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Work on the new systems had taken up the greater part of the day, exhausted and stretching his arms to appreciate the open room outside the computer deck Jason was glad he was done for the day. He still had to tutor a few people on maintaining and working the new equipment.

But not on that day.

“Daria, honey, today was a new level of,” he stopped mid sentence. The tiny quarters he and Daria had on the pod was more crowded then he expected.

“I would like to introduce you to Danielle Clarkson, again.” The fact that both were in their underwear made him feel uncomfortable. “Uhm. Yes? Jason Charles PHD.”

Staring at Daria in an intense manner he nodded to the hallway. “Would you excuse us? Just for a moment.”

Silently the door slid close behind them. “What’s going on?”

A playful smirk appeared on Daria’s lips. “Isn’t it obvious? Me and another woman wait for you, half naked” intentionally leaving the sentence unfinished she hugged him. “Isn’t that the dream of every man?”

“It is arousing, yes, but why is she doing it? I mean, we don’t know her, she doesn’t know us.” With a sigh Daria let go of him.

“Well, she is one of two hundred fifty women, they have twenty five men. There are close to no male babies born, and that’s where you come in. Pardon the pun.”

Stunned into silence Jason stared at her. Unable to deny to himself the intriguing situation waiting behind the door, he also couldn’t help but think of the implant in his hand. Rendering his sperm inactive.

“If you’re worrying about the implant, we could hack it. Tonight is just to try and see if we,” musing for the right word she paused, “harmonise.”

“Hacking it is against regulations!” He hissed, low enough for her to hear, but no one else in the adjacent quarters. “We’ll reactivate it. No one ever needs to know.” She leaned in close to kiss him. “Come on in.” Breathing her words barely loud enough for him to hear and understand she opened the door, pulling him inside with her.

 

“I tell you,” Julio was running a few tests on other installed equipment linked with the newly installed computer, “these women here are hard to say no to. They just keep on hitting on you.”

“Did you?” Jason prepared the tutorials on one of the tablet computers they would leave aboard the Orion.

“I was thinking about it. I mean, it isn’t like my wife is ever going to find out. But then again, I don’t know the Lieutenant well enough.” Just shrugging the words off Jason continued with the tutorials.

After a few moments he stopped. “Is your implant active?” Grinding to a halt Julio looked over his shoulder to Jason, who sat in the middle of the narrow corridor between the old computer closets. “No, my wife and I applied for a second child and got approval. Why? Do you think they?” Nodding Jason glanced down to his tablets. “Keep that in mind once you get to know the Lieutenant.”

 

All the while, while explaining the new systems, Jason felt the crew of the Orion pay more attention to him, than to the subject. It felt strange, and it was creeping him out a bit, although at the same time he felt flattered.

Lunch was a difficult test of his nerves, but he learned a bit of Orion’s history from the five or so women swarming him.

 

In the decades after they left earth and the solar system, everything was normal, if that ever was the case on a ship like the Orion. They headed out to Barnards star. A red dwarf, the closest to the sun. To the surprise of the crew they found a tidal locked planet, that was habitable. At least in the day-night transition zone.

A colony was established, but the Harpies found them too. At first they were cautious of each other, but an all too trigger happy leader aboard the Orion shot at them. Sparking the hostilities between Humans and Harpies.

They then left the colony, to fend off another harpy ship in the system, which in it’s flight from the onslaught had inadvertently dragged them with it to some far off region in space. The Orion was on its way back since then.

 

Able to catch his breath Jason reclined on the bunk in the quarters. Another two days of the Orion crew, and their relentless pursuit of him, or rather his loins, were ahead of him.

There was a small nightstand built into a niche. An injector was resting there. A head filled with thought and worry he picked it up. It was the kind of injector used for the implants, perhaps Daria also had a hack for the implants to highten the wearers fertility? “Hi there.” Blushing private Danielle Clarkson stood in the now open door. “Forgive my intrusion, I’ll leave if you want, but Daria said to meet her here.”

Putting the injector back where he had found it, Jason got up. “No, no intrusion at all. Make yourself comfortable.” Danielle sat down on the end of the bunk. She still was blushing. “Relax, I can call Daria if you like?”

“No, you don’t need to, it’s just, well, a bit embarrassing. We both know why I’m here, and it is,” stammering she stared at the wall opposite the bunk. “Embarrassing?”

She nodded shyly. “Yeah, a bit.” He concurred.

“We could start, if you want to?” Her hands began fumbling with the buttons to her blouse. “I don’t think Daria would appreciate that.” He put his hands over hers.

The sound of the door caused them to look in that direction. “But I told her you could start without me.” Another playful smirk from the lips of his girlfriend excited Jason more then he cared to admit.

 

A knowing smile on her lips Daria looked the Lieutenant in the eyes across the lunch table. She had seen her enter Julio’s quarters, but the Lieutenant didn’t take notice at that time. “What are you smiling at?”

“Nothing.” Daria returned to the present. “How is your tutoring going?” Also returned to the present the Lieutenant displayed an expression of uncertainty. “It is going well.” She lied, in actuality she had not been paying much attention to the subject matters, more to the technician.

“Your ship’s commander is learning fast. Almost as if he wanted to get rid of me fast.” A sly smirk appeared on Fran’s lips. “Yeah, our men are like that. Imagine that ten or more men are always after you. You’d see to it that you have to spend as little time as possible with them, wouldn’t you?”

Nodding Daria had to admit the validity of that claim. “So your men are hiding from you?”

“In a certain way. They have the bridge to themselves mostly, we give them that. Their leisure time they can spend with each other. But come bedtime,” she winked.

“How is you tutoring our female staff going?”

“Good, they aren’t distracted by my gender.” She handed the Lieutenant a tablet. “I’m not really authorised to suggest this, but are you interested in a technology that would ensure a male to female birth ratio of 50-50?”

Fran looked around, no one in hearing range. “Officially, I am appalled by your offer. Off the records however,” she took the tablet, “I am very much interested in it.”

 

“You look exhausted. Everything alright?” His sing-sang tone gave Julio away as a fornicator, at least to Jason, who had gotten to know him over the past two and a half days. “Everything.” Jason winked.

A broad grin from Julio was the reply. “Does you girlfriend know? You share quarters” he stopped mid sentence, his grin broadening, “you dog! A threesome? Congrats!”

“You know of nothing, understood? And thanks.” Jason felt embarrassed. And morally he felt facing a dilemma.

It didn’t feel right to keep Julio’s affair with the Lieutenant a secret. It also didn’t feel right what he and Daria were doing with Danielle. Aren’t we taking advantage of her? Feeling sick he reclined in his seat.

“I need some fresh air.” Jason stormed off, he had seen the map of the Orion, had scanned it. Soon he was standing in front of a door with a keypad. Figures.

With disdain he turned away, looking to get back to the computer deck. “Hey!” A hiss came from the doors intercom. “Come on in, pal.” A male voice!

Ever since his arrival he had seen only one man of the Orion crew, and he was surrounded by women. Slowly the door opened and three men greeted him behind it.

“Davids, Foster and I’m Young. You must be one of our visitors?” “Yes, Jason Charles. Are you hiding in here?”

“Sort of.” Young waved him to follow. There was a beaten track instead of a cared for path, between fruit bearing shrubberies and trees. The canopy above was dense, and only occasionally did artificial light break through to the ground. “The women know we’re here, but they leave us pretty much alone.” Davids explained.

“Unless we fail to show up in our beds that is.” Added Foster. “You see, we don’t have a lot of freedom concerning the women here. We each have our group, and they are demanding!” Jason stopped listening. Too many thoughts were colliding in his head. “If you want, you could take some of them with you.” Laughing Young marched on. “We have a small rest area over here.” They stopped at a hut constructed out of scrap metal, some benches and a table.

The more he listened to the three the less he felt guilty for what he and Daria had indulged in. As he was being showed back to the entrance by Young, the Orion crewman thanked him. “For what? Listening to you guys pouring your hearts out?”

“No, the implant. Took a lot of pressure off my mind.” The doors opened, a woman waited there. She was out of uniform, and looking intensely at the two of them. “Neil in there?” She was talking about Davids, both men nodded. “Get him please, and be sure to go to your quarters too.” She winked. With a sigh Young waved Jason good bye, returning back to the garden.

Feigning a smile, Jason nodded a greeting to the woman, and hurried off.

 

Listening to the message Daria had sent him, Jason stood outside his quarters staring into his glasses like an idiot. Leaning against the wall opposite of his door he had to repeat the message a fourth time. “I will be late, but don’t worry honey. There is plenty for you to do on this, our last night aboard the Orion. Have fun.” He could hear her smirk. A dirty smirk, like when she first brought Danielle in.

Somewhat reluctant, and afraid, what he’d find on the other side of the door, he played the message a fifth time.

“Trouble Doctor Charles?” Sylvie marched through the corridor. Immediately Jason assumed a more respectful stance. “No. Not at all. What gave you that idea?”

Shaking her head Sylvie stopped. “Just a lot of noise from these parts of the ship last night. I hope none of the team have forgotten their manners. And regulations prohibiting intimate relations with the crew from Orion.” She looked at the door to her right.

Jason’s door. “But you and miss Fulton are in a relationship, and none of you is native to Orion, so I see no problems up you alley.” She smiled and continued her rounds.

Julio, you better not. Turning the glasses off, he pushed off of the wall and opened the door, once Sylvie was out of sight.

Danielle sat on the bed, immediately looking at him. Although she blushed slightly, she also seemed happy to see him. “Good evening.” Tweeting she got off the bunk. From the other bunk another woman, emerged. “Good evening.”

Gulping Jason felt the door in his back. Reassuring, cold, stable. Have fun. Daria’s words echoed inside his head.

 

Carefully Daria closed the lid on the brick sized object. With a purr the cooling started together with the other systems inside. “There, all set up.” She smiled to Danielle, who was in a less joyful mood, after Jason had left his quarters without a word immediately after he had met her and her friend. “Don’t worry. It will turn out alright.” Daria put her hand on Danielle’s knee as she cowered next to her. “Trust me.”

“He hasn’t talked to you either, has he?” Slowly the friendly and open smile on Daria’s lips melted away. “No. He hasn’t.”

Mere hours from departure both women had hoped to be able to talk to Jason again, but he had disappeared.

 

“Your systems are all working within parameters, your crew has been tutored in the new systems.” Sylvie saluted before Christian O’Hare, current commander of the Orion. It was a rare sight, the men of the Orion had gathered and saw the away team from Explorer off. Jason, already in his suit, like the others, nodded to Young, who returned the subtle greeting with a benign expression.

“We wish you a safe journey to your home, we have programmed the coordinates of RV-p296 into your computers. Our descendants might be happy to see yours join them there.” Sylvie greeted the commanding officer. If there are any, and you haven’t died off.

 

Ruttling the pod accelerated to match Explorer’s velocity when they rendezvoused. Jason didn’t feel the ruttling. He had his eyes closed and was glad to have switched seats with Julio. After Danielle had shown up with the other woman, and Daria’s message, he wasn’t sure whether he truly knew her.

A private message popped up on his glasses. Without looking he knew it was from her.

He ignored it.

Closing his eyes again he only listened to the chatter on the radio. “…EM signal. It reads like one in the warning list.” Suddenly called back to an alert state Jason opened his eyes, realising he had dozed off for an hour or more, the rendezvous with Explorer was already in progress. “That is the frequency of the linkers!” Rüttli in Explorer’s command centre exclaimed.

Slowly Jason turned his head to look at Daria’s seat, opening the message. “We are sorry.”

 

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