Wishing Well: Outbound

Noren, Virta 21, 01322

“Miss Shardik?”

Wish looked up, not entirely convinced that she was the one being addressed but quite sure that she was the only one who qualified to be identified with that name. It was what the AIs insisted on using. Ken had insisted on giving it to her, and both P’nyssa and Aaden had backed him completely and without pause.

The speaker was a tall melRitan, a green-furred centaur with long wavy fur and a fox-like muzzle, wearing a smart, white uniform with a blue braid over one shoulder held on by simple epaulets. The animated badge over his left pocket identified him by picture and then the words “Captain Rdeloff Rike, TRV Festive.” “Yes, Captain?” she said, feeling both guilty and intimidated by his presence.

“I was alerted to your being on the ship’s manifest when I came on board, and I wanted to assure you on behalf of my crew that we intend to see to it that your journey is as comfortable and relaxing as possible.”

Wish sat for a moment and wondered what she should say. This was how people had treated Whatshisname. She had been mere cargo, the trophy at his side. She smiled gently and said, with all sincerity, “Thank you, Captain. Please convey my thanks to your crew, and I would rather not be treated with any more deference than others in your care.”

He returned her smile with something approaching sincerity. “Miss Shardik, I understand how you feel. Yet reality must intrude.”

She nodded. “Thank you, Captain,” she said gently.

“This is a short flight, Miss Shardik. Less than thirty hours, not a full six months’ travel the breadth of the Corridor, and I am in final glance nothing more than a glorified bus driver. But we do serve meals and I would be honored if you would sit with us at dinner.”

Now it was her turn to stare. This was more than merely a courtesy call on his part. She could understand her last name attracting a bit of attention. Reputation was everything, and even a slight breath of distaste from the Villa could wreck the reputation of a starship or its crew. The universe read what people at the Villa produced, no matter how inane or boring it seemed to be to Wish. She loved the place, loved Ken and P’nyssa and Aaden, but they were ferocious about keeping their home quiet and ordinary. Extraordinary things seemed to happen to them often enough as it was.

But she was different. A special case among special cases. “You do know who I am, Captain?”

“Of course I do. You’re Wish Shardik. You’ve only been ‘a Shardik’ for ten years now, my lady, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t earned the right to the kinds of attention and honor that label conveys upon you.” He paused, then smiled. “We Ritans, like you Humans, need someone to whom to pay attention and deference.”

“But I’m…”

“Yes, you’re Wish. That Wish. I understand your reluctance. As I have been informed, this is your first trip outside the Villa since your rescue by the Shardik household. Not all of us believe you to be the source of all evil in the universe.”

She smiled up at him. “Do people really say that about me?”

“Not on my crew, they do not. I assure you. Now, my invitation?”

She felt her cheeks warm and wondered if there was a way to get out of the invitation. She would rather have spent most of her thirty hours in her bunk, letting the day go by without having to interact too much with other travelers. Yet declining would have seemed a great insult to the Captain, and her first instincts were to accommodate him as much as possible. That was simply the way she was. She sighed. “I guess I have to accept.”

“Excellent. Dinner is at eleven in the main dining hall. You are welcome at the Captain’s table.”

She nodded. “Thank you, Captain.” She watched him go with that classic mixture of anticipation and dread. She knew that in the world of social graces her skills to lead were lacking. She had struggled with every word.

She found her seat easily. It was one of the larger berths, with room for four people, two pairs facing one another across a table that wasn’t there at the moment. She stowed her bags and found the control that would roll the table out from the wall. She reached into her second bag, the blue one with the embroidered pink kitten on the side, and pulled out her art box with her latest hobby on it.

Even as she set up the papers and the inkwell and her pens, the door to her cabin folded open and two rather handsome melFelinzi joined her. “Excuse me?” one of them said. “Is this 314?”

“That’s where I’m supposed to be,” Wish said cheerfully, waving them in. “Come in, gentlefen.”

“Thank you,” one said to the other. “And who are you?”

“My name’s Wish,” she said, hoping that it wasn’t so unique they’d identify her immediately.

“Well, hello, Wish. My name is R’Lachs and this in T’val.” They found their own stowage and put their bags away, then settled down into their cabins. R’Lachs was a cream-colored melFel with a broad muzzle and rounded eyes; T’val was a black color with a smear of light gray across his left eye, very large white whiskers, and ears that flickered constantly. Lachs smiled at her with something approaching recognition.

Wish earnestly wished that she could be back in the warm, protective womb of the Villa, where her cheerfully promiscuous nature didn’t face risks of anger and rejection. Out in the real world she faced celebrity or notoriety for her status of “that Wish.”

She knelt on her chair to get a better angle on the table as she carefully crafted each letter of Quen, trying to get just the right look to the letters she had drawn earlier with a pencil. It was sufficient distraction for the moment, but she knew that somewhere deep inside she wished she were free to flirt with Lachs. She wasn’t because of her status, and that bothered her.

But Lachs surprised her by leaning forward and saying, “That’s lovely. What is it?”

She finished the stroked she was committing with her pen before putting it aside and looking up. “It’s a quote from an ancient poem.”

“But what’s all that around it?”

“Oh. They’re leaves. See? I’ll probably do them in some mixture of green and gold.”

“Is this a gift for someone?”

She nodded. “It will be.”

“Can I ask whom?”

“I’d rather you didn’t,” she said and smiled at him. There was no sense of rejection from him, no anger directed at her.

“Ken?”

“Maybe,” she said, smiling at him. He knew, and yet he, like the captain, was not inclined to reject her outright. That strengthened her in inexplicable ways and she wanted to bask in his attention.

She knew that she was not really attractive, not the way most femHumans were. She was too short, too small, too flat, lacking either the suggestive power or secondary sexual characteristics that attracted men’s eyes. That had been explicit in her design, in the choice of genes her manufacturer had chosen for her; he had not wanted her to be “beautiful,” to attract attention from strangers on the street. She knew that naked, in the dark, the skills and sensations she could impart on others was worth a lot, but dressed, in public, in the light, she was just a small, quiet Wish.

A cynical part of her suggested that Lachs was just looking for a brag to his friends, that he had fucked “a Shardik.” That was okay with her but she would rather that he admit it, to both of them, out loud. Maybe he simply saw her as a pretty girl and wanted to get to know her better. The thought depressed her. Not because some people were so shallow and straightforward, but because it marked a change in the way she thought about them. She yearned for the days when a firm hand on her arm and a hard, horny man were all she wanted.

“I’ll leave you to your art, then,” he said, sitting back and closing his eyes. Wish recognized that pose; there were a few at the Villa who had onboards, who spent their spare moments inside it, their attention distracted by some game or experience that required no artificial intelligence.

His companion, who had been mysteriously silent during their conversation, had already nodded off and Wish thought he looked to be earnestly asleep rather than wandering around in some artificial universe. She shrugged and resumed drawing.

It was much of a surprise when a knock at the door came and a tall melRitan in a uniform similar to the captain’s but far less spangled opened it. She looked at her watch and realized that six hours had flown by. She had always been good at doing nothing, at just watching the world go by, but sometimes her capacity to let time pass still surprised. Her companions were still out. “Miss Wish? The Captain would like to invite you to his table, but before then he would like you to meet him on the bridge.”

She nodded. “Do I have time to change?”

“Of course,” he said.

She found the bathroom easily enough and slipped into a white dress that closed about her neck with a softly rounded collar and fell to her ankles is tight ruffles. A wave of the brush over her black, straight hair and it fell to her shoulders, completing the ensemble. “I’m ready,” she told herself.

If that was true, she thought, why was she worrying more about what people thought of her than who she would sleep with next? It was unlike her. Ken had said as much. He had told her to be herself.

The problem, she knew, was that there was nobody like “herself” outside of the context of the Villa. There had been nobody like “herself” outside of the context of Whatshisname, as she and her sisters had referred to their old master. And it wasn’t as if she thought there was a “self” outside of those contexts waiting to be found. She had no particular desire to find out if there was such a self, and that self, if it could possibly exist, had just as much “right” to demand its existence as any other fictional self she could imagine being: prostitute Wish, renowned artist Wish, or (she giggled) warrior Wish.

One way or another, the Wish-without-the-Villa was going to learn about herself. Wish firmly hoped that she liked herself.

She opened the door and stepped out. The attendant was still waiting for her, and she accepted his guidance through the narrow confines of the ship up to the bridge.

The bridge, to her surprise, was roomy and well-lit, a wide corridor that ended with a kind of hammerhead deck that looked out on the stars. It was not like the starship bridges of the ships Ken had described, where the bridge was buried deep inside the ship. “Ah,” said the captain as he heard the door open. “Welcome to my bridge, Miss Shardik.”

“Thank you, Captain,” she said gently.

He stepped toward her, his guss, thin tendrils that dripped off the back of his head and provided him with a full-circle of awareness, floating politely at his sides. “Dinner is in just a few minutes, but I wanted to have an opportunity to talk with you before and ask you if your trip has thus far been uneventful?”

“It has, thank you.”

“No problems with the passengers sharing your cabin?”

“They’ve spent most of it reading or playing games, I imagine. Whatever they’ve been doing, their bodies have been passive for most of the trip.”

“Ah, I see. I know the type. There are more and more of them these days.” He turned to a femRitan. “May I introduce my first mate and, well, my coimelin? Wish, this is Tristi Rike. Tristi, Wish Shardik.”

The femRitan who approached from the forward deck was probably one of the prettiest examples Wish had ever seen of the species. Her body was lean and shapely, her head held high, her arms muscular, her eyes bright. It was hard to say what, exactly, about the ensemble hit her quite so convincingly, but Wish knew beauty when she saw it and Tristi had it. “I’m very pleased to actually get to meet such a controversial figure.” She said it with a smile that would have melted Wish’s heart. “The only people who believe ill of you have never met you.”

“You’ve only just met me,” Wish said.

“I can’t believe anyone would believe ill of such a winsome face,” Tristi said. “Besides, it’s not as if you were capable of influencing the decision Ken forced on you. And no, I don’t believe that he made the right decision, but that has no bearing on your worth.”

“But–” She stopped. She was not about to argue the matter, not here, not with these people. She wanted them to like her. “Have you forgiven him?”

Tristi’s eyes widened, as if the question had never occurred to her. She turned to her partner, who only fluttered his guss. She touched her chin briefly then said, “You know, I don’t know that I’ve ever been asked that question. I suppose I have. It’s not as if he murdered anyone. This time.”

Wish held her tongue. There were so many ways to respond to that. It was becoming obvious to her that there were many nuances to the way people felt about her beloveds and she should be careful addressing any one of them. She knew the stories about Ken. He wasn’t that dangerous. He was simply a man others frequently wanted to kill, and at times he had been forced to defend himself, and in his world the correct response to deadly force was deadly force. She could understand that.

“Come, love,” Captain Rike said. “Let’s go and eat dinner. Miss Shardik, I am quite certain, will have to put up with much of this in her travels.” He turned to a femHuman standing at the forward and said, “You have the bridge, Mrija.”

Wish sighed, thinking that the captain was probably right.

The “Captain’s Table” was large enough to seat ten comfortably, and she found herself wedged between an exceptionally fat melHuman who described himself as being “from Terra,” and a pleasant enough pair of llerkins who ate with an air of extraordinary formality. Wish ate the food with that same mixture of dread and discomfort she had had fielding Tristi’s questions.

Some little part of her was familiar with this process. She had done it often enough around Whatshisname. He had sometimes taken one of his toys out to a meeting and she had held her own. She read the papers and kept her knowledge of celebrities current. It was not in her purpose to engage in political or economic conversation. Much of it was beyond her and did not interest her– she doubted that it really affected her life much if the llerkin parliament had elected a socialist to its leadership position, or that the planet Discovery had voted to renew its “position independent of llerkin governmental influence” for another two decades.

So it was something of a surprise when the Terran said, “We have someone here who lives at Shardik Villa. Why don’t we ask her?”

“I’m afraid I’m not much involved in any political decisions that happen at the Villa,” Wish said quickly. “I don’t believe that I’m asked for my opinion about any of that.”

“But surely you must have some opinion about whether or not the first contact with the Sayrin species was mishandled?”

“No, I don’t. Why should I?”

“Because… well, surely your friends have voiced opinions!”

“I wouldn’t be a very good friend if I betrayed their confidences, would I?”

He stared at her. “What do you do at Shardik Villa, anyway?” he said. “We have all heard stories.”

Wish grinned at him and said, “I consider myself part of the recreational facilities.” His eyes hardened and she said, “I’m there because the people there have sworn to protect me and give me a refuge, and I stay because they do. They want me to stay because they like me. They like what I do and who I am. I complement some of them and make them happy.”

His eyes narrowed further, and then he looked away, grumbling something under his breath that she didn’t catch. Somehow, despite her worries, the exchange had satisfied her. She felt better. She had held her own.

But it was only temporary relief. The doubts came back in a wash about who she was and what she was. Even as dessert was passed around, she sat back in her chair and ate the offered cake with lackluster attention. Bereft of her anchors, she excused herself from the table and went to find her cabin.

Her two cabin mates were missing. That suited her. She curled up in her chair, her knees pulled close to her chin, and stared out the window. It wasn’t tears that she felt; it was anger. Seething, hard anger. It was directed at the Terran, and all those like him.

Her door chimed and she glanced over at it. “Come in.”

She had been expecting the Felinzi, but instead it was the first mate, Tristi, who entered. “Miss Shardik?”

Wish looked up at her, sure the hard feelings showed on her face. She eased into an attempt at a welcoming smile and managed only a grimace. “Please don’t call me that. It makes me sound like something I’m not. I’m just Wish.”

Tristi maneuvered her centaurid bulk into the room, sitting at Wish’s side. “But you are a member of the Shardik household. They said so and that’s enough for me.”

“I thought you didn’t like them.”

“What is there not to like about them?” Wish stared at her. “Oh, I disagree with what they did in your case, not because I disagree with the particulars but because I don’t like the violation of our principles. But that’s not your fault.” Wish nodded. “And you asked me if I had forgiven them. I have. And on the great scale of things, they still have many more positives than negatives. They saved my species. They saved your life.”

“Actually, I believe they made me.”

“Yes, that’s one way of looking at it. My coimelin and I were discussing it before dinner and he referred to your ‘second decanting’.” Tristi smiled. “So I suppose there are all sorts of ways of looking at it.”

“I guess there is. There is always more than one way to look at anything.”

“Anyway, I came to apologize for our guest’s behavior at dinner.”

“Why?” Wish said sharply. “He wouldn’t.”

“True,” Tristi said. “He probably would not. But it is my duty to ensure that the guests chosen will not injure, attack, or otherwise insult one another. You seemed to be quite upset after the incident.”

“I’m sick of him. People like him, who demand that I ‘be something’ from their select list of acceptable somethings. I am something! I’m a happy woman whose life started when Ken Shardik and his family freed me from the geas biowiring in my head. I have a life, a meaningful life! I hate people who want me to be something else.”

Tristi nodded. “It angered me, too. I got angry with him when I heard him ask that what-do-you-do-there question, raising that old tabloid accusation of your being a… “

“Fuck toy?” Wish said. Tristi nodded, and Wish could only smile then. “But Tristi, that is what I am.” Tristi had momentarily echoed Wish’s grin, but it faded immediately. “That’s not a bad thing, is it? I’m where I want to be, doing what I want to do. The fact that what I want to do is Ken, Nance, Sune, Mitch, P’nyssa, and Rakia doesn’t make me a bad person, does it? Every day they’re happy, I’m happy, the world keeps turning. I’m good at being a fuck toy. I have things to do at other times. The territory around the Villa is beautiful. A little rainy, but on clear days you can walk for miles safely. I love to walk the two kilometers down to the beach and enjoy the ocean.”

Wish sighed. “I’m just a little lost outside the Villa. I don’t have anyone out here…”

“What are you doing out here, then?” Tristi said. Wish knew she had talked too much, but Tristi was honestly asking the question, not seeming a ship’s officer reassuring an important guest, but one person to another.

“Visiting my sisters. Katrina and Wren are on llerkin right now so I decided to try and catch up with them and make sure they’re okay.”

Tristi nodded. “Well,” she said, laying a hand briefly on Wish’s arm. The touch made Wish squirm inwardly. Yes! her body briefly cried out. More! But Tristi only continued, “If there’s anything I can do for you…”

“Unless you know of someone on board who’s looking for a short, unattractive femHuman to share his bed with, not really.” Wish grinned at Tristi’s shocked look. “I really do like who I am and what I do.”

Tristi’s eyes narrowed briefly and she nodded. “You are not unattractive,” she said. “And I think I might know of a couple who would be interested. My coimelin and I.”

“Really?”

“We’d be honored. And pleased. If you’re as good at keeping all of Shardik Villa happy as most of the tabloids imply– and you said yourself– I think we could find time. And unlike most of the people on board, we don’t just have a hot bunk; we have our own cabin. It’s small and if you stand up– well, you won’t have this problem but Del hits his head on the ceiling.”

Wish nodded enthusiastically. “Oh, I’d love to have some company! And be some! When?”

“Well, I have another two hours on my watch, and then we’re off to bed, to do the whole thing over again in the morning. We take twenty hour watches, but we do get two days off during layovers at the terminals.”

“That sounds like hard work,” Wish said.

“It’s what it takes to be more than a vegetable. Have to pay for the ship somehow. And we have good support. It’s a great crew.” She patted Wish’s arm. “I’ll have a porter come down and lead you to our cabin. I really must get back to the bridge.”

She closed the door behind herself.

Wish could barely contain her excitement when the two hours had passed and a short melHuman porter came to fetch her. Anything to get away from the two corpses masquerading as living Felinzi in her cabin. When he wasn’t gone into his portable reality, Lach’s flirting was good-natured but like that of many mels tended to fall apart when pressed on particulars. She was bad at flirting anyway.

She was led into a small room with comfortable lights shining indirectly from a recess along one wall. It was a studio room, she noticed, not much different from one of the high berth cabins she could have booked if she had been so inclined. She hadn’t thought to want one; a normal booking should have been enough for her. She hadn’t anticipated on such disturbing company. But this one was decorated with touches that showed someone lived here, at least some of the time, with pictures of the Ritan wilderness that had started to recover in the equatorial zone on two walls and a quite large risen and bordered mattress in one corner. “Welcome.” She turned and saw a handsome desk low against one wall. Rdelloff was sitting on the floor, stylus in hand as he worked his way through a two-screen display system. She was familiar with the display-and-workspace setup, as Nance favored it over the display-and-air (and in Ken’s case, keyboard) setup most people used at the Villa.

“Thank you,” she said, feeling a little nervous. She had done this hundreds, thousands of times, and had done it much at the Villa with mels who were more or less complete strangers, although always vetted and trusted by Dave. Most of them had been very pleasant.

None of them had requested the loathsome varieties of “entertainment” she had suffered at the hands of Whatshisname’s “friends,” the long categories of degradations and abuses they had enjoyed taking out on women who couldn’t fight back. Wish didn’t miss any of those. On the other hand, she could honestly say she didn’t hate any of those, either. She had been doing what she was made to do, and she liked to think that she did it well.

But here she was on her own with her own instincts to guide her. Those were as strongly insistent that she wanted sex as they would be if she needed food. But these people were unknown to her, unvetted. Even with Whatshisname’s business deals she had been assured of her safety, after all. The one man who had dared hurt any of them, when he had punched Wren in the face, had never again worked with Whatshisname. That by itself had been a kind of security.

“Wish?” It was the captain looking at her. She had been quiet too long.

“Rdelloff?”

“Just Del, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t,” she said, smiling nervously. “I’m sorry if I went away. I was thinking.”

“May I ask about what?” he said, turning his bulk to look at her. “Tristi told me you were coming, but she made it seem a bit mysterious.”

“Did she tell you…” She paused. “Did she tell you that you are the first people I’ve slept with away from Shardik Castle?”

“Is that a problem?”

The words clicked for her, curiously. She walked up to him and reached out with an open hand for his shoulder, touching him. She knew that she would be all right with Del. Tristi might be different. “No,” she said. “I don’t think so.” Suddenly, already, it felt so good to have the offer out and accepted. Her body was adjusting, preparing. She felt the warmth starting between her legs.

He looked at her, suddenly a bit nervous with her change in attitude. “Do you kiss?” he said.

“I love to kiss,” she whispered. He leaned forward with more awkwardness than she would have expected, his muzzle pressed to her lips, and their tongues matched each other, move for move. Wish felt her body grow warm, her heartbeat slow as she slipped into the erotic groove for which she was made. His guss floated beside her; she felt more than heard or saw them as they probed her, and she wondered what that green fur of his felt like.

But he pulled away from the kiss and looked at her. There was an unmistakable smile on his face as he watched her pull back, equally grinning. “Should we wait for Tristi?” he said.

“That depends,” she said. “You should probably know that you’re going to be my first ‘taurs, too.”

“But couples are no big deal, right?”

“Del, do you do this every voyage? Look for available partners?”

“I don’t,” he said. “But Tristi has this sixth sense for people who are looking to have sex. Usually she brings mels, though, which I don’t mind. It’s a pleasure to have a woman this time. I’m sorry if it sounds so unromantic and mechanical.”

Wish shook her head. “No, it’s what happens when you start being honest. Optimal demystification.”

He looked puzzled at her statement. She laughed. “It means that some of the mystery is taken out of the dance toward getting into bed, but not so much that the entire act is a disappointment.”

“Oh.”

“It applies to other things. Ken thinks there’s no such thing, just an optimal rate of demystification. A pace to it. Too slow and the necessary demystification for making the world better doesn’t take place on time. Too fast and the people who have to live with it get resentful.”

“That’s what Shardik is for. To think about those things for us.”

She giggled. For her, Ken was just the best lover she’d ever known. He was great and attentive, body and mind. She suspected that others would debate the “best” label. P’nyssa, for instance. She hadn’t figured out how that worked for them but they seemed very happy with one another. But she hadn’t found anyone quite like him yet. Sometimes she wondered what that meant. She believed him when he said that he hadn’t repurposed her. Maybe she had somehow repurposed herself.

The door opened behind her and Tristi walked in bearing a small box. “Oh, good, you’re here.” She laid the box down on the desk and opened it. “Truffles?”

Wish reached in and took out one of the small, domed confections. She bit into it and her mouth was flooded with sweet, smooth chocolate. It was one of the better treats she had tasted in years, and she sighed softly at the sensation of it in her mouth. “Wonderful.”

“Our chef makes these in small batches, almost always just for the crew. He’s very good.”

“He made that cake at dinner? I’m sorry I didn’t pay closer attention.”

“You had other things on your mind,” Tristi said.

Wish gestured with the half truffle remaining. “But I won’t say it’s better than sex.”

“Well, that is what we’re here for,” Del said. He grinned at Wish and pulled her into his arms. Wish went willingly, turning in his grip to face him, to kiss him on the muzzle again.

“Let’s get naked,” Tristi said.

That was all they needed. Wish turned her back to Del and said, “Unbutton me, please?”

Del opened the back of her dress and it fell to the floor, leaving her in stockinged feet and plain, white underwear. She noticed Tristi eying her with open desire, so she turned to face Del again and slowly began taking off her underwear, wiggling her butt just enough for Tristi to see it in motion. She knew, from both Ken and P’nyssa’s assessment, that she had one physical asset worth showing off any time, anywhere. They both said she was a beautiful girl with a beautiful face, but both of them went completely silly over her butt.

Tristi was not immune to her charms, although it occurred to Wish that in Tristi’s case it was probably more by analogy, must as Wish’s reaction to Tristi was hard for her to quantify. Tristi wasn’t human and where she had H. sapiens genes, they were so utterly mixed into her Ritan patterns that any instinctual appreciation of the human female form was probably lost on her. That didn’t matter when Tristi put her hands across Wish’s butt and squeezed gently. Wish sighed, feeling the trickle between her thighs build to a momentary squirt. She pushed back against Tristi’s hands.

Del had peeled his clothes off and dropped them on his desk. Wish saw that he had done so with care so as not to wrinkle them. That made her smile. She fell into his arms once again, this time letting the feel of his fur cascade down the front of her body, the pleasure of his body against hers so pure and clean that she could have spent hours there.

But then Tristi’s hands were on her shoulders, down her back, into the ticklish places above her butt, the fingers spreading as if to encompass her waist. “You’re a very beautiful girl,” Tristi breathed in her ear. “And we’re going to take every advantage of you.”

“Every?” Wish whispered back, hopefully.

“Every,” Tristi said as she knelt down to the floor. Tristi was, like most femRitans, burdened with breasts proportionally larger than those of Terran or Pendorian stock, and she pressed herself up against Wish’s back. Wish was briefly aware of her complete lack of similar adornments, but that didn’t seem to be stopping Del from nuzzling her nipples, making her yip softly with the sharp but still pleasurable sensations. She groaned as Del’s fingers started at her knees and slid upward until they almost found her pussy, but then slid past to caress her belly. She was surrounded by the two of them, unable to move, and enjoying every moment.

“Let’s move this to the bed. It’s more comfortable,” he said. Wish broke away from the two lovers and eased herself onto the mattress. It was firm rather than flowing. She preferred the firm, filled type. She watched as Del and Tristi approached her, their broad, squat taurid torsos swaying, their broad, green tails waving. She caught a glimpse of Del’s cock and she knew she would have it by the end of the night. It was a gorgeous, oversized thing, rounded head already glistening.

She waited until they eased into bed next to her. “What do you want, Wish?” Tristi said.

“Whatever I can get.” She smiled and let Tristi pull her into a kiss, lips to muzzle, tongue to tongue. She reached out for Tristi’s lovely breasts, hefting them in her hands, playing with them. When she had a chance she took on nipple in her mouth and suckled on it gently. The nipple grew large and slightly wrinkled in her mouth and Tristi moaned. Wish knew it was the good kind of moan. Del seemed at a loss for something to do, but he instantly found an alternative as he dived between Tristi’s legs and pressed his muzzle up against her pussy.

Wish took on the job of keeping Tristi distracted while Del licked her pussy. It took some time, Wish noticed, but Tristi didn’t complain and Del didn’t stop. The only thing Tristi said as Del licked at her was “More,” but neither knew who it was directed at, so both redoubled their efforts. Just as Tristi seemed to be getting closer, Wish would nip at her breast or lick at her chin or ruffle her whiskers. There was no way she could stop Tristi from coming if Del kept up his end of the job but in the meantime she could frustrate Tristi, making the pleasure and relief all the greater.

Wish understood frustration and relief all too well.

Tristi came with a low, shuddering groan that scuttered through her body, her guss dropping to the mattress, her hands clenched tight on Wish’s arms.

Del came up from where he had been, his muzzle dripping with Tristi’s juices. Wish held onto Tristi with one hand while she pulled him into her embrace and licked Tristi’s juices off.

“That was amazing,” Tristi whispered. “Thank you, both of you.”

“Mmm,” Del said. “What’s next?”

“Your turn,” Wish said.

“Mine? What about you?”

Wish brushed at his whiskers with the back of her hand, caressing one of his vulpine ears. “I’m happy just being here, doing things.”

She caressed his chest, recalling momentarily that melRitans had neither nipples nor testicles, unlike their Terran-based analogues, the Ssphynces. What she wanted now was to get at Del. Just at the edge of her vision Tristi watched with an amused expression on her muzzle as Wish slipped over Del’s back, her legs spread, getting her juices all in his fur. His fur was so soft between her thighs, its silkiness stroking the skin of her legs and her hairless pussy. She wrapped her arms around his waist and whispered in his ear, “Can I suck your cock?”

Del gave one terse nod as Wish slipped down the length of his lower body, dropping off to one side again as he rolled willingly onto his side, raising one leg to let her in. His cock was a hard baton, slightly bent upward toward his belly, its long, tapering shaft ending in a slight flare of the head. It had a scent that was something like sweat and something like cinnamon, heavy and unsweetened and wonderful. Wish opened her mouth to lick at the base, where the green-furred sheath allowed such a beautiful monster to emerge and the inner skin, so pale and white, was momentarily exposed. She sealed her lips about his cock, her tongue tasting the slick and slightly greasy natural lubricant that allowed his erection to slide from its hiding place inside his body.

Del groaned as she slipped along the length of it. It was easily one of the larger cocks she had ever seen, even among Whatshisname’s friends with tastes in body modification, although she doubted she would have any trouble taking it. The head fit in her mouth with little room to spare but when she slipped it to the back of her throat she knew she’d never be able to get it down.

Del didn’t seem to care. His leg, the one he had lifted for her, had fallen just short of her head, leaving his crotch exposed. She heard two voices moaning up above and figured that Tristi was doing for him what Wish had done for her.

Wish couldn’t possibly give his cock the kind of attention it deserved, so she played with its length with her lips and her fingers, feeling a bit out of place without a scrotum to play with.

She turned her body around and prepared herself to receive his cock. “Del?”

“Please,” he gasped, rolling over completely onto his back.

She lay down lengthwise across his lower torso. Ritans are long, she realized, looking up the length of his body and realizing that his head was almost a meter away from hers, and that distance was about to get longer as she slid down the silky fur of his belly until the head of his cock nuzzled up against her pussy. She slipped down further and the head pressed in, bowing the flesh about her opening until it stretched, parted, allowed him entrance into her body.

With her feet firmly planted on the mattress on either side of his body, she pushed downward until she happily felt the skin of his sheath pressing against her flushed nether lips. She was full, so full, but that wasn’t nearly as important as just being here, doing what she was meant to do, being used as she was meant to be used. She pressed upward and then back down, establishing a rhythm to fucking herself on Del’s beautiful cock. She could feel it rippling within her pussy. She placed her hands on his lower torso and fucked him gently.

A shadow fell over her as Tristi blocked the lights overhead. She had planted her own pussy over Del’s face. Her forelimbs were near Wish’s head and she towered over the two recumbent lovers, but she seemed happy to just sit there and distract Del. Del’s cock was a static piston in her active, gripping pussy, and Wish wondered if she’d ever get a chance to taste Tristi herself. She wanted to.

She looked at the two of them, so happy and complete, and even as she fucked Del, even as she felt her own satisfaction at her finding someone to fuck, someone to make happy who would appreciate her gifts, she realized that her best happiness was to be found in the protective womb of Shardik Villa where Dave and Ken would do everything in their power to shield her from the world, as she asked him. Del’s body shifted, his rear paws batting at the air in unconscious tension as he reached for coming. Wish closed her eyes and concentrated on his pleasure, clamping down with her pussy in such a way that he groaned with the added pleasures.

She felt his climax coming and held onto his chestfur even as his back arched, his body rising off the bed in that last, desperate moment before ecstasy crashed through him, his shout of pleasure filling her ears. Del’s cock was big enough she actually felt the pulses of it within her own body as his semen filled her with warmth.

She sighed and held onto him tightly even as he rolled over, pinning one of her legs underneath his belly. She giggled as she tried to extract it. She was a tiny creature compared to these two: she barely massed 42 kilos, and they were probably closer to two hundred– each. He lay there, recovering his breath. Mels always seemed to come harder when a fem was on top than on the bottom. She could never figure that out, because when the mel was on top he was doing most of the work.

The wetness between her legs begged for a towel. “Del? Could you let me go, please?”

“What? Oh, I’m sorry!” He rolled just enough for her leg to get free, and she stood up, letting his semen trickle down her legs. It was such a strange and messy sensation, but Wish liked it because it was the final sign of her doing her job well.

“Tristi, do you have any towels?”

“In the drawer right there,” Tristi said, indicating one next to the bed. Wish found one and wiped herself clean, being sure to take at least one taste. It was not awful, but she wouldn’t crave it the way she would the taste of pussy. That was another change in her life since The Villa.

“Was she good?” Tristi said to Del.

Del looked up. He seemed dazed. “Amazing. Just amazing.”

“And did you come?” Tristi said, turning to direct the question at Wish.

Wish closed her eyes and let the utmost contentment she felt rise to the surface so she could feel it in her skin and taste it in her mouth. “I got enough.”

“Are you sure?”

Wish nodded, happy. “I’m very sure,” she said, stepping back and holding out her arms to encompass both of them. “You’ve both been incredible to me. Thank you so much.”

Wish noticed a familiar dynamic in the way Tristi and Del interacted. Now that Del had come, the moment was over. She couldn’t help but wonder if everything that had happened had been an excuse for Del to get off or just the normal course of events. The funny thing was that she wasn’t disappointed, just curious. Her body was quieted, its demands for attention eased. She had had more than enough for the time being, and she was happy with herself.

Eventually, Del rolled over and stretched. “Wish may be a passenger, but you and I have to be in bed, gah, half an hour ago, if we’re to see the Festive into port safely.”

“I should probably be going to my bunk, then,” Wish said.

Tristi leaned over the edge of the bed to a ship’s terminal, pulled up several screens and nodded. “Your bunk had just been cleared for the next twelve hours. That should be more than enough sleep for you.”

“I hope that’s not a problem,” Wish said. She worried that she was displacing someone else.

“No, I gave you a block of time we usually reserve for medical emergencies. Of course, if we do have one, you’ll lose the last three hours. So you should start using it soon.”

“Thank you,” Wish said, giving Tristi a hug that had no reservations. Tristi purred softly in Wish’s embrace. “I’m sorry I never got to you,” Wish continued.

“Maybe on the return trip?” she said. “You can always book with the Festive. Just ask an AI.”

Wish looked up at her. “I’ll do that.”

“Will you two little birds go twitter somewhere else?” Del said, tossing a pillow over his head.

Tristi sighed. “He’s right.”

“I’ll go find my space,” Wish said. She dressed casually and put herself together before giving Tristi one last hug and walking out to the hallway. She found her own way to the bunk she had requested. The hallway was wide enough for a centaur, which Wish thought odd because this was all humanoid bunking. She located her bunk, on the bottom thankfully (she had no wish to use top half, which would have required stairs). She was small enough that it was a luxury of space, and the mattress and covers were very comfortable. Her body was still warm with pleasures as she fell asleep.