nothing ship-traded?”

“Cryo-containers of embryos to trade on our own account,” First said. “Got a few containers of medical supplies to trade on the side as well. One container of Terran Bourbon.” Liquid gold, that stuff. The crew ‘d got together and paid a premium for it on New Kentucky, six stops ago.

“Trade ‘em through Ritchie’s ‘n I’ll sign of now,” Keagan said. “Otherwise I’ll have to inspect ‘em all.” She shrugged. “Ritchie’s are good, they won’t rip you off. Straight up, they are, mate.”

“Dealt through them before,” First said to the Captain. “They’re fair.”

“Deal,” the Captain said. He and Keagan shook on it.

Keagan grinned. “They’re at the hatch, read ‘ya manifest ‘n gave ‘em the heads up, mate.” She took the credits the Captain slipped her, didn’t even look at them, just tucked them in a pocket, signed off.

“This bloke’s Whelan,” she said. “Ritchie’s rep. He’ll see ‘ya right.” She grinned. “Trev tells me you’re going off to the Cricketer’s to sink a few.”

“Ah, yeah,” First said, giving Keagan a speculative glance. Not a bad looking chick at all. “You think you might be there?”

Keagan grinned. “You buying?”

“If you’re there, yeah, too right I am.”

“Cool bananas. I’ll throw some lippy on and see ‘ya there after I finish me shift, sport.” Her smile this time was a bit more than speculative.

After she was gone, Whelan grinned. “She’s a right little cracker, our Keagan,” he said. “Bangs like a dunny door.” He laughed. “She’ll drink you under the table first if you’re not careful though, mate. Make sure you sink the old pork sword before she gets ya slurping the turps too hard, eh.”

First grinned. “I’ll risk it.” He glanced at the Captain. “Want me to do this one?”

The Captain thought about it. “Yeah, I’ll send you Patel, Zima, Suematsu and Zhu to move the cans to the ramp.” He glanced at Whelan. “You can move them from the ramp?”

“Yeah, too right I can, mate. Got a mover and a couple of blokes out there on the dock waiting.”

“Let’s get on it,” First said.

“Righto, mate.” Whelan was grinning from ear to ear.

* * *


“Whose round’s this?” Bhatti was wobbling. She’d never learnt to drink hard. She tried though.

“Not yours, luv,” one of the dock jackaroos said, arm around her. “How ‘bout you and me take a walk?”

Bhatti looked at him, looked down, looked back up, blinked, giggled. “Yeah, okay,” she said. She looked around. “Be back for shift start, guys.” She giggled again. “Let’s go, big boy.”

Zima watched her leaving, half envious at how Bhatti somehow latched onto a guy right away at every stop. She knew how to enjoy herself. Never talked about it afterwards, but she always came back to the ship smiling. The two exited to a storm of whistles and cat calls from his mates.

“I’ll get this round,” Suematsu said. He wasn’t much of a drinker but he always made sure he bought his fair share. Wong now, the purser although she didn’t look it, she was busy flirting with three different guys. She was attractive enough, a petite Nouveau Beijing girl who’d made it off–planet and never been back. “Sucks back home,” she’d said to Zima once. “Never going back. Shamed the family name by running off to space. The family’d fucking kill me if I did turn back up.”

A bit like Zima’s family would with her if she ever went back. Scarlet woman, that’s what she’d be. She’d be lucky if they only stoned her. Goddamn planet from the dark ages, that was New Jerusalem. Nouveau Beijing didn’t sound much better. Nockatunga now, this place was more like it. A girl could relax and enjoy herself on a planet like this.

“Yeah, how the fuck does a Nockatunga girl make herself look attractive?” Wong was laughing at one of the station guys. Jackeroos, that’s what they said they called ‘em. Weird slang, they had here. Bruce? Yeah, that was his name. Bruce. He’d been there with Snowy and Trev when they arrived.

Keagan wasn’t amused. If looks could’ve killed, Bruce would’ve been sliced and diced. First took her arm, drew her back, closer to him. “Any good restaurants on station?” he asked.

“Just down from here,” Keagan gave him that smile, the one that seemed to say she wanted to eat him alive. First was more than willing.

“Tucks her feet behind her ears.” Bruce’s voice carried.

“I can do that,” Wong giggled.

“Want to show me?”

“Show you? Bring Snowy and Trev here and I’ll show all three of you.” And Wong was going. Zima guessed she’d be having a good time too. Letting off steam after a month in jump space.

“Do they really?” First asked as Keagan fumed.

She giggled suddenly. “Want to find out for yourself, do you?”

Watching First walking out the hatch with his arm around Keagan, Zima had her own little moment of excitement. A man’d be good, but none of the stationers she’d seen in here did it for her. Maybe a good massage? They were here for a week. Maybe she’d just take a stroll and look around. Not many of the crew left here now. Fredricks had already got herself picked up, she was long gone. Roget and Walton were laying a line on some Nockatunga chick that looked like she’d been worked hard and hung out to dry a few too many times.

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