Captain Inigo Rea calmly surveyed the bridge of the Argo as he sipped his tea. It was still beautiful, even though it was no longer the pride of the fleet it once had been. The Loreley and the Spirit had come after her and surpassed her. But the Argo remained one of Terra’s finest, an ode to human spirit and accomplishment. The wood paneling was as extravagant and luxurious as it had been on its maiden voyage even though it had become matted and worn from long use. The dark red carpeting was still fresh and stylish from its last remodeling two years prior.
The bridge housed six command posts: helmsman, navigator, communications officer, security chief, commander, and captain. They rarely needed to man all posts. Those days on which they did were always days to remember. This wasn’t one of those days. There was only Captain Rea and lieutenant Behlim, who was running simulations on the navigation computer. She could have done it in her quarters, but she seemed to prefer the atmosphere of the bridge. His other officers were somewhere else on the ship spending recreational time or helping with research. They had picked up lots of historic artifacts on Tau Ceti.
Rea scanned the large navigation screens. On one small window, the computer showed their subspace coordinates slowly ticking by like grains of sand falling down an hourglass. The four-dimensional array of numbers held no real meaning to him. Most humans couldn’t intuit the shapes and paths they described. He took another sip and remembered the first time he had traveled by subspace, on a civilian transporter called Grasshopper taking the plunge from Terra to the fleet academy on Ceres.
When the ship-wide announcement had been made that day he had sought out one of the vessel’s tiny windows to see space itself fold away. He had been the only one. The other passengers had continued with their conversations, remained glued to their media screens, or kept eating. He didn’t understand them. People said there was nothing to see. He strongly disagreed.
He had looked out the window and seen the stars go out as the ship went where nothing should ever exist. They were suspended in a bubble of space, and beyond that—not emptiness, not vacuum. Just… not space. The absence of it. It was the strangest thing, utterly incomprehensible and unimaginable. And there he was, looking at it with his little mammal eyes. It had been like staring in the face of God.
In that moment, he had been truly awestruck by the sheer enormity of the accomplishment that was interstellar travel. Mankind had bent and broken the laws of physics and made them so completely their own that people didn’t even feel the need to look when it happened anymore.
He had watched the blackness, transfixed and lost in thought. He had known that he was human and that he, too, would get used to this, as humans got used to everything.
Once, it had been unimaginable to reach the stars. Before that, it had been unimaginable to fly, unimaginable to talk to someone on the other side of the planet, unimaginable to have light and warmth at the push of a button. Everything was unimaginable until someone, somehow, made it happen. After that, it inevitably became part of everyday life.
He had stared at the impossible otherworldly blackness, and he had sworn that he would never forget it. Get used to it, yes. But never forget it.
It had been in this moment that he’d known he wanted to join the exploratory fleet.
He would never forget what a privilege it was to be living in a time where the entire universe lay open like an ocean of steady winds and calm water, and you just had to set sail and see what shores there were to discover.
“Captain?” a voice roused him from his thoughts.
Lieutenant Behlim had approached him. She was tall and dark-skinned with short curly hair, a broad nose and well-contoured cheek bones. She looked worried.
“Yes, Miss Behlim?”
Soraya Behlim was their most junior officer. She had joined the crew fresh out of the academy after the Argo’s former navigations officer had retired to become a wine farmer on Alpha Centauri II. She had beaten out hundreds of other applicants in the open enlistment call. She was young, eager, and fiercely intelligent, which put her in good company among the crew… which made the timid and puzzled notes in her expression all the more surprising.
“Sir, there’s been interference in our subspace communications bands. A pulse of stray signals, two hours ago.”
He turned to his console to check the signal logs.
“HERA didn’t register it,” Behlim interjected before he could look into it. HERA, or Heuristic Expedient Rational Algorithm was their onboard computer AI suite. “I checked the logs already. It’s only in the raw feed, not in the analysis. It was too far out of our frequency bands to be classified as a signal. I already ran an analysis. It was a single unmodulated frequency, like a blank carrier wave.”
“Okay. Where did it come from?” Rea asked. Subspace was full of signals and noise, coming from all over. But all known naturals sources were thoroughly documented and mapped. Any new source of subspace communication was potentially big news.
“I don’t know,” Behlim said. There was worry in her voice, but no apology. It was one of her qualities. She never presented incomplete or missing data as anything else than what it was.
“And how did you notice that from the nav console in the first place?”
“It’s radiation pressure. The pulse pushed us like a solar sail, and subspace geometry amplified the force. We’re drifting off course at .0031 femtoparsecs per second. We’ll arrive at Tau Ceti in 97 hours. The drift will add up to some 34 kilometers. HERA didn’t throw any alarms because the deviation was within the safe zone. But… I’ve told her to run iterative sims, and the system logs show a change in parameters at around 4:58 shipboard time, plus or minus two minutes.”
34 kilometers. That was like shooting at a target thousands of miles away and missing your mark by less than the width of a human hair.
“Did you correct the course?” Rea asked.
Behlim smiled. “Obviously.”
Rea returned the smile, then again turned serious.
“How strong was the signal? Can you reconstruct where it came from?”
“I can’t locate it. Directions don’t make sense in subspace … Well, actually, they make total sense, but not in any way our brains are wired for it. But not even HERA can do it. The math is non-reversible. It would be like reading the number 15 and trying to calculate which two number someone added to get it. Could be 5+10 or 7+8. Or -78+93.“
She pressed her lips together.
“What I do know is that the com burst lasted less than one iteration of the simulation. 200 seconds at most, with an energy flux of at least 70 Watts per square meter.
Captain Rea frowned.
“So it was very strong.”
“Or weak but very close,” Behlim said with a shrug.
Rea nodded. He pressed a button on his console.
“Message to bridge crew and first officers: There’s been an anomaly. Unidentified subspace communication burst. You know the drill. It might be nothing. It might become one of those days. No need to alert the crew yet, but I want high readiness from you. Miss Petrova, I need you to drop what you’re doing and get to a console. Check the raw com feeds and see what information you can wring out of it. Jonas, I need you to relieve me at the helm. Commander Arebi and Security Chief Lagrave, meet me in my office in ten minutes.”
“One of those days, Sir?”, Behlim said with a bitter smirk and a raised eyebrow. “I’ve heard about those. Wondered when my first time would be.”
Rea looked up at her. She had kept a respectful distance, but she still towered over him when he was sitting in the captain’s chair. She was probably a meter eighty-five. He let out a short chuckle, then frowned.
“It’s probably nothing. It mostly is. I really hope it’s nothing. Some unregistered passing ship, or a pulsar, or maybe some new form of intelligent life made from energy, trying to communicate with us. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Nice and harmless. We come in peace. Let’s be friends. Here’s our language, here’s our com frequencies. See you around.”
Behlim’s face had grown skeptical. Her head had acquired an unmistakable tilt.
“Oh don’t give me that look, Lieutenant. I’ve only been the captain for a five months, but I’ve seen my share of things. And when you’ve seen what I’ve seen, you learn to appreciate it when things go according to plan. Because when they don’t, they really don’t. We’re explorers. It’s our business to turn over stones, and sometimes we don’t get along with what lives underneath them. It’s in the nature of what we do. It’s why this ship has weapons. But the fundamental thing about it is: Whenever we discover something that doesn’t want to be discovered, something with teeth, it’s also something we’ve never seen before, never dealt with before, have no plans for.”
He pursed his lips, his eyes distant. “And when that happens, all we can do is improvise, adapt, overcome. In other words: Make it up as we go, and try not to die.”
He swallowed the last of his tea. It had gone lukewarm.
He blinked and took in a deep breath, and when he continued, his smile had returned and his eyes were alive with focus and determination. Behlim’s posture instinctively straightened as she stood. He looked at her.
“But that that’s why this ship has Terra’s finest. People that can solve any problem, overcome any obstacle. People like you.”
“Thank you, sir.” Soraya Behlim said.
“Please inform Communications Officer Petrova of your findings, Lieutenant. She might be able to isolate some information from the signal. I would have asked her to tell HERA to detect and log any future com bursts, but…”
“… I already did.”
“Obviously,” the captain said with a nod. “Petrova will want to double-check your instructions to make sure nothing slips through. Even so, well done.”
Lieutenant Behlim smiled. There was no hint of insult in her expression. Of course Petrova should check her work. As Communications officer she had way more expertise in n-dimensional waveform analysis.
“Sir,” she said in way of acknowledgement and returned to her post.
A short time later, the starboard bridge door slid open, and Lieutenant Commander Jonas Pauli entered, wearing the tight-lipped, nervous smile of a performer about to go on stage.
Rea got up, and they shared a knowing look. Pauli had been his helmsman for all of his seven years as captain, and they had been in this exact situation too many times.
“Captain, I’m ready to take the bridge.”
“The bridge is yours,” Rea recited and patted him on the shoulder with a smile.
“You really think it’s serious, Inigo?”
”We don’t know. Nothing bad happened, yet. But until we know for sure that it’s not serious… its serious. So we’re keeping an eye out. Ready for anything…”
“… because anything can happen,” Pauli finished and sat himself heavily into the Captain’s chair. “I bet you a bottle of whisky that it’s nothing.”
“It’s nothing in way more than fifty percent of cases. I’d be stupid to accept those odds, Jonas.”
“Five to one odds.”
“…what he Hell would I do with five bottles of whisky?”
“Drink them is what I’d do…”
Rea scuffed dismissively, and Jonas took the hint. It was all in good fun, but he didn’t have the mental energy to spar with him right now. Jonas was probably right not to worry, especially in the strict statistical sense. Bit it was Rea’s job to worry. Ready for anything, because anything can happen. Did happen, eventually.
”Lieutenant Behlim, please send me all relevant data. Raw data first, then your analysis and annotations as quickly as you can manage.”
With a nod towards his crew, he left the bridge.
On the way to his office he thought of the countless crises the Argo and its crew had faced and overcome, though ingenuity, teamwork, diplomacy, or force. Some had started violently and suddenly. Most had started like this. And in almost every crisis there had been a moment, just before they had found a solution, when there he had thought that this would be the time that they would fail. They never had. He was captain now. It was his duty to keep their record going.
His mind dwelled on statistics. Given a long enough time span, any unlikely event would eventually happen. He’d been doing this only for five months, and had already faced more tests and trials than he liked. If he kept doing this, year after year, crisis after crisis, he would eventually fail. It was certainty.
He shook the thought off. He had arrived at his office.
The door slid open automatically as he approached. He sat down behind his desk and opened the data package Lieutenant Behlim had sent him. She had already annotated it and given a preliminary analysis. Damn, she was good.
Without her, no one would have noticed it, and their day might have gone on undisturbed and unworried.
It could be nothing. It could be anything. Whatever it was, they’d be as ready as they could be. Ready for anything, because anything can happen.
Kyra checked the time on her media screen. Cole and her were set to meet up in a less than fifteen minutes. She swallowed down her excitement.
She had actually managed to get into the flow of her work, ignoring the constant need in her loins and ignoring drone Elli’s thoughts echoing at the edge of her perception like the soft prickling of rain against a window. But every now and then the knowledge had come back to her with a flash of adrenaline and pleasure, as it did now.
“What’s so funny?” asked Chief Engineer Parker absent-mindedly as he replaced the last of the power couplings he had inspected. Kyra had finished her power bank a minute earlier. Parker liked to be extra thorough. The coupling slid into place with a satisfying slide and click.
“Nothing,” Kyra said in a small voice. “I… I… just remembering something that happened to me.”
“Care to share?” he said in his low, gruff voice. It always managed to sound rude, no matter what he said. Even after she had gotten to known him better, he had always intimidated Kyra. He actually liked to laugh, but even that sounded rough and violent. He was the type of man that old stories featuring water-borne ships of old Terra—Earth—were about. Gruff men, not unfriendly or unkind, but with a stubborn hardness to them… closed off, until you got them intoxicated. He even had the salt-and-pepper beard.
“Come on, little one! Let’s hear it!”
“It’s… it’s not funny if I tell it. You… had to be there.” She trailed off.
He harrumphed and checked off the visual inspection survey on his private screen. Kyra watched him silently. Too bad there were cameras everywhere in the engine room for security and remote maintenance. Parker would serve well. He had tier II computer access and might meet privately with first officers under some pretense. She would have loved to crack that hard mind open and have Agent mold him into a drone.
They had touched skin when he’d helped her up earlier, and again later when she had handed him a screwdriver. There was Agent in her sweat ready to infect, but not enough to overcome his immune system. It was powerful, but not that powerful.
It didn’t matter. He would serve. the same as the rest. Just later rather than sooner. Cole would come first. He was her first opportunity, and she would gladly take it. One more drone, one more willing and resourceful vector for the Agent. Hive would start slowly and grow geometrically. Then, nothing could stop them. The whole crew would be converted and become Hive.
When they were done, Parker left to check on another part of the ship with only a small nod and an unintelligible grumble as way of dismissal.
Her heart was racing, now. It was happening… She took a corridor towards the starboard service area and waited for Cole.
Elli turned the little box in her hands over and over. It was the size of a chicken egg, its twelve faces black and pearlescent. It looked distinctly burned. It had intricate angular, geometric carvings over its entire surface. It reminded Elli of ancient Mesoamerican art, if they had had access to micrometer-precision machining tools and a fascination with fractal geometry. It really looked like it was meant to be a puzzle. No wonder Kyra had tried to open it. Elli was so glad that she had succeeded.
Kyra had told her that she’d bought it from a native Paaraagi scavenger on Zula Prime. The Paaraagi had no fascination with puzzles, or much of anything. Even after more than a hundred years after the federation had made first contact, there had been no coordinated effort to pursue spaceflight. The few Paaraagi that wanted to leave the planet did so mostly on Terran or Kirexian ships. The rest kept going in their ways, farming, trading, and living their long, long lives the same way they had in the eons before. Sudden change must be scary if you had a living memory of tens of thousands of years and historic periods measured in galactic rotations.
The scavenger had told her that it had fallen from the sky, as if nothing about that had been special or curious at all. He had asked a fair price for something he thought was well-made but of little practical value, and that had been that.
Elli held it closer to her eyes. She wondered who had made it and where it had come from. It seemed safe to assume that it had been made by a civilization that had been enslaved by Hive, or Hive itself, and that it was meant to spread Agent to distant systems. There must be billions, trillions of these things around the galaxy if there was to be any chance of even one of them hitting something. The thought excited her. She imagined a moon somewhere light years away, being mined out of existence, all of its mass converted into tiny carriers. It had traveled at sublight to arrive on Zula Prime. Hive must be ancient.
She asked Agent, but it had no answers, except for the knowledge that it didn’t keep time. It didn’t know how long it had been dormant in its carrier until Kyra freed it. Uplink would tell them, she knew. Uplink would make them whole. Soon.
Until then, they knew what to do.
“Hi,” Kyra said shyly as Cole entered and shut the hydraulic door behind him. She couldn’t believe this was happening. It was almost too good to be real. She wasn’t who he thought she was anymore. She was here to betray him and turn him. Her palms were sweaty and her fingers felt numb with excitement.
Her eyes were avoiding his gaze. He was so handsome. In his mid-twenties, broad-shouldered and half a head taller than Kyra, his unruly blond hair in a practical and short undercut.
Kyra had loved him.
He was just as good with electronics as she was, appreciated and respected Kyra for it and was never proud or condescending to anyone. He smiled easily and was quick friends with everyone except maybe chief engineer Parker or security chief Lagrave. He exuded an air of effortless confidence that Kyra couldn’t dream of having.
Naturally, obviously, inevitably, he had a girlfriend, and they were so perfect together that Kyra couldn’t even be mad at them. Emily was kind, generous, intelligent, highly sociable and probably one of the most beautiful people Kyra had ever seen. They completely deserved each other.
Kyra would take Cole, and he would gladly let her watch as he converted Emily.
Cole smiled at her.
“Hi Kyra. How’re you doing?”
“Fine,” she mumbled.
“You sure?” he said, bending at the knees to look at her from below. “You look like you’ve got something on your mind.” His expression was friendly and compassionate. He saw Kyra’s embarrassed reaction. He pursed his lips, his smile growing somewhat sheepish.
“Sorry. No pressure. But… you can talk to me if you want.”
He was too gracious to admit that he knew that she had no one else to talk to. At least, he thought he knew. Kyra was somewhat shaken to discover that she was worse at concealing her changed state of mind than she’d hoped. But she knew enough about acting to know that she should use that fact.
“Yeah… sorry Cole. I’ve got things I’m working though right now… and I’m not sure if… I’m… can we please just start working? It’ll put my mind off it and there’s lots of work. It’s a long stretch of hull. Sorry if I’m weird but I promise I won’t be distracted during work.”
She managed a short moment of eye contact, showing an embarrassed and apologetic smile. He seemed to fall for it.
“Okay, K,” he said with an understanding smile and opened a locker on the wall. He took out the safety harness and slung it around his shoulders and fastened the loops around his waist and legs. Kyra did the same, choosing a locker some distance away from him because that was what Kyra would have done before she had been a drone, but also to keep herself away from temptation. It was hard now to control her breathing. She felt like a hungry animal, stalking her prey.
As she fastened the last buckles, she shot a glance at Cole. She felt like she was about to burst. Her fingers itched and prickled. Her needles wanted to come out. She needed to—
“Okay,” Cole said and gestured toward the maintenance airlock. “Apres vous, mademoiselle!”.
She had to laugh, for real. It was more because of the nervous tension and anticipation. She felt like a string wound up so tightly that she might snap any moment.
Converting Elli had been an act of mostly instinct and reflex. There had been hardly any time to think. This was different.
The need inside her was like nothing she’d ever felt. It was the entire purpose of her existence. Every breath she took was to propel her to do this. Every cell in her body, every synapse had been made to scream for it. It was hunger and thirst and itch and sex drive rolled into on all-consuming urge to obey her programming. Infect, spread, serve! She wanted it. Wanted it now.
She stepped towards the large hatch, taking measured breaths as her heart beat in her chest. The hatch bore a large safety-yellow sign stating “CAUTION: AIRLOCK. Unmonitored Zero-G Area. Safety Equipment And Work Partner Required.”
Unmonitored. Yes. Good. She opened the hatch and climbed into the airlock.
Seven decks below them, Elli lay naked in her bed, two fingers inside her pussy. She was barely aware of it. She was lost in Kyra’s thoughts. She felt them like there was no distance between them, like they were her own. She knew that Kyra was barely aware of her. She had more immediate things to focus on. But in the quiet of their quarters, Kyra’s thoughts shone like the sun, distant but bright and clear enough to blind.
She was so thankful for being a drone. Being a drone was so good. A drone like Kyra. Hot and sexy. So far gone, so horny for it. Her mind so utterly enslaved by the agent to want it. Elli was inside Kyra’s mind. She saw with her eyes. Saw herself and Cole in the small airlock, bathed in red light, waiting for the short null cycle to end. Waiting, almost able to taste how even those few seconds stretched… like acid pooling in her throat. The anticipation was killing her. She wanted it so badly. The outer airlock door opened, and she moved through it.
Like any ship built not to be a death trap, the Argo had two hulls, and both hulls were a complex layer cake of metal alloys, foams, foil, and reactive materials. The three meter wide space between them was like a thick but regular underbrush of struts, cables and pipes, sectioned off in compartments ten by ten meters.
Kyra floated out the other end of the airlock and around her, the darkness lit up with hundreds of LED strips until everything around her was brightly illuminated. She grabbed one of several handrails that were within reach at all times and turned herself around to see Cole come after her. Behind him, the airlock was bathed in harsh red light. The door closed automatically. Kyra took a shivering breath.
They were alone. This was it. It was happening.
Her heart felt like it was about to explode. Her thoughts sang in absolute purpose. Every instinct in her body tugged at her, propelling her to do one thing. Her pussy was soaking wet.
“I like it when we get to do hull inspection in subspace”, Cole said as he floated towards her. Kyra offered her hand and he grabbed her it without thinking to pull himself forward. ”No space, no micrometeors, no vacuum suits. It’s so much more—what the hell?”
His sensor gloves were beeping with an anomaly warning. There was shock and confusion in his voice: “Kyra, why are your hands full of Silicon Carbide and elemental Carbon?”
She pulled him in and drove her needles into his skull, and her world exploded in pleasure. Somewhere else, Elli came.
Taking off her overalls in zero-g would be hard, and getting them back on would be next to impossible. Luckily, her overalls unzipped in the front. So instead, she had undone the upper half of her harness and zippered up the front of her overalls. She plunged her hand down her panties, finding them completely and utterly soaked. Her fingers touched her pussy and she whimpered in pleasure. Her clit was so sensitive it felt almost painful. Almost. She pushed against it, past it, inside herself, rubbing, thrusting, stroking.
It was so fucking hot. It was the best thing ever. Yes! She was a drone! She had served! She had spread! It was so good. Her fingers were deep in her snatch, so deep. She had come so hard. She had destroyed the man she’d loved, infected him! He would serve and be a hot drone like her. He would want it. He would need it. Need her. And together they would serve, and cum together, be Hive, have their thoughts join as they came to what she had done to him. Like Elli. So hot, so utterly changed. Their thoughts and bodies were owned by Hive, and they would serve!
She came again and her body contracted in pleasure. Above—or below—her head, she held on tightly to the handrail. It had been almost an hour, and she had come so many times. Soon. Soon! Soon he would wake, and be perfect like her. Serve.
She looked across the gap where his unconscious body floated in the air. His eyes were open, echoes of shock still in his expression, unchanged from when he had passed out. He had come to rest against the inner hull. Drifting linearly though hyperspace as they were, there was no need to secure him.
Suddenly, she felt it. She moaned in pleasure. She was feeling his thoughts! She looked at him and saw his eyes light up and lock with hers.
He didn’t even hesitate. Without even a word he undid his harness, and his eyes were filled with violent fire. His raging need made the space where their thoughts met tremble like he was the epicenter of an earthquake. Where there had been silence a moment earlier, Kyra felt his thoughts radiate like white-hot metal. He never broke eye contact as he pulled down his harness, overalls, and underwear until they were wrapped around his legs. Without another thought, without another word, he pulled out his rock hard cock and began to stroke it. He looked at her, eyes wide open as he did it. There was no confusion in his expression. No surprise. No shock. He knew what he was. He knew what she was. He knew what she had done to him. He needed to cum.
She could feel his erection. He was so stiff it hurt. He needed to cum. Cum because he had been erased. Cum because he would betray everyone. Cum because he would serve. Cum because he wanted it, loved it. Cum because he was nothing but a vector, a tool, a drone.
“All must serve the Hive,” he moaned ecstatically and Kyra readily repeated after him. “All must serve the Hive,” she said, and she meant everyone, but especially him. His eyes found hers, and his smile was ravenous and greedy. She knew what he wanted. In her open overalls, Kyra pulled up her bra, and her breasts hung weightlessly where he would see them. And suddenly, his smile was the same understanding smile he’d always worn. That smile that had always said I’m listening, and I understand.
Kyra felt the sweet hot understanding in their connection. There was something strangely innocent and intimate about it. She felt how much he had cared for her, wanted to help her. He felt how much Kyra had loved him for it. How she had desired him.
They had become something else. Kyra was no longer the shy young woman she had been, and Cole was no longer selfless and caring. Their mind had been enslaved, and they wanted only to serve. He saw that Kyra she was nothing but a drone. She had infected and enslaved him, and now they were the same. They wanted the same thing, and there was nothing they couldn’t share. Cole loved her for doing this to him. He wanted to fuck her. The idea them being drones together made him so hot. He wanted to make her cum for doing this to him.
“You will serve,” Kyra said sharply, as if her words could turn him a second time. Her eyes bore down on him, and she imagined her unyielding gaze infecting him with the Agent, eroding any resistance, erasing anything that made him anything but an eager servant of the Hive.
“Yes!” he grunted, taking in a sharp breath. Drone Kyra was so hot. So much better than old Kyra. He was glad old Kyra had been made to enslave him. Hive owned her mind and made her want this. It made him so hard to hear her voice tell him to serve. There was no more meekness in her voice. She knew that she wanted serve.
She gently pushed herself towards him. “You will spread,” she said, her voice like iron as she drifted over to him.
He was trembling. He raised and looked at his left hand. Yes. Of Course. Through the skin of his fingers, five thin needles extended, like claws. He was changed. He had become inhuman. More than human. Better. He was Hive. His body. His mind.
“You will infect,” Kyra promised him. She braced herself against his chest as she collided with him, pushing him a few centimeters against the wall before they both came to rest. He reached around her and pulled her tightly against him. They were so close now. He felt his cock press against her as she raised her pussy-slick hand in front of his face and extended her own claws. His cock throbbed. He felt her mind. He felt how the delicious feeling of the smooth, hard needles sliding against her flesh was making her shiver. How it was making her horny and wet. His eyes lit up with desire.
“We will infect,” she said, and kissed him. His tongue pushed into her mouth, eager and careless. She sucked it hungrily, let it gyrate and flex and probe, then pushed back with her own, pushed it into his mouth, deep and hard and violent. He sucked on it, and imagined how it must have felt for her to be inside his brain with her needles. He moaned. Infecting was the hottest thing. Infecting people turned him on. He wanted to infect. He wanted to be inside someone and spread Agent and make them serve, like Kyra had done.
Their kiss broke off with a slurp. Their eyes met, understanding flowing between them as if they had never been anything else than what they were now. Kyra grabbed his waist, and pulled herself down, feeling her thoughts sing in his mind like his did in hers. She felt his wonderful, absolute need to serve. The same wonderful thoughts that had been burned into her own soul. The thoughts and truths that owned her and made her what she was. That made her so fucking wet.
He felt his cock stiffen in anticipation. He loved wanting this. Serving was sex. Serving was giving in to this. He was obeying his programming, turgid and hot in his enslaved mind, making him want to fuck, want to cum, if only to betray what he had been. Fuck the inhuman drone that had destroyed him!
Kyra took him into her mouth, sucking, salivating, pushing against him, swallowing his cock as deep as she could, pressing it against her twisting tongue. She felt his foreskin slide up and down as she pulled, pushed, pulled, pushed, and she felt his pleasure in her mind like it was her own. Felt his cock between her legs where her clit was, her labia so stiff and erect, so deep inside the delicious, hot warmth of her mouth. So hot. He was so close. Needed it so bad. Needed to come inside her.
”I live to serve,” Cole moaned between short breaths, and the words rung in Kyra like hammer blows, and in her mind she again saw herself back in the mirror, and she knew that Cole did, too.
”My body belongs to Hive,” Cole said, as Kyra thought it for him. Kyra squeezed her lips tightly around him. Yes. She had made him like this. Made him become like her, made him a drone. Nothing but a drone. In her mind there was a mirror, and Kyra in the mirror smiled because she had been made to serve. Her fingers ended in long, sharp needles. They belonged there.
“My mind belongs to Hive!” Cole grunted, and Kyra in the Mirror turned into a blonde, as beautiful than her. More. Flawless. Calm. Naked. Kyra had never seen Emily naked, and she knew that these were Cole’s thoughts. He was so horny. He needed to cum.
He was imagining Emily. His girlfriend. The woman he loved, so beautiful and awesome. Emily looked at him. She was calm. She suspected nothing. She trusted him. She loved him. Remorselessly, he stung her, pierced her, penetrated her. It was so natural, so completely right for him to do! Emily’s eyes flew open in shock, then went dull and empty. His cock throbbed with pleasure, and he felt the pressure built past the point of no return. Yes! Infect her! Change her! Yes! Make her a drone! Make her serve! She must serve! All must serve!
The drone that had been Cole exploded into Kyra’s mouth. Hot, salty cum shot into her, hitting the back of her throat, covering her tongue with its sticky, metallic taste. It was saturated with Agent. She closed her eyes, feeling his satisfaction bleed over into her like the warmth of a hearth fire. She swallowed it all. Some distant part of her was worried about it getting into the wires and causing a short.
Elli was back in her bunk, the sheets beneath her moist with her sweat and her juices. Her thoughts had finally cleared after what felt like a lifetime of blinding ecstasy. She had come so hard. She was breathing shallowly, feeling her heart pump in her chest, circulating Agent through her. That last thought had sparked something in her, had made her thoughts recede and isolate.
She wondered if— and suddenly she already knew.
She shot out of bed in a sudden rush. Yes! Oh God, fuck yes! She rummaged though her discarded clothes until she found her personal screen. She breathlessly checked her shift plan. Yes! It was in there, three shifts from now! She requested a reschedule from HERA. Please, do it! Do it! It was only preponing it by three days. She waited for the response, lips tight.
Request granted. Oh God, yes!
She sent a crew-wide bulletin, like she would do if Elli was still the person she had been:
”Maintenance Notice. Please be aware that access to HERA core functionality will be limited for a duration of 3-4 hours starting at midnight shipboard time. Please be sure to save your work in progress and switch your HERA instances to run locally before then. Signed, second engineer Elli van der Meer.”
She smiled, then blinked. Yes. Agent needed instructions. She sat down on her bed and pulled her larger work screen from where she’d stowed it in the gap between the mattress and the padded bulkhead.
She accessed HERA’s documentation and navigated to the section labeled “pseudo-cognitive functions and kernel architecture” and began to read.