Read an Excerpt
This God damned planet. Jenia lay back on her small cot and closed her eyes. In her hand, she held a high tech vibrator and, as she spread her legs, the heat from her core seemed to rise. She clicked the vibrator on and chose her perfect setting. It would bring her to one orgasm after another until she was finally relieved.
But her mind kept getting in the way.
Rational thought intruded. The reason she used the vibrator every day, like a ritual, like brushing her teeth, was this planet and its air and water. Something on Asberek enhanced every human's chemistry. Their hormones shot out of control. Their physical strength increased. Jenia was one of the first scientists to study the planet. She knew its effects on human physiology.
It didn't help her physical ache. Even as her brain worked through the tangled equations of human behavior on Asberek, she moaned and touched her nipples, rolling them between her fingers as the vibrator hummed along her aching, burning channel. It didn't help to know the reasons. The planet increased human sexual needs exponentially. No one escaped.
Not even the cold as ice Dr. Jenia Carstairs.
Her body ached in places she'd never paid any attention to in the past. All of sudden, she couldn't control her responses. The others were even worse off. At least she was completely sexually innocent. Her sexual response was much lower and easier to deal with than other members of the team who began with high sexual needs.
As her colleagues began to screw like bunnies, she was able to deal with her ache with a vibrator. She had to do it every single day or it became unbearable, like a bottle with a cork pluggedin it.
Frustrated, Jenia tried to turn her mind to the task at hand. Her body careened towards pleasure, but her thoughts kept her from reaching the ultimate height. There was only one fantasy that would push her over the edge.
Just picturing his tall, lean form increased her heat and made her wet. His dark, chocolate brown eyes and his long fingers trailed over her skin as her fantasy took form. So often, she used his image in the Virtual Fantasy Room to ease her hormonal explosions. His deep voice and commanding posture were burned on her brain. In her fantasies, he would sweat and cry out as she did things to him that she kept hidden from everyone else.
"Oh, Paul!" The vibrator brought her to a hard, intense orgasm and then another and another.
She stopped and removed the dildo from her pussy. Empty. It all felt so empty. Jenia was a scientist and didn't fool herself. Her obsession with Paul Lestrano was doomed to fail, and her inability to control her sexual needs would lead her to a one-way ticket back to Earth.
The others had worked off the effects of the planet's environment and their systems were balanced. While her coworkers no longer had wild, abandoned sex, Jenia was left with all the effects and no relief.
And she wouldn't keep using the Virtual Fantasy Room. As her fantasy of Paul Lestrano dominated every use of the VFR, she went there more and more infrequently. But she was like an addict without her drug.
What were the chances that Paul Lestrano really would indulge her dominant fantasies? In her fantasies, he enjoyed the whip, the punishment, the control she wielded. In real life, he was a pain in her ass.
She groaned. The sexual intensity passed, and she sat up on the side of her bed.
Damp with sweat, she showered and turned her thoughts away from herself and back to work. She had a long ten hours ahead of her.
"Dr. Jenia Carstairs is the one you need to talk to." The voice over the vid phone was dry and professional. Paul Lestrano manipulated the console to get a video feed, but he wasn't able to get a clear picture. A humorless smile lifted his lips. Perhaps he didn't want to know who was giving him orders.
"She's a difficult woman to get a meeting with," Paul told his superior. "Are you sure she can be trusted?"
"She knows about the Rogue." The disembodied voice went on. "She was on the Zenith when the Rogue attempted to destroy it. None of that will be news to her."
A Rogue. Someone trained like him in the Space Elite, but a killer with no allegiance. Donny Pasquel. A man with one thought in mind. Revenge on humans. And he had help from an alien race that hated human colonies. "But the news that he's on the planet and the Dormrela are making their move? That isn't common knowledge."
"No. The Ang have told us the Dormrela will fight Earth for the planet. We're sending a military battleship, but they may attempt to destroy the colony before it gets there."
"And how the hell is this doctor going to stop that? She's a scientist, not a general."
"She has knowledge that is vital to the survival of the colony on Asberek, and she is the key to destroying the Rogue Tribunal."
Paul sighed impatiently. "Don't tell me. The Ang again."
The Ang made Paul nervous. New Earth allies, they saw time in a non-linear fashion. Past, future and present lay before them as one picture. But their culture forbade them to interfere in the future. Only massive destruction or long term extinction compelled them to share with their human allies the dangers that lay in the future. But what did humans really know about them? Their thought process was as different from humankind as their anatomy.
They prevented the death of a woman named Daniella Pearce, which apparently was a catalyst for the destruction of several races in the galaxy. Like the oracles of old, they were cryptic, silent on occasion, and very odd.
In the twenty third century, when technology ruled human existence, it seemed oracles still played a part in history.
Paul forced his mind back to his orders. "How much do I tell Dr. Carstairs?"
"I leave that in your hands."
Oh, I'm sure you do. Paul's bitter thoughts tinged his farewells to the voice on the vid phone. If anything went wrong, Paul Lestrano was expendable.
How long had he been in the Tribunal? Ten years?
A punk kid, he joined the military in an attempt to escape his family. The man who raised him hated the sight of him. His real father was dead, killed in a military convoy in space. His mother despised the military and refused to talk about the man she married and bore a son with. Paul grew up alone, disliked by his parents and feared by his peers.
Even as a young boy, he frightened people. His broody good looks did him no good when he'd lose his temper and beat the shit out of some kid. Usually for saying crap about his father. In those days, there was a strong anti-colonist feeling, and Paul's real father had been leading colonists to a new planet. The fact that he was dead cut no ice with those kids. They tormented Paul until he struck back.
He'd come home to icy disapproval and go to school to experience taunts. It wasn't exactly a happy childhood.
He lasted until he was sixteen. He lied about his age and joined the army. It was the one branch that had lousy computer records, and Paul was able to stay in the ranks for three years before they discovered he'd lied. Their punishment was another hitch. Paul didn't tell them he'd have hitched up without being forced.
Two years into his second tour and a colonel decided Paul was perfect for the Tribunal. A replacement agency for the Central Intelligence Agency of the old days, it specialized in undercover work, violence and secrets.
It was right up Paul Lestrano's alley.
For ten years, he kept the secrets, killed the threats and lived a cold existence. It suited him.
Then, he was shipped on the Zenith and met Daniella Pearce. All his manipulations there were a complete failure. He'd tried to worm his way into her life to protect her, as he'd been ordered to do, but she slipped through his fingers and ended up with Captain Jake Tarune.
Since then, he'd been restless, anxious. Part of it, he realized, came from the emptiness inside him. It wasn't that he wanted Daniella Pearce. Far from it. She was much better off with the dominant Captain. No, the emptiness came from the aching loneliness.
In the aftermath of Donny Pasquel's attempt on Daniella's life and his escape to the Dormrela, Paul ended up in the company of two couples, both in blissful happiness. Their contented demeanor was salt in an old wound for Paul. Not only did he have to deal with Tarune and his lady love Daniella, but Sashina Matins and Troy Lider also spent a lot of time with him and they were also "in love".
Whatever that meant.
Paul flicked open several of the files on his computer and attempted to concentrate. As a Tribunal member of the Space Elite, he had access to everyone's psych evaluation. Everyone's except his own. That was standard. No one else's personal information was off limits to him. He studied the file on Dr. Jenia Carstairs.
The first few pages were fairly uninteresting. American, upright and very, very smart, her childhood was marked only by its lack of events. At eighteen, she had advanced so quickly that she was first on the list to study Asberek. What kind of a young girl would ship off thousands of light years away from home to study a distant planet?
Her arrival on Asberek was punctuated by another absence. While the other scientists adjusted to the new environment, she did not. It was noted that her VFR use increased, but certainly not much in comparison to her fellow scientists.
Paul noted that after the others adjusted and their VFR use decreased, hers continued to increase until recently. The file said she hadn't used the VFR in six months. He frowned. He clicked to the next page. Maybe her psych eval would reveal why her behavior was so erratic. After all, the reason she'd been on the Zenith during the whole Rogue Tribunal incident was to have another psych evaluation.
Shock ripped through Paul's mind as he read the file.
Dr. Jenia Carstairs has not adjusted to the heightened sexual needs created by the water and air on Asberek (see attached chemistry report). When questioned about her Virtual Fantasy Room use, she becomes agitated and angry. Insomnia has plagued her on the planet. Her work there has not suffered, but it is the opinion of this Evaluator that she may allow her inner conflict to interfere in the next twelve months.
VFR use has been very specific and concerns me. Every fantasy programmed by Dr. Carstairs has involved a Lieutenant Paul Lestrano, head of the Zenith's Mechanic's section. This began after their first meeting. It is recommended that she is encouraged to continue to use this fantasy since it gives her the most relief.
She is a female dominant who has some sadistic tendencies. Her domineering parents and their constant control over every aspect of her life has created control issues in Dr. Carstairs. Previously, she has always dealt with these issues through her work. Circumstances have changed, since Asberek has been the catalyst for extreme sexual tension. This has brought out the female dominant she has repressed all her life.
In her fantasies, Paul Lestrano is a male submissive. This is not a new conclusion and was noted on her previous evaluation, though that Evaluator determined she had a huge fear of indulging her fantasy and would be safe from the usual Space tension.
My concern is that, until she was on Asberek, Ms. Carstairs was a sexual virgin. Now, her sexuality is enhanced by the planet's environment. She may have probed her sexual nature in a more gradual and natural way if not for the effects of the planet's atmosphere. Also, her sexual encounters have been almost exclusively with holographic partners.
Her obsession with Paul Lestrano has only affected her fantasy life. Her real interactions with the Lieutenant have been professional and non-sexual. I attribute this to a social reticence that developed due to her meteoric rise in the scientific community.
Recommendations are as follows. If Dr. Carstairs does not increase her use of the VFR, she will have increased stress and sleeplessness. It may be required to order her to use the facilities. Threat of deportation back to Earth will be effective, since she is deeply committed to the planet and its animal inhabitants. I recommend the order to commence if she does not comply with my suggestion by sixty days from the date of this report.
A female dominant? Paul squirmed. The idea of submitting to a woman appealed to him. Oh, he'd done it before but usually as an undercover requirement. No woman ever broke his outer shell.
He'd observed Sashina Matins do just that with her male submissive Troy. Somehow, it was so natural and beautiful.
His mind had wandered again. The date of the report was over sixty days old. She should be getting that order soon.
Perhaps his meeting with the doctor would be easier than he thought. He might be able to find out what he needed to know in a much more comfortable setting. Provided he could play himself as Dr. Jenia Carstairs viewed him.