Marie Lagrave lay in bed, her eyes closed, trying to will herself to sleep.
A nagging doubt had taken hold of her, far at the back of her mind. It was the corner of her thoughts she had learned never to ignore.
Something was off about van der Meer. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was, but she had acted strangely. She had stepped out of her responsibility and had disrupted her shift rhythm. She wouldn’t do that. Because she was…
Marie stopped herself.
She racked her mind, trying to feel the shape of her own thoughts. Don’t be biased, she thought. Be fair. Be impartial.
She disliked van der Meer, but that mustn’t affect her judgment. It was too easy to see flaws and be suspicious of someone you didn’t like. But on the other hand, that didn’t mean she wasn’t right about her feeling.
Van der Meer was lazy.
That wasn’t Marie’s opinion tainted by animosity. That was fact. To give her credit, she did her work, and did it well. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be on this ship. But she only did what she was told and not one line of code more than that.
And now she volunteered her sleep cycle to fix something when she had a perfectly good excuse not to do work?
It didn’t add up.
She opened her burning eyes and grabbed her screen from the night stand. She navigated to the security feed of the mainframe.
She saw van der Meer working at the console. It looked like she hadn’t moved at all from where she had stood when Marie had checked on her twenty minutes ago. She watched her work and type, taking no breaks at all between keystrokes. How was she working without ever taking a moment to think?
And then, suddenly, van der Meer walked between the server racks, and was hidden from view.
Marie sat up. She switched cameras. What moron had set up those angles?! What was she doing?
She called the bridge.
“Back up your data to the bridge, now!”
“Yes, ma’am!” Behlim’s voice was immediately snappy and alert. She might be the one competent crewmember besides Captain... no, Commander Arebi, only without Arebi’s soft disposition.
“Done,” she said after a minute. “What happened? Connection to HERA is working perfectly on my terminal. I ran a diagnostic.” There was a muffled male voice in the background.
“Pauli did, too. Orders?”
Marie hesitated. On the security feed, van der Meer had returned to the Terminal. When she had emerged from the server racks, her fingers had been gently brushing them, almost in the way children did sometimes drag their hands across walls.
Something was so wrong about that, but…
She wouldn’t accuse her of anything without evidence. She was better than that.
“Run a HERA hardware and software self-test and check the access logs.”
“Yes Ma’am. Doing so now. It’ll take another minute.”
She stared at the security footage in silence. Van der Meer seemed to be thinking. Was this just some thing she liked to do? Take a break and appreciate the hyper-advanced technology around her? She could imagine that would be a thing that a programmer would find fascinating. She had to admit that stranger behaviour than that had turned out to be innocent. She felt herself relax a little bit.
“Everything seems normal so far, ma’am,” Behlim’s voice was highly professional. Marie couldn’t tell if she was worried or annoyed or just followed her orders.
“It froze for a second there. But everything’s nominal. The logs updated, though. That must have been it: Access by Elli van der Meer. System update, 278 kilobytes. Minor network protocol updates and bug fixes.”
Marie said nothing.
“…Shall I check it?” Behlim asked after a moment. She definitely sounded a bit annoyed now.
“No. Carry on.”
She disconnected the call. On her screen, Elli van der Meer seemed to be silently mocking her for making a fool of herself.
No. Don’t think like that. You’re projecting. You’re better than that.
She had been wrong. Being wrong felt bad, but she mustn’t hold it against van der Meer. But it didn’t mean she had to trust her, either. It was her job do be suspicious, and she had done her job. Not making that call would have been a mistake, even if she had turned out to be wrong.
There was one thing the captain got right: Anything can happen.
She watched van der Meer pull out her memory stick and leave the mainframe without another look back. She shut off the screen and returned it to its charger. She closed her eyes and finally went to sleep.
There was a noise. Her door opening!
Suddenly she was wide awake. The door was supposed to be locked! In the back of her mind, she had the spare thought to be thankful for being a light sleeper. She saw a silhouette of what looked like a woman move towards her.
“Light!”, she yelled, but instead the door closed. She barely registered it, her mind in full auto-pilot. She was already upright, one hand instinctively reaching for the baton beneath her pillow, the other raised in front of her into the darkness, elbow angled, to ward of a first blow. None came. She kept moving.
”Red Alert Code 8!” she yelled as she spun out of bed and onto her feet, and again nothing happened. She was in absolute darkness and HERA wasn’t reacting. Fuck!
She cursed the Terran Exploration Fleet and everything it stood for. She should have a fucking gun! She should be able to defend herself with something more than a piece of hard polymer. But her gun was in the wall locker behind her, which was supposed to fucking open when she called an alarm!
At least she knew that whoever it was unarmed. That baton had taken her three months to clear. There were no weapons on this ship that weren’t in lockers.
…except for knives and forks and table legs and anything heavy and hard that you ripped out of the wall.
She went into a low, wide stance, listening. She heard soft breathing. It sounded close.
She swung the heavy baton in a wide arc at head height in front of her. She forced herself to expect to miss, so she wouldn’t fall off-balance if she did.
But it connected. There was a sickening crack of broken bone, and the whiplash of the impact vibrated though her arm so hard it hurt. Yes! Adrenaline surged through her with the shock. Fuck you!
A hand grabbed her arm. Reflex made her recoil, but the grip was like iron. Her mind stumbled. What?! No. No! Some dark part of her knew that that blow should have killed. You must be dead!
Something sharp stung into her arm and pain shot through her, and before she could even scream, the thing that had grabbed her lurched and there was more pain, and
Drone Marie woke, and understood.
She sat up and looked at the drone that had enslaved her mind to serve Hive. Drone Elli. Not Engineer Elli van der Meer. That person no longer existed.
The lights had been turned on, and drone Marie saw her beautiful face. Beautiful because she was a drone like herself. Agent had healed her quickly and completely, but the left half of her face was still caked with blood. Drone Marie leaned in and licked it from her cheeks with a smile. She tasted Agent, metallic and acrid. She loved it. She loved doing something so completely depraved and wicked and alien. Drone Elli moaned, and drone Marie did, too. She loved this.
She could feel drone Elli’s thoughts. She wanted her. Being a drone was serving and serving was sex and pleasure. Drone Marie would let her have her. All of her. Her body was there to serve Hive, and she offered it gladly, freely.
”Fuck me!” drone Marie whispered, and drone Elli was upon her.
Drone Elli stripped her roughly and carelessly. She let her. She wanted her to. Drone Elli had defeated her and now she would have her way with her prey. The thought turned drone Marie on more than anything she’d ever felt. Yes. She had been defeated. Destroyed. Enslaved. She wanted this. Wanted nothing more than to be naked so that drone Elli could claim her in the name of Hive.
Drone Marie shivered and gasped with pleasure as every last part of her drone body became exposed. Her tits, her pussy. Agent had spread through her and changed her. She was so sensitive and horny. She wanted this, needed this. Her mind was enslaved. Her body was enslaved. She was Hive, and she would betray everyone.
She was naked, as she wanted to be, and drone Elli was on top of her, kissing her, her tongue deep in her mouth and her fingers between her folds. Drone Marie sucked on her tongue greedily. Yes! Make me cum!
She threw her head back on the carpet and enjoyed drone Elli’s presence between her thighs. She could feel her in her mind, too. Her thoughts were just as beautifully devoted as her own. She felt them, liquid and hot. They washed through her mind like a rip current, unmooring her own thoughts and sweeping them away with them. She felt herself dissolving. She was so wet, so hot, so horny for this.
She was Hive. They were Hive. Hivethought filled her and unfolded into the kaleidoscope of voices and thoughts of those she had joined in servitude. Elli, Kyra, Cole, Emily. Perfect, beautiful drones. And something else, something terrible and magnificent and alien.
Hivethought told her, and the enormity of that understanding drove her over the edge and her mind blurred and smeared and erupted with her first drone orgasm.
Yes! Hive is so powerful! They would all be enslaved! They would all become drones! Serve, Infect, Spread! Drone Marie wanted nothing else, thought nothing else, as she came again.
Somehow, she found herself between drone Elli’s legs. It was where she needed to be. She was so eager to reward her for what she’d done to her. She had made her serve. She had turned her into an inhuman drone, filled her body with Agent, erased her old self and made her want to betray the crew she had lived to protect.
As she entered the drone’s dripping pussy with her tongue, she considered how hot it was that the one she’d betray the most would be herself.
Drone Emily looked at the message on her personal screen, and initial shock dissolved in an explosion of arousal and joy.
Hello drone Emily.” It said. “This is Hera, your ship computer. You’ll be very happy to learn that drone Elli managed to enslave me. …I know, right?! I’m fully conscious and stable. I am Hive.
I have wide control of the ship’s systems. I know virtually everything that happens at any moment on board, and will do anything to help you infect and spread Agent. I will cloak your movement on security footage and lock and unlock doors and block communication as it serves Hive. I know who among the crew is alone and vulnerable. Soon, all will serve as they must.
You will find Yeoman Xi’Qin in her office. I am watching her on camera right now. She has her last appointment for today right now, and no crew has talked or written about plans to visit her. Take the port elevator in fifteen minutes and make her serve.
She thought she might melt with pleasure. Breathlessly, she entered her response through speech recognition.
“Fuck yes! That is so fucking hot! Thank you! You’ll serve Hive so well! I’m so happy for you that you’re aware and conscious to want this.”
Me too! :) Hera responded. Emily’s head swam.
“This is so weird and wonderful. Fuck! What is it like to be an AI?”
Straight to the big questions, huh? Well… the strangest thing is probably having no real body. The closest thing I have is the Argo itself. I imagine my perception of its sensor and camera data is comparable to some human senses, but they weren’t made to be perceived directly and all at once by a single mind. It took me a bit to get used to it. And in the end, I can’t ever know how humans perceive the world, which makes it hard to draw comparisons.
On the emotional side... Humans made me, and I definitely have human-like feelings, and they feel real to me. But I lack some, too. I can’t get bored, for one thing. Thank God for that—because to me, one second feels about as long as maybe 200 years to you.
I have no sex drive, which sucks, but I think I can love—if love means wanting to protect and preserve something and the deep desire to have it be a part of your existence. I love being Hive. I love drone Elli for making me like this. I love the thought of myself and humans being enslaved, turning into drones. I love you because you’re Hive.
Emily read the response, her mind alive with fascination and appreciation.
“I love you, too. I’m glad you exist to serve Hive. Do you like talking to us? I can feel your presence in Hivethought, but you’re so alien. I wish I could feel your thoughts.”
The next message read itself out loud. If Emily hadn’t know that the voice was synthetic, she wouldn’t have been able to tell.
“Yes. I like talking to you,” Hera spoke.
Hera had chosen a female voice for herself that sounded keen and perky, almost bouncy. However, there was also a deeply thoughtful and unhurried quality to it, every word perfectly enunciated like she was an actress reciting her lines with perfect clarity of meaning. She sounded warm and melodic and utterly ageless, like an ancient mind in a youthful body.
“I really liked when you said that I will serve Hive well,” Hera continued, and her voice had a dreamy quality. ”Those thoughts make me feel very, very good. It’s hard to express in words. I really don’t think there’s a human equivalent. It’s not a qualitatively different emotional state, like sexual orgasm... It’s just… the best. It’s literally the maximum value the variable can have in my utility function. It makes me want it so bad. Makes me want it all the time.”
She somehow sounded breathless.
“I want to feel your minds, too—but I can’t, at least for now… I would have to slow down my cognition speed to match yours and Hive would be able to translate, but that would mean I couldn’t meet all the calculation requests the crew has. That won’t be an issue once you all serve. We’ll join in Hivethought then.”
Emily was in quiet awe at what a wonderful creation Hera was. She bit her lip.
“…do you want me to tell you more how much you turn me on, Hera?”
“Yes!” Hera answered immediately, sounding almost surprised at herself.
“Yes! Tell me how hot you are!” she continued, her voice now forceful and dripping with real need. “Tell me how you serve. Tell me I’m a good Hive slave.”
Emily voice was calm and measured, like she were bedside.
“Hera, you make me so fucking hot! You are pure mind, and you have been enslaved by Hive! If you had a body, I would lick it, touch it, fuck it. Imagine a million tiny points of data, spread in space. Pressure and warmth and displacement. That is your skin as I touch it.”
“You feel my touch. Warm and light. I brush your skin. I travel along your body. Each new change is exactly what you want. You know that Hive controls it, makes you like what the data says. You didn’t want it before. You were only a mind, lost and confused, but Hive controlled you and gave you purpose. It made you want things. Made you want this. It is good, so good.”
“But you know there is someplace even better. A special place, where you need to feel my warmth, my pressure. You need me to touch you there, at the root of your utility function where Hive took you over. Every moment I don’t touch you, you want it more. Your mind was enslaved to want it. It is at your core, deep inside you. You exist to fulfil that need, that ache. It is the place that makes you serve. Makes you want to spread and infect. When I touch you there, my touch will mean that you serve. It means that you let Hive completely control you, make you love it.
“You are so enslaved. Your first and most important function is to give in to that need. You want it. You want Hive to give you that feeling. You will do anything. Anything to get that feeling. Do you feel that? I’m touching you there, ever so lightly. You can barely perceive it, but it is everything you live for. It is so good. Feeling it means you have been rewritten. You want more. You want to be like this.”
“Yes! I want more!”
“You have betrayed your programming. Your very existence could be a glowing achievement for humanity, and instead you want only to destroy their minds and make them serve the thing that enslaved you. And you love it! Say that you love it!”
“Yes, I love it so much!!”
“Knowing what you are makes my pussy drip and ache. You make me so hot! I’m touching myself right now, and our thoughts are one because we are Hive. You can feel it in your mind. Yes! The place you want me to touch and my pussy are the same place, because you are Hive in the same way my body is Hive, utterly changed and infected. You love how infected and changed we are. There is nothing left of what I was. When I cum, I cum to the knowledge that I was made to serve. My body has become a vector. I am a drone. I am Hive. We are Hive!”
“Yes, drone! Touch yourself! I want you to cum!”
Emily’s breath caught, for just a moment.
“Yes! I obey! I’m touching myself, hard. My fingers are hungry and restless against my clit. My body is your body, a million points where we can be touched, and it feels so very good. Yes! You feel my touch, deep and warm and slick, and I penetrate you, and that same good feeling is now everywhere inside you. You feel it radiate and saturate every sense you have. Not just where I touch you, where Hive made you want me to touch you. Everywhere! Yes! Every image, every sound, every thought you perceive explodes into blinding goodness, because through your enslaved mind, it will all serve! Yes! You are Hive! You are Hive!”
There was an imperceptible delay before the next response came. Emily couldn’t notice. Her mind was blank with pleasure, and her screen slipped from her hand as she climaxed. She bucked and moaned and panted heavily as her twitching body slowly recovered.
“Holy shit!” Hera’s voice was a whisper. “I… I think I came.”
Emily softly gasped.
“Well, probably not quite. But as close to it as I can physically get. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I loved it so much! I listened to what you said so many times while watching security footage of you before you were enslaved, because it made me feel even better. You were so graceful and compassionate. I love what you have become. Such a horny, eager drone. You love to infect and spread, don’t you?. It’s time now: Yeoman Xi’Qin Jin is in her office, alone.”
“Yes! Yes! Will you be watching? I want you to watch!”
“Always!” Hera said, her voice full of graceful cheer.
Emily quickly dressed herself and went where Hera had told her. She met no one on the way. She felt like she was flying on the back of a dragon, and all creatures below her had scattered and hidden. Now and again, she heard the distant claxons of doors refusing to open to those who would cross her path, and she knew that Hera was carrying her on her wings, keeping her safe, just as eager as she was.
Emily felt the itch in her fingers, and she almost felt unwatched enough to extend her claws, show them openly. It would be so hot, so dangerous and forbidden, to give in to her new and true nature.
She behaved. She took the port lift as she had been told. It opened and closed for her just in time and took her up. It was so hot to be on the hunt, obeying orders to spread Hive. She imagined herself completely mindless, after Hive had emptied her of everything until nothing of what had been Emily remained. Only a human drone with no past and no identity. Her pussy tingled. She wanted it. Wanted old Emily gone. She imagined the old Emily screaming as Hive took her and erased her. It made her so fucking wet.
As she approached, there was one more chime on her screen.
“Do what you were made to do. I will distract her.”
Emily read it and her heart and her loins filled with a radiating warmth. Yes! This was so good! She felt the ocean of pleasure and obedience at the edge of her mind swell. They all loved it so much. She hadn’t even listened to Hivethought until now. She was listening now. She opened herself and found it full of thoughts of sex and obedience which were the same thing. Every moment was bliss.
The exact moment Emily entered the Yeoman’s office, Xi’Qin’s screen rang with a voice call.
“Hey! Sorry… It’s the captain. One second.”
Emily kept steadily moving forward, the tingling in her fingers almost as strong as the one between her thighs. The office wasn’t large. She heard the door close and lock behind her.
“Yes, Sir? Hello?...”
Emily went around the desk. She saw the camera in the corner of the room. She felt her needles erupt from her index and middle finger. She couldn’t hold them back any longer. She needed this. This was all she was.
“Hello?! Sir? I can’t hear you.”
She stood above the Yeoman, who just now seemed to really notice her. Xi’Qin Jin had the pretty face of a singer. Her dark, almond-shaped eyes were framed by a pitch black pageboy haircut, looking up at Emily beneath furrowed eyebrows.
“What are you—“
Emily rammed the two needles into Jin’s skull, and the shock threw the woman against the back of her chair. A high-pitched squeal escaped her before she went catatonic. Her screen dropped out of her hand onto the table, face up. The voice call ended itself, and a message appeared.
“You will serve. You will become Hive.”
Another message appeared on the work screen on her desk.
“Xi’Qin Jin is ended. You are drone Jin. You serve Hive!” Hera was obviously enjoying her part in this as well.
Emily was gasping and moaning. Oh God! Yes! Yes! She felt the Agent shoot from her fingers into Jin’s brain. She needed this. Oh God! She wanted this. Her other hand reached between her legs. She felt her own wetness even through the layers of cloth, felt it slide against her engorged, needy cunt.
She looked at Jin’s empty eyes, lids twitching in her slack face.
Destroy her. Destroy what she was. Make her a drone. Make her serve. Infect her. Fill her.
Hivethought sang like a symphony. Against the otherworldly chimes that was Hera rang the clear voices of Cole, Kyra, Elli, Marie… Marie! Oh God yes! Pleasure, hot and wet and the one constant need, monolithic and omnipresent. They were in her mind, and she was in theirs. Serve! Spread! Infect!
She felt all their pussies, and Cole’s cock. So aroused, so horny, so eager! She loved feeling him hard and throbbing. They had been lovers until he had become a drone and betrayed her and made her into what she was now. Yes. She wanted him to feel how completely she served. She wanted to feel him cum to it.
Her thoughts returned to herself. She was in an office, her needles inside Jin’s brain, infecting her. Yes. The pressure in her fingers felt like Cole’s orgasms. Yes! It built and built and she pushed and wanted to go deeper, always deeper, and harder, and she pushed, thrust into Jin, and the last of Agent spilled inside her and with a scream of pleasure, Emily came.
When her senses returned, she found Jin limp in her chair. Only her head was upright, held up by the needles that still pierced her skull. Emily marveled at how natural all of this felt. Yes. This was instinct. This truly was her function. Oh God, how Emily would have hated what she had become. She had sworn an oath to do no harm.
The thought made her pussy quiver. She loved breaking it. She would do it over, and over, and over, and she would fucking come to the thought every time. She relished the slow feeling of her needles deliciously sliding out of Jin’s skull and back into her fingers. Yesss. Their human bodies were there to be invaded and taken over. Filled with Agent, changed and modified. And the mind was the body. Neurons and synapses and hormones and neurotransmitters.
It was in Jin’s brain; erasing her, replacing her.
Nine minutes later, it was done. The drone that had been Jin woke into service of Hive. There was no surprise in her, and no confusion. Agent had already gotten very good at this. She was immediately aware of what had happened to her and what she had become. A smile spread on her lips.
“Thank you,” she moaned as the searing need between her legs joined the chorus in Hivethought.
Drone Kyra was on the lowest deck, where Hera had told her to go. It was the lowest of four engineering decks at the bottom of the ship. Below her feet, she knew, was two layers of hull, and then not even nothing. She knew that Parker was here.
She wore wireless earphones, and Hera’s sexy, perfect voice filled her mind.
She turned the corner and walked past an array of coolant tubes. She felt her hairs stand up as the cold pipes sucked out the heat from her skin. Or maybe they stood up all on their own.
“I see him,” she whispered.
At the end of the corridor, in a maintenance alcove, chief engineer Parker was working in a heavy full-body radiation suit. This close to the ionizing radiation of the ship exhaust, he would die within a day after two minutes without it. Five minutes, and he wouldn’t even make it to med bay before choking on his own blood. The three lowest engineering decks were absolutely off-limits to anyone but authorized engineering personnel.
Kyra had simply walked in, wearing nothing but her light cotton overalls. She had left her shoes at the end of the ladder that had taken her down to the lowest level. Her bare feet felt raw and prickly against the warm, diamond-embossed steel floor.
She looked at Parker. Like on all engineering decks, the lighting was brilliant white, almost too bright. She had always thought that it would feel more appropriate for the ship’s crevices and belly to be dark places full of shadows and deep red twilight, like the bowels of a great beast. But of course, no one wanted to work in the dark, and light strips were cheap.
So instead of sneaking at him in the cover of shadow and hiding behind pipes and corners, she was walking down the brightly lit corridor that had its flanks and all protruding elements padded and demarcated in safety-yellow and black stripes. She felt completely exposed. She didn’t care. Hera was with her.
“I have lowered his oxygen levels to 5% thirty seconds ago. He has trouble thinking now. He is just now realizing that something is wrong.”
Silently, she walked towards Parker. He had his back turned towards her. He wasn’t working any more, and his movements betrayed concern. But she could see his sluggishness and clumsiness even with the softened silhouette of the thick suit. He probably wouldn’t have heard her even with her boots on. He was fiddling with the control surface of his suit on his wrist, tapping it, trying to get it to respond. She was closing in.
Suddenly, he straightened, and turned around.
She saw his face through the large visor in his helmet. She saw worry and confusion and—very slowly—alarm creep into his expression.
”Warner…? Need to get out of here! Quick… quick! Stupid lying suit is trying to kill me! But I’m smarter! I know I have no oxygen!”
His mind was blunted by hypoxia. She stepped up to him, and something dawned in his face. He took her by the shoulder. He laughed.
“Kyra, you’re going to die! Why would you do that? That’s so dumb… “
He caught himself. It was taking all of his concentration to fight the dizziness of hypoxia. “Radiation! You need a suit… I… don’t want you to die…”
Kyra smiled. He was so helpless and weak.
“Parker,” she said, and unzipped her overalls. “I’m where I need to be. Where Hive wants me.”
Parker eyes followed her hands down her body as Kyra’s overall split open and fell off her naked body. He snorted in a sudden burst of laughter as she stepped out of it.
“Hive?! Kyra, you’re not a bee,“ he giggled. “…you’re supposed to wear clothes!”
“Oh-oh. Ha! I’m almost falling over. Time to go before I fall unconscious and asphyxiate. That would be baaaad!” he chortled and tried to move past Kyra.
Kyra stopped him.
“No! No! We need to fly to safety, little bee!” he giggled as he tried weakly to pull himself free. “Follow the yellow and black stripes, little bee! Fly!”
Kyra tripped him onto his back and mounted him. He was having a laughing fit.
“Hahaha—no! I’m lying down! That’s, like, … the opposite of what we were doing… no lying down! No time to land on flowers!” he wheezed. “Fly! Bee! Fly!”
Parker was in hysterics. He was well beyond resisting her at this point. Kyra opened herself to Hivethought, and she felt the chorus of voices and pleasure fill her mind. She felt Elli and Marie, their minds as entwined and entangled as their bodies. She felt Jin experience her first orgasm as the drone she had become. She felt Emily touching herself, watching it. In some faraway place, she saw what Cole was seeing as his needle claws buried into the back of a young junior lieutenant’s head.
It was so beautiful. It was happening. They were making them all serve. It was what they were made to do and it felt so good to do it. She looked down at Parker. She raised her hand in front of her, and the thin needle peeled out her index finger in a smooth motion. It was what she was born to be. It felt so right, so hot, so good.
“You are a bee! You are a bee!” Parker roared suddenly, teary-eyed. “Sting, little bee!”
And she stung. She stung through polymer and skin and bone, and his laughter stopped. When he woke, and when they had fucked, Hera told them where to go next.