by Margaret Killjoy
I can’t sleep with you, you know that.” Ulian ran a few fingers up Neh-te’s collarbones as he spoke. Her striped sailor’s shirt, already wide-collared, was stretched open to expose her deeply tanned shoulders.
“I know,” Neh-te whispered mournfully, “I remember.”
The bamboo dock beneath them creaked slowly as the waves of low tide splashed against its posts. Behind them, on the mainland, a bamboo windmill beat the time slowly, churning in the ocean-side winds.
Soon enough the morning would come, and Neh-te would be back on her steam-rowed boat. Ulian would return to his wife, to whom he had promised near-fidelity, and the would-be lovers might not meet for another moon at the very least.
“So,” Neh-te said as she took a hold of his hand and placed it at the top of her high-waisted pants, below her generous ribcage. She undid the two parallel rows of buttons and folded the top down to expose her slight, soft belly. “You can’t sleep with me. But what can you do?”
Ulian stepped in closer and pressed his mouth to her neck, hard. Ulian smiled, lifted her well-defined chin, and placed her hand on the small man’s back.
The next day, Neh-te was perched on the deck of her ship, gazing lazily towards the land. In still air, the Fiercest Gull could outrun, and overpower, any merchant vessel that ran the routes from Angeline to its outlying towns. The Gull’s sixty oars were fueled by the boiler in the aft of her belly, which fed on the combustible soil of The Great Waste. The Great Waste, of course, was far, far inland, and the train lines ran infrequently, so Neh-te was captain of one of only a handful of steam-rowers in the Ocean. Captain and sole sailor, as a matter of fact; the ship was completely automated.
Most days, Neh-te docked to a floating platform, living peaceably amongst her fellows Of The Sea. But when the clouds were gone and the wind was dead, she drifted just out of sight of Angeline and struck at any wind-vessel unlucky enough to come into the view of her spyglass. It was a good life, and often a lazy one.
She had slept a few hours in her hammock, and from morning till midday she relaxed nude on the deck, her war clothes close at hand. She let the sun massage her as she stretched slowly, meditatively. After a bite of fresh fruit—a rare spoil of war—she did slow push-ups, enjoying the feel of her muscles at work.
No ships were on the horizon, and the Gull’s engine was idle. Neh-te loved the serenity of solitude, with only her ship, the sun, and ocean for company. From time to time a school of flying fish would skim across the surface of the water. She sat with one leg out and reached forward to grab her toes. While her muscles stretched, one of her small breasts grazed against her thigh, and she smiled. She slowly began to massage her foot, her ankle, her shin.
When her hand reached her thigh, Neh-te began to work her thumbs in slow circles towards her crotch. She lay on her back and brought her left hand to her mouth, casually brushing the backs of her fingers along her belly and across her breasts. With her right hand, she massaged the edge of her brown-haired pubic thatch, running her thumb from the base of her hipbone to the outer lips of her cunt, but she went no further.
She was only teasing herself, Neh-te knew. She stood up slowly and surveyed the horizon. Far away, she saw a few porpoises, but no sails. Grinning still, she walked across the deck into her cabin.
The Fiercest Gull was built of thick bamboo timbers, but her hull was reinforced by old steel, stained and painted to keep reflections to a minimum. Thirty meters long, there were fore and aft porches, but the middle was enclosed; there was no need for a mast, and indeed, one would give her presence away quite readily, poking out above the horizon.
The upper deck contained her living space—with its bare wooden desk, hammock and larder—as well as storage for the bounty of the sea; trade goods from Angeline that kept her ship fueled and filled the bellies of many Of The Sea. The deck below held thirty pair of oars and the steam-heart of her beloved Gull.
Neh-te walked into her cabin, her gait as gay and light as her mood, and opened the icebox. Removing a bit of smoked eel, she strolled back out into the sun to eat. She put the spyglass to her eye while she stood, calmly munching, and this time she spotted a sail, sagging in the dead winds of the day.
The brass spyglass went back to its place in the deck-chest, and Neh-te pulled on her war clothes: a jerkin of thick leather, steel gauntlets and a short, armored leather skirt. Each had quick release straps in case she went overboard, and truth be told much of her lay unprotected, but she didn’t fret overmuch. She bore a bandolier with three brace of powder pistols, a saber at her side and a hatchet at the small of her back. She doubted the merchants would give a fight. In fact, she hadn’t drawn a pistol or a blade in conflict on the sea for four years now; her infamy kept her victims from resisting. Infamy and a terrifying array of automatic ballistae, torch-guns, and cannon, of course.
She brought the engine to life with the levers set into the deck, and the ship rumbled beneath her feet.
The merchant ship had spotted her, for they added sail in quite a rush, but it brought them no benefit in the still air. Soon, the Fiercest Gull drew alongside.
“A fine afternoon, are we agreed?” Neh-te stood with one foot on the rail of her ship, hailing the merchants with a practiced nonchalance.
The merchant’s ship was two-masted schooner, and though it was half again the size of the Gull, it was clearly unequipped for battle.
“Neh-te, I hoped I’d never meet you.” The captain of the schooner was standing on the deck, clearly un-armed, a portly fellow in his early forties. He wore the uniform of a civilian captain out of Angeline; a leather vest dyed red, a tri-corner black leather cap and un-dyed buckskin pants. He looked a bit pasty; he most likely commanded his ship from the generously sized cabin and rarely took much sun. The servants did most of the work, in Angeline.
“Well, I’m sorry to break your string of luck, but I’ll be overseeing the transfer of your cargo to my ship. And you will stay inside your cabin; your crew shall assist me.”
“We carry supplies and medicine for Sanosia, you know that, don’t you? You say you’re some big hero, but you are a scoundrel.”
“Any town that bends a knee to Angeline, that supplies its vast cruelty with food, is deserving of any hardship it may endure. Now, you will be to your cabin, where you shall remain. If I see you again I shall shoot you dead. If any of your crew moves to defend you, they shall lose a limb.”
The captain looked as though he was about to curse her further, but ducked his head, resigned, and moved towards the glass door of his cabin below the poop deck.
Neh-te leapt the meter-wide gap between the ships and landed gallantly on the deck of her prize. “Now then,” she spoke to the half-dozen ship hands, “one of you will stand guard over your captain, and the rest of you will help me.”
A handsome young woman—with the burned-red skin of one Of The Gear who had been introduced quite recently to life at sea—volunteered with some haste to keep the captain
in his chambers. She practically skipped to the rear of the ship, her straight black hair bouncing as she ran, and Neh-te watched her graceful stride and near-bare legs for a long moment before turning to the work at hand.
The remaining servants, nearly enslaved to the captain by Angeline’s rigid class system, were happy to oblige, and within a half an hour the Gull was overflowing with machined parts, books, glasswork and mechanical toys. There was no medicine aboard. There never was.
When the work was done, Neh-te thanked the sailors and offered them sanctuary: “You may come with me, if you would like, and I can take you to any place along the coast. Or if you would like, join us Of the Sea upon the ocean.”
Most of the sailors mumbled about loved ones to attend to, but the eager woman with black hair spoke up. “I got nothing I wouldn’t wanna leave,” she said, “so I wouldn’t mind.” Her voice was remarkably low, and for all that she might have been near thirty, she looked quite like a clean-shaven, effeminate man of twenty.
That night found them drifting well away from the trade routes, alone at sea. Josenna, the rescued woman, wore a thin wool blanket draped over her vest and sailor’s shorts, but the night air was pleasant and she didn’t appear cold. Neh-te had served tea from ornate, stolen stoneware, of sea-water distilled and heated by the engine of the Fiercest Gull.
“I’ve never had much of a taste for men,” Josenna told Neh-te as she sipped at the tea.
“Have you ever seen two men fucking?”
“No. Sodomy’ll get you strung up, where I’m from.”
“You’re from a terrible place. I don’t always have the taste for a man inside me, but to watch two men, one inside the other…” Neh-te savored the thought before continuing, “to watch one take the other firmly in hand, and jack them off… watching a man lick the cum of another man from his mouth…”
“Ahg, gross.” Josenna put down her tea and sat back in her chair, the moonlight reflecting off her glossy black hair. “Not that two men might love one another, but just… thinking of their cum…”
“Of course, of course,” Neh-te drained the rest of her cup and then stood, offering her calloused hand to Josenna. “Sit with me awhile?”
“Sure,” Josenna smiled, and allowed herself to be led a few feet away where the two sat cross-legged, watching the moon over the water.
“It’s fucking gorgeous out here. I’ve been a deck hand for six months, and I haven’t gotten over how beautiful the sea is.” Josenna put her hand on Neh-te’s thigh, stroking it lightly with her trimmed fingernails.
“I’ve been sailing for ten years, and I haven’t gotten over it yet either.” Neh-te took the other woman’s hand and brought it halfway up her thigh. Josenna’s fingers were almost absent-mindedly rubbing Neh-te’s skin, sending chills up the pirate’s spine.
“Can I kiss you?” Neh-te asked, still gazing out over the water.
“Of course you can. Why ask?”
“Out here, it’s a different world.”
Neh-te put her left hand on Josenna’s far shoulder and turned the black-haired woman around to face her. With her right hand, she gently grasped the back of Josenna’s head and kissed her, closed-mouth but hard.
Josenna pulled back after a short moment, studying her rescuer’s face for a moment before she kissed her back. Josenna gripped Neh-te’s thigh tightly and lapped her mouth like a cat.
Neh-te gently pushed Josenna down on the wool blanket, her legs together, and the pirate straddled her hips, kneading her thighs.
“Can I take off your vest? Kiss your breasts?” Neh-te met Josenna’s eyes as she asked.
Josenna laughed incredulously, an earnest and thoughtless laugher that shook through the still air and stung a bit into Neh-te. “Why are you asking? I don’t want you to merely take off my vest, kiss my breasts. I want you to fuck me.”
For a moment Neh-te felt lost, and she stared heavenwards, as though she could navigate her way back into the moment the same way she navigated the sea by the stars. Instead, it was cold hands creeping up under her shirt that brought her back. Josenna rubbed Neh-te’s left nipple between forefinger and thumb, and Neh-te looked back down at her.
“Hey. I don’t know you very well yet, and I’m sorry I laughed. No one’s ever asked before, that’s all. I’m just nervous.” Josenna said in her tenor.
The wind began to blow lightly as Neh-te unhooked the two wire catches that held her new lover’s vest shut. With a careful grace, she opened the garment, and Josenna sat up enough to pull her arms free.
Josenna’s full breasts lay flattened against her thin chest, her pink nipples hard, as much from the ocean wind as from excitement. Neh-te gaped happily at the moonlit woman who lay beneath her, savoring the sight.
Neh-te then shifted her weight to lay nearly on top of Josenna, taking a breast in her hand and mouth, nudging her knee between legs and up against the clothed cunt. Josenna gasped suddenly at the pleasure and arched her back, and Neh-te smiled to herself.
With the growing wind came the sound of waves lapping against the hull, and the boat began to rock a little. “We might retire to my cabin, if you prefer,” Neh-te said, pulling her face away from Josenna’s chest.
Josenna nodded readily and the pair stood. Neh-te battened down the sea chest and picked up the remains of dinner and tea, carrying them inside. The black-haired woman followed, the wool blanket wrapped around her shoulders.
Neh-te lit a hurricane lamp and closed the cabin door. She turned and faced Josenna. “No more asking?”
“No more asking.”
“Any rules, then?”
Josenna thought for a moment as she pulled off the blanket, her breasts hanging down slightly, enticingly. “I don’t want anything in my ass.”
Neh-te nodded, and then commanded: “Strip.”
Josenna twisted beautifully at the waist as she reached to unlace her shorts on either side, and balanced one hand on the desk as she pulled them off each leg. Her tan line was drastic, but not unattractive, and her black pubic hair was untrimmed and unruly.
Neh-te smiled, and walked closer. “Lay down,” she said softly, and indicated the four-corner hammock, “your legs over the edge.”
Josenna did as she was told.
“Hrmm… not very comfortable?” Neh-te asked, sincerely concerned.
“No, there’s nothing to put my feet on.”
Neh-te picked up a length of rope, ran it through two of the ceiling eyelets that supported the hammock, and tied a loop into either end with practiced speed. She gently hooked the loops around Josenna’s ankles, so that the nude woman was able to lie at the edge of the hammock with her legs supported.
“Are you comfortable?”
“For a while.”
between Josenna’s legs and began to lick the tops of her thighs. The smell of her unwashed cunt was strong, nearly overpowering, and Neh-te breathed it in happily. Every woman smelled differently, of course, and this one smelled delightful. Neh-te stretched Josenna’s labia open with two fingers and soon was running circles with her tongue across the clit.
Josenna moaned, loudly. Much more loudly than Neh-te had expected, but the noise drove her on. Still spreading the cunt open, she licked her vagina for a moment, exploring the few centimeters that her short tongue allowed, before returning to the clit.
Neh-te’s own cunt was growing wet and happy as she ate out the beautiful stranger, and Josenna’s heavy breathing and whimpers turned her on incredibly. A good life, she thought to herself, as she rubbed the bridge of her nose in Josenna’s vulva.
“Do you come this way?” Neh-te asked after a few minutes, pausing with her mouth but continuing with saliva-moistened fingers to rub and fuck.
“I don’t know.”
“It’s never happened before.”
Neh-te put her face back between Josenna’s thighs and slowly brought her to near-orgasm. Josenna screamed, clutched at hair, shivered and threw her head back, but Neh-te never felt the final shudder of orgasm, and after many long minutes her pace slackened and eventually she stopped.
Josenna pulled her legs free of their supports and sat up on the hammock, a giddy smile across her face. “You’re still fully dressed,” she said.
“If it bothers you, do something about it.”
Josenna stood and pulled Neh-te’s shirt over her head without ceremony. The pirate was a good hand’s breadth shorter than her, and she leaned down to kiss her, open-mouthed. Then Josenna knelt to unbutton the long tight pants, which she pulled down quickly. As she rose, she reached out a hand and rested it firmly on her rescuer’s warm, wet cunt.
“You’ve got no tanline,” Josenna noted.
“It’s nice to be a pirate.” Neh-te pulled the hurricane lamp off its hook. “Let me show you something.”
The two walked gracefully through the rocking boat, past crates of ill-begotten goods, to a spot near the ship’s aft.
“The floor is warm,” Josenna said.
“The boiler’s right underneath us, idling. This is the warmest part of the ship, and it’s where I sleep come winter.”
An un-dyed leather mattress lay on the floor, perforated by several brass ringlets that shone in the dim glow of the lamp. Next to it sat a low, cluttered table and nearby, a bank of four levers emerged from the planks of the floor.
“When the ship’s engine is running, when I’m after a prize, I don’t want to waste any power. When I stop the oars, it takes some time to let the engine run down, so I let it wind up springs, to store mechanical force. If I run short on fuel, I can run for an hour on this wound-up power.
“But when I want to do things that take much less force,” Neh-te pulled the first lever in the series and a brass phallus—about the size of the average man’s—emerged vertically from an eyelet in the bed, “I can change the gear ratio something drastic and use a little bit of the power for other things.”
Neh-te hung up the lantern, lay down on the bed and warmed the phallus with her hands. She reached to the table and pulled down a small tin of lubricant, which she spread across her cunt and onto the head of the machine. She positioned herself so that rod was perpendicular against her lips, and touched herself a little before pulling the second lever, which set the machine to a slight vibration.
“Shit,” Josenna swore, “I’m amazed.”
“Then come here.”
“Is it safe, in me?”
“Pirate’s honor. But come here, sit on my face for a moment. You taste amazing.”
Josenna straddled Neh-te’s chest, facing the machine, and then bent down to rest her cunt against Neh-te’s eager mouth. She supported herself on one hand and massaged her host’s thigh with the other while she let out short gasps of joy as her cunt was licked.
A minute later, she sat up and turned around. Very carefully, she grasped the stationary vibrator in one hand, as it emerged a few centimeters above Josenna’s thighs, and eased it into her waiting cunt.
Neh-te was grinning as she wiped the juice from her face, and looked up to see the gorgeous woman riding her machine, the same apparatus that was sending bits of fire through her body. The waves outside lapped against the boat and the flickering shadows of the lamp played across Josenna’s face, and Neh-te was sublimely happy.
She must have looked distant however, because Josenna’s fingernails digging into her hipbones brought her back to the present.
“Can it go deeper?” Josenna asked, already breathing quite heavily.
Neh-te pulled the first lever a notch further and the phallus went another two centimeters into Josenna’s cunt.
“Thank you,” Josenna managed to say, her face lost in pleasure, her mouth slightly open, her front teeth showing the tiniest amount. For a moment their eye’s met, and the pleading look of love was exchanged before each was driven back into the solitude of sexual pleasure.
Josenna reached down to rub her own clit while the brass hummed inside of her, taking a bit of lube from Neh-te’s fingers. She threw her head back as she rode the vibrator, her hair falling down her back, her chest pushed forward and her nipples erect. Then she leaned forward, resting her hand on Neh-te’s belly, her black hair obscuring her face and chest, just a glint of an eye peeking through. She moaned loudly, squeezing Neh-te’s thighs between her knees.
Neh-te was relaxed, occasionally touching herself, but mostly she was caught up in the sound of Josenna’s pleasure. She stared openly at the beautiful cunt that rode her vibrator, easily as turned on by the sounds, smells and sights as she was by the wondrous vibrations against herself.
Josenna kept riding, seeming to work out her anger, taking out her frustration and fury, and she worked herself up to come. She screamed quite loudly, raked Neh-te’s sides, threw back her head. The shudder went slowly through her entire body, and she kept riding for at least a minute afterwards, her breath coming in pants as she slowed herself down.
Neh-te smiled as Josenna collapsed across her. She moved one lever, and then the other, and the vibrator slipped back into the bowels of the ship, its evening’s work complete.
“Can I stay with you?” Josenna asked as she cuddled up to Neh-te, who lay on her back.
“We’ll see.” Neh-te gently stroked her lover’s cheek as she thought about the future. She was already fond of Josenna, yet knew nothing about her.
“I’ve thought about this, you know. I’ve thought about you rescuing me. The infamous Neh-te, scourge of tyrants and friend to the poor. An
d I’ve thought about you fucking me. Though of course, I didn’t even know what you looked like.” Josenna pulled her head away a little bit to look at Neh-te. “You’re more handsome than I’d hoped.”
“I never know how to take that.”
“I’m one of thousands, aren’t I?”
“You’re not the first.” Neh-te grew melancholic as she spoke. You’ll not be the last, either, she thought, for all the good it will do me when you leave. The only lonelier life than that of a pirate was that of a pirate’s consort, and Josenna would surely grow restless and leave. Sex and violence will only take you so far, Neh-te knew.
The two stood out on deck, despite the night’s fierce winds. Clouds had marred the perfect sky, but the big dipper and the north star were as yet uncovered.
“That star up there, that’s…” Neh-te started.
“The north star, yes, I know. I am a sailor.”
“Yes, yes, of course.”
They stood together, Neh-te with an arm around the taller woman’s waist, Josenna around the pirate’s shoulders.
“I’m glad you asked,” Josenna said, “it just caught me off guard. No one’s ever asked before. But heaven’s knows there are times when I would have told men no.”
A wave broke against the prow of the ship.
“How do you get away with this? All of Angeline could comb the seas and find you with ease.”
“I’m not proud of the answer to that.” Neh-te rested her hand on the railing. “But I learned this as I learned the pirate’s trade—Angeline won’t search too hard for me or my fellow pirates, because we keep prices high. The foolish and the murderous they’ll catch, but me? I fit into their market.” Neh-te spit over the railing, the wind taking it far out to sea.”
Josenna was silent for awhile, musing. Eventually, a smile crept into her eyes. “One more question, then; what are the other two levers for?”
Neh-te smiled. “I’ll show you tomorrow.”
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