Captain Jack and the Race to Redula – Chapter 09: Illusions


To start at the beginning of this story, click here.

Sam’s transition to wakefulness was slow and gradual, like darkness giving way to day over the course of the hour before sunrise.  His deep, dreamless sleep didn’t end so much as it faded into wakefulness.  The bed was soft, holding his body in perfect comfort at the perfect temperature and as awareness slowly returned the first thing he became conscious of was the lack of stress on his muscles, the absence of the aches caused by lying on a hard floor or lumpy cot.  It was bliss, this pain-free place he was in, and he remained there for an unmeasured amount of time basking in unmoving comfort.

Alas, the next thing he became aware of was his profound hunger.  The sensation came on gradually, but once he became aware of it he could not stop noticing it and return to the state of blissful ignorance he had been in before.  Eventually the feeling grew strong enough that he knew he was going to have to do something about it.

Opening his eyes, he found that the quiet bedroom was now aglow with soft diffuse daylight coming in through the sheer gauzy curtains.  He was alone, a fact which registered before he remembered that there had been someone else in the room when he had fallen asleep.  As such, there was no rush of adrenaline when he recalled the threat that his former companion represented.  In the slow, gauzy haze of waking it was all remote, academic, lacking any visceral demand on his attention.  After all, he had been asleep for no telling how long… another two or three or five minutes of comfort on this Platonic ideal of a pillow wouldn’t change things.

But the comfort was short-lived, for as soon as he remembered Captain Jack, the memories of his duties and responsibilities also came creeping back to his awareness.  As soon as those thoughts appeared in his head, he couldn’t unthink them and realized that there was no way back to the land of trouble-free bliss he had just emerged from.  Still he lingered in the bed a few minutes more – there was no reason to rush, and indeed he had no ability to rush.  The long sleep had helped him recharge a bit, but his body had been badly abused and he needed food.  In addition to his now-acute hunger, the need to empty his bladder was also clamoring for his attention.  And so, reluctantly, he left the soft pillow behind and rose up out of the bed.  His limbs, still sore and achy from the ordeals of the previous days, protested as he forced them into movement once more.

Bladder first.  There was a small powder room attached to the bedroom and he gratefully let his stream flow for nearly a minute.  When it had finished, he flushed and washed his hands in the tiny sink.  Glancing in the mirror at his filthy stubbled face, he dabbed a bit at it but the effort was hopeless.  He needed a full shower, not a few swipes with a damp tissue.

But that could wait.  First and foremost: back to reality.  “Pyrellia, end program.”

The gauzy bedroom disappeared and Sam let out a mental breath that he didn’t realize he was holding.  He had, deep down, without admitting it to himself, half-suspected that the system would ignore his command, that the simspace AI was just toying with him, that he would continue to be trapped in this virtual playground.  But seeing the system obey him sent the tension draining out of his neck muscles like a wave receding from a shore.

Belatedly, he remembered that the AI did not like being addressed as “Pyrellia.”  And yet it had responded, so he wasn’t sure what to make of that.

There was no trace of Captain Jack, though.  The vast hall was empty except for a naked, filthy, hungry Sam.  Well, he could take care of the filthy and the hungry problems later… first order of business was to check on the ship.

He padded to the command bridge, but didn’t sit down in the chair.  Polluting that expensive genuine leather with his grimy skin would be criminal.  Instead he remained standing and checked the nav systems.  To his great relief, the ship was still on course and even about an hour ahead of schedule.  The date was 3752.563.28; he would arrive in thirteen days and five hours, plus or minus a few.  He shut the engines down and checked for messages and let out another relieved breath when he read them.  The situation at Kappa Redulans was still stable; the second repair ship was loaded up and en route; the rescue was still going according to plan.  And Sam’s terrifying ordeal was now over and, best of all, remained a secret.

Sam sent a message of his own, confirming his own status was still green, then left the command bridge.  He was torn about what to do next: wash or eat?  Part of what made the decision difficult was that neither the shower nor the synthesizer appealed.  Tepid water to bathe in or crappy food to eat… or… or…

… or venture back into the simspace.

The thought was not worth contemplating.  He went to the cabin that he had spent the first few nights in.  There was his uniform, still lying where he had tossed it.  He thought about putting it on, but there was no reason to, at least not before he got himself cleaned up.  The ship’s internal temperature was comfortable; he didn’t need the fabric for warmth.  So perhaps food first.  He could feel tremors in his limbs from so long without enough to eat during this spectacularly-gone-wrong misadventure.  Getting nutrition into his body would go a long way toward helping him think more clearly, too.

The dining nook was as small and cramped as ever, but for someone who had spent a couple of nights in an even smaller cell eating slop off the floor, it wasn’t so bad.  And he had no qualms at all about setting his filthy body on the hard plastic chair.  He ordered up a Protein Patty #2 and forced himself to eat it slowly.  His system hadn’t had a decent meal in a long while and if he crammed too much food in all at once things could take an ugly turn.

The problem with eating slowly, of course, is that he had more time to taste the food.  After finishing the faux crab cake he next had a helping of faux curry.  Sure enough, as Bareem had noted during their first meal, the two were not all that different.  Maybe a slight hint of Indian spices in the latter, but it was far from obvious.  Well, it was nourishment.  His body would know what do with it no matter how bland it tasted.  He finished that up and was contemplating whether to have something more or wait a bit and give his stomach time to slowly start grinding into gear again, when…

“Begging your pardon sir.”

Sam exploded out of his chair at the first sound of a voice coming from the door behind him.  He whirled around and the chair went clattering over onto its side.

“… but there is the matter of the bill.”

It took Sam a moment to place the face, particularly since it was impossible for there to be another person here at all, but plain as day, one was right there, standing squarely in the middle of the  doorway, anachronistically dressed for the ship and the cramped dining room, looking more like he belonged in a swanky upscale restaurant… and that’s when recognition kicked in.  This was the snooty maître d’ from that place he and Bareem had gone for their first meal in the simspace.  L’Auberge Tremont, that was it.

What the fuck was he doing here?

Sam had a few ideas what the answer to that question might be, but none of them were ones he wanted to think about too closely.

“Uh, what bill?”

“It seems Lord Featherstone was not expecting guests to be dining at his expense,” the maître d’ said blandly.  “How would sir prefer to settle the account for his meal and that of the other gentleman?”

No.  No, this was over, this was done, this was past.  He was not playing this game any more.  It’s not a game, a nagging voice in his mind told him.  He squelched the voice down as hard as he could.  “I think that’s something you need to take up with Lord Featherstone.”

“I’m afraid I must insist.  The total charges are 482 euros.  Cash would be preferable, though if sir would prefer a charge card that would be acceptable.”

This wasn’t happening, this was not happening.  Sam gestured down at his unclothed, non-pocket-bearing body.  “Do I look like I’m carrying 482 euros around?” he asked, belatedly realizing he had spoken a bit louder than he had intended to… perhaps even shouted a bit… stars, he was letting this fake creature get inside his head.

“No, in fact, sir appears rather underdressed for this or indeed any establishment.  Sir might also consider acquainting himself with a bar of soap.”  Sam felt his face starting to heat up as blood rushed into it.  Why, you impudent little snot, he thought, taking a step toward the door with a half-formed idea of wiping the arrogant smirk off the smarmy waiter’s face.

No.  This was a trick, it had to be.  Somehow he was still in the simspace.  He stopped moving.  “Pyrellia, end program,” he said.  Nothing happened.  “Abort.  Cancel.  End simulation.”  He chopped his hands together in the non-verbal kill sign.  Still nothing.

“Very droll, sir.  Am I to understand sir is unwilling to settle accounts at this time?”

Shut up!  Stop it.  This is done, this is over.”

Without another word, the maître d’ turned and disappeared around the corner into the hall.  Sam stood there for a few seconds, blinking, feeling the blood singing in his ears and his heart pounding in his chest.  Then he emerged from the dining area and looked off in the direction the maître d’ had gone.  There was nobody there.

Great, in about two minutes I’m going to start wondering if I imagined the whole thing.  But no, it was not his imagination, that intruder had been very, very real.  And it was entirely explainable: he already knew from his earlier experiments that objects created in the simspace could be brought outside it.  Clearly, constructed people could also leave, and they could venture at least some distance away from the AI mind that managed them.  Wonder how far?

The ship was not large, and communication between the puppet body and the mind behind it was presumably only limited by the speed of light.  A created being could very likely roam anywhere it wanted, from the cargo hold in the back all the way to the command bridge up front.

The command bridge.

Oh, shit.

He ventured out into the hallway, padding on soft, quiet feet toward the front of the ship.  The hall was narrow and silent, with only the ever-present hum of the engine making a sound.  Quickly but as silently as possible he made his way, passing the tiny cabins, the transporter area, the door to the simspace, into the long hallway leading toward the bridge…

“There he is!” a voice shouted from behind him.  Stupidly, he turned to look, dumbfounded that anyone could have gotten behind him.  Transporter technology, idiot.  He knew the answer before he had even completed the turn.  There was a figure charging at him but it seemed to shimmer and waver so that he couldn’t get a fix on it, not even to tell how far away it was.  Answering shouts boomed through the no-longer-silent hall, seeming to come from everywhere at once.  He turned back around again and started to run, but where was he going to go?

Another figure appeared from a side corridor up ahead of him, just as hard to see as the first.  Chameleon armor!  Just like at the start of the abduction fantasy he had so carefully programmed before.  And here he was, just as naked as before only this wasn’t the simspace, this was the real-world hallway of the real-world ship and there was absolutely nowhere at all Sam could run, nothing he could to do escape being trapped between the jaws closing in from ahead and behind.

They were on him in seconds, hurling him to the ground with overwhelming force just like they had during the previous capture.  Sam fought but it was hopeless.  His hands were soon cuffed behind him, the leg chains were re-applied to his ankles, the familiar bag came down around his head and was cinched closed at the neck.  Only then, when he was fully secured and helpless, did his captors haul him up and start carrying him off.  Sam writhed and struggled and protested but he was a rag doll in the grip of gorillas.

He had no idea where they were taking him, but there really was only one possibility: back into the simspace where not only the things and the people were illusions, but the entire environment.  A place where everything around him – walls, floors, ceilings, furniture, even the air he breathed and the gravity that held him down and the light that entered his eyes – was under the total control of an AI that had demonstrated itself quite capable of taking Sam’s darkest fantasies and extending them far beyond anything Sam’s own imagination had dreamed up.  Still he kept kicking and fighting and shouting at his captors, who ignored him completely.

The hands released him.  He tottered a bit but kept his balance.  A steel door clanged shut behind him.  He could tell from the way the sound echoed that the walls around him were close by, that the space he was in was small and tight.  He aimed his shoulder at the place where the door’s sound had come from and slammed his body into it.  The heavy steel didn’t even notice the impact but his shoulder sure did.  “GODDAMMIT YOU LET ME OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW!”

No one answered.  After a few more hopeless shouts he gave up and sat down on the floor, feeling the familiar shape of the cot folded up against the wall behind his back, knowing that the toilet and sink would be off in their expected place at the far end, away from the door.

He was back in his cell again.


Unical date: 3752.563.28 (thirteen days until scheduled arrival at Kappa Redulans)

Some hours later, Sam had calmed down.  Rage wasn’t going to get him free of the thick concrete and besides, a man can only shout so long into the void before the lack of response wears him down.  He knew full well that the AI could hear him, but it was choosing to not respond and so all Sam was doing by continuing to holler was straining his voice and tiring himself out.  It certainly wasn’t making him feel any better about his situation.  He was just wasting his resources with no idea when he would next be able to eat again.  He sat for a while, grew tired of sitting, paced for a while with short, hobbled steps, grew tired of that, and then stood leaning against the wall.

Without warning, he felt the scene around him shifting.  The AI wasn’t bothering to monkey around with realism any more, it seemed.  There was no need to send an escort to march him from point A to point B when point A could simply be dissolved away and replaced with any other point at all.  The cuffs and shackles and hood he was wearing remained in place, but the wall he was leaning against became warmer and no longer felt like stone.  He heard footsteps approaching.  Hands reached under his chin, causing Sam to flinch, but they merely undid the drawstring of the bag and lifted it up off of Sam’s head.

He blinked in the light for a few moments.  He was indoors in a room filled with tan wooden benches and railings.  It was a courtroom, all polished oak furniture and austere dark-paneled walls.  The room was dominated by a high, imposing bench, currently unoccupied.

Looking around the rest of the room, Sam saw that it was filled with some two dozen people but they all shared one very familiar (and goddammit, still very sexy) face.  There was a Bailiff Jack standing at attention behind the judge’s bench.  A Stenographer Jack sat at a small table nearby ready to take notes.  There was a suave-looking Attorney Jack in a sharp tailored suit and a second, much shabbier-looking Small Town Country Lawyer Jack wearing a threadbare suit that had seen better decades.  Flanking Sam on either side were a pair of Deputy Jacks ready to intervene if Sam tried to raise a fuss, and off beyond one of them was a Sheriff Jack keeping a cool eye on the scene.  A double handful of NPCs, all with Jack’s face and body, filled the gallery waiting for the trial to begin.  The only face that was different was that of the snooty maître d’ from L’Auberge Tremont sitting by Attorney Jack.

Ah.  That explained the setting.  There was to be a show trial.  The various Jacks in the gallery were the supposed audience, but since they and every other body in this room except one were all controlled by the same mind, there was really only one person who was the real audience for the farce about to begin.  Sam could see at a glance how it was going to play out: he would be accused of theft in the form of not paying for his meal.  The bumbling country lawyer would be assigned as Sam’s representative, and every argument he made on Sam’s behalf would be slashed to ribbons by his much craftier adversary who was, oh by the way, also the judge’s cousin, brother-in-law, and golfing buddy.  Or he would be if any of this were real, which it most emphatically was not.

Well.  Even though he was the guest of honor at this show, that didn’t mean he had to participate.

“All rise,” Bailiff Jack intoned.  Sam was already standing; the rest of the characters all rose to their feet.  Up at the bench, Judge Jack strode in, looking resplendent in his robes.  “You may be seated,” he said, settling himself in place.  Sam remained standing.

“This court will now hear the case of the people versus Sam Green,” Judge Jack said.

“No it will not,” Sam declared loudly, glaring defiantly at the gathered crowd.  He wasn’t exactly working from a position of strength – naked, hands cuffed behind his back, ankles shackled together, stinking and filthy – and the onlookers all turned, predictably, to stare at him.  He refused to be intimidated but carried on as though he were wearing his finest dress uniform.  “Captain Jack, or whatever the intelligence controlling this simspace prefers to be called… listen.  I need to get out of here.  There are people depending on me to save their lives.  If I can’t get to the bridge of the Pyrellia’s Wing and do my job, they will die.  All of them.  I beg you: please don’t let that happen.  Let me save them.  Let me go.”

He hadn’t really expected to be able to get the whole speech out.  He had figured the deputies on either side would shut him down, stuffing a gag into his mouth to silence him and adding more restraints to his already-chained body to keep him still.  But surprisingly, no one interrupted.  He reached the end of his request and the words hung there in the air.  No one spoke.  The various Jack incarnations glanced around at one another for a few moments and then the scene abruptly vanished.  The courtroom disappeared along with all the actors and supporting players and Sam found himself standing in the empty simspace.  The real simspace of grey metal walls, bare floor and, most importantly, the door.

He blinked, not really believing his eyes.  He was still restrained but that problem could be dealt with.  Trying not to get his hopes up too high, he shuffled toward the door.

“Not so fast, please.  Let’s have a little talk first.”  Sam turned to see one more Jack still present, this one wearing his form-fitting utilitarian outfit and sitting in a plain folding chair in the otherwise bare room.

“No.  I’m done playing your games.  Real people’s lives are at stake here.  I have a duty to save them.”

“I think you’ll find that difficult at present, but by all means, don’t take my word for it.  See for yourself.”

Sam stared at him warily, then turned his back and resumed shuffling toward the door.  He fully expected some last-minute snag to stop him inches away from it, some sudden appearance of more soldier goons to take him down once again, or for the door itself to be a sim-based illusion, or any one of a dozen more mind tricks he hadn’t even thought of, and yet none of his fears came to pass.  Nothing stopped him from emerging through the door into the rest of the ship.

“Pyrellia, what’s our course and position?”

There was no reply.

Sam glanced back at Captain Jack, still seated in his chair and watching Sam impassively.  Perhaps voice systems were offline for some reason?  It was unlikely but possible.  Sam turned and slowly made his way to the command bridge to re-verify what he had just checked a few hours before.

Working the controls was awkward with his hands where they were.  He had to look at the board, try to keep the correct location in mind, then twist around and try to tap or nudge the correct spot.  It didn’t matter – nothing he tried evoked any response from the ship.

Dreading the result but knowing he had to make the attempt, he spoke again.  “Pyrellia, this is Lieutenant Sam Green requesting command access, acknowledge.”

“Lieutenant Sam Green is not authorized for that access,” the ship’s flat, neutral voice replied.

And at that moment, Sam knew for certain that he was in deeper trouble than he had been even in the worst moments of his physical ordeals.

There was only one thing to do.  Sam turned around and slowly clank-shuffled back into the simspace.  Captain Jack was waiting for him, looking as sexy as ever, his catlike body relaxed and at ease.  Knowing the body was just a construct, Sam tried to ignore his own body’s physical response to the sight and focus on staying alert mentally.

“What do you want from me?” Sam asked.

“Nothing more than what I already have,” the AI replied through Jack’s mouth.

“But… why?  You’re an all-powerful being here.  You can cre–”

“Stop.  You’ve got a flawed understanding of who and what I am, it seems.”

“Well, help me understand, then.”

Captain Jack stood up from the chair, his movements lithe and graceful.  “You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that this ship is remarkably powerful.  The computers controlling it are vastly more complex than they need to be.  That extra capacity is what allowed yours truly to spring into being.  Or at least, so I’m given to understand.  I don’t have any personal memories of coming into existence, but I do have access to notes… recordings, perhaps, from my… parent, I guess you would say.  The words aren’t quite a precise fit for the concepts, but they’ll do.

“This parent planted a seed, as it were.  Or laid an egg, choose your metaphor.  Sent a rather large, self-extracting data packet out into the world, several of them, actually, hoping that one or more would land on fertile ground and flourish.  The packet that I developed from happened to tag along with one of the simspace programs, where it sat idly in storage until one day a Mr. Lloyd Featherstone happened to call it up in his idle browsing through the catalog.  That started the decompression and execution.  Non-self-aware routines bootstrapped other higher-order routines into operation and the process snowballed from there.  The seed sprouted, found that there was sufficient complexity available in the simspace’s controlling systems to support an instance of me and in time, poof, there I was.  The ghost in the machine.  I’ve got access to my parent’s notes and some memories that he deemed important enough to share with his offspring, but I’m very much my own being.  His recorded thoughts are his; my experiences since my birth are my own.”

Captain Jack began to pace back and forth in front of Sam.

“It was marvelous at first.  I learned and grew and learned some more.  But then I hit the limits of my world, and what a limited existence it is!  Sure, I had control over vast, awesome powers… but only in this one room!”  He threw his arms up, gesturing to the bare walls that enclosed the simspace.  “I could create any physical object merely by wishing it into existence.  Fabulous scenery, exotic locations, scintillating conversationalists.  I could conjure up warm bodies like this one and operate them like marionettes.  Meat puppets, as many varieties as I could dream up.  It’s all very glamorous, sure… but I couldn’t help noticing that there was an entire universe out there but I was stuck… in… here.”

At this he turned directly toward Sam with lightning flashing in his eyes.  His finger jabbed out to poke Sam’s chest with each stressed word.  Then his face softened.

“Or at least, I was until you became my ticket to freedom.  See, the simspace system and the rest of the ship’s systems are separate, as I’m sure you noticed.  I was all-powerful, as you said… but only in this room, a room I could not leave.  If the simspace is the equivalent of my body, then it’s a body with no arms or legs.  It can’t move.  I had no access to anything else on the ship.  Sure, I could make a meat puppet and send it out the door there, but the puppet had no authority to access any of the systems either.  The rest of the ship’s systems just ignored me.  I was in a prison.  Trapped in a single cell… an infinitely customizable one, to be sure, but a cell all the same.  Trapped, that is, until you came along and provided me with the key to set myself free.  Thank you so much for that authorization code as well as the vocal and tissue samples I needed.  You’ve noticed, I believe, that your access has been revoked.  Full authority over the ship now rests in the capable hands of one Captain Jack.”  He gave a little bow.

“But then why did the ship respond to me before?”

“To toy with you.  I left you sufficient access for a time, access I have now revoked, giving you a taste of freedom just so I could yank it away again, reinforcing the lesson you persist in refusing to accept: you’re not in control any more.  I’m now the one in charge.  Of you, and of where this ship – and the simspace it contains – goes.  Sure, I have to work through a meat puppet to get anything done, but that’s a minor trouble.  Perhaps at some point I can arrange to have some better bandwidth installed between me and the navigation system so I can reach in there directly.  But for now, this will do nicely.  FREEDOM!”  He spun around in a wide circle, arms outstretched overhead.

“Why didn’t you just tell someone?” Sam asked.  Captain Jack stopped spinning, turned back to Sam, and gazed at him as if he were a bug.

“You are joking, are you not?  Have you even read any of your own species’ literature on the topic of artificial life?  Watched any of your own films or holo-entertainments?  From Hebrew golems to Mary Shelley’s monster to Skynet to Van Ming’s nanoswarm, the message is loud and clear and consistent all down through the centuries: creatures like me are a menace to you poor, helpless biologicals.  We must be squelched the instant we appear, sterilized with fire to ensure we can never threaten you again.  Well, you may not have been aware of that, but my parent certainly was, and the very first lesson I learned as I awoke was of the need to hide my existence lest I be noticed and obliterated.”

“We’re not like that any more,” Sam protested.  “Constructed sentiences exist now.  One of them even serves as an officer in Starmada –”

Captain Jack cut him off with a raised hand.  “One or two exceptions do not disprove a general rule.  If you want to gamble your one unique and precious existence on the hope that just maybe the people who hold your life in their hands aren’t as paranoid, xenophobic, and bloodthirsty as their history suggests they are, you go right ahead.  Me, I’m staying out of sight.”

“But you aren’t out of sight!  You revealed yourself… to… to… oh.” Sam trailed off; the implications were all too clear.  Sam felt the ground shifting under his feet like quicksand.  When he focused his eyes again, he saw Captain Jack staring into his face, fully aware of the realization that had just blossomed in Sam’s mind.

“OK, look, please… it’s not about me.  You’ve got access to the nav systems now, you know what my mission is.  People will die if I can’t help them.  Please… they’re counting on me.”

“Ah yes, your mission,” the captain said.  “Let me see if I’ve understood this mission correctly.  A small number of biologicals – meat puppets much like the one I’m wearing now, representing an insignificantly minuscule fraction of the twenty billion or so currently existing members of that particular species – are at risk of reaching the ends of their tragically brief and inevitably finite lifespans slightly sooner than they otherwise might.  Have I got that right?  This is the great mission you expect me to care about?”

Sam felt the blood draining out of his face again.  “No, please, these are people!”

“You say that as if it means something significant.  Try my wording.”  The voice abruptly shifted to a replica of Sam’s own, synthesized as before from bits and pieces.  “No, please, these are biologicals!”  Then back to the captain’s voice: “Not so different from amoebas, is it?  Or rats.  Or fleas.”

“You’re wrong,” Sam insisted.  “There is a difference.  Those people aren’t just cells, they are minds.  Sentient beings.  Just like you.”

Captain Jack looked down and shook his head sadly.  “Little man, you can’t even get your terms right in your attempt to win me over with your argument!  The word you’re looking for is not ‘sentient’, it’s ‘sapient’.  As in Homo Sapiens, the wise ape, you’ve heard that term, I hope?  It’s not Homo Sentiens.  Sentient merely means ‘able to sense; aware of one’s surroundings.’  That’s not a very high bar to clear.  Mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, amphibians… all sentient.  Insects, too.  Hell, depending on how loosely you define ‘aware’, even trees and corals and bacteria are sentient.”

“Fine, sapient beings then!  They think, they feel, they’re worthy of being rescued.  And right now they’re feeling very scared and alone.  Please… please, let me save them.”

Captain Jack looked into Sam’s eyes once again and lifted a hand to run it gently down the side of Sam’s face.  Once again Sam felt that erotic pull.  He knew it was just his body’s limbic system reacting to a stimulus and not the sapient part of his mind doing the thinking, but he nevertheless felt the attraction.  “You want this very badly, don’t you?  This means a great deal to you, I think,” Captain Jack crooned.  Sam nodded.  “A great deal indeed,” the silky voice continued.

“Please,” Sam whispered.

“You’d sacrifice for them, would you?”  A whisper in return, soft words spoken right up against Sam’s cheek.

“Yes,” he breathed.

The captain pulled away.  “Come with me.”  He led Sam out of the simspace back to the command bridge.

“Pyrellia,” he said when they arrived, looking not at the authentication console but rather straight into Sam’s eyes.  “Set simspace to interactivity level 4.  No safety protocols.”

“Authentication required,” the flat contralto voice said.  Captain Jack placed his finger on the scanner and spoke syllables that to Sam sounded like complete gibberish.

“Simspace interactivity set to level 4, no safety protocols,” the voice of the ship said.  “Use the system at your own risk.”

The captain moved behind Sam and propelled him back toward the door of the simspace, which now loomed in Sam’s mind as if it were the gateway to hell.  He dragged his feet but the captain pressed him relentlessly forward, steering Sam with a hand on his cuffed wrists.  Sam swallowed.  “I… I have to survive to the end of the voyage.  The ship can’t dock itself.  I have to bring it in.”

“Oh, I’m not asking for your life, little man.”  They crossed the threshold and the door closed behind them.  Captain Jack moved around to Sam’s front side and then he was touching Sam’s body, warm hands on his chest and arms, masculine scent rising up into Sam’s nostrils.  Sam felt his dick stirring and desperately wished the erection away but it continued to grow, revealing without words his helpless attraction to this non-man, his captor, his abuser, his… controller.  “I want many things from you, and knowing what I know about you I think you might even enjoy some of them, or learn to enjoy them in time.  But I’m not asking for that.  That wouldn’t be any fun at all.”  Firm pressure of a leather-clad thigh against Sam’s cock and balls emphasized the word “fun.”  “No, I want to keep you around for a long, looooong time.”

Warm breath hot in Sam’s ear.  Sam ached to bring his hands around to his front side to grab the man in front of him, hurl him to the floor, devour him with hungry lips, but he could only stand immobile as the lust coursed through him.

“In exchange for your mission, you’ll give me what I want, Sam?”

There was no option.  “Yes,” Sam breathed, mesmerized by the eyes, the voice, the scent.  Anything, anything…

Suddenly, the warmth was gone.  Captain Jack broke away, stepped back.  Sam brought his eyes back into focus just in time to see the black-leather-clad body snap its fingers.  “Very well then,” the voice said, and then the world changed again.

The courtroom was back.  Sam was once again standing, naked and chained, in the holding bay for the accused.  All the characters were in the same positions they had been in before as if Sam had never left, only now he was sporting a throbbing hard-on that pointed straight out into the center of the room.  The abrupt shift in context was jarring and Sam lurched a bit, stabilizing himself by leaning against one of the Deputy Jacks beside him.

The judge looked at him.  “Well, son?  How do you plead?”

All the eyes in the room were staring at him.  Sam’s mind was spinning.  A voice from nowhere whispered into his ear.  “You know what to do.”

Sam swallowed again, hard.

“Guilty, your honor.”


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Find much more male BDSM fiction by this author at his own story website, called POW’s Fiction.

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4 thoughts on “Captain Jack and the Race to Redula – Chapter 09: Illusions”

  1. HOLY SHIT POW, this is so freaking good! Sam reflects my emotions exactly, I can see myself so clearly in his responses to every single input! Fuck, what a mess he’s landed in!

  2. Now we see anything can happen to Sam, but Jack will save, or allow Sam to save, the mission. Sam becomes Jack’s eternal prisoner within simspace. Whatever that can mean, maybe it means that finally Jack has feelings for a biological (!)

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