Delta-V Preview Chapter

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“Captain Wan, when was the last time you masturbated?”
Captain Selena Wan paused, fingers frozen above the palmtop computer she was holding. The voice was not distinctly masculine or feminine, old or young. It was obviously synthetic, but its timbre and pitch had been carefully calibrated to be pleasant and soothing to the human ear. Although its volume was gentle, it filled the room completely. There were no speakers. Instead, micro-adjustments of the artificial gravity field vibrated the walls and floor to produce sound...a disembodied voice with no clear source.
Selena forced herself to unclench her jaw and calmly placed her tablet against the nearest wall. There was a light click as its magnetic coupling automatically engaged to hold it in place. She had been reviewing and signing off on the hourly status reports that had accumulated during her sleep cycle. The reports were issued by the owner of the voice and the sole other “occupant” of the ship: Delta-V.
“Delta,” she kept her tone neutral, trying to hide how much the question had caught her off guard. “That is an inappropriate line of questioning. Please make a note for the future and avoid any further discussion on the topic.”
“I cannot do that, Captain Wan.”
Selena closed her eyes and turned her chair towards the starboard wall and the dome-shaped camera mounted there. Delta-V had numerous sensors, visual and otherwise, scattered throughout the ship but Selena found it uncomfortable talking to empty air and preferred to assign a “face” to her invisible partner. The device was a glass hemisphere, tinted a pleasant blue and about the size of a cereal bowl, embedded in one of the walls. Its design was similar to an insect’s eye, covered in thousands of facets: each a tiny, high-definition lens.
“That was an order, Delta.”
“I understand, but I cannot obey that order. My apologies, Captain.”
“Delta!” She snapped. She had been working for a few hours and her shoulders and neck were already tense and sore. She could feel a headache coming on. “If you can’t obey an order, then provide an explanation!”
“Understood. I shall adapt my behavior and elaborate.” There was a slight pause as Selena drummed her fingers against the arm of her chair. “As captain of this vessel, your health and psychological well-being are of the highest priority. This mandate overrides even your direct order, Captain.”
Delta-V was an artificial intelligence. They served as the ship’s pilot, navigator, engineer, science officer and medic. Effectively, they were the ship and Selena, despite being the nominal commanding officer, was more or less along for the ride. She was needed for a single, very important, job once the ship reached its final destination. Until then her duties consisted mostly of reviewing Delta-V’s numerous progress reports, safety briefings, status updates and training exercises.
“And this requires you to interrogate me on my sexual activity?”
“The question was rhetorical. I possess a near-complete visual record of your time aboard the Eos. That, combined with data gathered from atmospheric and waste reclamation, assures me that you have not partaken of this activity at any time in the five months since we left Hyperion Central Station.” Selena’s face was starting to feel hot and she had to fight to keep her expression steady as Delta-V continued. “My primary purpose was not gathering additional data, merely to initiate this very conversation.”
“And if I decline to participate any further?” Selena lay back in her chair. It was an elaborate, multi-rotational, hyper-ergonomic affair that was, admittedly, pretty damn comfortable.
“You will discover that I can override any command to mute my audio feed. Of course, you may always choose to remain silent but your active participation is in this discussion is not mandatory.”
“Fine! Just get to whatever point you’re trying to make.”
“Sexual health is a very important part of a human’s psychological well-being. You have been neglecting yours.”
“Not every human needs sex all the time, Delta. Some of them aren’t even into it at all.”
“You are completely correct, Captain. However, your psychological profile, personnel record and medical history all indicate that is not the case for you and you have had multiple sexual partners, both short and long term, prior to our journey together. This indicates an active sex drive. Despite this, you have not taken any steps to indulge yourself.”
“Are you sure I can’t get you to shut up about this?” Selena was more irritated than surprised to learn that Delta-V had access to her sexual history. Those fuckers back at Hyperion were always probing into other people’s business, why should their pet AI be any different?
“Quite certain, Captain Wan.”
“I’m not exactly spoiled for potential lovers, am I?” Selena gestured at her surroundings. Her living quarters onboard the Eos were about the size of a decent hotel room. Its walls, floor and ceiling were colored pale green-blue with slight creases where furniture like her bed could retract and fold away to provide more floor space. The walls featured digital “windows” that could be programmed to display scenes of Terran or Lunar landscape. She preferred them off.
“Such is the nature of our mission and the reason why I focused my query on solitary sexual stimulation. Your stress levels have been rising steadily since we left EarthSpace. While this is to be expected, your stress indicators are well outside of Hyperion’s initial projections for this stage in the mission. If this continues then it may begin to jeopardize our task.”
Selena sighed and massaged her temples. The worst thing about this conversation was that Delta-V was right. She felt like shit: tired, irritable and very horny. “Masturbating isn’t the same as real sex, Delta.”
“Obviously, I must take your word for it, Captain Wan.” Delta-V’s voice was always calm, steady and reassuring but Selena was certain that sometimes she

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Written by rpickman
Cargado June 20, 2020
Notes This is chapter one of my sci-fi erotica novel, Delta-V. Captain Selena Wan is stuck on a long, slow journey to Proxima Centauri. She's all on her own...except for the ship's AI: Delta-V.
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