Tere had used her.
Polly's experiences with Rhiane, Saul, and Tere had taught her that mutual masturbation and fumbling experimentation were no longer enough. She knew there was more. A lot more than the incompetence of her teenage years might have hinted. She was just too intimidated, too timid to seek out that more on her own.
She had retreated to the Black Cat, the cafe' that the Sterlings-- at least her group of Sterlings-- had picked as their own in the ship's Concourse. She sat and stirred a milky, sweetened coffee while in the corner of the cafe a quartet of musicians played. She tried not to let the anger stewing within her rise to the surface but every thought of Tere and Saul and the loves that might have been aroused only the dark red haze of frustrated desire.
A crowd of women streamed through the door. Polly recognized most of the Sterlings by sight if not by name, and her mood was broken by the sight of one extraordinarily tall, strong-looking woman who sat close by. Polly had seen her once or twice doing guard duty at the entrance to the Embassy Section of "Sterling Country," but had never met. Rhiane followed in the back of the crowd. "Polly! I haven't seen you in a week! Can I sit here? How's my favorite medtech?" The chair made a loud sound scraping against the slated floor.
"I'm okay," Polly said.
"No, you're not," Rhiane said. "I've seen that look before. Do I have to take you somewhere and drag it out of you?"
"Of course it is," Rhiane said. She lowered her voice in the pretense that others wouldn't hear their conversation. "Now, tell me what's going on."
Polly growled for a second, then finally managed. "Twice this week, I've... I've gone out. No, I guess I just had sex. With Pendorians. One was a masc."
Rhiane covered her mouth with her hand. "You had sex with a masc?" She managed to keep her whisper down but not much. Polly nodded, embarrassed. "So...?"
Polly sighed. "I liked him better. I mean, he wasn't all that special. I didn't have any of those things that, you know, they say about making it with a masc. He was just nicer than the fem." Polly felt a twinge in her heart as she regretted downplaying just how nice Saul had been.
"I think I should be impressed," Rhiane whispered. "I might even be jealous. But... I mean... how did it work?"
"As well as it does with two Ys. Maybe better, because she-- he-- wasn't at all conflicted the way Ys sometimes are." Polly paused. "They way I sometimes am."
Rhiane reached and gripped Polly's hand in compassion. Polly jerked her hand back in annoyance, but her hand flew free and smacked into the coffee she had been drinking.
The cup went sailing and struck the thigh of the tall woman, spraying its contents all over her lap. "Oh, Goddess!" Polly said, grabbing the few napkins she had at the table. The woman remained as aloof as a cat when Polly knelt by her side and began sopping up as much of the coffee as she could. She blotted at the woman's calf-length skirt and continued even as a strange sensation coming from the woman's chair registered against her palm. No, not the chair, from her. A buzzing, quivering sensation. Polly paused, shocked, and looked up into the woman's face. The other woman nodded once and said, "Find something?"
"No, I mean-- no. Are you okay?"
"I'll be fine," the other woman said with a curiously distant tone to her voice. Polly recognized her accent as being from Shearrs, up in the northern continent of Sparta. A lot of Goddess Primitive country up there. A lot of good soldiers came from there too. "Why don't you ask one of the Pendorians for a towel?"
Rhiane had already fetched one. She handed it to the woman, who proceeded to press it into her skirt strategically. She seemed to shudder momentarily as she concentrated on the space above her groin. "Sorry," she said without expression. "I'm ticklish."
Polly knew better.
The towel was clearly one of those Pendorian miracles as even the distinct coffee color Polly had expected was now gone. The woman handed Polly the towel. "Maybe you should get the floor."
Polly nodded and dropped to her knees to sop up the spilled drink. She returned the towel to the femVulpin behind the counter. She turned her chair a little as she sat down, the better to see the woman she had just doused. Taking her gesture as a hint, the woman leaned over and said, "Since you've already given me a warm bath, why don't you tell me your name?"
"Polly. Lieutenant Polly San Tarvo, medical technician first class, now with Commander San Txema's marine detachment."
"Zia," the other woman said. "Lieutenant Zia Tau, military police, detached to the Embassy Honor Guard."
Lt. Tau's accent was so solidly Shearrs. She had to be from Sparta, but her name sounded Athenian. There was a San Tau familial line on Sparta, early second-generation Athenians who had shipped to Sparta during the Second Exodus for political reasons, but Zia hadn't included the Spartan 'San' prefix. Confused, Polly said, "I'm sorry about the coffee, Lieutenant Tau."
"You'll find a way."
Shaken and unsure of what she meant, Polly merely nodded. She turned her attention back to Rhiane but her track of the conversation had folded with the spilled coffee. She still wanted to talk to Rhiane but part of her imagination kept coming back to Lt. Tau and what she was wearing under her clothes. Polly knew she shouldn't be thinking about such things: that kind of odd kinkiness was something the Pendorians might do, but one of them, especially from the military guard-- it was nearly unthinkable. The more she considered it the more it seemed to overtake her, but she couldn't say if it was curiosity or distaste or some form of obsession. "Polly?"
"Huh?" She turned back to Rhiane. "I'm sorry. I... "
"Ilonca makes fun of me when I drift off. But I've never seen you drift off that way. What's wrong?"
Polly shrugged. "I wish I could put it into words." She relayed the conversation she had had with Tere, hoping to have something to distract her from thinking about Lieutenant Tau. "I think I found it right there, but there's still something missing. I want what you and Ilonca have, but I want it with someone who'll be mine first, the way you and Ilonca seem to be each others' first, and then I want it to last long enough for me to figure out what it is I'm looking for. Does that make sense?"
"A little." Rhiane giggled and leaned over so that she could whisper even more quietly. "You certainly seem to have your eye on Lieutenant Tau. I didn't think she was your type."
Polly regarded the tall, distant woman more openly. "Not very talkative, is she?"
"She's part of Tempany's honor guard. Chosen for her height, among other things. I would have thought it was a trait of the guard, but Rosa is a guardswoman and she's more sociable. Dunno. Besides, fraternizing with an MP might be a bad idea."
Polly grinned. "I've never been good about good ideas."
Rhiane's hand closed on her hers again and this time Polly didn't pull it away. "Kissing me was a good idea."
"Do you regret it?"
Polly shook her head. "Not for a second. I just wanted..."
Rhiane lifted Polly's hand and kissed the back softly. "I know. I'm sorry." They sat together, holding hands across the table. Polly was sure rumors would start up. She knew Rhiane could care less what others said about her. Rhiane said, "How was church?"
"You passed me in the hallway Sunday morning dressed for it. I know you usually didn't go when we were on the Bones, so I thought I should ask."
"I go once in a while. Usually when I'm feeling depressed. Commander San Txema gave the sermon, and... it didn't help. Apparently, she's really worried about the corrupting moral influence the Pendorians are having on us. She said Sterling Country is a 'haven' from their excessively perverse culture, and we should stay within its borders as much as possible. Which is the opposite message from the one Ms. Tempany gives us." She glanced over at Lt. Tau, then grinned and lowered her voice again. "I guess I'm too much of a slut. I've done it with two Pendorians since coming on board. For all the good it's doing me."
"It's been a month since we came on board," Rhiane said, equally quiet. "I think if you worked at it you could have a different Pendorian every night. I think anyone from Sterling Country could."
"What about Lt. Tau?"
"You are interested in her, aren't you?" Rhiane grinned wide. "As far as I know, she's not dating anyone. Kinda cold, really." Rhiane squeezed Polly's hand once more, then let go. "So why not the masc?"
"Are you always full of non-sequitors?"
"Ilonca says it drives her crazy. Now, tell me."
Polly sighed. "I don't know. I... I want to see her, I mean him, again. He was nice to me. He said all the right things. He cared about my pleasure, and he let me, uh, you know, with him. He seemed to like it a lot, too. And I think he'd like to see me again. I just don't think it would be right. I think I should find my place with a Sterling first."
Rhiane said, "There aren't a lot of Sterlings on this trip. I don't want you to be hurt."
"I can try every one of them first before I go outside the borders of Sterling Country. Might take the whole trip."
Rhiane sighed. "I hope you find her soon, Polly."
Polly nodded, giving Lt. Tau a nervous glance. "I hope so too."
A week later Polly was sitting in a different bar late into the evening, this time with Ilonca and Rhiane, the latter of whom was learning to appreciate wine. Rhiane apparently wasn't much of a drinker. Ilonca was trying to teach them both the difference between a Merlot, Shiraz, and Norton. Polly was tapping at the rim of her glass, trying not to think too much about the alcohol she wasn't drinking. "You okay?" Rhiane asked.
Polly shrugged. There was a part of her that wanted to go back to her room now and leave these happy women behind, to go and feed her anger alone. Either that, or start drinking the wine and blot out the anger and the frustration. "I guess I am."
"I can't go back to Saul now even if I wanted."
"Huh?" Both women said it at the same time.
She looked up at Ilonca. "Did Rhiane tell you I'd slept with a masc?" Ilonca shook her head, clearly stunned. She tried to play the cosmopolitan Minervan but underneath she was as conservative as the rest of the Sterlings. The idea that someone she knew had finally done it and slept with a Pendorian masc, especially a Y like Polly, was probably a lot for her. "Oh. I did. A nice man. I found out that he and Khrystyne are..." Her hands fumbled, fingers joined, meshed, then separated.
"Oh, no," Rhiane said. "I'm sorry, Polly. But I thought you weren't serious about him."
"I wasn't. But it's Khrystyne! That doesn't make a whole lot of sense." She stopped suddenly with a commonplace slack expression on her face before reaching for her phone. She opened the clamshell and read the message. An odd chill run through her.
Ilonca said, "Polly? Something wrong?"
Polly shook her head. "I don't think so." She carefully put the phone away in her pocket. "I've got to go."
Rhiane said, "At this hour? What's going on?"
"I just have to go. Okay?"
She stood and Rhiane did as well. They exchanged hugs, and Rhiane said, "If there's anything going on, you'll let us know, right?"
Polly walked out of the bar and back to the SDisk that would take her to Sterling Country. She checked her phone once again to make sure that the message read what she thought it did. "Meet me in Sterling Civilian Conference Room 4 at midnight. Tau."
The Civilian Conference Rooms were in the section of Sterling Country that projected into the Pendorian main living area and the Pendorians had readily closed off most of their corridors that led into the Sterling's territory. They seemed to tolerate with amusement the "sovereign, independent and autonomous territory of the Free Worlds."
The Pendorians had also adjusted the clocks in Sterling Country to match those of Free Worlds Military Star Time, which was exactly 24 Terran hours long, longer than the day on Sparta by 16 minutes, but shorter than the day on either Athens or Minerva. Since the Pendorians hour was exactly the same length as theirs but their day was 30 hours long, the Sterling internal clock drifted with respect to the Pendorians'. One could be sure that one's "morning" was congruent with the Pendorians only every five Sterling days, which was every four Pendorian days. It didn't help that the Pendorians had a six-day workweek and the Sterlings' the more traditional seven: Rhiane had calculated that the beginning of their week and the beginning of the Sterling week would only coincide once every 84 days. It was a good thing the Pendorians didn't seem to have much concept of "the weekend" anyway.
Right now, the clocks were congruent: it was midnight on the Sterlings' schedule, meaning that it was also six hours before "daybreak" on the Pendorian's, and it was the weekend on the Sterlings'. The timing made Polly nervous: she doubted Tau would consider assault (or worse), but San Txema was becoming paranoid about "Pendorian perversion" worming its way into the Sterling heart, especially among her subordinates, and Polly could think of only one way that Lt. Tau had acquired the device she wore.
The lights were low in the hallways, the kind of low usually found in a hotel at this hour, preservative to both eyes and electricity, although she doubted the Pendorians worried about either. It was more likely that AI Thiaeria had programmed them this way and no one on the Sterling side had bothered to ask about it. It just "felt right." The Pendorians were good at doing what felt right.
Polly grimaced. She was being seduced as readily as everyone else. She was getting used to these little advantages and would miss them, for a while, when they were gone. Solace came only from the knowledge that she would accommodate. Humans were good at that.
She found the door marked "Conference Room 4" and heard a shuffle as she opened the door. She found Lt. Tau on her feet, staring at her with the same reserved, expressionless gaze she had held even as Polly had dabbed up spilled coffee from her thigh. Tau wore a grey skirt that covered her down to her ankles, a white shirt with red trim at the cuffs, and a light-brown woolen vest. She looked like the perfect, demure woman from Spartan farming lands. Like most Sterlings now, like Polly herself, she wore a pair of glasses supplied by the Pendorians that allowed her to participate in the daily life of the ship outside Sterling Country. The room was empty except for the single chair on which she had been sitting, waiting. "Pollyanna San Tarvo," Tau said.
"Tau," Polly said, unsure. "I... " Tau had called her here but she was filled with the need to speak out. "What were you thinking, Tau? I couldn't believe you had one of those... those things! Wearing one in public like that? Where did you get it from?"
"From the Pendorian toy shop on the mall," Tau said with a matter-of-fact voice. "They sell them. They're legal."
"That doesn't matter, Lieutenant! Commander San Txema... she wants..."
"The Commander wants what the commander wants, Miss San Tarvo."
Polly hissed, "You have to keep that kind of thing a secret, Tau."
"Fine." Tau reached for the edge of her skirt. There was the tearing sound of hooktape and the skirt crumpled about Tau's ankles. She wore low-heeled sensible shoes and ankle socks. "I'll do it with you."
"What?" Polly's shock took seconds to resolve. She mentally played back the last thing she'd said and realized that her warning could have been taken as a threat. Did Tau think she was being blackmailed? Polly's eyes travelled up from Tau's calves to her waist, where she wore white panties that bulged with the unmistakable presence of some alien device, some powerful sexual toy that kept Tau in a constant state of... pleasure? Was it possible to have pleasure and yet remain so aloof, so distant from everyone else? Polly wasn't sure. She wanted to know.
"You're a Y. You want it. I'm an X. I'll do it. Come here."
Against the shock that walled her feelings about her, Polly stepped close to Zia Tau and suddenly realized just how tall the other woman really was. Tau had to be at least 180cm tall, a full 30cm taller than Polly.
Polly's cock was surging hard against the material of her own underwear, painfully constricted by the rules of the military, desperate to take control of this tall, powerful woman. She wanted to take her cock out and give herself the room and the freedom she needed. Tau offered that opportunity. Polly took it.
Tau pulled off her underwear, revealing the device underneath, a narrow belt of purple leather-like material, a shield-like face that covered her pussy and hid whatever it might be doing underneath. "But you'll have to take that off," Tau said.
Polly reached for the purple thing and pulled it down. She gasped as the aroma of Tau's constantly aroused pussy reached her. The smell provoked her desire even higher. Part of her knew it was wrong, what she was doing, but in her lust and frustration she no longer cared. She reached down with her hand and slid it over Tau's mound, discovering for herself another degree to which Tau was perverse: she had shaved all the hair off. Polly would never have thought of doing something like that. But the touch of bare skin, the exposure of such pretty pussy lips, made Polly want Tau all the more. The girl was a such deviant. If she couldn't help herself Polly wasn't going to help her either.
"Get on the floor," Polly said. Still expressionless, Tau dropped to the ground, to her knees. Their height no longer mattered so much. "On your back." Tau did as she was told. Polly grinned and placed her hand between Tau's legs, sliding her hand over the desire-slicked skin. "That's so perverted, Tau. How did you get your skin so smooth?"
"Just... just a razor. San Tarvo, Fuck me."
Polly took a few seconds to push off her own skirt, and then joined Tau on the floor. She positioned her cock at the opening to Tau's pussy and drove her way in with a single, demanding thrust.
"Unh," Tau groaned. To Polly's ears it sounded good. She slipped all the way into Tau's pussy with an ease that surprised her. It wasn't difficult at all. Tau was tight but wet, as if she had been aroused for hours.
Polly held herself up and looked down on Tau's expression. It wasn't much changed but for an embarrassed blush to her face and a slight smile on her lips as Polly fucked her. Polly tried to see between them but her shirt flapped in rhythm to her thrusts and blocked the view. The few times she caught a glimpse it was still the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, the sight of her cock sliding in and out of Tau's hairless pussy. It drove her wild with need. Tau was groaning, thrashing underneath her, "Fuh, fuh, fuh, fuck..."
If that was a command, well, Tau was in no place to be giving commands. Polly was willing to supply what she seemed to be asking. Her cock slid deep into Tau, their bodies slammed together. She reached down and grabbed one of Tau's legs, lifted it up, put it over her shoulder. "There," she said, suddenly feeling aggressive, powerful-- male. It was something she always wanted to feel. She wanted to feel like she deserved to have a cock, deserved to be a Y, and Tau was giving her that. She fucked Tau relentlessly, using Tau's thigh as a lever, as a grip, pulling and pushing, slamming her cock deep into Tau's pussy over and over until she groaned, "Coming!" Her cock throbbed with persistent desire as she shoved her load deep into Tau's pussy.
She let go of the leg she was holding. It fell to the ground with a thump. Tau's head was turned to the side, a little dribble of saliva coursing down her cheek. "Tau?"
"Mm," Tau said abruptly. She turned over. "You came pretty well."
Polly wasn't sure what to make of that. Tau grabbed her skirt and pulled it back over her body, pushing her bottom up just enough to get it around her waist, then fixing it. She pocketed the purple Pendorian device. "Whenever you want more, just say so."
With that she left, abandoning Polly to the floor. Polly rolled over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She smiled. Tau was quite beautiful in her own, strange way. She was a pervert who made Polly feel the way Polly wanted to feel. If she was going to be perverted, then Polly would help the only way she knew how.
The room smelled of sex. The lights were too bright in her eyes. It was too late at night, and she needed to get sleep before the next day. Dressing, Polly felt only the most brief twinge of guilt, only the most insignificant brush of conscience. But it was still there, and she worried about what it might mean to her.