1. real world
Robert Daly is found dead in his apartment, apparently from dehydration. The cops say that his mind is still stuck inside the Infinity game, and Nanette leads a team to retrieve it, but their attempts are unsuccessful.
“Good riddance, creep,” Shania Lowry mutters over by the coffee machine, dressed tastefully in black like the rest of the office.
“Walton’s in his office. I think he slept there,” Kabir Dudani says worriedly. “Nanette, would you go check on him?”
Even emotionless Elena Tulaska seems shaken, buzzing in Nanette without so much as a rude comment.
But time passes. Nanette becomes the new CTO, and general consensus around the office is that she’s better at it than Daly. More assertive.
Shania invites her out for drinks to celebrate Nanette’s promotion, and Nanette accepts. Elena’s there, on her phone of course. Nanette had taken a moment to wonder if Elena had been the one blackmailing her -the blonde seemed coldhearted enough to do such a thing -but a quick trace on the call Nanette had received ruled out anyone at Callister.
“Order me a drink,” Elena says now, sliding on the stool next to Nanette. She’s wearing a blue sheath dress that exposes truly flawless legs, and her phone is tucked away in her purse. Nanette stares. “Uh, what?”
“Order,” Elena repeats dispassionately. “Never mind. I will.” She orders a vodka like the stereotypical Russian that she is, and it’s only later when Nanette is sipping her Bloody Mary that she wonders if the blonde was trying to hit on her.
“Were you hitting on me?” Nanette asks at work on Monday, and the look Elena gives her makes Nanette want to cower inside her sweater and stay there for all eternity.
Shania walks past them, gives Nanette a covert wink, and scans herself in.
Elena’s eyes are fixed steadily on her phone. “What does it matter,” she says finally, and is that a hint of feeling in her cold voice?
“Well, I’d like to ask you out on a coffee date,” Nanette says, gathering all her courage. “Do Russians drink coffee?”
Elena looks up slowly. Her brown eyes catch Nanette’s, and the confusion swirling in their depths turns to surprise, and then delight. “No,” she says, and before Nanette can run away and hide, Elena adds, “But I’ll make an exception for you.”
They have amazing, beautiful, toe-curling sex in Nanette’s tiny apartment, the sort of sex Nanette hasn’t had since her last boyfriend. Nanette makes some noises straight out of a porno, and Elena’s husky laughs turn to swears when Nanette finds just the right spot.
“Rumor has it you tamed the Red Army,” murmurs Kabir over his coffee. Nanette almost sputters hers when she sees that his eyes are fixed on Elena, in a white silk top and black heels yelling at a new intern.
“She look tamed to you?” Nate Packer joins the conversation, pulling up his spinny chair to the pair of them.
“It’s not like that…” Nanette tries, but then Elena looks directly over at Nanette, almost as if she can sense that she’s being talked about, and wink.
Nate and Kabir cower in terror.
“User J3M_BR00K3R has challenged us to a battle,” Shania reports, pressing buttons expertly. She looks much happier to be out of her skintight red pleather outfit and in a normal bulky flight suit. “Shall we accept, Captain?”
Nanette still isn’t used to being referred to as Captain, isn’t used to the fact that she’s a digital clone who blackmailed her IRL self, isn’t used to the fact that she’s responsible for the digital clone copies of her coworkers. “What do you think?” she asks instead, biding time.
“They have outdated weaponry,” Shania says. “We could take them, Captain.”
“But consider our losses,” Kabir cautions. “We can’t restock until we return to Skillane V and that could be months.”
“Where’s Elena? We need her to man the guns. Shouldn’t we listen to her opinion?” Nate says, pouring an alien phlegm shot into his coffee.
“I’ll look for her,” Nanette decides. She could use a walk anyway. “Lowry, Dudani, keep Brooker distracted.”
“Aye aye Captain.”
“On it boss.”
Nanette runs down the hallways, her heavy boots announcing her presence, until she reaches Elena Tulaska’s quarters. “Elena? It’s Nanette. Can I come in?”
“Come in, Captain.” Elena’s voice sounds different somehow. Huskier.
When Nanette opens the door, she sees why.
Elena is on her cot, legs spread open wide, pussy flushed. She’s stark naked, and her long blonde locks tumble around her flushed skin like an incredibly kinky Rapunzel. (where are you going with this analogy, nan?? shut up i have no fucking clue!)
“Hello, Nanette,” Elena purrs, and Nanette’s name sounds dirty in her mouth.
Nanette resolvedly looks away. “T-Tulaska.”
“I’ve seen your dirty secret,” Elena says. “Those naughty photos you used to save us all. It’s only fair that you see my…” her tongue draws out her words tauntingly. “More intimate aspects.”
“We need you on the bridge, Tulaska,” Nanette says, still having a staring contest with the wall. Shania’s voice comes over comms. “Captain, they’ve attacked! We’re fleeing.” The ship tilts as they rocket into hyperspeed, Nanette falls forward, and suddenly she’s sprawled on top of Elena.
Elena arches her neck and presses feathery kisses atop Nanette’s chin, cheeks, lips. “Tell me to stop, Captain. Order me.”
Nanette’s chest feels impossibly tight. “Are we in another one of Daly’s freaky fantasies?” she asks, because she has to check.
Elena laughs throatily. “Kiss me, Nanette.”