"So, what got you so intrigued on this project?" I asked to the empty air as I walked down the only partially-completed hallways. The floor carpeting was in, but many of the wall panels were still missing.
"You, actually," Lance replied. "An AI hadn't been chosen for the mission yet, but the news was obvious to every AI around that one would be needed before today. After our conversation at Miss Ohadi's home, I realized that I wanted to get away from being an administrator for a while."
"So who's the admin at your town now?"
"An Ssphynx named Keos. He's very effective, friend-- I like him. I think he'll do fine there."
I felt a deep humming sound reverb through the ship. "They've started the main drives," I commented.
"They are trying to, yes. Ah, there's one. Yes, all three are now up and running." He sounded pleased with himself. "I believe that we now have translight capability. Captain Elohim had announced that initial shakedown will commence in about an hour."
I nodded. "He's done quite a good job of putting together a cohesive engineering crew, hasn't he?"
"He is an engineer's captain," Lance agreed. "And his people know their tasks as engineers. They are capable of handling or handing off duties to others. Your Chief of Engineering, Katherine Hawkwind, is quite competent in her own right. And having Amanda Ohadi on board, if only as an observer, should prove interesting."
I nodded. "This bulkhead is closed," I said as I came to a heavier-than-usual door. "Is there life support on the other side?"
"Yes," Lance replied. The door opened and I stepped through. "However, there is no artificial gravity."
"Now you tell me!" I shouted to him as I tumbled headfirst down the corridor. I grabbed a strut set into the wall for just such emergencies and got control of myself.
"You didn't give me a chance to warn you," he admonished.
I growled politely. Easing my way down the hallway I heard a loud, metallic noise, a sudden outcry of "Whoops!" and an small explosion of giggling. Wondering what that was, I turned the corridor.
Down the hallway a melVulpin floated, tangled in three or four thick black cables that led from the left wall to the right wall. He wasn't fighting his way out of them at the moment, but hovering there, scratching his head and looking perplexed. He wore the insignia of a junior engineer. "Need some help?" I offered.
"Could you?" he asked, looking up so quickly that the snap of his head sent him into a gentle tumble again. "I mean, yes sir. I mean... Hey, aren't you Ken Shardik?"
"I guess so," I replied. "That's what it says on the uniform, after all." I pushed myself along handholds and reached him. Together we started untangling him.
As I parted two cables, he laughed. "Guess I look like an idiot, huh?"
"Not that I can see." Actually, what I could see looked irresistibly adorable. Not handsome, really. I couldn't get a good look at how tall he was, although I was curious to know. It looked about 150, maybe 155 cents tall. His fur was bright, bright golden red, pure Vulpin stock (and vulnerable to allergies, I remembered. Which might explain why he works in the purified atmospheres of space). As I started to untangle him, he drifted head-to-the-floor and turned around and I got hit in the face with his tail.
I sputtered, brushed it away, and then got hit again, from the other side. "What the Hell?"
"Sorry, should have warned you."
I looked, confirming what I thought I had seen. "You have two tails?"
"That's right," he replied, shaking both of them playfully. He seemed to have them both entirely under his willful control. I caught just enough of a glimpse of his face to see a wide smile.
"This may sound like a funny question, but... why?"
"Why not?" he replied. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. I've always wanted to have two tails. Ever since I was about thirteen the idea's been stuck in my head."
"And you've had them how long?"
"About thirty years." He grinned. "I thought people would like them, but I've found that they put a lot of people off."
I nodded. "I can imagine." We finally got him free and floated away. "Data connectors?" I asked, gesturing at the cables.
"Those are. That one's power," he replied gesturing. "These things are serious black holes for that stuff."
"Simaculae. You know, Unsambo."
"Ah," I replied, nodding. "Got it. So, what's your name, since you apparently already know mine?"
"Nishipo Parzec," he replied, holding out his hand. I grasped a strut with my left so that I wouldn't go sailing off when I shook with the right. "But my friends call me 'Tails.'"
"I wonder where that came from?" I joked.
"You got me," he laughed right back. Gods, he was cute. I wanted to "get" him all right. It was kind of annoying, really; I had to keep reminding myself to keep my hands to myself. And part of my problem was that I couldn't be sure if my attraction to him was nothing more than my continued ridiculously slutty flow of hormones. I had no explanation for the sudden rush of lust other than possibly that this job had put me in contact with a large array of very attractive people suddenly, and after six years of not knowing what I was missing, my body was responding naturally.
But in the lack of gravity he kept turning as he returned to his work. He had a slim, boyish body under that uniform, a wide face with very large, imploring eyes, and, when I could see it through all the fur on his tails-- Gods, that feels weird to say it that way-- he had a beautiful ass, too. About the only thing I could think of that bothered me was that he'd trimmed his whiskers. That was a fashion decision I personally disliked. Some people thought it made their face more "accessible."
While he dug into the ceiling, he said, "Can I ask you a question?"
I sighed. No matter how many times I say I hate that phrase, I still get it. "Sure," I replied, tossing in my political voice.
"Ken, why do we have so many simaculae on board? I mean, we could do almost everything in VR. We should just have one or two, but instead we've got nearly thirty. Why take up so much room on the ship?"
I opened my mouth to answer, them stopped as a different thought hit me. One that, much to my amusement, I felt a little reluctance to set forth as I was beginning to realize just how many people I was going to be flying with who I already had agreed into my bedroom on a somewhat erratic basis.
Oh, what the Hell, I decided. "How soon until this one is operational?"
He scanned the segment of corridor with his eyes. "Three or four hours, I'd say."
"Will the gravity be on?"
"Should be by then."
"Great. Want to give it a test?"
"According to my watch, the confirmation shakedown should be back in dock in a little under fifty hours. If you want to test this unsambo out, meet me here at the end of second shift tomorrow and we'll give it a test run. Say around three lome'?"
"Sir? Is this a date?"
I grinned. "Make of it what you want. The best way to teach you why there are so many simaculae is to show you. Will you do it?"
He thought for a moment. "Sure."
"Great. I'll be waiting for you to get here."
"See you at eighteen hundred tomorrow, sir."
I laughed, then saluted him. "Carry on, Tails."
I saw him shake his head as he mysteriously appeared onto the scene as if by SDisk. "Oh, come on!" he shouted up at me. "Not a gravity and perspective test!"
I waved to him from the top of the hill. "It'll be good for you!"
He started climbing the hill. It wasn't all that tall; just about seven meters or so. He had chosen to dress rather casually for this; nylon shorts and a cotton tank-top, neither of which did anything for him. I would not have labeled him 'athletic,' although he was certainly proportionate. Fortunately, they also did nothing to hide his loveliness underneath.
He reached the top of the hill, his legs pumping mechanically. He was panting pretty hard when he reached me. "Hi," I said.
"Hi," he gasped back, collapsing onto the grass, exhausted. "What is this?" he asked, gesturing around.
"It's a hill somewhere in Alia. Just a little picnic spot where I take friends and family sometimes. You don't mind, do you?"
"No," he said, shaking his head and still panting hard. "Just wanted to know. So, what's this all about?"
"Well, you wanted to know what it is about simaculae that makes them so important. I wanted to show you why. Drink?" I asked, holding out a bottle of apple juice.
"Oh, thank you!" he said.
"You're out of shape if that walk knocked you out like this."
"I know," he replied. "I'm going to do something about it this trip. I think I've just been spending too much time in lowered gravities." He drank deeply out of the bottle, then handed it back. I put it away in the very mundane-looking picnic basket which, of course, would have just about anything I wanted in it.
I looked at him carefully. "Tails, have you ever read 'The Shape of the Body?'"
"That's one of yours and Aaden's essays, isn't it? No, I hate to say it, but I'm not into reading that kind of intellectual stuff." He grinned.
I shrugged. "'Sokay, neither am I." He laughed. "We wrote 'Shape' because of an essay that had appeared sometime earlier called 'The Five Pound Universe.' A pound is--"
"It's an archaic measure of weight, I remember." He grinned. "Something like 2.203 kilograms under 1.012 G or something like that. A Terran measure."
"Right. Anyway, this guy's point was that the brain was the be-all and end-all of existence, that everything went into it and was interpreted by it. Aaden and I disagreed." I followed his eyes as they looked into the basket. "Have you eaten?" He shook his head. "Go ahead, take a look, then."
He reached into the basket as I continued. "Anyway, Aaden's and my point was simply that sentient beings are more than the two- kilos stuck in their hard shell. Even before we're born we're getting used to feeling, seeing, hearing and tasting through our senses. And as we grow up, the ways we can do things, the limits we can reach, the extremes of sensation we're capable of interpreting, all get trained by the limits on our eyes, our skin, our muscles.
"Even Terran religions know this. Most of them have an attachment to the body of one sort or another. Christian 'resurrection' and the Pagan 'silver cord' are reflections of that. Sensation is useless without a place to store that sensation, and storage is useless without something to store there."
Tails held up a hand while still holding a muzzleful of something. He swallowed. "That still doesn't explain why the difference between VR and Simaculae. All of those sensory things can be fed by good VR."
"Except for some of the most important. Two of which you've done right now."
"You climbed a hill, and you're eating a sandwich. One of the most important things about VR, Tails, that everyone is aware is the fact that it doesn't leave a lasting impression. It's what they teach in most VR classes even before you start jacking in. 'It's not real, It's not real.' You learn to believe that. Use it to overcome feedbacks.
"The reason we've encouraged Simaculae use in starships is for just that reason. To encourage people to remember their basic physical nature. It comes down to a spiritual belief, I guess, in the importance of 'reality' and the 'real body.'" I paused. "You know, of all the people in the universe, you're probably the last one I should have to explain this to."
"Because of your little bodily change," I said, pointing at his tails. "How old were you when you got those?"
"When did you want them?"
He grinned. "Like I said, probably when I was around thirteen. I even modified my icon so I would have two tails in VR."
I grinned. "Exactly. It wasn't enough, was it?"
He frowned, putting his hands to the sides of his muzzle to scratch an itch. "No, it wasn't." He stopped scratching, lowered his hands, and looked up. "I see."
I smiled. "Yeah, you do. I understand why your tails put people off; for some of them, it's an alteration of the body, and that makes you a different person to them. On the other hand, people who are, well, in my opinion, too hooked on VR are shocked by how physical you must be to want something that radical that badly to be done to your already very handsome body." I felt my grin widen a little more. "If I eat something, I want to feel it in my stomach. If I run, I want to feel it in my legs. And if I fuck, well... " I laughed. "I want to feel that in the morning too, sticky sheets and all. VR is too clean for me."
"If we had sex in here, you wouldn't have sticky sheets."
I almost laughed when I heard that 'we.' The signals that had started yesterday were now coming in clearly. "True. But we will still need to take a shower."
Sometimes seductions are like chess games and sometimes they're more like zero-G Marco-Polo. This was the second, and now he had me tagged. He lunged for me and we tumbled onto the grass, trying to match up our mouths and get in a kiss.
Finally, we stopped rolling and my lips found his muzzle, kissing him, feeling his mouth about mine, his short muzzle almost surrounding my lips as our tongues met and slid against one another. I felt his sharp canine teeth, wondering what it would feel like to have them scrape against my cock. His soft breath smelled of lunch and promises and his body on top of mine felt light and delicate.
I slid my hands up under that stupid shirt of his, burying my fingers deep into his fur, feeling his ribs underneath. His breath was hard and deep, and I could feel his chest expanding with each inhalation. I pressed my thigh up between his legs, feeling the heat of his groin and the hardness of his erection against it.
"Why didn't you just come out and tell me yesterday?" he asked.
"I didn't know. I mean, who could I ask? I mean, I didn't know what your tastes were or anything like that. I just made a date and hoped for the best."
"Thank you," he smiled. "When it comes to sex, I'm omnivorous."
I laughed. "Yeah."
"But no pain."
"Don't worry, right now that's the last thing on my mind." My hands reached down and caressed his beautiful ass; they strayed towards the center where I found the base of his tails; they were indeed mounted side-by-side and I could even feel where the bone split started. I grabbed one in each hand and tugged away slowly, feeling the fur slide through my palms.
Tails' whole body stiffened. "Don't-- do that-- unless you really mean it!"
"That turns you on?"
"Yes. More than you can imagine!"
I filed that away for future reference and dropped them. We returned to kissing, crazily, my fingers scratching at his chest as I rolled him over onto his back and sat down on his hips. "You are simply the most adorable thing I've seen in months, Tails."
He blushed. "I just never dreamed that Ken Shardik would walk into my life and I never thought he'd be so, so normal!"
"Ah, it's just me," I said, reaching behind myself to fondle his cock through his shorts. "I see you only have one of those."
"It's enough," he grinned.
"Let's see," I said, reaching up one of the legs of his shorts to find it with my hand. I felt the soft bulk of it against my fingertips and closed my hand around it. "You're right," I said. "It is enough." I grabbed his shorts by the stretch of cloth that ran between his legs and pulled. They came loose easily.
His cock was pale, with thin veins running along the sides. The head was almost flat against the shaft, so that it looked much more tubular than many cocks.
I was less concerned with the look than the taste as I opened my mouth and pressed my tongue to it. I felt the smooth texture of his skin slide over my tongue, awakening my tastebuds. I felt surprise at my own craving for it as I took all of it, pressing my nose down against his ballsac and feeling it bend slightly to slide down my throat. I worked my throat slowly to massage the length of his shaft, enjoying the sweet satisfaction of having his cock at my command. I stroked it slowly, enjoying all of it, especially the moans he was making. Since I was kneeling head-to-crotch besides him, his hands started fumbling with my pants, but I brushed them away. "Leave that for later," I said.
"I can't just lie here," he gasped.
"Sure you can," I said, taking his cock back into my mouth. He whimpered softly as I worked on it. I felt his body tense and relax, tense and relax. I could tell I was getting him close to climax. My hand probed between his legs, fondling his small testicles, feeling them roll between my fingers before reaching down a little more and caressing his asshole. Tense and relax. In and out. I moved my head back and forth in practiced rhythm, sucking on his cock with sheer abandonment and for my own gratification. I just wanted him.
His tensions grew longer, taking more time, and as I began sucking a little harder, feeling the skin of his cock slide under my tongue and the smell of his fur against my nose, he tensed hard, holding, and then let loose a loud, gasping moan as his cock shot a stream of warm come into mouth. I didn't let up, stroking, pulling every drop I could out of him. His hips pumped slightly as he came. I let every drop fall on my tongue, rolling it about inside my mouth and onto his cock. Unlike many people, I adore the taste of come.
As I moved away, I closed my lips on his shrinking shaft, sucking the last drops of semen and swallowing. He looked down the length of his body at me and shook his head. "You are amazing."
"Just old," I laughed. "And experienced."
He laughed. "And handsome." He rolled over in the grass, taking off his shirt and tossing it aside. "Take your clothes off."
I did as he asked, still feeling a little dizzy from his climax. "Wow," I breathed.
"Are you okay?" he asked, looking up at me.
"Believe me," I said, "I'm fine. I just got an incredible thrill from making you come in my mouth."
He lay down besides me, and we stretched out on the grass lazily, caressing each other. "Well, you haven't come yet."
"Even if this was all you wanted, Tails, I'm a happy Shardik right now."
"Well, there is something more I want, but even I need a few seconds to recover from that."
I nodded. "Okay. Let's just take a breather, then."
After a while, his hands caressing my chest and stomach slid down between my legs and found my cock. It took almost no coaxing on his part to bring it back to life, my erection roaring as it grew in his hands. After less than a minute it was completely hard and he was stroking it slowly. Then he shifted position as I had earlier and took it into his mouth.
I gasped; his mouth was warm but his teeth were sharp. They scraped along the underside delicately and I worried that he would hurt me. But he just suckled my cock for only a minute before he shifted position again, straddling my hips with his and holding my cock aimed under his tails. He sat down; I felt my cock press against his backside, he moved it into position, and then sat down insistently. The resistance was impressive; he had to hold my cock in place or else his tight hole would just push it out of the way. A little more insistence and the head slid past his sphincter and into his asshole, the rest following as he sat down, moaning a light "Mmm" as his hips met mine. "Oh, that feels good."
I nodded, reaching out and putting my hands on his furred thighs, scratching at them as he began stroking up and down along the length of my shaft. Gods, he did feel good. I would press up with his every downstroke, sharing in the pleasure as we made love in the grass.
He started to breath harder again, and I realized that his legs, which had had trouble up the seven meters of hill or so, wouldn't hold him up very long doing this either. I reached up and held him by his sides, then slowly teetered over, so that he landed on the grass. "Not like this," I said, sliding out of him.
I turned him over, pushing his leg down until he was on his belly, then pulling his buttocks into the air by his pelvis. "This is how I want you, Tails." I grasped both of his tails at the base, one hand around each, and pulled them up and away from his butt, uncovering his asshole. He moaned a soft, "Oh, please..."
I smiled as I pressed my cock against his asshole again, sliding into his now loosened hole. It was pretty to watch, my pale cock disappearing into his furry, red backside, the barely- visible sphincter almost grasping at it as I pulled out. I held onto his tails like they were handlebars, with them pulling him towards me on every thrust. His moans were loud and animal as I fucked him slowly.
I was not going to last long; this afternoon had already wound me up far too tight and I was ready to explode. But I wanted to last a long time; the heaven of this beautiful Vul and his lovely tails was too much to rush. I took each stroke thoughtfully, feeling my hips hit his buttocks with every thrust, feeling his anus clutching at my cock, listening to his moans, watching his fur wave with the impact.
I was gasping harder myself, feeling my chest rise and fall with every thrust. I held his tails to me, feeling the fur of his legs against my thighs and of his tails against my chest. His body was warm inside and out. My climax wanted out and it wanted out bad. I couldn't hold it back and with one final, slow thrust into his body, I came. "Tails!" I remember gasping as I felt my cock throb, coming deep inside him, feeling his whole body tense to receive my semen.
And then I slowly pulled out of him. "Oh, Tails," I gasped as I collapsed on top of him, my body molding to his, my lips at the back of his neck. I kissed him softly as we toppled over to the side again, naked onto the grass. Which, now that our passions were spent, was quite itchy to me. I squirmed slightly, then decided just to wait. "Thank you, Tails."
"Thank you, Ken," he replied. "Can we get up? I'm kinda uncomfortable."
"Yeah," he agreed, nodding. We rose and he started scratching himself in earnest.
"Let me," I said, reaching out to do the scratching for him. He returned the favor and we spent a good two or three minutes close to one another, scratching, kissing, and playing. Then I recovered a bottle of water from the basket. "Drink?"
"Thank you." He shook his head. "You're very good."
I smiled, nodding once. "Experience is a good teacher. You are very good in your own right."
He looked up at me as if to speak, then stopped. Then started again. "I guess I expected you to be turned off by me. I changed what you made, after all."
"I can understand that. But... that's your right. People change how they look all the time. Earrings, fur trim patterns, colorings, even clothes and jewelry. What you did is radical and I think it does affect what you are inside. But in your case, given how much time you spent deciding and how happy you seem to be with it, I think it really does reflect what you are in there," I said, brushing my fingertips against his chest. "I find that kind of self-knowledge very sexy."
He smiled gently. "Let's go take that shower you were talking about."
"Okay. Lance, end simulation." Gravity shifted a few degrees as the hill gave way to the bare, black walls of the Simaculae. Our clothes fluttered to the ground and the picnic basket was whisked away. We dressed quickly, taking time to grab at each other once in a while. "Well, your engineering job worked just fine."
He laughed. "I didn't think it wouldn't." He reached down and stroked his belly softly. "And you're right about one thing."
"I will remember this in the morning."
I laughed. "I bet. Come on, let's go get clean. I'm on deck 11."
"I'm on 12. It's closer."
"Then let's go to yours." We walked out of the empty room.