Space is a place that is full of mystery. Traveling through outer space is a journey unlike any other, letting go of the usual sense of place and time and opening up to new possibilities. Just as one may never find the edge of the universe, one can never truly know why she falls in love with certain people; she can only embrace her feelings, or deny them. To map out the course of a human’s sexuality, as making a complete chart of the universe, is futile, for like space, the capacity for love and desire is infinite.
Space is also a place of escape, where one can let go of all her earthly worries and inhibitions and just drift away, allowing the forces of a more mysterious nature overcome. The space opera combines the improbability of science fiction and the impossibility of fantasy, and when the erotic is added to the mix, our desires can find a place even within the farthest reaches of nothingness. Outside of the earthly limitations of prejudice and discrimination, women can claim space for their own, living how they want and loving whomever they choose, exploring their sexuality in ways they never thought possible.
In these four stories, women explore the uncharted trails of human desire as they rocket through space and transcend time and place. They inspire fear and hope in the face of danger and uncertainty, and the thrills of satiating a hunger for intimacy in a strange new world. Women on the Edge of Space features stories by Elizabeth Black, Shanna Germain, Kaysee Renee Robichaud, and Laurel Waterford.
Excerpt from “Adrift”
by Kaysee Renee Robichaud
Love had come frantic and precious and hot. Afterwards, they held each other in the Captain’s bed, woman to woman. Brave explorers spooned, shivering with every passing second.
“It’s not fair,” Lydia Wealty said, turning to crush her Captain’s lean body in a tight embrace. “We’ve only just found each other. This should be thrilling. Why does it feel like a defeat?”
“Because,” Captain Adrianne Furlong replied, running fingers through Lydia’s white blonde curls, “we are defeated.”
The Captain’s quarters were almost romantic bathed in the emergency lighting’s soft glow. Few furnishings, but these were comfortable. The bed linens clung to their sweaty bodies, battling the growing chill.
“There has to be a way,” Lydia said.
“We’ve been over this,” Adrianne replied. “We have three lifeboats. More than enough space for the two of us. The Rapier’s fire lance will likely focus on the Eleemosynary, the larger target. So long as the lifeboats speed in different directions, our chances of escape are not insignificant.”
“Unless it possesses multiple weapon banks,” Lydia said. “Additional offensive systems we’re unaware of. The thing is one big enigma…”
“We know its fire lance cuts deep,” Adrianne said, “and the Eleemosynary cannot survive another encounter.”
“So we sit in our lifeboat coffins,” Lydia said, “and we hope for the best.” The odds were too great and stacked against them.
Fingers glided down Lydia’s back. The Captain was a rugged woman, late forties. She had lost her left breast to a mastectomy. Her torso, throat, and face were dotted with scar tissue reminders of an encounter with an exploding reactor shield. Lydia had memorized each white dot and crescent–these scars lay scattered along the canvas of her body like stars across the tapestry of space. Lydia met the Captain’s hard blue eyes, and something shifted in her gut–pain twinge.
We are defeated. Adrianne’s words sank in, draining Lydia’s will to live or fight.
* * * *
Four hours earlier…
Lydia and Adrianne were going over ore containment reports in the lab when the alien artifact arrived.
“I don’t know what it is, Captain.” Fearless Mark McCreed was the best helmsman Lydia had ever seen, one who had earned his nickname from countless skirmishes. “But it’s big, and it’s coming for us, and it’s very, very old.”
Then, it struck.
Before he vaporized with the rest of the crew in Command and Control, Fearless Mark McCreed had dubbed it Rapier–not because it looked like a fencing foil, but because its fire lance tore through each target with speed and precision.
The alien ship’s lance had fired five times before spiriting away, faster than any vessel in humanity’s extrasolar fleet. Sensors and analysis suggested the thing had departed to recharge, but it had not gone far. The next five attacks would be more than enough to finish the job.
“Who’s operating this Rapier?” Adrianne’s use of McCreed’s descriptor seemed somehow appropriate.
“There are no life signs aboard it,” Lydia said.
“No verifiable signals,” Lydia said. “The computer suspects complete automation. Programmed to continue doing exactly what it’s doing until it achieves some kind of victory condition.”
“So, it scours the universe looking for things to kill,” Adrianne said.
“In effect, yes. Something about us makes us The Enemy, and so it attacked.”
* * * *
“We need to compartmentalize,” Adrianne said. “Strip down the third boat’s survival rations to give each of us a fighting chance.”
Lydia nodded. Two boats. One survivor in each. “Also, we should divide the unbroken cool tubes between the boats. We’ve no idea about solar wind effects–”
“Yes, yes. Foodstuff, cool tubes, water rations. And have Elee‘s controller devise a good ration for food dispensing to maximize survival time. There’s no telling how long we’ll be flying apart.”
This struck Lydia hardest. They might not fly long at all, or they might fly longer than any supplies could conceivably permit. Too many unknown variables…”Captain–Adrianne?”
“There’s no time for secrets and things left unspoken, now.”
“Will you,” Lydia laughed though she felt no humor whatsoever. “Will you please call me by name?”
“You haven’t… haven’t said my name since… since your cabin.”
“I’m sorry.” The Captain’s eyes squeezed shut, while tension eased from her face. “I’m sorry, Lydia. I…” There were no explanations, only apology. “We need to do this. It’s our best chance.”
Lydia nodded, though her neck would rather break than acquiesce.
It made rational sense not to put all the eggs in one basket, but her heart knew little of sense. The heart knew only what it wanted, and the heart never wanted to be lonely, it never wanted to break. Especially not after it discovered how empty it had been. Especially not after it had filled that emptiness and sampled wholeness. Not now.
* * * *
Two hours earlier…
First, fear arrived like an unwanted guest, shoving its way through the door and into Lydia’s heart. From this came paralyzing terror and then rage. In time, this transformed into a keen desire to live.
These responses were expected, these were rational, these were reasonable.
Then, desire-to-live turned into something else. A longing for company, yearning to fulfill the wish she had locked away long ago.
When the Captain leaned back from the computer’s poor prognosis on the Rapier‘s recharging schedule, Lydia kissed her. It was a surprise to both of them.
Adrianne did not return the kiss. She remained stiff as a mannequin. Lydia eased away, discovering new panic. What would happen now?
She met the Captain’s steady gaze, saw her evaluation. Each second of silence grew denser than the last, adding to the weight between them until it grew too heavy, too much… Then, Adrianne’s hands fought Lydia’s and squeezed. They shivered, but not from the temperature. They trembled as the stones around Adrianne’s heart crumbled–a Captain could not afford to acknowledge heart or warmth while in flight. A Captain needed to concentrate upon the trip if that Captain was to hope for a continuing career. Adrianne had already enjoyed a long career, and in this moment she surrendered her dreams for a future.
Lydia closed the gap between them. Their lips met, soft. Their tongues met, uncertain. The Captain’s face flushed with embarrassment, and this brought heat to Lydia’s cheeks as well.
“You are beautiful,” Adrianne said.
“And you are strong,” Lydia said.
Their tongues turned together now, slipping in and out, a passionate probing. Hands released and drew caressing lines along arms, flanks. Kisses grew fevered, fighting the hopelessness and darkness threatening to snuff them. Touches made heat, a flame they could flutter around like dancing moths.
Blissful tears filled Lydia’s eyes as her mind sang, Why did I wait? Why did I wait? and after the kiss broke, her mouth voiced the mantra as the Captain’s kisses moved along her throat, and the Captain’s fingers unsnapped the jumpsuit and bared the tank top beneath. Nibbles through the clinging material sent shivers through Lydia.
Her hands tugged the Captain’s flight suit open.
Why did I wait?
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