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Found 46 results

  1. Corvus Pointer

    LoK Vol I Chapter 2 01

    From the album: Lyons of Kosma Vol. 1 Chapter 2 "Impossible Sky"

    Chapter 2: Impossible Sky

    © AnthroDynamics, LLC

  2. Corvus Pointer

    LoK Vol I Chapter 2 48

    From the album: Lyons of Kosma Vol. 1 Chapter 2 "Impossible Sky"

    My friends, I love you. I love the fandom as much as I love my dearest members of my family. I could not have gotten here without you, figuratively and QUITE literally. All my Patrons, all my commenters, all my friends who have helped me craft this story, Furaffinity and it’s staff, all the people that I saw engaging in scientific discussions about my comic; EVERYONE in the fandom. Guys, without every one of those variables and individuals, I could not have hit this milestone. Do you guys know what this means? Kosma has JUST started. As of THIS page, Andrew has LANDED on Kosma, (again,figuratively and literally!) and guys, I cannot WAIT to tell you this story. PS While there will be more horror and dark fantasy elements, Page 100 is a PERFECT example of what to expect from the rest of the comic. Expect bright colors, naked Moos, 80’s Fantasy, and poor Andrews butt, which seems to always be pointed up like that! OwO

    © AnthroDynamics ©2018

  3. "Here he is Stanley." Boris said as he opened the door. He pushed him toward the counter with enough strength to show the contempt he had for the terrorist. Detective Stanley Lombaire, who's graying hair was du more to stress than age, leaned on the counter looking down at whom was on the floor. "Well, well, well, if it isn't Mike the cat, it's good to see you again this soon," he says a mocking smile on his lips. Mike "The Cat" was a known face to Montreal's police. He had gone to trial for more than one crime, but each time something would happen, evidence would disappear or witness would have an "accident" and they would be forced to release him. "T'as rien sur moé poulet," Mike let out in a deep menacing tone. "Da, da, I know, you have been telling me this all the time we were on the road Drugarica. Now, move it," Boris picked him up and directed him towards the detective's desk, with Stanley in tow. "Sit." He sat. "So Boris, What has Mike done this time?" "He was planning to ransom the Forum, for ten millions dollars." He sat down on the other chair and readjusted his hat. "Wow! That's a lot of money. What do you have to say to that Micky boy?" "Tu . . . Peux . . . Rien . . . Prouver." "I want you to contact the janitor" Mike's voice said, coming from Boris. "He'll let you in, and he won't say anything. When the bombs are in place you're to phone the mayor and tell him I want ten million bucks or I will blow it up." "What about the arsonist, I heard there'd been problems." "Don't worry, I took care of . . . .." Click. Boris stopped the tape. "Traitor!" Mike yield leaping for Boris. Surprise kept Boris from reacting in time and they both went to the floor. Mike kept hitting and savagely clawing at his face, until Boris landed one fist in his chest and sent him flying through a desk. He was unconscious on landing. Boris got up, dusted himself. "You OK? Want me to call a doc?" "Niet, I am fine." Cops were picking Mike up while a man checked to make sure he was still alive. Satisfied they carried him toward the cell block. "What did he mean, traitor?" Boris seated himself and explained how he infiltrated Mike's organization, starting by helping one of its members then slowly climbing, and gaining Mike's thrust. "Damn Boris, one these days you'll get yourself killed with tactics like this. Why do you keep doing it?" "I need to know why they do it." "All right, why did he do it." "To get money . . . Nothing more than money." The last few words trailed off as Boris thought once more of how strange capitalists were. Back in Russia he had known terrorists, but each of them were doing it to bring changes, not only money. He couldn't help admire the reason motivating them, even if he could never agree with the methods. "Hey Boris, you in there?" He snapped out of his reverie. "Da, I am sorry. I was thinking." "You'd better think of what we're going to do with the tape, and with you. I don't want either to disappear like all the proofs on Mike the Cat keeps doing." "Do not worry. I will deliver both to you and the district attorney ten minutes before the trial." "I don't know." He took the tape player from Boris. "With both in the same place won't it be easier for Mike's men to get rid of them?" He took the tape from the tape player. He looked at the tape, as in a trance, and spoke in a contemplative whisper. "I mean, this is what we've been waiting for a long time." He came back to reality. "No, I won't take any chances. I'm keeping the tape and assigning some men to protect you." A cop not far away picked up a phone and dialed a number. Boris listened distractedly while Stanley went on with the need for protection. Boris slowly took the tape recorder. He then quickly lift it up, and seemingly accidently hit Stanley's arm. The tape flew from his hand, bounced once and fell in an open drawer. Boris leaned on the aging desk, He searched through Stanley's tapes, mostly heavy metal, and took one out. He put it in one of the many pockets covering his jacket. All that while Stanley held his arm, stun by surprise more than pain. "I take the tape." He taped the pocket. "I will protect it, and me, without you, or your men's help. Do I make myself clear?" "All right, have it your way." He leaned back in his chair, still rubbing his arm. "Anyway, I don't think they'd want to protect you." "I know. You have my number if anything happens and to tell me when the trial starts." Boris went to the counter. Stanley put his other hand on the drawer looking at its contents as he closed it. He stopped rubbing, smiled and looked towards the counter, where Boris was collecting his bounty. Next he'd be heading to the gym, Stanley knew. Boris left the police department, nearly knocking over a young police officer. He excused himself before going on. The young man stared in his direction even after the door had closed. He went to the counter, looking confused. "That was a bear, wasn't it?" The woman smiled, she had an idea of what was going to be his reaction. "Yes, a polar bear straight from Siberia." The man's confusion turned to anger. "Mutes shouldn't have the right to come and go like that." "And you'd be officer Vincent. First day on the job isn't it?" Still smiling. "Don't worry, you'll get use to him. Just don't let him hear you calling him a Mute." * * * Boris stepped into the gym, waved to Harry, the owner, and crossed it to the far end where the special training equipment was. There was only one man training in the moderately sized gymnasium. On seeing Boris he went to complain to Harry. Boris could easily hear them over the radio, even while they only whispered. Some of the advantages he had kept from the bear stock, like his claws, when they had mutated him. He picked a five hundred pound weight and placed it on the bar. The discussion kept going. Harry was now telling the complainer that if he didn't like the evening ambience he could come back some other time. Harry didn't hate mutants, he didn't like them either, he simply believe in minding his own business. When Boris had come in asking for membership he had been reticent he knew how the other members would react. He'd finally said yes, tripling the normal fee. Boris had paid. He put the other weight on and started doing warm up bench press. The man was now throwing insult at Harry. He didn't pay them any attention, he'd gotten use to them by now. After Boris had started training regularly, members started to complain, threatening to leave if he didn't so something about the mute. At first Harry had simply asked Boris to come in the morning or the evening when the gym was almost empty. People kept complaining, no one wanted to be near a mutant, unless it was their slave. So Harry separated the gym, on the far wall he put some old training equipment, at the time, only for Boris. The rest was for humans. Almost everybody stopped complaining and those who didn't Harry told them to go train somewhere else. Boris took off his jacket and kevlar T-shirt, put an extra thousand pounds and started sweating. Harry glanced at him, only half listening to what the man was saying, something about treason and how mutes were going to contaminate humans. Boris and Harry had slowly become friends, he was one of the few people outside the police who knew that he was a bounty hunter. He'd even help once in a while by letting Boris bring known criminals, like Mike the Cat, from organization he was infiltrating and not calling the cops. Harry had even agreed to make calls to find special equipment and weights for Boris. Now Harry's Gym was open to any mutants who could afford it (same membership fee as human). He still didn't love them, but if they could pay then they were clients, and Harry's policy made the client king, no matter who they were. Suddenly there was silence. Harry quickly came back to reality, following the man's gaze. A battered looking rat has entered the gym. He went to the locker room. The man was frozen in silence. The rat came out wearing a dirty shirt full of holes and jogging pants that could easily be hundreds of years old. "Hi Harry," the rat said. "Hi," Harry responded. The man stared at Harry in dismay, and he demanded, ordered, that the mutes be thrown out. Harry looked at him with contempt, in silence. When the man kept ordering him to get rid of them, he went to the cask register. Counted some money and gave it to him, telling him that now that he had been refunded to train somewhere else. The man left in a storm, pushing aside the one who was entering. He kept his balance with the rail, went down the stair and toward Harry. Harry forced a smile, "What can I do for you?" "I'm . . . looking for someone named Boris." The man said looking around nervously. Harry eyed him with scrutiny. The man was clean, wearing a three piece suit that could cost five hundred dollars. That kind of man rarely went looking for mutants. "He's in the far end of the gym." He pointed the direction, keeping his other hand near the 45 he kept under the counter. The man looked in the direction, then looked back at Harry. "I'm sorry, but I don't see him." Surprise showed in Harry's eyes. "Sure you do, he's over there, doing barbells." The man looked again. "Look, you don't understand, I've been told to go to Harry's Gym and get Boris, not a mutant." "I understand perfectly, and that's Boris." "It's impossible," a tint of despair in the voice. "If you want to argue with someone, why don't you go ask him." The man crossed the gym. He stopped near Boris. "Hi, I'm Jay." Boris kept lifting the weights. "Look . . . are you Boris?" No reply. "I've been asked to . . . Are you at least listening to me?" Still no reply. "Forget it." He turned around and started for the door. "If he calls I'll just say that he didn't want to come" he mumble. "I hate it when this happens." "I cannot say that I like much being sent for by a human myself." The barbell clanged hard on its support. Jay turned around. "And da, my name is Boris." He picked up his thing and headed for the locker room. Jay followed him. "How much weight did you have?" "Two thousands pounds." He entered, unlocked a locker and took shampoo and soap. "You have not told me who wants to see me." He started to undress. "What are you doing?" Boris looked himself over, and then at Jay. "I am going to take a shower. You do not expect me to take it fully clothed, Da?" "Look . . . I'll wait for you outside." "Do as you please." Jay stepped out. Boris went to the showers and turned on the cold water. He hung his towel and walked under the stream of water. He let the water run down his body for a while before soaping himself thoroughly. Each time he took a shower he remembered the one advantage humans had over him, no fur to trap the sweat of hard work. He was nearly done cleaning himself when he heard the locker room door open. "What is he expecting? A war?" He recognized Jay's voice and smiled, having an idea of what he had found. "Niet! Those are for when I get in too much troubles, usually my fists are enough!" Boris yelled to him. "How the hell did you hear me!" "No need to shout, I have very good ears!" Boris finished cleaning, turned off the shower and went back to his locker, drying his head. Jay said something that was muffled by the towel. "Um?" Was the only response he managed while trying not to end up eating towel. "I'm asking you what do you do for living!" Boris could hear anger slipping through. Boris brought the towel to his shoulder, looked at Jay. "Nothing Precise. Why?" Waving the stack of bills that had been his payment for the capture of Mike in front of him he yield angrily. "How the Hell does a Mute make that Kind . . . .. " The sound of Boris' fist going through a locker door hit Jay almost as hard as if he'd been the target. He then tore it of its hinges as he turned back to face Jay. "Do not call me that again, ever! I shall not warn you another time!" The intense anger behind every word forced Jay to cool off, he sat down. Harry came crashing through the door. Jay jumped in surprise and stared at the gun pointed on him. "Move and die." "No Harry, it was only a misunderstanding. No one was hurt. I . . . lost my temper." Harry lowered the gun, looked at the door still hanging from Boris' arm. "Lost your temper, hum?" "I am sorry, I will pay for the door." He put his hat on. "All right, if you think everything's fine." Boris nodded. Harry left, casting a suspicious glance at Jay. Boris dislodged the door, finished towering himself and dressed. Jay still hadn't moved or said anything. "Jay, do wake up, you did say that someone wanted to see me, who was it?" Jay looked at him, "I don't know. Someone named Lombaire, I think." "Stanley?" "Didn't say, maybe." "What did he say." "That I was to get you to the industrial sector." "Then maybe we should be going. You have a car?" "Yes, up front." They left. * * * The radio wasn't playing anything good, so Jay turned it off. "Tell me, what was the door about?" "Lost of temper." "You're kidding right, you don't put a fist through a door just because I called you . . . .. "Don't" "Don't what?" "Don't say it, or you'll end up with a hole in your face." Jay waited a while before responding "Ok, I won't bother you about it anymore." Then straining himself "Wait a minute, that accent of yours, you lost it. It's fake!" "Niet, it is not," "You telling me you didn't lost it just then?" "Da, I did, lost of temper." Jay looked at him with a strange look. Boris couldn't tell what it meant. He seemed to relax a little before asking: "Where're you from?" "Siberia." "Where in Siberia?" "It does not have a name." "It must have been tough, living in Russia." "Da, but it is not so unlike here from what I have seen." "I heard that they put a lot of mutants in gas chambers." "They do, they also use us in experiment, labor mine, or zoos, but they do not ignore our existence, like you Canadians do." "Now, wait a minute." "You ask scientists to build mutants, you use them for work you do not dare do yourself. When you have no more use for them you throw them on the street, where they do not have the simplest idea of how to survive." "We created mutants for hard labor, why do you think you could lift that thousand pounds?" "I was not created for labor," he said without thinking. "If that is why you created us, you should not have given us the intelligence to realize our situation." "I don't know why they did it, geez. I don't even know why we're arguing. I wasn't even born when the discovered how, and started mutating animals." They both spent the rest of the trip in silence. * * * Jay stopped the car at the address. It was a warehouse, one of many they had passed recently. In front of it was another, almost identical. Boris opened the door and got out. He looked around and was turning toward Jay when a loud "bang" echoed. The car window in front of Boris exploded and he fell on the ground. Jay went to the floor, when he lifted his head to look around he heard a familiar clicking noise. He looked up and saw a large tiger holding a Magnum 44 standing in the passenger's doorway. He looked to the ground and then back at Jay. "What d'you know? I'll kill two birds with one stone after all." Seeing the confusion in Jay's eyes he went on, slowly lifting the gun's hammer. "Gauthier'll be happy to learn that the human who has sent his brother to his death has received the same fate." "San Svagda." The tiger quickly turned toward Boris, ready to shoot another bullet in him. He wasn't fast enough. He received a boot in the groin with such a force that he was lifted a few inches. As he fell to his knees Boris' other foot connected sideways with his head, sending him to the ground a few meters from the car. Boris heard bones cracked. He quickly got back into the car. "You're alive?" Jay lifted himself in surprise, saw guns pointing the car from many windows. He went down again. "You sound disappointed." Boris kept himself as low as possible while evaluating the surrounding. "I can see six weapons on my side and four on yours, you will have to cover me as I get inside one of the buildings." Boris heard someone saying something, it was too low for him to understand anything. "What? Are you crazy? How the hell am I going to do that?" "You do not have a weapon?" "No! I wasn't expecting to be on the receiving end of a shoot‑out." Boris heard the same person, it was a feminine voice. It was getting louder, but he wasn't paying attention to it. He looked at Jay, trying to understand him. "Tell me why he wanted to kill you." Jay looked at him in surprise. When Boris kept staring at him he talked. "You remember the series of killing two years ago? I was responsible for the capture of the mutant who had done them. I turned him over to the cops, and next thing I know he's dead and Gauthier wants to kill me. This would make the fourth time he tried." "And you are not armed!" "Eric!" The voice came louder. Boris looked up, trying to find from where it came from. "I told you, I wasn't expecting anything." "Eric! ! !" A shower of bullets fell on the car. All the car's windows fell to pieces. Boris took his gun and handed it to Jay. "Take it and cover me." He slowly pushed himself out of the car. "Wait a minute, what are you going to use?" Boris turned toward him and clasped his fist. "This." He left running toward the closest door. On the way they hit a few times, but he kevlar took most them. He rammed the door. It swung on its hinges and hit the wall, hard. Boris looked around slightly surprised, he'd expected to encounter at least one guard. The door moved back slowly and a moaning sound came from behind it. Boris moved aside and tensed for an attack. As it revealed more of what was behind he saw a rabbit sliding to the floor, immobile. He stepped closer to the body and took the weapon it was clutching. The arms were limp. He took out the clip of ammunition, put it in a pocket and threw the uzzy as far as he could. Then he checked for vital signs, he was still alive. Boris took one of the hand cuff he had and put them on him, hands in the black. From above, he could ear the shooting going on. He climbed the stairs to the first floor. Offices lined the entire walls of the building, from many of them he heard people shooting. He suddenly wondered how Jay was faring, he hadn't thought to give him the second clip he kept, and he was probably out of bullets. He slowly opened a door and looked inside. Someone at the window was shooting. The noise coming from the gun was so loud that he could hardly ear anything else. He slowly got in, walked behind the shooter, prepared himself to knock him out, only to feel the nozzle of a gun on the back of his neck. Boris cursed, he'd forgotten to check behind the door. "Drop the hands and stand still" came the voice behind him. The one in front, skinny looking dog, turned around and pointed his gun at Boris, a wide smile on his lips. The one behind, a feline, walked to the window. Boris chose this moment to act. He kicked the gun sideways and let the motion carry him in full circle. Before the dog could recover Boris' foot connected with his head, sending him into the wall. The feline turned and fired at Boris. Luckily the kevlar took the hit. Boris recovered from the shock quickly enough to see the feline start falling through the open window from the recoil. He managed to leap in time to catch an ankle. Holding him he looked out. The shooting was still going on. The car was barely recognizable. A part of him worried at what could have happened to Jay while another rejoiced at the thought of another human being dead. Under him the feline was getting his baring back. "Bring me up slowly." Boris forced himself out of his thought and looked at the feline. He was pointing a revolver at him. Boris noticed the machine gun on the sidewalk. He stayed motionless. "You are hardly in position to give me orders. You will fall if I am shoot." As if on cue, someone on the other side of the alley shot him. Boris reacted by getting to one side of the window, letting go of the feline. And then, realizing what he had done, he tried to grab him again, only to see him fall to his death. He forced himself down, trying to drown the joy the death made him feel. He knew that he shouldn't enjoy it, but eighteen years of training kept telling him to do it. He looked at his shoulder, the bullet was in his flesh. Each time he moved the arm pain was the response. He got up, as he heard foot steps. The entire building probably knew where he was and they were coming. Boris looked around for an escape. The only visible ones were the door and window, both were bad ideas. Then he realized that the quickest way down was a straight line. It was impossible from outside because of the shooting, but inside. . . . Quickly he dropped to his knee and drove his fist through the floor. As he had hoped the floor was only of wood, occasionally solidified by a metal beam. Once the hole was big enough for him to pass he looked down in it. People were moving in every direction, he wouldn't be able to jump. The foot steps were coming closer. He wouldn't be able to stay here and alive. He looked under the floor. Beams supported the floor, distanced by about a three feet. There was none near him, but he could probably jump to the closest. He didn't have the time to find another solution. So he lowered himself, and using his good hand to hold on to the floor he began to swing back and forth. When he let go, he absently noticed that the door had fallen down, and that many people were running around the room. Boris could only guess how quickly they would find the hole. He had to get away. Unfortunately with only one arm he could use he didn't think he'd go far. He slipped, grabbed the beam with his other hand and managed to hold back a yell of pain has he changed hand to hold on. Fighting to remain conscious he barely heard someone say: "I found it!" Many steps went in the same direction. The pain subsiding Boris had less trouble holding onto the beam. He remained motionless hoping that he would not be seen. "I think he jumped down," someone said. "It must be at least twenty-five feet," said another. "It's the only way he could have gotten out without us seeing him" said the first one. "All right" a voice with authority, "One Eye, take care of Billy. The others, search the building starting with the ground floor. Sean, on the way you lock all the doors, except the one leading to the alley." They all left the room and went down. Boris waited until they had searched the entire ground floor before letting himself fall down. He managed to keep the landing silent. He looked around making sure everyone had left the area. A feminine voice yelled his name from outside. "Come out! Or your friend the detective dies!" Boris took a step toward the door. "He is not your friend." Boris kept going, slowly. Trying to ignore the inner voice. "He is human, it will not matter if he dies." Boris concentrated harder. He had to save Jay. "The back door will be easy to open, and it will not be guarded." NO! Boris stopped, shaking. He had to ignore his programming. I will not let him dye. Everyone deserves to live. "Ha! You are a good liar, what about those you killed?" I have never meant to kill anyone, you made me do it. "I am you, so let him die." NO! He will live! Boris open his eyes, his mind was silent. He had defeated his programming, for now. Relieved he headed for the door. He eventually got close enough to see who was guarding it. It was a large tasmanian devil, a bird of some sort was leaving him. He didn't want to fight him, only knock him out as quickly as possible. He crept to about ten feet from the devil. He prepared to jump and, just as something attracted the guard's attention in the opposite direction, he jumped. As he left the floor he saw the guard turn around and smile. It was too late to stop himself, so he prepared the most powerful punch he could. Then he delivered it. Except that his target managed to dodge it, and then miraculously catched his arm. The devil used Boris momentum, added any he could, and sent him head first into the door. Or rather through it, as it wasn't strong enough to resist the impact. Boris landed a good ten feet from the door and rolled a few times before coming to a stop. As he slowly got up he saw the devil coming faster than he had ever thaught possible. Still on his knee he readied himself to receive him. "Riker, stop it! Now!" The devil stopped. Boris looked behind him. A white cat was looking at him. He got up. She moved closer, the hatred was almost tangible. With a hand she grabbed the neck of his kevlar shirt. "You killed Eric." While pointing at the dead tiger near the car. "He was trying to kill me," was all Boris responded. His ribs were starting to cause him pain. "He was only doing what he was ordered to. You had no right." "I had the right to survive." He looked behind her, at Jay who was leaning on what was left of the car. He seemed all right. "And Eric didn't?" "Da, but he lost it when he shot me." "He wasn't the one who shot you! He only needed to be sure you had what we wanted!" She was nearly hysterical. "Then, I am sorry." "Sorry! SORRY! . . . Riker! Kill HIM!" Before Boris could turn around Riker tackled him to the ground. Feeling the pain from his ribs increase, he turned around, trying to throw his opponent as far as possible. It only resulted in Riker landing a few feet from him. As he got up he snatched one of the machete he had in each boot with his good arm. He swung it twice without aim, blood obscuring his view and pain sapping his strength. Boris remotely heard a gun being shot, but couldn't find the strength to react. On the third swing Riker caught his arm and locked it. Boris could feel the bones on the verge of breaking. He had learned enough to know that, for all his strength, any attempt to undo the lock directly would break his arm. He kept still, and concentrated on ignoring the pain. He watched Riker's eyes, cold and sadistic, just like those of Victor. Anger appeared in him. He kept thinking of him, and anger became hate, hate of what Victor had done to him, at what Riker was doing now. The hate became strong enough to overcome the pain and let him deliver one punch with his injured arm, right in the center of Riker's face. Riker let go of his arm and reflexively stepped away, holding his bleeding nose. He spat a tooth and charged Boris, who could only stand by shear force of will. Riker strucked him and both went down. Well, this is it, Boris thought. Strangely he didn't feel any of the fears he had always associated to death. Riker didn't hit him, he looked around. Boris tried to do the same, but found the pain too great. In the silence he realized that he was hearing the faint sound of sirens. Boris saw Riker yapping to the other, he guessed that he was trying to yell, but barely a whisper came out. That is when he realized that the siren wasn't far, but that he wasn't hearing properly. People ran in every direction around him. He knew that he had heard guns when someone fell on him. He waited some time before trying to move. Cops were moving around as he tried to get up, but his body refused to obey. He had to try three times before managing to move to his side, letting the mutant fall completely on the ground, and pushing himself into a sitting position. He looked up, and stared at the barrel of a gun. Boris shook his head, not wanting to believe it. He understood that they, being human, wouldn't take a chance and capture or kill all the mutants they could. What irony, Mike would get free, cops having killed the only person with the evidence to put him in jail. Oh well that is what you get when you don't tell anybody what you've planned. He was surprised when another shadow fell on him. It was Jay, helped by a lady cop. He said something Boris didn't understand. "Why not?" The cop answered to whatever Jay had said. "It's a mutant, 'been part of the gang who's been terrorizing the city." "No he's not." Boris noticed that there was bloody bullet hole in Jay's leg. "Oh yeah? How d'you know?" "He was with me when we were attacked." The two cops exchanged surprised glance. "Maybe he lured you in a trap," said, on a comforting tone, the lady holding him. "Couldn't." Other cops were joining them. "I'm the one who got him here. Anyway they wanted to kill him . . . and me. I sure it had something to do with Gauthier." "G . . . Gauthier the gang leader?" "Yes, I stopped his brother's killing two years ago." Another cop looked at him, respect in his eyes. "You're the one who killed him?" "No, I just caught him." He looked at Boris. "I don't kill mutants." Boris didn't react. "It doesn't make any real difference," said someone else. "It's still a mutant. I think we should kill him anyway." "Over my dead body." He placed himself between Boris and them. Cops looked at each other, shocked. "All right" one of them said, "have it your way." He looked at the others, "Let's go, we've got them all. I'm sure those two will be fine." They walked away. "Wait, aren't you going to call an ambulance?" The cop turned. "Can't see why. I heard mutants healed fast." "But I'm not a mutant." "You're not? That's odd, you sure talk like one." He got in a car. "Wait!" He yelled as it speed away. "You should stop wasting your breath," Boris said. Jay turned around, and his motion sent him falling on Boris. He caught him and put him down at his side. Jay let himself lay on his back. "When I'm older, I'll laugh at this. When I'm way older." He looked at the darkening sky as the last of police car left. "Are you all right?" "No." Boris shook his head weakly. He then took a deep breath wincing at the pain. "I am better than I would have expected, but not as well as I might have liked." He looked at Jay. "You should have left with them, and left me to deal with my problems." "What?" "You should have left me, I would have found a way to deal with them." "If that's how you thank me for saving your life I think I will leave you with your problems." He tried to get up, but couldn't find the strength. Boris looked around. He used his good arm to get up. He helped Jay as they walked toward a phone booth. Jay leaned on it as Boris picked up the phone, started dialing, put it back, picked it up again. "Is anything wrong," Jay was getting depressed. The way things are going, the phone company had probably cut the phone. "Eh, Boris." He got in the door. "You're listening?" Boris turned around, puzzled. "I think the telephone is broken." Panic taking him he grabbed it and put it to his ear. He sighed with relief as he heard the familiar tone. "It's working fine." "Then you will have to call the taxi." He gave him a piece of paper. Jay dialed the number on it. "Trans-Montreal Taxis." "I'd like a taxi at the corner of (he looked at the beat up sign) St-Laurent Boulevard and Louvain." "All right, one will be there within ten minutes." "Wait, there's one thing, I'm with a mutant." "A mutant? Then . . . I see. Don't worry sir, we know who to send." "Thanks." He hung up. After ten minutes of silence a car rolled toward them in an infernal racket. It was in a bad shape, the taxi it had once been was battered almost beyond recognition. It stopped in front of them after a tight turn. The driver's side window, which, like all the other windows on it, was tinted black, rolled down. The face of a small mexican dog became visible. "Hey, Amigos. You called a taxi, si?" Boris got up and walked to it. Jay stood still. Boris opened the door. "I won't get in." Boris looked at him, incredulous. "There's no way that you'll get me in car driven by a mutant." "It is that or walking; you are in no condition for it." "I'll call another one, with a human driver." "Suit yourself." Boris got in the taxi. "We shall then go our different way, for a human driver will never let me ride with him." "All right, give me a hand." Boris executed himself and they left. When the driver asked for the address, he wrote it on a piece of paper and gave him. "Ye should see a doctor, si? I can take you to a cousin, he can cure everything." Jay looked at him in the mirror. "Shut up." "I also know where yey can find a cheap one. He won't do all my cousin does, but he is really cheap. He could . . . .." "Can it and drive," Boris said forcefully. The rest of the ride was in relative silence. The driver would insult other drivers for the way they drove. Boris stayed as still as he could, groaning occasionally when a bump would be encountered or a sharp turn made. When they came to a final stop they were in the lower district. On the maps it was the "Under developed district." To anyone else it was the Dump, the mutant Dump. Once out Boris gave the driver two hundred dollars. The car left, waking by a mutant sleeping on the sidewalk, the driver had a large smile on his tiny face. Boris went to a door and knocked, hard. Jay was surprise that it held. A small panel slid open and two green eyes looked at Boris. "Yesss, what isss it?" "Open up Maurice." The door opened and a scaly head popped out. "Borisss," it said with a smile, "it'sss been a while." "Da," he pushed the door open and helped Jay in. "A human! You've lead a human to my houssse! I'll have nothing to do with humansss. They ssscare away my clientsss." "They cause most of your clients to come to you. Even then, you are a doctor and he is hurt." "You, I'll take care of, he can go sssee hisss own kind." "That is not possible. He has been linked to me by police officers." "A human? Linked to a mutant? How did that happened?" "He stopped those same police officers from killing me. I . . . owe him." Maurice looked at Jay with a defiant eye, and just as Jay was about to turn away, "All right, sssinccce I owe you." They got in and both sat down. "We should move to my operating room. It'sss cleaner." "I do not think that Jay could take anymore moving. You would do better to help him first, and here." Maurice slithered to a side room and came back with a medical bag. He stopped beside Jay and put his leg on a bench. "Hoow! That hurts. Can't you be careful?" "Good, then you are really hurt and need my help. I am asss careful asss the sssituation requiresss." He drew a scalpel from the bag. Held it between them, looking at it thoughtfully. "Look Doc . . . I didn't mean to insult you. I know. . . .. " Maurice used it to cut jay's pants open. Jay grabbed his hand. "You're crazy. They're worth fifty bucks. You can't go slashing pants, they don't do that in good hospital. Aaaarg!" Maurice stopped pressing on the leg and Jay started gaining back some colors. He then slithered to Boris. "I will not ssstand it any longer. I don't care if he sssaved the world, he'sss jussst like the othersss. He treatsss me like a ssslave." He turned toward Jay. "I know what I'm doing. If you don't like the way I work then get out and don't ever come back." They both held their gaze. Jay didn't move. "Good, then you want me to take care of the leg or not?" "All right." Maurice went back to cutting. When that was done he looked at the wounds. "You're lucky, they're mossstly ssscratchesss, but you have a deep bullet wound. The bullet isss ssstill in. How did it happened?" "I got the bullet trying to kick a mutant. The rest probably crawling on broken glass." Maurice lowered himself to get a better look at the wound. From his slightly opened mouth Jay could see shiny fangs. "Thisss will hurt." "Great." Jay looked away. When all he felt was a weak sting he looked back. He saw two new small holes and some blood on Maurice's lips. "What'd you do? Poison me?" "Maybe I ssshould, but no. I only anesssthesired you. It ssshouldn't take long." Jay felt a warmth climb up his leg, spreading to his whole body. He closed his eyes. "He ssshould be out for a few hoursss. Come, I'll look at that arm of yoursss." "I asked you to take care of Jay first." "Yesss, but I won't do it here, too much chance of infecting the woundsss. Ssso, while we're waiting for sssomeone I called to arrive you'll come with me and I'll sssee what I can do." "No, we will not wait for one of your nurse to come. You will take care of Jay first, I shall help." "All right then move him to the operating room." Boris got up, carefully picked Jay's body in his arm and followed Maurice through a corridor to a white, and clean, room. He put him on the table. "Go sssit down. I'll manage from here." He sat in a nearby chair, relieved to feel the pain lessened. He watched Maurice work on Jay and found himself thinking back on the day's events. First Stanley supposingly hires Jay to get him to a meeting. But Stanley knew both the phone number and the address to Harry's Gym and he would have warned Jay that it was a mutant he would find. If not coming himself. All this could be explained if Gauthier was trying to get rid of both of them while getting back the tape. Then there was the fact of the speed at which Gauthier had learned of Mike's capture and the tape existence. There was a leak in Stanley's department, that much was evident. Anyone, even those under arrest, could have seen and heard what had happened, but none of the crooks could have reached that high in the organization that fast. No, a cop had warned Gauthier, and Boris had a good idea who. "All right, your turn." Boris opened his eyes, surprised. He hadn't even heard Maurice approached. He went to the table, took Jay to the sofa in the living room. He then took off his shirt and pants and stretch on the table. Maurice looked at the wound. Then he bit him in the neck, where the anesthesia would be carried to the rest of the body faster. Boris felt his body relaxing and a fog pass over his mind. He reflexively fought to stay awake, but lost. * * * Upon waking he slowly looked around. Nothing had changed, except that Jay was now sitting in a chair, a cup in hand. The sight made him sit up in a hurry, which sent pain and dizziness. He fell back with a groan. Jay looked up from his cup. He went to the table using crutches. "Hello, I would salute you, but I do not think that I have the strength left." "Dizzy?" "Very." "He said that it'll pass, an after effect of his bite." Slowly he managed to sit. Maurice slithered in. "How are you feeling?" "Better." Boris let himself fall off the table. The landing sent pain in his ribs. He used his good arm to steady himself while fighting for breath. Maurice watched him with a pained look. Then he turned to Jay. "Now asss for your woundsss, your leg ssshould be in a cassst. I don't have what'sss needed to do one. If you can't find sssomeone who will, don't worry, you'll live. Maybe limp the ressst of your life, but you'll live." A warm smile glowed across his face. Jay looked away disgusted. "Borisss, your arm ssshould alssso be in a cassst, or at leassst in a sssling. For your ribsss I recommend minimum of movement for at least one month, but knowing you it will be extraordinary if you can go a week without a fight." "Your ears were clotted with blood. I cleaned them, but I noticed that the eardrums were ruptured; they will heal in time . . . Now, any of you hungry?" "Not anymore." Jay didn't look well. "Da, but I have to leave. Call Jay a taxi. I'll manage by myself." "Very well." Boris dressed and left. Jay was arguing over the phone, trying to convince a company to send one to pick him up. He didn't seem to be having any luck. Once outside Boris realized how much he depended on his hearing. He had been here often, he recognized it, but without the noise it felt unfamiliar. He could still hear, but it was only a fraction of what he was used to. He walked down the street, passing, once in while, a fonctionnal street lamp. He passed a manhole, and stopped. Again the silence disturbed him. He knew that there was a bar under the street. He had gone a few times, looking for criminals. He should be hearing music, talk and probably fighting. Boris cursed; he wouldn't get anywhere thinking like that. He walked on. After a while the light became stronger, the buildings were in better shape and the street seemed to clear itself of mutants, he was out of the dump. The street wasn't empty of mutants, but here, outside the dumps, most kept to dark area. Anywhere outside the dump people looked badly at mutans. Even more one that dressed well and walked with confidence. People moved out of his path. He didn't have to see their face to know of their fear, it was so strong that it could be felt miles around. He didn't like to scare people, but he had learned that there was nothing he could do about it. He finally came to a city parking. At this hour of the night it was mostly deserted. A few cars, a motorcycle and a Chevy were all that occupied the large space. He walked toward the Chevy. It was larger than normal, maybe six feet longer and one higher. It was a custom job. He circled it, there was only two doors; the driver's and on where the sliding door should have been. There was no window except for the windshield and on the driver's door, both tinted black. He bent down and looked under, everything was clean. It had been cleaned thoroughly, and recently. He got up. He slowly lifted the driver's side handle. It was locked. He moved to the other door, slowly turned the knob. So was this one. He looked around him as he took his key, unlocked the door and entered. He switched the light on and sat in the chair, looking at an empty monitor. Boris often wished he could dispense with the security check he did every time he came home. Unfortunatly with the amount of enemies he had it was one habit he couldn't afford to break. He played the only message he had on his answering machine: "Boris, it's Stanley. I missed you at the gym, so I hope you'll hear this. The trail is in four days, on the tenth, two thirty. Be there." Boris replayed the message, hoping to find more information in the background. When he didn't hear anything he became angry. Again he was depending on his lost hearing. He sat back, and relaxed. Stanley had most probably called as soon as he had learned himself. It had probably happened at the department. Since Stanley always left at six, it left someone less than two hours to put the bureaucrats of justice at work. Boris had the uneasy feeling that someone was pulling strings. Gauthier was the only one who came to mind, but it made no sense. He should have wanted to delay things as much as possible to give his operative the time to remove all the evidence. Gauthier would have heard from the one who had informed him that all the evidence was in the same place. He might have decided that it could be taken cared of easily, but that didn't fit in Gauthier's pattern of action. He would still have tried to delay the trial, just to be careful. Boris turned the computer on. Accessed all information he had gathered on Mike. He searched through it, looking for names. Name that could be link to the justice department, or someone else in power, but to no avail. Boris was sure he had everything on him. From his first arrest, when he was eight, he had belong to the same gang. He had slowly, and methodically eliminated those who were in his way and he became leader. Some time after that an unknown person united all the small gangs, except for Mike's. He kept running his gang quite efficiently. That brought the other leader to strike a deal with him. He would place Mike's gang over all other, making Mike the leader of every gang member in Montreal. As an exchange for the danger he now saw possible in his position he asked for the name of his new leader. This is how Gauthier became known, and feared. As for the brother Jay said Gauthier had, Boris had never heard anything on him. Linking his computer with the University of Montreal's library. He went through the newspapers starting four years ago and ending when he arrived, a little over two years ago. He read through the titles, looking for those who seemed to talk about what he wanted. He speed‑read them, changing article as soon as he realized he had the wrong one. When he found one useful the sun was coming up. It had happened six months before his arrival, and the murders had been happening the whole year before that. The article talked about how the police had found the murderer on an anonymous call, and how they killed him when he tried to escape, they mentioned no names. He looked at other newspaper for addition on it, but none mentioned any names. It didn't help Boris. He kept looking, eventually falling asleep on the keyboard. * * * He was awakened after a few hours by the same nightmare he had these days. He ate a little and went back at looking through the library's data. He spent the entire day at it, but nothing informative could be found. The reporters who had written the articles hadn't been on the scene, and no picture had been taken. He spent the other days making calls. He tried whatever precinct who could have been involved but they weren't much help. All officer that had been involved had either moved to an unknown precinct, retired or were otherwise unreachable. Boris' frustration grew as his search proceeded. Every lead led nowhere. He played a little with the idea that someone had, or was covering up the murders and anything linked of it. He thought little of it, he would have thrown it completely away. If it wasn't for one thing. Everyone he had talked to referred to the murderer as he. He was still thinking about it when he reached the court house. He parked his van in an alley locked the doors and went in. Once in the lobby he realized that Stanley hadn't said in which courtroom to go. He looked around for him, but he wasn't there yet. Then, out from the crowd, he could make out a familiar face. He didn't know the name, but he was certain of what to expect of him. He went toward him. "I'm officer Cortez," the man greeted him, without responding to Boris extended hand. "Lieutenant Lombaire asked me to meet you here, and to take you to the meeting place." "What place?" "The one where you'll give it to him." "Give him what?" Cortez nervously looked around. "Would you mind walking while we talk?" "Niet." They left the lobby for a quieter corridor. "I can understand that you're careful, but let me explained what Lieutenant Lombaire wants. I'm to take you to a quiet, out of the way room where we won't be disturbed and you can give him the cassette." "I see." "Good, then you'll follow me." "Of course." Cortez led him down many floors, then they walked through parts of the building that were very old. They stopped in front of a double panel door made of oak. A sign showed this as the record room. "Detective Lombaire is in there. He said that he'd talk to you alone." "Da." Boris put his hand on the door and pushed it opened a little. He closed his eyes to concentrate on the noise he could hear. When he remembered that he wouldn't hear anything he opened them and looked around. From each side of the doors, through the opening near the floor, he could see shadows moving slightly. Well, he thought, if Stanley wants to talk alone I would have better correct this. He pushed with all his strength and the door as heavy as they might have been, went crashing into whoever were hiding behind them. Boris went in, not bothering to check those who had received the doors. Bookshelf were standing everywhere, creating a maze of corridors. Anyone could hide in them, even whoever wanted to pass for Stanley. "Don't move." Boris turned around. Cortez was pointing a gun at him. "I see, then Stanley is not here." "Of course not. You're as stupid as all of them." He looked at both doors. "Well, maybe not that stupid. Anyway, once I have it I'll be promoted and won't have to stand around mutants like you." "I doubt that anything I have will make you go higher in the police department." "Ah! You think I care about that! Hand it over!" "What?" "He wants the tape sladouman." Boris turned to see Riker walking from behind the shelves. "And you'd better give it to him before he puts lead into you." Boris took the tape out of his pocket. "Here. Take it." He through it over his shoulder, somewhere in Cortez's direction. It hit the floor. He turned to watch Cortez pick it up. "Yes! With this I'll save Gauthier's protégé, and once that's been done he'll give me anything I want." "I do not think that it will do much good." "Of course, you can still testify. With Lombaire backing you, a jury might even believe you. A chance I can't take, but it's been taken cared of, and it's fitting, Riker will kill you, an animal killing an animal. I won't even have to dirty my hands with you. Riker, kill him." "Yes, Master." Hatred underlining the word. Cortez left, closing the doors with effort. "You'll never get the tape to him Cortez," Riker said afterward. "I'll kill you before that, but for now, it's your turn. I was unduly interrupted while killing you. I'll correct that now." He bounced at Boris who easily move out of the way, but barely manage to avoid the punch thrown at the same time. Riker stopped and turned around. Boris prepared himself for whatever would come next. They both stood still, watching each other. "The last time I saw you, you were in a police cruiser. How did you escape?" "I killed the two that were driving me to the prison." Boris dodge a few other punches, and tried to hit Riker, but he always managed to evade them. Boris knew that Riker was good, he was using a mix of different fighting techniques, but he kept having the impression that there was something more. He didn't seem to have trained enough to actual dodge any blows effectively. Yet it was almost impossible to hit him. He brutally realized that his thinking had distracted him when Riker came crashing into him and sent both of them in the bookshelves. He quickly reasserted himself and threw Riker in other shelves. Thing became louder as shelves knocked into shelves in a domino effect. Boris got up quickly. He wanted to reach Riker while he was still disoriented, but all those books on the floor made moving difficult. When he reached where Riker had landed he was gone. Boris didn't even try to listen for him. With his hearing deteriorated and the surrounding noise he wouldn't even hear a plane take off in this same room. He moved around the room, trying to find Riker. He checked the door, but he wouldn't have had the time to open them. Slowly the noise came down, shelves and books stopped falling, things scattered all over the place. Boris didn't envy whoever had to take care of the room. He kept looking. Sometime having to go around piles of books that had formed through that disaster. Boris looked for sometime, not finding him. Either Riker had managed to get out unnoticed or he was still hiding. He was probably still in the room, hiding. He wanted to kill him so he wouldn't run away. Even then, it would be a waste of time to look for him, the trail would start soon. He had a hand on the door when someone sneezed. He turned around, for him to have heard it so clearly, it had to have been very loud. He looked around, trying to see Riker. The sneezing was repeated a few times, enough to give him a general idea where it came from. He cautiously walked there. It was a corridor made of bookshelves that hadn't completely fallen. He entered it, looking around carefully. Near the end was a pile of books nearly twice as tall as he was. The only way to go through it was to dig. He threw the books aside, slowly collapsing the pile. So many books were in front of him that he had to bent down to move those at his feet. When he came up a fist flew at him. It came so fast that the only thing Boris could think of doing was to roll with it, moving in the same way minimizing the impact. He let himself fall to the ground, mentally evaluations his injuries. His lips bled and his jaw was sore. "That was for the other day," said Riker in a grave voice. He came out of inside the pile. "I am happy you stayed, it would have been difficult to keep your death quiet outside of this room." "I am still alive." Boris thought quickly, he needed to finish it fast, even if he survived the fight it could still be long enough to make him miss the trial. Mike would still go to jail, but it would be easier if he testified. "I'll correct that." Riker came toward him. Needing to keep him at a distance Boris threw a book at him. He easily dodged it, a slightly surprised look on his face. Boris barely noticed it. He was looking at the shelve the book had hit. He was sure it had moved up a few inches. Looking more closely he realized that both bookshelves were stopping each other from falling. That opened new possibilities. "This time I shall kill you." Boris ran at him, trying to strike him. As he had expected Riker dodge and hit back. He didn't want to avoid it, not even lessen the blow. There was too many chances that he would realize something was amiss. He got hit. The impact forced him backward a few steps, and he moved himself a few more, hoping Riker would think he was responsible for them. His head was spinning and hurting, but he couldn't worry about that, he hoped he'd been able to move far enough. He picked up books and threw them at Riker. Boris aimed most at him, they seemed to amaze him more then hurt him, but some, heavy ones, hit the bookshelf slowly lifting it. Then the one on the back wall fell. Riker, distracted by Boris, didn't react in time and the shelves fell on him. It fell short a few inches of Boris. He jumped the distance to reach Riker, who was already getting up. He didn't wait for him to be ready, he hit him hard and fast, for as long as he was standing. When Riker did fall Boris caught his breath a while and left. At the first bathroom he found, which was empty, he cleaned most of the blood off himself. Then he ran back to the lobby, where Stanley and a woman were waiting. "Boris, where you've been, I was starting to wonder if you'd make it." "I almost did not." "That's Boris? Lombaire, you didn't tell me it . . . he was a mutant. It'll throw the case. They'll never believe a mutant. He . . . It's an animal! You don't let an animal on the stand! It isn't done!" Stanley grabbed her by the shoulder. "Look lady, Boris has worked with my department for over two years. I can give you the name of at least twenty good cops who'll be willing to stand behind him. You want to put then on the stand to establish his credibility, I don't care, but you find a way to put him there. It's because of him the Cat is on trial, and almost certainly on his way to jail." "You could have told me he was a mutant, I'd prepared myself." She looked at both of them. "Anyway, we can't win this case." "What!?" "With that attitude I am sure we will loose." "Listen, Gauthier has always done everything in his power to ensure that his top man stayed free. What make's you think he'll act differently now?" "He has already made his move, twice." Both of them looked at Boris. "He tried to have me killed by officer Cortez and one of his men named Riker." "Cortez's one of my best men, he wouldn't be on the take." "He is, and he took the tape. He wants to use it to climb to a higher position." The woman let herself fall on a bench. "They have the tape? Oh swell, it's all over now, and you said it'd be safe." "Shut up. Where are they?" "Cortez, I do not know. He is probably on his way to deliver the tape. Riker is unconscious in the basement, in the record room. There are two others." "What good will that do, Mike the cat will go free anyway. Gauthier has the tape, he'll probably destroy it." "Unless he likes Heavy Metal." Stanley put a tape in her hand. "Boris will explain, I've got to see to that Riker." Boris caught his arm, "use tranquilizer on him, he is very strong." He then released him. Stanley went running, walkie-talkie to his mouth, ordering his men to meet with him, and placed an A.P.B. on Cortez's car. The woman looked at Boris. "You are holding the real tape of Mile the cat. I had one of those Stanley always keep in his desk." She stood frozen. Boris grabbed her by the shoulder and forced her to stand, she was easily a foot taller. "You have to convince people to let me testify, and to make sure that he goes to prison." She winked slowly twice, as if realizing she was here. "Yes, I know." Boris let her go. She had some difficulty standing. She put her hand on his shoulder to steady herself, and took it off almost immediately, a look of disgust on her face. She started walking, Boris followed her. They entered the courtroom, where people waited for her. She went to her table. Boris took a sit near the middle. The only ones watching were mutants, most belonging to Mike's gang. The judge entered, the lawyers stood, Mike's lawyer had to force him to stand. Boris was surprised that someone could find a human to defend a mutant. Once they had sat again she asked to approach the bench. Both layers went to the judge. They talked, even if Boris could have heard them he wasn't paying attention. Some of the mutants, which occupied completely the last four rows, had recognized him. He didn't look back, knowing that if he did they could try to kill him here. He watched as the judge called a small recess, and left with the two lawyers. A mutant sat beside him. He wasn't imposing and Boris decided to let him be, until he felt a sharp object in his side. He looked at the large knife, and then at the mutant. He was also looking at him, murmuring one word: "Traitor." Boris shook his head with a sad smile, then he put his mouth closer to the mutant's ear, unfortunately pressing a little harder on the knife. "If you do not kill me with the first thrust, I will snap your neck like I did for Riker. You do know Riker?" He looked back at the door, as the mutant left. The lawyers came back and sat. Boris noticed that Mike's lawyer was quite happy, could it be that she hadn't been able to convince them? That thought soon changed as they called him. She was very efficient, asking only what was important. She even managed to hide her disgust and act as if he was human. When she finished Mike's attorney asked only two questions; If Boris was a mutant and if he had ever killed a human. She objected, saying that Boris wasn't the one on trial, but the judge, being human, told her to shut up. Boris had to answer. He found that his own passion for the truth forced the answer out. Yes, he had. The jury gasped. Boris knew that what ever credibility she had managed to build had been shattered. Everything he had said would be dismissed by them. The judge told him that he could leave the bench. Calm, but visibly holding back his anger. Mike smiled. Boris was angry at himself, he should have seen that trick coming. Mike's lawyer was definitively a good one. Now, she was right, they had lost the case. Only a miracle would send Mike in jail. That miracle did happen, in the form of Jay and another man. The mutants started talking all at once. He couldn't understand anything in the cacophony. The judge bang order. It took a while, but they calmed down. That impressed Boris. Jay went to her, he talked with her and gave her an envelope. After reading it, she announced to the judge that she wanted to put a new witness on the stand. Mike's attorney got up and started to object when Jay slammed an envelop in his hand. Cautiously he opened. After reading it he turned to the judge and said that he didn't have any objection. If it was at all possible, Mike looked pale. Boris grew curious. She directed the man to the bench as Jay sat beside Boris. She asked the man to identify himself and tell the court what had happened. He was Bob "TNT" Varn, and he build explosives, for destruction companies or whoever paid him. He had worked for Mike The Cat more than once. That last time they only told him that the explosives had to be powerful enough to blow up a large building. He builded them so. When Mike came to get them he told him that he was going to destroy the forum during a game. He didn't hide the that the bomb would kill people, but there would be children, and he didn't want his creation to hurt children. He argued, and Mike took out a gun. He was shot three times maybe four, he wasn't sure, he then passed out. When he'd awaken, he was in a hospital. After having told his story it was Mike's turn. He told his version of the story, but he was nervous and his story had holes. Then the jury left, they came back a few hours later and declared Mike the Cat guilty of all charges. Hearing that, the mutants became excited. Most of them got up and some were armed. Boris would have tried to stop them, but Jay told him to sit. At the same instant a large amount of cops entered. They located themselves around the room. Jay got up, gave an envelope to Boris and turned to leave. Then as if on second thought, turned back. "You'd better do what they tell you to," was all he said before leaving. Boris watched him leave, wondering what that had been about. He opened the letter and, as he read it, anger filled him. END
  4. Kindar

    Honor

    Maryl heard the steps coming towards him, his eyes remained closed as he continued the movements; slow and precise they helped him stay limber. The steps stopped well enough away that he knew the person meant him no harm. He came to the end of the series and stood still, centering himself. He opened his eyes, and still saw nothing of the world. He had been born blind, his family gave him up to a monastery because of it and he was raised there to function without his sight. To him the world was composed of scents, sounds and feelings. He sniffed the air for his visitor’s scent, canine; he smelled deeper, wolf and the perfumes told him he was one of the king’s males. He walked to the bench by the wall, knowing exactly how many steps it would take him to reach it. “He wants to see you,” the wolf said. “What makes him think I’d come to his call?” “Arach,” was the answer. The fox froze as he reached for the walking stick and his heart sank. * * * * * He made a left as they entered the castle. It still smelled the same as the last time he was there, it smelled of death, treachery, and pretension. “The king is in the throne room,” his guide informed him. “I know. I’m going to the Dungeon.” “But the king is waiting,” the wolf replied pleading. “He can continue to do so.” [WP13-JWH1] He didn’t need his guide to show him the way, he’d spent decades in this castle, and most of it in the dungeon, listening to prisoners pleading their innocence. Like before it was a quiet place. Their footsteps and his cane click on the stone floor were the only sounds. The guide opened a last door and is all changed. As they walked by cells prisoners called to them, claiming they were innocent, that a mistake had been made. They came in front of an uncharacteriscally silent cell causing him to and he stoppedhalt. He heard the intake of breath and rustle of chains. He took a deep breath and held it for a second. “Open the door,” he told the porcine guard. “No one’s allowed in there,” was the response. Maryl took a step toward the guard, and before the guard realized anything happened he was laying on the ground the tip of the fox’s walking stick pressing against his throat. “Don’t Do not try my patience. Now, , open the door,” he ordered calmly. The guard scooted out from under the cane and took the large key chain off his belt as he stood. A moment later the door opened. Maryl entered the cell and looked at the tiger while the door closed behind him. “Arach, why did you come back?” he asked him quietly, his voice trembling. “I couldn’t stay away anymore,” the tiger answered, in his deep voice that had made Maryl’s heart melt the first time he’d heard it, and still did so. Maryl sat next to the tiger, and a moment later Arash Arach laid his head on the fox’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” the tiger said as Maryl place an arm around his shoulders. The fox kissed the top of his head tenderly. “I won’t be able to save you this time.” He felt the tiger’s tears fall on his fur. “I know.” * * * * * Maryl finally stood before the king. Since he had made the wolf wait, he had had to wait in return. He didn’t mind, it gave him time to compose himself, and try to find arguments to save Arach’s life. “You’ve seen him.” The king said in his gruff voice “Yes, I have,” Maryl answered, even if it hadn’t been a question. “Then you know what needs to be done.” “Does it have to be done?” the fox asked, working extremely hard to keep himself from pleading. “Arach has never done anything to hurt anyone.” “He stole form from me!” The king bellowed. The silence that followed it told Maryl how shocked the court was by that explosion. “What he took,” Maryl started, but stopped as his voice almost cracked. “What he took was never yours to begin with.” He finally said in a controlled tone. “It doesn’t matter. You extracted a promise out of that thief in exchange for his life. Repeat it for me.” Maryl could hear the smug satisfaction in the wolf’s voice. “Exile, he promised to leave and never return. That he would be put to death if he came back.” “And he came back,” The king said with finality, “you know what needs to be done.” “Does it have to be me?” Maryl asked, already knowing the answer. “You’re the one who extracted the promise out of him. You have to be the one to take his life.” The fox lowered his head, “very well, in three days then.” Gasps of surprise traveled the court. “No. That’s unacceptable,” stated the king, “He broke his promise.” “Did Arach run when you men tried to capture him?” “No. he didn’t.” “Then he didn’t break the promise, he accepted the consequences of it. Has he tarnished his honour in anyway?” Maryl knew what the king’s hesitation meant. He knew that he wanted to say, but they weren’t in private. In this court, but the king’s own proclamations he had to go by what had happened, not what he felt. “No, he hasn’t,” the wolf finally said reluctantly. “Then the Harsmok festival is an appropriate time for the ceremony, and he won’t stay in the dungeon until then.” “What?” “He came back knowing what would happen to him. He deserves to be able to enjoy his last few days in this world.” He made sure to make it about Arach, it couldn’t be about himself since he was back in the position of Judge. “Do you expect me to just set him loose in the city? You think he’ll just show up when it’s time?” “I still have a house in the city. I’ll watch over him and ensure he’s there for the ceremony.” The king was silent. “Have I ever broken one of my promises to you?” “No. you haven’t.” Maryl didn’t say anything, he waited for the wolf to add conditions. “He’ll be escorted to your door in chains and heavy guards. Guards will be posted at your door at all times until the ceremony. And if he leaves your home you will be with him as well as four guards.” “Very well,” Maryl said even s he felt the king was going overboard. * * * * * Maryl opened the door, before him he could smell Arach, and the guards. “Remove the chains.” For a moment he thought the guard would argue, but he heard the keys unlock them. He motioned the tiger inside and closed the door. Before Arach could say anything Maryl placed his hands on the side of his face and slowly felt it’s shape. “You haven’t changed,” he finally said with a smile and a sigh of relief. “You’ve gained more gray.” The tiger replied. They held each other tightly “I missed you so much,” whispered the tiger “I missed you too, but knowing you were safe kept me going.” “I couldn’t take being away from you anymore.” “Have you been told anything?” “No.” “We have two days together, on the third one I a’m to end your life.” “That means . . .” “Yes.” “I didn’t know, I . . .” The tiger wrapped his arms around the fox and lifted him [WP13-JWH2] spinning around “Thank you.” He said before kidding him passionately. Maryl smiled when the tiger put him down. “There’s more, if we leave the house we will be under constant guard.” “Then we won’t leave. I didn’t come back to see the city, I came back to see you.” Maryl rested his head on Arach’s chest, sobering up a little. “I wish I could see you.” The tiger held him warmly, “You will.” * * * * * An hour before the ceremony started Maryl and Arach left their house to go to the center of the city. They were under guards, but those were ceremonial rather than the king’s. Maryl wore his robe of office and Arach the simple loincloth of the suppliant. The crowd was quiet as the made the progression, The last time the ceremony had been held Maryl had been just a child, and there hadn’t been a petitioner then, There hadn’t been one for as long as anyone could remember. They walked through the city so that everyone could see them. most knew who Arach was by now, the king as seen to it but no one dared disturb the mood of the progression. When they reached the center of the city the tiger stood against the stone and he was shackled to it. Maryl stood before the altar and said the prayers to the gods, asking for their protection and good will over the city, the king and the people. As he felt the time draw close Maryl ran a finger on the dagger placed in the center of the altar. He lifted his head to start the song, but his voice cracked on the first note. He kept control of his body, but he realized that he wouldn’t be able to do this. Behind him the song began in Arach’s deep voice. The song was one that all knew, but normally it was sung in private. It asked the Gods to open their heart to them, to take them in and sooth their suffering; it was a request for their support, a petition for their help. Maryl closed his eyes and joined his voice to Arach’s, this time it was strong and steady. He didn’t want this, but Arach needed it, and for him, he was going to be strong. When the song reached the somber section Maryl heard the crowd gasp. He couldn’t see what they saw, but he felt the temperature drop as the sun was slowly obscured by the God Lands opening. He took the dagger in his hand and turned to the tiger. With the God Lands opening he could see the Gods joining them, Saram, the Father God stood on Arach’s right, his golden mane floating around his head like an aura. To his left was Anara, Mother to all, She was bovine and as, always pregnant. Next to her appeared Torom, her first born and bringer of justice. More Gods appeared as the song progressed and the God Lands opened, more than Maryl even knew existed. As the song reached it’s climax and ended he stood before Arach, the dagger’s point touching the tiger’s breast. Maryl could feel his heart beating through it as he waited for the exact moment the God Lands would be fully open. As the moment came close Arach leaned in and whispered to the fox’s ear “Do not be in a hurry to join me, I am free now.” And the moment was here. Maryl pushed the dagger in to the hilt, knowing that if he gave himself even a second to think about it he wouldn’t be able to do it, and in that moment he finally saw his tiger as he lifted out of his body toward the God Lands.
  5. Jeffrey jumped the fence, knowing perfectly that the amusement park was closed and that he shouldn’t be here. He didn’t care. Today was his eighteenth birthday and he wanted to do something special. He wanted to rekindle an old feeling, something he hadn’t felt in a very long time, not since the last time his father had brought him here, before their lives went to hell. While he searched, he easily avoided the guards that were employed here. The park was large, and the more time he spent looking the more fearful he became that it wouldn’t be here anymore. Then, passing a tent, he saw it. His carousel. He stood there, dazed by its beauty. Even without the lights turned on it was still the most wonderful thing he’d ever seen. He slowly walked to it, paying it the reverence deserving of the holy place it was. This was where he’d been happy, the last time he was . . . . .until today. He climbed on it, moving among the wooden animals letting his hands caressing each one he passed. He would have loved to turn the power on, to hear the music his memory constantly replayed to him and see the light reflected off the mirror in the central column, but that would bring the guards. His hand landed on a wooden mane, and he knew instantly that he had found him, the horse, his horse, that had taken him on a magical flight for hours while his father was off somewhere getting deeper into debt. He turned to face him, caressing the faded paint on his muzzle. “Hello handsome” He said in a whispered voice. “I didn’t think it’d be this long until I could see you again” His father had dragged him away, braking the magic Jeffrey had made with the horse. He’d said that they’d come back in a few days, but they didn’t. Each time he’d asked about coming back he’d get a beating. Eventually he learned his lesson and stopped asking. He just dreamt about the love he’d felt for the horse and of the day he’d be able to do it again. The horses’ paint was faded, and peeling in various place and the muzzle was chipped. One of the kids, Jeffrey could very well imagine, who hadn’t been gentle with his horse. “Time hasn’t been kind to either of us as it?” Three years ago his father had sold him to an “uncle” as a payment against some of the debt he’d accumulated gambling. Jeffrey had been put to work, “pleasing” man who preferred young boys. He hadn’t minded, he’d only been saddened that it hadn’t been as good as what he’d had with his horse. For him those three years passed as a blurred vision. When he wasn’t working he was dreaming of the day he’d be with his horse again. “Can you take me away again?” he asked softly, just a hint of pleading in his voice. “And not bring me back? I don’t want to be taken away from you anymore” The last time he’s been with his horse something extraordinary had happened. As soon as the carousel had started moving his horse had lifted itself on his hind legs. It’s front legs became arms and it took him in a powerful embrace. Jeffrey had never felt safer in his life. His horse then took to the air. He looked down in astonishment at the park shrinking away. Never once during the flight was he afraid, he trusted his horse fully. When they landed in a lush valley his horse was now flesh and blood, standing well over twice his height. He was carefully dropped to the ground, and his horse lead him to a tree, where it sat down. He sat between its legs, reclining against its warm belly. Nothing was ever said during all the time he was with his horse, but he learned many things. Chief among them the power of his love for his horse and the pleasure it could bring them. It ended when, out of nowhere, his father grabbed him and pulled him off his horse, shattering everything. He’d be back he’d yelled to his horse as he had been dragged away. And now he was. Tear running down his face he climbed on his horse. Maybe his horse had known what had been coming, and had given him something to remember during the bad times, and come back to. He rested his head against its mane, tired. “Take me away.” He whispered, closing his eyes as he felt powerful arms wrap themselves around him.
  6. Corvus Pointer

    LoK Vol I Chapter 2 46

    From the album: Lyons of Kosma Vol. 1 Chapter 2 "Impossible Sky"

    © AnthroDynamics LLC. 2017

  7. Corvus Pointer

    LoK Vol I Chapter 2 47

    From the album: Lyons of Kosma Vol. 1 Chapter 2 "Impossible Sky"

    © AnthroDynamics LLC. 2017

  8. Corvus Pointer

    LoK Vol I Chapter 2 44

    From the album: Lyons of Kosma Vol. 1 Chapter 2 "Impossible Sky"

    © AnthroDynamics LLC. 2017

  9. Corvus Pointer

    LoK Vol I Chapter 2 45

    From the album: Lyons of Kosma Vol. 1 Chapter 2 "Impossible Sky"

    © AnthroDynamics LLC. 2017

  10. 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."
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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."
  16. 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."
  17. 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."
  18. 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."
  19. 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."
  20. 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."
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Kindar

    Chapter 44

    "Captain, you're needed on the bridge." Gral looked up from the pad he as working on and in Jeremy's direction. "Go ahead," Jeremy said, "you deal with it. I'll handle balancing the rest of the accounts." Gral stood and stretched. "I'll be back as soon I've dealt with this." He kissed the top of Jeremy's head and turned to head out. "Not so fast." Jeremy caught his arm and pulled him back, planting a kiss on his lips. "This is a proper 'I'll be back in a while' kiss." He let go of his Heart, and Gral just shook his head in amusement and headed to the bridge. "What's the situation?" he asked as the door closed behind him. "We're receiving a broadband distress signal." Nimil pressed a key and a male voice spoke in English. "This is Eugene Lincoln, head of the Lincoln mining facility. We are in dire need of assistance from anyone receiving this message. We've had tremors and cave-ins. We don't know how long the planetoid will hold together. Please, we have families with children, we need to be evacuated." The voice stopped. "The message repeats after that," Nimil said. "Origin?" "Unclaimed territories." Gral thought the situation over. Humans in unclaimed territories could mean anything, from prospectors to pirates, and too many things in between. It was impossible to fully keep tract of what was going on in those. It could be a trap, relationships between earth and Kelser were not good. "Toom, how far are we?" "Close to three hours, at top speed." "Tamirik, what's a scan of our patrol route look like?" "It looks clear, captain," his daughter answered. "No suspicious chatter, or out of place energy signature." He nodded "Toom, set a course. Nimil, establish contact with them. I need more information. I'll be in my quarters, let me know when they reply." He turned and head to the door. "I have them," Nimil said, as the door opened. Gral stopped. Already? He frowned. It either meant things were quiet enough they could afford to leave someone by communications, or so desperate they couldn't afford to leave the post unmanned. "This is Viper's Bane, responding to your distress call. My captain is waiting to talk with you." Nimil's English was unbroken, but heavily accented, he hadn't had the occasion to practice it much. "Hello?" a male said. Gral couldn't be certain if it was the same one, through the static. The screen burst into light and then broke to static. "Damn this thing." The sound was clearer now and it was the same male as in the distress call. Something was hit multiple time, and an image appeared on the screen. The man had dark skin, with short cropped frizzy gray hair. He was clean shaven, as humans tended to prefer, was Gral's observation, after dealing with many of them over the years. Even Jeremy was unwilling to let his beard grow. He wore a faded brown jacket, with a silver leaf pinned to its lapel. Gral eyed it for a moment before speaking. "Are you Eugene Lincoln?" "Yes, i am." "Call me Gral, I'm captain of the Viper's bane. What is your emergency?" That pin changed everything in his mind. "The planetoid is breaking apart, and we don't know why?" "How many have you been able to take out with your own ships?" "We don't have any. He settled here fifteen years ago and have been mining since. We never expected to have to leave in such a hurry." "How many people do you have?" "A hundred and sixty two, thirty one of whom are under fifteen of age. We really need your help." "Get everyone to the evacuation point. We'll be there under three hours." "Thank you. God, thank you. We'll be ready." The screen went blank. "Jeremy," Gral said, through the com, "I need to you to give me as much power from the second generator as you can." "Really? I don't know that's wise, we're running to the limit on our fuel usage." "That doesn't matter right now. Lives are depending on us traveling as fast as we can." There was a moment of silence. "Give me ten minutes to run the calculation and set it up." * * * * * Two hours and twelve minutes later they were docked to the planetoid. Gral and Jeremy had a squad of medics with them as the large access doors slid open. Humans started pouring through and they were guided deeper in the ship, and they both noted that a large number of them wore the silver leaf pin. The last one in was Eugene. "Is this everyone?" Gral asked. "No. Just before you arrived there was a tremor and one of the doors closed and locked for safety reason. There's a dozed families trapped on the other side." He pulled a pad and it projected a 3-D image of the section. "Can you over ride it?" "Yes, but we can't tell what the conditions are on the other side. I don't even know if anyone's alive." Jeremy took the pad from Eugene and plugged it in the ship's system. "Tamirik, I'm uploading part of the planetoid to your screen. We need a scan of that section. Life forms, oxy-levels, exposures to void." "I have thirty eight life forms, they are clustered at the far end of the tunnel," his daughter answered after a moment, and the pad's image changed as she sent it the information. "It's the only place with any oxygen left. There's hard exposures to the void, the cracks in the stone are all under a centimeter in width. So long as there aren't any other tremors the section is stable." "Any idea on when there might be one?" "No. I'm running scans now to try and figure out what's causing them." "Thanks." Jeremy handed the pad back and looked at Gral. The captain looked over the people he could see. "Thuruk! Get six of alpha here with portable breather for the eight of us plus thirty eight. We're going in for a rescue!" Thuruk ran out, pushing people out of his way, and minutes later he was back with five others, carrying tanks and masks. "Eugene, take us to the locked access. We'll go rescue your people." * * * * * Eugene led them through the hangar and processing area and then to the mining section and called the lift they were standing before. "This will take us down to their level. Fifty meters further is the locked access." "Can you unlock it remotely?" Gral asked. "Yes." "Good, then stay here. We'll send them up and you make sure they head to the ship." The lift took them down. They put their masks on, and made sure their bottles were secured. Each one had the standard two hours of oxygen required by military protocols. "We're ready for you to unlock it." He said when they stood before the access. "It's unlocked." The control turned green as confirmation. Gral looked at his males. "The targets are at the end of the shaft. We know they are alive, in an oxygen zone, but not what conditions they are in, we can expect them to be hurt, or even incapacitated. This may take more then one trip, so no looking around. Stay target focused." Everyone nodded, he opened the door, they went through and he closed it behind them. Silently, and quickly they crossed the close to five hundred meters to the living quarters where the families had taken refuge. Why anyone would want to live this deep under the surface was beyond him, but Gral had to admit that decision had saved lives. The door was locked. He looked in the view port and saw a group of people in the middle of the room, from what he could tell they were trying to keep the children calm. He banged on the door and as one they jumped. One of the males ran to the door and shook his head. "We can't leave." His voice was muffled by the thick door. "There isn't enough oxygen to fill the shaft." Gral lifted the tanks he had in his hand so the male could see them, then moved out of the way so he could see that everyone had them. The male hesitated a moment, then went to the others. Quickly they disappeared from view. He came back, opened the door and quickly backed into the room. The eight of them entered and closed the door behind them. Gral offered a mask to the male. "We're okay in here. This section generates its own oxy." "Good. We have oxygen for everyone. Is anyone injured?" "No, nothing serious, but we have three elderlies, I don't know that they'll be able to move very fast." "We'll carry them. But the first step is to make sure everyone can breathe." It took them thirty minutes to ensure everyone had a mask, their tank was secured, and could comfortably breathe. The elderlies had two alphas each helping them. Jeremy and Gral took the rear and they headed to the lift. The journey was again in silence, but slower. The lift was still waiting for them. The elderlies and their escorts went in first, then, as many of the children they could put in without crowding them. When the lift came back, Jeremy took the rest of the children, and as many of the adults as he could. Gral only had five left with him. Jeremy nodded to him as he closed the lift, and then he picked up the child next to him. "It's going to okay. Soon we're going to be on a ship, and away from here." The girl nodded, just as the lift shook. She grabbed on to him tightly, and worries echoed from everyone. "It's just a small one, everything is fine." He said. There was a second small tremor, then the doors opened. Waiting for them was Thuruk, and another alpha. "Eugene took the other group to the ship," Thuruk said, "Amadila is going to take this one, and we'll wait for the captain." Jeremy nodded and handed the child he was holding to her, while Thukuk sent the lift back down. A moment later everything shook, making everyone fall. Sound of snapping came from the lift, and then a rockfall. "Gral!" Jeremy screamed as he got up and rushed to the lift. The door wouldn't open. "Gral!" he screams again, this time over the com. "Are you okay?" "We're okay. The doors prevented the rocks from leaving the lift. But we're not going to be able to leave that way. Tamirik, is there another way to the ship from here?" She didn't reply immediately. "I don't know," she finally said, angry. "I only scanned your immediate area, but you have another problem. This last tremor has made that entire section of the planetoid unstable. The next one is going to bring everything down on top of you and Jeremy." She sobbed. "I don't know what to do." There was a long silence. "I'm coming down," Jeremy said. "Have Danyl and Relio bring the drilling equipment." "No," Gral stated. "I won't have you die with me." "What? Don't you dare give up now." "I'm not giving up. I'm accepting the inevitable." "Sir," Thuruk added his voice. "We can do this. If we get enough hunters here we can dig you out." "No. That is out of the question., i won't have anyone on the crew endanger themselves to save me." "We can't lose you," Thuruk whispered. "We are hunters," Gral said. Thuruk didn't say anything. "We. Are. Hunter." Gral growled. "We die so our people live," Thuruk finished, crying. "Good. You know what to do." "No!" Jeremy yelled. "I won't accept that. Do you hear me. You swore to me that we would always be together. Don't you dare go back on your promise." "Jeremy, my Heart is yours. It will always be with you. Take care of it for me. I will come back for it, one day, but you need to live. The ship's yours now, and the crew will need you. If you die here, who will look after them?" "Who will look after me?" Jeremy pleaded. Thuruk put a hand on his shoulder. "We will." He pulled Jeremy to him. "We need to go." He guided him away, gently at first, but then faster, as the ground started shaking and pieces of the ceiling falling. Jeremy let himself be lead until they were in the ship. Once there he shook Thuruk off and headed directly to the bridge. "Tell me who did this," he ordered as he entered. Everyone looked at him, surprised. "I don't understand," Tamirik said, her eyes wet. "Who sabotaged the planetoid so it would become unstable." "No . . . No one." "I refuse to accept that. Scan it again., you must have missed something! That colony was full of leafers. So it must have been the Humans, or the Taournians. Tell me who to hunt." "It wasn't them," she said, wincing away from his anger. "All those years of mining weakened the planetoid's structure, and the tidal pull of the neighboring planetoids weakened it even more. It was just a matter of time." "No. That can't be right! I need you to tell me who did this. I need someone to hit! Someone has to pay for Gral!" Someone grabbed his arm, and he shook it up, turning in the process, and looked into Toom's eyes. "I need you to come with me, captain, please," he indicated the door with an outstretched arm. Jeremy glared at him, but Toom returned it. Jeremy growled and stormed pass him. "Scan for the bodies, we're not leaving him here. Once you've retrieved Gral, get us back to our patrol," Toom said, before joining Jeremy in the corridor and leading him to a combat training room. He ordered the four already there, practicing their unarmed combat, out, and then stood in the center of the room. "What are we doing here?" Jeremy asked, looking around. He'd been in such a room before, decades ago, as part of his training to ensure he could defend himself when humans tried to kidnap him. "You wanted someone to hit. So go ahead, hit me." "I don't want to hit you. I want to hit those responsible!" "You really are being dense," Toom sighed, "you heard your daughter. There isn't anyone to blame, but that's not really why you want someone to hunt, isn't it? Now that you can't hide behind him, you have to prove that you're not the weakling I've always known you to be." Jeremy glared at him. "I don't have anything to prove to you." And headed to the door. "What I never understood was how he could be such an idiot to never realize that about you." Toom never saw the punch coming. His head spun from the impact, his balance went, but his training was ingrained deeply. He feel to the ground, rolled and let the momentum help him back to his feel, if a little unsteady. He wiped blood from his muzzle. "Don't you *dare* say such a thing about him." "Why not? He devoted his life to you. He gave you his Heart, do you have any idea what that means to us? And you're honoring him how? But setting yourself on a course to die?" Jeremy lunched himself at Toom. "What do you want me to do?" he punched him in the face again. "Just let him die in vain?" a punch in the stomach. "He is to be avenged." To the face. "He can't be forgotten just because he died." The face again. "He was strong, a leader." The shoulder. "He made hard decisions for us?" A kick to the groin, that one, Toom blocked. "What do you want me to do?" Toom caught the next punch and pulled Jeremy tightly against him. "I want you to strong, like him. You have to make the hard decisions now. And you have to start with the hardest one of all. You have to live." Jeremy was silent, and then the tears came. "I don't know how!" he scream through the sobs. "You're right, I'm just a weakling. I always was." "No. You are not weak. Your are his warrior. We all saw it as soon as you joined our family. Why did you think I couldn't stand you back then. You didn't have to tell us you were strong, you showed us, by having to learn to live among us, the only one of your race. You learned to be one of us, without ever sacrificing who you were. That's how I knew you were the male for him, and that he was willing to be with only you, to follow human culture, in that, if you'd asked him. You are not weak, you are hurting, but you don't have to hurt alone." Jeremy nodded and slowly the sobs ebbed. "I need you to be the acting captain, I can't . . . Not right now." "I understand. Will you be okay?" Jeremy nodded, and Toom released him. Jeremy looked at him and winced. "I'm sorry, you need to go see a medic first." "I'm your mate, if taking on some of your pain this way helps you, then you have nothing to be sorry about. But yes, I will see a medic." Toom could feel his shoulder swelling, and he was certain some of his ribs had broken, not to say anything of the few loose teeth in his muzzle. "If you need to do something like this again, I'm here for you." Jeremy nodded, and Toom continued watching him. "I'd like to be alone, if you don't mind." "Of course not." Toom kissed the top of Jeremy's head, and left. Jeremy stood there for some time. His legs felt like they were going to fold under him, but he wouldn't let them. Toom had been right, Gral had been right, he didn't know how he was going to do it, but he had to live. He went to their quarters now. He closed the door and locked it. Right now, he needed to be alone.
  24. Kindar

    Chapter 41

    "Captain," Nimil said, "I'm getting some sort of distress signal" "Some sort?" Gral asked, moving behind the communication officer. "It's very faint," he said. "It's the standard federation distress code. No voice, no details." "Where are they?" "Unknown. They're outside scanner range." "Huar, if we pulse, what are the odds we'll be seen by anyone?" "The only ones who'd notice anything would be ours. This far in our territory, there wouldn't even be human military in the unclaimed territories." "Okay, give us a pulse then." "Scans on main," Huar said. "Pulse in two, one, now." Gral watched the pulse expand from them, and nothing showed for almost a minute, and then there was a blip. "Where is that?" "Twelve or so light years from us, two deep within unclaimed territories. Checking the resonance signature. Nothing on file." "Nimil, what exploration ship do we have out here?" "None," he replied after a moment, "must be a private prospector." "They're still suppose to register their planed exploration." Gral grumbled. "Set a course. Let see what the problem is." * * * * * Jeremy entered the cargo bay, "What do you need me for?" he asked Gral, who simply pointed to the small ship in the middle of the bay. Jeremy whistled. "That isn't one of ours, is it?" "No, it's human." Jeremy walked around it. "Small, solidly built, I'm guessing it's a one person ship, cockpit, living area and little else. It's an exploration ship, but a model I've never seen before. What happened to it?" "Micro meteorite made it through the plating and damaged the engine," Erhik said, as she stepped out from the ship. "Do humans really live in such tight quarters?" "All the time," Jeremy answered. "Come on in, I need you to verify something for me." Once inside, the cockpit was immediately to his right, the pilot's chair and controls tightly packed. He'd have to climb over the chair to sit in it. Before him was a bed. To the left of the bed a minuscule kitchen and eating area. Beyond the kitchen the corridor opened up into a room. On his left were controls and readouts, in front the engine, and on the right, the generator. Jeremy looked at it, four feet wide, and probably the same depth, and floor to ceiling. He could still feel the heat coming off it, even though it was turned off. "Well, we now have undeniable proof that humans have built an anti matter generator, against federation rules. If we bring this up, we can make sure they are never allowed in. Gods, what was he doing to need this much power?" "He was flying fast." Erhik said. "I've gone over these engines and they are somethings I've never seen before, if I can find a way to adapt them for our fighters, they'll be even more deadly." "Lets wait for the pilot to wake up and find out what he's doing this close to our territory," Gral said. "Before you start taking this apart. What's the generator like?" "It's years ahead of what I was working with back on the station," Jeremy stated. "Which isn't surprising, it's been over fifteen years since I've looked at a human generator. Considering what we had back then, this is actually quite impressive, but nothing close to ours." Gral nodded. "You're free to inspect it, but don't damage it." * * * * * Jeremy entered the brig. The human had managed to escape from the medical bay, and almost made it back to his ship before being caught. He fought hard against the guards who had brought him here. Gral figured that seeing another human might make him more cooperative. The man was pacing, mumbling to himself. He stopped on seeing Jeremy and moved closed to the glass. He was wearing some jeans and a shirt, but he was barefoot. Someone had found clothing on the ship. His hair was black, long and wild, he hadn't shaved in a few days. "What's your name?" Jeremy asked. The man took a step back. "No, no, no. You can't fool me. You look right, but you sound wrong. I'm never going to tell you." "Tell me what?" "You can't trick me!" the man laughed. "You can't trick me. I've spent too many years on this. I'll die before I tell you." He looked to the side. "No, I can't die. I have to report it. The plan won't work if they don't know about it" "What plan?" "I'm not telling you," the man sang. "Fine, at least tell me your name." The man pressed his face against the glass. "Whats *your* name?" "Jeremy." "Ah! Jeremy, right, Jeremy." The man froze. "Jeremy?" He squinted in Jeremy's direction. "No, no. That's can't be. You don't sound right, but there are cats. Jeremy Krommer?" he asked tentatively. "Yes" "No, no, no. You don't sound right. You can't fool me. You're lying." Jeremy opened his jacket, moved closer to the glass and showed him the thin scar on this throat. The man looked at it. "Why?" he asked, horror on his face. "So I can pronounce Kelsirian." "Why would you want that? You're human!" "No." Jeremy's tone was glacial. "No?" the denial seemed to surprise the man. "No. I'm kelsirian," Jeremy stated. "Kelsirian?" The man started pacing. "He can't be kelsirian. No, he was dating a cat, he wasn't one." He looked askance at Jeremy. "He doesn't look like a cat. Can he be one, if he doesn't look like one?" "What happened to you?" "To me? Nothing. Why? Do you think something happened to me?" "You don't sound like nothing happened to you." "Ah! You try spending eight years alone in a small ship and see what happens to you mind!" "Didn't you have anyone to talk with? Your ship has a working communication system." "No! I can't talk. You can't make me talk. No one can know what I was doing. It's a secret." He started giggling. Then stopped. "You're Jeremy," he stated. "You have to help me. I can't stay here." "Why?" "Because I'm . . ." He started searching his pockets. "My things, my uniform. There's something in the pockets you have to see." Jeremy looked up at the camera, and then back at the man. "Someone will bring it, in the mean time, why don't you tell me your name? I told you mine." "My name is . . ." His mouth hung opened for a moment, than closed. He looked around, searching. "No, no, that isn't right. Right! My name's Adam, Adam . . . . Douglas? Yeah, that's right, Adam Douglas." He chuckled, "why didn't I remember it?" "Alright Adam, why do you have to leave?" "Do you have it?" "Have what?" "Arrg. If you don't have it I can't tell you." "Why not?" "Because you have to know." "Know what?" "That I'm . . . .I'm . . ." He looked up and screamed. "That I'm like you!" Jeremy was taken aback. What did he mean? He couldn't mean he was part of a kelsirian crew . . . Was it that he didn't consider himself human either?" The door opened and Gral entered. "Is that him?" Adam asked. "Is that your boyfriend?" Jeremy glared at Adam, as a warning to watch what he was going to say next. Gral put something in his hand, and Jeremy looked at it. It was silver, in the shape of a leaf, with a clip at the back so it could be attached to clothing. Why did it look familiar. Gral put another, identical, in his hand. Adam had two? No. Jeremy remember now, one of them had been given to him the last time he'd been on Earth. He looked at Adam, eyes wide. "Yes! Yes!" Adam did a little dance. "You have one too, I'm like you." "You have sex with other males" Adam sat, and his body relaxed as he let out a sigh. "Yes. I'm a Leafer, just like you." "Leafer? That's the term you use for a male who has sex with males?" "Or women who have sex with women, or family that support them, and people who help them. It's all part of the plan." Adam stood. "That plan! There has to be pressure. You have to apply pressure. The plan won't work if there isn't any pressure." "Adam," Gral said. "We will help you." "You will? Why?" Gral held up the two pins. "Because we are like you." "Right." "But for now, I need you to rest. Jeremy will come back tomorrow, and you can tell him how we can help." "You need to apply pressure!" "We will, but for now, rest." The two of them left the cell area. "Lower the lights so he can sleep." He told the guard. Then looked at Toom. "Did any of that make any kind of sense to you?" "No, but are you surprised? Eight years without any contact, in that box they call a ship. It's amazing he's even that coherent. That human must have had a very strong mind when he set out on what ever this is." "Come on, lets go rest ourselves." They left the brig. "Tomorrow I'd like you to reach out to your backroom contacts, see if any of them know what a human explorer is doing here." "I will, but don't expect much. Politicians aren't really known for knowing who goes where." Gral's paces slowed, until he stopped. "Gral?" Jeremy asked. "You two go ahead, the cubs will be missing us, you keep them entertained. I'll be there shortly, I have an idea who might have answers."
  25. Kindar

    Chapter 49

    Jeremy groans as Toom nibbled on the back of his neck. They had just gotten into bed, and were settling in for some tender times. "Can I ask what you intend to do about Korfas?" Toom asked, between licks along Jeremy's ear. Jeremy shivered, and had trouble getting his mouth to work. "Do you really have to bring him up now?" Toom stopped moving, pressed against Jeremy's back. He rested his head on Jeremy's shoulder. "I think I should." "It must be really important, because your body is telling me you'd rather do something else." He sighed. "What do you mean?" "Are you planing on leaving him the ship?" Toom said, after a moment of silence. "What? No, of course not. Once I'm done training him, I'm dropping him off on Kelser, and he can get a ship on his own. Are you worried you won't be getting the ship?" "Gods no. I'm a pilot, not a captain. Don't even think of giving it to me, but . . ." "Yes?" "Tamirik was worried." Jeremy turned to he face his mate. "She was? Why? She never gave any indications she was interested in getting it." Toom rubbed his cheek. "She'd been thinking of taking command courses." "What? She never told me about that, I can teach her what she needs to know. She doesn't have to go to the academy." Toom smiled, and nuzzled Jeremy. "She'll be happy to know Korfas isn't getting it." He pressed himself against his mate, but Jeremy turned and got out of bed. "Where are you going?" "I'm going to go talk with her." Jeremy put on his pants. "Now? But we were just getting started." Jeremy leaned over the bed, and groped him, making Toom grunt. "You shouldn't have brought up my daughter, if you wanted to have sex." "But I'm your mate," Toom made eyes at him. "I'm a father first." He nuzzled Toom. "If you haven't gone to find someone else to have sex with by the time I'm back, we can pickup from here." "I make no promises," Toom smiled at him. "Good," he smiled back, and nuzzled him again, before heading out of the room. Jeremy considered grabbing a shower, first, but figured it wouldn't be the first time he's walked the halls smelling of sex, and the humans wouldn't notice the scent. He grabbed his com from the table. "Connect to Tamirik," he said as he left his quarters. The com gave him the chirp that indicated it had connected to her com. "Tamirik?" "Yes, Pa?" she answered after a moment. "Are you busy? I'd like to talk with you." "I'm not. Me, Xernial, and Rostol are just watching a vid." "I'll be there in a moment." "The door's unlocked." A few minutes later he entered her quarters, it was a family unit, since her and Rostol were mated. The three of them were on the couch, watching a vid, as she'd said. Rostol and Tamirik were seated next to one another, leaning against each other. They were rubbing each other's legs. With the three of them being naked he could tell Rostol was quite enjoying it. As was Xernial, who was stretched on the other half of the couch, his head on Tamirik's lap, and she was running her claws in his chest fur. "Do you mind if I steal my daughter?" Jeremy asked. "No at all, Jeremy," Rostol said. "Sure thing, captain," echoed Xernial, who lifted his head, and then scooted back, so his head was on the other male's lap. Rostol proceeded to rub his chest and stomach. Jeremy indicated the bedroom, and Tamirik preceded him there. "Why didn't you tell me you were interested in becoming a captain?" He asked softly, once the door was closed. His daughter's ears turned red, and folded back. "I've been thinking about it for a while, but I wasn't really sure until recently." "Toom told me you were worried I was grooming Korfas to take over. I'm not. I'm just training him as a favor for a friend." Her face lit up. "Why didn't you ask me directly?" "It wasn't my place. I'm just a communication officer." "Silly cub." Jeremy messed up her head fur. "You're my daughter, you can always ask me anything. When ever you're ready, I can start training you too." She shook her head. "I want to go through the academy?" "Why? I'm perfectly able to train you." "You're my Pa." She smiled. "I don't want you to worry about being to harsh with me." "Okay. If you had approached me with this while we were on Kelser, we could have made the arrangements for you to start immediately." "No, I couldn't have started then. It would have felt like I was abandoning you right after dad died." He hugged her. "Thanks." And then held her by the shoulders. "Don't you think Xernial is a little old for the two of you?" She snorted. "He isn't old, he's experienced. You've had sex with him. You know how good he is. He's going to show us some things." He couldn't argue with her. They went back to join the other two. Rostol's hand had moved further down in their absence. Jeremy leaned against the back of the couch while Tamirik took back her position between the two males. He looked down at Xernial, once they had settled back in. "Don't think you'll be getting special treatment, just because you're getting close to my daughter." "Wouldn't think of it, captain." "Good," He leaned down to nuzzle him. "Go easy on them, okay, they're not as experienced as the rest of us." "I promise, your daughter has nothing to fear from me." "What about me?" Rostol asked. "I make no promises about you," Xernial replied. With a chuckle Jeremy left them to their evening of fun, and went to find out if his mate had gone out to find his own relief.
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