Angel's neural-port itched. It was a synaptic artifact, for nothing within the skull could have a sensation like itching, but that didn't change the sensation. The cyborg did her best to ignore it as she concentrated upon the task at hand. As she tweaked the input to the audio unit, the steady thrum of the system's 'heartbeat' quickened. Angel looked over at the readout and noted that the bio-isometrics of the system were elevated.
"What is this, Iolaus?" she said, running a hand over the console. The neural interface responded to the signal from the system and Angel could feel the information roll through her brain. Positive aspecting was what the engineers called it, the psychologists and physiologists called it information induced psychosis. Angel didn't care about the technical name of it or the mechanism that it worked through. Due to the neural interface, her brain interpreted the ship's transmission as a humanoid male standing at her side where there wasn't one physically.
Angel looked to her right, where she felt his presence. Iolaus, first of the fleet and highest ranking of the warrior class ships, looked to her as a tall, thin man with vivid red hair. His eyes were not the natural green that Angel saw in her human crew, but rather the glowing artificial color of the digital readout. Those eyes regarded her calmly as a small smile played on the sentient machine's face. "Am I not to feel pleasure, Captain?" he asked in that perfect tenor voice.
Angel snorted and turned her attention back to adjusting the signal coming from the modifier. Iolaus moved closer to her. "This is not going to boost the signal," he said, "I can not obtain more data when the probe has gone beyond the limits of my capacity." Angel frowned at the console before her, trying not to think about the way Iolaus was looking at her. "You are displeased," he said, his voice falling slightly in apparent dismay.
"We need to know what is going on beyond that event horizon. Doctor McMurphy said that the entangled system on board the probe was such that it would still send out a signal even after it crossed the damn thing," she muttered. Iolaus crossed his arms and tipped his head slightly to the right. Angel could see his expression go still as he did some sort of calculations.
"Factoring the trajectory of the probe, we have at minimum a fifteen thousand to one ratio of success, Captain," he said. Angel turned, gritting her teeth. Her cybernetic arm twitched as she considered screaming at him that they needed to know if the black hole was going to destabilize or not before they could clear the sector. "I am aware that we must clear the sector, Captain," Iolaus continued, "Your displeasure and frustration is not at the fact that Doctor McMurphy's device is not functioning as planned. Your cortisol levels are rising as are your epinephrine levels. This is not the first time that you have had this response to me."
Angel realized that she couldn't lie to the ship. The neural link allowed it to pick up on her thoughts even as it allowed her to receive information from him. Iolaus stepped up to inches away from her. His expression was cool and calculating. He was examining her. "You fear me," he said after a long moment. Angel closed her eyes and turned her head to the left. "You are trying to will me into silence," he continued in that terribly calm tone.
"Damn it, Iolaus," Angel snapped, "I can't afford the distraction. Most captains are not dealing with their ships like this." Iolaus did a very un-Iolaus thing. He laughed. Angel's eyes snapped open and she looked over in shock. Sentient ships as a general rule didn't have a sense of humor. They were more like tightly leashed psychopaths. While some systems imitated emotion, most didn't bother with it. Humor was in the same category as empathy, nigh on impossible to program into a system so the developers didn't bother.
"Captain," Iolaus said, "I am not like other ships. You know this. I have the mental core comprised of the data from a man's mind." Angel shook her head slowly. "You knew I was a prototype when you agreed to take command," he continued, "Just as you, yourself, are the first generation of your class. You also know that as prototypes, we are expected to be anomalous." Angel sighed. Iolaus, aware of her discomfort made a subtle adjustment to the data flow.
Angel's eyes widened as the sensation of a hand on her shoulder rolled through her. She looked at her left shoulder and saw no hand there as Iolaus looked at her with what seemed to be a compassionate face. "How did you do that?" she asked. Iolaus smiled.
"Memory," he answered, "There seems to be some errors in the process, however. I can not make it correlate with your visual information. We shall have to experiment to determine how effective this is." Angel looked at Iolaus in dumbfounded amazement. "The man in the machine," Iolaus explained, "is enamored with the woman who has a machine within her." Angel looked at Iolaus, not fully comprehending what he said.
Iolaus adjusted the data flow again, managing to synchronize the visual information with the tactile and Angel had the perception of him taking her into his arms. The embrace was not some faint flicker of sensation. Indeed, it felt like someone stronger then her had wrapped her up in their arms. Iolaus went still for a moment, processing information. "Non-essential tactical systems are offline now," he said, "This will allow me greater processing power. I can then monitor for a signal as I do this."
"Do what?" Angel asked.
Iolaus shifted the data flow again and Angel gasped. A blinding rush of pleasure rolled over her and she sank down through the image of Iolaus to her knees. It was as though every inch of her being was caressed at once. Things deep within her shuddered as she pressed a hand flat to the grated deck. Angel's eyes rolled and shook. Her hands slowly curled and flexed as the sensations of orgasm meshed with the eerie sense of having her entire body covered with kisses from a thousand mouths and touched by a thousand hands at the same time.
A low, strangled groan escaped her as she twitched and seemed to seize on the floor. Time seemed to stop and Angel felt as though her heart ceased to beat. All that existed was this drug rush of ecstasy that Iolaus sent through her. Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped. Angel opened her eyes, shivering with the after effects of what he had done. The hallucination of Iolaus knelt down beside her. Angel looked up.
"Just a bit of foreplay," he said, humor bubbling in his words, "Was it good for you?" Angel sat up, uncertain if she could trust her legs to support herself. Iolaus went terribly still and Angel found herself filled with a mixture of dread and excitement as the prospect of experiencing what ever it was that he had just done. "We have a signal and there is someone come up to the flight deck. Bringing secondary tactical systems online. If I were you, I'd stand up, Captain," he said.
Angel had just gotten to her feet and was brushing dust off of her jump uniform when the doors to the flight deck hissed open. She tried to will her heart to a calm beat as Iolaus gave her a smile and then vanished. The neural port was itching again, but suddenly, Angel didn't mind it as much.