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Starship Inanna: Home Front:
Message in A Bottle

Nira stared out the window of the Polaris, the infinite cosmos reflected in her blue-hazel eyes, and yawned. Life had been dull as of late, and seemed even worse since they got stranded out here in the border systems of the Titan Empire. They’d not had a decent job in weeks, and now Grethk had been trying to fix their engine for the past three days. Though full of mining colonies and lawless systems, bounties could still be rare; mercenary work was okay, but even those jobs were scarce (and paid less than hunting runners).

 She stretched; the navigator’s seat was not that great and her body, despite being a small frame, was not comfortable in the chair due to her tail being cramped against the back, throwing her whole spine out of alignment and forcing her to slouch. She tried to get comfortable, but gave up and slumped against the wall plating, reaching up to scratch the inner side of her left ear. “I should have bought a new chair, but no, I had to spend the money on that sex-bot,” she chided herself, thinking back to the night she had purchased it.

 Wanting privacy she had set the bot up in her quarters, much to the amusement of the others on the ship. Stripping off her clothes she stood in the dim light, her pale skin contrasted with the dark fur on her tail and ears and the hair that hung around her shoulders. The lifelike bot was laying on the ground, skin supple and soft, the fur on its tail and ears matching the shock of red hair on its head. As she rode it, rocketing through her orgasm, a sharp sizzle emitted from the bot’s torso and acrid smoke hit her nostrils, snapping her out of her bliss as she jumped off of the bot in alarm, still panting. The bot, it turned out, had a faulty pump system, which she had overtaxed with her third orgasm. “Two hundred and fifty credits wasted,” she thought, listening to the sounds of slow and rhythmic impacts against the wall behind the cockpit and rolling her eyes. Prin, their gunner, never needed a sex-bot, and if she had, she could afford to get a higher end model. Adding insult to injury, Prin was the one who had picked out the cockpit’s current chairs.

 Suddenly the sensors on the console flashed, alerting her that something big was closing in. “What the fuck?” She tried to set up a scan and pulled up the 360 cameras to get a visual just in time to see a large starship drop out of Faster-Than-Light drive and drift by not two kilometers ahead. She breathed a silent thank you they had picked up that prototype cloaking device a week ago, hoping that it worked as well as the Mutari trader said it would; the last thing she wanted was to get entangled in anything with the Empire out here. She pulled up the magnification system, figuring it was best to avoid using an active scanner on the ship, and panned the digital magnification over the vessel until she found the name on the rear of the main body: I. S. S. Inanna. “What are they doing out here?” she wondered.

Firing the navigation thrusters, she eased the ship into a slow pursuit of Inanna as a muffled male voice shouted in surprise from beyond the wall behind her, “Why the hell are we moving?” “James,” she shouted, her Palon tongue giving the words an exotic lilt, “you better get up here. ” This elicited a female groan of annoyance; Nira shook her head at the sound of hurried activity from the crew quarters. James walked to the cockpit, zipping up his pants and pulling on a vest over his otherwise naked torso. “This better be good Nira, Prin and I were...” His voice trailed off as he saw the ship they were trailing. “What the fuck is that doing out here?”

The rest of the story is available to Patreon Backers at the Ensign+ ($10+) tier here: Message In A Bottle.
It will be made public in an anthology book eventually.