The comm screen flashed that there was an incoming message and Captain Julia Yamamoto tapped the accept code.

“Hello, Admiral Christiansen” she said to the aging man on the screen.

“Hello Julia, let’s drop the formal crap. How are you doing?”

“Well, Jake, a little shook up, but happy we’re intact.”

“I’ve gotta tell you,” said the Admiral, “when we heard you’d been attacked by Aquilans we were stuck somewhere between disbelief and excitement. We’ve been trying to establish contact with those bastards for years and we can’t get ’em to pay the slightest attention. They just swim around in their pools, or pods, or energy shells, or whatever they’re called and never spare us so much as a ‘hello’.”

“I know,” said Julia, “we can’t get them to pay the slightest attention to us, and then wham, they swoop in and attack my ship.”

“Any casualties?” asked Jake.

“None,” said Julia. “They were more efficient than a team of SEALS – precision attack, disabling tactics, got in and got out, and gone – jetting straight back to NGC 6751. They worked like surgeons, even using some sort of plasma technique to cauterize their path, sealing up all of the leaks as they went so none of our chambers lost pressure.”

“Amazing. What did they get?” asked the Admiral.

“That’s the oddest thing,” said Julia. “They grabbed the science lab and the backup medical suite. They cut the entire thing directly out of the ship. They took everything in the bio labs and the gene labs. From what we can tell, they also pulled the engineering data for every ship we’ve ever built. Other than that – nothing else was taken.”

“What the hell?” mused Jake. “I suppose I understand the engineering information — but after the way they cut through your ship, it wouldn’t seem like they need that sort of data to conduct further attacks.”

“I know,” agreed Julia. “Speaking of attacks, how are we going to classify this, Jake? We’ve experienced no loss of life and no significant damage. Hell, except for the fact that we have to go the long way between two parts of the ship — I could keep going without a single repair. It’s hard to call this an act of war.”

“You’re exactly right,” agreed the admiral. “I’ve already tangled with a couple of hotheads who are ready to mount a full on attack.”

“Full on attack on what?” asked Julia. “The Aquilans are energy-based beings that float in random pods across this entire nebula. Do these hotheads want to light up the entire cloud?”

“If they had their way, yeah,” said the Admiral. “You take care of your repairs, Julia. I’ll take care of the idiots. We’ll classify this as the Aquilan Encounter, and leave it at that.”

“Sounds good, Jake,” said Julia.

After signing off, the captain did have one thought lingering in her mind. What in the world were the Aquilans going to do with the genetic info and the labs.



He had once had a name. It was now unpronounceable, or perhaps unthinkable in ways this new brain could comprehend. The name had meant countless things. It had involved the places he’d gone and the ancestors who had led to his creation. However, the name had been in a language that was unfathomable to this form.

His name was now simply ‘Marcus’. He was created from genetic stock from the massive planet Rmavsh and his background indicated traits toward strong diplomacy.

He opened his eyes.

There were signals passing through his optic nerves. He could make no sense of them.

There were other nerves. They were in his skin. He could make little sense of those sensations either, but he did seem to sense he was in some sort of fluid.

He sensed motion near him. Soon, he felt added pressure on what he was later to learn were called arms and legs.

His limbs began to move. As they had, several times a day for the past two decades, his arms and legs began pushing and rotating in response to the machines who were tasked with exercising this body. The body had been little more than a living cadaver during its relatively brief existence.

Until today, the brain had not been capable of thought. A few simple commands had been programmed into a specialized region of the hippocampus so the body might respond correctly to fitness regime — assuring a properly formed body and alleviating any chance of atrophy.

For now, he allowed the autonomic exercises to continue. It gave him time to observe and learn the intricacies of this unfamiliar and strange body.

His awareness continued to expand and he simply stayed suspended, thinking, for several days.

He awoke from sleep one morning to discover he could now make sense of the visual signals transmitted from the eyes.

He was in a great room – The Center. Before him he could see his relatives floating in a gaseous tank. He looked with longing at the form he had once held. Though he was gaining a familiarity with his human shape — it still felt as though he was a guest in this body.

He turned his head and saw the others. In the great circular track around the Center were three hundred and twenty-eight tanks each containing a human body in an equal ratio of males and females.

These humans were quite nearly every size, shape, and color within the spectrum of the human race. From dark-skinned individuals tracing their lineage back to the African continent of Earth to blue-skinned Xflesian stock — the Aquilans had taken a heterogeneous approach to the bodies they would eventually inhabit.

He studied the woman in the tank to the left. Her form was long and willowy, her hair of a color he would later learn to call blonde. Marcus could see her eyes were open but showed no signs of recognition. He surmised that she must have awoken later and was still not yet capable of processing the visual stimuli. He found his eyes lingering on her naked form and was surprised to feel a rush of blood to his pelvic region. He looked down to discover his sexual organ had grown much larger and was now rigid. He felt a familiar longing begin.

He turned to the other side. Here was a woman whose skin was of a much darker shade than his own. The breasts on her body were much larger than the lighter-skinned one he had just observed. Her eyes were open, also and they showed recognition. She seemed to be evaluating his form and her eyes lingered on the rigid organ he himself had noticed.

Their eyes met. They evaluated each other for quite some time. He felt the longing increase.

The next moment, the machines kicked in. He allowed them to exercise his body for a few minutes, but for the first time he grew resentful of it. He wished to interact with the female he had been watching. He wasn’t certain how he wished to interact, but he suspected it had something to do with the rather uncomfortable rigidity between his legs.

He pushed back on the exercise machine, dragging against the motions it wished for him to perform. It was a struggle at first, but the machine soon stopped. This was actually a trigger. The machines had been programmed to recognize that if a body resisted the exercises rather than complying — it had become aware and was ready to leave its life within the tank.

The machines stopped and the tank began to drain. The feeding and breathing tubes, and other requisite attachments were soon removed. Minutes later, Marcus found himself standing unsteadily on the floor.

His slow awakening had actually given him a surprising familiarity with his new body. He was able to stand and move. He became aware that he was capable of speech — using the seventeen languages, including Galactic Standard, which had been pre-loaded into his brain and had simply waited there until the day a consciousness entered the body. What all of the words meant were more of a mystery. Blue, red, brown — they seemed to make sense. It would be several weeks before he could string these odd words together into a coherent sentence of more than a few words.

Language was not his concern, however. He felt he had to interact with the creature in the next tank.

On moderately shaky legs, he walked slowly to the dark-skinned woman he had observed. She had seen him resist the exercises and had followed suit. Her tank was nearly drained and she gingerly stepped out to greet him.

They stood and evaluated each other. The woman was still glistening with the aqueous fluids which had sustained her throughout her formative life. She stepped forward and leaned into him, her high and large breasts being the first bodily parts to touch his. Both of them gave an involuntary gasp at the electrifying jolt of first bodily contact.

Perfectly nourished for her genetic make-up, she was actually a bit taller than he was since his stock was descended from a planet with heavier gravity. As a result, her breasts touched high on his chest.

“Marcus,” he said, indicating himself.

“A’nish,” she said.

She bent her head down to be near his.

“Kiss,” she said simply.

“Kiss,” he replied.

This word made sense.

Their lips met. It was awkward at first but they soon discovered that moving their lips in certain ways brought more pleasurable stimulation.

As they kissed, they began to explore each other’s bodies with their hands.

He soon found his hand on her breast.

“Soft,” he commented.

She nodded in agreement.

She soon found her hand on his penis.

“Hard,” she commented.

He also nodded in agreement.

They began pushing against each other, also enjoying the sensations of exploring each other through greater skin contact and not just their hands.

Her greater height was a good thing. As they continued ‘exploring’ and their bodies began naturally responding to the lovely contact, they eventually found his hard member brushing against her nether lips which were now moistened from more than the fluid in which she had lived.

They knew what to do. Both through instinct and through the limited knowledge with which they had been pre-loaded and were just beginning to unlock. Yes, they knew what to do.

She moaned involuntarily at the feeling of his long organ sliding into her.

“Penis,” she gasped.

“Vagina,” he replied.

“Prick,” she moaned.

“Pussy,” he groaned.

“Cock,” she growled.

“Cunt,” he cried with a thrust.

These words which had drifted curiously in their brains now made sense.

It was time to learn what to do with the things to which these names belonged.

It was not elegant or graceful, their first sex, but it was certainly intense. They looked into each other’s eyes as they began moving together. Each evaluated the reactions of the other body as they coupled in a somewhat awkward standing position.

Perhaps it was due to being in perfect physical condition due to the automated routine his body had undergone every day. Perhaps it was because his entire system was still not entirely linked together and his brain was still learning his body. Whatever the reason, Marcus lasted a surprising long time for his first ever sexual experience. He lasted so long, in fact, that it was A’nish who first climaxed.

Marcus paused as the orgasm overtook her. He watched with some curiosity and then experimented with his lips upon her nipples as the last waves rocked through her. When she was done, he began thrusting again. It was only a few minutes later when he felt the odd almost pulling sensation in his loins. In some way, it felt as though A’nish was drawing the semen out of him. He moaned as the first spurt shot out and seemed to gush endlessly into her ‘pussy’ as he knew the word to be.

Another followed, and then another. She observed him with a kindly expression as his climax progressed. When he was done, he removed himself from her. The two of them turned to examine their Aquilan relations — floating about in the huge gaseous environs just beyond the thick plasteel. Marcus and A’nish were forced to squint at the beautiful brightness of their kin.

“Not – same,” observed Marcus, contemplating the creatures beyond — creatures which they had once been.

“No,” agreed A’nish. “S… s… sex not same. Sex, not as good.”

“Practice,” said Marcus. “We must – practice.”

“Agreed,” said A’nish.

They heard a noise and turned to see two other individuals approaching. It was another couple, who must have been from tanks further around the arc of the Center. They were a fascinating contrast in color and shape. The male was quite tall, even taller than A’nish and his skin was shockingly white. The woman was shorter than Marcus, and her skin was a crimson red. If measured, her breasts were possibly smaller than A’nish’s but did not appear so due to her smaller frame.

A’nish crossed to the tall, ivory man of Venatacorion stock and pulled him into an intense kiss. Marcus approached the voluptuous rubicund woman and they contemplated each other.

She reached down to grasp his cock, which had rapidly recovered — having twenty years of waiting stored up inside.

“Hard,” she commented.

He reached down and dipped two fingers into her pussy.

“Wet,” he observed.

“Sex,” she stated, simply — nodding her head toward the male now entangled with A’nish.

Marcus understood.

He began kissing her. They also rubbed together and were well-stimulated.

Copulating, however, was not as seamless as it had been with A’nish. He tried bending his knees and she tried standing on her tiptoes — but they could not find a way to make it work.

She shrugged and lay down upon the floor, beckoning him to lie upon her and enter her from above.

As he slid into her, he looked up and saw three more couples who had recently emerged. All of them were doing the same. As they began to move, he contemplated that his body was emanating something called ‘hunger’ — but that would have to wait. He had at least this union to attend to, if not several more before he needed to seek out nourishment.



Commander Angelo Telegin watched through the view port as the Aquilan ship Alshain. It was legendary throughout the universe for both its beauty and its mysteries. It resembled a great and elegant mechanical bird. In the center was a huge body, and out from that sprang wings formed of delicate looking spines and tubes. In truth, these ‘wings’ were quite large. The crew was believed to live in the wing areas. The equivalent head and the tail sections were believed to be the engineering and navigation sections.

It was thought the body contained the power source, though no one was certain what form of energy source the Aquilans used.

It was known the Alshain could navigate nearly any environment. It had originally appeared in NGC 6751, the planetary nebula where the Aquilans resided. The Alshain was perfectly capable of FTL travel as well as atmospheric navigation. In fact, its FTL was so sophisticated the Aquilans had no weaponry. Once, a paranoid captain had switched on his weaponry and the Alshain had popped out instantaneously — reappearing four systems away within seconds.

Other than the fact that there were human forms aboard the Alshain, and that the ship was beautifully engineered – the Aquilans and their ship were still a mystery to the greater population and even members of the fleet.

Angelo had won the chance to explore these mysteries.

He sat patiently waiting for the hatch to open. He couldn’t believe this was actually happening. He’d been assigned the most coveted position in the fleet – liaison to the Aquilans. Technically, the officially term for their people was Aquilis Humanis, to differentiate the human denizens of the Alshain from their plasma/chemical-based counterparts, but in common vernacular, ‘Aquilan’ was the term everyone used for both forms of these mysterious people.

Even after the initial contact with the Aquilans five years prior, when the Alshain had appeared with Galactic-speaking humans, there was still very little known about the Aquilans. Their primary purpose, as the human Aquilans had plainly stated, was to serve as representatives for their race, who lived mostly in nebulae and upon gaseous planets where their native forms were long and beautiful cylinders filled with pulsating energy.

In that shape, the Aquilans had found it too difficult to communicate with humans. That had been the purpose of their incursion two decades prior. They had absconded with the laboratory and genetic materials from the ship and had grown a pool of three hundred-plus human ambassadors through whom they could speak.

These humans had been grown in vitro for the first twenty years of their existence. The bodies had been manually exercised and conditioned as they formed, but no brain functions had been allowed.

Then, as the story went, over three hundred Aquilans had willed themselves to transfer their consciousnesses into the waiting bodies. It was through those bodies, now sentient, that the Aquilans had made the first true intelligible contact with the human race.

It seemed that the first encounters had been unusual or troubling in some fashion. They had made contact with the science explorer ship Basset and no details regarding that first meeting had ever been released — except that all military and civilian ships were ordered to avoid any contact with the Alshain.

What was certainly known about the human Aquilans was they were fierce negotiators. The Aquilans had grown concerned with human encroachment into their space. The first demands had been for the Republic to cease their movement into Aquilan territory and to sign treaties assuring specific planets and nebula would remain untouched.

What was rumored about the human Aquilans was wide and varied. It was said they rarely wore clothes aboard their own ship. It was further said they were sexually aggressive and insatiable. During initial encounters, people whispered that Aquilans had coupled during meetings until diplomats had convinced them it could be a distraction from proper negotiations. Since that time, Aquilan envoys had learned more decorum – but the rumors ran rampant about what exactly the Aquilans got up to aboard the Alshain.

A little over three years prior, excitement had spread through the fleet when the Aquilan liaison program was announced. For three months at a time, a fleet representative was chosen to serve a tour of duty aboard the Alshain. The Aquilans had further requested that the liaisons alternate between male and female candidates — under thirty years of age.

What specifically happened with those liaisons was anyone’s guess. The liaisons spoke to no one about their experiences except to designated members of the Science Corps whose reports were triple classified.

Now Angelo was to discover for himself. He had graduated from the academy top-of-class, worked his way up quickly in the ranks, and was poised to Captain his first ship after his three-month rotation aboard the Alshain. He was the eleventh liaison to be assigned to the ship. The liaison’s duties were to assist with any technologies within their realm of expertise, learn about the Aquilans, but above all to serve as ambassadors for the human race to these fascinating creatures who were human in form — but inhabited by a consciousness that had once been a coalescing jellyfish-like creature.