She was sitting in the command chair, wearing the carefully neutral expression that she held on her face when she was expecting trouble.
“Jump to normal space in five seconds... four... three... two... one... JUMP.”
A few more seconds went by. “All stations report ready for combat.”
“Position approximately one hundred five kiloklicks from Volyani 3. I’m still getting a little post-jump static in the long-range scanners....”
“Gdansk and Detroit have both reported in; no problems.”
“Detecting ships in orbit about forty k-klicks from the planet, seventy-five k-kclicks from us. Two battlecruiser class, two small cruiser class, six to eight smaller vessels.”
She turned to the sensor officer. “Status of those ships?”
“Most of them appear to be in cruise mode—normal operating power levels, thruster drives not engaged. Two of the destroyers look like they’ve got their thrusters ready to go at a moment’s notice, though.”
“I’ve picked up some chatter. I can’t interpret the content, but I’ve identified the battlecruisers as the Simon Bolivar and the Aguinaldo.
“Secessionist fleet, then.” She paused for a long moment. “Any indication that we’ve been spotted?”
“No. No lock-ons, no sign of powering up drives or weapons.”
Captain Fuchyda drew herself up. Somehow, she was managing to project a command presence from her eighteen-year-old face and figure. “Orders to all ships.” She paused a moment until the comm officer confirmed that the fleetwide voice channel was live. “Close to fifty kiloklicks at maximum thrust, and prepare all long-range missile bays for launch. At that range, launch a time-on-target salvo targeting the Simon Bolivar. Then, immediately veer off and head directly away from the planet. Reload missile launchers and fire at will against any pursuing ships that come into range. Prepare for jump at the earliest possible moment.”
Pausing a beat, she concluded, “Do not, repeat do not, wait for the other ships. Each ship is to jump out as soon as possible after clearing the gravity well.”
Signaling the comm officer to cut the channel, she sat back down in her chair. “Keep a sharp eye on those ships, and speak up the instant they give any sign of detecting us.”
“Aye aye, captain.”
“Range, eighty kiloklicks. All ships report missile bays ready for launch.”
“Enemy lock-on! They’ve spotted us!” The sensor officer worked at his panel. “They’re starting to power up drives and weapons.”
“Time until we reach firing range?”
“One minute, captain.”
“Stay on course. Everyone stay sharp... this is going to be close, but we’re going to give the rebels a bloody nose and get away before they can do anything about it.”
“Range sixty kiloklicks... all enemy ships have powered up thruster drives and left orbit. Approaching at one hundred kps... one fifty... two hundred....”
“Coming up on firing range now, captain. Coordinating launchers for time-on-target synchronization... volley launched.”
“Get us out of here!” she ordered.
“Incoming enemy missiles! All three ships being targeted.” The sensor officer looked up. “They’re definitely going to reach us before we make it to a hundred kiloklicks out.”
“We’re going to have to shoot them down, then. Power to point defense lasers and cannon.”
“All point defense gunnery crews report ready.”
The image began to fade and shimmer. After a few seconds, it blanked out altogether.
The captain blinked as the rest of the world suddenly burst upon her awareness.
“This is how the mission is going to turn out.” She knew.
Well, she knew up to a point. The revelation had stopped short, before revealing how many missile hits her command would take before they jumped out, or even whether all three ships would escape.
According to the reports, the windows into the future were often cut short at moments like this, when the final conclusion of the event still hung in the balance. The scientists called it “world-line divergence”. It was frustrating, but it left the door open for exploiting what had been seen to tilt the odds in favor of a desirable outcome.
“Janice?” Ryta’s voice interrupted her train of thought. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. I’m just... thinking through the implications.” She made a mental note to configure all lasers and ion cannons for short range point defense, sacrificing ship-to-ship firepower that wouldn’t be used in the coming engagement. That would improve their chances of stopping the missiles and getting away.
“Are you sure? We can wait a while to view the second scene, if you like. It is a bit long....”
That meant it was probably an entire event, seen from beginning to end, with no real uncertainties to be resolved. Perhaps it was related to the aftermath of the battle she’d just seen. Half an hour might be long enough for a board of inquiry. Or a funeral. She didn’t recall any examples of those in the reports, but there was a first time for everything.
Whatever it was, she had to know.
“Let’s go ahead and start the second scene.”
The corners of the viewscreen lit up with dancing lights, and once again the display became her entire world.
She was walking down a corridor in one of the staff-quarters sections of Javellos Station. She was in uniform, and wearing a patch over her left eye. After a pause to read the nameplate on one of the doors, she pressed the entry-signal button.
The door opened. Ryta stood before her, in a red silk robe. “Come in, Janice.”
She stepped through the door. Noticing the shoe rack just inside the doorway, she bent down to take off her boots and set them in one of the empty slots. She began to remove her eyepatch, but Ryta raised a hand to get her attention.
“Please leave it on. I like the way it makes you look... like an old time seafaring pirate captain.”
“You like that?” Janice asked.
“What exactly do you like about it?” She grinned wolfishly. “You know, pirates take what they want.” She took a step toward Ryta. “Is that it?” Ryta leaned back just a bit, but made no real move to retreat. “Is that what turns you on?”
Janice lunged forward and grabbed Ryta. In one quick motion, she lifted the other woman into her arms. “Arrrr, wench! The pirate captain has seized yer booty!”
“Janice!” Ryta gasped.
“Call me ‘captain’.” There was an undertone of toughness, of command, in her voice. Somehow, her teenaged face and body didn’t diminish its ring of authority one bit.
She carried her captive across the room and into a hallway. “Where are you taking me, captain?”
“I think you know perfectly well.” The quarters were laid out according to one of the standard patterns. Down the hallway and to the right was the bedroom.
Janice set Ryta down on the bed. In two quick motions, she untied the knot of the silk robe and flung it open. Underneath it Ryta wore a tiny thong and a lacy demibra that left very little to the imagination.
“Such a saucy wench you are!” Janice made a great show of shaking her head and clucking her tongue.
Ryta batted her eyes. “Captain... what are your intentions?”
“Quite dishonorable, I assure you!” She reached down and firmly planted her hands on Ryta’s tits, rubbing and kneading.
“Oh... oh my...!” she murmured. “Janice—Captain! Captain!” she quickly corrected herself after a scowl and a quick pinch to her nipple.
Janice tugged down the lace fabric, exposing Ryta’s left breast. She leaned down and began to nuzzle and lick it, while sliding her left hand down the other woman’s belly until it came to rest on the little triangle of fabric that semi-covered her crotch. A dark patch of dampness began to show.
Finally, she drew herself upright. “Now... will you submit?”
Ryta nodded. “I surrender. You may do with me as you please.”
“Then prepare to be boarded!” Janice climbed up onto the bed, and swung one leg over her companion’s body. She settled into position, kneeling astride her partner’s body just below her breasts.
She unfastened her belt and began tugging it out of the loops. “You’re going to be a good girl, aren’t you?”
“Oh, yes, captain.”
The belt slid out of the last loops. She held it in her hand. “And obedient? You’ll do as you’re told, won’t you?”
She set the belt down on the bed. “Very good. We won’t be needing this... as long as you behave yourself.”
Ryta simply nodded.
She unfastened her pants and pulled them down as far as they would go. “Watch closely.” She hooked her thumbs under the waistband of her panties and slowly, slowly, slid them downwards.
“Just a few inches.” she whispered as her dark pubic hair began to emerge. “I’m lowering this just a few inches, to show you my naked pussy.” Her panties fell free down her thighs. “Soon, very soon, you’ll lift your hands just a few inches, to tickle my bush and explore my snatch and stroke my clit.”
Janice grasped Ryta by the wrists. “I said ‘soon’... not yet. I want you to take a minute to look, and appreciate, and visualize exactly where your fingers will go.”
Ryta took a deep breath and let it out with a moan. Janice released her hold and raised her hands to her top jacket button.
As she opened the buttons one after another, she continued, “And then, after you’ve gotten me nicely warmed up and covered your fingers with my scent, I’ll move just a few inches closer. For a moment, you will get a very close look at my pussy... until it gets too close to look at. And then you will smell and taste it, as you service me with your lips and tongue.”
She tossed her jacket aside and began unbuttoning her shirt. “Now... begin!”
The fingers of Ryta’s right hand began ruffling through her pubic hair and stroking her labia. “Put both hands into it. Keep it up until my snatch and your fingers are nice and wet.”
She leaned back and took a deep breath as her companion carried out the instruction. Fingertips explored and stroked between Janice’s thighs. Meanwhile, she finished removing her shirt, and then discarded her bra.
After a few minutes, Janice’s eyes snapped wide open. “Hold still!” she commanded. Ryta’s fingers froze in place. “Now... just a couple more slow strokes... yes... and now stop and put down your hands.”
She scooted her knees into position and reached out to take hold of the headboard. Slowly, she leaned toward the other woman’s face, maneuvering to place herself directly over Ryta’s waiting mouth.
“Oh, yes... that’s good... OH!” Janice murmured after she settled into position. “Keep doing it just like that....” Her breathing became heavier, and her hips began to gently rock back and forth.
Finally, she let out a loud gasp and thrust her body firmly into her partner’s face. She trembled and moaned, and finally slumped forward.
Ryta thrashed a bit and gave a muffled cry. Janice pulled herself upward, enough to let her companion draw a long deep breath.
“Sorry about that.” For a moment, Janice’s voice was no longer firm and commanding. A bit shakily, she lifted herself clear and climbed out of bed, then took a moment to shed her pants and panties.
“You did well, Ryta.” Her voice was confident and strong again, but a bit gentler than before. “And now you shall be properly rewarded.”
She tugged at the other woman’s thong, sliding it down her legs as she stepped to the foot of the bed. She raised it to her nose and inhaled deeply, then tossed it aside.
Janice took hold of Ryta’s ankles and began to pull. The other woman’s body began to slide down the bed until her legs were suspended in midair and her ass was just barely on the edge of the mattress. Janice lowered Ryta’s feet to the floor, spaced well apart, and knelt between them. She quickly bent down to place her mouth against Ryta’s snatch.
They remained in that pose for a few minutes, motionless except the slight shifting and bobbing of Janice’s head. Finally, Ryta twitched. “Yes! That’s it!” Her hips began to wriggle just a bit. “Ooooohhhhh... hold your tongue right there....” Her bucking and breathing got harder and harder, until she suddenly cried out “Oh! Yes! YES!!”
She relaxed and lay still. Finally, she took a deep breath and murmured, “Thank you.”
Janice climbed into the bed, and Ryta scooted back onto the mattress. The two women lay alongside each other and shared a gentle kiss, then cuddled for a while with Ryta’s head against Janice’s bosom.
As their eyes peacefully closed, the image began to waver and dissolve.
Janice stared blankly at the inactive viewscreen. That scene of her future didn’t seem to fit. But it was what was going to happen. She knew that, without doubt. It just seemed so out of place.
She could feel Ryta’s presence at her side. She tried to work up the nerve to face her, after they had seen... that. At last, she took a breath and tried to force all expression out of her face. She could feel a blush in her cheeks, but couldn’t do anything about that. She turned.
Ryta was grinning happily. “Why, Janice! I was thinking about asking you out to dinner when we had some free time, but I had no idea you were that attracted to me.”
“I’m not... I mean, nothing against you, but... I like men... I never...” She was babbling. Everything she remembered from before was colliding with what she knew now. She’d always been exclusively hetero and uninterested in discipline games. In one week, she would be firmly dominating and eagerly fucking another woman... this woman.
This was going to happen, more or less exactly as she’d just witnessed it. She knew that. She didn’t resist the idea; there was no point. It was inevitable. But it was confusing. She just wished that it made a bit more sense.
“Shhhh...” Ryta urged. She got up and stood in front of the chair, and put out a hand. Absently, Janice raised her own hand, and let herself be guided to her feet, her thoughts still racing in circles.
Ryta looked into her eyes. “You understand that what you saw just now is your future—our future?”
“Well, then, there must be some way for it to make sense. You’re just trying to figure out how.” Janice nodded again. Yes. She accepted that this was how it was going to be. She just needed a way for it to fit into a rational universe.
She felt a gentle squeeze on her hand. “There’s one obvious explanation. You aren’t quite the same person you used to be.”
“Because of the body transfer, you mean?”
Ryta nodded. “All sorts of subtle things could be different. Maybe it’s something about the way that new brain is wired, or how your old personality got loaded into it. Or maybe it’s a response to suddenly having an eighteen-year-old’s physique and hormones again.”
She looked thoughtful. “Or maybe it has to do with way people treat you now that you look so young and cute. You’re used to people accepting your authority on an almost instinctive level, and I suspect that you haven’t been getting that lately.”
Janice tried not to react to that. She failed miserably.
“Yes, I think that might be it. What you crave is a chance to project the kind of command presence you had before.”
She tilted her head coquettishly. “Well, that’s what I’m offering you. And we both know that you’re going to take me up on it.”
They stood facing each other for what seemed like forever.
Janice raised her free hand to the back of Ryta’s head and drew her close. Their lips met, gently, almost innocently, for a just a moment before they pulled back to stare into each other’s eyes.
Suddenly, Janice pulled Ryta to her again, much more firmly. There was nothing at all innocent about their second kiss. Their tongues met and wrestled as Janice extracted her hand from Ryta’s gentle hold and planted it firmly upon her companion’s buttock.
Finally, they came up for air. Ryta took a deep breath and finally said, “Well... now that’s a captain who positively radiates command presence!”
Ryta felt tempted to ask Janice to put on the eyepatch. She dismissed the notion. Revealing that she knew about it would give away the fact that she’d cracked into Captain Janice Fuchyda’s medical files.
Those files had given her the raw data for a detailed animation template. With a few hours of detailed fine-tuning, the model became a photorealistic virtual Janice, just as convincing as the model she’d already created of herself and the virtual setting representing her quarters. With those elements in place, it was just a matter of writing and executing the script.
The computer had generated a lifelike simulation of Janice Fuchyda and Ryta Layden sharing a passionate encounter... an image that had just been presented to Janice as a preordaned part of her future, not to be averted or questioned.
It had worked even better than she’d hoped. Janice fully accepted that she and Ryta were going to be lovers. Better yet, she was ready to start right away rather than wait until she returned from her mission.
But of course that was no surprise. Ryta had looked forward to this day ever since the artifact had shown it to her, in the very first predictive vision she had gleaned from it. She had carefully deleted the scene from the official lab records, saving it for her private perusal.
The image of her future partner, young and cute but also mature and dominant, had fascinated and thrilled her.
As she felt Janice’s lips press against hers again, she remembered the moment she’d first seen Captain Fuchyda’s story on the station newsnet, and recognized the face of her destined companion. She had then made her plan and put it into motion.
Not that she’d had any choice, really. Fate was irresistible.
And so was this moment. She wriggled her body against the captain’s. Finally, they drew apart again, giving Ryta a chance to catch her breath and speak.
She whispered, “There’s a couch in my office,” and tossed her head to indicate the door to her right.
With great regret, Captain Janice Fuchyda decided that it was time to go. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day, and she needed to get cleaned up, file her preliminary report on the mission, and get a reasonable amount of sleep. Ryta would also have a bit of work to do, modifying the records to show only the Volyani 3 sequence and expunging all indications that there had been anything else.
Besides, she wasn’t sure how much longer she could continue to engage in kissing and snuggling and pillow talk while stopping short of actual sex. She had resolved to reserve that consummation for the event they had witnessed, one week in the future. Ryta had agreed to that, or at any rate had agreed let Janice make the decision for them.
They had followed two ground rules. First, their panties stayed on, preventing any direct pussy-to-partner contact. Hands were allowed to slip under them only at the rear, never at the front. Janice had caught Ryta cheating once; a minute or so of being tickled with her arms bound behind her back had elicited an apology and a solemn promise—well, as solemn as she could manage in between bursts of giggling—to be good henceforth.
Second, when either of them felt the first stirrings of approaching climax, they backed off and called a time-out to the proceedings until the fires subsided. There had been several of those, and a couple of them had been called just barely in time. Janice knew that she was going to need to indulge in a bit of self-pleasure before getting any sleep tonight, and suspected that Ryta would do likewise. Even with a new command and an upcoming battle to keep her mind occupied, it was going to be a long week.
But it would be worth it. The anticipation would make it all the more exciting and special when she arrived to sweep Ryta off her feet, carry her off to bed, and take her as a lover while undergoing her own lesbian initiation.
And that would be only the beginning. She knew, as surely as if she had seen it through the alien oracle’s window, that she and Ryta had a delightful future ahead of them.