Ad Astra Chapter 2: Under New Management

22Jan12

naked girl by moonlight

Our story started here.

Darius finished putting the last swats of Jen’s spanking across her bared bottom as his sensors suggested that an optimum punishment had been given. This despite calls from the informal audience who had gathered at the quay, who were demanding the spanking to continue. They were still laughing openly and mocking the bawling Jen. By then though Jen’s bottom was an even purple-red all over and the diligent MPSD adjudged that the spanking was over.

“Please Darius, please, let me go…” Jen wailed bitterly.

“The use of Phase is most unwise,” Darius said evenly. He lacked the correct tone for a true scolding, although his words accused her with the truth. Phase was so-called because the user tended to blank out for a few seconds as the drug took hold and again as it wore off. This gave the user the effect of being ‘teleported’ around. In between these episodes the user felt invincible with unlimited confidence. However, over time the length of the black-outs lengthened and the periods of euphoria shortened until they were supplanted altogether and the user was left in a permanent catatonic state.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” Jen sobbed, “please Darius.”

Darius’s orders called for him to keep Jen bare-bottomed on the quay after the spanking was over. However, they had not specified how long for, so he was free to interpret. Releasing the girl, he watched as she made a dash for the open cargo bay doors. So eager was she to be free of her unwanted audience, she didn’t even wait to pull up her overalls, which flapped around her knees as she tugged at them at a run. It took her almost seven seconds to get on board. Seven seconds that satisfied Darius’s orders. Although he resolved that if she ever dabbled with dangerous drugs again he would make a less-favourable interpretation of his instructions.

“Poor Jen, I bet she won’t sit down this voyage,” someone called out to general laughter.

The freighter families were a rough lot, as were the docking crews. Such sights were not unheard of and though the shame of the incident would burn in Jen’s mind long after it faded from her bottom, by the time she returned from the next cargo run, the incident would be all but forgotten by those gathered.

Darius remembered such an incident that had involved Lidia many years before. None but he remembered it now. None but Lidia, he suspected; one more reason for her to hate the family’s way of life.

As the crowd dispersed Darius saw two figures picking their way through the boxes on the quay; one man and a girl, both in miscellaneous military garb, a cyborg and a ‘natural’ female.

“Darius to Captain Hanson,” he signalled to Dale. “I think the new captain has arrived.”

*

On hearing of Captain Dane’s arrival Lidia made her excuses and left. She had quite enough of being berated by her little sister and she certainly didn’t want to be present at any scene between Dale and this Bradley Dane. She had not met him and had hoped to have been long gone so that she never would.

“Come on Jan,” Lidia snapped, “and put some clothes on.”

Jan scrambled from the corner and wished for once that she could join the Ad Astra and be free of her mother. “Goodbye Aunt Dale, I’m sorry for… well, I’m sorry.”

“You will be,” Lidia muttered in deep menace, which even caused Dale to throw her niece a sympathetic look.

“Goodbye Jan,” Dale said with a sigh.

As soon as Lidia was gone, Gail Lustrom emerged from the shadows and tip-toed into the common room.

“You heard that I take it?” Dale said bitterly.

“All the way from sick bay,” Gail replied. “What will you do?”

“What can I do? Technically Lidia is within her rights.”

“You could… we could… run,” Gail suggested.

“And go where?” Dale said scornfully. Then seeing the distress on Gail’s face caused by her words, she added quietly, “It’s too late anyway. Dane is already here.”

Just then the sound of a sobbing Jen could be heard; making her way up to her room no doubt. Gail raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“I had Darius spank her,” Dale explained. “I didn’t trust myself yet. The woodshed will come later.”

As a medic, Gail knew well the effects of Phase and understood. “Darius eh? She won’t be sitting down for a few days.”

“And then some,” Dale spat, still angry.

It was a few moments more before they heard footsteps in the stairwell. “He’s here,” Dale sighed.

*

Bradley Dane was as tall as a man ever got in an enhancer culture, which was all the more impressive as he was a ‘natural;’ well biologically anyway, Gail amended. If it wasn’t for his leg, scars and his red eye, he could almost described as handsome, she thought, but one look at the disdain on Dale’s face was enough to tell her that the outgoing captain had more pressing matters on her mind than the physical attributes of this cyborg.

“Ship’s in good shape, an old Melody Class with some refinements isn’t it?” Dane growled as he cast around to take in his new command.

“My great grandfather commissioned her, but it was father who put the time in,” Dale said icily.

Dane nodded and turned back to fix all his attention upon Dale. A resentful crewmate from the old regime was something he didn’t need. However, he had done his homework. Dale Hanson might have some contacts that would suit his purpose, besides he could already tell that if she walked then the crew went with her and he was eager to get going.

“I have a possible first mate already lined up, but…” Dane weighed his words carefully. “They’re not the ambitious type; I expect second mate will do them, if you wanted that job.”

Dale swallowed. It wouldn’t be the first time she had stepped aside for a man; last time it had been all the way down to second mate, but she had been younger then.

“You the doc?” Dane threw out at Gail.

Gail nodded, not wanting to talk to the man until she knew how Dale wanted to play it.

“Cadet Win here can handle herself,” he said nodding at the young tomboy at his elbow, “and with another officer, well we should be able to make a good fist of it; if you all want in that is.” Dane waited for a response.

“I guess I don’t have much choice… captain,” Dale said extending her hand. Dane grunted and gave the proffered hand an impromptu squeeze, like one who was not used to physical contact.

“Jen… my daughter, she’s a good pilot and growing up on this ship, well General Duties come as second nature. She can also handle a loader. Gail is a good cook and can handle tracking well enough. Darius… well he is a bit long in the tooth, but he is still top line.” There was pride in Dale’s voice; pride in her ship and crew. Dane liked that.

“Tammy Win is still learning the ropes, but she can handle GD and coms,” Dane muttered. “Now I want to see the bridge and my quarters in that order.”

Tammy bristled at the suggestion that she wasn’t anything but a hardened old salt, but knew better than to contradict the captain.

Dale’s mouth became a tight line and she frowned. Then she nodded and extended an arm out towards the stairwell hatchway to point the way to the bridge.

*

Michelin Hollister, as she had long called herself, stood legs akimbo with her hands on her hips and took a long hard look at the Ad Astra. Michelin liked the look of her and she had a good feeling about the ship. But then she had a good feeling about most space craft and the prospect of any voyage into deep space; that was how she was made.

She had been made for a lot of things, some of which she wished she would rather forget. But of course she couldn’t wish that she was anything but what she was, because that was just the way it was. It was funny and she laughed whenever she thought about it.

For one thing she had cut her hair like a boy and tried to style herself as the old space-voyager that she was, but even that had made her look more feminine, like the way her boiler suit hugged her ridiculously perfect figure. She even liked that she had failed to dumb down her sex appeal even though she had put a lot of work into doing it.

When I changed my name from Honey, I should have called myself Paradox, Petra Paradox that’s it. Then she laughed again, it sounded like a porn star’s name, see if left to her own devices she could not get very far from what she was and how she was made.

When her old ‘boss’ had gone bankrupt she had picked the name Michelin Hollister at random using dice. It had been the only way to circumvent her conditioning.

Her boss had tried to sell her, but the court did not recognise her as property, even if he did. That had been a blow. It was bad enough to be separated from him, but not to be assigned another owner, well that had hurt. It was not the way she had been made.

Then she had met Bradley Dane. He had understood and had known how to handle her. With the right ‘adjustment’ she could functional happily aboard a star ship almost as easily as she could aboard the boss’s old yacht.

As Michelin crossed the quay towards the Ad Astra she drew a few whistles but it was only the GPSD loading crates that showed any sign that he knew what she was. “Are you with this ship?” She asked him. “I’m to sign on.”

“The Ad Astra, yes. What model are you? If it hadn’t been for your bio-chip I might not have noticed that you were a synthetic.” Darius had long been fascinated by other SI entities, especially those superior to himself. It gave him… something at the very edge of his pre-set mental parameters.

“I have a bio-chip?” Michelin was genuinely surprised.

“Just an ID tag, but it’s encrypted. You are unassigned.” Darius stated a simple truth.

“Oh that, yes I was emancipated by the court after being assessed 100% sentient and with a 90% emotional quotient,” Michelin said proudly. “Apart from a nanite array, I have no machine parts at all. I was grown from synthesised DNA.”

“Yet you were fully conditioned.” The presumption was presented as a fact on Darius’s part. “What is your purpose?”

“I was a pleasure servant with additional duties to assist in the running of my… employer’s yacht.” She nearly said master, but many people resented the use of the word. Not that Darius would, she guessed.

“How are you able to operate effectively if you are unable to perform your primary function?” Darius was shocked. It was a new emotion for him.

“Ship’s duties were a co-primary function with…” Michelin was blushing. She was surprised; blushing usually only ever happened with humans in certain circumstances. Whether part of her conditioning? She could never tell. “There are procedures… work arounds if you will.” Curious she thought. She was suddenly reluctant to talk. The small frisson of embarrassment was… nice. God now she was really embarrassed.

“I am sorry. It is not my place to question a person. I am after all, only a machine.” Darius said, his eye glyphs suggesting contrition.

“Ha,” Michelin spat good-naturedly. “I suspect that you are not ‘only’ anything. I hope we can be friends.”

“Yes Ma’am,” Darius shared his equivalent of a smile. His use of the honorific on account of the download he had just received. Captain Dane was now in command and Michelin Hollister had been assigned as second mate. “I believe you are expected.”

*

The two decks above the common room atrium were reserved for the officers’ quarters, sickbay and a conference room. Then above that was the bridge and captain’s office; separated by the upper stairwell and upper head.

After uneasy all round greetings, everyone but Jen and Darius had assembled on the bridge.

“Where’s your daughter?” Dane rasped as he checked data outputs scrolling down the master screen set in the arm of the captain’s chair. He wanted to be certain that all access and permissions had been transferred to him. Not that he would ever know for certain that Dale hadn’t left some back doors for later exploitation if it suited her.

“In her room I expect. We had… words earlier. Shall I…?” Dale answered trying to sound as she thought a first mate should.

“No matter, we’ll get to know each other soon enough. You’ve all met Michelin Hollister now. Mitch and I have worked together many times in the past. For those who don’t know, she’s a synth. To all intents and purposes she is a regular person and anything else means bugger all to me. But I know some have prejudices about such things, so anyone with shit like that, speak up now.” Dane fixed his eyes on Gail as he spoke, in his experience it was only doctors and priests who ever had real issues with synths and he already knew Tammy and Dale had no problem.

Gail shifted uncomfortably and pushed out her lower lip with a shrug.

“Good,” Dane growled.

“One thing though,” Gail put in, “do synths… I mean does Second Mate Hollister have any special medical requirements?” She remembered to address her comments to Michelin before she finished speaking

“I don’t get sick, but otherwise I respond to standard treatment. Although I will get better without it… in time,” Michelin smiled. “Hey and Doc, just call me Michelin.”

“No one calls me Doc. Gail’s just fine.” Gail grinned. Another grown up on board was just what the doctor ordered.

“If you ladies have quite finished,” Dane said pointedly, beating them down with his eyes.

Tammy kicked the heel of her left foot with the toe of her right boot and looked bored.

“The officers’ quarters are on the deck below this?” Dane threw out and watched Dale nod. “They’re all pretty much the same on a rig like this?” Again he waited for Dale to agree, which she did with a blink.

Dane nodded thoughtfully. “You may as well both keep yours and I’ll take the vacant suite… forward?” He said looking between Gail and Dale.

Again Dale nodded.

“But your daughter will have to relocate to the crews’ quarters with Tammy. I need her room for Mitch here.” Dane switched his attention to the ships schematics again to make sure the layout would support his orders.

“Oh I don’t mind…” Michelin began. The last thing she wanted to do was make enemies on her new ship. Besides her first instinct was always one of service.

“I don’t give a monkey’s toss what you do or don’t mind,” Dane growled. “I don’t expect brass buttons and salutes, but otherwise this outfit gets run by the book. Do ya get me? That means demarcation between officers and crew and correct attire on duty.”

“Yes Sir,” Michelin snapped to attention without irony, although Gail and Dale looked at her a little askance.

“Good enough. Dale, as first mate, you are responsible for crew discipline, but anything detrimental among the officers comes through me.” Dane stood up and his body language signalled that his pep talk was at an end.

Dale nodded. It was usual, but then she thought of Gail. “Officers Captain? Gail is only a warrant is she…?”

Dane rubbed his chin. There was something between these two he realised, should he let sleeping dogs lie or…? No damn it. It was his command. “She’s ship’s doc and effectively in the officer’s mess this trip, so I guess she answers to me. Any further questions?”

Dale shook her head. Gail wasn’t going to like that. Then she caught a glimpse of Gail’s face and thought, maybe she will.

“Four-hour watches, with officers standing each in turn. Everyone on the bridge for a shake down every afternoon watch.” Dane ordered. “Dale you have the crew, Mitch you run cargo and logistics. I trust the robot can run maintenance?”

“We call him Darius, not ‘the robot,’” Dale challenged. “And yes Sir, he can handle everything.”

Dane drilled his first mate with his eyes and looked for a moment like he might eat her. Then he said, “alright, Darius then; all one big happy family.”

*

Michelin didn’t have many belongings and was able to lug all her gear down to the officer’s deck in the one bag. As Jen hadn’t shown for the captain’s induction chat, it had been left to her to evict the girl from her room.

The corridor leading to the officer’s quarters was lined with synthetic mahogany and clean subdued blue lighting that ran all the way to the four doors. Michelin had been told that Jen’s, that was to say her quarters, were the first door on the left. There was no bell-push or other communication so Michelin knocked. There was something dull about the sound that told her it couldn’t be heard inside so she used her access code to open up.

“Hello,” she called without pushing the door wide. “I’m… well the new second mate. I’m sorry but… well the captain has…” Then the door slipped away from her and opened fully by itself.

Michelin just had time to glimpse a half-naked Jen laying face-down on the bed with a decidedly puce stained bottom before the girl leapt to her feet and covered herself. “Who…?” Jen gasped.

“Sorry, I did call out but…” Michelin blushed.

“I-I was sleeping,” Jen blushed equally red. “I usually do after…” She didn’t finish.

“I am sorry. I saw. Who… I mean…”

“I screwed up,” Jen wanted to melt into the bulkhead floor. “Mother… she, well Darius…”

Michelin gave a low whistle. “Handy to know,” she chuckled, “I never knew GPSD’s were programmed for that.”

Jen smiled ruefully on top of her blush. “I think Grandpa Hanson had a hand in that.”

There was a short but awkward silence then Michelin extended a hand and said, “I’m Michelin Hollister, the new second mate. I’m sorry but Captain Dane has assigned me these quarters. I think you have to use the general crews quarters below.”

Without letting go of the towel held to her front Jen took Michelin’s hand and shook it with an awkward smile. “I guess I was expecting something of the sort. Aunt Lidia dropped that bombshell earlier.”

“Aunt Lidia?” Michelin said quizzically.

“Mum’s sister and business partner. Well sleeping one anyway. The new captain…?”

“Dane, Bradley Dane,” Michelin supplied.

“Yeah well, he was her idea. My aunt’s I mean.”

“Sorry.” Michelin pulled a face then to change the subject added, “You’re a mean pilot I hear.”

“Yeah well, I do okay,” Jen said dismissively.

“I’ll leave this here and go now,” Michelin said dropping her bag. “Is an hour long enough to…?”

“Oh sure, thanks…” Jen wanted to be angry, but the situation was hardly Michelin’s fault, “…eh, Ma’am, I guess?”

“Michelin’s just fine. It’s just the captain who rates a ‘sir.’” The second mate grinned awkwardly. And then tossing a key chip towards Jen added “oh you’ll need this access code to activate your new quarters.”

*

Jen took slow careful steps as she slipped down the port stairwell to the crew’s quarters. Her bottom carried a deep full-on aching soreness that could only come from the aftermath of a truly masterful spanking. It was the kind of paddling that hurt even more the next day. Heaven help her if she had to sit in the pilot’s couch anytime that week.

Most of her gear would be stowed in a storage locker by Darius later, so luckily she had just one small bag to carry for her immediate needs. Still it took her a fair time to ease her way to the rec-deck.

When the crew had been bigger, back when Dale and Jen had run with smugglers; a motley crew of pirates and some of the worse scum in the system had played like children on the ball-courts and in the gymnasia in the side rooms. The crew quarters had been in daily use back then, although the teenaged Jen had shared her mother’s quarters.

The quarters themselves consisted of four large rooms down a side corridor; each containing 16 two-meter lockable cubicles, four over four in rows facing each other. The eight-by-four meter space between was often set out as an impromptu lounge with two heads and an open plan shower room at the far end.

As she reached them, Jen saw that three of the crew rooms were still sealed up and that only the one on the far left of the corridor had been opened. This room was empty, although the lower far right cubicle hatch was ajar and there was the sound of running water coming from the shower room.

Jen could take her pick of any of the others she knew and normally she would have chosen an upper deck one, even though it meant climbing up insteps in the outer wall. However, just then the pain in her bottom flared and the thought of the extra effort deterred her. So crossing the room, she key coded the lower left cubicle and watched the narrow door slide back to reveal the tiny room beyond.

There were narrow full-height wardrobes either side of the door but most of the room beyond was taken up with the bed set to the right. Along the left wall were cupboards under a narrow shelf with a small sink sunk in at the wardrobe end and personal interface at the other. There was also a foldaway chair underneath that, which faced the wall that doubled as a screen.

“Oh joy, vids in bed,” Jen said dryly as she tossed her bag onto the bed.

Just then there was a sound behind her and a small naked girl came out of the shower room. Her smooth white skin was devoid of all hair except the short blonde crop that was plastered to her head. Even when she saw Jen watching she did not pause or attempt to cover her small breasts or smooth tight hairless sex. “Hi,” she said with a wave. “You must be Jen. I’m Tammy Win.”

“Yes,” Jen said uneasily from the doorway of her cubicle, slightly taken aback.

As Jen watched, Tammy padded over to her own cell leaving wet footprints on the deck as she casually flicked at herself with a small towel. As she reached her open hatch, Jen saw faint traces of a recent spanking mottling her small high-set bottom.

“Looks like I am not the only one in the wars.” Jen spoke before she could catch herself.

“What’s that?” Tammy stopped at the hatch and looked back at Jen. Then seeing where the other girl was looking said with a giggle, “oh that. I sometimes have an attitude problem that needs taking care of. You too?”

“Something like that,” Jen replied with a blush. “Who…?” She nodded at Tammy’s tail.

“Oh usually the Captain; this was anyway. But as of today I answer to the first mate like you.” Then she disappeared into her small room.

Jen stepped back and sat back on her bed; lunging immediately to her feet. “Sheesh,” she gasped, and then is if to transfer the blame for her forgetfulness she muttered “Looks like we’re under new management.”

*

Somewhere in a storage room at the rear of the ship, Luna sat in the dark wondering when the ship would depart and if she would be able to tell when it had.

To be continued



6 Responses to “Ad Astra Chapter 2: Under New Management”

  1. 1 fatherjim

    Yes, you have me well and truly hooked on this new story. Please, don’t make us wait too long for part 3?

    Your character development and setting the stage has me salivating like Pavlov’s dog. Doesn’t get any better than that!

    Thanks!

    Jim

  2. DJ,
    took me a few seconds to remember who Darius was and then everything floated free.
    I don’t salivate, but I do enjoy your stories, Si-fi and spanking a cocktail much to my liking. 😀
    Paul.

  3. 3 DJ

    I’ll try not to – part three is coming up soon.

    DJ

  4. 4 manhattan

    Thanks for this excellent 2nd part. Loved the conversation between Darius, the robot, and Michelin, the synth. I hope that we will get an answer to the question “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Spanking” in one of the next chapters… 😉

  5. This is definitely a fantastic world you’ve set up. Do you have a pic or description of the standard crew uniform?

  6. 6 DJ

    Thanks M – story is shaping up I hope. Maybe they do 😉

    Jen’s crew uniform was described as being a burgundy coloured overalls or boiler suit.

    As it happens there are some more descriptions of clobber coming up. But its not star trek – these are working people.

    good question Patron

    DJ


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