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Tales from the Stream Ch. 05

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Author’s Note

Space pirates. Lesbian space pirates. That’s really all you need to know. Well, that and not a lot of overt sex. Sexiness yes, but story first and no lurid details.

This is a series. Starting with chapter one will help avoid confusion.

When we last left our space pirates, they had just made their way into the tachyon stream and deployed the sails to start their interplanetary adventure. Where will their first stop take them?

*

Chapter 5: Megacomf Brian

In the lounge of The Black Prince

As soon as Amaliya signed onto the net, a man in a plaid suit with a Cheshire’s smile appeared as a holographic image in the air above her terminal. He started to speak. Amaliya swiped to mute the sound and threw her hands in the air.

“Who is this fucking guy?” she said. “He shows up every time I sign on.”

“That’s Megacomf Brian,” said Jade.

Amaliya stared.

“Megacomf Brian? You’ve never heard of Megacomf Brian? ‘You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megacomf.'” Jade gave a little thrust of her hips to punctuate the tag line.

“We should get one of those,” said Emily. “I hear they’re wonderfully pneumatic. Particularly in zero-G.”

“And hella expensive.” Jade frowned. “Cost ye a coupla gold Doubloons, it would. Argh.”

“Never heard of it,” said Amaliya.

“You know what?” said Emily. “I heard Megacomf Brian isn’t really the founder of Megacomf. The real owner’s this totally derpy guy who couldn’t get his lines right, so Megacomf Brian had to step in.”

“You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megaconf.” Sister Lúcia had unmuted the video and started it over from the beginning. Five seconds in, the man in the plaid suit was surrounded by a trio of young women in sleeveless mini dresses and go-go boots.

“Which brings us back to my original question,” Amaliya said. “Who is this fucking guy?”

“I heard he was the ad exec assigned to the account,” said Emily.

“You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megaconf,” said the man in the hologram. There was a twinkle in his eye.

Lúcia grinned.

“That’s such bullshit,” said Jade. “Megacomf Brian is not an ad exec. Who would say something like that?”

Lúcia swirled her finger over the panel and tapped it. The man in the suit fell backward onto a plush sofa with the women in go-go boots giggling and falling in after. “You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megaconf.”

“Well, that’s what I heard.” Emily folder her arms across her chest.

“That explains why I don’t like him,” said Amaliya. “The only goal of advertising is to create feelings of inadequacy. A void that can only be filled by one thing. Their fucking product. It’s like psychology twisted into madness that creates the insatiable desire to consume. Fuck advertising execs.”

Jade and Emily looked at each other.

“You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megaconf.”

Lúcia looked up. “If I had not taken a vow of poverty, I would ask for one of these sofas for Christmas.”

* * *

Later that same day

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking.” The tiny intercom speaker crackled with distortion as it relayed the message. “Captain Jade… Dread Captain Jade of the Black Prince… Most fearsome ship in the galaxy.”

Amayla extended her middle finger toward the ceiling-mounted speaker and went back to her oatmeal.

“She never gets tired of it, does she?” said Emily.

“You’re the one who showed her how it works.”

“Please put your seatbacks and tray tables in the fully upright and locked position. We’re coming up on the Charles De Galle Space Elevator and will be docking shortly.”

Amaliya grumbled.

“Intercoms don’t kill people,” Emily said, “People kill people.”

“You’re both on my list right now,” said Amaliya.

“I hope you are at least enjoying your breakfast,” said Lúcia.

“Mm-hmm,” said Amaliya, pulling the spoon from her mouth, “It’s really good. I’m used to our rations tasting so blah. What’s your secret?”

“Sister Jane sent a care package of some dried herbs and spices, for us to use while we get our garden established. There was a tiny bit of dust from the cinnamon bark that had stuck to its parchment wrapping. I hope you don’t mind, I sprinkled it on your breakfast.”

“Mmm,” said Amaliya around another bite, “I think I’m in love with Sister Jane and her cinnamon bark.” Amaliya chewed. “And you, too, for thinking of it.”

Lúcia blushed as Amaliya reached out to pinch her cheek.

“I’m pleased you like it,” said Lúcia. Then after a pause, “What will we be doing when we get to Nouveau Paris?”

“Shopping,” said Emily.

Amaliya nodded. “Definitely shopping.”

“I have no money,” said Lúcia.

“Neither do we,” said Amaliya. “We just look around.”

“It’s called window shopping,” Emily added. “You just go to the stores and try things you know you can’t afford. The sales people, they can tell you’ve got no money, but they have to be nice to you anyway. It’s like a store bilecik escort policy.”

Amaliya nodded. “But you can’t stay in one store too long. Otherwise they get suspicious like you’re going to steal something.”

“It’s all part of the game,” said Emily.

“I would like to window shop in the Megacomf store.” said Lúcia. “I would like to meet this Megacomf Brian.”

“I don’t know if you can do that. The advertisement’s like a hundred years old. I doubt ole Brian’s still around unless they’ve got him on ice in a cryogenic clinic somewhere.”

“Oh he’s still around,” said Emily. “But I heard the fame was too much for him. He lives on a private island somewhere on a secure and undisclosed planet. Got a new ID made up and everything. Maybe some cosmetic surgery. All the recent advertisements are CGI.”

“I don’t think they let people into witness protection for being too famous,” said Amaliya, chasing down the last bits of oatmeal with her spoon.

“That’s what I heard. Besides, it’s not witness protection. He didn’t testify against anybody. He sells sofas. Really nice sofas.” Emily crossed her arms over her chest.

“Still,” said Lúcia, “I would like to meet him. Anyone who brings a sofa of so much comfort must surely be—”

“Loyal crew, this is your captain speaking.” The little overhead speaker crackled. “Captain Jade… The Dread pirate Captain Jade… Queen of all she surveys. And right now she’s surveying the Charles De Galle Space Elevator. Prepare yourselves for spindown and docking maneuvers… Or ramming speed and boarding. Depends on Her Captainship’s mood, I suppose.”

“Speaking in third person now, are we?” mumbled Amaliya. Still, she tapped the heel of her right boot and magnetized it to the floor with a click. The left boot followed. Similar clicks came from around the table.

* * *

Nouveau Paris

The four young women stepped out of the dry sterile air of the Charles De Galle planetside terminus and into the cool, clingy moisture of the outdoors. In her hand, Emily held a cheap, disposable variety computer tablet with the words Michelin Guide currently bouncing around the edges of its screen.

“Jade inhaled deeply. “Ahh, Paris in the spring.”

“Nouveau Paris,” said Amaliya.

Emily swiped her finger over the tablet screen. “It says here the Champs-Élysées on Nouveau Paris is 40,007 kilometers long, 40,005 kilometers longer than the original on Earth.”

“Oh,” said Lúcia.

“It wraps around the entire planet,” said Emily.

“Wow!” said Amaliya. “That’s a lot of shopping.”

“Oh,” said Lúcia, rather flatly. “Oh, boy.”

“I’m not complaining,” answered Emily.

“Oh, no,” said Lúcia, as she stumbled.

“Gotcha,” said Jade, catching Lúcia by her arm.

“I… I don’t…” Lúcia broke loose from Jade’s embrace, ran for a nearby bush and proceeded to retch.

“You okay, hon?” asked Amaliya.

“I am sorry,” said Lúcia.

“Nonsense,” said Jade, taking a seat next to Lúcia, on the edge of the low stone border separating the wide cobblestone walkway from the shrubs in the garden. “Let’s rest for a while.”

Emily offered a hand to help Lúcia to a sitting position and Amaliya dug in her pockets for a tissue.

“Thank you,” said Lúcia, with her head hung between her knees. “I am sorry.”

“Nonsense,” repeated Jade. “How long were you on the Hildegard von Bingen?”

“Half my life.”

“Any shore leave?”

“Hildegard von Bingen is our home. We had a beautiful garden that provided food and oxygen. God provided the rest.”

“So you never left.”

“I never wanted to.”

“Disconcerting, isn’t it? The horizon.”

“I have not been anywhere that was not within twenty meters of a ship’s hull for a very long time.” Lúcia sat up and rested her head on Jade’s shoulder. “And when I was… Those were not good times.”

“Do you need to go back, hon?” Amaliya laid a hand on Lúcia’s shoulder. “I’ll stay on the ship with you if you don’t feel good.”

“What about window shopping?”

“It’s overrated,” said Emily. “Besides, a good crew sticks together. Where one goes, we all go.”

“Thank you, but I will be fine in a few minutes. I’m sure of it.”

“Let’s rest,” said Jade. “Captain’s orders.”

“What’s that in your ear, Captain Jade?” Lúcia asked, looking up from Jade’s shoulder.

“You like?” Jade put her finger behind her earlobe and pushed forward a small gold ring. “I found it in Latte Lady’s stateroom. A pirate always wears a gold earring. It covers the funeral expenses when she dies unexpectedly.”

“Seriously?” said Amaliya.

Jade nodded enthusiastically.

“Who is this Latte Lady?” Lúcia asked.

“She the one… The Black Prince… We, um…” Amaliya paused.

“We stole her ship after Amaliya slipped her a mickey.”

“I see,” said Lúcia.

“It had a really stupid name before. The ship. Grand Allusion,” Jade said. “Can you believe that? It’s better off with us.”

“I see,” said Lúcia.

“Oh, it’s an eyeball escort bilecik planet,” proclaimed Emily, gaze still fixed on her Michelin Guide. “That’s why the Champs-Élysées wraps around the entire globe. It’s only a thin belt around the middle that’s inhabitable.”

“What’s an eyeball planet?” asked Amaliya.

Emily tapped and swiped and then handed the tablet to Amaliya.

“No shit,” said Amaliya. “Hm.”

“Do tell,” said Jade.

“The planet’s tidal locked. The same side always faces its sun. It doesn’t have a spin like we were used to on Earth or Kepler.”

“Makes sense,” said Emily.

“What does?” asked Lúcia

“Why they only live in a narrow band around the middle,” said Emily.

“The sunward side’s too hot and the other side is too cold.” Amaliya pointed, illustrating the directions as she spoke.

“So, Paris in the freezing winter over there,” Jade said pointing to the dark horizon, “and Paris in the oppressive summer over there. And here we are in the middle… Paris in the spring. I love it.”

“Leave it to the French,” said Amaliya, passing the guidebook back to Emily.

Lúcia sat up a little straighter. “Is there a Megacomf store on this Champs-Élysées? I would really like to meet this Megacomf Brian.”

“I think she’s better,” said Emily.

“Definitely,” said Amaliya.

“Let’s all hold hands,” suggested Jade. “That way if any of us gets woozy, nobody stumbles and falls.”

“Sisters?” said Amaliya, holding out her hand.

“Sisters,” said Emily.

“Sisters,” Lúcia said. “Very different than my sisters on the Hildegard von Bingen, but sisters all the same.”

“And baguette,” proclaimed Jade, as they set out. “You need a little something in your stomach, hon. And on the Champs-Élysées, there’s bound to be at least one good bakery.”

Emily piped up, “Maybe a crah… cwah…”

“Croissant?” said Amaliya.

“That’s it!”

“You up for it, Lúcia?” asked Jade.

Lúcia nodded. The four of them walked hand in hand.

* * *

“I truly love Sister Jane with all my heart,” said Lúcia. “She was like a mother to me and kept me well fed for many years of my life. But if anyone could usurp her in the kitchen, it might be… What is the name of this place?”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Jade. “It’s Nouveau Paris. We’re on the Champs-Élysées. The heart of a city that stretches around an entire planet. Anywhere you go is going to be this good.”

“I may need a nap.” Lúcia patted her tummy, and leaned back from the tiny cafe table.

“What about Megacomf Brian,” said Emily, reaching for her cafe au lait.

Amaliya made a quick zipper motion with her fingers across her lips. Captain Jade rolled her eyes.

“Yes, I did see a… a… how do you say it? Outlet store? It was on the Michelin Guide map. Emily showed it to me.” Lúcia sighed. “I would very much like to visit.”

Amaliya held her head in her hand and Jade chuckled briefly.

“It’s only another kilometer and a half,” said Emily, grinning.

“Who’s up for a leisurely stroll?” asked Jade. “In Paris. Nouveau Paris. In the spring.”

Emily knocked back the last of her latte. “I want to try on some dresses. Something fun. Spring fashions.”

“Lúcia, how’s your tummy?”

“I am ready to meet Megacomf Brian at his Mega outlet store, Captain.”

“You sure? Puking on the Megacomf is definitely frowned upon by the local inhabitants.”

“I will be fine.”

Jade laid a stack of Francs on the table as she rose from her seat.

“You don’t have to pay for everything,” said Emily.

“It’s alright,” said Jade. “I always keep some cash on hand. And we definitely don’t want to be using plastic. One transaction and the authorities will have a bead on exactly where we are. Let’s try to remember that while we’re shopping.”

“Aye, Cap’n,” said Amaliya. “Lucky for me, my account was already overdrawn before we set out on our adventure.”

Jade looked at Emily. “I don’t suppose your computer expertise extends to counterfeiting, does it?”

“Sorry, cracking the encryption on transponder codes is one thing. Financial systems is a whole ‘nother level.”

“Where’s Lúcia?” Amaliya asked.

“Shit,” mumbled Jade, looking this way and that.

“There.” Emily pointed out Lúcia’s distant silhouette down the sidewalk.

“Oh boy,” said Jade. “Come on.”

“Lúcia, honey,” called Amaliya.

“She’s too far to hear you,” said Emily.

“Let’s get a move on, crew,” said Jade.

* * *

Megacomf Mega Outlet

“Lúcia, don’t wander off like that again,” Jade said, huffing.

“Sisters,” said Amaliya. “Remember? We have to stick together.”

Lúcia said nothing. She simply stared at the uncanny animatronic likeness of a smiling man in a plaid suit, surrounded by bouncy, holographic young blondes in go-go boots and sleeveless dresses.

“You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megacomf.” The animatronic whirred as it raised both hands to chest height, extended index fingers as if leveling bilecik escort bayan a pair of pistols, and winked.

Right on cue, the holographic go-go girls appeared to feint onto the Megacomf couch behind them. The couch, for it’s part, was the only tangible item in the scene.

Lúcia stared.

“There goes dress shopping,” Emily said, rolling her eyes.

A young man left his post behind the store counter and made his way over. “Bonjour, how may I help you, ce matin?”

“I love how they do that,” said Emily.

“What?” said Amaliya.

“Speaking both French and English at the same time. It’s a nice way to announce he’s bilingual and find out what language you speak without being insulting about it.”

“Hm.”

“Watch this. Je suis excité d’être ici dans votre magasin.” Emily grinned. “I told him how happy I am to be here in his store.”

“Mademoiselle, tu parles français comme une vache espagnole.” The young man raised his nose in the air.

“I think the word you just used was ‘aroused’,” Jade said. “Different kind of excited.”

Emily’s face began to pinken.

“And by the way, he says you speak French like a Spanish cow.”

The young man’s eyebrows knit together as his face grew redder. Jade just grinned.

“Would you say Megacomf Brian is a man of God?” Lúcia asked the young man.

“Uhh…” he stammered, still pink in the cheeks.

“Um, Lúcia…” said Jade.

“Have you witnessed him performing any miracles during the time you’ve known him? They may not be overt or immediately recognizable as such. Perhaps something out of the ordinary?”

“What are you…? Lúcia?”

“Captain Jade, I believe that Megacomf Brian may be a candidate for sainthood. Ask yourself, who else in recent years has brought such comfort to the masses?” Lúcia turned her gaze to the red sale sign propped on the seat of the couch. “And at low, low, two for one prices?”

Jade shrugged. “She’s got a point.”

“May I?” Lúcia looked longingly at the Megacomf couch on display before turning to the young man, who by now was biting his lip, fighting a grin.

The young sales clerk made a grand gesture toward the Megacomf. “Bien sûr.”

Lúcia, tentative at first, pressed a hand to the seat cushion.

“It’s made of the finest leather,” said the sales clerk, his posture now straight and nose again edging skyward.

Lúcia sat down, curled her legs under her thighs and melted into the Megacomf. The holographic go-go girls followed her.

“You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megacomf.” Animatronic Megacomf Brian raised his index fingers in the air and winked.

“And how will her Captainship be paying, ce matin?” the clerk inquired.

“Me?” said Jade, her eyes wide and fingers pointing to her chest.

“Oui, Capitaine,” said the young man. “You cannot deny the comfort.”

“We don’t need a Megacomf,” said Jade, “much less two. What are we going to do with two?”

“Perhaps Mademoiselle Capitaine should try before passing judgment. Après tout, I hear Megacomf Brian may be up for sainthood.”

Jade curled her lip and flexed the fingers of her right hand.

“Come on Captain Jade.” Lúcia patted the space next to her and sighed. “You’ll never want to leave.”

“Fine.” Jade stopped over and plopped down. “Oh. Oh, this is nice.”

“You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megacomf.” Animatronic Megacomf Brian repeated. Glassy-eyed Jade and Lúcia were covered in giggling holographic go-go dancers.

“What about us?” said Amaliya.

“Two for one.” The sales clerk gestured to a second Megacomf display model.

“You haven’t made it, until you’ve made it on a Megacomf,” said Animatronic Megacomf Brian.

“You ain’t a kidding,” said Emily.

“I’m sorry for doubting you, Megacomf Brian.” Amaliya laid her head back and sighed.

“I like to watch,” said Lúcia to no one in particular.

* * *

Mode de Printemps

“This lousy department store couch is no comparison to a Megacomf,” said Jade.

Sitting beside her Lúcia shook her head.

Behind them, Emily and Amaliya’s giggles echoed from the store’s dressing room.

“Stop,” whined Amaliya.

“Say please,” Emily said.

“Give me that back.”

Emily threw open the dressing room door. “Whadda ya think?” She did a twirl. Behind her, a very naked Amaliya shivered in the dressing room, sitting on the bench with her arms hugging her knees.

“I think we’re flat broke,” said Jade.

“Nice dress,” said Lúcia.

“I’d like my clothes back,” Amaliya said.

Emily shot a look over her shoulder. “Shh.”

“So, ready to go then?” Jade said, rising to her feet.

“Two more dresses,” Emily said. “Please?”

“Fine.” Jade sat down.

“My nipples are like diamonds over here,” Amaliya complained.

“You lost the bet,” Emily said as she entered the dressing room and closed the door. “Just two more dresses and you can have your clothes again. So be helpful. But slowly this time… and no hands.”

“Mress, Miss Emerry,” Amaliya mumbled, her teeth clamped on the zipper of the dress Emily was shrugging out of.

“This, I would like to watch.” Lúcia sighed.

“Just think about when we get back to the ship,” Jade reached for Lúcia’s hand. “Two Megacomfs. Waiting at the airlock. All we have to do is drag them inside.”

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