Just a Guy in Space
The diplomatic cabin was already paying for itself. Gus was seated at his desk with two holographic viewscreens opened in front of him and two additional ones on either side of him. AI had been extremely helpful and had enabled him to browse through tons of data as easily as making coffee.
One screen held all the data AI had on Earth cat behaviour as well as mating behaviours for various felines and other mammals. Another held the anatomical and physiological details of members of the Dintph species. The two screens in front of him held his own personal notes and public medical records for cross-species hormonal interactions as recorded by the Council.
Staying up all night to write essays had certainly helped Gus to slog through unimaginable amounts of data. This experience translated surprisingly well to trying to figure out if he’d permanently brainwashed a crewmember of a space-faring ship. Sil was still fast asleep. She would occasionally purr contentedly, with varying degrees of loudness.
Gus rubbed his eyes and went through his notes again. So it is possible to induce a mating period in Dintphs via hormonal stimulation. It’s not common and it only happens in a clinical setting but it can occur. It’s more akin to a medical procedure used to treat Dintphs who have trouble mating or get irregular mating cycles. That means I’m not completely and utterly fucked.
It had been slightly over three hours since he’d gathered his wits and started to investigate the phenomenon he’d caused. He had since made two pots of coffee even though AI had expressed its disapproval at his blatant use of possibly harmful stimulants. Jesus, it’s like hearing Mom all over again… At least AI doesn’t nag much.
He called up the holographic keyboard once again and hammered some more.
“Query. The digit interface is more intuitive and easier to use with the Pride of Vanatu’s systems. Do you wish to switch from analogue keyboard entry to this system?”
“Fuck off Van, I’m busy.”
“Query. AI is unfamiliar with the turning off copulation. Is that a feature common to humans? Query. Who is Van?”
“Dammit Van. It’s a human expression. It means leave me alone. Also I can’t keep calling you AI, it’s rude. Since you’re the Pride of Vanatu’s AI, you’re Van from now on.”
“Correction. This ship’s AI has no name beyond the official designation of AI X-RR17 type 3.”
Gus sighed. “Look, how about I call you Van when it’s just the two of us or over a private comm? Just think of it as accommodating human sensibilities until you get a different order from the captain.”
“Calculating. There will be no repercussions if ‘Van’ is used as a designation for AI. AI will now respond to ‘Van’ over private comms or when alone with human Gustavo Martinez.”
“Cool beans. Glad that’s cleared up. I gotta get back to work now.”
He ignored the “Query. Do you require refrigerated vegetables?” and focused once more on whether he could snap Sil out of estrus. He slogged through more reports and studies before reaching the conclusion that he’d done fucked up.
Once achieved, artificially induced estrus had to be carried to term. Not doing so usually resulted in short term psychological and physical harm as the recipient became increasingly aggressive and started losing a grip on societal norms of behaviour. Dintphs usually established a mating contract before estrus such that they had a mating pair during the heat period. If the union resulted in offsprings (and they usually did), the mated pair would stay together and raise the offsprings until they were old enough for the communal child carers to take over. That was kind of like temporary marriage. If a Dintph female ever got into estrus without a mating contract, she would act like a literal cat in heat until she found a suitable mate. This more often than not resulted in friction with other beings as a female in estrus wouldn’t care whose boyfriend/mate/partner she was trying to fuck. On a ship the solution was either to find a suitable mate and establish a mating contract or voluntary isolation in one’s crew cabin.
Gus pondered the pros and cons of telling the captain that he’d pushed one of her science officers into estrus. He quickly realised that he didn’t know anything about xenos torture methods. The captain and her severe, cold, beautiful, gorgeous demeanour would most likely want to beat the fuck out of him or confine him to the brig or his cabino. Being a little bitch and not saying anything seemed like the better option.
Sil stirred on his bed, her form still snuggled tightly beneath the polymer cover. He saved all his files, powered down the holodisplays and went to her. Her cute ears twitched and her eyes cracked open. Her nose scrunched up before repeatedly sniffing about, trying to catch some scent or the other. He leaned in and the nose twitching intensified. She purred and slowly moved towards him. Her left hand lazily reached up, lightly grabbing the lapel of his overshirt and pulled him with surprising suddenness and force. He ended up on the bed, half-kneeling over her with his head pressed against the inside of Sil’s neck.
She purred some more, rubbing her cheek against the top of his head, still half-asleep. Her pull became more insistent and he was now lying on his side with Sil’s curled form pressed tightly against his belly. Her ears tickled his chin and her smooth fur felt like heaven wherever it touched his bare skin. Her tail was lazily coiling and uncoiling, moving like a drunken snake. He could see that her uniform was customised so that the tail had a wide enough hole to go through. He could see some of the orange-white fur she had around the base of the tail. On impulse he reached over and gently grabbed it near the base.
Sil’s purring changed in tone, carrying a kind of disapproval but her tail wrapped itself around his wrist slowly. He loosened his hold on the base and started to gently stroked what he could with his thumb. Sil kept purring and sleepily unfurled from her ball-posture. Her head collided with his chin before changing direction and stopping with her mouth level with the side of his neck. Her two hands where in front of her and gently gripped his overshirt near his meagre pecs. More surprising was the leg she threw up over his hip. It was strangely aggressive given what he knew of Sil but not unheard of for a sleeping person (or catperson for that matter) to latch onto whatever was near.
He lost track of how long he stayed in this position but he knew better than to move even when he started losing sensation in the arm underneath Sil’s body. He had nowhere to be either so he immersed himself in stroking Sil’s soft fur and listening to her contented purring. She would occasionally lick his neck or playfully nip his ear with her teeth. He released her tail and watched it uncoil from his wrist. On impulse he slid a finger from her neck to her pert butt, down her spine. The reaction was immediate: her purring grew in volume and her back arced upwards, pressing against his finger. His finger stayed where it was at the base of her tail and he reluctantly took it away when he heard Van’s chime.
“Update. Only one Earth hour left until lieutenant Sil Nubo has to report for duty. Suggestion. Cleaning up, eating and heading to your own cabin to get ready would be the optimum course of action, Lieutenant Sil Nubo.”
He felt her body gradually stiffen, muscles being recruited back to work from their slumber, soft curves turning firmer with alertness as sleep was chased by wakefulness. He chanced a look downwards and saw half-lidded eyes staring up at him.
“Hhhhrrrmmm…” She purred and blinked herself awake. “Hello.”
“So… You, uh, you heard AI right? It’s nearly time for you to report back for duty.”
That’s new. “What do you mean ‘Don’t want?’ You’re supposed to be the responsible one here, not me.”
“Don’t want.” Her head suddenly buried itself in the crook of his neck and he felt another lick on his skin. “Stay here.”
Gus was flabbergasted. This was not in any of his predictions. “AI, is this normal behaviour for a female Dintph in the throes of a mating urge?”
“Affirmation. It would appear Lieutenant Sil Nubo has imprinted on you as a mating partner possibility. As such, she will want increased proximity with you, more attention and will grow jealous of others that seek to monopolise your time.”
“Great. That’s great. And by great, I mean not great.”
He gently grabbed Sil’s shoulder with his one responsive hand and started to push her away. “It’s wakey-wakey time Sil. I really don’t want to end up in the brig and you need to go to your shift.”
Sil buried her head further into his neck, pressing almost painfully into him. Her hands were now gripping his overshirt quite firmly and where showing no signs of releasing him. Her tail was angrily lashing against the bed with heavy strikes. He pushed harder but stopped when she quite literally growled and nipped his neck with more pressure than before.
He gave up and gathered her in his arms, hugging her close to him. Her purring reached a crescendo and her ears tickled his nose as he stroked her back. I’m in deep shit. “AI, is there a protocol in place if a Dintph gets into her mating period? Like, what happens? Is she exempt from duty? Does she have to make a report? Is there an HR meeting?”
“Query. What is an HR meeting?”
“HR is short for Human Resource. An HR meeting basically means that the people in a company that are assigned to care for the employees’ wellbeing come up to you and your partner and enquire if your interaction is going to affect the company and the people around you. It’s a bit more complicated than this but that’s the basics.”
“Correction. Such a role is assumed by the ship’s counsellor. Such a meeting is not required at this juncture however the captain must be notified if a crew member enters their mating period. Appropriate steps are then taken into account. Reserve members are called up to fill in a gap in the ship’s day to day roster for the required time frame.”
“Sounds great. Could you alert the captain for me please?”
“Affirmation. A report has already been sent.”
These are not the words I want to hear right now, Van.
“Has the captain issued a response?”
“Affirmation. The captain has taken the necessary steps.”
* * *
“Are you sure about this, AI?”
“Affirmation. Lieutenant Sil Nubo has entered the initial stages of her mating period. The onset was sudden and, due to his presence, the human Gustavo Martinez has been imprinted as a possible mating partner.”
Echina sighed. This is going to get messy. “Has Lieutenant Nubo shown any of the signs of aggression indicating deeper imprinting?”
“Affirmation. Initial observations indicate that Lieutenant Sil Nubo has already developed a possessive attitude towards the human Gustavo Martinez. She has also indicated that she prefers his company to working on her assigned shift. Guidelines suggest granting her an amnesty on any ship duties for the duration of the mating period.”
“Hmm… that sounds about right. Issue a notification to the concerned crew members regarding the lieutenant’s state and prepare the necessary follow-up deskwork.”
“Confirmation. The appropriate steps have been taken.”
“How did Nubo imprint on him anyway?”
“Observation. Lieutenant Sil Nubo and the human Gustavo Martinez were discussing the different aspects of human culture and social rituals in the diplomatic cabin. Lieutenant Nubo decided to stay in the cabin after her assigned shift had ended to obtain data for her personal files. After the onset of her mating urges, she fell asleep. Upon waking, she imprinted on the human Gustavo Martinez, perhaps due to the closeness she felt to him and by virtue of being the first potential mate she saw when waking up.”
Echina grunted. Coincidences upon coincidences. “Now then… What do we do about the human? AI, how likely are they to mate at this juncture?”
“Calculating. Based on observed data, there is a 78% chance of the human Gustavo Martinez and Lieutenant Sil Nubo to copulate as a result of the onset of the mating period.”
Echina chewed her lower lip in contemplation. “AI, schedule a meeting with the human and Lieutenant Nubo. We will address the issues surrounding their circumstances.”