To Get the Most Accurate Results, A Researcher Must Fully Commit to His Work
Sembel Nok was the name of Alse’s palace, and it was very big, which was helped by the fact that being underwater meant it didn’t need to accept land-based restraints on how much support a building needed before collapsing. Or that was what Hyel told him before admitting to not being an architect, which was very silly of xer.
Pax would never have admitted to not being something.
“Once every other rotation, the leaders of all the different imperia have a summit in the Low Vents,” Hyel was explaining to Pax, as part of xer explanation of merpeople government to match the corresponding one Pax had given xer earlier of human government. “They pretend that it’s a big deal but they don’t actually do much; I know because I was there last time it happened. Mostly they just make marriage alliances and affirm that the Deepest still don’t want us to fight wars with each other. I noticed in your explanation that you don’t describe humans doing anything like that.”
“Locally we do,” Pax told xer, as Hyel led him down through Sembel Nok. They’d been in a library growing out of the largest dome before, and were now going to Hyel’s room to meet Toay, Alse’s sibling that Denver had told him about. “But we don’t travel very fast and it’s challenging especially for us to cross the oceans, so the leaders of Enjon and Aergyre are quite inaccessible to the leaders of Menechit. Plus, sometimes we do fight wars.”
“You’d fight fewer of them if your leaders talked more,” Hyel observed.
“I’m aware of this, but nobody ever listens to me.”
“They should, you’re very smart.”
Pax smiled. “Thank you, that’s very accurate of you to say. All of your leaders attend this meeting? From all the oceans in the world?”
“Oh yes,” said Hyel, fanning out xer gills for a second, which Pax was fairly sure was a more indulgent analog for nodding. “Your lands on the surface may not be, but the oceans are all connected to each other.”
Pax was aware of this. “Have you explored them all?”
“Well, no, they’re too big and parts of them are very dark and dangerous and home to very dangerous things. But we’ve explored enough to make maps, so we know how they’re all connected.”
Pax blinked as Hyel opened xer door. “You’ve made maps of the whole world’s oceans? Can I see them?”
“Of course, I have some in here. Hello, Toay.”
In Hyel’s room was another person, black and yellow in a gold sort of way, with long frills on their arms and a tail behind them. They flared those frills as Pax came in. “Hello, Hyel. You must be Pax.”
“Yes,” Pax said, as the door slid shut behind him. “It’s very nice to meet you. This is Nate. You can’t hear him, but he can hear you.”
Toay looked at Nate a second. “It’s a pleasure to meet both of you. I had lunch with Alse and the Degma today; they speak very highly of you.”
Pax smiled at that. “I speak very highly of them too.”
“Pax is writing a book about us,” Hyel told Toay, coming back with some sheaves of underwater paper, which xie put on a high table for Pax to look at. Xer room was crowded with books and paper and tables with rocks and strange devices on them, which Pax expected and would later confirm had to do with seismology.
“Hey, we’re writing one about you,” Toay said, frilling again. “We can exchange…information.”
Among other things, Nate chuckled.
Pax tried not to roll his eyes, looking at the sheaves of dark paper. “I’m very happy to exchange information. This is fascinating. I would love to make a copy of it if that’s okay. I’ll get you a map of our landmasses in exchange; we can put them together and make a detailed map of the whole world.”
“That would be fantastic,” Hyel said, sounding excited. Xie put a ball on a stand next to the paper, and when Pax looked at it, it was the same map in circular form. “Seaweed is easier to get, but this kind of map makes the most sense for the whole world, since it’s the shape the world is. It’s easier to see how everything is connected.”
“You’re right,” Pax said, adding spherical maps to the list of merpeople inventions he was going to re-invent for humans. It was so interesting to see a map that highlighted the oceans rather than land, where the land was just empty space the merpeople couldn’t get to. Pelican Peninsula was on one of the maps, but the city had no name. There was also… “What’s this?” he asked, pointing at a large empty space south of the Bevia Islands.
“A landmass?” Hyel asked. “I don’t know, what do you call it?”
“We…don’t,” Pax said quietly, looking back and forth between the sphere and the paper map He’d never heard of a place there, especially not one as big as the space on the maps. “You’re sure there’s a landmass there?”
There’s nothing there, Nate insisted. Those are the Storm Seas.
“I’m very sure,” Hyel said. “Sixteen generations of geologists say that it can’t be anything else. We can’t get too close to it because this area is dangerous.” Xie pointed at an area just north of the landmass. “It’s full of kraken, and they’re just smart enough to make agreements with, and their second demand after we refused to give them all our jewelry was for us to agree to leave them alone. They’re very big.”
“They are,” Pax agreed, still looking at the landmass. “The Sea King had one; I’m told others found it scary, before my friend Sir Ox killed it.” Oh, hopefully that wasn’t offensive. Pax wasn’t paying a lot of attention. He was feeling very energetic.
“The Sea King had a juvenile under his command, yes,” Hyel agreed.
Pax looked up. “A juvenile? It was…very big.” It had been bigger than Mathilda.
“No, it wasn’t.”
“Oh.” Pax cleared his throat, looking down at the map. An undiscovered country—continent, by the size—was way more interesting than a kraken. “Well. I’ve already learned something I don’t think anyone else from my culture knows. Nobody has ever been to this landmass; I don’t think anyone knows it exists. This area of the sea is wracked by deadly storms and our ships can’t penetrate it.”
“The storms are…constant?”
“Yes, when you ask it like that it’s clear that something is strange about that,” Pax agreed. This was exciting, wow. This was such an important discovery. “Almost like someone doesn’t want us there. Nate, when we have a boat, we’re going here.”
Nobody can go there, it’s dangerous.
“We’re going there. Thank you, Hyel. Really, this alone is an entire chapter of my book. Maybe a whole book. It’s such an expansive, important discovery. Not for you, I guess, but for me. I can’t wait to be the first person to ever go to this place, except for I guess the people who might live there, and learn everything about it and write another book and…”
“May I ask a question about humans?” Toay asked.
“Of course,” said Pax, still mentally stocking his ship for the journey.
“Do you all become sexually aroused by maps?”
“What?” Pax looked at Toay, who seemed very earnest, then at Hyel, who seemed very interested, and then at himself, who also seemed very interested. “Oh.” Pax cleared his throat. “No, that’s Nate’s fault.”
Nope, said Nate. I had nothing to do with that, you’re the one popping a boner at geography.
Pax responded to that by blushing aggressively. “It’s not uncommon for humans to experience multiple kinds of excitement simultaneously,” he explained to Toay. “I’m excited by the prospect of discovery, and my body confused that for a different kind of excitement. It’s very normal.”
“Oh, yeah, for sure!” said Toay, frills flaring wide. “I know what you mean. I get horny about research all the time.”
“Yeah, me too,” said Hyel, lifting xerself up and sitting on the table. “I touch myself in this room all the time. That mechanism right there? It’s not just a seismograph, it’s a masturbatory aid.”
“Wait, really?” Toay asked, as Pax tried to pretend he wasn’t looking at the underwater sex toy, which looked like a hairbrush. “You never told me that! Can I use it?”
“Sure. I never told you because Alse gave it to me. He’s the only one who knows what it is.”
“Oh. Ew.” Toay made a face. “I don’t want to use it now.”
“It works really well.”
“Alse is the Prime.”
“He’s also horny all the time.”
“He’s also my sibling,” Toay added.
“That I understand,” Pax agreed. “Denver has unfortunately met most of my brothers and I’m constantly having to tell him not to have sex with them and, failing that, tell me how sexually appealing he finds them.”
“Right?” Toay asked, coming closer to Pax. “Who wants to think about their sibling that way?”
“Many people, actually, it’s not exactly encouraged in my culture, but neither is it all that uncommon. I’m just personally not interested in my brothers sexually.”
Except for Robin, Nate added.
Pax hadn’t seen Robin in many years and chose to ignore that. “But I do recognize that incest is a more taboo topic in your culture so we don’t have to continue talking about it if it makes you uncomfortable.”
“A taboo is just something we don’t talk about.” Hyel said, sliding closer to Pax. “Not something we don’t do.”
“Gross,” Toay informed xer. They put an arm around Pax. “Pax is on my side, right?”
“Yes,” Pax agreed, noting that Toay was now touching them. “Definitely, though I don’t judge people.”
“Good, that seems fair,” said Hyel, a hand on Pax’s chest, sliding down.
“Wait,” said Pax. “I feel this is going in a direction that couldn’t possibly have been anticipated.”
Impossible, Nate agreed.
Both touching him, Toay and Hyel paused. “Oh. Hello, Nate,” said Hyel.
Hi. That’s my fiancé you’re conducting research on.
“Yes,” Pax agreed. “It is.”
“Our apologies,” said Toay, still holding Pax. “The Degmen said he would be interested in helping us write the chapter of our book about human reproduction, but that we should ease him into it.”
“And this is your idea of easing me in?” Pax asked, actually feeling quite eased into it, all things considered. It helped that Nate and Denver had been explaining to him for days why it was important that he do first-dick research on merpeople sexuality.
“Yes,” Hyel agreed. “We’ll stop, if you want, of course.”
Pax nodded. “Right. There’s, uh…no need for that. Nate and I are content to help you with your research if you’re content to help me with mine. My book of course has a chapter on reproductive biology, so…”
“Great,” said Toay, hand sliding down and wrapping around Pax’s dick. “So your genitals really are permanently on the outside of your body.”
“Yes,” Pax agreed, letting Toay start to stroke him. “Clearly that is the case. Humans don’t naturally regulate our own body temperature very well, and they can’t get too hot. Mine is only one genital configuration, the reproductive organs generally owned by women are more internal…”
“We’ll worry about that part of the chapter another time,” Hyel said, pulling Pax closer and kissing him. Pax kissed back, helped just a little by Nate’s hand on his back.
Let me know if you want me to drive, okay?
I will. I know you want a turn as well, Pax told him.
“Hm.” Hyel pulled back. “That’s more pleasant than Alse made it sound. Toay, try that.”
Toay leaned in and kissed Pax as well, stroking him gently and rubbing themselves against Pax’s thigh now. Hyel slid lower, until xie was level with Pax’s dick, which xie examined carefully. “Ah, yes,” xie said, touching Pax’s balls. “I see, you store seminal fluid in here until you reach proper stimulation inside a partner, and then it comes up through here…” Xie put Pax’s dick in xer mouth and started sucking.
“Mn,” Pax agreed, into Toay’s mouth. Hyel’s research was very thorough, and it wasn’t long at all before xie had completed it, pulling off just in time to watch Pax cum.
“Oh, you project semen with more force than I expected,” Hyel said, watching Pax’s cum shoot into the water between them. “Fascinating. Toay, did you see that?”
“No,” Toay said, stroking Pax’s face. “Distracted.”
“You shouldn’t be so distracted, it defeats the purpose of research,” Pax said, sliding a hand down between Toay’s legs, feeling the organ that was there now. It wasn’t quite a penis, and as he wrapped his hand around it, something at the base seemed to open at his touch. “Oh.”
“It’s called a clasper,” Toay told him, eyes shining. “It opens once inside my partner’s orifice to ensure impregnation.”
“Right,” Pax said, trying to get a look at it. It looked more like how he imagined a piece of cartilage would than anything, and given how accurate Pax’s imagination was, that was almost definitely what it was. “Could I have a demonstration?”
“Hyel, can you move those maps?”
Hyel did, and Pax lay back on the table with his legs spread. The clasper was relatively narrow along its length, a twisting grey-red and long. Toay pressed it against Pax’s entrance, watching him carefully. Do it, Toay, Nate urged.
That was all they needed, and Toay pressed inside Pax with a keening sound that Pax hadn’t heard any other merperson make, all their frills wiggling. The clasper pulsed, pulling itself further in as it went, and in no time at all Toay was all the way inside Pax. The base of the clasper fanned out inside him, locking it in place. “It’s, it’s fully autonomic?” Pax asked, clenching around it.
“Yes,” Toay said, bubbles rising around them. Hyel was sitting beside Pax on the table. “The effect will last for several minutes, as many as thirty. Will you stay this warm for that long?”
Pax could feel a fluid seeping out of the clasper and into him. It was such a powerful sensation. “I will. You’re ejaculating. Are you in a state of orgasm?”
“Y-yes,” said Toay, eyes closed. “And I will be until I can pull it out.”
“In…Interesting,” Pax panted, feeling the clasper pulse up and down, and up and down, and up and down. It wasn’t going to stop, he realized. It was still trying to move farther inside him. What did a thirty-minute orgasm feel like?
Nate turned Pax’s head for him, and Hyel’s legs were spread, revealing a tube-like piece of muscle that folded around Pax’s finger at his touch. “This is a papillum,” Pax said, noting that Hyel’s reaction was quite strong. It must be very sensitive.
“It is,” Hyel told him, as Pax felt himself throb around Toay. “Some merpeople do have genitals that more closely resemble yours, but Toay and I don’t.”
“Right, well, I know what those look like,” Pax said, running the side of his thumb up the papillum. “I can extrapolate what the diagrams must look like.”
“We have some…other researchers who would be glad to join us if we asked…oh, oh, Pax…” Hyel said, as Pax took the papillum into his mouth and started to suck on it. Underneath it was a cloacal opening, and Pax slid his fingers into that as well as he fellated Hyel at the pace the clasper was throbbing inside him. “Oh, fuck, fuck…”
Pax’s mouth stopped moving, Nate taking control. Nate?
You’re hurting xer.
Pax stopped sucking, letting Hyel’s papillum slide out of his mouth and looking up. “I’m sorry,” he said, trying to concentrate on xer instead of on the spot Toay was hitting, which was a lot of spots. “Was that too hard?”
Hyel was shaking in a way that didn’t look entirely bad, but did nod. “Yes, a little bit.”
“I’ll go slower,” Pax promised. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Hyel’s frills flared. “Research always has risks,” xie said. “Just be a little more gentle.”
“Got it,” Pax said, leaning over to lick the papillum, giving it external attention until Hyel was making happy noises again, taking it into his mouth more gently this time. Toay’s tail was moving back and forth as though they were trying to swim between Pax’s legs, and the clasper seemed to open wider.
Pleased that he was doing a good job, Pax kept that up, and Nate started jerking him off too. “Oh,” said Toay, shifting, somehow pushing deeper into Pax, who struggled not to gasp. “What’s that?”
Just me, Nate said. I want to do research too, is it fun for you to put something in here?
“Yes,” Toay hissed. “Yes, yes.” Pax very much wanted to know what Nate was putting in where, but he was a bit stuck here.
“Oh, that’s very…” Hyel said, as Nate must be doing something with xer as well. “Nate, this is very impressive…”
Not a normal human reproductive activity, Nate said. I’m an outlier like that. I’m fucking both of them, in case you were wondering, he told Pax.
I was, thank you. Perhaps you could aid all of our research by helping us feel each other’s sensations?
Pax could taste Nate’s smile. I can do that.
Suddenly Pax felt even more penetrated, a wave of something he couldn’t describe inside him more than once, and fuck. That’s…
The cloaca is that sensitive, huh? Nate asked Hyel.
“It…it is…” Hyel managed. “Getting fucked there is…wow…fuck…”
Pax was very impressed with Hyel’s loquacity under such circumstances and was glad that his own full mouth meant he didn’t have to speak and make Hyel look bad by being better at it. The clasper started to pulse stronger, and Pax clenched around it. Hyel’s papillum was slightly more rigid in his mouth, and Pax was unsurprised when Hyel came first, emitting rather than squirting a sweet, grainy fluid that Pax didn’t mind swallowing. He withdrew his fingers from Hyel’s cloaca, looking up at xer. “Was Nate in there alongside my fingers?”
“He, he still is…and in my anus as well…” Hyel said, and Pax smiled at him, feeling his own orgasm coming and mildly surprised that Nate hadn’t shared Hyel’s with him.
Too hard, Nate said. I got stuck in it. Next time.
“Watch closely this time,” he warned Toay, before starting to squirt into the water, the cum floating up before sinking down onto him. Toay watched him raptly, pulsing hard inside him.
“Fascinating,” Toay said, touching the cum before it dispersed in the water. “You don’t have a, a mechanism by which to keep yourself inside a partner, so you produce semen at a high velocity. Oh, fuck…” Toay gave a big shudder, the clasper opening far wider than it had been. Still sensitive, Pax winced, but it finally seemed to run out of steam. Toay’s clasper retracted and they slid out of Pax, collapsing to lay on his chest. “That was very informative,” they said.
“It was,” agreed Pax, feeling floaty and not just in the usual underwater way. “I feel I have a very good foundation for my chapter.”
“Yes,” Hyel said. “Me too.” Xie sounded almost disappointed.
“I think,” said Pax, noting that Toay was stroking his chest and so stroking theirs back the same way, “that there’s something important that we’ve overlooked.”
“What’s that?” Toay asked.
“Research isn’t viable unless you can repeat the results.”
Toay’s frills flared. Hyel’s positively danced. Pax smiled. “You have a very good point,” Hyel said. “We should conduct the experiment again.”
Several times, Nate added. He was so content, Pax could feel it. And so excited. Pax was excited about the book chapter, but Nate was excited to have been able to fuck merpeople. Which was also fair. Pax had enjoyed that as well. To be sure. And I want to verify the results in person this time. There’s something about blind studies, right?
Pax nodded, his vision blanking as Nate convinced his eyes they were covered with warmth. He sank down, content to let Nate drive. This time he’d be the one to single-mindedly triple-penetrate Toay and Hyel and feel a cloacal orgasm up close.
For research purposes.