Jolyne has lost part of herself in the latest war with the Dex, literally. She must adapt to her new status as a cyber-human, half her body made of electromechanical prosthetics. When a blue-skinned Traakyn female shows her some attention, can Jolyne accept the very human sensations that her cyber-body is feeling?
By Sandra Barret
Disclaimer: This is an original work of fiction. All characters, worldbuilding, and story belong to the author.
Feedback: Constructive comments and criticism welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org and many thanks for reading.
"Okay, your movement looks good. Let's try a sensitivity test."
Jolyne stared at the bland light yellow walls of her medicell on Cyntar-3 and waited for the overly cheery nursing drone to continue. Why did they have to program these drones with the voice patterns of some perky young woman who was probably long since dead? The happy young voice was in stark contrast to the gleaming metal drone sporting seven independent maneuvering arms, each ending in some unpleasant form of medical torture, varying from needles to temperature gauges, heart, and brainwave monitors. As far as Jolyne was concerned, the worst arm ended in a humanoid synth-hand that was used for programmed comforting actions during particularly emotional medical procedures. Like having your new cyber body parts run under a set of prescribed drills and tests to prove it acted the same as a real arm or leg.
Or in Jolyne's case - one right arm, half her upper body, including one hydromechanical lung and a left foot. The left foot urked her more than anything else. Bad enough that major portions of her upper torso had been torched beyond recognition in a doomed recon mission, but to randomly lose a foot because the field med tech was a drunken bastard? That pushed her limited patience over the edge.
Against her better wishes, she felt the electronic stimulations run across the pale gold temporary "skin" that covered her new cyber arm. Her gaze was drawn to the arm, her mind trying to make sense of the feeling of something like fur brushing her arm when nothing was there but the wireless electrodes that connected her chip implants to the nurse drone's test panel.
"How's that?" asked the pathetically perky drone.
"I can feel it," said Jolyne, forcing herself to look away. She hated the arm. It hung from the cyber torso section that wrapped around her new lung, gleaming gold in the florescent light. Until she adapted to the new cybernetics, mind and body, she would not get a permanent humanoid skin cover for the arm and chest section. She would stay a blatant freak for at least the next six Earth-central weeks.
"Excellent," cheered the drone.
Jolyne considered snapping off her cyber arm and beating the drone with it to silence the chipper voice, but she thought better of it. She'd already spent an extra month with a psych drone for threatening to dismember the idiot who'd cost her the left foot. The memory of that monotone voice and constant questioning was enough to keep her in line today.
"Can I leave now?" she asked.
"Eager to get out and about with your new body, Miss Jolyne?" The drone swirled three of its arms at once. In a whir of mechanical motion, it shifted the electrodes to Jolyne's chest plate and recreated the sensitivity testing. When Jolyne felt the sensation of a feather stroking what would have been her right breast, she couldn't stop the flush that rose to her cheeks.
"Okay, I feel it, I feel it."
Jolyne wondered what sick dweeb programmed the nurse drones with that particular test pattern. She looked around to see if her reactions were being recorded. If she found her sensitivity test results floating around some online cyber-sex chat room, she would have to kill somebody.
After running a couple more rather intrusive tests, including proving that Jolyne was ticklish in her new left foot, the drone cleared her to leave the medicell and return to normal civ activities. Not that Jolyne had much to return to. She did not want to go back to her quarters. Its stark emptiness would be a constant reminder of what else she'd lost.
The memory still haunted her. After nearly a month in intensive care after the explosion, her human body, or what was left of it, had stabilized enough to be moved to the cyber implant division. She waited three days in her medicell before the procedure would start. Three days, she waited for her girlfriend, Sara, to visit. A day after the cyber implant process started, Jolyne had received the vid-mail from Sara. Her girlfriend, ex-girlfriend now, couldn't handle the complex mesh of flesh and metal that Jolyne would shortly become. Before Jolyne got off life sustaining equipment, Sara had packed up her belongings and vacated their shared quarters.
Jolyne had nothing to go home to. Rather than belabor the point, she chose to move her quarters from the active duty wing of the Deep Space Marine Division to the inter-galaxy temporary housing residence. Once she was cleared by the cyber medical group and received her permanent synth-skin, she'd be shipped off-planet anyway. Forced retirement with a cushy financial package, medals of honor, and squat to do with herself as an Earth civilian.
After a few days in her new residence, Jolyne realized the temporary housing was used for putting up the various alien dignitaries that visited the military outpost on Cyntar-3. After her third time sliding in the slime trail left by the tentacles of the Verentik marine ambassador, Jolyne learned to avoid most of the places frequented by off-worlders. Not that the humans were any better. One glint of light reflecting off her temporary cyber-skin and courteous humans turned away. Jolyne became invisible to her own kind.
After a month, she fell into a comfortable, if drear pattern. She took most of her meals in her quarters and spent the mornings forcing herself to exercise. Then she soaked strained muscles in the communal hot tub and spent the evenings nursing her self-pity in a few glasses of neon-green Xorti liquor. No one spoke to her beyond civil greetings, and she didn't solicit any more contact with her fellow residents than necessary.
So when a deep voice with a pleasant, musical lilt caught her attention as she sat in the steaming hot tub, it took the owner of that voice multiple attempts before Jolyne realized she was the recipient of someone's attention.
"Sorry," she said, turning to look up at the source of the voice.
Well-toned blue legs led up to a scantily clad, curvaceous body, culminating in a narrow, light blue face topped with stark white, straight hair. Jolyne stared, longer than courtesy allowed, mesmerized equally by what was covered and what was not. By the time she snapped out of her delicious fantasy, the exotic woman's curious expression was marred by a slight frown.
Jolyne unglued her eyes and focused on a panel of the wall behind the blue woman. "Um, sorry. What did you ask?"
"I asked if you would like company."
"Sure." Jolyne slid to the opposite side of the round hot tub, keeping her cyber parts submerged in the water.
The woman sank into the steaming tub. "I am Reshan."
Jolyne instinctively accepted the outstretched hand, clasping it in her cyber-hand. The glint of gold against blue flesh embarrassed her, and she retracted her hand below the water again.
"Jolyne," she said as her mood turned sour. She had no idea what planetary race produced beautiful blue women and she doubted she'd find out. All she wanted was to figure out a way to slink out of the hot tub without exposing how much of her was dead, metallic extensions. She'd covered much of her upper torso with a tight short sleeve swim top, but more than enough of the glowing gold temporary flesh extended beyond the edges of her top. And of course the damned left foot.
"You avoid other humans," said Reshan.
"What? No." Had this blue alien been watching her? Jolyne felt an icy stab of anger at the thought that even the off-worlders saw her as some half-human freak.
"I did not mean to offend," Reshan continued as she lifted a lithe arm out of the water to rest on the cool white tiles that surrounded the edge of the hot tub.
Jolyne grunted her acknowledgement. She did not want to have this conversation. "So, what are you?" she asked, her own words sounding coarse compared to the other woman's musical voice.
Rather than appear offended, Reshan smiled, tilting her head toward Jolyne. "I am a Traakyn female. I imagine you don't see many of my kind in the Cyntar system."
Jolyne tried in vain to mask her shock. Not that it would matter. Traakyns were one of the top psychic races in the quadrant. She was an open book to this woman. Not a comforting thought, but she chose to cover her emotions with constant chatter.
"So why are you here on Cyntar-3?" she asked.
"My partner is negotiating a deal with the mining guild from Veti."
She felt a twinge of disappointment when Reshan mentioned her partner.
"No, not that kind of partner." Reshan's blue-black eyes sparkled. "He is a business associate."
Jolyne gave up any attempt to hide her raw emotions. "Can you read all my thoughts?"
Reshan shrugged. "It varies from person to person, or race to race. Humans are not usually so easy to read."
Jolyne leaned her head back against the tiles, staring up through the steam to the ceiling. "No wonder there are so few of your kind around."
"Many races avoid us," Reshan said. Her voice held a note of sad resignation.
Jolyne tilted her head until she could see the other woman again. Reshan's eyes seemed bluer now. "So you are an inter-galactic outcast."
"Of a kind," said Reshan. "It is one of the reasons most of us never leave our home world."
"At least your own kind accepts you."
Reshan folded her legs under her, exposing her blue shoulders and upper chest. Water lapped at the curve of her breasts where it met the thin material that covered Reshan's volumptuous chest. When Jolyne's eyes managed to return to Reshan's face, she felt her own cheeks redden at the thought that the Traakyn likely sensed her arousal. Reshan repositioned herself so that Jolyne got a full view of her barely covered chest. Jolyne gulped.
"Humans have a particular distrust for those who differ, even if it is by accident or birth," said Reshan as she splashed water over her shoulders.
Her words barely registered to Jolyne. She felt her own heat rising as she watched the Traakyn. When the other woman trailed long, delicate fingers down her blue neck and traced the outline of her top, Jolyne felt her nipples harden.
The shock of that sensation, coming from the cyber half of her torso, slammed Jolyne back to an embarrassing awareness of her hybrid body. She stood abruptly in the tub, letting the hot water stream off her body before she stepped onto the cool tiles.
"I should go," she muttered.
Reshan stood as well, intertwining her blue fingers with Jolyne's. "You need not be embarrassed by what your body feels."
Jolyne stared into eyes deepening into midnight blue. She tried to fight her feelings, but did not let go of Reshan's hand. "It's not my body. It's some cyber chip hooked up with electrodes and programmed to react."
Reshan chuckled. "And how does that differ from my reactions." She stepped out of the tub and stood so close to Jolyne that the steam rising from their bodies swirled around each of them. "My mind senses your thoughts. I smell your unique scent, and my body reacts. Biological programming or chip implants. Are we that much different?"
Reshan traced her fingers along Jolyne's human arm and then down along her cyber arm. Jolyne closed her eyes, overcome by the sensual pleasure of Reshan's touch. If she kept her eyes shut, she could almost forget that part of what she felt came from some nerd's programming skills.
"I'm sorry," she said. "This is too much, too fast."
Reshan took a polite step backward, breaking the tension between them. "Perhaps we can meet again, under less revealing conditions?"
A smile lifted the edges of Reshan's thin lips and Jolyne found herself returning the smile. "Yes, I'd like that."
"So where are we going?" Jolyne asked.
Not the politest form of greeting for her new friend, but Jolyne's communication skills were not good at the best of times. She'd spent too long staring at herself in the holo-reflection, trying on and then rejecting multiple outfits until she'd settled on a white pullover top trimmed in silver. The long sleeves covered most of her gold cyber-skin. If she stuffed her hand in her pocket, she could pass for normal.
She kept her hands loose at her side. Normal wasn't on the agenda today. Besides, after three weeks together, the telepath would only tease her about her not-so-hidden feelings anyway.
"Dinner at the Verentik Embassy," said Reshan as she looped her thin arm around Jolyne's and led the way to a hover-taxi. It felt somewhat possessive, not that Jolyne minded as the other woman's intoxicating scent wrapped itself around her. No, she didn't mind at all. But she did mind what was on the menu.
"Verentik? You mean the slimy, tentacle people? Do they actually eat anything fit for human consumption?"
Reshan laughed. "You would be amazed what humans can eat if they can get over their own xenophobia. You are so isolationist by nature."
Jolyne shrugged the old argument off. "Isolationism kept us out of trouble for most of this millennium. Not much wrong with that."
The hover-taxi whipped around the alien section of Cyntar-3 with nerve-racking speed. At one particularly tight corner, the driver slid up the pedestrian way and angled to glide along the façade of a building. Reshan gave a teasing nibble on Jolyne's ear when she fell into the Traakyn's lap. Jolyne straightened herself, smoothing out the sleeves of her top. The taxi screamed to a halt, while the driver babbled at Reshan in another language. When the doors flew open, Jolyne took the hint and stepped outside.
The front of the Verentik Embassy was awash in slimy wetness. Not the trails left behind by the embassy's occupants, but a deliberately maintained block of slippery goo that formed the welcome mat to embassy personnel. Jolyne looked down at her thin cotton shoes, bidding them a fond farewell.
"Don't worry," Reshan teased. "Visitors enter around the side."
"I guess it's too much to ask that the food is also slime-free," Jolyne muttered as Reshan led them to the visitor doorway.
The inside of the embassy reminded her of the aquarium she'd had as a child. Something about the tangy, ripe fish scent. Her stomach did flip-flops in protest, but she forced herself to think of pleasant thoughts. With some effort, she could keep Reshan from sensing all her thoughts.
"Your stomach will be fine once we start eating," said Reshan.
So much for her ability to block thoughts. Reshan greeted a black, glittering creature with bulbous eyes that nodded incessantly. Must be the maitre-de. Once inside the restaurant, Jolyne's stomach did settle. The odor of old fish was replaced with the scent of spiced delicacies. Reshan spoke to the waiter that looked nearly-human, at least in the sense that he (she? it?) was bipedal. A moment later, a series of small dishes were placed before them, each containing two or three food items wrapped in wet leaves.
"Looks like sushi," said Jolyne, poking one of the dishes with a fork that the waiter had surreptitiously given her.
"Similar in preparation, yes. Try it." Reshan didn't wait for Jolyne, but took up one of the small dishes and slid its contents into her mouth. Jolyne had ceased to wonder at her friend's ravenous appetite. By the time Jolyne ate her fill with three dishes, Reshan had devoured ten plates and a goblet of Verentik sea-wine.
Having drunk her own fair share of wine, Jolyne gave no argument when Reshan brought them back to the residence, and then steered them up to her own apartment. Jolyne felt her embarrassment return when Reshan pulled her to the wide, submerged sofa and began tracing a line of delicate kisses along Jolyne's neck.
"I'm not sure…" she began.
Reshan held a blue finger to Jolyne's lips. "I am."
"Maybe we can turn the lights off?" Jolyne asked.
"And you'll forget that your arm and chest are synthetic just because you will not be distracted by the amber glow?"
Sometimes, being an open book to a telepath went beyond aggravating.
"I should go." Jolyne shifted as if to stand, but Reshan held her back.
"No. Not this time, my dear. You are ready for more."
"How do you know?" Jolyne heard the petulance in her own voice.
Reshan pressed her lips against Jolyne's, smothering any further discussion. She sank back into the massive cream-colored sofa, pulling Jolyne on top of her. Jolyne buried her head in the soft pile of Reshan's white hair, breathing in the other woman's scent. She felt the rising pull of her desire as Reshan traced long fingers along both of her arms at once.
For a moment, Jolyne focused on the matching sensation, aware that one arm translated the feelings naturally and the other electronically. But only for a moment. When she felt Reshan shift beneath her, spreading long legs wide, Jolyne's mind had better things to focus on.
She slid her hands under the loose gown that Reshan wore, feeling the soft skin of the other woman's inner thighs. She wanted to push further, to cup the other woman's heat, but Reshan rolled to the side and sat up. Jolyne followed.
Blue fingers stroked along the front of Jolyne's white top. She moaned as deft hands cupped both breasts and pinched her hardened nipples. Those hands moved along her tight stomach and slid under the loose material. In one move, Reshan pulled Jolyne's top off, exposing her two-toned chest and unmatched arms. Jolyne fought back her embarrassment, but Reshan didn't pause in her foreplay.
She closed her eyes and leaned back as Reshan unsnapped her trousers and tugged them off. A moment later, Jolyne opened her eyes when she felt warm flesh pressed against her body. Reshan lay across her, sliding her naked body against Jolyne, her full breasts teasing Jolyne's as they moved against each other.
Reshan licked and teased one nipple, and then repeated the act on the other. The Traakyn moved from one half of Jolyne's body to the other until Jolyne forgot there was any difference between her left half and right half. All of her tingled with passion and anticipation.
Reshan traced a row of wet kisses down the pink line that formed the join between flesh and cyber-flesh. Then with a gentle nudge, she spread Jolyne's legs and dropped her head lower. White soft hair caressed Joyne's thighs but she had less than a moment to notice before she felt Reshan's tongue teasing her.
She shut her eyes, clutching the fabric of the sofa around her. Unimaginably, she felt Reshan's tongue simultaneously inside her and stroking her outer folds. She screamed as the first orgasm ripped through her. Reshan continued her actions through the second and third orgasm.
Jolyne's legs were trembling as she pulled Reshan up to her to prevent the woman trying for a forth orgasm. Reshan curled against her side while Jolyne caught her breath.
"How did you do that?" Jolyne asked when some semblance of speech returned to her.
Reshan smiled, her dark eyes nearly black with unbridled passion. She slipped her tongue out between white teeth, and Jolyne saw two independent sections of the other woman's tongue move as if licking the air.
"A bifurcated tongue." What would have seemed an oddity to her earlier in the night, filled Jolyne with renewed arousal. "Alien differences can be very useful."
"Very," Reshan agreed.
Jolyne rolled on top of Reshan. "I may not have the same set of natural advantages as you have, but I make up for it in skill."
Reshan's lips curved in a smile as Jolyne traced the fingers of her right hand down the other woman's body. Gold contrasted with blue flesh, but Jolyne didn't care. She was naturally right-handed…
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