In the quiet, backwater system of Halderon IV, the old war horse had been put to pasture. She floated majestically in geostationary orbit over the gas giant that star maps called HV-16 and the locals called Lesvous. A bevy of smaller ships darted around the system, all of them hopelessly obsolete by modern standards, consigned to system defense duty and anti-piracy patrols. Compared to the old campaigner, they were state of the art.

Almost one thousand years had passed since her massive, seventeen mile long keel had been laid down in the long ago vaporized shipyards at Arnhem. She had been the first of fifteen ships of her class. Massively built, heavily armored, carrying the then revolutionary, fifteen inch Particle Projection Cannons, and internal bays for a whole wing of fighter/bombers. In her day, she had been the pinnacle of space going naval technology and, with her sisters, had been a thorn in the side of the Terran Authority’s reconquest of the galaxy.

For one hundred bloody years, she and her sister ships had protected the Gunarian Confederation from being annexed into the Terran Authority. The Treaty of Sol III in 3745 had marked the end of hostilities, as the Confederation had bowed to the inevitable and joined the Authority voluntarily, rather than face long years as an occupied power. Four years later, she had been refitted and with a loyal Terran crew and joined the Authority Navy.

In her nearly limitless positronic database, the bloody history of the reconquest was stored. She had rained fire and death on the rebellious planet of Sig-Alpha five, taken part in the great naval engagement on Centauri Prime, provided fighter support in the final battles against the Volluskuns and taken part in more skirmishes and fleet actions than most people could imagine. When her battle board was lit, she was as close to sentient as any machine humans had ever constructed.

Eventually, time and technology turned her cannons into pea shooters and her hangar decks into less than today’s auxiliary carriers boasted. She had been consigned to the scrap yard, when some bean counter realized she was the oldest active duty ship in the Authority fleet. Rather than scrap her, the powers that be had parked her here in orbit and turned her into a training ship for new pilots.

The old warhorse was quiet now. The only sound and fury aboard came from raw recruits shooting at targets or blowing off steam. Her great guns had been silent for more than a century and the battle circuit that would bring her to full wakefulness had been dark for twice that. She slept, and perhaps she dreamed of battles in days long gone by. She remained as a living monument to man’s determination to conquer the galaxy.



Erica Davies sat in the darkened conference room, watching the gas giant spin beneath the ship, through the big armalite picture window. Ancient wind storms left mottled yellow spots in the planet’s dark green face. A belt of them along the equator had been ancient at the time the Yorktown’s keel had been laid.

Departing from a small intra-system liner she watched the shuttles that were bringing in a new batch of recruits. For the last five years her job had been training others to go into combat. At forty-three she felt as old as the ship she was assigned to. Like her, she had been put out to pasture. Unlike her, Erica was still in her prime.

There was no hell for a combat pilot quite like the one she was living in. She felt like the attendant at a filling station, watching the cars go by, but forever kept away from the action. Despite the reams of requests, she was stuck, away from the adrenaline rush and excitement of active duty on a combat vessel. She held her hands up and examined them, turning them from front to back again and again.

She saw long, delicate fingers, with the nails cut short. The skin was still soft and supple, but for how much longer? she wondered. Time, the fighter pilot’s most deadly enemy stalked her now. One day those hands would no longer react with lightning speed. The reflexes would fade and the strength would succumb to the ravages of old age. She still had them now and wasting away here while a major war was being fought was slowly killing her.

Every one hundred and twenty days she sent a new batch of freshly minted pilots to the combat zone in Delta quadrant. She had seen the casualty lists and knew that over eighty percent of them never lived to draw their first month’s pay. The Trog were the first race humanity had met who matched them in both technological accomplishment and ruthless determination.

They actually called themselves the Slanesshs, but the Terrans referred to them as troglodytes, which had been shortened to Trogs. They were a reptilian race, taller and more heavily built than humans and covered in a scaly greenish hide. They breathed an atmosphere that was very similar to human tolerances and thus, both races coveted the same kind of planet, although the Trogs couldn’t survive on the more arid worlds.

Exploration had led to incidents, incidents to threats, threats to confrontation and now a hot war raged. The Trogs had a numeric advantage, the Humans a slight edge technologically, and for the past decade they had been killing each other with zealous abandon. Stalemate gave way to frustration and frustration lead to atrocities on both sides. The war was basically a bloodbath, centered on the jump bottleneck at Yalo. Each side felt it could win a war of attrition, so the plasma kept flying.

Yalo was the key. The only planetary system with a star that provided enough energy to recharge a jumpship’s engines, that was strategically placed to bridge the great stellar void called the abyss. Whoever controlled it could make incursions into the other’s space with impunity. It was said that more beings had lost their life in that system than all the other systems in space combined. Erica doubted that, having some personal history that let her know better, but the Terran media repeated it like it was gospel in all the war newscasts.

Erica brushed a lock of her long blonde hair from her face as the door to the room slid open on almost silent servos. She didn’t have to ask who was there, she already knew. Sgt. Major Tucker. With his arrival she scooped up the folders on the polished table and tucked them under her arm. Erica rose smoothly, with a fluid grace that was almost feline and turned on her heel.

“They’re landing now,” the grizzled veteran said in his customary soft voice.

“Bring ’em to the squad bay, Earl, and don’t spare the fists. We need to toughen them up more, we’re losing so many.”

“Not your fault, Boss, don’t even go there,” he said quietly.

Ten years together did something to people. A mutual respect developed that was almost as deep and strong as lovers shared. Erica was a tough disciplinarian, and a stickler for the regs and military courtesy. The big NCO was the only man on the ship who could even think of being so familiar with her except the captain. To everyone else she was a straight-laced, no fun, kill-joy of an old bitch. Old tight-ass, they called her, though never when she was in earshot.

Tucker had watched over her when she was a raw recruit, drug her ass out of uncounted dives after William had been killed, and saved her from demotion or discharge on a dozen occasions or more when she was younger. It was something they never mentioned, an unspoken understanding that her gratitude was beyond words.

“Mercy. Just be prepared to ride ’em hard. New policy is in effect, we are getting criminals with high aptitude scores who are given a choice of prison or the military again. We aren’t winning this one, Earl, and the Authority heads are getting desperate.”

“You got it, Boss,” he said before turning and disappearing into the cold steel hallway.

Erica glanced out at the stars one last time before heading for her office in the squad bay.



Leigh Collins trudged down the shuttle gangway and reluctantly fell into line with her group, purposely standing a half step back from the crisp imaginary line the others toed. While they all gawked at the ship she kept up an air of disdain. What a bunch of rubes, she thought. There was nothing impressive to her, the shuttle landing, massive machines, or scurrying techs. Even the raw size of the cavernous bay made no impression upon her.

Unlike most of her fellows, she hadn’t volunteered and couldn’t give two shits about getting her citizenship. She had grown up on the hive world of Taltos III and before her twelfth birthday she had become an accomplished thief. She would still be there, happy and living below the official radar screen, if her shithead of a boyfriend hadn’t ratted her out to save his own skin. She still owed him and he had better be praying she didn’t survive this ordeal.

Leigh zoned out as the ship’s PR officer began to read a prepared speech. She had been sleeping in an abandoned storage room when they came for her. Tall, grim men in black armor and helmets that covered their eyes. The dreaded TAC unit, storm troopers of the Terran Authority’s tenuous grip on the planet.

She had fought of course; her preternatural reflexes and experience from years of living on the mean streets, coupled with her desperate fear had almost gotten her out of it. She had dropped five of them, and was squeezing past the last one standing when he tagged her in the ribs with his stun stick.

Leigh remembered the pain, like a million needles being jabbed into her body, especially in her nipples, mouth and pussy. She had come to in a holding room, with her hair frizzed and everything she owned, including her teeth, aching. They had stripped her, bathed and disinfected her and tattooed a number on her left hip. She was still disoriented when the door to the ten by ten holding room had swung open and a burly man in uniform had walked in.

“Got a name girl?” he grunted as he eased his bulk into the chair on the opposite side of the table that was the room’s only furnishing.

“Speak up.”

When she remained grimly silent his face softened slightly and his body language changed minutely. Less threatening, but she could tell he was still alert.


“Look kid, I don’t need a name, I can just call you by your number. Hell, you don’t even have to talk to me, but it would do you well to listen to what I have to say.”

“Leigh. My name is Leigh.”

“That’s better. Okay Leigh, I’m Sergeant Brannanberg. I don’t think you need me to tell you, you’re in deep shit.”

“Why? I haven’t done anything,” She bluffed.

“Shit girl, half the whores on Balefeas didn’t do anything. Most of ’em were just like you, unregistered and grabbed for some petty crime.”

“What’s that got to do with me?”

“That’s where you’re heading, kid. First they’ll open your head up and stick a nice nano processor in there, it’ll make you pliable. Hell, you won’t be able to say no. Probably give you a boob job while you’re out since the titty fairy wasn’t kind. Then it’s off to a life devoted to getting off any swinging dick that has the creds your owner demands for your services. Should be easy on you at first, you’re young and pretty. But after a while, you’ll end up in one of the sleazy places, blowing sailors for a cred or two and engaging in the most depraved shit your little mind can come up with for a fiver.”

“I’ll die before that,” she said. Her voice was steady, but she had heard of Balefeas. Her body was suddenly covered in a clammy sweat. No one deserved that, especially not her.

“Nah, the NAC will keep you from harming yourself, unless a paying customer demands it. Hell, I saw a girl take a horse up her ass there when I was still a wet nose with the one-oh-eight.”

Despite her wish not to, she knew in her heart he was being truthful.

“Why are you telling me all this?” she asked. She could hear the fear in her voice and hated herself for showing weakness.

“Well, you’re quick. Damned quick. I watched the vid of you taking out most of the TAC team that went to get you. Not bad for an untrained kid. I’m the recruiter for the Space Marines here, but I also fill a small quota for the Naval Air Service if I get one who qualifies.”

“And?” she asked cautiously.

“And if you have the brains to go with the reflexes, this is your lucky day,” he said, fishing a sheaf of papers out of his black brief case and tossing them on the desk.

Leigh looked them over, but she had never learned to read. The man seemed to understand and took them out of her hand.

“Full pardon, for all crimes against the authority. Registration, as a full human, don’t bother telling me you aren’t, I know that, doesn’t make a fucking bit of difference to me and application for citizenship.”

“What do I have to do?” she asked tentatively, expecting the worst.

“Just put your X on the dotted line, kid. You get the pardon, registration and an application for citizenship. Of course you have to earn that, five year commitment to the Navy. Odds are you won’t live long enough to draw your first paycheck, but it beats sucking cock for the next thirty years don’t it?”

“Some deal.”

“If we weren’t getting our asses handed to us by the Trogs, it wouldn’t even be offered, sweets. You’d already be on a transport and sporting a shaved head, big tits, some new hardware and a different attitude.”

“Five years and I’m done?”

“That’s the deal. Don’t expect to live to see it though, unless you’re even better than I think you are,” he said, extending a pen to her.

“You’re mighty fucking encouraging,” she snapped.

“I save the ass kissing for people who have a choice, kid. Honor, glory, duty, great pay, see exotic places, the girls will be creaming their panties over you in the uniform, all that crap. Why not be straight with you? If I told you, you were signing up for a firing squad, I figure you’d take that over the life of a pleasure girl.”

“Life sucks,” she said resignedly and made her mark on the line.

“Beats the alternative, kid, always remember that,” he said as he stuffed the papers in his briefcase and stood up.



Katie stared around the huge landing bay with wide eyes. She had never seen anything remotely like it back home. She had chosen the space corps to do her five years of service right after graduating from intermediate school. Well, chosen might be a bit of an exaggeration. The recruiter had been tall, handsome and dashing in his aviator’s uniform. His pitch had been smooth and polished, but the whole time he had been staring at her with come hither eyes.

Her pussy still tingled when she remembered meeting him after the job fair for tea at the local pub. Tea had given way to ale and she had been pretty tipsy when she agreed to go back to his room for a night cap. The night cap had tasted a little funny, but she was too far gone to worry about it.

The room had been cheap, but to her eyes it was grand. He had wasted little time, getting her to sign on the dotted line, and then tossed the papers into a stack on the desk. She remembered his strong hands on her shoulders, pushing her down to her knees. She had felt so incredibly naughty as she undid his dress trousers and fished inside for his cock.

She was already well acquainted with the male anatomy and couldn’t wait to see what this man had in his pants; she was sick of pale, thin boys.

The sergeant certainly didn’t disappoint. He was easily two inches longer than the biggest she had ever had, and much thicker. She gently stroked the satiny skin, watching his pulse in the thick blue vein that ran the length of his cock. It was large and thick, with a pinkish purple head. She was still just watching and stroking him when he tangled his hands in her dark black hair and pulled her towards it.

The head bumped her full lips and she parted them, gently sucking it into her mouth. Katie swirled her tongue around the head, enjoying the strong masculine flavor. When the sergeant groaned, she began to stroke the shaft, sucking until her cheeks hollowed and using her tongue on the underside.

“God damn, who’d have thought it? A cocksucker like you on this backwater,” he exclaimed.

Katie preened at the praise and redoubled her efforts, twisting her hand on the shaft as she stroked and cupping his balls with her other hand. Soon he grunted, and his hands locked onto her head. He began to pump his hips, slowly fucking her face. Each time his cock head hit the back of her throat she would gag, but she was loving it.

Without warning he pulled her to her feet and undid her tight pants. He shoved them to the floor and then put his weight against her, riding her down on the bed. Lying with his weight on her, he reached between their bodies, grasped his cock and rubbed it up and down her moist lips. When he found her entrance he thrust himself forward, driving four inches of his hardon into her yielding body.

Katie gasped, and then moaned as he sank the rest with another thrust and began to stroke into her. She wrapped her legs around him, raising her hips to meet his thrusts. Soon she was groaning and whimpering as he relentlessly pounded into her. It felt indescribable and she realized what she had thought of as good sex was child’s play.

He had come with little warning, pumping his load into her and rolling off while she was still panting. Her head was foggy and she thought this was how a girl was supposed to feel after sex, before the darkness had rushed in to claim her.

She awoke alone in the room, with someone pounding on the door. She had scrambled into her pants and opened the door, only to be grabbed by a strong man in shock armor who twisted her arm and lead her downstairs to a bus.

He had been a great fuck, but she swore she would rip the son of a bitch’s dick off if she ever met him again. They hadn’t even let her tell her folks good bye. Just a quick trip to the space port and she was on her way.




Rachel Loudelk’s mind was also drifting as the PR officer’s speech dragged on and on. The tall girl with dark hair and bronzed skin stood head and shoulders above the girl on either side of her. Even the one size fits all, unisex, gray jumper she wore couldn’t disguise her lush curves or proud breasts.

Unlike her fellows, she hadn’t volunteered for service. She was the eldest daughter of a tribal elder on Crotius, a reservation world. Her people had a centuries old agreement with the authority. In return for letting them live their simple lives, without interference or exploitation, they sent a guaranteed quota of warriors each year. It was a mater of tradition and honor that the eldest child of each member of the council always went when they came of age.

She wore a small medicine pouch around her neck, a parting gift from her mother. It was also part of the agreement that she could wear it while on duty. Her people were the only members of the military who could wear non-regulation ornaments. She wore it with pride, and felt superior to those around her. They were all in it for the money, or the glory or personal gain. She was there as part of her people’s warrior tradition that spanned back across the ages to when man hadn’t even left the tiny ball of dust that had spawned him.

She was physically gifted and had breezed through boot camp, the mental games being child’s play compared to the grueling training she had undergone while studying with her mother, a tribal shaman. Long before her drill instructors said so she was tough, capable and confident. She kept a cultivated aloofness among her peers, which many took for a feeling of superiority.

Beneath the façade she was a warm and vibrant girl and her gregarious nature chafed at the isolation. She was hoping to make friends among the pilot trainees, now that the mind games of basic were over and she could lower her guard.