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Found 91 results

  1. Stripes Waterkat

    Animus Defense Force (PC & Android)

    Version 1.0.0

    1 download

    The planet Animus is under attack by an alien invasion army determined to destroy the world. They have sent ships all across the planet and it is up to you as Commander Marx Silverclaw to defend the people. You will be in command of the Tigermax Force, manning the Talon Canons positioned in all the major cities and charged with blasting the aliens out of the sky before they can annihilate your world. A fast paced game where you tap the screen (or click) to fire the canons at the ships and their plasma bombs to keep them from destroying your buildings and canons. Twenty-one levels of non-stop, ground to air action. Gain power up from special ships to increase the abilities of your canons. Bonus points awarded for accuracy of fire as well as buildings and canons remaining. There are options at the start of the game to increase the difficulty and speed of the game to suit you particular gaming style. As well as checkpoints at levels 5, 10 and 15. Now go blast those alien SOBs. (Note: if the game asks anything about using the camera, ect, ignore it. The game does not utilize any android functions.) These files are free for everyone to enjoy. You'll be getting both the APK for android and the EXE for PC. If you wish to throw a few pennies my way for it, you can send it to the Paypal acct of ruovte@claws-and-paws.com with my thank you.

    Free

  2. Kindar

    Chapter 11

    "Seth!" I yelled at the top of my lungs kicking the door off its hinges. The first thing I saw was the couch so I tenderly placed Walter's body on it, then I fell to my knees and cried. The trek back here took longer than my search because my balls hurt so much I couldn't run. I didn't even consider stopping to relieve the pressure; I deserved the pain for getting Walter killed. After a while the tears stopped enough for me to realize Seth still wasn't there. I cursed under my breath and headed to his lab. I would have loved to stomp there, but my balls wouldn't let me. I found him at his workbench, working on something small. I pulled him of his seat and held him against the wall. "Damn it Seth, didn't you hear me calling you?" Seth's eyes were unfocussed and his fingers were moving before him like he was still working on something. I dropped him and went to the kitchen where I knew he kept more joints. I had to go through half the cupboards, most of which ended up with ripped off doors, before I found a box of them. Seth was back at his workbench when I came back and I had to go through his pockets to find the lighter. The first few puffs were shallow as he kept working, the next ones deepened and he grabbed the second joint out of my hand. After that he was able to light them himself so all I could do was pace while I waited for him to be high enough to notice the world. That took ten excruciating long minutes. He grabbed his stomach and bent over. "Man, I'm famished. How long have I been working?" I didn't give him time to reach for his watch I grabbed him by the collar and lifted him. "I want you to call them." "Huh? Call who?" "The wish catcher guys you used to work for." "What? I don't know how, I don't have anything to do with them anymore." I pulled him close and glared at him. "Don't fuck with me Seth. I know they wouldn't have let you go without giving you a way to contact them, so you're going to go find it and then you're going to call them, do you get that?" "Yeah, yeah, I get it. I'll look for . . . Man, what happened to your arm?" I shook him to get his gaze back to my face. "Focus on what's important Seth. That call is all that matters, not my arm, just that call." My arm was now covered with bleeding scabs as every time I moved it the dried blood broke. It looked pretty bad, and didn't' smell all that great either. I let him go and followed him to his bedroom, where he started looking through a file cabinet. "Why do you want me to call them anyway?" "I need them to lock me up and throw away the key." "Why'd you want them to do that?" "Because I killed Walter." Seth started at me. "You what?" "You heard me. I killed him, D.E.A.D. dead." Seth grabbed the phone and dialed. "This is Seth Burnsteng. I have a wisher here who says he killed someone. No, I don't think he's dangerous, he's turning himself him. Yeah, that's him. Well, that's what he said. Ok, we'll be waiting for you." I'd heard what I wanted to hear so I headed to the living room. I picked up Walter and cradled him in my arms as I sat down to wait, constantly apologizing to him for getting him killed. I could feel Seth on the side, but he wasn't important right now. "I thought you said you killed him," Seth said after a minute of silence. "I might as well. I shouldn't have gotten him mixed up in this and I should have kept on going with him to look for that woman. If I'd done that he would still be alive." "You didn't do this," Seth said with such certainty that I found myself baring my teeth at him and growling. He took a step back and I went back to focusing on Walter. Seth made another call. "It's Seth again. You're going to have to bring more people, the Actress is here. No, not at my place but somewhere in the area, she's the one committed the murder. Yes I'm sure; I still remember the bodies she left in the eighties. Yes, he's been in a fight with her. Yes, I think he'll still want you to take him in." Seth sat on the other end of the couch and wisely kept quiet. * * * * * The cot I was lying on was cold and uncomfortable. My arm was bandaged and numb, my balls were in so much pain that even breathing hurt and my stomach had been screaming at me for the last two days. The cell I was in could have been the same one they put me in before for all I knew. I didn't care; I just wish they would turn on the force field and forget about me. Instead I got a doctor checking on my arm every day. He said that he was sure they would be able to reattach my skin back to my arm. I didn't care about that, as far as I was concerned what they should be doing is ripping every inch of my skin off so I'd feel the pain Walter felt. Someone also brought me food three times a day, but I didn't eat any of it. I didn't want anything to lessen the pain I felt. I hadn't even jerked off since finding Walter; I didn't deserve any kind of relief. I was going through the hundredth way I could have saved Walter when someone stopped in front of my cell. The doctor had already changed the bandages on my arm this morning and it was too early for the lunch tray "Hello Mister Benton." The voice sounded familiar, strong and commanding, but also soothing; like someone's grandfather. I glanced at him and recognized the man who'd questioned us the previous time I was here. I turned on my side, with my back to him; my arm and balls protested. "What do you want?" I asked bitterly. "I wanted to thank you for helping us find the Actress. She disappeared eleven years ago and if not for you she might have gone on killing with impunity." "And how did I help you do that? I don't even remember where that damned cave is." "We found it by backtracking where you had been using the tracker that we implanted in you." The surprise made me sit up and then bend over as my balls really complained. I glared at the older man. "You put a tracker in me?" "Yes, you and your friends, except for Mister Marcozy; we couldn't find a way to pierce his skin." "Wait a minute, if you've known where I was all this time how cone I've been walking free all this time?" "Because at no time were you a prisoner, Mister Benton. You didn't kill anyone in your escape and once outside you kept a low profile so we had no need to retrieve you, or your friends. "And now that the actress is on her way here your arm should be fixed up soon." The mention of my arm made me look at it and brought visions of Walter's corpse. "Is something wrong? I thought the news would lighten your mood, not darken it." "If you really want to do something for me, find a way to bring Walter back." "I'm sorry, but there are things which are beyond us." "That's what I thought." I lied back down and curled up. "Just turn the force field back on and leave me alone." "I won't do that, Mister Benton, you're not a prisoner." "I'm a monster," I said softly blinking as tears fell, "and a murderer. I shouldn't be allowed to be free." "No, you are neither of those things." "What am I then?" "You are a young man who went through a horrible experience, but it's my hope that something good can come from it." "What good could ever come from someone's death?" "You've seen what a Wisher can do now, so maybe you can work with us to stop the others like her, to make sure no one else suffers like you did." I didn't say anything, I didn't know what to think of the offer. "All I ask is that you think about it; your life isn't over and you certainly shouldn't be spending it in this cell." He turned to leave and then stopped. "Oh, and Seth asked me to bring you this," he placed a watch the table by the door and then left. * * * * * The dinner time crowd was thinning when the man entered the diner. He put his hat and overcoat on the rack and tucked his briefcase under the booth's table. The waitress gave him her best smile and admired his muscular frame as she brought him the menu. The man ordered the special and asked for the paper. He read it slowly as he ate. He smiled to the waitress when she refilled his cup and politely turned her down when she started flirting; she was pretty enough, being a petite brunette and close to his age, but she wasn't his style. Time passed, people came and went while he continued to read the paper and ordered the occasional piece of pie. When he finished the paper he folded it and set it aside before looking up for the waitress. The woman who came to his table was older, in her mid fifties and had light brown hair, cut short. "Can I get you a refill, Hun?" "Yes please," the man said with a smile, handing her his cup. "Did your wife kick you out?" She asked him putting his full cup down. "What? No, what makes you think that?" "The cook told me you got his just after dinner time and you've been reading that paper all evening. I'd expect a good looking man like you to have someone he'd be in a hurry to go back to." "Actually, I was waiting for someone." "Who?" "You, Anna. Would you mind sitting down?" She raised an eyebrow before looking around, most tables were empty and the other waitress could deal with the few customers at the counter. "Why are you waiting for me?" she asked as she sat. "Because I need your help." He wrapped his hands around his cup and looked at it for a moment. "I did something horrible - I didn't mean to, but someone is suffering because of it." He looked at her. "I need you to undo my last wish." She frowned. "Wish? I don't understand Hun, how can you making a wish hurt someone? And how could I help?" "Please Anna, don't insult my intelligence, I know exactly what you are. In fact it was so easy to figure it out that I'm amazed no one else has yet." "I'm a woman who's getting to old to be a waitress?" "You're the one who's been granting wishes." Anna started to laugh, but the seriousness with which he was watching her made here put her hand over your mouth to stop. "Oh honey," she said once she got the giggles under control, "if I could grant wishes would I really work here?" "You look exactly like you did when you started working here ten years ago." "I exercise regularly and my hair color has been coming out of a bottle for longer than I've been working here." "Since you started here there's been an increase in unusual things happening in the city. I've also gone through the archives of the people chasing me and they've been able to figure out that everyone who had their wish granted had dealt with people in the service industries a few days before it happened. I'm willing to bet you were at all of those." Her expression softened as his hardened; she wrapped her hands around his. "Oh honey, I don't know what's happened that hurt you so much, but wishes don't come true. Even if they did, I'm sure there'd be some kind of rule that prevents them from just being undone." His eyes tightened. "So you're not going to help me." "I can't help you Hun, If you did something, you need to take responsibility for that and fix it." "Fine." He stood and threw a couple of twenties on the table. He grabbed his coat and hat and stormed out of the diner. He pulled his cell phone out of a pocket once he was across the road. "You should have helped me," he mumbled as he kept walking and dialed a number, "now I'm going to have to show you that we're just too dangerous to have around." The flash of the diner exploding momentarily sharpened his shadow on the ground and the shockwave almost made him loose his balance. "I promise you Anna, I'm not going to stop until you've undone this."
  3. Kindar

    Chapter 10

    "Hey Walt!" I watched as Walter turned and jumped with his eyes wide like saucers. It would have been funny if he hadn't been close to the edge. He caught himself on a larger rock and held on to it for support with a hand while the other went to his chest. "You ok man?" I asked as I went to him, "sorry about that, I didn't mean to startle you." "I am quite well," he replied still watching me, "I simply need a moment to catch my breath." "Ok, so what happened? You didn't come back for dinner last night and you didn't call I was worried sick about you." I wasn't able to keep my anger completely out of my tone. "I do not know what you are talking about, nothing happened." "Come on, this is me. We both know you've been annoyed at me because I preferred staying at the cabin to coming on this treks with you, but maybe you can have the decency of telling me what's wrong instead of letting me squirm or giving me this cool treatment." "I truly apologize for not treating you properly," he said looking me over hungrily, "I do not know what could have come over me to mistreat someone like you such, but I can promise that it will not happen again." "You sure you're ok?" I asked because he was really speaking weird. I still couldn't help puffing up my chest at the look and compliment. "I can assure you that I am quite well." "Good, then how about we take care of my problem and then head back?" "There is something I need to show you before hand," Walter said as he turned and headed up the mountain. I stood there for a moment too surprised to move. What could be more important than taking care of my balls? "Walter, wait up!" I started after him as well as I could on the rock side and with hurting balls. He didn't slow down. I watched him enter an opening in the rock. The crevice wasn't too big; I had to turn sideways in place to fit. I caught up to him at the entrance of a cave lit by fire light. "Go in," he said, "I am certain you will find it wondrous." I eyed him dubiously. I didn't see what could be so wonderful about a cave, but went in anyway. At first glance it wasn't impressive, it was pretty big, but that was about it. "What's supposed to be so wonderful about this?" I asked still looking around. "Go further along the back, you will see it." I rolled my eyes, maybe he was doing that to keep punishing me. Or maybe he had a bed set up in the back? The first thing that caught my eye was a set of chains set in the rock wall. I grabbed one and gave it a tug it was solidly anchored in there. "How long do you think these have been there?" I asked just as I noticed the skeleton on the ground next to them. "Are these things real?" I bent down to pick up one of the bone. "Oh, quite real." I turned to look at Walter just in time to see him swing something large at my head. I went down seeing stars. I tried to stand up with a groan, but he hit me again and things went dark. I remember a lot of flashes of consciousness, always followed by stars and then darkness. The last few also came with pain in my right arm. When I finally woke fully it was with a groan that made my head hurt. Being shot in the head hadn't hurt this badly. "Good, you are finally awake," Walter said, "You must look at this, it is simply wondrous." Getting my eyes to open took more work than I could have guessed; my eyelids felt like they had hundred pounds weights attached to them. And when they did open it didn't help much. Everything was moving around. I closed them before I threw up. Once my stomach settled I tried again, this time they were lighter and the world stood still. I was able to lift my head and Walter was standing in front of me, but there was something wrong with him, there was something orange and black over his right arm. "What happened Walter?" I asked, having trouble stringing the words together. "Is this not simply wondrous?" he asked me, shoving his orange and black covered arm. It moved too quickly and my eyes wouldn't focus on it. "Walter! What the *fuck* happened!" I don't think I'd ever yelled that loud ever. Walter backpedaled while the echo bounced off the walls for a few seconds. I groaned as my head kept on ringing for a few more. "My, my, what powerful lungs you must have to yell like that. Your roar must be magnificent. I cannot wait to find out what it must be like to roar." "You're not making any sense," I said as my head dropped. "I must say that while you certainly are a captive audience," he chuckled lightly, "you are not the most astute one I have had." "So sue me. Just tell me what's going on." "Why would I want to bring in a lawyer into this? They are a despicable breed which I doubt time has improved." I took deep breath in the following silence trying to clear my head. Walter wasn't acting like himself, maybe he'd hit his head or something, although that didn't explain what ever was on his arm. I don't know why it didn't occurred to me before that, but I only then tried to move, to find my arms were chained. I was chained to the wall. I looked at the iron manacle on my left wrist and the solid chain holding me. When I check my right wrist I found that something else was wrong. There was no orange and black fur, and there was, was this dark red masses that wriggled as I pulled on the chain. I've never denied being among the slowest to catch a clue, but as I looked back to Walter I did get it. He was wearing my fur on his right arm. "I see that you are understanding the situation," he said with a smile, "I must say that this is a most wondrous chance, I have never played the Beast before; although I did play Belle in my youth. The actor who played the Beast was quite dreadful, he ruined the show for all of us. He could never be menacing. I will show them all how the role should be played. I will be a monstrous Beast, as he should have been." "Walter, what are you talking about, and what are you doing with my fur." I just wanted to scream at him to start make sense, but I didn't think my head would survive another outburst. Walter stopped moving about and looked at himself. "Ah, yes, I must not get ahead of myself, I am still wearing my previous role." He looked in a darkened corner before walking to me. He pulled out a dirty knife. "I am afraid this will hurt, but please roar with the pain, I wish to know what the proper timbre is for it." I looked at his green eyes and as the wrongness of them hit me he started slicing the fur off my shoulder off. I grated my teeth, who ever that was I didn't want to give him the satisfaction to hear me scream, but I only lasted a couple of seconds of moaning before the pain became too much. "I do wish you had roared instead," the sadist who looked like Walter said, "but you will have many more occasions to do so." Panting I forced myself to look at him. He applied the patch of fur on his shoulder and it melded to the fur that was already there. I noticed that it didn't stick to his skin, instead it floated above it, keeping the shape of my muscles. "I have never had such an easy time putting on a skin before," he said with glee, "I also have never worn one that could heal itself." He ran the knife over his arm, leaving a bloody gash that closed moments later. I had to look away. I didn't feel any of the pain from that, but it still looked like it was my arm getting cut. I saw a human form leaning against the wall in the corner I happen to look in. Even in the bad light I could tell there was something wrong with it. The body was uniformly dark, the light barely reflected on it and it was staring ahead with dead steel grey eyes. "Oh my Gods," I let out quietly. "Ah yes, him," the Walter lookalike said. "I must say that he was not the participating audience that you are. He must have died before I was even halfway done." I stared at him. I couldn't believe how casual he was about this. "You murdered him you son of a bitch!" I pulled on my chains as hard as I could. "I did no such thing," the impostor said offended, "I simply took over his role. Regardless he was a bad actor. I could tell that he was hardly doing anything with his part." "He was a person," I growled with another pull, I thought I felt it give a little. "He was someone I cared about." "He was the Belle to your Beast?" he said with surprise, but then his face turn to disgust. "That is sick. Everyone knows Belle is played by a woman." He turned and walked away. "I will have to find a woman to play my Belle. That could prove to be a challenge, there are not many woman around here. Tell me," he said facing me again, "how were you able to attract your Belle?" He pointed dismissively to Walter's corpse. For a moment I literally saw red but I forced myself to calm down, I'd only have one shot and I had to think clearly to make it count. "Come here and I'll tell you." He didn't even hesitate and as he stood before me I pulled on my chain and broke it from the wall. My fist landed on his shoulder hard enough to crumble him to the ground. I turned and wrapped the other chain around my hand, doing my best to ignore my skinless hand, and gave a hard pull. I tumbled back with the ease with which the anchor gave out. "You need to know your role," he said nursing his fur covered shoulder, "you are the helpless prisoner, not the hero." "I'm rewriting the script," I spat and lounged at him. "Ah!" he stepped out of my way. "Scripts are for hacks. The real actor knows his character through and through. He does not need a piece of paper to tell him what he should be doing." "Fine," I said as I turned to face him, "since you're the monster in this act of yours what do you think's going to happen?" He gave me the most sincere smile I'd seen. "Why, the monster kills the hero of course." He rushed me and punched me in the stomach before I could react. He punched me with his right fist, my right fist, and I flew off the floor to hit the wall. I was as surprised as he was. By the time I was able to pull myself up he was still staring at his fist. I didn't give him time to stop. I tackled him and punched him as hard as I could until he wasn't moving anymore. When I stopped his face wasn't recognizable as Walter anymore. I stood and my anger flared again when I looked at him. I kicked him and he went flying in the darkness. I had to force myself to turn and look at Walter's corpse. I had trouble breathing as walked to it. I fell to my knees before him. "I'm so sorry," I told him as he looked at me accusingly. "I should never have dragged you here. It's all my fault.
  4. Kindar

    Chapter 09

    After three days Seth had a working prototype. The hardware for it filled the entire unused bedroom, I had to stand on a platform, and not move from it, but it worked. It created an image around me that moved as I did. It wasn't what I had expected. Seth said he'd be able to fix the size problem. Seth hadn't said anything when he realized we weren't using the second guest bedroom. When I'd brought our stuff in I put Walter's there, but he wouldn't have anything to do with the idea of sleeping in separate rooms. "No fucking way I'm going to be sneaking around while I'm here," he said. "Be reasonable, we're his guest. We can't go around offending him." "I don't fucking care if he can't deal with it. I'm not going to act like the guy you're trying to hide from your parents." "Alright, alright," I felt he was trying to get a Seth to throw us out or something. It didn't work. Either he was too stoned or busy with the work to notice, or having lived through the free love movement he just didn't care. Walter only brought three suits with him; the alpha wolf, the submissive fox and the playful Dalmatian. That first night he put on the wolf suit and put me in my place. He slept in the suit, holding me tightly and the next morning he took me again. He didn't asked, he just turned me on my stomach and fucked me. He used the wolf suit more than the others. I could tell he was doing it because he was angry at being here, but I couldn't figure out why. He also wouldn't tell me what was wrong, even once it was obvious Seth wasn't trying to string me along. We fell into a routine of sex in the morning, breakfast and then Walter would drive to 'town'. He'd come back for dinner we'd hang out, have sex again and go to sleep. While Walter was out I'd jog around in the woods, or chop firewood for Seth, even cutting down a tree when I ran out. I also toked up a time or two; Seth left me his box of joints. Seth would get up even before us and get right to work. At ten I'd get him to smoke so he could eat, again for dinner and then so he could sleep. When he wasn't stoned he was either in his workroom designing a component or in the bedroom assembling it. His basement was full of parts, it looked like a hardware store on steroid. If he couldn't find what he needed he ordered it. After two weeks he'd managed to shrink it down to half the size of the room. "You know, this isn't exactly how I thought you'd be doing this," I told him over lunch. "I thought you'd whip up something in half a day and be done." "That's not how I worded my wish," he replied, " 'I wish I was able to build stuff and make them better.' That's what I said. So I have to start with building something I'm already able to and then I can take it apart and see how to make it better." "You still remember the wish you made?" I asked, impressed. "You don't forget something that changes your life like that. One day I'm a failed mechanic trying to get drunk at the local bar and wishing I could fix stuff, the next day I'm taking my Boss' car apart and rebuilding it with better struts, better gas millage lower emissions an tons of other improvements. "He sold my designs to car manufacturers and then asked me to keep making more. I didn't know how to stop so I did that for ten years, until the wish catchers found me." "What happened after that?" "They helped me get my wish under control." He lifted the joint he was smoking. "Then I lived for a while before going back to work for them. I was there for a decade or so then I had enough and came here." "They let you go? Just like that?" "Well, they tried to convince me to stay, offered me more money, better labs, but once I made it clear I didn't want any of that they let me go." "Just like that, no threats to you or your family if you didn't work for them, no blackmail no incarceration?" "Course not," Seth said with a chuckle, "just a few exec every few month dropping by with a suitcase filled with money and something they wanted me to build. It took them six years to finally get the message that I was never going to say yes. "I mean really, what am I going to do with more money than I already have?" "Did you ever regret doing it?" "Making the wish?" I nodded. "No," he answered after thinking about it for a moment. "I never really did. I don't think any of us ever does." "You've met other people like us." "I've worked for the organization in charge of stopping us from blowing up the world, so yeah, you're not the first Wisher I've met. Everyone of them liked what they were. Sometime they liked too much." "I don't think I'm liking it all that much." "You're still new at this, give it time and you'll probably find that's what you've always wanted." Two weeks later it was the size of a backpack. "Did you guys know that tourists have been disappearing around here for the last decade?" Walter asked over dinner. He hadn't really warmed up to Seth, but at least he was engaging in conversation and getting the groceries. "Hikers have been over estimating their abilities for a lot more than a decade," Seth said before biting into his burger. I'd gotten tired of the frozen pizza or noodle and sauce mixes that were Seth mainstay so I'd gotten Walter to pickup all we needed for burgers and I set up a grill to cook them. "Maybe but there's be a lot more in the last decade than before, almost a hundred on this side of the mountain alone." "That does sound like a lot," I said between bites and Seth nodded in agreement. "Have you ever helped look for any of them?" "No, I let the Rangers deal with that. I'm sure you've realized by now that I don't really leave this place." Walter was silent for the rest of the meal. Once we were back in our room he put on his fox suit and submitted to me. It was an evening of slow lovemaking. "I think we should help look for her," Walter said as we snuggled afterward. "Look for who?" "A hiker went missing not far from here a few days ago." "I don't think the rescue teams are going to be really happy to see someone like me among them." Even tired and in the afterglow I could still see where he was going. "They're short of man power so they aren't so much teams, more like groups and couples. We don't have to do it with them. We can go just the two of us you can sniff around and maybe we'll get lucky." I started chuckling as the thought of getting lucky in the woods with Walter bounced in my head. "Ok," I said once I calmed down, "I'll check in with Seth in the morning." Walter tensed. "We don't need to run what we do by him." "I have to. He needs me to help him snap out of it so he can eat." Walter didn't acknowledge what I'd said. "Walter," I said softly, "these wishes aren't fairytales. They come with problems. I need sex because of them and Seth's wish came with an obsession to build things. If he's not stoned all he does is build. He won't eat or sleep until he falls unconscious from exhaustion. I have to let him know so we can change the schedule to give us enough time to search." "Ok. Jim, I . . ." "Yes?" "Never mind," he said with a shake of the head, "it isn't important." I kissed the back of his neck even if he probably couldn't feel it though the suit. "Ok, sleep well." * * * * * "Is it lunch time already?" Seth asked after smoking his first join. "No, more like breakfast. Me and Walter are going to go out to help with the search. We're going to be back for dinner." "Are you sure that's wise? If one of the rescue parties sees you it could start a bigfoot hunt." "We'll be careful. I think Walter just wants to do something useful instead of waiting for you to be done." "Then I better keep working while you guys are out." "Are you going to be ok?" "Yeah. I'll eat now, that should keep me going until you get back." "We'll see you tonight then." * * * * * "Ok, this looks right," Walter said as looked around. It had taken most of the morning walking through the woods to reach the path. We could have been there sooner, but we, ahem, took our time getting there. "This is about where she was seen for the last time by another hiker." "So what do we do?" "Well, I was hoping you'd be able to sniff out where she went." "I'm pretty sure I need to know what she smells like," I said with a chuckle. I still sniff the air. I could differentiate between human and animal smells now, but not individual humans, except for me and Walter, and maybe Seth, I might be able to track him if I had to. "I hadn't thought of that," Walter said dejected. "Hey, it doesn't mean we can't look for her," I said giving him a hug, "it just means you can't use me as your own personal bloodhound." That cheered him up. We left the trails for the rangers and other search parties and searched deeper in the woods. Walter was serious about the search, but I was having more fun frolicking around with him and avoiding people. And he didn't protest too much to the Frolicking. We did that for more than a week before I got bored with it. I encouraged Walter to continue since it made him feel like he was doing something useful. "Are you sure you don't want to come?" he asked me the next morning after I made my decision. "Yeah, I'm not exactly having fun doing that anymore." "It isn't about having fun Jim. A woman's missing and we're trying to find her." "And you can still do that, just without me. It's not like I'm all that useful out there. Hell, without me you'll be able to join the official search parties." I could see the disappointment in his eyes, but he did go, and kept going every morning, to return sometime after dinner. Seth continued to make progress, but it was slowing down. The further ahead the technology became the more work it took. On the fourth day after Walter started searching on his own he didn't come back. I didn't worry too much as cleaned the dishes, he could have gotten delayed on his way back, but as the sky turned dark I did worry. Walter would have called if something had happened to prevent him from coming back, he had Seth's number. I spent the night pacing and sleeping on his fits. As soon as Seth got up I shoved a lit joint in his mouth. "Walter didn't come back last night," I said as soon as he was able to focus on me, "I'm going out to look for him." "I'm sure he's ok, he probably searched too late and had to go back to town with the others." "He would have called; something wrong." I went to our room and buried my nose in his wolf suit. I knew I could pick out his smell out of anything by now, but I wanted to make sure it was fresh in my mind. "I'll be back once I find him," I said as I left his cabin. I could already feel the ghost of blue balls starting. Following his trail to the path was easy, his smell was strong since he always took the same route. Once there things became a little more complicated His scent went in all directions. I knew it well enough now that I could make out slight variation in strength so I used that to try to determine which trail was the most recent, I had a few false start, but on the third time I had what I thought was the freshest one. I followed it up the mountain for an hour, the wood thinned out and the ground became rocky. My heart skipped with joy when I saw him standing on the escarpment.
  5. Kindar

    Chapter 08

    Getting to Stampton, Colorado took two weeks. The first week was for preparation. Walter bought a three year old Caravan. He had his mechanic tune it up, remove the middle row so I'd be able to sit down and tint the windows so I wouldn't have to worry about being seen. Yeah, Walter volunteered himself to drive me to Stampton, for which I was grateful. I had no idea how I was going to convince him to do it. Wilma said he just wasn't willing to let me get away. We bought supplies and tried to work out where Seth's house was, unfortunately Stampton wasn't so much a town as a collection of buildings spread over twenty square miles. There were no up to date maps anywhere online, even Google didn't have anything more than the two major roads going through the area. The other week was spent driving, and getting lost. The GPS was no use what so ever since we couldn't put the address in, and even using it to get to the closest town got us turned around more often than not. I'm a public transit kind of guy, I don't even have my license and Walter hadn't driven outside the city before now. When we did get to Stampton itself we discovered why Google didn't have any of the road's names. They didn't have any. When Walter asked for directions he'd get something like 'drive a few miles and then make a left at the old oak tree' or, 'drive past Jensen's cottage and make a right up the hill, you can't miss it'. Or course we missed it. We spent half the day driving around before finally getting to Seth's house. I have to say it wasn't a bad drive, the trees were magnificent. Like I said I'd never been out of the city before and city parks had noting on this. The trees were so dense they formed a wall on each side of the road. I'd never seen so many different kinds of greens and browns. We even saw a few deer and a bear. Seth's place was a log cabin, a large log cabin, built up along the slope of the mountain. Walter stopped the Caravan behind an old Ford at the bottom of the stairs heading up to the cabin. Before the car was turned off a man came out and down the stairs. The only thing I could think of as I watched him was hippy. He had long gray hair with a multicolor headband keeping it out of his thin face. He was wearing a deer skin jacket and pants. "Hey man, you lost or something?" he said as he reach the bottom. "Not anymore," Walter replied, "are you Seth Burnsteng?" "Yeah, That'd be me, why're you asking?" "A friend of mine wants to talk with you." I took a deep breath and stepped out of the car. "Whoa, that's a gnarly look," Seth said, "How'd you get it?" "I made a wish," I answered. The smell of marijuana hung heavily around him. "That's cool, made one too, a long time ago. I try not to make them anymore. Come on up," he said as he started up the stairs, "I got sometime in the oven." Walter cast a glance at me and I shrugged. I hadn't known what to expect, but an invitation to dinner hadn't really been it. Seth's cabin was clean; certainly not what I expected from a pot head. In front of the large bay window was a table with a large variety of plants, tomatoes, strawberries lettuce and I was pretty sure I recognized at two marijuana plants. There was a clean ashtray on a corner of the table, and no spilled dirt anywhere on it or around it. Wood was neatly stacked next to the stone fireplace. A couch and two chairs were arranged around a coffee table which also had a clean ashtray. Seth took a joint from a pocket and lit it. "You guys wanna drag?" "No thanks," I replied. I smoked once in a while, but right now I felt I needed to keep a clear head. "Certainly not," Walter answered. He was rather straight laced when it came to smoking. "You're high, aren't you?" "Hell yeah, only way I can hear myself think." He started chuckling as he headed to the other room. I followed him in the kitchen where he was pulling a baking pan with a dozen mini pizzas on it out of the over. "Help yourself to them," he said as he stacked half of them on a plate and devouring the first one before I moved. "Where's the power coming from?" I asked as I took a pizza. The stove and fridges were electric and I hadn't seen any electrical towers on the way here. "I got a generator in the back. You wanna something to drink?" He opened the fridge. "I have water, water and some more water." "Water sounds good," I said. "You must go through a lot of gas if it's the only source of power you have." "Don't use gas," Seth said as he took three glasses out of a cabinet, "It's nuclear." "Isn't having a nuclear reactor a rather dangerous thing?" Walter asked from the doorway. I'd explained to him that Seth was some sort of super inventor and he must have taken it more seriously then I had because he didn't show any surprise at the news. "Nah, fusion's perfectly safe." Seth filled the glasses and handed one of them to me. "Wait, you have a fusion reactor in the back of your cabin?" "Yeah, I built it, twenty years ago I think." He lit up another joint. "Then why don't we have anything that's run by fusion?" Walter asked. I realized that his lack of surprise might not be because he believed him, but rather because he didn't. "Because whoever I gave the plant to would have a lot of power and I don't trust people to use that power well. That's why I live here. I got tired of being asked to build stuff that gave some form of power or another to people." He looked at me sadly. "You're here to ask me to make you something aren't you?" "Yeah, I need something to hide the way I look." "That's it?" he asked in surprise, "No super weapon to stop wars, no devise to end world hunger? Just a gizmo so you can look normal?" I nodded. "I can do that," Seth said as he extinguished his joint, "I'll start on it once I've sobered up." Walter indicated I should follow him and we went outside. "Are you sure you can trust him?" he asked. "He seems like an ok guy." "That's not what I mean, the guy claims to have a fusion reactor. Do you know what'd do if I could build one of those? I'd sell the rights and retire. I think he's a fake, hell we already know he's a junky." "I was incarcerated behind a force field he built, I believe him about the reactor. We can ask him to show it to us if that'll convince you. As for why he hasn't sold it and made millions. You heard him, he doesn't trust people. Not everyone's driven by money you know." "Ok, but what if he calls the people who are after you, he used to work for them, remember?" I did, and it did worry me a little, but what else could I do? "I don't have a choice. He's the only person who can give me a normal life." I could tell Walter wasn't really satisfied, but he dropped it. I went back inside and found Seth in a workroom on the second floor. He was unrolling paper over a drafting table. The room was as orderly as the kitchen and living room. The tools were in their place, there was no dust anywhere and, I also noticed, no ashtrays. When he noticed me in the doorway Seth handed me a joint. "I appreciate the offer," I told him, "but I really don't think I should be lighting up." "It isn't for you. That's for me. No matter what I'm doing at ten you light it up and get me to smoke it." "Why?" "Because I'm going to work myself to death on your gizmo if I don't force myself to stop once in a while. That's going to cloud my head just enough to I can think about other stuff, like sleep and food." "How long until you start to work?" "It'll probably be a couple of hours until I'm down. There two bedrooms at the end of the hall you can use." "Thanks. While you wait to sober up do you mind showing us your reactor? Walter's curious about it." "Who's Walter?" "My friend. I'm Jim by the way." "I'm Seth," he said presenting his hand, "and yeah I can so it to you." The reactor turned out to be rather unimpressive, at least the five feet we could see. Seth explained that most of it was buried about fifty feet down. What was exposed was a cylinder about ten feet in diameter with readouts and controls on it. It looked high-tech; that's about all I got from it. "I expected a fusion reactor to be bigger," Walter commented. "I don't need that much power," Seth answered with a chuckle before taking a granola bar out of his pocket. "It's got the fusion chamber, the turbine, water circulation and scrubbing system and capacitors. It also has a regulation system so I won't blow up my appliances." "How do you change the fuel rods?" Walter asked. "Man, it's fusion. I'm not going to have to refuel it for another fifty years or so." "Fine, and how are you going to do that when it happens." "Walter," I said as I grabbed his arm, "there's no need to interrogate him." "Actually I think there is, I haven't actually seen anything really special. For all I know he's just a fake." "It's ok man," Seth said as he folded the wrapping of his finished granola bar, "I don't need to convince him of anything. I know what I can do, that's all that matters. And whenever I need to change the core I'll just shut it down, give it a week to cool down and then build something to take it out." "Leave it alone Walter. I'm the one who needs his help, not you. I don't need any convincing that he can help me." "Fine, I'll be at the car," he said. He wasn't happy about it, I could see it in his eyes. "I'm sorry about that," I told Seth once Walter was out of sight, "I don't know why he was so hard." "S'ok man, Dealing with us Wishers isn't easy on those who aren't used to it. Hasn't been long since you made yours, has it?" "Only a few weeks, you?" "I don't know, what year is this?" He took out a pocket watch. "Already? Man it's been over fifty years now." "You lost track of time?" "Yeah, it's easy to do up here living on your own. I'm going to go throw something in the oven, you hungry?" "I'm ok, thanks. I'm going to go look in on Walter and bring some stuff to the rooms." * * * * * Walter was sitting in the car watching me come down the steps. He didn't get out, or even lower the window when I stood next to it. I knocked on it and he took his time lowering it. "You ok?" I asked him. "Course I'm ok," he answered bluntly. "I'm not the most enlightened guy around, but I can tell you're not. What's the problem?" "How can you just trust this guy, we don't know anything about him?" "I don't have much of a choice, he's the only one who can give me a normal life." He looked away from me when I said that. "That's why we shouldn't trust him," he said when he looked at me again. His features were set to neutral, but I knew him well enough to smell the hurt coming from him, but I had no idea what it was about. "You're in a perfect situation to be taken advantage of." "Seth hasn't even asked for anything. He's a nice guy." "No one's that nice," Walter grumbled, "Look you said it yourself, he's worked for the people who are after you. He's probably planning on stringing you along until they get here. I think we should go back home." I studied him for a moment. "Where is *that* coming from?" "I don't know," he answered with a shrug, "I'm just getting a bad feeling about this." I reached through the window and placed my hand on his arm. "Lets give him a few days, if it looks like he's trying to waste out time then we'll leave." "All right," he said with some reluctance.
  6. Kindar

    Chapter 05

    I hesitated in front of the door. It was glossy white, freshly painted like the porch. It was one thing to believe my friends would be ok with the way I looked; it was another one completely to put it to the test. I steeled myself and knocked. There was silence. I prayed that they were home and knocked again. "Hold on to your fucking horses," came a Wilma's voices from somewhere deeper in the house. The door opened. "Ok, what's you want?" Wilma was a small woman at five-four. I never used 'petite' to describe her be cause she had quite the set of curves on her body. Her blond hair was tied back in a pony tail, she didn't have any make up on as usual. She was wearing an old faded t-shirt, pink with an arrow on it pointing up 'my eyes are up there' was written underneath. I'd gotten her the shirt two years ago for her birthday, she always like showing off her breast so I figured it would help her play on that. I'd accidently picked one that was a size too small. She'd never complained about it. Purple sweat pants completed her ensemble, except for the cherry lollipop she was holding in her hand. "It's me, Jim. Can I come in? She looked at me for a moment. "Jim Benton?" I nodded and she moved away from the door with a surprised expression. I quickly stepped in, in case she changed her mind and closed the door on me. I closed it behind me. Wilma and Walter owned the house together. They were brother and sister, twins actually. I'd known them for almost ten years now, not long after I'd discovered he furry community. They had been the first furries I'd come across on the net who turned out to be local to me. Wilma looked me over and her expression slowly turned from surprised to suspicious, but before she could say anything Walter poked his head in the entryway. "Who was that sis?" He asked before even looking in, and then "Whoa, cool fursuit." While these two were twins, they looked nothing alike. Where Wilma was small and full of curves, Walter was a good six inch taller and very angular. Her voice was sweet and his usually sounded like his throat was full of sand paper. He was gay, she wasn't. About the only things they had in common where the blond hair, although his was curly, and steel grey eyes. I looked at Wilma, "I'll explain later," and walked to Walter, throwing him over my shoulder and heading directly to his bedroom. * * * * * I was looking at the ceiling, completely awake. Only two hours of sleep after our marathon session and I was fully rested. Chock another one to my increased healing I guess. I carefully untangled myself from Walter and went to the attached bathroom. He kept on sleeping soundly as I moved from under him. Walter had taken no time to get over the realization I wasn't wearing a fursuit. He had a thing for fursuits, in fact he couldn't have sex if one wasn't involved. I'd hoped that realizing I was the real thing would push his buttons, and I hadn't been disappointed. My need for sex had been dealt with after the first time, but my desire hadn't, which was a good thing because he wasn't going to let me rest until he'd explored every part of my new body. I locked the other door, the one leading to his sister's bedroom, and got in the shower. I went through almost all of his shampoo in the process and had to use a comb to tease the dried cum out of my fur. I had suspected I had more stamina now, as well as a faster recharge, but I'd never known that Walter could cum so often. Those previous times when we'd have sex we'd cum once and we were both done. This time it happened so often that I lost track. I had to clean my fur out of the drain three times during my shower to prevent the water from overflowing the lip. One more thing I'd have to get used to, although since I had a bath/shower at home I could let the water rise until I was done. Drying myself I went through all the towels in their linen closet. I was going to have to invest in some heavy duty blow dryers when I got back home. My chain of thought derailed. *If* I got back home. For a moment I'd forgotten that I was on the run from a secret government agency bent on throwing me in a cell and forgetting about me. As real as I knew it was, I still felt like I was in a bad sci-fi movie. Once I was dry I piled up the towels and got dressed. Walter slept through it, even when I bumped into the dresser and left two inches long skid marks on the wood floor. I rubbed one of them with my foot, barely feeling the scoring in the varnish through my thick pad. I'd deal with that once Walter was awake, maybe offer to pay to get it fixed. I didn't expect him to make a big deal of it, but I was still going to offer. I grabbed the towels and headed to their laundry room in the basement. Wilma wasn't in the living room or kitchen as I came down the stairs. I wondered if she's gone out. I could smell her in the room as well as the nuances in her smell, but I had no idea what those meant. I went down the other set of stairs and caught the sound of her breathing. Half the basement was her training room, which consisted of the floor being covered by mats. I saw her eyes turned in my direction as I reached the floor, but she didn't stop going through the movements. I admired her focus. I don't think I could have kept on doing what I was doing if something as freaky as me walked into the same room. I went to the other side of the room, where the washer was and dumped the towels in it. I started it and looked for the soap while it filled. After that I considered going back up, but I still owed Wilma an explanation. I sat down on the floor and leaned back against the washer as I waited for her to finish. She didn't hurry on my account. It was thirty minutes before she came to a gentle stop. "So I didn't imagine you," she said as she stood still, eyes closed. I shook my head. "No," I then added. "I'm sorry for barging in like that, but I'm in a bit of a bad spot and you were the only ones I could think of who might help." "You mean Walter," her voice was colder than I'd ever heard it, "if I hadn't been surprised I'd have thrown you right out." I nodded and looked at the floor. She was right; as strong as I am she could have sent me flying out that door without much effort. She was a black belt in Tea-Kon-do. My ears heated up in shame and splayed against my skull. "I'm sorry." "It's too late now. It's obvious Walt digs you." "I'm sorry," I said again. "Stop saying you're sorry Jim," She sounded annoyed now. "It's obvious you needed to take care of it, and it's not like I'm your type." I thought I heard her smile at that and looked up. She was wearing her Gi now, loosely tied so that the opening showed the curve of her breasts. She wasn't doing that for me. She probably didn't even realize she was showing herself off like that; or this being Wilma, maybe she did, even if she knew it had no effect on me. "What happened to you?" she asked, looking straight at me. I gave her a quick rundown; the wish, waking up like that, the police, waking up in the cell, escaping. I even mentioned the blue balls. She looked at me without saying anything. "I know," I added, "sounds like the plot to a bad movie." "So that was you this morning," she said instead. "Me where?" "There was something on TV this morning about a group of robber with one of them in a fursuit." I leaned my head back against the washer just as it buzzed and stopped shaking. "So now I'm a thief too." "If they're a secret organization, they can't just come out and say what really happened. Come on, cheer up, you're the only furry I know who's gotten his wish and become a real one. You had to know there was going to be repercussions." "I didn't know it was going to come real," there was only a small amount of anger behind my voice, over all I really did enjoy what I'd become. "If I'd known what would happen I'd have been a bit more careful." She grinned at me. "You an over-sexed furry? Who'd have thunk it." "Very funny," I said dryly. "Come on, it isn't so bad anymore, is it? Walter's going to be happy to help keep you libido down. You're a dream come true for him. After what you two've been up to you must be hungry. Throw the towels in the dryer. I'll be in the kitchen. Oh, are you purely carnivorous now?" "I don't know." My stomach growled loudly and I realized that with everything that had happened, I hadn't eaten anything since getting up in the morning. Even with all the stress, how had I managed to go more than 24 hours without even feeling hungry? "We'll have you try a few things and see how you react to them." After that she went up the stairs.
  7. Kindar

    Chapter 01

    "Wait," Pat said as the waitress put our coffees on the table, "I thought we said only three wishes." Jess looked at him as he reached for the sugar. "That was only three, honey." He raised a finger. "I'd want to be able to turn into a gorgeous woman." A second finger. "As her I'd have a wondrous voice; so that when I spoke everyone would listen." A third finger. "And when I'd sing my voice would be so beautiful it would make men and women alike cry with joy." Jess could already do a pretty good looking woman, he constantly came third or fourth the drag queen competitions, I guess it weighed on him more than he let on. And his woman's voice wasn't that bad either, although it came across more like that old aunt of yours who spent her entire life smoking rather than a diva. "How about that part about having the straight guys fall in love with you?" Pat asked as he poured three of the creamer container in his cup. Pat was a radio tech; he was the one who made the morning crew's show so fun to listen to. He was also a gear head. His basement had more electronic parts than the radio station he worked for had ever owned, and while he never admitted it to anyone, even us, I was pretty sure he was the pirate broadcaster the local stations kept complaining about. Jess smiled at him his sweetest smile, the one that even without makeup made him look more like a woman then a man. "That wasn't a wish dear, just a side effect of the body and the voice." He took a long sip of his coffee while piercing Pat with a gaze. "What are your wishes dear? Lets see if you enjoy having me poking holes through them as much as you seem to liked doing it to me." Pat nodded, "so, nothing like wishing for world peace, right?" "Yep," Answered Mike leaning back in the corner of the booth. He took a quick sip of his coffee; he drank it black, like me. "They have to be completely selfish wishes, only for you." "Ok, I'd want to be rich." Jess raised a thin eyebrow. "That's creative." Pat shrugged, "this isn't a creativity contest, it's just us wishing." "How rich?" Harry asked while Pat and Jess silently stared each other down. "Huh?" was Pat's only response as he broke the staring contest. "How much money is rich?" Harry asked the question slowly, as if he was still trying to formulate it as he asked it. Which might not be too far from the truth; Harry wasn't the smartest person at the table. He couldn't hide that he was a jock. In fact his nickname from the other football player his team in college was 'Harry har har' because they could tell jokes at his expense and be certain he wouldn't get them. Neither one of us really looked like he fitted with the other three, but for completely opposite reasons. Maybe that was why we were both sitting at the end of the table, ready to make a quick escape if our presence became too much for the others to bear. Harry weighed at least forty pounds more than I did, but he was almost pure muscle while I . . . wasn't. "Harry's right," said Mike, "Father Fred would happily argue that just by knowing the four of us you're already richer than anyone. How much money would you need to consider yourself rich?" Pat looked surprised at the question. He thought about it while he finished his coffee. "A hundred million," he then stated. "That doesn't sound like all that much," Jess said, to which Pat simply shrugged. He didn't reply, instead looking at Harry. Harry's face was scrunched in concentration as he tried to figure out how much money that was. Math certainly wasn't his strength, in fact it wasn't even on the list of what his strength was, but he'd get there eventually, and we gave him as much time as he needed to make it. He finally looked at Pat eyes wide in surprise. "Wow, that's a lot of money." Pat smiled, "well, it's enough. Even in this current economy I could get a four percent return on it, so that's four million a year to live off. Yeah, I think that would be enough. Oh, and no hidden clause about the money being stolen or anything like that. It's all legal." Jess looked at Mike, "What do you think, honey, is that a second wish?" Mike shook his head and signaled their waitress for a refill. "Nah, it's a conditional added to the first wish, just like people crying when they hear you sing." Jess nodded, satisfied. "Next wish?" "I'd want to understand machines, be able to know how they work and what's wrong with them with only a look." He stopped and his face lit up. "Scratch that. I want to be able to talk with machines of all kind, talk and have them respond to me and me only and get them to do what ever I want." "Woh there," Mike exclaimed raising a hand. "I'm willing to grand you the revision of your wish, but that's a hell of a lot more than just a conditional. You can either talk to machines of have them obey you. Not both." Yeah, Mike was the lawyer of the group, bar accredited and all that. Pat shrugged, "ok then my second wish is that I talk to machines and they respond, and my third is that they obey me. Your turn." "Easy. I'd be Superman." On top of being pretty smart and a lawyer, Mike was a comic book geek. "no no no, you can't wish that." Jess exclaimed. "Yeah," Pat agreed, "your boyfriend's right. If you didn't let me put talking and controlling in one wish, there's no way you can get everything superman does in one either." "Ok, ok." Mike said with a smile, "Then I'd be invulnerable and super strong." "What's the third one?" Pat asked. "I'd be super handsome." He struck a pose, straightening up, fists on his sides and a wide smile showing his white teeth. It didn't have quite the effect it has on comicbook covers since he was still sitting down. While the rest of us shook our heads and tried not to laugh, even Harry though that was pretty absurd since Mike was already a pretty good looking guy, Jess mimed a ray of light hitting mike's teeth and then said "bling," splaying his finger as if the light was reflecting off it. "Brendan Fraser," I said without even thinking, "As DJ in Loony tunes, back in action." Pat groaned "God that was a bad movie." "It wasn't that bad," I said. "I liked it." Harry Agreed. Pat smiled sweetly at the jock, "you would, it was right at your level." Jess threw Pat a warning glare, which he ignored, while Harry nodded in agreement with Pat. Jess didn't have to bother with it since he knew as well as the rest of us Pat would never intentionally hurt Harry. These two were a pretty serious item for a while. That was actually how the four of them had first met Harry. We'd gone to the football state championship, not really because we'd really cared about it, but because it was held at our school, and the dean made it clear those who didn't go and support our team wouldn't like the consequences. I actually enjoyed the game. It was one of those guilty pleasures I'd normally allow myself when alone, watching a sport game and wondering what my life would have been like if I'd been a jock instead of an overweight geek. Our team did win, so everyone went celebrating, which meant the school grounds were deserted. We used the opportunity to enjoy one of our favorite spot in peace for ones. It was the outdoor eating area just off the lunchroom. We'd meet up there everyday to eat together and talk about what ever we felt like talking. So that's where we were when this almost six foot six jock came walking toward us with a hand behind his back. We'd never been bothered by anyone because we were gay before. We kept mainly to ourselves, not that we were outcast, but we'd never felt a need to force others to socialize with us so we had a small circle of straight friends, but most of the time it was just he four of us. The tension went up the closer he got. It didn't take long for us to recognize him, The star quarterback's face was plastered all over the place, especially after it was revealed that he'd been drafted by a professional team. I have to say that the first thing that popped in my head was that he was here to get some cheap thrill by beating up a bunch of fags to add to his victory. So you can imagine my surprise when he presented Pat a bouquet of flowers. They were field flowers, he'd picked them on his way. He'd been trying to work up the courage to approach Pat for months now and the high from the victory had been what finally gave him the confidence to do it. They were together for almost three years, and then things cooled down and eventually they broke up. Neither ever said why, but we suspected it had a lot to do with Harry being constantly on the road, but after that they were just best friends, with benefits. "What would you wish for Harry?" Jess asked. "I'd wish to be smart," Harry answered immediately, "Really smart. Smarter than the four of you . . . put together." He'd been giving this a lot of thought, a whole lot of thoughts. "Ok, that works, what's your second wish?" Jess asked. That seemed to stump Harry. He'd spent so much time thinking about being smart he hadn't bothered thinking about anything else. "Well?" Jess insisted. "Give him a break," Pat said, "It's not like he has to come up with them this very minutes." "Well, we have to play by the rules." "The rules don't say anything about that," Pat countered "It's implied." "Bullshit," Pat said, you could hear in the way he said that one word he was getting angry. He turned to Mike. "Does he or doesn't he have to give them all right now?" Mike tended to be our arbiter when it came to settling our dispute. His background in law gave him an advantage plus he was also pretty fair. Of course because of that getting into an argument with him was almost impossible. "No, he doesn't. The rules only state that he has to come up with them, no time frame was mentioned with we came up with them." Mike looked at Harry. "So no hurry, when ever you think about them just tell us. Your turn Jim." I didn't answer immediately, instead giving our waitress time to refill my cup. "I'd want a Wolverine level healing ability," I then said "A what now?" Jess asked. "Wolverine is a comic book character," Mike answered. Considering those two lived together I would have thought he would have known about Wolverine. "He heals almost instantaneously; he can't get sick or be poisoned. Is that what you mean?" I nodded. "The next one would be to have an out of control sex drive." Pat rolled his eyes. "Here we go again." "What?" I asked. "You're always complaining about your low sex drive and yet anytime someone lets you, you have your hands in their pants." There were nods of agreement around the table. "That's got nothing to do with being horny, I'm just being playful. The guy can then walk away and it doesn't bother me. I'd love to know what it's like to be really horny all the time." "That sounds pretty disruptive," our waitress commented as she handed Mike his cup back. I hadn't really paid attention to her before now. "What do you mean?" Her tag said her name was Anna. She looked to be about my height with short light brown hair. She looked to be in her early fifties, but my gut was telling me she wasn't older than forty five. "Well, if you're that horny all the time how are you going to do things like go to work?" "Oh," I was a bit crestfallen, I hadn't thought of that. I turned to Pat. "Look, have you ever reached the point where you need to have sex so much it hurts?" Pat looked at Harry before saying, "yes, I have." The tone had been conversational, but I noticed Harry looking away. "Well, that's what I'd like to experience. So, if I don't have sex in," I was going to say a week, but this was just a game so why not make it a little more impressive, "twenty four hours then I'd reach that point." "Count yourself lucky it's only a game, then," Jess said, "that's called having blue balls, and it isn't pleasant." "When did you ever have blue balls?" Mike asked. Jess smiled at him and patted his hand, "that was before you, dear." He looked back at me, "what's the third one?" "Wait," Pat said. "How about jerking off? Would that fix the problem?" I thought about it, it would certainly be an easy out. "No. It would take the edge off, but the only way to reset the clock would be to have the kind of sex that requires two people or more and not just sucking off. I'm talking full contact, name screaming, cock in . . ." "Watch the language Jim," Mike said, "we're in public." He indicated Anna with a nod of the head. She was still standing next to our table, coffee pot in hand. "Don't mind me dears, with the things I've heard, and seen, in my life you can't offend me. And you're the last customers here so you don't have to worry about anyone else either." I looked around to confirm that we were indeed the only ones left. I looked at my watch; it was past three am. Had we really been here for almost two hours? "Still, we get the picture," Jess said. "So what's your third wish?" "I'd be a tiger," I said softly. I had the image in my head. It was an image I'd spent years constructing, more as a dream lover than as a look for myself, but if I was given the choice that's what I'd want. Close to Harry's height and build, but with more defined muscles and a tail; a tiger's head, muzzle, ears, whiskers and all. The whole body would be covered in fur, cropped close to the skin for most except the head and belly. It lead to a thick cock almost nine inches long. It was human looking, except for sensitive barbs under the gland. The hands and feet were also mostly human, but with retractable claws. "What do you mean a tiger?" Pat asked. "You know, a tiger," I said sharply, "I'd walk on two legs but I'd look like a tiger." If I had been more sober I would have found a more innocuous wish, my furry fetish wasn't something that I normally brought up, even among my best friends. We might be drinking coffee now, but there had been a lot of alcohol consumption at the club. "Like those drawings you get off the net?" Mike asked with a hint of disdain in his voice. "Yes, like those," I answered, exasperated. For all the comics Mike read he couldn't conceive of sexualizing them. When he'd accidently found some of the drawings and stories I'd printed out as jerk off material he'd been thoroughly disgusted. What he'd told me then had really hurt and it was almost six month before we talked again. The others also knew about my thing for furries, and they shared similar reactions to Mike, if nowhere near as extreme. "Look. I'm sorry I brought it up, ok. If you want I'll make another wish." "No," Harry said, "it's ok." The four of us looked at him. "I don't get it, but you do, so that makes it ok." Jess placed a hand over one of Harry's. "Wisely said, we all have things that we normally keep to ourselves. That's part of being human." He finished his coffee. "I think we should head out. I, at least, need my beauty sleep if I'm to dazzle the crowd at the show tonight. You'll be coming, right?" "I can't," Harry said sadly, "I have to fly out for training Sunday morning. I have to be rested and sober." The rest of us agreed that we would be there, paid our bill and went our separate ways. Well, I did. Jess and Mike left hand in hand, and Pat and Harry left together. I sighed as I watched the two pairs walk away and thought that I should have wished for a boyfriend instead. I chuckled, not that it would change anything since it was just a silly game. I was the only one riding the very late bus, and the driver eyed me suspiciously until I got off near my apartment building. The building was completely silent as I entered it. The guard barely looked up from his news paper as I crossed the lobby to the elevators. Once in my apartment I made a beeline to the bathroom, and then to the bedroom. Barely moments after getting out of my clothes I was unconscious on the bed, happy that I didn't have to get up for work today.
  8. Kindar

    Chapter 07

    "We're here," Walter said softly. I poked my head up and looked out the window. We were parked across the street from a boarded up office building. I looked around at what had been the city's industrial sector fifteen years ago and saw the devastation that the new rail system brought when they setup their terminal on the other side of the city. Every building I could see was boarded up and in an advanced state of disrepair. I'd known it was abandoned, everyone knew about it, but I hadn't realized just how bad it had become. This felt like a ghost town, but if I looked back the way we came I could see traffic in the distance. How could a place simply die like this while being this close to the city? It was rather depressing. "Where to now?" Walter asked. "The message said to go to the parking lot." I tried to sit up, but Walter's Mini hadn't been built for someone my size. There was a parking lot on each side of the building but I couldn't see any cars. Walter headed for the one ahead of us. It took two and a half week for the advertising "looking to sell five calico kitten" to show up on Craig's list. Strangely enough it didn't really make me feel any better. I went from worrying about the others having been caught to worrying about if this was a trap. Walter spent an hour trying to calm me down and when that didn't work Wilma dragged me downstairs to practice. When she was done with me I was just too exhausted to worry so I finally read the message and deciphered it. I was planning on coming here alone, but Walter asked how I was going to cross the city without attracting any attention. So he volunteered himself to drive me. "Do you think he meant the underground parking?" Walter asked as he pointed to the open garage door. We were at the back of the building and there was still no car in sight. "Could be." I checked the clock on the dash; it was already ten minutes past the meeting time. "Or they are really late. We might as well check it." Walter put the car into gear and entered the building. The first level looked like someone had gone to war. There were multiple burned wrecks that had once been cars, one of them looked like it had been smashed against a pylon. Considering recent events I started wondering if something more than the new rail terminal had happened here. I shoved that thought in a dark corner quickly. I really didn't want to know, I already had enough trouble as it was. It wasn't easy to keep them buried as Walter drove around the on his way to the next ramp down. There was a car smashed sideways against a wall. An explosion had sent it flying there I told myself to keep the paranoia at bay. There was enough debris around as well as scorch marks on the floor ceiling and pylons to make that probable. The second level was nowhere near the disaster zone the first one had been. It made seeing the four guys standing in the middle of it next to two cars easy. "Stop here," I told Walter as we reached the bottom of the ramp. "Why? They are way over there." "Because right now I can't vouch for your safety," I answered as I tried to extricate myself out of the back seat without breaking anything. "I thought they were your friends." Walter got out of the car and went to the passenger side to fold the seat forward. I got out and stretched, making every joint pop. "They are, but after what we've been through I don't know what state of mind they are in. Especially Mike, he was in a really foul mood the last time I saw him and he's strong enough to rip your car in half. So just stay here, ok?" Walter looked at the group and then nodded. I could see the worry on his face. "Don't worry, I'll be fine." I heard him get back in the car as I headed toward my friends. "Who's that?" Mike asked. He was leaning against the Camaro he and his dad had rebuilt when he was a teenager. "He's a friend of mine," I answered. I didn't say anything about the car but I didn't think it was really smart of him to be driving his own car. "He is one of those furries?" he asked with some disdain. "Okay," Jess said as he interposed himself between us, "before you get this old argument started how about we try to work our way out the jam we're in?" "That would be a smart thing to do," Pat said. He was leaning against Harry with an arm wrapped around his. They looked sweet like that, but my feelings were mixed. I was happy for them that they had been able to reconnect through this, but it was also a reminded that I was still alone. "How have you guys been?" I asked. "We've been ok," Jess said, "we're staying with my folks. Mike told them we were renovating the house, that'll give us a month or so before they start figuring out something's wrong." "We've been moving around," Harry said, "staying at different hotels. How about you Jim?" "I'm managing. I've been at my friend's place," I answered thumbing the car over my shoulder, "but I think his sister is getting tired of having me there." "How are you paying for the hotel?" Mike asked before I could. We couldn't touch our bank account without giving away where we were. "I just tell the ATM to give me money," Pat said, "never use the same ATM twice so they can't catch it." "How long are you going to be able to keep that up?" I asked. "No forever," Harry answered, "eventually they are going to wise up to it. And it doesn't solve the rest of our problems, all of us." "Ok, so you have a plan?" Mike asked. "Yeah, I do. I've started building new identities for the four of us. We'll have to move away, but we'll be free. The only thing is we'll have to avoid attracting attention again." "That'd be why you're not bothering with a new identity for me," I stated, "There's no way I can avoid attracting attention." That sucked, I was going to spend the rest of my life in hiding. "Actually, for you I have something better." Harry handed me a folded piece of paper. "What is it?" I asked as I took it. "It's the address of one Seth Burnsteng." "Who is that?" I opened the paper and looked at the address, "And where the hell is Stampton, Colorado?" "Seth is the guy who put the force field in their prison. He's the one who can build anything he can imagine. Stampton is a fair bit south west of Denver in the mountains." "Ok, so what am I suppose to do?" "Go see him and convince him to help you. He can make you a device that will let you look human." I was silent. Looking human would be good, it would let me have a normal life. "How did you find out where he lives?" Mike asked. "I hacked their computers." Harry said. "How the hell did you manage that?" "It's surprisingly easy to do when you have someone who can tell machines what to do," Pat answered. "Are you sure it isn't a trap? Maybe they let you get the information so they could capture Jim." "No," Harry replied with confidence, almost arrogance, "They have no idea that we hacked them. I was extremely careful and with Pat's help we covered up our tracks." We were all silent after that. "Jess, are you ok?" I asked. He'd been unusually quiet. "Is this the only way? I mean do we really have to leave the city and become someone else." "It pretty much is for us," Pat said, "They might not know about you, but they caught us so they know everything about us. We need to disappear if we want a change at a normal life." Jess nodded. "I don't want to seem selfish here, but I still have my family, my parents. I don't know how I feel about abandoning them." "Are you saying you don't want to come with me?" Mike asked. "Oh honey, of course I want to come with you. But if I just disappear my parents are going to freak out. Of all of us I was the only one fortunate enough to be accepted by his parents for who he was, dresses and all. They stood by me, I owe it to them to not just vanish." Mike hugged his boyfriend gently. "He's right," I said, "My mom kicked me out when she caught me and my best friend fooling around. I care about her about as much as she cares about me, but Jess' folks have been good to all of us." "I'll stay then," Mike said kissing jess' forehead "And do what, stay hidden under the stairs? I can't ask you to do that, love." "I'm strong enough to deal with them if they ever show up." "You'd be putting his family in danger if you do that," Harry pointed out. "He's right. I'm going to go with you, but I'll tell my parents. They won't tell anyone." "So this is it, isn't it?" I said after a few moments of uncomfortable silence. "We're going our separate ways forever." "Yeah," Mike said, "I guess this is goodbye." He hugged me. "I'm sorry for giving you a hard time about the furry stuff." "That's ok," I said hugging him back, "you wouldn't be you if you weren't at least a little intolerant." "You know, it's not too late for me to smack you to the other side of town if you want." "Oh, will you two stop it," Jess said pulled Mike away from me and hugging me tightly. "I'm going to miss you Jim," he said crying. "I'm going to miss you to. I wish I'd gotten to get to see one of the new and improved Jessie Star's shows." "Just keep an eye on the TV," he said with a smile, "you're going to see me there." I hugged Harry and Pat. "You two take care of each other, okay?" "You be careful," Harry replied, "I'll keep an eye on Craig's list so if you need help at any point just send a message and I'll do whatever I can." "Hopefully it won't get to that, but thanks." I turned around before I started crying too. "Let's go." I said as I crammed myself in the back of Walter's Mini. "Is everything ok?" "No," I replied as I watched my four friends, "but it's the best I can hope for right now."
  9. Kindar

    Chapter 06

    I looked up as I heard Walter fall out of bed, it sounded painful. He ran to his door, and then back to the bed. A moment later he ran out of his bedroom "Wilma!" he yelled as he started down the stairs. "Wilma, you'll never believe the dream I had. It was so intense it felt real." He skidded to a stop in the kitchen's opening, dressed only in his boxers "Spare me," Wilma replied without looking up from the bacon she was frying, "Your lurid dreams don't interest me." I don't think he heard her. He was too busy staring at me as I looked at him with half a bagel in my mouth, well, muzzle. "You're real, I didn't dream you." I chewed a few times and swallowed. "I'd have thought still feeling what we did earlier would have told you it wasn't a dream." Walter turned beet red. It was interesting to see that his entire body blushed. And I smiled in pride as I noticed the tent forming in his shorts. He noticed where I was looking and smiled back before sitting at the breakfast table. "What are you doing?" he asked waving at all the food on the table. "Well," I stabbed a sunny side up egg with my fork and dragged it in the other half of my bagel. "It started as a test to see what food I could still eat, but Wilma kind of got carried away." Once I was up from the basement Wilma sat me and started preparing food. She didn't just hand me a fruit or a vegetable, she prepared an entire fruit salad. Wilma pretty much only had one vice, I didn't count being able to easily seduce men as a vice, just a talent, she loved to cook. She really, REALLY, loved it. That lollypop she'd been sucking on when I got here? She'd made it herself. She'd made everything on the table too, the Caesar salad, the steaks, the eggs, the orange rosemary chicken, well, that was reheated but she'd still made it. Even the bagel was one of her recipes. She didn't care to eat most of it. She just enjoyed cooking it, and always cooked enough to feed an army. How Walter could manage to only weight two hundred pounds escaped me. Walter scooped some of the fruit salad in a bowl. "How is it coming?" "Well, I haven't had a reaction to anything she's fed me yet so I'm guessing I didn't turn into a complete carnivore." "That's good," he said around a spoonful of fruit, "you already like meat well enough." "Very funny," I said forcing a dry laugh. Walter chuckled once and then got serious. "Seriously 'tho, what's your plan?" I put my fork on my plate I was almost full from eating a bit of everything Wilma had put on the table, and the reminder of the situation I was in took care of the rest. "I don't know. I'm hoping you'll let me stay here while I wait for my friends to contact me." "Of course you can stay," he said earnestly. "Do I get a say in this?" Wilma asked as he put a plate of bacon on the table. It smelled really good, but my stomach rebelled at the thought of eating anymore. "Of course you do," Walter said in a slightly offended tone, "It's your house too. I just hope you aren't planning on kicking Jim out when he's in trouble. And sit down, you've cooked enough for today." Wilma looked at the stove and forced herself to turn away from it. "Of course not," she said once she was sitting, "I just want to make sure you're not thinking with your cock." "I'd never . . . .." Wilma snorted. "Come on Walt, he's a living fursuit. You get a boner just looking at him. I'm amazed you haven't tried to hang him up in your closet with the other suits yet." Walter looked down as he blushed. I couldn't believe he'd actually thought about doing it. "Just try it, and we'll see who ends up hung in the closet." I was spared a reply by Walter's phone ringing. He ran to the other room and picked it up. I listened in just long enough to figure out it was someone who wanted to buy a house. Walter was a real estate agent, and a pretty successful one at that which was how he could afford all the fursuits in his closet. I tuned out the conversation and looked at Wilma who was nibbling on a lettuce leaf. "Ah, is there any way you can teach me some of what you know?" "You're not talking cooking here, are you?" I shook my head. "You know that Tai Chi isn't really used for fighting, right?" I chuckled. "Come on, I've seen you take down guys bigger and stronger than you. You can't tell me that all it's good for is relaxing." She stood and started putting away the food. "Why do you want to learn?" "You know the situation I'm in. I have people after me. As strong as I am, I don't know how to fight. What good am I going to be to anyone if all I'm doing if flailing around?" She looked at me over her shoulder. "Well, I can teach you the basics." "Is there any way we can jump over the basic and go directly to the kick ass stuff?" She turned and folded her arms over her chest. "Look Jim, if all you want to do is fight then just close your fists and swing it at the person you want to hit. Tai Chi isn't something you can learn over night. I was five years old when I started learning and fifteen before I even could think about asking to learn the combat side of the art. "I'm willing to teach you, but you need to accept that this isn't a movie. I can't give you three word of encouragement and turn you into a master martial artist. It's going to take time for you to learn." I nodded. "Time I probably don't have." I got up and helped Wilma put the food in plastic containers while I thought about it. Was it worth starting on something that could take me decades to learn if I didn't know I'd be around for that long? Thinking that way I realized that no one knew they'd be around for even a decade. Even without the wish I could step outside my building tomorrow and be hit by a car. The future was never certain, that didn't stop most people from starting something that would take years to finish. While we put the food away in silence Walter finished his call and went to his room. When he came back he was dressed in a dark blue suit with a blood red tie. "I'll be back in a few hours," he said before kissing his sister on the cheek. "That was quick," she replied. "Yeah, the client already had a list of the houses she wants to look at today so I just had to pull their listing and a few extra ones for comparison." He grabs papers from his office and put them in the suitcase next to the door. "Don't disappear while I'm away," he told me. "Got nowhere to go so I'll be here," I replied. "Good." And he was out the door. I spent the next two hours in their basement with Wilma teaching me posture and a few Tai Chi motions. I felt silly and self conscious. Even when she moved as slowly as she could I couldn't match her. She told me not to worry about it, but my pride still took a beating. It was just moving, I should be able to do it easy. "Dancing's just moving too," she said when I snarled at myself for missing a step, "but not everyone can dance well. Some are naturals and the rest need to practice. You need to practice. So take a few breath to calm yourself and lets get back to it." When she called a stop to it I was tired. Not the tired you got from running until you were out of breath, but the one from having to focus on each and every movement you made. I flopped down on the couch while Wilma busied herself in the kitchen. A few minutes later she offered me a glass of lemonade. She didn't stay, as nice as she was we didn't' have much in common. I was a cat, she was a mouse, one that would throw me across the room if I stepped out of line, but a mouse none the less. It was funny how species division within the community tended to reflect a real difference of interest in the real world. Sure, not all mice were meek and fearful, as Wilma proved, and not all foxes were sluts, but when you checked we didn't often find predator socializing with prey. Walter came back home tired but happy. His client had liked the houses. I gave him a backrub, which proved to be more challenging than before due to my claws. After that Walter wanted to have sex, so he spent twenty minutes deciding which suit he wanted to wear. Walter didn't have a specific specie, he was the specie of whatever suit he happened to wear. Each of them also had a history and personality he adopted while he wore them. I'd asked him once how he'd come up with all of them and his reply was that the suit just told him. I never understood how he could just come up with that from looking at a fursuit. He came out of his closet wearing his wolf suit. Its short fur was ash grey with a lighter mane, almost silver. There was some padding under the fur making Walter look bulkier. The wolf's head covered his head entirely. Dark grey triangular ears with silver tip on top, yellow coloured eyes which I knew from wearing it once before were transparent and a long muzzle make him look completely inhuman. His hands had black claws at the end of the fingers and black pad on the palm. From having asked around I knew a suit like this cost over a thousand dollars, the fur didn't feel synthetic and the proportions weren't exaggerated. It took a lot of work to get a suit that didn't end up looking like a cartoon character or a sport mascot. The only thing breaking the illusion was Walter's erect pink cock and balls against the grey fur. Walter had tried to find a way to get a sheath made to give his cock a look that would match the suit, but no one had managed to make one that both looked right and that he could have sex with so he made do without. When he wore the wolf Walter was in charge. The wolf was the Alpha of the pack, the one who made the decision, the one who dominated. I did stop him from turning the camera on. Walter argued that we'd filmed ourselves during sex before, but I'd always been wearing a suit then. This was me now. I wasn't going to make a spectacle of myself. He took out his disappointment on me. It was a rather fun night.
  10. Kindar

    Chapter 04

    I moaned in pain slightly. Over the last hour my balls had become so tender that the smallest movement felt like they were being crushed. Jess was right, having blue balls sucked. "How are you doing?" Harry asked. "Not good," I replied weakly. "You should jerk off. You said that would take the edge off." "They probably have cameras watching us." "Who gives a fuck if they are watching or not. You're in pain, and jerking off will help so just do it." He was right, if I didn't do anything it would only get worst. I turned on my back, closed my eyes and did it. It didn't take as long as I thought it would, as soon as I started my imagination kicked in. I guess I was really horny. When I was done I lied back and let out a sigh of relief. The worst of the pain had definitely gone away. I wiped my belly fur as best as I could with a hand and licked my hand clean since I wasn't going to wipe it on my pants. I'd still need a shower to clean off the stuff that I couldn't remove by hand. "Feeling better I take it?" Harry asked. "Yeah, but this is only a stop gap. In not too long I'll probably be in as bad a state." "That's ok. I have an idea to help with that." He didn't give me a chance to ask. "I know you guys are watching and listening," he yelled as loud as he could, "so why don't one of you come down here. We have someone who's in pain and he needs help." "Are you nuts?" Mike screamed at him, but Harry didn't listen to him he just kept on yelling at our unseen watchers. Harry was loud, loud enough that I had to cover my ears. He kept on going for over twenty minutes, only stopping once someone walked in. "Listen here." The man said when he was in front of Harry's cell. What I saw of him when he walk by was pretty attractive. He was a few years older than me, blond hair cut short, clean shaven and looking trim under his dark blue suit. He was definitely doable. I closed my eye as I realized where my mind had gone. In the state I was in I'd probably do who ever offered. "I'm not here to see to the needs of some sex depraved deviant, or to listen to you scream your head off. So I'm just here to tell you that I'm turning off the sound. You can scream as loud as you want now." "What he's going through isn't something he can control. It's a side effect of the wishes he made. You know tigers can have sex hundred of times in a day, right? well, he didn't word it as well as he should have and now he's stuck with their libido. If he doesn't get off he's going to be in pain." "So what you expect me to find him a girl or something?" "No. just put me in his cell and I'll help him with it." My ears perked. Had Harry just said he was going to have sex with me? I had hit on him a few times after he and Pat broke up, but he'd never been interested. "You're kidding right? You'd fuck another guy just because he's a friend and he's in pain?" "No, I'm going to have sex with my friend because I happen to like having sex with guys, and it's going to help him out." The man was silent for a moment. "I'm not supposed to put two to a cell." "Come on man, what are we going to do? If we could get out of here we'd have done it already. We're just going to have sex. You can hang around and put me back in my cell after. Considering the state he's in we shouldn't be too long." I sat on the edge of the bench, panting in the silence. I was really hoping the guard would agree to it because now that I'd experienced blue balls I didn't want to ever feel that again. "Fine, I'll put you two together, but don't try anything." "I swear, I won't. All I want to do is help out Jim." There was the sound of foot steps, a pause and more steps, those were Harry leaving his cell. Then there was a gasp of surprise, something hitting the wall and crumbling to the ground. Mike was up and standing at the edge of the cell looking at what was happening excitingly. I got up and went to the force field of mine. "What the fuck?" Harry said. I could now see him studying the wall. The guard was sprawled at his feet, unmoving. "Where's the control panel?" "He put his hand on the wall between the fields," Mike said, "about where you're looking." A moment later there was a light glow against Harry's face. What ever else happened didn't please him. He grabbed he guard's hand and lifted it to the wall. There was that glow again, but this time Harry was please with what ever had happened. He dragged the guard to the other side of my cell and did the same thing on that wall. There was a slight flicker in front of me, like the channel had jumped for a moment and when I tested the space where the force field had been, there was nothing. "I take it we're not having sex." I said as I followed Harry dragging the guard to Mike's cell. He placed the man's hand against the wall. I couldn't see any kind of marks indicating there was something there, but when the hand made contact a square of light appeared around it and Mike's force field flickered off too."No, sorry. I'd rather we take care of that after we've gotten out of here." He moved on to Pat's cell. "Are you going to be ok until then?" "I know how long that's going to take, but hopefully I'll manage." "Good. Can you carry him?" Harry asked after he'd removed the IV needled from Pat's arm. I picked him up, and the lightness of his body reminded me that the muscles I had weren't just for show. I was much stronger than I had been before. "How are we doing this?" Mike asked, "are we sneaking out?" "No, they've probably already seen that we're out of our cells so we need to make a straight line for the outside." Mike rubbed his hands together. "Good, that means I get to smash anything in our way." "Try not to hurt anyone too badly." "No promises." Mike headed directly for the metal door and ripped it off its hinges. We made it down the corridor before encountering a pair of guards. Mike was on them before they had time to take out they guns. He just grabbed them by the collars and slammed them against the wall. They fell to the floor and didn't move. "Elevators are that way," he said, indicating the junction on the left with a nod. "Good," Harry replied, "the stairs should be nearby." "Why bother with the stairs?" Mike asked as we headed in that direction. "You really want to lock yourself in a box that someone else can control?" Harry replied curtly. "What do we care what floor they have us get off? Me and Jim can take care of anyone they throw at us." "Only if you're conscious. I'm willing to bet Jim wouldn't be affected, but I doubt he would be able to handle carrying the three of us and deal with any opposition. You take the elevator if you want. The three of us are sticking with the stairs." Harry speed up. I just shrugged as I walked by Mike, accelerating to avoid being left behind. I heard him grunt and then run to get in front of Harry. "Fine, but stay behind me, you're not bullet proof." As Harry had guessed there was a stairwell not a hundred feet from the elevators. I was surprised that no alarm sounded when Mike pushed it open. The stairs were large, me and Harry could easily fit side by side in them. Painted in the wall by the door in red was 'S3'. "We're going up," Harry said. He didn't get any argument. The ground floor was announced by a large red 'L'. Mike opened the door a little and peeked. "ok, I can't see the main entrance, but all the light's coming from the right, so that's were I'm guessing they are." "Did you see anyone?" Harry asked. "No." "The only people I heard," I added, "were in the distance. I don't think there's anyone near this corridor." "Good, then as soon as we're out the door we go left." Mike gave Harry an incredulous look. "You're kidding right? the door's right there." "Yeah, with a lot of witness to watch us leave. I'd rather go out the back way and avoid making a scene." It looked for a moment like Mike was going to argue, but instead he looked out the door and quickly went left. I followed him with Harry right behind me. I knew Harry was right, but I didn't feel good heading deeper into the building. We made a couple of turns until we ended up in a larger corridor that seemed to cross the entire building. "Which direction?" Mike asked Harry. Harry took a moment to reply so I offered. "I think the back of the building is that way," I pointed to the left. "I can hear something that sounds like cars coming from there," I nodded to the right, "so that's probably the front." "Sounds good to me," Harry said and headed to the left. "Is this place being empty making you guys as nervous as I am?" I asked softly. Except for the two guards we hadn't encountered anyone at all. "It's the middle of the morning so everyone's probably in their offices." Harry offered. "Or they've emptied the place because they know we're out of our cells." Mike countered. "Not exactly helping," Harry said. Mike looked over his shoulder, "maybe not, but which one sounds more plausible to you?" Just as he finished saying that three guards rapidly turned the corner, gun drawn. "Shit," I muttered and turned. Harry was a dozen steps behind me so I lobed Pat at him. "Catch. Stay behind us." I added when he was holding him. I ran next to Mike as the men fired at us. At first I wasn't sure they were actually shooting at us since their guns were completely silent. Even with my enhanced hearing I didn't hear a thing, but I felt them sting. Fortunately they didn't hit anything that slowed me down so that I reach one of the men before he could think of running off. I back handed him and he flew against the wall. I heard a loud crunch when he hit and rushed to him fearful I had killed him. He still had a pulse so I sighed in relief. I hear Mike take care of the other two behind me. When I looked at him he was holding two limp forms by the collar. At his feet were their guns and a pool of crushed metal pellets. Curious I picked up a handful and found one that was almost intact. It was a small bearing not even an eighth of an inch diameter. I wondered what kind of gun fired bearings for a moment before Harry elbows me. "Come on, we need to get out of here before they send more people after us." We made it to the loading docks with only one other confrontation, this time we surprised the guards and they were unconscious before they could draw their guns. Outside we were in a narrow alley, hardly wide enough for two cars. "Were to now?" I asked. "We need to find someplace to hide until we can figure things out." Harry said looking around. "You guys go hide," Mike said, "I need to go find Jess." "We can't split up. We need to stick together through this." "Yeah? According to what rulebook? This isn't a comic book Harry. We aren't four friends who were given powers to fight the good fight. All I want is to make sure my boyfriend's ok." Harry grabs Mike's arms as the man was turning away "Fine, but don't run off right now." Mike looked at him, they both knew that if he decided to there was nothing Harry could do to stop him. "Give me five minutes to at least come up with a way for us to stay in contact. We can't afford to completely lose track of each other." "Fine," Mike said, "but make it quick because they are bound to check here." While Harry thought things over Mike just leaned against the wall while I looked around. All I could see at the end of the alley was another highrise As I looked up I saw part of the logo. "Guys," I said, "I think we're downtown." "You're kidding." I pointed at the building. "Unless you know where IBM owns another highrise I know where we are." "Ok, I know how we can do it." Harry said, "We're going to use Craig's list." Mike looked at him, "how the hell is that going to allow that?" Harry took a moment to calm himself. Even I was starting to get fed up with Mike's attitude. "when ever we need to reach the others just put an add there with the header "looking to sell five calico kitten" then in the body make sure that every sixth word forms the place and time were you want to meet up. Give it a few days in case we might not be able to online every day." "You expect us to manage to make an add using . . ." Harry cut him off. "Stop acting like such an idiot Mike. It doesn't take a genius to arrange words around to make something that will look like an ad even just a little." Mike looked at him for a moment. "Yeah, sure, what ever." He turned and walked away. "You guys have fun," he said with a waving at us. "What the hell is wrong with him?" Harry asked when Mike was a small shape in the distance. "Stress I'm guessing, and he's worried about Jess." "Yeah, I guess so. But I've never seen that turn him in a jerk before." "Different level and kind of stress." I said. "Could be. Anyway, he has the right idea. We should get out of here." He started walking. I stayed where I was. "I think it's best if I head out on my own." Harry turned. "What are you talking about? I meant it when I told Mike we had to stick together." "Look at me Harry. A much as we'd like to, I can't exactly walk out on the street and blend in. You take Pat and you find a safe place. I'll keep an eye out on the net for your message." "Where are you going to go?" "I know a few people who'll take me in even looking like this. I'll use back alleys to make my way to them." "We can go with you. I mean it's not like we have any urgent appointment to keep here." "No, somehow I don't think it'll be easy to sneak three people around the alleys. You find a place to wait out Pat. Once he's awake you two hide and figure out a way to get us all out of this mess." Harry hesitated a moment but then nodded. "Ok, I don't know how long it'll take but we'll find a solution." I nodded and waited. Since he didn't start moving I turned and headed toward the other end of the alley. It took me most of the day to travel maybe one mile. Not to say I had to deal with my blue balls. I had to jerk off every hour or so just so I could keep walking. I had to borrow, well steal, some clothes to cover myself up. Every so often I had to cross an open road and by the time I reached the other side I was shaking like a leaf from the stress. But finally, a bit after supper time, I found myself in front of a small two story house with red brown bricks, a recently rebuilt porch painted light blue and a perfectly manicured lawn.
  11. Kindar

    Chapter 03

    I stared at him mouth open. I couldn't believe Mike had just said we should wish all of this away. "No," Jess said resolutely. Mike looked at him in surprise. "You can't be serious. Not after the way you freaked out this morning." Jess cupped his cheeks. "Honey, I was surprised. Yeah, I never expected this to happen, but it is something I've always wanted. I don't have to settle with being a drag queen anymore; I'm a bonafide female impersonator." "I don't want things to change either," I stated. Mike looked at me and rolled his eyes. "'course not," he muttered. "How about you?" he asked Pat. Pat leaned against the table, looking worn. He looked at the four of us and then at his hands. He looked completely lost for a moment and then he closed his eyes. "I, I don't know," he said, rubbing a hand over his face. "I wi . . . I wish I'd known it was going to come true so I could have put a few more caveats on it works. The way things are though? I just don't know." "The point's moot anyway," Harry said, "we can't change what happened." He was looking at us with a slightly disinterested expression as he took another swig form the juice bottle. "What do you mean?" Mike asked, "you still have one wish." "Yeah, but if you remember the wording, it has to be a selfish wish. I defy you to convince me to want to wish myself back to being an idiot." He put a lot of anger behind the word 'idiot' and stared directly at Mike as he said it, literally daring him to try. "Great, that's just great." Mike grumbled. "I don't see why you have such a problem with this," Harry added. "You've got strength, invulnerability and handsomeness" "Not that you ever needed *that*, dear," Jess commented on the handsomeness. Mike looked at his boyfriend and a small smiled cracked his dour face, widening to an open mouth grin. I swear I saw the light reflect on his teeth as he did that. "Good," Harry said as he rubbed his hands together, "now that's settled, how about we get out of this place. I'm hungry and I can hear books calling my name." That seemed to settle it, we left Harry's condo. Harry and Pat were walking in front of me on the way to the elevators. Harry placed an arm around Pat's shoulders, but the other man shrugged it off. The football player's body tensed for a moment and I caught a smell off him that my brain identified as disappointment. I was surprised that I could identify the smell, as well as Harry's reaction; I would never have guessed that he still carried a torch for his ex. Behind me Jess was still telling Mike how everything was going to be ok. The ride down the elevator was in silence. I distracted myself by identifying the multiple smells contained inside the cage. Someone had brought groceries in recently, and my stomach growled in response. I hadn't eaten anything yet either. I got a few amused glances and I just shrugged as the door opened. We stepped out in the empty lobby and I heard something rip. Jess cursed as I turned around. His shirt had caught on a burr and there was a long rip along his sleeve. I stifled a chuckle as he slowed down his walk to try to fix it. Jess' vanity wasn't quite legendary, but it was impressive. Even Mike shook his head in amusement and kept on walking. Jess would catch up to us once he was happy he looked presentable. We stepped outside the building to an odd sight. Police cars were parked in the street, with officers behind them, holding guns and riffles. The strangest thing was that they were pointing them at us. On the other side of the street, behind a barricade was a crowd of people and standing out in the group of men in blue was a man in a gray suit talking with one of the officer. Mike, Pat, Harry and I looked at each other as we stepped forward, almost more out of curiosity to find out what was going on than anything else I think. I heard a cacophony of guns being cocked. "Do not move," Yelled one of the officers. He didn't have to use a megaphone since there was barely thirty feet separating them from us. "Stay where you are, get down on your knees and put your hands behind your head." "Guns and riffles jam!" Pat yelled in return, at the top of his lungs. Harry took another step. "What seems to be the problem?" his voice carried without him having to yell. "I said; don't move." The same officer repeated. "Just get own on your knees, put your hands behind your head and everything will be okay." "We haven't done anything wrong," Harry said, but he tensed, He'd noticed too that a few of the officers had tried to fire their guns. They were now looking at them and each other, trying to figure out why nothing had happened. "We're just doing our job, son. You and your friends need to come with us." I wasn't paying attention to the officer anymore, the man in the suit was talking on his cell phone and I was trying to make out what he was saying. Unfortunately the noise made by the officers made that impossible. A moment later something stung my back, hard enough to really hurt. With a growl of pain I worked at reaching that spot. When I did I pulled a dart out. I turned toward where it had to come and another one hit me in the chest. I pulled it out too and I roared in anger, trying to see where it was coming from. A few more hit me but I ignored them, obviously what ever they contained didn't affect me. "Pat?" Mike kneeled next to him. He was sprawled on the ground and Mike was shaking him, trying to wake him. I saw that Harry was also on the ground, unconscious. I slowly turned, a growled coming from deep inside me, I looked at the cops and roared. Everyone cowered back, except for the man in the suit. He was still talking on the phone while looking at me. Since of everyone here he was the only one not afraid I figured he was the one in charge. I ran toward him and I saw signs that he was getting nervous. Just as I was about to jump over a police car something hit me in the back so hard that I crashed in the car, smashing the window. I used the car to help me up, not paying attention to the red stuff I could see plastered on the door, I was too intent on the man. I was standing again when another hit sent me in the car again. This time I caught the faint sound of the shot being fired. I never stopped looking at the man as I stood again. He was definitely nervous now. "He's healing, are you hearing me?" he said. I could hear him now since he was almost screaming. "Make it a head shot for God's sake!" I heard the shot almost at the same time as my head was slammed against the hood of the police car and the world went black. * * * * * I have to say I never expected to wake up. When I'd called the healing ability 'Wolverine level' I hadn't really considered the extent of what that meant. Now I remembered reading a comic where he put a claw through his own brain. The reason why he'd done it escaped me, but he'd survived something that should have been fatal. So had I. I opened my eyes and they adjusted automatically to the bright light. I looked around the completely white room. Well, except for the missing wall opposite where I was lying. I did expect to feel pain, just not where it was coming from. My head felt fine, so did my body, there was no indication I'd been shot, not even the telltale sign of pink skin. No, what was hurting were my balls. How long had I been unconscious? I sat up cautiously, my balls were pretty tender. I looked for my cell so I could check the time, but my pockets had been emptied. I hoped I was close to the twenty four hour mark, because this was pretty annoying. I didn't want to think it might be getting more painful. I stood and headed out of this room. Only to hit an invisible wall that gave me quite the electrical shock, sending me reeling back. "Watch it, those thing sting." I recognized Mike's voice and realized that there was another cell in front of mine. Mike was sitting in the bench, watching me. "Thanks for the warning," I grumble. I moved back close to the force field, rubbing my muzzle, which had taken the brunt of the shock and looked around. On each side of Mike were other cells. In the one right next to him I could see Pat on a stretcher. "What's wrong with Pat?" I asked him. "He's been sedated," came the answer, but from the cell on my right, in front of Pat's. It was Harry. "Are you ok Harry?" There was a sigh. "I'm fine. The hangover passed hours ago." I sat down and leaned back. "How did they get you?" I asked Mike. "They rushed me and then gassed me. I think I hurt a few of them," he said remorsefully. "I should have wished for his super breath instead." "I know what you mean," I said as I rested my head against the wall. Mike snorted, "right, like you'd have done it different." "Excuse me?" I said looking at him. "Do you really think this is what I would have wished for if I'd known it was going to come true?" Mike Snorted again. "Of course you would have. Being one of those furry things with an out of control sex drive's always been your dream." I stared at him, momentarily speechless. Was that what he though of me? I walked to the force field. "You really think I'm some sort of freak don't you?" I growled. "You with the perfect life, the perfect job and the prefect boyfriend," I added with derision. "Hey!" Mike snapped, standing too. "What, you think I'm happy with this?" he was yelled, showing me his hands. "I'm afraid of touching Jess 'cause I might break him in half if I'm not careful." "Boo hoo hoo," I mocked loudly, "cry me a river why don't you. At least you're able to go outside without having the cops shooting you." "You've always wanted to be different, well now you've got your wish so stop bitching." "Shut up!" Harry said before I could reply. "Will the two of you just shut the fuck up!" He sighed loudly. "Did one of us wish for you two to become children or what?" "Sorry," I said meekly as I went back to the bench. Mike was still angry at me, I could tell, but he looked at Harry and when he spoke his voice was controlled. "What about you? Have you been able to think of a way out?" "No, I haven't," he answered flatly. "How come? I thought you were a genius now. Shouldn't you be able to think of a way to turn off those force fields; reverse the polarity or something?" "I might be a genius," Harry responded, and I could hear the glare he gave Mike from the tone, "but I'm an uneducated genius. Give me a couple of books on electronics and structural supports and I would have us out of here in a jiffy. Without those we're stuck." "How about using . . ." "I can't." Harry interrupted. "What do you mean? Don't you still . . ." "I just can't ok? Just leave it." Harry was spared Mike's reply because we heard a door open and close. In the following silence came the sounds of footsteps. A few moments later a man in his late sixties came into view. He was a little shorter and heavier set than I used to be, but he wore it much better. Actually with the well cut beige suit and crown of silver hair he looked pretty damn good. He stopped before our cells and held his hands before him. Looking at him standing there silently he looked a grand father, kind and understanding. Of course, since he was on the other side of the force field I was pretty sure the image was false, but it was still there. "I'm guessing you're the guy in charge," Mike said with derision. The man turned around to study him. "No, I am not," he replied after a moment, in a deep voice. "My name is Joel Montgomery, I am here to evaluate you." "So it's Judge, jury and executioner kind of thing?" "Please Mister Marcozy, this is the United States. I am here to talk with all of you, once that is done it is my hope that I will be able to tell my superiors, the actual 'people in charge' as you put it, that you are sound of mind and pose no threat to the general population." "All of us?" Harry asked, "How about Pat?" Joel stepped in front of the cell and looked at him, lying on his cot. "I am afraid that Mister Lennon will have to remain under sedation, at least until we have secured a cell that is not so reliant on technology." He turned back to us. "We saw him command the police's weapons, so we would prefer not to give him the opportunity to let any of you out. I am certain that you are good people, but considering your current circumstance I am doubtful that you were be inclined to remain here if you were given the choice." "You got that right," Mike snarled. "Michael just stay quiet, will you?" Harry said with a sigh of exasperation. "You aren't helping the situation right now. I take it these aren't our new permanent residences then?" "Hardly," the old man answered, "this is merely an evaluation station. I am highly confident that once I am done you and Mister Marcozy will be allowed to leave." "What about me?" I asked. The man moved closer to my cell. The way he looked at me I could tell that even with his age he didn't need glasses. "I fear that you pose a different problem. Your appearance is the issue. Allowing you to move about the population will make it difficult to keep the existence of Wishers hidden." "What's a Wisher?" I asked him. "That would be the four of you. I would hazard a guess that rather recently you made one of more wishes, probably simply as a way to pass the time, without any belief that they would come true." "We're not the first ones, are we?" Harry asked and continues without waiting for an answer. "This place is set up to deal with people who can do things out of the ordinary. You wouldn't have something like this if it hadn't happened before." Joel nodded. "You are correct. In fact the first time we became aware of Wishers was during the Great War. We have come across other Wishers since that time, but I believe that you are the first group we have found so close to when the wishes were granted. When did you realize your wishes had come true?" Mike looked from me to Harry with a definitive shake of the head. "Sometime during the night," Harry answered. Mike glared at him. "Harry. You sure it's wise to tell him?" was all I said. "What do you want to do? We're not really in a position to hold anything back. You and Mike might be able to withstand what ever torture they put us through to get the info, but I'm just a regular guy." "You are hardly normal anymore; Mister Marcozy called you a genius. How smart are you now?" "He's smarter then Einstein," Mike offered sharply. I rolled my eyes at his behavior. I'd never seen Mike act like that. Joel looked at him over his shoulder before focusing back on Harry. "How many wishes did each of you make?" "Two each," Harry said. The old man raised an eyebrow. "Only two?" "Yeah. That was the game we played last night. Two selfish wishes." "And what did you wish for?" There was a moment of silence. "Pat wished to be able to talk to machines, and have them obey what he said. Mike wanted super strength and invulnerability. Jim went for the tiger form and healing." "What bout you?" "I wished to be smarter than my friends put together." "What was the second one?" Harry hesitated again. "I had to use the second one to lower my IQ," he said with definite embarrassment in his tone. Joel cracked a smile. "I see. Where were you when you made the wishes?" "We were at a diner on . . . I, I don't remember where it was." "Are you trying to protect someone there?" Joel asked. "No, I was rather drunk when we got there. Either one of you remember where it was?" he called out. I tried to recall, but I had been pretty drunk myself, and I hadn't really been paying attention, Jess was telling a story about something happening backstage at one of the shows, I couldn't even remember what *that* had been about, and his stories were always memorable. "Not really," Mike said, "I think it was named after the street it was on." "Me neither; I don't remember anything about how we got there, except," I added as a though resurfaced, "something about doing some cleaning. Does that make any sense?" I had no idea where it had come from but I clearly remembered thinking about cleaning my place as we got close. "Broom's Diner," Mike suggested after a moment of silence. "That's right," Harry picked up, "near the corner of Broom and . . . Damn it, I can't remember that either." "That is quite alright, I believe that is enough information so we can start the investigation." I lied down on the bench; my balls were getting more painful by the minute. "This place seems rather high tech," Harry said, "how did you build it?" "As I said, you are not the first Wishers we have come across. In the Twenties it became obvious we needed a way to secure Wishers so we build this facility. In the Forties we found a Wisher who like you gained a higher intellect and he upgraded the facilities. In the early Eighties we found one who could build virtually anything he could imagine." He chuckled and I could hear in his tone that he was reminiscing a little when he started talking again. "Poor Seth was very much out there, like he would say. He added the force field and quite a few other things. Now we use this facility to house Wisher we can't be certain can be contained in other ways." "When you let us out, is there any chance I can meet him?" Harry asked, "I'd love to discuss how he built it." "I am certain that can be arranged, although it might take some time. The last news I heard from him he was taking himself off the grid, somewhere in the mountains I believe." "That's ok, there's no hurry. Once you're done here what happens? You call your boss and tell him to let us go?" "No, I will be making my report in person. You and Mister Marcozy should be released within the next forty eight hours. In spite of his attitude I believe that it will be safe to allow him in the general population; after a course on etiquette, of course. Unless you have other questions for me I shall see to it." "I'm good, how about you two?" Harry asked. Neither Mike nor I replied, so Joel left. I curled up and tried to wish the pain away.
  12. Kindar

    Chapter 02

    Something buzzed loudly. I groaned in complaint, my face buried in my pillow and blindly smacked the side table trying to hit the snooze button. I connected with something and it fell to the floor. The buzzing stopped. I sighed in relief and went back to sleep. The buzzing started again. "For god's sake," I whined as I pulled a pillow over my head to muffle the noise, "stop it already." The buzzing stopped a few second later, but the damage was already done. I was awake. I stayed like that for a moment, head sandwiched between two pillows hoping I'd be able to fall asleep again, but it didn't happen. With a sigh I turned on my side, keeping my eyes closed. I might be awake, but there was no way I was going to acknowledge that fact without protest. Through my eyelids I could tell the sun was up, and that it was bright. Maybe it was late enough that it was worth getting up. I slowly sat at the edge of the bed. I didn't want my head to ring any louder than it had to, and I was pleasantly surprised when it didn't ring at all. It was definitely later than I thought if my hangover was gone. I stretched with a jaw breaking yawn and then rubbed my face. I immediately opened my eyes when my hand touched my face, the shape was all wrong. The room was immensely bright for a moment as I opened my eyes and then it faded to normal level. The first thing I noticed as I pulled my hand away was that there was fur on it. It was orange with small black stripes. It went up my arm to my shoulder, chest . . . I touched my face again, not quite believing what I saw; the shape that had felt wrong was a muzzle. On top of my head, among the hair I had two fan like ears; they twitched under my touch. I slowly looked behind me and a tail lay on the bed; it started twitching as a grin spread on my face. I ran to the bathroom. I had to confirm what I thought I was seeing. In the mirror over the sink a tiger's face looked back at me. The top of its muzzle and forehead were orange with black stripes. It had an uneven white mask around caramel coloured eyes and the fluffy white fur from its belly went up its neck, under its muzzle and up its cheeks. I wriggled *my* cheek and the whiskers moved in response. I guess I should have been stunned, confused and maybe even scared, but only one thought was in my head. "This is the coolest dream ever," I said out loud. My voice had gone down at least an octave. There was no way Jess would tell me I could pass myself off as a woman over the phone anymore. I looked at my hands again, there was no fur on the palm and the underside of my fingers, but the skin was tougher than it had been. I ran a finger across is; I didn't seem to have lost any of the sensitivity there. I flexed my fingers, and claws came out from their tip. They weren't big, maybe half an inch in length, but they were sharp. I ran a hand along my arm. I could feel the muscles under the fur, they felt hard. I tightened the bicep and it got bigger, large enough that I could see some definition through the fur. I was ecstatic; I'd never had anything I could call muscles before. After that I ran my hand down my stomach. I couldn't see them because the fur was longer, but I could feel the six pack there. My eyes moved further down almost of their own accord. I don't know how I had managed to wait this long before looking at it, but my cock was standing proud. It was long and thick. I knew that it would be almost nine inch in length if I measured it since everything else matched the image of my dream lover perfectly. I ran a finger along the short barbs and my entire body shivered at the pleasure I felt. I was able to resist jerking off long enough to look at my legs. They too were muscular. The white belly fur continued down over my balls and on the inside of my legs, although it became shorter and came to a point under my knees. My feet were fully human, except for the fur and claws. Once that was done I came back to my balls. I wrapped a hand around them; they were more than a handful now, and massaging them felt much better than before. The ways I could go about pleasuring myself flashed in my head. I could spend weeks exploring the different ways this body reacted to stimulation, but I realized there was one thing I wanted to try before I had any chance to wake up. I sat down on the floor, hooked my arms under my knees and . . . lets just say that I confirmed that I was very flexible, that doing it myself was fun, but it didn't beat getting someone else to do to me and that it taste much better than it used to. Once I was done and had taken time to catch my breath I figured I should go outside, see what the world looked like through these new eyes. Getting dressed proved to be easy. The nice thing about being over weight is that it's easier to tighten a belt than try to loosen it past its last hole. It did occur to me that since this was a dream I didn't really have to wear anything, but everything felt so real that I decided to just go with it. I did have to forgo shoes. My feet had increased in size like the rest of me so none of those I had fit. I didn't think it would matter much. The sole of my feet was like my palm, but more so; the skin was hard and I couldn't feel all that much when I pressed on it. I wasn't going to test it by walking on broken glass, but I was confident I could do it without hurting myself. I finally checked the time when I unplugged my cell, it was almost eleven and I had a message. "Jim, it's Pat. Something really weird's going on here and Harry's not answering his phone." He sounded really worried. "Can you call me as soon as you get this, please?" I spent the ride down to the ground floor trying to figure out how I was going to hold my cell to my ear and still be able to talk in it. I waved to the guard and ignored his shocked expression; I wasn't going to let other's reactions bother me inside my own dream. I dialed Pat's number and put the phone to my ear, the only solution I'd come up with was to talk louder. "Jim! Thank God you called. Are you ok?" Jim asked, frantic. "Of course I'm fine." There was a moment's hesitation. "Are you sure you're ok. You're voice sounds odd." I swallowed a chuckle. He was in for a surprise when he saw me. "Must be a problem with the phone. What's going on?" I smiled at the people on the sidewalk, amused at their fearful reactions. "Harry's not answering his phone. I'm scared something's happened to him." "Are you sure he hasn't just left already?" "Of course I'm sure," he answered harshly, "his coach called me to find out why he's missed his flight." "Ok, ok, no need to bite my head off. What can I do?" "Can you meet us at Harry's place? Sounds like you're the only one of us that's ok." "Yeah, sure. I'll grab a taxi and head there directly." I hung up and flagged the first taxi I saw. Instead of slowing down he sped up so I flagged another one, who did the same thing. "Fine," I said under my breath, "if that's the game we're going to play." I stepped in front of the next one. It screeched to a halt and before the driver even had time to realize what had happened I was sitting in the back. "I need to go to fifty-eight fifty-three Grand Alley," I told him as I put a fifty through the grill separating us. The driver was staring at me in the mirror, not moving. What I could see of his reflection made him a good looking guy, black curly hair, square clean shaven jaw with a slight tan. If the rest of his body looked like I imagined it, I'd happily do him. I tapped the grill, making the fifty fall on his side. "I'm in a bit of a hurry, how about you start driving instead of staring?" I gave him a smile that exposed my teeth. His head snapped forward and with a strangled 'yes sir' the car sped off. I spent the ride imagining what I could do with the driver. I didn't try to guess what was going on with Pat or Harry, or even where the dream might be going. I'd never had a dream before where I'd realize I was dreaming so I didn't know if there was any kind of rules. Since I wanted this to last as long as possible I was simply going to go along with everything. "How much do I owe you?" I asked once the car stopped in front of Harry's building. "It's ok," the driver answered nervously, "it's all covered." I took out two twenties. "I'm serious, that was just to get you to drive faster." "It's really ok," he said quickly, a pleading look on his face. "Please, I have to go pickup another fare." "Oh, yeah, sure." I stepped out of the taxi and leaned back in. "Any chance I can get your number?" I barely had the time to get my head out of the way as he slammed his foot down on the gas. "I'll take that as a no," I said as I watched the car speed away. I turned and walked toward my friends who were standing near the entrance to the building. The three of them wore a shocked expression on their face, but Mike looked really good with it. I couldn't put my finger in it, but he looked much better than usual, and he usually looked pretty good. "I thought you said you were ok." Pat almost yelled as I got closer. He looked like he'd slept in the clothes he was wearing. I realized he was wearing the same clothes as last night, so he had slept in them. And as I got close enough I could also tell he hadn't showered. "I am ok." Pat looked me up and down. "You call *that* being ok?" "Of course," I replied and then nodded to Mike, "looking good Mike. Hi Jess." "What the hell is wrong with you?" Pat actually yelled this time. I looked at him, trying to understand why he was such a basket case today. "I'm fine," I reassured him, "as long as I don't wake up, I'm just perfect." Pat stared at me in astonishment. "Jim, honey, this isn't a dream." I smiled at Jess. "Of course it is. I don't look like this when I'm awake." Mike rolled his eyes. "You really think you're dreaming?" he asked me in a very annoyed tone. I nodded. "Then this should wake you up." And he slapped me. At least that's what the motion was. When his hand connected with my cheek there was so much force behind it that my head spun away, and the rest of my body followed. I spun in the air and crashed to the ground with a groan. "Ouch," I said as I turned on my back. Saying that also hurt. "Shit Jim, I'm sorry. I forgot, I'm still not used to being so strong." I didn't really pay attention to what he was saying. I was touching my tender jaw; it was crooked. Mike's blow had broken my lower jaw. As I realized that I felt a sharp pain, and it moved back in place. After that there was no pain, even my cheek felt fine. When I paid attention to Mike again Jess was scolding him. "There was no need to do that. I could just as easily pinched him." "Pinching isn't a proof of anything," I said before I could stop myself. Jess glared at me. "Do you want me to tell Mike to hit you again?" "No, that's ok. I believe you. I'm not dreaming." Mike offered his hand and pulled me up. I looked at my hands again. I'd gotten my wish. I was the tiger I'd imagine being, and I had Wolverine's healing ability. Which mean that my other wish had also come true. I looked at where the cab had been parked. I had twenty hours or so to get laid before I got the blue balls I'd wanted to experience. Based on the reaction of everyone I came across today I was going to have them for quite a while. I looked at Jess to get my mind off that thought. "You don't look any different," I said. "That's because I was smart to say I could transform into a woman, unlike a dufus I know who got himself stuck looking like a fur rug." "You should have heard him scream this morning when he changed for the first time." Mike said. Jess glared at him. "Hey, I was surprised. I would have like to seen you react to seeing someone else in the mirror." I kept my mouth shut. "Still," Mike continued, "you shrieked like a girl." "That's because I *was* a girl." Jess retorted. "Are we done with the comedy routine already?" Pat growled angrily. "For all we know Harry's dying and you guys are standing here wasting time." "Calm down, dear," Jess said trying to sooth him, "you have no way of knowing that anything's wrong with him." "We got our wishes, right?" I asked. "He just wanted to be smart, how dangerous can that be? He probably just got lost in some science book he finally understands." "Alright," Pat replied, taking a deep breath, "can we still hurry up and go check in on him?" "Ok," Mike said before turning to me, "you're probably going to want to stay out of view until we're back." I tried to raise an eyebrow, and instead felt an ear tilt sideways. "Look around, it's a little late for that." A crowd had started gathering at a safe distance. "The cat's out of the bag." Jess groaned and Pat rolled his eyes. "You never were in the fucking bag to start with." With that he turned and headed for the door. I smiled at Mike and shrugged as I walked by him to follow Pat. The entrance door required an electronic key to unlock, or to be buzzed in by the guard, but Pat simply said "open" as he put his hand on the handle and the door opened when he pushed it. He did the same thing for the door leading from the lobby to the elevator and then pressed the elevator call button. The three of us stood next to him as he fidgeted and pressed the button again. I looked at the indicators and all six elevators were going up. "Come on," Pat grumbled as he looked at them too. "Hurry up and get down here already." A moment later all the number started moving down, very fast. The elevator to our far right was the first one to ding and open its door. Before we could go to it the one right to our left dinged and then the one in front of us. As we watch the four people in it hold on to the rail for dear life the other three elevators dinged. "Sorry," said Pat as he stepped on. I got on next and the man and three women recoiled at my presence. Before Mike could get on they fled the elevator. With all of us on Pat pressed the button for the forty-third floor. Harry's number was fifty eight, it was a corner unit. I was sometime jealous of his condo, but all I had to do was remember that he paid three times more than I did and I was ok with my tenth floor, middle of the wall apartment. Pat put a hand on the handle and whispered "lock, open." The light on the door lock turned green. "Why are you whispering?" Jess asked, also in a whisper. "My voice carries too far here." He answered at a normal volume, "If I'm not careful every lock that hears it will do what I say. I caused a power failure in my neighborhood this morning. I yelled at all the appliance in my house to shut down because they were too loud, but my window was open and there was a power box right at the corner of my house." He pushed the door, but the chain on the inside prevented it from opening. "Damn him and his locks." He put his shoulder against the door and forced it. "Harry," Pat called as the chain snapped. "Harry!" Pat ran to the body lying on the living room floor. We gathered around the jock. He was on his back, eyes opened and glazed over, drool running down the side of his mouth. Pat shook him before looking up at us. "What the hell's wrong with him? How can becoming smart leave him like that?" I didn't have a clue. It was Jess who offered a possibility. "I think he's too smart." He said softly. "How can he be too smart? Are you saying he should have remained a dumb jock?" "Of course not, but he wished to be smarter than the four of us put together. We're all pretty smart to start with so that give him and IQ of what, four or five hundred? At that level he can probably grasp the entire universe." "What's wrong with understanding the universe?" Jess knelt next to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Honey, it doesn't matter how smart he is. I don't think the human mind is capable of holding all the information needed to understand the universe." "So what are we suppose to do with him then? Hook him up to a machine that's going to keep him alive for the rest of his life?" "He still got two wishes." I said. Pat glared at me. "And how much help is that with him in this state? How are you going to get him to say his wish?" "Jim's right," Mike said, "and we don't have to get him to say it. We never used the word 'say' only 'make'. As long as he can make his wish it should come true." "But how can we get him to make it. Is he even still in there?" Pat asked, almost panicking "You're going to have to get through to him." Jess told him. Pat nodded resolutely. "Right, so all I have to do is talk him into wishing he was less smart." "Use a number," Mike said, "using 'less smart' is too vague. You have no way of knowing how Harry or the wish will interpret it." "Ok, what number then?" "Well," Jess said, "I think Einstein IQ was two hundred." Pat looked at him and nodded. "Two fifty then. There's no way I'm going to have Harry be dumber than that guy." Pat lay next to the football player. "Harry, it's Patrick." He spoke softly, but with my keen hearing I had no problem listening in. I folded my ears against my head and went into Harry's bedroom; it was the furthest room, and with the door closed I couldn't hear what Pat was saying. I didn't want to hear it, it too much of a reminder of what they had shared once and thrown away. Of something I'd never even gotten a taste of. Harry's bedroom wasn't the center of vanity you'd expect of a football player on the road to stardom. There was only one football related picture on the wall and it wasn't of Harry. It was a team picture of the college team he'd played on. The other two on the walls were a print of a mountain as one of a cloudy sky. On the night table was a picture of his parents and sister. I'd never met them, but he'd shown me pictures before. Next to it was one with two young boys; nephews I guessed. I'd never been in this room before, and the urge to snoop was pretty strong, but I went to the attached bathroom instead for a glass of water. Drinking with a muzzle took some getting use to. I managed it, but about half the content ended up running down my chin. I was going to have to remember to buy larger glasses for my place or I'd have to start lapping water out of a bowl. I'd just finished toweling the floor dry when I heard Par yell Harry's name, so I rushed back to the living room. Harry was sitting, still looking dazed. Pat grabbed Harry's head and turned it so he would look at him. "Are you ok?" It took Harry a moment a focus on him and when he did he smiled. "I'm fine. Hi guys," he added when he noticed the rest of us. "You too, huh?" He said that looking at me. He stood, a little unsteady. "I take it we're all received out wishes." He walked to the kitchen and took a jug of orange juice from the fridge. He took a swallow before offering it to us. We passed so he finished it. "What happened to you?" Pat asked, he'd been fidgeting, trying to restrain the question while Harry drank. The jock stared in space for a moment before focusing on us again. "I got here after walking you home, closed the door, headed for my bedroom, but before I reached it I had a thought." He paused for a moment before looking at Pat. "And then I heard you whispering to me." "So you don't remember anything?" Jess asked. Harry shook his head. "I'm sorry," Pat told him. "Don't be. I'd rather be here and conscious than stuck in lala land, no matter what I might have known during that time." "What do we do now?" Jess asked as Pat hugged Harry. "That's easy," Mike said, "Harry uses his last wish to undo ours and get things back to normal.
  13. Kindar

    Chapter 57

    Jeremy looked around the meeting room, as he was being wheeled in, and started worrying. Were they going to try to take away his ship again? He frowned, no, that wasn't right. This room was too big, there were too many people, it wasn't a meeting room on Kelser. Was this when he had been accused of murdering those two taournians? No, that couldn't be right, he'd been seated to the front, not an elevated balcony, like he was now. He stopped moving, and a female moved in front of him. "Are you certain you want to be up here, grandfather? You should be down there, you were part of it." He snorted, which probably looked silly on a male his age. "I just helped a little," his voice was weak, and trembling. "It's their time, I don't want to intrude." The female took a blanket out of her bag, and spread it over his legs. "There, you won't get cold now." "Thank you Tamirik, that's very nice of you." Her smile dropped, just a little, and Jeremy cursed internally. "I got it wrong, didn't I?" "I'm Shimilion," she told him, "I'm Asheter's daughter." Asheter, that named sounded really familiar, where had he heard it before, then it came back to him. "That's Alix's son." She smiled at him. "That makes you Alix's grand daughter." He patted her hand. "That's good. You should probably sit down now, they're about to start." He could tell, because a holographic projection of the table, and its occupant had just appeared in the air, at their level, much larger than normal. She sat next to him, and he noticed that there were many other kelsirian on either side of him. For a moment he worried that he was in the wrong section, but before the panic could set in, he remembered they were his family. The people around the table started talking, and their voices were projected so he could hear them, not that he was paying attention to what they were saying, this was just ceremony, the important event had happened an hour before, behind closed door. That's when Paradise had become the only human settled planet to become a full member of the Federation. This show was for the vids. They never liked the simple signings, they wanted something bigger than life. So every current members were now giving speeches, probably about how an asset the new member was going to be. What he wanted to hear, was the taournians. He really wanted to find out what they were going to say, considering they had allied themselves with the humans, and had tried to ruin Paradise. Oh, the humans had been livid when they found out that the Leafers weren't just surviving, they were thriving, building trade with the kelsirians, and anyone else willing to do business with them. Paradise had turned out to have very fertile soil, and the area near the black storm proved particularly good to grow coffee. They hadn't been able to say anything when they found out they had been conned into believing the planet was mostly inhospitable, since they had turned around and spun a story about how the planet was rough, but habitable. And now, with Paradise being inducted, more human colonies were breaking away from their government, in the hopes of joining the Federation. Jeremy yawned and looked around. Why was everyone looking at that projection? He wondered. He thought about asking the male to his right, but he was watching intently, so he decided not to bother him. He just settled in his chair comfortably, and watched, maybe he'd figure out what it was about. * * * * * "It's time to leave, Jeremy," someone whispered in his ear. He opened his eyes, not having realized he'd fallen asleep, and before him was a hand, covered in chocolate brown fur. He took it, was pulled up, and found himself gazing into deep amber eyes. He sighed, it had been so long since he'd been able to lose himself in those eyes. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "Shouldn't you be on the bridge?" Gral tilted his head at him. That wasn't right, Jeremy realized. Tamirik was captain now, she'd taken over when he'd retired, and he'd become the captain when Gral . . . Jeremy pulled away slightly, and looked at his Heart's face. He looked younger than he remembered, younger than the first time he'd met him even. Jeremy turned, and looked at where he had been sitting. In the hover chair, his body looked like he was sleeping. He raised a hand, it looked young, no wrinkles, no blemishes. Gral wrapped his arms around him. "You really lived up to being my little warrior," he said. "Tutecamongartin tried to bring you home three times, and you fought him each time." Jeremy could hear the pride in Gral's voice. He tried to recall the last time he'd been sick, didn't he remember a male standing there, completely black? Yes, he thought he did, and he also thought he remembered feeling angry, and a little bit afraid of him. "Why are you here?" "Tutecamongartin didn't want to have to deal with another fight with you. He though you might be more receptive if I was the one asking you to come home." Jeremy turned to face Gral again. "Home?" Gral nodded. "The Gods honored you." Jeremy's eyes grew wide. "You didn't think they wouldn't, did you?" Jeremy wanted to tell his Heart that he hadn't, but it had been one of his deepest worry, that he'd never be honored by Them, and therefor kept away from his Heart. "There wasn't even any argument, not that I was going to let any one of Them refuse you. So, my Heart, a you ready to come home?" Jeremy looked at him, eyes wet, but looked behind him, at the projection, where Patrick was now standing and talking. His gaze dropped to the kelsirians seated on either side of his body. "What about them?" he asked. "They are going to go on living, until the Gods honor them." "Will I see them again?" "Possibly, that'll depend on what they decide to do." "Do?" Gral nodded. "The life after the Gods have honored us is what ever we want it to be." "And what is our life going to be?" Gral smiled, and stepped to the side. Behind him, there was an open doorway, hanging there, in the middle of the lane. In the doorway, he could see the Viper's Bane's bridge. "It's going to be space, hunting down pirates, being in the way of the taournians, and the humans." The male in the pilot's seat turned, and smiled. Jeremy's heart swelled. "Toom's there." "Of course he's there. He's been waiting for you to come home as much as I have. Most of the crew's there." Gral stepped through the doorway and extended a hand to him. Jeremy took it. "How long will this last?" "As long as we want it." "What happens afterward." "Once we're tired of the hunt, we come back." Jeremy looked at him, worry in his eyes. "Don't worry, we'll come back together. We will never be apart again. I exacted that promise from Them." Jeremy nodded, and stepped through the doorway, which then disappeared. * * * * * As the ceremony ended, and everyone stood and applauded to welcome the new Federation member, Shimilion noticed that grandfather didn't stir. She touched his cheek, when he didn't move she placed a finger against his neck. Not feeling a pulse, she shed a tear and kissed his head. "Goodbye grandfather, Good hunting."
  14. Kindar

    Chapter 56

    Jeremy walked through the ship, alone. He was the only on in it. The repair crews had left, now that they were done. On top of repairs, upgrades had been done. The two generators had been replaced with the newest models, more powerful, more efficient. He could already hear Alix cursing. One of the cargo bay had been modified to house twelve fighter ships. He'd need to find pilots for them. They were turning his ship into a full military vessel, not just a patrol ship. Probably the most galling thing they had done, was to put a captain's chair on the bridge. He wasn't *that old. When he could no longer stand on his own two legs, he'd pass the captainship on to Tamirik. As soon as his crew was back on board, he'd get Sayane to remove it. The walk through confirmed what he'd suspected. The ship didn't feel the same. It wasn't just the modifications, he no longer felt Gral walking the halls with him. He step into their room, currently empty. He hoped that when their things were back in, he'd feel Gral again, at least here, because, as far as he could tell, the ship's Heart was gone. * * * * * "You don't have to do that, Pa," Tamirik said, standing in the doorway. Jeremy looked up at her, while continuing to pack the few things on the desk. Gods, she looked amazing, she was tall, proud, a captain. "I don't mind going back to being communication chief, until you're ready to hand over command to me." "And demote Rasilin? I don't think so, he worked hard to get there. It wouldn't be fair to him." "This isn't fair to you either, this is your ship." Jeremy shook his head, and paused. "To tell you the truth, the ship hasn't felt like mine since the repairs. Those last six years have been, difficult." He ran a hand through his hair, which was now more gray than not. "I'm happy to hand it to you." "What will you do now? Retire groundside?" Jeremy laughed. "Groundside? Me? Can you really imagine me just lying in the sun days in days out. No, I belong in space. Anyway, unless you're kicking Toom off the ship, I'm staying with him." "Gods no, I'm not kicking my near father off. He's still the best pilot I've ever seen." "Good. And I can be useful, I can watch over your cubs, I can't believe you managed to raise three of them, and still left the Academy with the highest honors. I can't remember getting much sleep when you were that young." "Rostol helped, as did Xenial, before the ship was ready." "Xenial helped with cubs?" Jeremy asked, surprised. The male had never mentioned that. "He was quite good with them. He would have been near father to them, if he'd been willing to stay groundside with us." Jeremy sighed, and missed his friend. "The Gods honored him," he said. "Only until he made off with their possessions," She added, with a wry smile. "He is going to make their lives interesting." Jeremy smiles wistfully. "No, your father is going to keep him in check." He forced himself to back to the present. "I can also help with dealing with the humans on Paradise, if you're planing on keeping the patrol route I had." He'd been offered, and had accepted, a new patrol route, which included Paradise. It allowed him to be back there every year, and he saw their settlement grow and prosper. The patrol had become vital when the Human government realized that not only were the leafers on Paradise surviving, they were thriving. Building an economy and trading with the federation. The humans had complained that they had been tricked, but that didn't last long, since they would have to reveal their own trickery to explain it. They settled on discreetly trying to disrupt trade, which had lead to putting more ships to patrol the trade routes. Jeremy had smiled when he learned that Patrick had been made leader of the settlement, much to the male's bafflement. Jack had outright refused. He was done with politics. He spent what time wasn't taken up with his mate advising Patrick, but that was the extend of his involvement. "I'm keeping it. I don't trust the humans not to do something stupid." "At least they aren't part of the Federation." "Yet. The Federation council is still seeing them allowing the exodus as a good gesture. Talks, to restart the process, are on again." "Gods," Jeremy sighed. "Nothing good will come of that." "I agree. That's why I'm keeping the patrol route. The Leafers are about the only good thing to come from the humans, they need to be protected." Jeremy agreed. * * * * * Jeremy settled quietly into retirement. As he'd promised, he looked after Tamirik's cubs, when needed, as well as anyone's cubs. He still took the bridge, when she needed him to, and he found himself regretting having the chair removed. As he aged, remaining standing became more of task than it had been. Over the years, his title went from captain, to grandfather, and he found he enjoyed it. He and Toom became the ones to take care of the cubs, entertaining them with stories of their lives, bringing Gral back to life for them. The humans eventually left the crew, to settle on Paradise, first the unattached ones, and eventually even those who had built relationships with kelsirians. Alix's Heart was the last one to leave, when one morning, Alix didn't wake up. Jeremy didn't hold it against any of them. The crew had never been their family, like it was his. Even with the change in personnel, he could never leave them, and they wouldn't want him to. One day, Toom fell sick, and none of the wonders they possessed made him better. Jeremy almost lost his will to live then, but the crew rallied around him, and he remembered that he wasn't alone. He was even more surprised when Roumalger joined the crew. Jeremy still wouldn't be his mate, but that didn't stop the male from moving in with him. Jeremy found another reason to live when he learned that the Federation was considering making Paradise a member colony. He found that he needed to be there to see that happen, no matter how long it took.
  15. Kindar

    Chapter 55

    Jeremy leaned on the railing, looking at his ship. From where he was, he could see the three aft decks that had been destroyed, two sections deep and twenty long, six guns. Fortunately, the casualties had been minimal, but that didn't make him feel any better. He hadn't wanted to look at the damage while being on Paradise, he knew it would have ruined his stay there, and he had dearly needed a respite. The two months there, helping the settlers buildup their infrastructure had been a balm on his aches. He had been tempted to stay there longer, just so he wouldn't have to see this sight, but he had a duty to his crew, who had taken that time to make as many repairs as they could. Still the two months trip back to Kelser took them eight. And now his ship was at dock, to be repaired and refitted. No one knew just how long that would take, so he was grounded until then. If he still had his ship by then. He could just imagine how those who wanted to take it away from him would use this incident to justify it. "You don't have to be so gloom," Toom said, as he stopped next to him. Toom was the only one of the crew left on the station, as far as Jeremy knew. Korfas had been the first to request permission to leave, which Jeremy had granted. There were no reasons to keep anyone on the ship once docked. "We only retrieved twenty of the twenty-eight dead," Jeremy said. "The families understand." "I know, but how can they be properly mourned, if they aren't burned? Are the Gods going to honor them, if their bodies are floating in space, somewhere?" "Of course, the Gods are going to honor them," Toom said with a chuckle, "you'll see." "Will I?" Jeremy let out a long sigh. "Will the Gods honor me?" "Why wouldn't they?" "Look at me Toom, I'm human. I hate it, but I am human." Toom did look at him. "You're not human. You body might be, but you have Gralgiranselhelrarvnir's Heart, that makes you kelsirian, and that is what the Gods will see." He put an arms around Jeremy's shoulders, and pulled him close. "I think we should head out, staying here is making you morose, and they should be arriving to get us soon. Jeremy let Toom lead him away, and he did start to feel better, once he could no longer see the sorry state of his ship. As soon as they got to the shuttle docks, someone yelled his name. Jeremy looked in the direction the yell had come from, and Toom stepped away from him just in time for Roumalger to hug Jeremy and spin him around. "I'm so glad you're back," He whispered, while nuzzling him. "I'm glad to see you too," Jeremy replied, as he was put down. "Are you finally mated?" "Ah! No, I'm not." "When are you going to finally settle down?" "As soon as you agree to be my mate." Jeremy's smile cracked a little. "You do know that's never going to happen, right? I like you, but I can't be your mate." "You're just being stubborn," Roumalger said, going to hug Toom. "It's good to see you too." He nibbles his neck. "Do me a favor and talk some sense into that mate of yours." "Why are you so damn interested in me anyway?" Jeremy asked, before Toom could say anything. "Because you're exotic, and a the most fantastic lover I've ever had." "He does have a point," Toom said. "You don't get to say that," Jeremy said, pointing at his mate. "You've had sex with Xenial, so you know I'm not the best out there." He put an arm around each of them. "You know Roumalger, if it's exotic you like, you should take a trip to Paradise, there are a lot of humans there." "Really? Maybe I will, that way I'll be able to find out if it's humans who are such great lovers, or just you." Jeremy rolled his eyes. "Let's go join our parents, I see them, and I'm pretty sure they are getting impatient." "No, they just didn't want to follow me and be witness to all the embarrassment I put you through." "At least they are considerate," Toom commented. Parkiler and Marsef hugged and nuzzled both of them. "Welcome home," Marsef said, ushering them inside the shuttle. "I'm sorry it was under such circumstances, but we're happy to have you over. Do you know how long you'll be staying?" "No," Jeremy replied, "but we won't be spending all our time with you, we'll be visiting Toom's family also." "That's good," Parkiler said. "I don't remember seeing them at the cremation." "My father couldn't make it. He couldn't afford to close his shop, and my brothers didn't come, they don't agree with me becoming a spacer, they believe I should have stayed and help father with the shop, just like they did." "But you're father is fine with you being in space?" "Yes, he's happy for me. He knows I couldn't stay limited by the atmosphere." "Where is your family from?" she asked, turning to look at them, in the back. "Roumalger! What have I told you about having sex in the shuttle?" Roumalger had been nuzzling Jeremy, with hands roaming all over his body, and he had turned toward him so he could grind against him. Roumalger let out a sigh, and seated himself properly, but he didn't do anything to hide the tent in his pants. "Don't you have any self control?" she asked him "Not around Jeremy, I don't." "I'm sorry," Jeremy said. "Don't be," Marsef replied. "It's isn't your fault. It's that son of mine. He has sex with anyone willing. Although in you case I can understand his lack of restraint." Jeremy raised an eyebrow. "I didn't know you were interested." "Who wouldn't be?" he replied with a chuckle. "Why haven't you initiated anything then?" "I'm forty years older than you. I couldn't see you being interested." Jeremy smiled. "You won't know unless you try it." Parkiler slapped her mate's lap. "See, I told you he wouldn't mind." "Mom, Dad. If you want me to keep my mind off sex, could you not talk about dad getting it on with Jeremy, that isn't helping." "What's in the crate?" Toom asked, to change the subject. "Oh, that's just something Marsef picked up while we were waiting for you," Parkiler said. "Yeah," Roumalger added, "I think it was delivered by someone from your crew." "My crew?" Jeremy asked, and then realized something. "Okay, no one say anything about the crate. As a captain, I'm required to report any contraband." "Except," Toom said, "that technically, you aren't currently a captain, you sort of need a working ship for that." Jeremy thought it over. "You know, you're right. So, Marsef. You finally got your hands on some coffee plants?" "Yes, the contact you gave me all those years ago finally came through. There's a one year old plant, six seedling, seeds, and also some coffee grains. He said I could use those to bribe your silence." * * * * * Jeremy was standing before the council table. He and the four members seated behind it were waiting for the fifth person to arrive. He wondered if she was doing this on purpose, making him wait. At least, they had had the courtesy to tell him a month ahead of time when the meeting would be. He didn't have to stress every day, wondering when he was going to be called. It also gave Toom time to look into who would be there. He knew the two on the right, Turkamilrir and Snifurnolkah. The general and politician who had been present at the last meeting. Both were looking to take the ship away from him. The two on the left were new. An admiral Tirak, just that. He had the shortest name Jeremy had ever come across among kelsirians, And a general Lancasgirakil. Toom couldn't find any indications that they had any sort of agendas toward the ship. So it was two against him, and two who might see reason, plus her. This wasn't going to go well, but if she was expecting him to just give up the fight, she had another thing coming. He was going to fight her as hard as he could. The door at the back finally opened, and admiral Oturslgirnal entered, to Jeremy, Turkamilri and Snifurnolkah's surprise. "Please forgive my tardiness, there was a last minute change. I came as quickly as I could." He put his datapad on the table and sat in the center seat. "This meeting is to go over Captain Jeremy's initial two year, well, almost three now, as captain of the Viper's Bane, to find out if he will remain captain. Who wants to start?" "Why don't we just retire the ship?" Snifurnolkah asked. "Why would we do that?" Tirak countered. "Have you seen the list of repairs it needs? It might be best to just give him a new ship." Jeremy kept his mouth shut, but the moment he was allowed to speak he was going to argue against that. He wasn't going to captain a different ship, this was his last tie to Gral, he wasn't going to lose it. "Really? I don't remember you saying that when the Revenge came in for repairs. I remember you there, you were awake, weren't you?" "Of course I was." "It's damage was more extensive, and you let it be repaired. The Bane is about the same age, a little younger actually," he corrected after checking his pad, "Is there something I don't know about it that makes it unsuitable for repairs?" "I'm just not sure continuing to spend money on repairs is wise, that's all." "That's what the military budget is for," Lancasgirakil said. "Maybe you need to stop trying to tell us how to manage our fleet. And focus on keeping your promises, that station is still waiting for you to approve those expansions you promised them." Snifurnolkah didn't reply. "I don't particularly care about the state of the ship," Turkamilri said. "I'm more concerned about the deaths." "Really?" Lancasgirakil asked. "Why?" "Twenty eight deaths, of which . . ." Turkamilri checked his pad. "Twenty seven hunters and one crew," Jeremy provided. "Ahh, yes, and I see there was a human death." "That was the crew member. He was a structure tech, and chose to continue the repairs he was doing, instead of evacuating, as ordered." "You had a human as part of the crew?" "I have forty six." "That is unacceptable, we can't have humans getting access to our technology. What's to stop them from sending the information back to Earth?" "Those are my humans, not part of the passengers we carried to Paradise." He didn't mention Alix's Heart, that was none of their businesses. "I don't care. You don't have the authority to make a decision like that. You should have contacted us." "Jeremy did contact the council," Oturslgirnal said. "He spoke with," he glanced at his pad, "Councilor Querikdarfingalse, who approved his decision." "How can he have approved such a thing?" "You'll have to take that up with him. All that matters right now, is that Jeremy proceeded as expected." "Fine. There's still the matter of the deaths. "I don't get what you problem is with that," Tirak said. "They are hunters." "We die, so our people live," Jeremy said, by reflex. Tirak looked at him. "I didn't know anyone still knew the creed." Jeremy just nodded. "So?" Turkamilri asked. "It isn't because they are hunters that their lives should be thrown away." "Thrown away?" Tirak eyed Turkamilri. "Exactly how do you define throwing away a life? Captain, how did your people die?" Jeremy took a deep breath. "Nineteen gunners died when we took fire during the pursuit, after the ambush. Eight hunters died in the aft breach." "Where the gunners needed?" "Yes, we were firing on the pursuing ships, trying to disable them enough to make it to kelsirian space alive." "The hunters?" "The hunters were keeping fires under control. Those fires occurred when a missile breached a section, early in the pursuit. The electrical system overloaded, and the fire suppression system didn't respond. If I hadn't sent them there, fire would have spread along the power conduits, without any way to know how extensive the damage would have been." "And you said the tech had been ordered to leave." "Yes." Tirak looked at Turkamilri again. "You call that throwing lives away?" "You find twenty-eight deaths acceptable?" "Are you serious? Are you telling me you didn't have any deaths during your career? Never mind. I don't want to know how you went up in ranks. Lancasgirakil, you read the report about the ambush, and pursuit. How many deaths would normally be expected in such a situation?" "Considering the opposing force the Bane was up against, and the sabotage they had been subjected to," he paused for a moment, "at the very least, I would have expected a third of everyone one on board to have died, and if I was running this as an evaluation scenario, up to half would still be acceptable." "So, how would you judge twenty-eight deaths, all crew, no civilians." Lancasgirakil chuckled dryly. "We don't have enough medals to show just how amazing that was. And to address general Turkamilri, no, that does not constitute throwing away lives. That is exactly the opposite. Now shut up, you're making the rest of us look bad." Turkamilri glared at Lancasgirakil, who ignored him. "What does concern me," Lancasgirakil continued, "is this human hunter squad you formed. Twenty-two humans, who were trained in our hunting ways. I understand they are trusted, but they aren't kelsirians, would they really do our ways proud?" "The squad was formed for the purpose of infiltrating the passengers. By that time it was obvious we were the subject of sabotage, but we couldn't get those humans to trust us, they would only open up to other humans. They didn't get full training, and I made them hunters so they would receive the protection accorded to us, should things escalate. I didn't want them to be abandoned, if it came down to that. "Before you bring them up, six of them were cubs. We chose them, because they were old enough to be responsible, but looked young enough for other humans to feel protective of them, humans have a tendency to open up more to cubs than to adults. The cubs volunteered, and their parents gave their permission. Also, everyone was under strict orders to keep them away from the worse of the dangers. The use of the human hunter squad led to the capture of four of the six saboteurs." "What happened to the other two?" "They chose suicide over capture." "And the squad?" "I disbanded it once the mission was accomplished." Lancasgirakil nodded. "I still question the use of cubs, but none of them were hurt, and only six of the human hunters were hurt. They can't be considered civilians at the time of the mission." "Do we know that Jeremy didn't force them to join the squad?" Snifurnolkah asked. Lancasgirakil sighed. "Did you actually bother to read the reports? Or are you too busy repeating what you're handlers tell you?" Snifurnolkah opened and closed his mouth, trying to say somethign, but failing. "Each human on the squad wrote a report describing what happened. While the translation makes for something of a funny read, there is no indication they were under duress at any time." He looked at Jeremy. "Thank you for answering my questions. I'm satisfied you showed good judgment in your decision." There was a moment of silents. "Does anyone have anything to add?" Oturslgirnal asked. Lancasgirakil and Tirak shook their heads. Snifurnolkah and Turkamilri remained silent. "Then, I'm happy to say that they ship is yours, Captain. As soon as it's fit to fly, you're free to go back where you belong." "Thank you admiral." He nodded to each of them, in turn, left, and almost walked into someone as the door closed behind him. "Kosfas, I wasn't expecting you here." "I wanted to make sure things went well." "It did, your mother wasn't there." "Good." "I take it you had something to do with that?" "I told her to stop meddling in my life. She not the Gods, so she doesn't have the right to do so. I'm happy she listened." "Thanks." "No, I'm the one who needs to thank you. Until you took me in, I had no idea that I wanted this. I was just doing what mother told me. I'm actually terrified to think what would have happened if she had succeeded in getting me a captainship." He surprised Jeremy by giving him a tight hug. In all the time he'd trained him, they had never hugged. "I won't be returning to the ship. I've been accepted the to Command Academy. So this is goodbye." "Congratulation. I'm certain you'll excel." "Thank you." Korfas turned and left. Before Jeremy could also leave, the door opened and admiral Oturslgirnal stepped out. "Captain, I'm glad I caught you before you left." "Korfas was just informing me he was accepted in the Academy." "Yes, I saw his application, and pushed it through. I also saw that your daughter applied. Do you want me to push hers through?" Jeremy shook his head. "No. I appreciate the thought, but she will be accepted by her own merits." "Very well. What will you be doing while your ship is being repaired?" "I have no idea. I've never been groundside this long. At this point I'm counting on Toom to keep me from going stir crazy." Oturslgirnal put a hand on his shoulder. "If you get too bored, you can always consider spending some time at the academy, teaching." Jeremy looked at him in horror.
  16. Kindar

    Chapter 54

    The door buzzed. "Come in," Jeremy said, finishing reading the report before looking up. Repairs were coming along. The ship wouldn't be back to how it was before the ambush, but at least it would run better. At least the atmospherics were back online. "Erik," Jeremy said, surprise to see the human. He worked in Engineer, Alix was teaching him. "What can I do for you?" Erik looked from Jeremy to Korfas, "Can, can we speak in private?" Before Jeremy could say anything Korfas shutdown his screens and grabbed his pad. "I need to go talk with procurement." He stood. "They're suppose to have done checks on the vegetation on the planet, to see if we can eat any of it." He left the room. "Have a seat," Jeremy offered. Erik sat down, looked at the floor for a moment. "I think It's going to be best if I leave the crew, and settle on the planet." "That's entirely your right, you know they'll be happy to take you in, and I already said anyone who wants to stay, can. You didn't need to come see me for that." Erik stood and started pacing. "It's Alix, I don't know what to do about him." "Is he being unreasonable in what he expects you to do?" "No, no. It's just . . . He keeps looking at me. Sometime he gets this, I don't know, hungry look on him." He sat down. "He makes you uncomfortable." Erik nodded. "Have you told him to stop?" Erik looked at him, eyes wide. "No! I don't want him to stop! That's the problem." He put his head in his hands. "God, I think I'm falling in love with him." "That's good." "Good? How can that be good? He has a wife and a kid. I don't want to be a home wrecker." He took a deep breath. "That's why I need to leave." Jeremy had to work very hard at keeping his face still. He couldn't believe that some humans were still stuck in such a narrow mindset after being on his ship for a few years. Granted, these last month, over crowed with humans from earth probably had something to do with his humans regressing. Once he know he could open his mouth without laughing, he punched the com. "Alix. My office. Now!" With the order given, he stood and opened the cabinet in the corner of the room. He poured a finger of the drink in the black bottle, and handed Erik the glass. "What is it?" he asked. "A ridoshi drink. The closest thing to scotch I've been able to fine. You look like you need to calm your nerves" Erik down it, and then gasped. "My god, that stuff's horrible." "It's an acquired taste," Jeremy confirmed, sitting. Alix might be a while, he and the other repair crews were the only ones on the ship. Everyone else was enjoying their time groundside. Jeremy would get back there himself, once he was done with his work. The door opened and Alix stood in the doorway, panting. "Reporting, captain. What's the problem?" He looked at the human. "Erik, what are you doing here?" He looked at Jeremy, "Captain, if he's done anything wrong, I can take care of it. He's a good engineer, he's just still learning." His ears folded back, then forward, sideways. Jeremy had never seen Alix be that nervous. Jeremy canted his head to the side. "Tell me, Alix, when did you become so timid?" Alix stared at him. "What?" "Erik's been telling me how you look at him, sometime hungrily." Alix's ears turned red. "How come you haven't made any advances on him?" Erik stared at Jeremy. "He's human, I. I didn't want to make him uncomfortable." "You screwed up. You've been making him uncomfortable enough that he wants to leave the crew." "What?" Alix went to Erik. "You can't do that. Please, you've got to stay. I've been looking for you for too long, you can't leave now." Erik leaned back away form Alix, and looked at Jeremy. "What doed he mean, he's been looking for me?" Jeremy just nodded toward Alix, who was now on his knees. "I'm sorry I've made you uncomfortable, it really wasn't my intention." He took Erik's hand in his. "I've been hun . . . looking for my Heart since I've been a cub. I went to space still looking. You're him, Erik. You are my Heart. Please don't leave. I love you." Erik stared at him. "You can't love me! You have a wife!" Alix looked at Jeremy, confusion on his face. "Your mate." Alix nodded and looked back to Erik. "I can still love you." "No you can't! You're committed to her! I'm not going to have you leave her for me!" Erik tried to stand, but Alix forced him back down. "No. Erik, I am not letting you go that easily. I'm not human. I don't follow your rules. I am not limited to loving just one person. Please look at me." He said, and slowly Erik looked at him. "This is why I didn't do anything. I was trying to find a way to make sure you understood that we did things differently. I remember how Jeremy was those first few years. It took him time to come to terms with our customs. I'm not going to ask you to move in with us, all I ask is that you stay. Please stay, give me time to show you we can make this work." Erik looked at Jeremy. "What should I do?" "What do you want to do? Not what you think you should, what do you want?" Erik looked at Alix again. "I want to stay," he whispered. Alix hugged him tightly, which made Erik tense. He pulled away. "I'm sorry, too fast, I know. I'll keep my distances. I'll see you back at work." Now, Jeremy couldn't hide the smile, as Alix rushed out. "What's funny," Erik said, still stunned. "Sorry, I've never seen Alix act like a cub in love for the first time before." Erik was silent for a moment. "Am I making a mistake?" "If you're referring to breaking them up. It won't happen. As I've explained before, we don't limit ourselves to loving just one person. Don't force yourself into something you aren't comfortable with, Alix won't force you to either. Just follow your Heart, it will lead you true.
  17. Kindar

    Chapter 53

    The Viper's Bane limped in at Paradise two month late. Jeremy couldn't wait to get his passengers off the ship, and at this point, they probably couldn't wait to be off. He wiped his brow, the temperature on the bridge was just this side of suffocating. Except for the living decks, atmospherics through out th ship were just barely working. Half the engines had been damaged beyond repairs, which didn't matter much, since their main generator had been pushed past its limit. They were on the backup, and it hadn't be designed to power the entire ship by itself. Everyone on the ship was cranky, the brig couldn't hold anyone, it was just to hot down there, so trouble makers had been locked in their quarters. It was bad enough that a few of his crew were also under arrest. The screen showed the planet, a ball of blues, greens, browns whites, and something black, and nasty, in one area. It also showed that there were eleven other ships parked in orbit, in a loose group. "Viper's Bane," came a voice over the com, "Hargral Glory here. Whose army did you take on?" "Very funny, Glory. The Human government decided they didn't want to let my passengers go, after all. How is the disembarking going?" "It . . . isn't." There was a silence. "Seems the humans can't decide who should be first to set foot on their new planet." "Gods, tell me you are joking." "I wish I could. We've been here three weeks. The Ridoshi ship twice that long, although they don't seem to mind." Jeremy looked at Korfas, whose fur was matted to his skin, like everyone one else. "Right now, that chair of yours sound like a great idea." He looked to Tamirik. "Get me in contact with all the captains." "Yes, sir." It took her a few minutes, during which Jeremy had to wipe sweat off his face constantly. "They're all listening." "This is Jeremy, of the Viper's Bane. Please give me all ship, I need to talk with your passengers." Over the next minutes he got eleven confirmations. He took a breath, he didn't want to make this decision for everyone else, but he wasn't staying in space any longer than he absolutly had too. "My name is Jeremy. This won't mean anything to most of you, but two of you know me. We met at a bar in the San Francisco space port, a long time ago. Please find a com, I need to talk to you, both." It took a few minutes, then someone said "Jeremy? It's good to hear your voice." "What's your name?" There was a moment of hesitation. "I'm Louis." Jeremy had remembered his name, but he wanted to make sure he had the right person, ultimately who had the honor didn't matter, but he felt wrong to have someone he hadn't met usurp it. "Please tell me your mate traveled with you. You two were apart long enough that you shouldn't have to come here on different ships." "I'm here," said someone else. "I'm glad to hear that, Patrick. Which ship are you on?" He heard them asking about for the name. "They are aboard my ship," cut in a voice, in very proper kelsirian, with clicks between the words, a ridoshi. "It is called." What followed was unintelligible. "Thank you in helping with the exodus," Jeremy said. "Louis, Patrick, you have the honor of being the first humans to set foot on Paradise, find a shuttle and get moving." "What? Why us?" "Because you guys have had weeks to work this out, and haven't. The atmospherics on my ship are barely working, so I want fresh air." "You should be the first one, you're the one who set things in motion." "I didn't do anything more than follow my Heart. And I'm not human. The honor belong to humans, not me. Now get going, because if I have to board your ship to get you down there myself, I am going to do it." * * * * * Jeremy relaxed the moment the shuttle doors open, the fresh air entered like it had been blasted in. He'd piloted it, he wasn't going to stay on the ship a moment longer, he also wasn't going to steal a spot from one of the humans. Once they were all out he left the cockpit, patting the other pilot on the shoulder. "go up for the next group. I'll relieve you when you get back." "Yes sir." Jeremy stepped out, and raised his head to the sun. He closed his eyes, and soaked in the heat. A lot of other people were doing the same. It had to have been because of the atmospherics on the ship. He never had this kind of reaction to going groundside before. After enjoying the heat for a time he opened his eyes and looked around. They were in a plain, with ankle high grass that was a little more yellow than it was on Earth, or Kelser. There we a few trees, here and there, one of which seem to have a fruit of some type. Parents already had to keep children form climbing them. In the distance were mountains. He couldn't tell how high they were, but seemed to touch the sky. "Jeremy!" someone yelled. He turned to see two males coming toward him. He didn't recognize them, but there's only two people they could be. "Patrick, Louis," he said, ignoring the offered hands, and hugging them, much to their consternations. "Which is which?" "I'm Louis," the shorter, bald one, said. "And I'm Patrick," his hair was black, heavily peppered with gray. "This place really is paradise." "Except for that black zone, what was that?" "As best as the explorer who found this planet could tell, it's a zone with a permanent storm. The government was led to believe that most of the planet is like that. And spun it to the federation as this place being rough, but livable. Since the federation was insisting they had to stop persecuting the homos, the government said they would relocate us here." "Well, no matter if this planet is rough, or not. You'll be winning from not being under their thumb anymore. You're free to be who you are, and be with who you want." "That's going to take some getting use to, as you can probably tell." Jeremy nodded. Looking around, almost no one was holding hand, or even standing too close to one another. "Yeah, I can tell it might be an adjustment. I was lucky I guess. When I found Gral, I found myself in an environment where everyone touched, so I didn't have to be afraid. Some habit did take a while to lose." "Like what?" "Well, having sex with someone other than my mate." Louis and Patrick looked at him, horrified. "They forced you to do that?" Jeremy laughed. "No, it wasn't forced. It's the way we are. For us sex as nothing to do with love. It just took me a while to realize it. Now, I can't imagine another way of being." Jeremy laughed again at the look they gave him. "Hey, this is your planet. We're not going to tell you how to live. You find what works for you guys." Patrick put a hand on his shoulder. "This is your planet too, you're one of us." Jeremy shook his head. "No, it isn't. I already have a home, on Kelser. Like I said earlier, I'm a kelsirian." "Are you sure? It can't be easy, being different from everyone else." "I'm not different." "How can you say that? You're . . ." "Furless?" "Yeah." "They don't see that. I mean, sure when someone meets me for the first time, they are surprised, but that doesn't last. Even people I've never met back on Kelser know who I am. Look, don't worry about me. I'm happy. I'm not making due, I'm actually happy. I have cubs, a mate, friends and family. I really wouldn't change any of it. You guys focus on your lives. Build a society that you will be happy with. If you see some things from other people you think will work, look into it, but don't force it on yourself just because it seems to work for them." Louis looked at him. "Are you sure I can't convince you to take charge of this place? You have the perfect outlook for it." "Gods no. I have enough with my ship, but feel free to steal those mindset, if you think they'll work." The shuttles returned with more people. Jeremy bid them goodbye and went to replace his pilot. Over the rest of the day the humans, and most of the crews, as well as equipment made it to the planet. Three ships were still unaccounted for, and Jeremy worried they had fallen into similar traps. As night fell, enough buildings had been erected so everyone could sleep indoors, not that anyone did. The evening temperature barely cooled, and once the sun set, the sky lit up with stars. Toom found him, and they had sex under them. * * * * * The next day a new ship arrived, but it wasn't one of the missing ones. No one had any idea what it was doing here, so everyone was tensed. Jeremy had a few of his hunters stand close to where the shuttle landed, ready for trouble. The door opened, and a lone human male walked out. He was in his mid forties, dressed in a black suit, hair slicked back. He looked around and waved. Jeremy could smell the political stink coming off him. Obviously he wasn't the only one, because others started jeering at him. When a rock almost hit the male, Jeremy had his hunters interpose themselves. There was more anger here than he had expected. "What the fuck are you doing here?" someone yelled. "You have no rights to be here!" someone else. "Haven't you hurt us enough already?" yet someone else. "Enough!" Jeremy yelled. He had no idea what this was about, but he wasn't going to have a war on the second day here. "You must be Jeremy," the male said, extending his hand to him. Jeremy whirled in his direct. "Don't think this means I like you. I don't like any politicians. So don't move until we've sorted this out." "Jack!" someone yelled. Jeremy looked over his shoulder to see a male running toward them. He shoved Jeremy aside and jumped in the other male's arms. "Brian, baby. I've missed you so much," Jack said, kissing him, tears falling down his face. The display seemed to baffle the humans watching. Jeremy didn't understand their reaction. Patrick made his way toward them. "Mister Kirby," he said, extending his hand. "I'm Patrick Monroe." Jack stopped kissing Brian, and, keeping an arms around him, he shook Patrick's hand. "I'm sorry," he said, studying him. "Are we suppose to have met before?" "No, but I'm one of the few people who knows what you did for us." Patrick turned to the crowd. "Senator Jack Kirby is one of us," he stated. Which got him booed and cursed. "Listen to me! If not for this man, none of you would be here right now." "You got that right!" someone yelled. "He's the guy who pushed for mandatory testing." "Do you know why he did that?" Patrick yelled. "Do you have any idea why this man stayed away from the man he loved for twenty years? Why he made sure we all hated him? It was so that when the time came for the government to decide what to do with us, they would have a reason to listen to his suggestion. If not for him, we would have been rounded up and killed." That quieted the crowd. Jack put a hand on Patrick's shoulder. "I don't expect you to like me," he said. "I knew what i was getting into when I set myself on this course of action. All I ask is that you let me and Brian live in peace. We'll stay away, as much as we can, if that's what you want, all we want, is our chance to be happy.
  18. Kindar

    Chapter 52

    "Captain," the com said, it was Korfas' voice Jeremy growled. What did the gods have against him? Couldn't he get one day to himself, with Toom? After four months of dealing with all those humans making a mess of his ship, didn't he deserve one day of peace and quiet? He'd been sure Korfas could handle having the bridge for the day. He'd grown in the half year since he'd come on board, and he was more level headed when dealing with the humans, these days, than Jeremy was. With a sigh he turned over, and away from Toom, and grabbed his com. "Yes." It took a lot of effort to keep his annoyance out of his voice. "You need to come to the bridge, sir." "Are you sure you can't handle this yourself?" "Yes, sir, I'm sure." "Alright. Let me grab a shower, and I'll be right there." "I . . . I think we can handle the scent of your mate being over you." That made Jeremy sit up. It wasn't exactly proper etiquette to show up to work smelling of sex. For Korfas to say it would be okay meant he was worried. "I'll be right there." Jeremy got out of bed. "Where are you going?" asked a sleepy Toom. "The bridge." "Aww, let Korfas deal with it. Come back to bed." "I can't, he's worried about something." Tomm let out a jaw cracking yawn. "You want me to come?" "No, go back to sleep, one of us should get to fully enjoy his day off." He put on a clean pair of pants, grabbed his jacket and was out the door. * * * * * "Alright," Jeremy said as he entered the bridge, "what's happening." "We have . . . something on the scans, about half a light year away." "Something?" half a light year was at the edge of their range, but they should get more than just 'something'. Korfas nodded to the tech seated at the scan board, and the main screen was filled with the vastness of space, with something in the middle of it. Jeremy frowned, what was that? The only way he could tell there was something there, was the distortion it caused against the stars behind and near it. Korfas joined him, and quickly sniffed the air. "You said I shouldn't bother with a shower," Jeremy remarked, not taking his eyes off the screen. "Sorry. It's not emitting anything we can detect, the scan results are as fuzzy as the image the cameras are giving us." "Any idea how big it is?" "As best as we can determine, the distortion is close to a hundred meters across, but we have no way of knowing if that's the size of something within it, or even if there is anything inside." "As anyone been by here before? Any reports of strange phenomenons?" "No, we're inside the unclaimed territories, if anyone has been here before they haven't reported it." Jeremy went to the communication board. Tamirik sniffed once, before saying. "Hi, pa." "Hey Tamirik. I know, I smell." He looked through the directory. "It's okay, I'm used to it. I lived in the same quarters as you for years, but it's strange just smell Toom on you." Her voice was wistful. "I miss him too." He found the sensor lab and called it. "Huar." "I'm here," the male said, entering the bridge. Jeremy looked up, surprised. "I called him, right after I called you," Korfas said. "Good call," Jeremy commented. Huar took the tech's place at the board. "Before you ask. This isn't caused by the sensor. I did a check before coming here. What ever problems we've been having on the ship has not affected them. I'm preparing to cycle a pulse, if there's a generator in there, powering the field, it'll tell us." "When ever you're ready," Jeremy said. "I've set the result to over impose on the main screen. Pulse is go." Jeremy, and everyone else, watched the distortion, waiting to see what would happen, so they were caught by surprise when six points lit up around the distortion, instead of anything happening there. "Huar, run the harmonics against the database!" he quickly dialed the gunner Chief. "Girgan, I want all the guns maned." "Yes, sir." Next he dialed 'all ship' "this is the captain, we will probably come under attack. All civilians are to go to the core. All military personnel, go to your position. This is not an exercise, I repeat, this is not an exercise." "Get ready to field calls," he told his daughter. It had been a long time since they'd had to do this. With this done he went back to the center of the bridge, looked at the screen, where Huar had brought back the six lit points. Six generators, that meant six ships. Who could they be? They had to be humans, nothing else made sense. "Huar, who are they?" "I don't know, sir. The harmonics aren't matching up with anything, and there's something strange about them. Like they're distorted. I've never seen anything like that." "How can they not be in the database?" Korfas asked, moving next to Huar. "I thought we'd pulsed everyone one over the years." Six ships, humans. Why here, why now? "We have," Huar answered. "If it was just that they wouldn't in the database, I'd say they are brand new ships, but this distortion, this is new. Even a new ship shouldn't show anything like that. I'm going to cycle another pulse, maybe I can get more precise readings, now that I know what to expect" Why? They were after them, that was obvious. Why draw them to this distortion? Humans were devious. They never attacked facing you, if they could find a way to stab you in the back. They would prefer to hide and ambush you . . . "Don't!" Jeremy yelled. "Don't pulse." He went back to the communication board. "Girgan, do not power up the weapons. Have them manned, but powered down, until I give the order." Everyone on the bridge was looking at him. "Captain?" Huar asked, "I need another pulse, to get an idea of what's causing this." "They're shielding their generators." That got him strange looks. He indicated the empty space on the screen. "They found a way to make themselves invisible to our sensors, so they had to do the same for the generators." "It didn't really work then, we still saw something, even if it didn't make any sense." "Yes, but I don't think they know that." Huar's eyes lit up. "They haven't been able to test the shielding. They don't have pulse tech, since we haven't make it available to anyone else in the federation." "So," Korfas continued, "if we do a second pulse, we'll reveal we saw them, since that would be the only reason to do so. What do we do then?" "This is an ambush," Jeremy stated. "The only advantage we have, is the element of surprise, so we need to maximize that." The door opened, and Toom entered. "I though I told you to stay in bed," Jeremy said. "You know I hate sleeping alone," Toom answered, giving him a nuzzle, before heading for the pilot's chair. "I was done with my shower when the 'all ship' went through. We're in trouble, this is where I belong." "Alright, then take us toward the anomaly, at a very safe speed. That's why it's there, to attract us, kelsirian curiosity, and all that. So lets go see what it is, assuming it could be dangerous. That will give us time to figure out something. Huar, keep scanning it. Let them think we don't know about the ambush." Everyone focused on their boards. Tamirik was fielding calls, mostly from humans, based on her English. Korfas and Huar were talking. Jeremy looked at the screen again. Six ships, completely unknown, there was no way they could take them on, they needed to run. But without knowing what they were facing, he couldn't know what they could do. Someone said something that didn't quite register to Jeremy, but was enough to make him look around, and then at Huar and Korfas. "What did you just say?" Both of them looked at one another, and then at Jeremy. "You were talking, what did you say?" Huar hesitated a moment. "I said, that I wondered how they were fooling our sensors" "And I said," Korfas continued, "that I wonder if it's only elecronic sensors that are fooled." "Right!" Jeremy exclaimed. "Tamirik, get me Thuruk." "Thuruk here," his voice came over the com after a moment. "Thuruk, I need you to send someone in each of the recreation rooms that has a view of space." There was a long silence. "They're on their way. Why am I sending them there?" "There are six ships before us, that our sensors can't see. I'm hoping that organic sensors aren't affected." "As soon as they are in place I'll let you know what they see." Jeremy nodded to himself, as the communication ended. "Do you know who they are?" Korfas asked. "Humans. It has to be the humans." "Why would they ambush us?" "Ignoring the vendetta they've had against me for decades, we have over three hundred Leafers." "Which they wanted us to take off their hands." "Yes, but that doesn't mean they want them to live. Leafers are proof of how they've been subjugating some of their people. They would rather destroy all of them, then letting them settle peacefully. We're in the middle of nowhere. There aren't any trade routes near here. They destroy us, and it will be years before anyone figures out what happened. We'll just be another lost ship. If they're clever about it, they could even arrange it so there aren't any trace of the attack." "How could they do that? Weapons leave distinct impact marks." "They could weaponize debris, or even small meteorites, then it looks like just another accident." Korfas shivered. "Humans really are that devious?" Jeremy nodded "No wonder they get along so well with the Taournians." "Any idea on how we can get out of this?" "We can always wait for the Gods to intervene." Jeremy looked at Korfas to confirm he wasn't serious. "Lets consider that the backup plan." "Until we know more about the ships, we can't plan much." "Captain," Thuruk said. "We have visual on six ships, of a design I've never seen before." "What are they doing?" "They're moving away from each other. The logical move is for them to encircle us." Jeremy wasn't happy, but he wasn't surprised either. "Let me know if things change." He looked at the screen. "The one advantage we have, is that they want us alive for the moment." "Why?" "I don't know. Maybe they want to torture them, or 'cure' them. But you can be sure that what ever else they are planing on, destroying us is part of it." "Captain," Toom said. "I know Thuruk said he's never seen those ships before, but there's only a specific numbers of ways to can build a ship. Someone from Structure might be able to determine what they can do." "Good idea." He nodded to Tamirik, who nodded back after a moment. "Sayane." "Here, captain." "Contact Thuruk, get your people with his, I need you to figure out what we can do against the ships surrounding us." "Yes, sir. What kind of readings do we have?" "None. Our scanners aren't getting anything from them. It's going to have to be entirely visual." "Seriously?" "Seriously." "That isn't going to make the work easy." "What can I say, I thought you could use the challenge. Bring in Alix, he might be able to help pinpoint where their generators are." "Can't we use a pulse to find out where they are?" "Not without having the ships on sensors first," Huar said, before Jeremy could. "How far from the distortion are we?" "About a quarter of a light year," Toom answered. "We're going as slow as we can, without making them think we're afraid of it." "Anything on the distortion?" "Still too far to get anything precise, but I'm confident that what ever is in it, is smaller than the distortion." Jeremy nodded. "Is there any way we can use a pulse to blind them?" Huar thought it over. "I don't see how. The pulse itself is a fraction of a second. I guess that in theory, it would be possible to boost the duration, and the power of the pulse, but I couldn't even make an attempt at it in the time we have." Korfas sighed. "This is when I think a chair would be a nice thing to have on the bridge." "You can have one on your own ship," Jeremy replied. "I happen to believe we think better on our feet." He looked at Tamirik. "Get me Sayane." "Here captain." "Quick question. If we were to ram an object, about a hundred meters all around. What kind of damage to the ship should I expect." "Depends what kind of object, what is it made out of?" Jeremy looked at the distortion. "Let's say it's a shuttle." "At full speed? It might pierce the hull. You'd want to make sure all the personnel has been evacuated from the impact area, maybe two section deep, just to be safe." "Thanks." "What are you thinking?" Korfas asked. "That not matter what, we can't take them on in a direct fight. We need to run. I'm remembering that over all, humans like to play it safe. They have an expression: 'to err on the side of caution'. They see an obstacle, and they do their best to go around it. I'm thinking that they won't expect us to ram whatever is causing the distortion." "They can still chase us." "That's why we need to cripple them." "What if we can't find anything vital to shoot at?" "Their engines are still visible. In fact, so long as they are moving toward us, they have to remain visible, and parallel. Toom, how much time to you need to get us to full speed?" "Depends on how much power Alix can give me." "Alix?" "Here." "Forget the enemy ships. I need you to give us as much power as possible, both generators. Bring down anything outside the core to the bare minimum." "Yes, sir" "Tamirik, have the front of the ship vacated, four section deep." "The gunners?" Jeremy cursed. "No, they have to remain at their post." Hopefully hitting the distortion wouldn't kill any of them "Girgan." "Here." "Anyway to give your gunners a visual without powering the guns?" "No, sir. The guns point inside when powered down." "Alright. Instruct the gunners to aim at the engines. Our goal is to cripple them. We have no way to know how fast they are, so the more damage to their engines the better." "I'll instruct them and wait for your signal." "Thuruk." "Yes, sir." "Where are the ships?" "One is in front of us, slightly higher. The other five are coming along side." "Alix! Time is of the essence here." "I know! I'm working as fast as I can. If you're not happy with my performance, feel free to come do the work in my place." "I take it, by your tone, that you haven't out done my improvements to the generators, then." The expletives that came over the com made Korfas' jaw drop, and many ears on the bridge turned red. Jeremy just chuckled. Five minutes later the light on the bridge dimmed. "There, you have everything I can spare. Just don't breath too heavily, you might over load the atmospherics." "Thuruk, tell me when most of the enemy's engines are visible to our gunners." "Well, except for the ship in front of us, now would be a good time." "Girgan! Fire at will!" A moment later the main screen indicated the battery of missiles being launched. "Captain?" Toom asked. "Not yet," Jeremy replied. "Thuruk, I need to know when we've done significant damage to their engines." The ship shook. "In case you haven't noticed," Thuruk said. "We're taking fire." On the screen, one of the enemy ship became visible. "Huar, give me a scan of it!" "On it." The ship shook again, and something, in the distance, exploded. "We've lost two section on the port side," someone said, "nothing vital, no casualty." Gods, Jeremy hoped that had been enough time. "Toom, maximum speed. Ram the distortion and get us out of here." Jeremy didn't feel anything as the ship sped up. That was good, meant the gravitics were intact. Based on the scan Huar had done, the enemy ships were about the same size as his. While he didn't know how fast they could go, he had the advantage for the moment, they had to turn around, even without damage, that would give him the lead. The question was, could he maintain it. "How far are we from our territory?" "Twelve light year," came the reply. Then the ship shook. "That was the distortion," Toom said. "I got a scan of it," Huar added. "It was a bouyee, ten meters across." "At the speed we're going, the damage is still going to be significant," Toom added. "Any pursuit?" "They're out of sensor range." "I'm running a pulse sequence. On main." Every second a pulse went out, and updated the positions of the enemy ships. "Two are still shielded, the other four aren't, I'm registering the harmonics." On the next pulse there were only five ships. "Looks like one blew up." "I think the Gods meddled," Korfas deadpanned. "You can thank them for me." Two of the ships were in pursuits. "Toom, how's our speed?" "We're maxed out, I think." "How long until we're in kelsirian territory?" "Four hours." "Send a distress call ahead." Jeremy said to Tamirik, and then looked at Korfas, "while you're thanking them, see if you can get them to put a patrol ship close by. Because I really don't think they are going to respect the border markers." "I'll see what I can do, captain."
  19. Kindar

    Chapter 51

    "Him and his furball of a boyfriend tried to rape me!" the human said, hands on the desk and glaring at Jeremy. "Why is that cat sitting here instead of being in prison!" Jeremy looked at the human, flatly. "Mister Diamond, why don't you sit down." "I don't want to sit down. I want to know why you haven't taken cared of that!" He pointed to the kelsirian seated before the desk. His fur was lack luster, eyes bloodshot, and he looked like he was going to be sick any moment. "Mister Diamond, you've just spoken three phrases, and manged to insult me and my people in each one of them. So I recommend that you sit down, before I sit you down myself." "You?" the surprise on the human's face was genuine. "I didn't insult . . ." "Sit down!" he didn't want to have to deal with this right now. Only one month in the trip and he already had enough other troubles around the ship, he was regretting agreeing to ferrying those humans. Mister Diamond was seated. "Good. Now, don't let the fact that I look like a human mislead you. I am kelsirian. I'm intervening, because you are accusing one of my people of attempted rape, something I won't stand for, but I'm not your ally. Do you have anything to add?" The human shook his head. Jeremy looked at the kelsirian. "How are you feeling, Dalfin?" He kept his tone neutral, even if he was hurting at seeing him in such a bad state. "I'm managing, I'm doing better than Ullallar, but I'm to go back to the medical bay after this." Jeremy nodded. "Tell me what happened." He raised a hand to prevent the human from speaking, and looked at him. "If you disagree about what he says, you can interject, otherwise, I want you to remain silent, understood?" The human nodded. "We met George at the mess. He has a large collection of human vids, and you know how I am about Vids. He invited us back to his quarters so he could show some of them to us. The one we were watching was amusing, but somewhere during it, I don't really remember when, I started feeling, well, amorous. I started nuzzling him, Ullallar must have felt the same, because he had his hands roaming over his body. I don't know why we didn't stop, I swear to you captain, I don't. If Ullallar hadn't fallen over, sick, we would have forced ourselves on him." He put his head in his hands. "Gods, we would have forced him to have sex with us." He looked even more sick. Jeremy waited for him to continue, but he didn't. He looked at George. "Do you disagree with what he said." He opened his mouth, but seemed to think better of saying whatever he had planned on. He shook his head. Jeremy nodded. "I have some questions." He'd read the preliminary report on Ullallar, and he knew they had omitted something. "Did you eat or drink anything while in George's room?" "We had a few beers," George said, "you know, the regular for watching a movie." "How many did each of you have?" "I had one bottle," Dalfin said, "I'd opened a second, but I didn't drink any before . . ." He looked at his feet for a moment, and then back up. "Ullallar finished at least two of them. He might have been partially through a third bottle. Jeremy looked at George. "I had two. What does that have to do with what they tried to do to me?" At least he kept his tone civil. "What kind of beer?" "It's called High Crown. My cousin makes it." "What's the alcohol content?" Just a few bottles didn't explain the readings that was in the report. "Twelve percent," George said. "What?" Dalfin exclaimed, pushing the chair back as he stood, and then had to lean on the desk to avoid falling over. "What?" George asked, surprised at the reaction. "It's beer what did you expect? It said it right on the bottle." "This explains one thing," Jeremy said. "We don't have strong alcohol. At most our drinks have one percent alcohol in them. Consequently, we don't have any tolerance for it. That's why Dalfin and his mate lost control." "They should have said something," George said, defensively, "it was written on the bottle." "Do you read kelsirian?" Jeremy asked him. "What? Of course not." "Then why are you expecting them to read English?" "They speak it." "But they don't read it. I'm the only one who's capable of reading English, here. Now, are you willing to let this go let this go as a loss of control do to an accidental over consumption of alcohol? Or do you want to push this further?" George looked at Dalfin, then at his feet, and back at Dalfin. "Yeah, I'm okay with this being an accident. I'm really sorry, I didn't know you didn't drink alcohol, or that you'd have such a back reaction to it." "It isn't because of the alcohol that they're sick. The hops in the beer poisoned them." George looked at him, eyes wide, mouth open. "You had no way of knowing, so I'm not accusing you of anything. This is the first time we've been exposed to it, so it's also an accident. Dalfin, go back to the med bay. George, you're free to go, but I don't want you to offer your beer to anyone of my crew, is that understood? If you do, I won't be kind." George needed before helping Dalfin out. Jeremy looked behind him, at Korfas, who stood still through all that. "Send a notice to the crew, human alcohol is off limits." "All of it?" "Yes. Humans make alcoholic drink for the mind altering effect. They don't have anything that going to be safe for the crew." "Very well." Korfas continued looking at him. "Yes?" "Do you drink human alcohol?" "No," Jeremy said, "human products are banned, remember?" "Your coffee is a human product," Korfas pointed out. "Yes, but coffee is worth smuggling in. To answer what I think you really meant, yes I do drink the strong stuff. The ridoshi make something I've grown the enjoy. But I rarely drink it, and only in small quantity. When I've had a really bad day." Jeremy looked at the door. "At this rate I'm going to become addicted to the stuff by the time we reach Paradise," he grumbled. * * * * * Jeremy looked at the chiefs sitting around the meeting table. This wasn't how he normally did his meetings, he preferred one on one, but circumstances were calling for something drastic. "Alright, I'm hoping we can make some headway into resolving these problems, because we still have four months to go, and at this rate, I'm starting to worry the ship will fall apart before we get there. Pernic, what's the status of the brig." "We're at capacity, sir. I've had to increase guard duties to be able to keep the peace, I've even had to borrow some of the hunters, to give my people some relief. The humans are constantly causing troubles." "All the humans?" Jeremy asked. "No, our humans are behaving, mostly, I've had to put a few of them in the brig, for getting into fights with the other humans. I don't understand, they're all Leafers, they should be getting along, shouldn't they?" Thuruk glanced at Jeremy, who ignored it. He would be dealing with that later. "Humans can be confrontational, and lets remember that quarters are cramped, that's not going to help keep tempers calm." "I thought humans liked small spaces." "Only if they're alone in them. What's the reasons for the fights?" "Over all, it's the humans over drinking, then getting into arguments, which escalate into fights." "Maybe we should take away the alcohol," Alix commented. "That's going to make them angry," Jeremy replied, "which is just going to make matters worse." "I'd have thought they would have drank all of it, by now," Thuruk said. "You'd have thought. Sayane, can we turn one of the cargo bay into holding cells?" "Certainly," she answered, "I can probably double the numbers of cell we have, just by using one of the smaller bays." "Alright. You and Pernic work it out together. Janilan, what is the food status." "If things continue as they are, not good. Food is disappearing, not that we're eating more than expected, someone is stealing it. The refrigerated storage failing is going to make things worse. We are already getting close to having to ration food." "We're working on fixing the storage," Retik piped in. "Janilan, run calculations, and start planing for rationing. Keep in mind that cubs and pregnant females are to be excluded from it. We can't risk their health." Janilan nodded. "Thuruk, get some hunters looking into the theft. I know that would normally be your field Pernic, but your people are already being over worked, and we can't afford for those theft to continue." Both males nodded. "Retik, what caused the storage to fail?" "A power relay exploded." "Exploded?" Jeremy repeated. "How does that happen?" "An energy spike." "I've scanned the whole ship," Alix interjected, "there haven't been any spikes that could have blown out a relay." As he finished talking, the lights dimmed and brightened back to normal. "Can someone cause a specific relay to explode" Thuruk asked. "Not through the system," Retik replied. "How about from outside the system?" Jeremy asked. "Can someone manually cause a relay to overload?" Retik thought for moment. "Yes." "We have what's needed to make that happen?" "In storage." "Xenial, I need you to do a full inventory. Something's going to be missing, I want to know what it is." Xenial nodded. "Alix, have you worked out what's causing the power to fluctuate?" "No, not yet. It shouldn't be happening, the generator is running fine, and not at capacity, but if we don't find the drain, we're going to need the backup to keep up." "No, the backup stays offline," Jeremy stated. "Sir, if we don't find the drain, we will run out." "Then we ration the power, if it gets to that. I don't think it will, but the backup stays offline. That's final. Sayane, how's the ship's structure?" "That's fine. Seems to be the only thing that's not having troubles." "I'm not surprised," Jeremy mumbled to himself, but still drew looks from Korfas, seated to his right. "Brafern, how is medical?" "There's been an increase in minor injuries, the older female answered, "but that's to be expected with the increase in fighting. We have a few theft of medicine, but that's stopped. I think who ever it was, discovered that it didn't work as expected with their biology." "Alright. Does anyone have anything to add?" shakes of the head all around. "Then we are done." Everyone but him rose. "Thuruk, please stay." Korfas started sitting again. "I need you to leave," Jeremy told him. "Why? I'm suppose to be learning from you." "I know, but I can't have you here right now." For a moment it looked like Korfas might argue, but then he left. Jeremy leaned back in his chair, and ran a hand over his face. "Gods, I need a scotch." "Already out?" "No. But if I drink one each time I need one, I'm not going to be able to do anything. So, we're both thinking sabotage." Thuruk nodded. "Even crowded like we are, we shouldn't be having failures like this. They are being manufactured. I just don't know how to find out who is doing it, other than catching them in the act." "That's what I want to talk to you about. Among our humans, how many of them would you trust with your life?" "With my life? Maybe a dozen. They're all good people, but those are the only ones I know well enough for that." "Just twelve? I don't know if we'll be able to do this with only twelve." "What are you planing?" "I want to form a human Hunting Squad." Thuruk's ears folded back. "Train humans to be Hunters? I'm not so certain about that." "I'm not thinking full training, just make them into a squad, and have them infiltrate the new humans. We can't get close enough to them to find out who is sabotaging my ship, but humans could." "That's why you want some we can trust." "Yeah." "I have a few squad leaders under me who've gotten close to our humans, they can probably give me more we can trust with this." Thuruk was silent for a moment. "How do you feel about putting cubs into that squad?" Jeremy had an immediate reaction against that idea, but he forced it aside. "What do you mean?" "I've noticed how humans tend to be more open toward cubs, they could help with the infiltration." Jeremy forced himself to consider it. "How old are you thinking?" "Around fourteen. Older than that, and human cubs are sometime treated as adults." "Fourteen," Jeremy whispered. It's wasn't like with their cubs, who at fourteen would already be working on ships, or be in the process of being trained to become hunters. At fourteen, a human cub was still a cub, it would be at least two years before he would even think about doing adult things. "Are you sure? I'm not comfortable with them being that young." "I might be able to find a few who are older, but look young, but I really think that's the best age. I'm not willing to bring in younger cubs." "Okay, and you think you'll be able to find enough of them you can trust?" "With ease. The influx of new humans has caused a lot of frictions between their cubs and ours. Seems one groups thinks it deserves to be treated better, even if they have just arrived." "Alright, but the moment it looks like things might go wrong, you are pulling them out. I don't want them put in immediate danger." "Agreed." "Get to it." Thuruk left, and Jeremy sighed, enjoying the silence. The lights dimmed, and he growled. He left the room, only to find Korfas waiting for him. "You don't trust me, that's why you didn't want me there." Jeremy sighed. He didn't want to deal with him right now. He wanted to go find Toom, pull him from what whatever was occupying him, and go to bed. But Korfas deserved an explanation. "If this had happened four month ago, you would be correct." Jeremy started walking, and Korfas fell in step with him. "To tell you the truth, back then, I didn't think you'd stick with this. I thought you'd realize this isn't for you and focus on something more appropriate." He looked at him. "Now, though, now, I think you're going to make a good captain, eventually, and I do trust you. I didn't include you in the discussion to protect you. What we agreed to do in there might not be entirely legal. If you know the details, you could be held accountable." "Shouldn't that have been my decision to make?" "No. A captain's duty is to protect his crew. That doesn't always means keeping them away from danger, sometime, it means keeping them ignorant of what's happening." "I don't agree," Korfas said, "we know what we are embarking upon when we sign up. We're here to support our captain, to help him however we can." Jeremy smiled. "You're going to make a very different captain then I am, Yankorfasbernipol, And that is not a slight on you."
  20. Kindar

    Chapter 47

    Toom rejoined him as Jeremy was heading to the ship's berth. He'd stepped away to answer his com. They could have stayed groundside, the family had wanted them to. Roumalger had been most insistent, but to Jeremy, he looked too much like Gral. As much as he'd enjoyed having sex with him in the past, and knew that once he'd finished mourning, he would again, right now it would be too much a reminder of who he had lost. So Jeremy had decided to go back home, to the ship, his ship he had to remind himself, still not use to it. Jeremy wrapped an arm around Toom's and rested his head on his shoulder. "All I want to do is curl up in bed with you." That Toom didn't immediately reply made Jeremy look at him. "I wish we could, but we need to talk." "What's wrong?" "Not here. Lets go to your office." * * * * * "Okay, what is wrong?" Jeremy asked, as soon as the door closed behind them. "You're going to want to have a seat." Jeremy sat, constantly looking at Toom. "You're making me really nervous." "Sorry. I was hoping I'd have more time before this happened." He stopped Jeremy from saying anything with a gesture. "You probably didn't know this, but Gral had enemies. I know he was careful to keep this from you." "We're hunters, considering the number of people we've sent to the colonies, we've all made enemies." Toom shook his head. "No, within the fleet. One of the reason Gral spent so much time away from Kelser, is that each time he'd came back, they'd try to take the ship away from him." "Why? How?" "The why can be summed up by: politics, which he hated, the how, by promoting him to a position that wouldn't allow him to captain." Jeremy looked at Toom, thoughtful. "Why do you need to tell me this now?" "Because you've inherited his enemies." Jeremy straightened up. "Why? I haven't done anything to them, who ever they are?" "It isn't really about you, not anymore, it's about the ship. What you need to know is that you're going to be called in to see a military council. You can't refuse to go, since you're not currently on a mission, or on patrol." "I take it, it's too late to leave now." Toom gave him a sad smile. "You wouldn't be able to get authorization to leave the station, let alone get a patrol route assignment." "How do you know this is coming?" "One of my contacts in that chain of orders owed me a favor, and he repaid it by informing me. And now I have to do my best to prepare you for what ever they will try. They can't promote you, so they are going to try something else. The thing to remember, is that they will make it seem like they are doing it for your benefit. Also, they can't force you to give up the captainship, not yet anyway." "Alright, so they have to convince me to step down." "Yes, and if you do it, even temporarily, getting the ship back would be almost impossible." "Do you know who I'm up against? Why they want the ship, and what I can use against them?" Toom eyed him. "What?" "Gral never asked for armament against them." Jeremy nuzzled him. "You need to have your eyes examined, I look nothing like him." Jeremy had to dry his eyes, as did Toom. "The council will be composed of five people. Only one of which may be an ally." * * * * * "Admiral Oturslgirnal, what a pleasure it is to run into you," Jeremy said, sitting at th admiral's table. The restaurant wasn't exactly cheap, and he was happy he wasn't going to be staying. "Captain Jeremy," the admiral said, not too happy to see him. "What is the meaning of this." "Well, if you hadn't spent the last two days dodging me, I wouldn't have to resort to hunting you." "How did you know where to find me? This isn't on any of my calenders." "I'm a hunter, Admiral. We have our ways." The server came next to Jeremy, but he waved him away. "I'm going to make this quick, since I know you're expecting the rest of your party in twenty minutes. I know I'm about to be called for a meeting. I also know who's going to be on that council, and that four of them want my ship. Having found out I inherited my Heart's political enemies, I need to know if I inherited his friends." The admiral looked at him for a moment. "Friends might be too strong a word for what Gralgiranselhelrarvnir and I shared. Our interests were aligned, that's all." "Are they still?" Jeremy studied the male opposite him. "Or are you worried that because I'm human born, my loyalties might waver." The admiral laughed. "I read the reports of what you did when humans tried to abduct your cubs. And the extent you went to to send those humans a message. No, I don't doubt your loyalties." "Then, what do you doubt?" "I've read those reports, all of them. I know the kind of hunter you are. That is supported by you just showing up here at my table. That's what concerns me." Jeremy nodded, and then was silent. "Do you know one of the things Gral loved about me?" Jeremy asked, and waited for the admiral to shake his head. "He loved how determined I was. I'm not afraid to go after what I want, I'm also not afraid of the consequences. That's the kind of hunter I am." It was the admiral's turn to study him. He drank from his glass. "I will not say that I am your friend, not yet. But I am not your enemy, I will give you that." Jeremy nodded, and stood. "Thank you." He left. * * * * * Jeremy entered the council chamber. It was his first time, in one of them, on Kelser. It was much smaller than those the federation had. The room only had the curved table, behind which the five people sat, and a space for him to stand, before them. No room for an audience. The only thing that didn't belong, from what he'd read, was that there was a chair placed where he would normally stand. "Why is there a chair?" he asked. The female occupying the center seat smiled at him. "We thought that after what you've been through, you might prefer sitting during this meeting." She was Faraldinortelshel, she was currently on the planetary board of leaders, which meant that she really shouldn't be here, such a meeting was far below her station. She had been behind many of the attempts to take the ship away from Gral in recent years, in the hopes of giving the captainship to her son, who still hadn't achieved it on his own. The ploy was clever, Jeremy had to admit, if he accepted the offer, he would be in a bad position to deny he needed rest. "I'll stand, as is protocol." He pushed the chair with a foot and took it's place. He took a comfortable stance, and held his hands behind his back. "First off," said the male on her right. General Turkamilrir. He, and Snifurnolkah, a politician, sitting to his right, were part of a faction that wanted to take the ship and send it to the combat lines in Alamir, and used its reputation as a moral weapon. "We want to start by offering our sympathies, Gralgiranselhelrarvnir was a great hunter. He will be missed by all, and most profoundly, you." "Thank you." "Having said that," Konserafin, another politician, this one's faction wanted to retire the ship from active duty and turn it into a propaganda piece. How they could think that would help anyone, Jeremy couldn't figure out. "We believe that you might want to stay planet side for some time. Give yourself the time to grieve." "What Konserafin means," Faraldinortelshel added, "is that since you lost your Heart, you haven't had time to pause and take in what has happen. And we would understand if you thought some time under the sun might be helpful. I understand that your Heart's family would be more than happy to take you in while you rested." Jeremy was really happy Toom had warned him. If not for that, their offer would seem reasonable. "I appreciate the offer, but I can't abandon my post. Yes, the lost has hit me, but I'm hunter. Lost is something we all to deal with as some point in this work. I also have a hundred and fifty-nine humans on my ship. I wouldn't feel right passing them along to a captain who isn't used to working with them." "The report we read said you had a hundred fifty-seven," she said "That's correct. We had two birth in the month getting here." "Birth? I was under the impression you had rescued Leafers." "We did." "Aren't Leafers humans who have sex with the same gender?" asked Konserafin. "Leafers also include family who support them, as well as anyone who helps them and their cause. Only eighty-three of the rescued are people of have sex with the same gender, but not all of them exclusively. Some are like us, and will have sex with either gender. We currently have three pregnancies in progress." That left them silent for a moment. "There is some concern over your methods," Snifurnolkah said, reading something on a pad. "The event on Herontig Station are disconcerting." "Are you arguing my right to protect my cubs?" "Of course not, but the severity with which you enacted that right . . . Then there's the incident that followed that. You illegally infiltrated a ship and placed a bomb near a military leader on that ship." Jeremy eyed the politician steadily. If he'd hoped to unnerve him by bring him this back up, he was out of luck, Jeremy had come to terms with what he'd done. "Ignoring, for a moment, that it happened years before I was given the captainship. That military leader was human, in our space illegally. I didn't actually harm him, I just gave him a message, to pass along. Also, this was already brought up to a council. It was decided that it was up to my captain to punish me." "And what did he do?" "He made me paid for it." Jeremy's tone was glacial. "Well, yes. Still, it does bring up your competency to captain a ship." "I see. So this meeting is about taking my ship away from me." "It isn't your ship," Faraldinortelshel stated. "It is," Jeremy countered. "As per Kelsirian Military protocol, establish by General Liamtirfelselportamir, and approved by the planetary leaders. Upon a captain's death while on duty, the ship will be passed to a person of his choosing. If that person accept the position, he, or she, has two years to demonstrate competency." He paused. "At most, I've been captain for a month. You have no justifications, or rights, to take my ship away." That left them speechless. "I like to read," Jeremy explained. Faraldinortelshel looked to admiral Oturslgirnal. "You haven't said anything admiral, don't you have something to add?" Oturslgirnal looked back at her. "I do. I want to know why this council is obsessed with taking a ship away from the people the Gods have assigned to it." "What?" She exclaimed. "I thought you agreed with me." He snorted. "I did. You said you wanted to make sure the right person captained the Viper's bane. That right person is Jeremy, not your son. You want to try to take the ship away from him? You're going to have to wait two years, but I can promise you, you won't be able to find a reason to take it away. This farce has gone on long enough." He stood. "Captain Jeremy, you are free to go."
  21. Kindar

    Chapter 42

    "Captain," the older kelsirian said, a moment after his image appeared on the screen "Admiral Oturslgirnal, thank you for taking my call so quickly." "I wasn't going to keep the Hunter at the Line waiting," he replied, smiling warmly. "What is the reason for you call?" Gral kept the grimace from showing, he hated that title. He'd acquired it after the general had fabricated a vision that let Gral continue to patrol the kelsirian-human border. He was grateful to the Admiral, but he didn't like the reminder of the fabrication. "I think we need to meet," Gral said. "A meeting? Are you close to Kelser? You could have arranged that through my secretary." "I'm not. And I'm not sure you want this to go through channel. We've come across . . . something." "Isn't that a little presumptuous of you? Requesting a meeting, just because you found something?" "I'm confident you don't want me to file a report on this, considering you're the one who assigned me this patrol route." "I didn't assign you anything, you have Freedom of Hunt." "When I'm pursuing a quarry, yes. The rest of the time I follow my assigned patrol route, and you are the one in charge of assigning those." The admiral leaned back in his chair and eyes him. "You're certain this is that important?" "Yes, sir." "Be in your sensor lab in ten minutes, you'll get a message there." The communication cut, leaving Gral perplexed. "Huar," "Yes captain?" "Meet me in your lab in five minutes." Gral left his office. * * * * * The sensor lab wasn't much to look at for Gral. A reasonably sized room, with more readouts screen lining the walls that he could count. He knew Huar could find out the state of any individual sensor from here, he also knew he didn't spend much time in this room, preferring to do visual inspections. They had been waiting for a few minutes, when a message arrived. A string of number that was meaningless to Gral. "That's a frequency setting," Huar said, "but that isn't within sensor range." "Can you get the sensor to reach it?" "Sure, I can adjust the sensor to 'see' anything, it's just surprising. There's nothing in that range." He typed commands, and then entered the frequency he had received. "I'm brining up on screen, but we're not going to see anything." The admiral's face appeared. "Gods," Huar exclaimed, "how is that possible?" he started typing. "Leave it, Engineer," the admiral ordered, and Huar stopped. "We're using the frequency as a sub-carrier wave. It's outside standard scan ranges, and even then, it's almost undetectable. I'd appreciate it if you didn't look into it any deeper." "Yes, sir," Huar replied. "Please leave us," Gral said, and Huar left the lab. The Admiral made a sign, and Gral saw shadows move, heard a door open and then close. "Now, captain. What's so important." "I have a human exploration ship, and its pilot. Which isn't a surprise to you, I take it," Gral added, at the lack of reaction from the admiral. "It isn't, humans have been been exploring unclaimed territories since before we met them." "So have we. But I'm guessing you know more about this ship than any of the others, am I right?" "You are," that admiral said, after a moment. "What state is the ship in? And it's pilot?" "The ship's engine is offline, damage cause by a micro meteorite. The pilot is physically fine, but his state of mind is dubious, at best. He spent eight years in total isolation, from what I saw, even humans can't take that much." "I need you to repair his ship, but in a way that can't reveal you did it. Then you need to send him back to the humans." "Why?" "He's part of a group that's working to free a subset of their citizen from their government's oppression." "The silver leaf pin." "You know about it?" "Yes, I ran across it when I escorted Jeremy to see his mother." "I don't recall this being mentioned in a report." "I didn't think it was relevant, just two males, accosting us in a bar, giving us the pin, and mentioning something about a plan. I thought they were just part of a small group wishing their situation was better." "Their group isn't small. We don't have any numbers, but there are a lot of them. The human government calls them 'Homos' "They call themselves, 'Leafers'." The surprise on the admiral's face told Gral he hadn't known that. "The human pilot, Adam, told us." "They have placed some of their people in positions of power, and they are working toward something they call 'exodus'." The word was human, and unknown to Gral. He'd ask Jeremy about it. "How are they infiltrating their own government?" "By being careful not to be noticed. If no one knows about their preferences, they are invisible within their society." "What does an explorer who's been away from human space for eight years have to do with their plans? The only thing in his databanks are scans of planets." "I don't know. Maybe you can get him to tell you that. All I know is that he and a few other explorers are very important to them." Gral nodded. "Adam mentioned something about applying pressure. Do you have any idea what he means?" The admiral though it over and shook his head. "No, but I'll pass the information to the ambassadors working close with the humans, they may know. Is there anything else?" Gral shook his head. "Then, good hunting, oh and thank your mate for the upgrade he came up for the sensors. What's how we have this sub carrier wave." The admiral cut the transmission without explaining further. * * * * * "Hello Adam," Gral said, as they stood before his cell. "I'm Gral, I'm the ship's captain. You remember Jeremy, my mate, and this is Leiha, the ship's mentalist." Adam was sitting on his bed, nervously looking at them. "That's a mentalist? So I want to know? Am I suppose to know?" "I help people who have problems with their minds," she answered. "You're a mind doctor," Adam stated, regarding her suspiciously. "That would be an appropriate description." "I don't like mind doctors. They do things, they try to change you. To make you 'normal'." Gral and Jeremy exchanged a look. "I do nothing of the sort," Leiha said. "I help people quiet their mind, so they can know who they are. If there is something in their mind that hurts them, I help them find out what it is, and come to terms with it." "Where are your machines? Mind doctors always have machines. Big machines, small machines, painful machines." Leiha looked at Jeremy, who wasn't showing any of the discomfort he was feeling. She could tell that he was now wondering if Adam's problems had been caused by those doctors, instead of the isolation. "I don't use machines, it's only me, and you." "And them." Leiha nodded. "The captain and his mate have questions for you. And if you'll let me, I'd like to help you answer them." "No, I'm not suppose to tell anyone. The plan won't work if they know." "Who's 'they'? Jeremy asked. "No, no, no, no! You won't get me to tell you!" He put his hands over his mouth. Gral crouched before the glass. "Adam, we want to help you. My ship's structural engineer is repairing your ship. When that's done, we'll send you back toward human space, even if you don't tell us anything. But we want to help you, and it's going to be easier to do that if we know what's going on." "Why? Why would you want to do that? No, no. No one whats to help. They just want you to be normal. Being different is wrong." He had pulled his knees to his chest an he was rocking back and forth. "Adam," Leiha said, "tell me about Robert." "Robert?" Adam stopped rocking, and his features softened. "Robert's an accountant, he lives across the hall from me. He helped me forget the nightmares, he's waiting for me to come home." "What happens once you get home?" "Nothing," Adam sighed. "He going to have to ignore me. I'm going to be too visible, I'm going to be on tv a lot. We're going to have to be apart until e leave." "Why do you have to remain apart?" Gral asked, before Jeremy could stop him. "Because if they find out about us, the doctors are going to come back. I don't want the doctors anymore. I don't want them to know about Robert." "Adam," Jeremy said softly. "What can we do to help you and Robert?" "You have to send me back. I have to go home, and be ignored by him, even if that's going to hurt." "Why?" "Because I found it. I found the place where we can go to. He got off the bed and leaned against the glass. "And you know the best part?" he whispered. "They are going to send us there willingly." "Why will they do that?" "Because they're going to think they are sending us to hell, when in reality they are sending up to paradise."
  22. Kindar

    Chapter 40

    "Pa! you're home!" Rudyum ran to him, and jumped in his arms. Jeremy caught him and twirled him around. "How was you day?" he asked his son. Rudyum had been greeting him this way since he'd first return, six day ago. Jeremy could tell that Rudyum hadn't taken his absence well, and that he was worried Jeremy wouldn't return from work one day. Jeremy did his best to comfort him. "Today we learned all about Thuruksamian, did you know he created everything?" "I remember reading about that," Jeremy replied, putting him down. He wasn't going to be able to pick his son up like that for much longer, he was growing fast. He went to his room to change out of his work clothes. He came back to the living area to Tamirik reciting 'dadadada," as she waddled toward Gral, who had just entered their quarters. Gral picked her up, and nuzzled her. "Hi dad," Rudyum said. Gral had gone from father, to dad when Tamirik started speaking and calling him 'da'. There use to be a lot of warmth when he said that. Now his face was cold. What Jeremy and Gral had one through had affected their son, and he could only hope that as they healed the rift, Rudyum would start warming up to his dad again. "Welcome home," Jeremy said, before heading for the cooking area. Gral deposited their daughter back among her toys, and sat down in his favorite chair to read. She went back to playing. "What do you think I should make for the meal, hatary? Or kourren?" Jeremy asked. "Doesn't matter to me," Gral replied, not looking up for his pad. Jeremy stifled a sigh. "Please Gral. You know that's not how this works." Gral was still being difficult about this. Jeremy didn't miss Rudyum, looking from him to Gral, frowning. "Tary, tary, tary," Tamirik sang form where she was sitting. "Can we, pa?" Rudyum asked. "Can we have hatary?" Jeremy looked at Gral, ho didn't look in his direction, but at least put the pad down. "Yeah, hatary sounds good, we haven't had that in a while." "Hatary it is." Jeremy started taking the ingredients out of the cooler and pantry. Rudyum's face lit up, and Tamirik continued with her chant of 'tary, tary, tary.' He was halfway through preparing the meal when the door opened. Tamirik stood unsteadily, and then waddled her way to the new commer. "Toomtoomtoomtoomtoom." Jeremy found himself wishing she would greet him the same way, but at least she was no longer looking at him wearily. Toom picked up as soon as she was within reach. "And how is my Tamirikaniesoulima," he asked, nuzzler her. "Soulima!" was her reply, and then she giggled. Tamirik was to the stage where she could do more than string single words together. "Toom," Gral said, putting his pad aside, and standing. "This is a surprise." He hugged them, Tamirik squeeing. "I missed my favorite little female," Toom replied, wrapping his free arm around Gral. Jeremy looked at them, and smiled. He was happy to see that Gral could still smile, a genuine smile, not the things he forced once in a while when looking at Jeremy. Gral looked up at him, and gave him this genuine smile. A moment later, it was gone and Gral's eyes clouded over. Jeremy focused back on preparing the meal. "How are you doing?" Toom asked him, standing on the other side of the counter. "As well as can be expected," Jeremy replied. "I wanted to give you both some space, I hope I'm not intruding." "Of course not." Jeremy reached over to pull him closer into a nuzzle. "You're always welcome here, you know that." Toom smiled and licked him on the cheek. "Thanks. How are the two of you doing?" "I don't know. Better, I hope. I know he saw Leiha yesterday. But he's still being difficult on some of the things she wants us to do." He looked over toom's shoulder. Tamirik was on Gral's lap, and he was making faces at her. "Have you seen her?" "My session is tomorrow." Toom put a hand on his. "You're going to get through this" "I know," Jeremy said, smiling at him. "The Gods worked too hard to bring us together, I'm not going to let that be in vain." For a moment it looked like Toom was going to say something, but Rudyum wrapped his arms around his belly. "Are you going to eat with us?" Toom rubbed his head, and scratched at the base of an ear. "I probably shouldn't, this is a time for your family to be together." "Even more reason for you to stay," Jeremy stated, "you're family." "Jeremy's right," Gral said. "You're as close to a near father to them as anyone of the ship." "Thank you, both of you. I'll be honored to eat with you." * * * * * The meal was good, both the food and the atmosphere. There was laughter, and stories. Rudyum told them what he'd learned about Thuruksamian. Gral recounted a story of when he was a cub himself, and managed to get tangled into one of his father's tree, trying to go after the biggest fruit on it. Toom's story was about his first operation, a rescue, where he not only didn't come back with the right person, but he'd ended up bringing back his commander's mate. Jeremy talked about his family, his brothers, who loved to play tricks on everyone, his sister, who could make you feel like she was reproachful, even when she was giving you a compliment, and his mother, who loved everyone she knew, as unconditionally as she could. At no time during the meal did Gral speak directly to Jeremy, but he did glance at him, and the smiles were genuine. This was the first meal that had felt normal since his return. After the meal the five of them sat in the living area and continued talking, until the cubs had to be taken to bed. After that, Toom excused himself, needing to go back to his quarters for the night. Jeremy wanted to ask him to stay, He was part of their family, and he shouldn't have to sleep apart from them, but he didn't. It wouldn't be fair to Toom to bring him in while he and Gral still had so much work to do. He nuzzled him, and wished him a good night. After that, silence descended on their quarters. Gral went back to his pad, and Jeremy pulled up reports from engineering that had come in after he'd left for the day. When bed time arrived, they both undressed and sat on the edge of the bed, on opposite sides, their backs to each other. Jeremy closed his eyes. "I love how safe I feel when I'm with you." It wasn't a lie, not so long ago, being in Gral's arms had been the safest place, and he knew that it would be the same, one day. He didn't move. There was a deep breath form Gral. "I . . . I love how determined you are. How you will keep to a hunt once you set your mind to it. How you will confront what ever obstacle that finds itself in front of you, that you will stay the course, regardless of the consequences." He got in the bed. Jeremy turned before sliding in. Gral's back was to him. This hadn't been Leiha had instructed them to say, but he didn't care. He could tell in the tone that it was genuine. Normally he'd sleep with his back to Gral, but he found he didn't want this time. The bowl shape naturally moved him so he was pressing against his back, and he tentatively put an arm over Gral's side. When his Heart didn't shake him off, he pressed a little closer. "I miss you," Jeremy whispered. After a moment, Gral took his hand, and squeezed it. * * * * * Jeremy and Gral were panting on the bed. The sex had been amazing, as it usually was. It wasn't the first time, it had taken them six month to reconcile enough that sex together became a regular part of their lives again, and for the year after that, it had just gotten better, but this time, it felt different. Jeremy couldn't say why, but now that they were catching their breath, covered in sweat and bodily fluids, he felt more at ease in his Heart's arm. "I'm afraid of loosing you," Gral whispered. Jeremy looked up at him, that was a strange thing to say. "I'm not going anywhere." Gral shook his head. "When you hurt those males, who tried to kidnaps the cubs, the idea that you might be taken from me hurt. After the operation you ran, I was afraid the humans would take you, and find a way to make you hate me. It hurt so much I didn't know how to deal with it." "It's alright, they won't take me, ever." Gral smiled at him. "It doesn't matter. I'm terrified of how much it will hurt if I do lose you. I'm so afraid of it, that I want to lock you away, someplace no one, not even the Gods will be able to get to you." He was silent for a moment. "I know it's stupid. I'm not really going to do it, but that fear is always at the back of my mind." "I wish I could tell you that I'll never leave, but we're hunters, we live dangerous lives. All I can do is promise that I'll do my best to always be here for you." "Thanks," Gral nuzzled the top of his head. "That operation I ran, against the humans. The reason I did it, was because I'd realized that you and the cubs were in danger because of me. I was scared that if I didn't make the point hard with the humans, that they would keep coming and one day I'd lose one of you." They were silent, and Jeremy realized that he felt a weight lifted from him, now that he'd admitted why he'd done what he'd done. * * * * * Jeremy was preparing some tatsuro. He didn't particularly like the dish, but he wasn't doing this for himself. The door opened, and Toom ran in, panting. "What's wrong?" Jeremy looked up, and stifled a smile, Toom's pants were on backward. Gral calmly stood from his chair. Toom looked from one to the other, confused by their calm demeanor. "I got a message to come here urgently." Jeremy washed his hands. Gral was next to Toom now. "What's wrong," he said, "is that we were wondering why you weren't home yet." Toom frowned. "I was home. I was almost asleep when I got the call." Jeremy joined them. "That isn't home," he said, putting a hand on Toom's cheek. "Your home should be here." Toom was obviously confused. "I don't understand." Gral nuzzled him. "We're told you over and over, you are family. You are our family." "You, you want me to be your mate?" "Yes," Jeremy answered. "The cubs already treat you as their near father, an we both love you. If you'll have us, we want you to be our mate." Toom hugged them tightly, and rubbed his muzzle against both their face. "Yes," he whispered. "The Gods be praised, yes."
  23. Kindar

    Chapter 39

    Jeremy had been in the brig for a week, alone. On a ship like the Viper's bane, the brig was almost exclusively used to hold prisoners, so he wasn't surprised to be the only one held there. What surprised him, at first, was that no one came to see him. Then he realized that Gral had probably ordered the guards to prevent his friends from dropping by. So, for a week it had been lights on at six, three meals, and lights out at twenty two. With nothing to do. "Finally!" Jeremy exclaimed when he heard the door open. It wasn't meal time, so it could only mean he'd finally decided to come talk to him. "It's about time you decided to . . ." His words died as he saw it wasn't Gral. Jeremy looked over Toom's shoulder to see if there was anyone else, a stupid move, it wasn't like Gral would have been able to hide behind the smaller kelsirian. "The captain's not coming," Toom said. "Of course he isn't," Jeremy snorted. He sat back on the bench. "How long is he going to keep me locked up?" "Until we reach Kelser, there he's going to have you transfered to an incarceration center." "What? This is ridiculous. Gods, what does he think he's doing?" Toom eyes him for a moment. "What is he doing? What did you think he was going to do when he found out about that operation?" "He wasn't suppose to find out about it." "So, on top of everything, you think your Heart is stupid." "Come on, he can't be that mad. We didn't get caught, and I don't see the humans brining it up, ever." "Mad? You didn't see what he did to his office, after throwing you in here." "It's kind of obvious I didn't see it." Jeremy pointed to his surroundings. "And you're not taking any of this seriously," Toom said, with a sigh. "How am I suppose to take this seriously, when I don't understand what the big deals all about. Humans were operating inside our territory, I made it pretty clear to them they would leave, and I didn't hurt anyone." "You're wrong, people have been hurt." Jeremy frowned at him. "Even if I assume that you really did that to get them to leave, which I don't. I know you too well. It wasn't your place to do it. You should have brought the information to the captain, and he would either have acted on it, or passed it along to his superiors. You endangered all of us, again." "No, I didn't! I did it exactly this way to make sure the crew would be safe. If the humans ever managed to trace anything back, it would only lead to me. No one else. Gods, the crew's safe, the ship's safe. What is he so angry about?" Toom tilted his head. "You really don't see it?" the surprise in Toom voice perplexed Jeremy. "See what? What are you talking about?" Toom let out a small, sad, laugh. He put a hand on the glass separating them. "After all these years, I really though you'd finally get it." He turned and left. "Get what?" Jeremy screamed after him. * * * * * Jeremy was standing before the council, the second time he'd been in such a position. The first time had been less grim. He was showered, shaved and wearing prisoner's gray. His hands were no longer restrained - they had been for the entire shuttle flight and walk to the groundside military administrative center. Gral had been by his side the entire time, but he hadn't said a word, he hadn't even looked at him. It was the first time they had seen each other in a month, and his mate wouldn't even looked at him. Jeremy hadn't thought he could hurt much more than when he'd been thrown in the brig and ignored there. He'd been wrong. "Captain," the central councilor said, "we've read the files you sent us, but we're still uncertain why you requested this meeting." He was an older male, Jeremy could tell because even sitting he was stooping forward. His fur was still a vibrant golden brown. "I'm here to turn over this terrorist, for judgment." Gral replied. "What?" Jeremy yelled, looking at his mate. "The prisoner will be silent," a female said. He didn't see whom, because he was glaring at Gral, who continued to look in front of him. "Do you deny the accusation?" "I deny being a terrorist, but no, I don't deny what's probably in that file." "You haven't seen the file?" she asked. She was sitting left of center, and looked to be a little younger, even if her fur as light gray. "No. I haven't." "They why don't you tell us what you did?" "How much detail do you want?" "Just give us the over all hunt. If we need details we'll ask for them." Jeremy nodded. "The operation consisted of infiltrating a ship crewed by humans. One of my operative procured one of their uniform so I could move about undetected. Another infiltrated their computer system, he monitored my progress and gave me access to where i needed to go." "The captain was unable to find out who your operatives were, will you be naming them?" Jeremy couldn't stop himself form looking at Gral, in surprise. "No, sir. I won't. As operation leader, I take full responsibility for what was done. They were following my orders, nothing more." He didn't know why Gral hadn't included them in his report, but he wasn't going to give them up, if he hadn't. "Very well, continue." "I made my way to the office of the human general Walter Malcolm Concryte. I installed a bomb to his office chair. The bomb was set to become active when he sat down, and detonate if he left the chair. Once the general sat, I explained to him that he needed to leave me alone, and go home. Once I said what I had to say, I neutralize the bomb and left." "What I'd like to know," said another female, on the left, her fur was mate black with random white stripes. "Is why you took it upon yourself to give a message to human illegally operating within the federation. You should have given that information to your captain." Jeremy didn't answer immediately. "I had to make a point. Humans have kidnapped me twice, and attempted to kidnap our cubs. Which happened on the Sitory station, deep in Kelsirian territory, where no humans had any business being. "I had to make them understand that I didn't need my Heart to protect me, or my crew. I needed to show them that if they came after me again, *I* was going to make them pay. I believed that a direct operation against them was the only way to make that point." "Why didn't you involve your captain?" "He wouldn't have let me do it." "Would it have been because he didn't think you couldn't accomplish the operation?" "No. Like you said, I shouldn't have done it. I knew he would have force me to stay in the sidelines while an official response was mounted. I also didn't tell him, because I didn't want to the operation to be traced back to him and endanger the crew." Gral snorted, and Jeremy grated his teeth, fighting not to ask what that was about. "So you left the ship, and no one was hurt." "That is correct." "Did you do anything else to the ship?" "I had one of my operative install three minor programs in their system, to trigger and deliver a message as a reminder of what I'm capable." The five of them talked among themselves for a few moments. Jeremy noticed that a few of them consulted their pads during that time. When they were done they returned their attention to the two of them. "Captain, based on the file you provided," the older kelsirian said, "and Jeremy's testimony, which corroborates your findings, we can't level a charge of terrorism against him. The Humans have not indicated that any such actions have been done against them, and since Jeremy's actions were not against any kelsirian assets, the best we can find is running an unauthorized operation. Which would normally fall under the ship's captain to resolve." Gral was visibly not happy about this. "If you insist, you can have Jeremy removed from your crew, and we'll find another ship willing to take him." He paused and studied the both of them. "If I can offer my advice, not as an admiral, but as someone who has lived a long time. What I read in this file, and how I saw you react to Jeremy's testimony, speaks of a problem that is deeper, and unrelated to the operation he ran. Wouldn't it be best if you both went back to your ship and worked it out, instead of trying to shut yourself our of each other's life?" "Is that an oder, sir?" Gral asked. "Do I need to make it one?" "No, sir." "Good." He looked at the other councilors. "Do we have anything else for them?" after a moment they all shook their head. "Alright, then, we're done here." Gral turned, and stormed off. Jeremy left at a more controlled pace. The two guards, standing just outside the chamber, looked at their captain's vanishing back, and then at Jeremy. "So, where are we taking you?" asked Breniel. "The captain didn't say anything as he passed." "The council basically said I was his responsibility," Jeremy replied. "So you'll have to check with him." "Why don't we start by getting back to the ship." Armoil commented. "We can have someone braver than us ask him, once we're there." "That works for me," Breniel said, and looked at Jeremy. "I have to go to the ship, so that sounds like a plan. Can we forgo the restraints?" "I don't see why not. The captain didn't say anything about having you wear them." * * * * * Gral rushed in Leiha's office. "What's wrong with Rudyum?" asked a the door closed behind him. "He was fine this morning." He saw who was sitting in one of the two chairs in front of Leiha's desk, and growled. He turned to leave, but the door didn't open. He slammed a hand on it. "Open the door." "No." Leiha said. "I am ordering you to open it." "Captain, as ship mentalist, it is my responsibility to catch situations that have the potential to put the crew in danger. When that happens, I have the authority to do what is needed, even ignore a captain's order. Now, please sit down." She indicated the vacant chair, next to Jeremy's "And where were you when he set his operation in motion? How come I never saw a report from you about what he was planing?" "I had to weigh which one was more dangerous. Letting him go along with it, while using that as leverage to get him to have regular sessions with him, or stopping him, and having his anger continue to build until it boiled out of control." "And you call hat he did being under control?" She studied him and then looked at Jeremy. "Would you tell your Heart what your initial plan was?" Jeremy sighed. "I was going to assassinate the general, and then send a message to the humans telling them what I'd done, and why." "That's insane!" Gral yelled. Jeremy winced. "I know," he growled. "Through the sessions with me, he was able to realize that, and changed his plans." "And you couldn't get him to abandon them outright?" "I didn't have the time. Please sit, captain." Gral sat, grumbling. "I'll start by pointing out that I didn't have to trick Jeremy in coming. You've been ignoring my requests, until now. He's willing to talk and try to resolve the problems." "Of course he is," Gral said, "it's his fault things got to this." "What's that suppose to mean, my fault?" "You know exactly what I mean, don't try to act like you don't." "Right, because I'm the one who threw his Heart in the brig and ignored him there for a month, only to have him taken out because he wanted to get him thrown into an incarceration center. Right. I'm the one who blew this up out of proportion." Gral stood and glared down at Jeremy. "And What did you expect me to do? Cuddle you? You're constantly lying to me. You took over a year planning an operation, and then carried it through without approval, you could have started a war!" Jeremy stood and glared back "what do you mean, 'constantly lying'? When have I ever lied to you!" "You said you'd come she her so she could help you." "I did, and she did." "Then why did you through with the operation!" "Because it had to be done! Didn't you hear anything I said to the council?" "Gods! You're like talking to a wall!" he turned to Leiha. "What do you expect me to say to him . . ." He stopped, looking at here, muzzle open. She looked back at him, over the sandwich she was holding. She finished chewing and swallowed. "Don't mind me," she said, "continue screaming at each other." "Aren't you suppose to be helping us?" Gral asked. "Yes, but you are screaming at each other. I figured that was going to go on for another fifteen minutes at least, long enough for me to finish eating." "Shouldn't you have stopped us?" "You weren't listening to each other, there was no chance you'd listen to me. Food sounded more appealing." Gral and Jeremy looked at her, baffled. "Does this mean you're done screaming at each other? That you're ready to sit and actually talk?" They both sat. Leiha sighed and put her sandwich aside. "Jeremy, Gralgiranselhelrarvnir says that you lied to him, have you?" "No." "And yet, you haven't told him the truth either, have you?" Jeremy didn't say anything. "How about you? Have you told him why you were so harsh?" "Yes, because he put the ship and crew in danger." Gral's tone was controlled. "So, you're not willing to tell him the truth either." Gral glared at her. "Alright, I can tell that this is as far as we are going to get today. Jeremy, I want to restart your regular appointments. Captain, I want you to also come see me, within the next seven day. Don't make me have to hunt you down." Jeremy nodded. "How often do you expect me to come?" "At least once a week, and for as long as it takes to resolve this situation. When I feel the time's right, we're going to have another session with you together." "Alright." "Good. Now. Here are some rules. First, you will consult with each other for every decisions." "Every decision?" Gral asked. "I have a ship to run, I can't spend my time running my decisions by someone else." Leiha thought it over. "You're right. For you, ship related decisions are excluded. And for you Jeremy, anything to do with engineering is excluded." "But for everything else, I have to check with him?" Jeremy thumbed in Gral's direction, Leiha nodded. "What's the point?" "The point is that the two of you need to start talking again." "We talk," Gral said. "Possibly, but do you actually listen to each other?" Neither replied. "Second rule. You live in the same quarters. You've been apart long enough, and you have cubs that need you both. You will live together, and sleep together. "Rule three, no screaming. If you feel like screaming at each other, I want you to come here. Wake me if needed, but you are not to raise your voice at each other, is that understood?" They nodded, reluctantly, but did nod. "Good. Finally, before going to bed, you will tell each other a reason why you are happy to be together. You'll do that each night, and you can't have repeats." "No repeats? That's not going to last long." "You're going to have to make it work, because I want both of you back here the morning you can't find something new to be grateful for. Now. I'll see each of you at your next appointment."
  24. Kindar

    Chapter 50

    Korfas let out an exasperated yell and threw the datapad on the desk. "Why do I have to read all those?" Jeremy looked through his screen, at the male seated at his old desk. Jeremy was at Gral's desk. It hadn't been easy for him to move to that desk, he hadn't wanted to. If he hadn't agreed to train Korfas, he'd have left this desk untouched, but life had required he moved on. "You need to know what's going on." "What do I care if six gunners are sick, or if some of the food has gone bad?" "What are you going to do if you get in a firefight with some pirates, and only discover half your gunners are in the medical bay when you can't shoot back at them? Or that you're running out of food, because it spoiled, when you're weeks away from the nearest station?" "That isn't my job," Korfas growled. "It's the Chiefs jobs to make sure everything's running correctly." Jeremy sighed. That's what came of putting someone on ships he didn't care to be on, with captains who didn't care to have him there. Years in space, and he didn't even know the basics of running a ship. "Being a captain isn't all about standing proud on the bridge, making threats to your enemies, and giving orders. If that's what you're looking for, become a vid actor. The Chiefs don't decide where the ship goes, the captain does. They update you on how things are going in their department, so you can decide what the ship needs to do. I don't like doing management and more than you do. I'd rather be buried in the generator, than sitting here, but I'm the captain, so I put my ass in this chair and read data. If you are serious about being a captain, this is something you need to learn to enjoy, or at least tolerate. If you don't think you can, you might want to consider doing something else." Korfas grumbled under his breath. "Tell me something. Who is after my ship. You or your mother?" The male looked up at him, "What?" "Your mother, then." Jeremy nodded to himself. "Do you actually want to be a captain?" "Of course I do. It's just that no one's ever told me any of this was involved in it." "Didn't you take the Command Courses at the academy?" Korfas shook his head. "Mother didn't feel it would be worthwhile, she felt the best way to learn was to be assigned to a ship." "Sounds like the captains you were assigned to didn't particularly want you around. What did they have you do?" "Relay orders, fetch drinks, watch over the shoulders of each boards." Jeremy stared at him. "Sixteen years of playing gofer? And you never questioned it?" "I asked mother about it, but she said it was fine, that I'd get my ship eventually." "She meant you'd get *my* ship. I don't know why, but she's obsessed with giving it to you. You're not getting it, by the way. I'm not saying that to discourage you. It's just that by time I'll be passing my ship on to its next captain, I'm hoping you'll have been captain of your own ship for a long time already. If you end up decide that the captainship isn't for you, that's fine too, what ever your mother might think. Your academy records show that you're good in combat, so I can put you with one of the hunter teams, and you could probably rise to leader." "As captain, wouldn't I lead all of them?" "If that's how you decide to do it, yes. My Heart lead them, I don't. I'm a good hunter, but I leave that side of the leadership to someone who is better at it than I. Just remember, this is your life. Make sure you're going to be happy with it, because you're the one who will have to live it, not your mother." Korfas nodded, made a face as he looked at the datapad, but picked it up again. "Captain?" the com asked. "Here." "We're in range." "I'm on my way." He shut down his computer. "You want to stay with the reports, or shadow me?" Korfas looked at his pad, and then to Jeremy. "What do you want me to do?" "I told you before, you have to make your decisions yourself. You're not here to pass the time. You're here to learn how to lead a ship." He kept his gaze on the male. Korfas was silent for moment. "Will it count against me if I decide to shadow you?" "No. So long as you go through those reports in a timely manner, and write a summary of them, with your opinion as to what needs to be done about them, I'll be happy." Korfas put the pad down and stood. * * * * * "On screen," Jeremy said, as he entered, and took position in the center of the bridge. On the main screen, a station appeared. It was toroid shaped, with spokes connecting a central cylinder. Jeremy smiled. It had been decade since he'd seen it. He hadn't thought he'd ever be back here. Even without considering the ban on kelsirian ships within human territory, Jeremy had never planned on coming back here, where he'd spend his last fifteen years within human space. "You said you're familiar with the boards?" Jeremy asked Korfas in a low tone. "Yes sir," he replied. "Look them over and give me your report." Korfas left his side. "Have they hailed us?" Jeremy asked, in a normal voice. "No, sir," Tamirik answered. "Alright. Initiate contact with the station." Tamirik nodded to indicate she'd done it. "Station, this is the Viper's Bane, please respond." Korfas rejoined him. "The station's weapons are powered down, their sensors are going full strength, no military ships within sensor range. No unusual chatter on the com." "Opinion?" "They didn't know we were coming?" "They knew. If you had surprised them, their weapons would be hot. Remember, if not for our orders, we'd be breaking the ban." "Viper's Bane, this is Newton's Station. State your purpose here." "As per the relocation order, we're here to pickup two hundred and twenty-three humans. You guys must be pretty crowded right now." "Yeah, we are. We're going to be happy to get rid of those perverts." Jeremy kept his mouth shut, even with the look of dismay Korfas was making. Arguing wouldn't resolve anything, and just delay their departure. He wanted to be out of here as soon as possible. "Where do you want us to dock?" "Dock? No one told me anything about you docking." "How do you expect the passengers to board my ship, walk?" "That works for me. They might even be able to hold their breath that far." "Look, are you, or are you not, going to assign me a dock?" "Like I said, no one gave me any indications that you're allowed to dock." Jeremy sighed. "Bring the weapons online." The weapons board lit up, and Shoriden moved to it. "What are you doing?" the station asked. Korfas was eying him suspiciously. "I'm pointing out that I have the superior fire power. And indicating that I have very little patience for human stupidity. Now, I'm here under federation orders, so you are going to assign me a dock, or I'm going shoot the doors off one and storm the station." He motioned for Tamirik to disconnect, and the voice was cut in mid protest. "Toom, give them five minutes. If they haven't assigned us one by then, pick one and head for it." "Is this wise?" Korfas asked, "sir?" "We're here under orders, they know it, they're just being difficult because they can. And don't worry, as much as I'm tempted to do so, I'm not going to open fire on them." He paused. "At least, not until all the Leafers are on board." * * * * * Docking had been uneventful. They were at the dock that had been assigned to them. Jeremy was standing in front of the access, waiting for the Leafers to arrive. A group walked toward them, but they weren't Leafers, he recognized the human leading them. Jeremy's smile took on a vicious tint. "Commander O'neil," he said, walking toward them, hand extended, he had to remind himself of how humans greeted each others. "It's such a pleasure to see you after all these years." He indicated Korfas, "this is Korfas, I'm afraid he doesn't speak English." The human glared at him, at the offered hand, and ignored Korfas. "What the hell are you doing here?" "When the exodus was announced, and my ship drafted, I requested to be the one to come here. I have to say, I would have expected you to have been promoted out of this hole, after all these years? Still paying for letting me go, I see." The human was livid, which only made Jeremy smile wider. "Get the fuck off my station." "I'll be happy to do so, as soon as all the Leafers have boarded. Are the armed guards really needed?" He turned to Korfas, and said, in kelsirian. "Go in, and get me some hunters, armed. Don worry about armor. Aim to match the humans one for one." Korfas nodded and left. "What did you tell him." "I told him that it would be dishonorable for us not to match your honor guard. He's gone to fetch some, after all, we wouldn't want any kind of misunderstanding to happen, would we? Although I have to wonder, which will look worse on your file. A firefight? Which you'll lose, or letting all those Leafers escape human control?" The jab actually made the commander smile. "Oh, you don't have to worry, I have no intention on preventing them from leaving. I want them to settle on their pervert world, what's in called, of yeah, Paradise. Let them settle there, and reap what they sowed." If Jeremy didn't know what he knew, that would have worried him greatly. Armed kelsirians formed a corridor from the ship's access to the a third of the distance to the cargo bay's entrance, where people were starting to file in. Jeremy looked at them, males and females, of a wide range of age. Fear and worries on their face. Hopefully, his human crew would be able to calm and comfort them. His ship was going to be crowded for the six month it would take to reach paradise.
  25. Kindar

    Chapter 46

    Jeremy stood next to the container in which Gral's body lay. It was a cryo unit, to prevent the body from deteriorating, until it was time for the ceremony. The container was etched with signs of Gral's name sake, the Hunter - a stylized animal with an arrow in it. The room was kept dark, in case the deep one sent one of its minion to steal it. Jeremy held a light, knowing that if one of them should appear it would be his duty to defend Gral's body. Outside the light were banners, with names, the names of anyone who had been affected by Gral's life. It had started with everyone on the ship, and, as news of his death spread, others had contacted them, to have their names added. Except for the path to the door, the entire room was filled with those banners. Outside the door, two guards stood. The room was never without guards, to keep enemies from taking the body. The Gods had warned that anyone who stood for them, who helped advanced their plan would make enemies, and those enemies might come looking for revenge. Jeremy looked at the container. He'd been here, in this hastily converted cargo bay, every day since he'd been able to pull himself out of his room. He'd been here trying to say something, but he never could. Now this was the last time he'd be alone with his Heart. They had docked and the main station orbiting Kelser, and they were waiting for Gral's family to arrive to take him. "I'm angry Gral," He stated. "I'm angry you died, I'm angry that you wont get to see Samilor grow up. I'm angry they took you from me. I'm angry I couldn't save you." He thought he might cry, but he was cried out. Even the anger he felt was just a low fire. He didn't know if he'd have the energy to go through what was coming. "I know I'll be saying goodbye to you groundside, but I wanted to tell you what you meant to me, Gral. You didn't just save my life, you saved my spirit. I know I didn't always make your life easy, but ultimately, you were always there for me. I will miss you, but you asked me to go on, so I will. I'm not sure how I'll do that, and I know Toom isn't sure he can support me like you've done. Maybe you call find a way to tell him I don't need him to do that. Just having him in my life is helping, and I know he misses you as much as I do." He put a hand on the container. "I'll see you groundside. Your parents should be here soon to take you." He stepped out, momentarily blinded. "Pa?" someone said. Jeremy turned to the voice. "Rudyum!" he went to him and hugged him tightly. "What are you doing here?" "I wanted to make sure you were okay." "You didn't have to wait out here, you could have come in." "I know, but the guards said you liked being alone with him." Jeremy nodded. "Do you want to see him?" "No. I'll say goodbye to dad one we're on Kelser." "How did you get here so fast? We only docked a few hours ago." "Tamirik contacted me as soon as you docked, and I jumped on the first shuttle heading here. How is she? I didn't get a chance to talk to her." "She's taking his death hard, but her mates are supporting her. How about you, I know you'll say goodbye later, but how are you handling this?" "I'm sad he died, that he isn't with you, but as much as I loved him, we were never . . . close." "It's okay. You know he loved you too." Rudyum nodded and wiped his eyes dry. "Why don't we go wait for your grandparents, they should be here soon." * * * * * They all stood outside, in the center of the orchard. Marseforderiven stood before the pyre on which his son lay. The wood was only symbolic now. The body wouldn't be burnt, it was going to be disintegrated by the unit resting under Gral's body. "Thuruksamian made our bodies from the rocks and the soil," he began, looking over those assemble, Gral's immediate family. "He took the air, and gave us breath. He put fire in us, so that we would know passion, and he added water, so that we could express sorrow. He gave us only one command - Live. And my son lived. From a young age, as he ran through these trees, and hurt himself falling out of them. When he threw himself in his studies at the Academy, As he fought to earn his command, and as he defended us. He lived. He rejoiced in what he had, in what he accomplished. And he was fortunate enough to find his Heart. Thuruksamian gave life to my son, and today we will be returning the components back to Him. "We are here to say goodbye to him. Even though his spirit is already with the Gods, through his body, he will hear us, one last time." Marsef motioned for Jeremy to take his place, and once he was standing before Gral's body, he forced himself to look at it. It was the first time he'd seen it, the container had been opaque, and it was damaged. Unlike humans, who prettied up a body, before it was seen, kelsirian left it in the condition it was at death, so that people could see how valiantly death had been fought. Gral's death hadn't been pretty, part of his face was caved it, and fur had been scraped off an arm, and the other had a bone piercing the flesh. He looked up, and forced himself to remember that those injuries were because Gral had been saving lives. "Gral saved my life. Everyone here knows how we met, and what he saved me from, more than once. Before him I didn't know I could live, that I could be happy. And through him I met you, who added to my happiness. Gral said we'd always be together, and while I'm angry he died, I know he didn't break his promise. I have his Heart, I just have to be patient until he come back to claim it." Jeremy stepped down, so someone else could say their goodbyes. Toom held him tightly, and Roumalger hugged them both. Jeremy tried to listen to what the others said, but he found that all he could do, was remember his Heart and the life he lived with him.
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