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Found 75 results

  1. Stripes Waterkat

    Stripes & Purrbaggins - Quicky

    From the album: Furry/Nightcrawler

    When visiting this gorgeous cat one morning, she was running behind and only had time for some quick fun, so we got right to it. Best way to start the day.
  2. Stripes Waterkat

    Nightcrawler and Gamora - "The Nightcap"

    From the album: Furry/Nightcrawler

    After the events of Guardians Team-up #6, Kurt and Gamora spent some time at a bar on Earth, this is how I feel the rest of the night went. ;D The link below will take you to a page where you can view the full NSFW animation I put together featuring our favorite fuzzy elf having some fun with the warrior daughter of Thanos, I hope he doesn't find out. Enjoy. 3 minute vid, Very NSFW, adults only, sound and music Comments here, or with the vid itself, welcome. https://www.dropbox.com/s/kxo9rmzmgymi8os/NightCrawler%20and%20Gamora%20-%20The%20Nightcap.mp4?dl=0 This is a fan based work. All IPs © Marvel

    © Marvel

  3. DouglasKim

    Call me Father - Page 18

    From the album: Call Me Father

    Whew! Look at that Skyline and that diverse crowd! D: But most important of all, look at that distraught tiger dude… I hope you guys enjoyed this last page and as usual, I’ll go on a few weeks hiatuses from posting. In the meantime, you can check out new Pages in my Patreon, where chapter 3 is well underway already! You can support diverse crowds, opulent backgrounds and read more pages of CMF at www.patreon.com/douglaskim
  4. DouglasKim

    Call me Father - Page 17

    From the album: Call Me Father

    To be fair, Nathan is in the wrong on this one. But also look at him, he seems so distressed :( You can support distressed tigers and read more pages of CMF at www.patreon.com/douglaskim
  5. DouglasKim

    Call me Father - Page 16

    From the album: Call Me Father

    Awww, it would seem like someone is still nurturing feelings for a past love <3 You can support lovers who uncover and read more pages of CMF at www.patreon.com/douglaskim
  6. DouglasKim

    Call me Father - Page 15

    From the album: Call Me Father

    Everyone knows you gotta be really wasted before you start spilling out your deepest stories and whatnot You can support drunken stories with banter and read more pages of CMF at www.patreon.com/douglaskim
  7. WindTide

    Adoration (Seumas)

    From the album: Wind Tide's Collection

    How can love ever die, when Seumas' adoration remained steadfast even after all these years? Ever patient, ever enduring, will the Scotsman wait for his lover. Flit finally finished the companion piece for the one for Valdor, as like lovers the two can't bear to be apart for long. Eventually they will rejoice in their reunion, and mend the wounds of the yester years. Once again Neon Fox has done an excellent job of his illustration, and I couldn't ask for more. Seumas Mackintosh © Wind Tide Art © Flit Find Flit's other works in these following websites!  The Neon Fox's Twitter ↔   Yazoozaku's Deviant Art

    © Neon Fox'

  8. WindTide

    The Longing of the Irishman (Valdor)

    From the album: Wind Tide's Collection

    Somewhere in the outskirts of Dublin lived a blacksmith who was for the most part isolated from the rest of the world. Rarely did the man travel to the port city, and when he did it was to buy supplies for the workshop he maintained. The stallion only brought what was needed, almost a misery figure as he kept a low profile despite the whispers in the air. Only when he returned back to his workshop did he continue his craft, working on yet another commission for a client that had promised to pay the blacksmith handsomely for his services. Even in those rare moments of serenity, did the horse enjoy the splendor of nature as he looked outside from the blacksmith's workshop. The place itself was well equipped despite appearances, as his mentor had made sure of that before he left the workshop to his only pupil. Valdor had learned well and inherited the will of his teacher, along with a sense of determination in his work. His drive could be visualized clearly in his mind, even more so as the horse took out a locket of wool that he kept many years ago... ever since he had meet that man in Scotland. "Just a little more time to save money.... then I'll come for you Seumas." A long hiatus of updates, I'm proud to move onto showcasing the talents of :linkcbn: in her amazing illustration of Valdor in a more serene environment. Pensive no doubt, the stallion yearns to return to the embrace of his one true love, and it will take every cent that the blacksmith can save in order to invest a trip to find his star crossed lover. Valdor Thunder © Wind Tide Art © CBH Find CBH's other works in these following websites!  CBH's Twitter ↔  CBH's Tumblr ↔  CBH's Ko-fi

    © cbh

  9. WindTide

    Blacksmith's Ardor (Valdor)

    From the album: Wind Tide's Collection

    Valdor had many years in the blacksmith's workshop to work alongside his mentor who took him in as his apprentice when the horse was on the cusp of adult hood. Many years had been spent in the toil of the hearth, striking the anvil with a hammer for as long as the horse could remember the clang of metal against each other. As trying and arduous as the work had been for Valdor, he had learned much from his mentor come the trials that were ahead of him. Now that he was a full fledged blacksmith taking over his mentor's legacy, the Irishman had taken to running the business on his own. Working by himself at the blacksmith's shop, there was no need to adhere strictly to the rules and guidelines that were set before him. After all, Valdor was not going to be told by anyone if he was doing something wrong! Valdor had taken the habit of working in the workshop with barely anything to cover his body, aside from thick apron to cover his torso. Along in his workshop the stallion was free to work on his commissions naked, letting his fiery red hair free to flow like the flame of the hearth. Only when someone else came in unannounced did they find the blacksmith nearly naked! "Ah! Sorry you have to see that. Unless you're into that sort of thing to begin with." Valdor didn't mind teasing someone who managed to gawk over his naked body, though rarely did he let anyone go further to touch him. "You might have to wait until I cool down. Perhaps you'll care to join me." Barasaurus was available for another commission, so I decided to get one for Valdor seeing as Valdor and Seumas have a lot going on that I will expand in their personal stories. True to Barasaurus' talented painting style, he delivered on an exceptional piece showing off the stud of an Irish stallion my blacksmith is! Valdor Thunder © \ Wind Tide Art © Barasaurus Find Barasaurus' other works in these following websites!  Barasaurus Tumblr

    © Barasaurus

  10. From the album: Wind Tide's Collection

    For nearly 20 years the two have been separated by the cruel twist of fate... ever since they meet during secondary school. A lot of turmoil and emotions can come through in a short moment... but after the anger passes by, there is only one thing that could be said. The final commission from Texas Furry Fiesta 2017 was completed by Donryu, taking on the momentous task of joining two of my characters in a heart felt catharsis. It is a picture to celebrate the beginning of more pieces that will focus on Seumas' and Valdor's past, and how they had come to know each other. But for now the two will have time to enjoy the fleeting moments of yester years long ago... Seumas Mackintosh and Valdor Thunder © Wind Tide Art © Donryu Find Donryu's other works in these following websites!  Donryu's Twitter ↔   Donryu's Tumblr ↔  Donryu's Patreon ↔  Donryu's Kofi ↔  Donryu's Picarto Channel

    © Donryu

  11. WindTide

    First Time Bliss (James and Karl)

    From the album: Wind Tide's Collection

    James didn't know what to expect other than his imagination and various misconceptions from other friends... but the spotted Hyena sure seemed to know what he was doing when he showed the ungulate what love making was all about. The first after glow from intercourse was blissful, and no longer was James a virgin after what he had done with Karl that momentous event. All he could really feel was his heart beat and listen to the soft breath that passed through his lips... A friend of mine from a stream, Hyena Fur, had wanted to get something together with one of my own characters. He has an eye for African based species, so it was no brainer for him to pick James as part of this touching piece. BGN draw the two lovers together, and it definitely looks endearing to see the two lying together in bed. James "Jiggy" Sawsbury © Wind Tide Karl die Gevlektehiëna © Hyena Fur Art © BGN Find BGN's other works in these following websites!  BGN Twitter ↔  Red Chair Tumblr ↔  BGN's Picarto Channel  BGN's Deviant Art ↔  Broryx Guy Now Instagram

    © BlueGuyNow

  12. From the album: Wind Tide's Collection

    Gavvar had been traveling for some time alone, finding the lack of profitable work a noticeable strain on his wallet. Rather than wander around aimlessly, the dragoon sought to try and explore a nearby town, considering to join a guild in order to supplement his income. It was not that the Bangaa didn’t know how to work with others, but the reptilian warrior was not exactly welcomed in all groups of adventurers. Humes tended to give him the worst flack, so he had to be careful with whom he approached trying to find work. Nothing seemed promising at first during his search in the town’s various establishments. Inns, bars, the docks, or even the bustling market with the various gossip floating in the air… all of the usual venues seemed to turn up dry. Gavvar thought that he was going to have to go to another town, which might mean he had to put up with menial work in order to fund his trip. For a capable warrior like himself, it was hardly the best use of his time or skills! Almost as if his prayers had been answered, the Bangaa managed to bump into a stranger while he was passing through the streets, the dark skinned hume effortlessly bouncing off his dragoon armor. Normally it might have been the start of a riot, but the other man seemed transfixed at Gavvar for what seemed like an uncomfortable long time. “Er… is there something the matter? Didn’t mean to hit ya hard like that.” The Dragoon was the first to speak, before the young man cleared his throat to respond quickly. “Oh no! No, not at all. I never seen anyone wear armor that resembles a dragon.” A quick furtive glance at the muzzle end, the lad in dreadlocks realized the warrior wasn’t human to begin with. “Whoa! You’re some kind of big liz--” There was a glare shot at the man before he could finish that sentence, which made the stranger quickly shut up before he continue that sentence. “Yes. I get that often.” Removing his helmet so his face could be seen clearer, Gavvar proceeded to explain “I’m a Bangaa. I can see this town doesn’t exactly see many of them.” “No. Not at all.” It was strange, but the hume did seem to take a fascination with the warrior than to stare in contempt, taking his time to marvel at the warrior a bit. “Heavens, you’re made of stone being able to walk around quickly in that suit of armor. Gotta weigh a ton!” The Dragoon raised an eyebrow from the flattery, but he didn’t seem the harm in continuing the conversation. “Well, I am a dragon knight of sorts, you can say. I come here looking to find work suitable for my talents. But I have had a bit of a dry spell and haven’t had much luck so far.” “Well you don’t need to look no further! My boss will definitely want to see you about helping out with our squadron!” Before the Bangaa had much chance to protest, the hume gestured with his arm arching in a hurried fashion, beckoning the warrior to follow his lead. “This better be damn worth my time…” The man uttered under his breath, before he decided to give it a shot and see where this lead to. Surprisingly enough it seemed that the strange hume he came across was in fact part of a gang of other fighters. It seemed the big Orc Katu, along with his fellow compatriots, were a recognized crowd among these parts. Gavvar quickly warmed up to the lot as Spinel (the hume he had followed before) seemed to tell his boss about the Bangaa’s situation. Katu seemed to have no qualms about the recommendation, stating that the warrior was free to help out with the guild whenever there was a quest to fulfill. “Actually, there is an assignment that we were about to leave off to starting tomorrow. You came in at a good time, though now we will probably need to get more supplies.” The Orc turned his head toward Spinel as he said to the human “Ey! Why don’t you help Gavvar around the market? We’ll need to stock up on the usual supplies.” “Right!” Spinel seemed eager to please and quick on his feet, leading the warrior once more towards the bustle and hustle of the town’s market place. Gavvar found himself relaxing as he had time to focus on the mission ahead, keeping in mind not to spend too much of the allotted allowance. “Spinel… er. It’s kind of hard for me to say this. But… thank you. I might not have found a guild that would be so quick to hire me on the spot had you not put in a good word like that.” Even if the warrior seemed practiced enough in his field, not all the humes he meet say Gavvar in a positive light. “Oh all that? Forget about it!” The man grabbed an able from the stand as he tossed a coin to the vendor as payment, taking a bite out of it and slowly chewing on the fruit before he continued on his thought. “You seem capable as anyone I know in the guild, and that’s saying something seeing those trouble makers wreck havoc on the battlefield.” “Not everyone has such an open minded viewpoint, but then again not all the humes I have meet have been welcoming like you have.” Perhaps a slight smile on his face, he was kind of curious about the other stranger, asking him “So what’s your role in the group? You don’t seem like a sword fighter… you don’t carry a weapon as far as I can see.” Perhaps it was the first time that the Bangaa noticed hesitation from the stranger, but Spinel was careful to recover from the sudden pause in his steps. “Oh. That? Well, it’s something you have to see for yourself really. Kind of hard to explain, but Katu has me as backup… in case something goes awry.” Gavvar was curious about the deflection in that statement, but looking at Spinel told the Dragoon he wasn’t going to answer any further questions about it. “We’ll see about it. Katu doesn’t seem the type to be foolish about his selection of guild members.” The Bangaa wondered if this was a red flag that just popped up in their conversation, but it might not be something that the hume wanted to talk about in a public venue. “You don’t need to worry about it!” Spinel seemed to smile as he turned the tone of the conversation around, assuring the warrior “Like I said… I’m back up if it’s needed.” It had been around two hours past noon since Gavvar had accompanied Spinel in some market bargaining to get the supplies they needed. They decided to take a break in a nearby alley way to get some shade from the sun, even prompting the warrior to remove his helmet to cool down. Spinel got another chance to see the warrior’s face once more, though Gavvar couldn’t simply ignore the curious fascination. “Never seen a Bangaa before today?” The question startled Spinel, though the hume had blinked a few times out of his gaze. “Not really! I mean… it’s different, but in a good way. To be honest, it’s easy for me to get along with the others since… well they’re also different. At least different than other humans.” Gavvar smirked as the hume seemed to sputter like a sycophant, but it was hard to pin an opinion on the hume given their limited interaction. The stranger did seem genuinely interested to know more, prompting the reptilian man to satisfy the curiosity. “You’re strange to say that. But then again, not all humes I run into have been arrogant bastards. It’s refreshing, in a good way.” A smirk soon became a softer smile, as he seemed to find Spinel a bit more tolerable than earlier before. In a way the trip had been a way for the two of them to get to know each other, however brief. “I wouldn’t lie about you Gavvar. You look strong, dependable… and someone I would want fighting with me. Definitely not against me.” Spinel crossed over from where he was sitting so he was next to the warrior, looking up to the armored Bangaa before he found it difficult to speak the next words. “Actually… it’s kind of embarrassing to say this. But I actually do like other folks that aren’t so human like. The scales that cover your face are remarkable.” Spinel’s eyes seemed to connect with the Dragoon’s green pupils as they sat in the alley way, the human perhaps the more daring of the two when he stood on his knees to press closer towards the other warrior. “Whoa —” Gavvar didn’t know what to say at first, but perhaps there was something more to the hume than he gave credit for. “I … hope you’re not offended. I just —” The hume didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence as he felt the Dragoon’s palm cup his cheek. A gentle touch seemed uncharacteristic of the warrior, but Gavvar wasn’t going to chastise Spinel for his actions. “You know, it’s a bit secluded around this alley way. I think I wouldn’t mind getting out of my gear and relax a bit.” Reaching for his armor to unfasten the binds, Spinel’s eyes seemed transfixed on his body as he watched the Bangaa began to shed his gear, piece by piece. “It’s been a long journey coming here you know. I wouldn’t mind the company of an eager hume who wanted to help relieve a bit of stress… what do you say to that?” This commission, illustrated by the talented Kupo Klein, was won through an on stream raffle! Gavvar was the lucky warrior to pair up with Kupo's summoner character Spinel, and I have to say he did a great job with the piece! I don't think my words alone can do justice to describe the way the Bangaa looks at his partner like he does. Thank you again Kupo for such a wonderful piece! Gavvar Faas © Wind Tide Art and Spinel © Kupo Klein Find Kihu's other works in these following websites!  Kupo Klein's Twitter ↔  Kupo Klein's Club ↔  Kupo Klein's Patreon  Kupo Klein's Kofi ↔  Kupo Klein's Picarto Channel

    © Kupo Klein

  13. Kindar ran a hand on the old wood the door was made of before pushing it open. He could now remember the day he and Thor had cut down the tree that went into making it. He now remembered every moment he had lived through, if he only thought about it. He caught sight of his reflection on the polished metal of Thor's old shield leaning against the wall. It had been there for years, ever since Thor had grown too old to sell his services to warring lords. The slightly distorted image looked exactly like he had when he'd left, his striped fur hadn't changed in all those long years, and the leather armor he'd recreated was identical, right down to the knife hole in the back he'd never bothered fixing. He forced himself to look away from it; he could use making sure he'd gotten everything right as an eternal excuse not to move on to his real task and looked around. Their hut was small, they had never needed much, a work bench to clean and mend armor and weapons, a chest to put things they didn't want to deal with on the moment and their bed. His breath caught in his throat when he saw the old lion lying on it. He had known he would be there, it was one of the few things he had never allowed himself to forget; how Thor had looked as he left for what he had promised was the last time. After this job he'd stay by his side until the end. He couldn't move. Even the knowledge that this wasn't really the end for them; that they would get to share two more lifetimes together couldn't help them overcome the shame he still felt at having left him to die alone. "Who's there," Thor asked in a raspy whisper. Kindar almost bolted; only the knowledge that he'd have to face the future with the shame of having abandoned him a second time kept him in place. "It's me love," he finally said softly, forcing himself to go sit on the edge of the bed. Thor looked at him, having difficulty focusing on his face, his recent weakness had started to take his vision away. "Why are you back here," he asked placing a hand against Kindar's cheek, "you will have to run through the night to be able to reach the company before they leave." Kindar closed his eyes and reveled in the touch of the first male he'd loved. "I changed my mind," he said looking his lover in the eyes, "I don't need the adventure, I certainly don't need whatever gold I'd get out of it. What I need is to be with you." Kindar caught the flash of steel out of the corner of his eye and caught Thor's hand before the dagger could pierce his armor. "Who are you?" Thor's said tightening his other hand on Kindar's head, claws digging into his skin, "I am not so old that I cannot stop whatever you hope to accomplish here." "It is me love," even the old him could have broken free of Thor's hold; age had stripped him of most of his strength. And now that he and Cegul had joined even Thor in his prime couldn't have held him, but he didn't want to, he couldn't fight him. "Do not try to impersonate him," the anger in his voice was real, "you do not speak like him or even move like him." "It *is* me," he hesitated and Thor tightened his grip, "just not he me who left yesterday," he added. "Sorcery?" Thor asked with a frown. Kindar shook his head. "Did the Gods send you here?" Kindar burst out laughing. "No, I came here under my own power." "Why are you here?" "Love, release me?" Kindar let go of the hand, and a moment later Thor loosened his grip. Kindar took that hand in his and breathed in his lover's scent. "I have missed you so much." "How long has it been?" "Far, far too long." "Why are you here?" Thor asked, this time using the tone he'd used every time he suspected Kindar had gotten in trouble. "I'm here to right a wrong." "What wrong?" "I broke my promise to you." Thor looked at him with confusion. "You haven't broken anything, You will come back after this mission and take care of me." He looked him in the eyes. "You *did* come back, didn't you?" "Yes, he did, but both of you knew you wouldn't last until then." "Then why did you go?" "He . . . I ran away. You grew old and I didn't and I didn't know what to do. I imagined that when I'd come back you'd be back to your old self, that you'd trash me in our practice like you used to." Thor chuckled weakly. "But you weren't here." Tears flowed down Kindar's face. "When I came back you . . . you were gone. I didn't know what had happened, I thought you'd been taken, but there was no sign of a fight. It wasn't until I saw the marker in your garden that I knew what had happened." Kindar grabbed Thor and pulled him to a sitting position. Kindar burring his face in his chest. "Knowing that I'd let you die alone tore at me so badly I went insane. I never really let go of the guilt." Thor wrapped his arms around him. "There, all will be fine. You are here now." "I'm never going to see you after this and I don't know what to do." "You will endure; you will mourn my passing and continue on. The Gods have a plan for you." Kindar couldn't stop himself from snorting at the thought. Thor held him at arm's length and smiled tenderly. "Tell me, in all the years after my passing, have you found love again?" Kindar looked away instead of saying anything. "You must find love again, do not spend your life agonizing over me." Kindar forced himself to look at him. "When I leave here, I'll be going back to someone," he admitted. "Do you love him?" "As much as I loved you, I think." "Good," Thor beamed, "love him with all your heart and if, like me, he passes before I do, mourn him and continue living, because Alrerik has sworn to me that as repayment for my service to Him we will be reunited." "I swear that I will," Kindar said with a smile. "You have no idea how young seeing my tiger smile makes me feel, it has been a long time since you have been able to smile at me." "I'm sorry." "It is fine; all is fine since you are here." Thor lied back on the bed. "You will be staying, will you not?" "Yes, I'm staying this time, I swear." "Good," the lion said closing his eyes, "because you will tell me all of your adventures after I have rested." "Ok, but just a warning, I lived many of them, It'll take me days to tell you about all of them." "Good," Thor said softly, "That is good." The old lion exhaled one last time and then was still. Kindar kissed him. "Goodbye my love." He then crumbled on the floor and cried for a very long time.
  14. 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."
  15. 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.
  16. DouglasKim

    Call me Father - Cover

    From the album: Call Me Father

    Okay! The sequel to Call me Daddy is here! As always, you can support me and my comic making endeavors (and read more CMF pages) at www.patreon.com/douglaskim
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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."
  21. 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."
  22. 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."
  23. 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."
  24. 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."
  25. 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."
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