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Magda , the Captain Ch. 00: Pilot

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College

You’re on your way back to your hotel after stopping to treat yourself to a bottle of wine to bring back to your room. By the end of the second day of the conference, including a lengthy and self-absorbed keynote speaker after dinner, you are more than ready to enjoy the plush lodgings your company has put you up in, barely compensating for the otherwise boring mission to Atlanta you were nominated for.

You’re still wearing your ID lanyard around your neck, a dark blue-green dress with a black lace overlay and sheer three-quarter-length sleeves, with seams that hit you perfectly at the hips and knees, and a lace-edged V neckline. Your dark bronze flats made it about ninety percent through the day of booth-strolling, workshopping, Q&A, and forced small talk in between, before the bones in your feet and ankles started to complain. Nothing a little wine couldn’t help with.

You cross the last crosswalk before your parking garage and head for the pedestrian entrance, already imagining what a relief it will be to just sit down, what further relief you’ll find on the king-size bed with the piles of down pillows, the prospect of “accidentally” sleeping in the next day and missing the morning’s workshops…

…when you come upon the alley between the garage wall and the psychiatrist’s office next door, an alley barely wide enough to walk through with straight shoulders. At the very far end is an indiscernible light that pulses and cycles through the colors of the rainbow. You stop – you can’t help it. Your attention is riveted to this light.

You look around, trying to figure out if something is casting it or reflecting it, but it seems to be generated from its own source. As you squint at it, you get the sense that it is looking back at you, and the hair stands up on your neck.

The light, hovering about four feet off the ground, begins to move slowly and steadily towards you, throwing spectrums all over the brick and concrete that surrounds it. Shock holds you frozen to the spot as it approaches you, and you are at once terrified and calm. It defies explanation but it doesn’t strike you as malevolent.

It comes closer and closer, never wavering, until it comes to a stop a mere two feet before your face. Your body shakes against your will; your eyes cannot be torn away. It seems to be made of glowing translucent ribbons that continuously wind and entwine themselves in a giant knot, light pouring out through the links and overlaps.

For a moment both you and the tangle are suspended in stillness. Then it begins to expand, and you instinctively step back with one foot, but before you can flee, a gentle, direct breeze flows across the front of your body, as if someone were gently blowing on you. Your head tips backwards and your eyes close as the breath travels across the surface of your skin, raising gooseflesh and making you flash hot and cold. When you open your eyes, you see the tangle has shrunken again. Dazed and vaguely blissful, your hand, as if with a mind of its own, reaches into the light…

“So, look what the cat dragged in.”

The words swim to you as if through a dream. You slowly become aware of your surroundings, but you are dizzy – you can’t seem to keep your head upright, and instead it lolls from side to side. The effect is nauseating, and you stop trying to look in any particular direction, and instead just try to focus on a point on the floor. There is what looks like an oriental rug beneath you, and its lively patterns dance before your confused eyes.

“The teleportation sickness will wear off in a few minutes,” says a female voice that, it strikes you, almost sounds a bit bored. Teleportation?

Through careful deep breathing and intense concentration, you manage to make the shapes on the rug stop moving, and the rest of the room gradually comes into focus. You are seated on a backless stool – how you haven’t fallen off in your condition, you’re not sure. You can’t exactly feel the rest of your body at the moment, but you can see that your hands lie docile in your own lap. Slowly, you are able to lift your head.

It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the overhead light coming from the center of the ceiling, which is shaped like a shallow cone. Swaths of dark red fabric extend from the center to the outer edges of the room, then cascade down the walls, creating a tent-like effect and tinting the available light. As you gather your bearings, you become aware of a barely detectable, electrical hum resonating under your seat and in the air around you.

Then your eyes settle on her, leaning against what looks like the entrance, a small alcove hiding a door that you can’t quite make out in the shadows. Her silvery hair falls straight down to her waist, combed back high on the top of her head and slicked down against the sides, giving it an effect like a wild horse’s mane. She has multiple hoops in each ear and one in her nose, and her lips are painted dark and stark against casino şirketleri her pale skin, which soaks up the red light in the room.

She looks at you slyly and sideways, head cocked, arms crossed below her chest. She appears to be wearing elbow-length gloves and a silver-buttoned waistcoat. Her long legs are decked in paneled pants of billowing multicolor silk, tucked into knee-high black boots with a high feminine heel. You notice she is accessorized with chains that loop around her neck, wrists, and waist, in varying sizes. A padlock rests against her collarbone.

She pushes herself away from the wall and saunters towards you, chains making faint metallic music as she moves, heels soundless on the oriental rug. She uncrosses her arms and passes into the light, and you see she is holding a glass of wine – your wine.

She sees you notice and holds up the glass in her gloved fingers as if in a toast. “So kind of you to bring me a hostess gift – that doesn’t happen very often.” She takes a leisurely sip, and in watching her, you suddenly realize how dry your own throat and lips are.

She swallows and grins at you. Your height on the stool has you just below her eye level. You are beginning to get pins and needles in your feet and fingers, but those reawakening nerves scream when you try to actually move.

“Of course, it would be rude of me not to share,” she says, and reaches out her hand to offer you the glass. You try to lift your arm to take it, but your arm does not obey, and searing spasms run from your shoulder to your fingertips. “Aww,” she pouts, and closes the distance between you with two slow steps.

She holds the glass to your lips and looks into your eyes over its rim.

“Drink.”

You have no choice but to oblige as she tips the glass back and you lift your jaw to catch its contents. There is nothing clumsy or uncertain in her movements, no thought of spilling a drop.

You lick the last taste of wine from your lips, and she removes the glass from your reach. She smells of mint and citrus at this distance. “Did you say something about a cat?” you dare to ask.

She smirks. “Cat – C.A.T. Conscious Automatic Teleport, otherwise known as how you got here.”

“Where is here?”

“An awful lot of questions to be expecting the answers to so quickly,” she says, amused. “And even if I were willing to share the answers, I’m not sure you’d believe me. Tell me, how are your limbs feeling?”

You blink at her for a moment, then try to bend your elbow. Though your joints feel soft as jelly, your muscles are finally responding. You very much doubt your ability to stand up, though.

“Good,” she says. “The first time through the teleport can pack a punch.”

Your mind tries to wrap around that word again. Teleport. You’re remembering something. The glowing spectral light…?

She puts her gloved fingers to your chin and lifts it, tipping your head left, then right, as she gazes down at you with long-lashed, heavily made-up eyes. Your eyes fall around the circular room; you notice cushions stacked and strewn around the place, and the lush curtains that drape down from the ceiling gather in great piles of material on the floor beyond the edges of the rug. The floor appears to be metal, you note with some surprise, as do the wall panels between draperies. There are no windows that you can see.

“A pleasing sight if I ever saw one. Seems you haven’t lost your touch after all.”

“What touch?”

She releases your face. “Not you, silly. The ship.”

It takes a moment for the pieces to come together. Metal. Humming. Teleport. No windows. The look of realization on your face makes her throw back her head and laugh.

“See? You would have gotten the answers to your questions if you’d just been more patient.” She sidles towards the outer wall and places a hand against a metal column with some fondness. “We work together, the ship and I. I simply think of the person I’d most like to invite here next, and she finds them wherever they are in the universe and brings them aboard. Though sometimes she gets it in her head to follow her own fancy…” The silver-haired woman looks up towards the light in the center of the ceiling, you follow her eyes, and again get that distinct feeling of someone or something looking back.

“This time, though, it seems we were both in the mood for the same thing,” she says, looking you up and down. She drains the last of the wine from the glass and sets it down on the floor just inside the entrance alcove, then crosses the rug again until she’s right in front of you, even closer than before. She pushes a section of your hair back from your face and behind your ear, then traces her fingertips down your earlobe, neck, throat, to your collarbone. “And so well-dressed, too. What a nice bonus.” Her glove feels like velvet against your skin and you involuntarily shiver.

Her fingers close around your lanyard and tighten it casino firmaları against your throat, and you gasp in surprise, leaning forward slightly to prevent being choked, and find that puts you face-first against the rather generous swell of her chest. Her scent fills your senses and you feel yourself blush.

She brings her lips down to your right ear. “Come,” she says, and pulls on the lanyard firmly.

You slip off the stool and come unsteadily to your feet, and she begins to lead you towards the door. But just a few steps in, your balance fails you, and you stumble to your knees on the mercifully soft rug. She releases the lanyard just enough that she isn’t pulled down with you, but still holds on to the badge hanging from its clip. She looks down at you without sympathy. “If you can’t walk, you’re going to have to crawl,” she says, and continues to lead you away from the stool in the direction of a pile of pillows arranged somewhat throne-like on the floor. You are forced onto your hands and knees to follow her, which does prove slightly easier than walking. When she stops, you sit back onto your bent legs.

“Why am I here?” you ask.

“Hmm,” she muses. “There are a few ways I can answer that question, but I’ll go with the simplest: I want you.”

“But I’ve never met you,” you protest. “I think I’d remember a face like yours.”

“You didn’t need to,” she replies. “The ship found you for me, practically made to order.”

“Made to order for what?” you press.

“My order, of course. See, I used to be content just hunting down treasures to collect, rare elements, ancient art, the luxuries of a thousand galaxies. But even the most interesting possessions become dull once you possess them, save one exception: a woman with a mind of her own, who can never quite be conquered.” She delivers this answer with a wicked grin. “It was a worthy upgrade. Some sadly choose to leave before I get a chance to know them, such a pity” – she looks past you wistfully – “but others find an incentive to stay awhile, and to me, there is no greater boon in creation than a willing and eager companion.”

“So you’re saying I have a choice.”

“Naturally, my dear. I am a hostess, not a hunter. But before you go hurrying to any conclusions, I want to make sure you are making an informed decision about what it means to stay, and what you’ll miss if you go.”

She hinges at the hips to bring her face right above yours, her hair tumbling down over her shoulder until it nearly falls in your lap. She pulls on the lanyard until your head tips back, and her dark painted lips find yours.

And it is a kiss as though designed specifically for you – the way your mouths meet, perfectly shaped and synchronized to each other, the timing, the pressure, the movement, all you might have ever asked for. She tastes both sweet and salty as her tongue melts expertly against yours. A shock of pleasure ripples across your skin from crown to toes where it lingers like electricity for a moment or two and then dissolves.

Not entirely consciously, you lift a hand and rest it on her upper arm, above the glove – and what meets your fingertips is smooth and cold. You draw back from the kiss in surprise. The padlock necklace swings in the space between your eyes and the cleft of her breasts. They spill in bulges over the top edge of her vest, which you can now see is made of smooth leather that hugs her curves.

Her free hand crosses to grasp yours against her arm and hold it there. “So there’s another piece of the puzzle,” she murmurs.

“Are you…”

“…an android. Yes. Technically, a gyndroid, at least partially. I think I could still technically qualify as human, but there have been many improvements on the original design over the millennia. Some of them are to allow me to commune with the ship, and others are for my own gain, and others still for the benefit of my guests. You’ll find that kissing is just one of my exceptional talents.”

You swallow hard. Your tongue already remembers the perfect kiss and presses against the roof of your mouth, eager for more.

“Stay with me,” she murmurs, gently gripping your hand. “Play with me. Just so long as you remember that this is my ship, so we play by my rules.”

The part of your mind that stands guard against the absurd is helpless against the pirate woman’s power of suggestion. Her very presence is so intense it’s almost overwhelming to be in the same room with her.

“And if I don’t?” You breathe.

“Then you are returned to the exact spot I found you, unscathed, and you’ll feel very disappointed and regretful for a few days and you won’t know why, and I will come up with someone new for my ship to pursue, and will feel disappointed and regretful that my gifts have gone to waste again, only I will remember you as you quickly forget me. Is that what you want?”

You only hesitate a moment, then shake your head No.

“You don’t know how much güvenilir casino that pleases me,” she says, standing upright and releasing your lanyard. “The good news is, I fully intend to show you.”

Suddenly, the lighting in the room shifts until it resembles the glow of candlelight, which emanates from the walls and behind the curtains. A rhythmic humming, more musical than the faint sound of the ship’s engine, reverberates around the room and up from the floor into the tops of your knees against the rug. The room even seems to get a little bit warmer.

Your captor smiles. “That would be the ship. She likes to watch.”

This idea makes you blush furiously, and you glance self-consciously at the apex of the ceiling and the mysterious light source.

“Do either of you have names?”

“She has a serial number, MGD-068845066LN. I like to call her Lady Magdalene, but lately she says she fancies herself a Debbie.” She rolls her eyes a bit. “I was born with a name I’ve long forgotten and tend to only use names when necessary. For now, you can just refer to me as Captain.”

“Why would a self-aware spaceship take you around the universe chasing after women?”

“I don’t know. You should ask her sometime. But my, you are full of questions! Are you always so tedious?” She shakes her head and sighs, then stands up and puts a hand on top of your head. “Stay there.”

She goes around behind you and comes back with the stool, which she sets up right in front of you. The seat is about at your eye level when kneeling. She perches upon it with – dare you say – mechanical grace. You can now see the precise calculations of her movements, yet they still seem so natural, so human. She even props her heels up on the bottom rung of the stool’s support in a very personable gesture of comfort.

“Give me your hands,” she says. You lift them up into her lap. Finger by finger, she begins to pull the glove off her right hand, chain bracelets and all. It reveals a hand of exquisite elegance, crafted of jointed glass and metal with mechanical structure underneath the surface, and adorned with several rings. The mechanics move smoothly, and from a slot in the tip of her hollow index finger emerges the teeth of a key. She uses this to undo the golden padlock around her neck. She weaves the chain instead around your wrists until a shackling bind is formed, and reattaches the lock.

“These chains are a special toy of mine,” she explains. “You might say they too are intelligent, though at a lower and less charismatic level – but they’re attuned to my frequency and will essentially do as I instruct them to.”

“I see,” is the only thing you can think to say to such an outlandish thing as psychic chains…which then tighten slightly against your wrists. Or is that your imagination?

“Now, take off my boots.”

You raise an eyebrow at her and demonstrate the limited range of movement of your shackled hands. She sits upright and crosses one leg over the other so that her ankle is practically resting on your shoulder.

“I know. Take all the time you need. You’ll find a way.”

With a few deep breaths and tests of theories, you manage to get your hands to the laces on the top of the boot and work the knot open. Then you begin to pull each row of lacing apart one by one to allow enough room to free her calf. You excitedly wonder whether it will be flesh or glass underneath. She seems to still be more human than machine from the bust up, from what you can tell.

As it turns out, the chains actually help you by giving you some extra leverage for pulling the boot all the way off her foot – a perfectly mundane human foot. The strips of silk that make up her bottoms are not sewn together and thus fall loose without the boots, parting along the top of her thigh to reveal an equally human-looking leg, though it is hardly mundane, but well-proportioned, fit, and graceful. She uncrosses her legs and offers you the other boot. Now that you’ve had some practice, you’re able to get this one removed faster. This leg resembles her opposite hand, hollow bluish glass from the knee down, filled with circuits, pistons, servos, and other unrecognizable tech. The loose silks now behave like a fringed skirt, the soft light enhancing their spectrum of colors.

“Good. Now the vest.” She grips the lanyard and pulls on it to bring you up onto your knees and leans forward. Undoing the buttons is easier with the shackles on than the bootlaces were. As the vest falls open, you see no additional layer underneath, just the lovely curves of her breasts, perky and peaked with pink-purple nipples that begin to harden once exposed to the air. Her entire torso appears to have remained in flesh form.

“Don’t be fooled, there are mechanical components under there, too, but I specifically chose to keep certain parts.” She grins. “In some cases, you don’t mess with perfection.”

She puts a hand on the back of your head and presses you into her chest. Your mouth automatically responds to deliver kisses, nibbles, and tongue swirls across her milky skin, which even tastes of human sweat. When she has enough, she pulls you back by your hair, not harshly but not subtly either.

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