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The villa of Colonel Achilles Graves was in an unusual state of uproar. At least a dozen members of the Anatolian police were spread around the villa’s front porch with their automobiles parked all over the snow covered yard. The officers, thickly clad in large woolen overcoats, were busy taking statements from the guests, while a small group of officers were leading away three of the guests. Various emotions were displayed on their faces, from miserable to murderous rage. Their paws were cuffed on their backs as they were escorted towards the awaiting automobiles. One of them, a tiger, had to be restrained by three of the officers as he kept struggling against their grip. The feline was heavily bruised, bloodied, and had lots of cuts on his face. He snarled and tried to fight his way out twice and nearly succeeded until a boar officer went in and helped his comrades to shove the offending tiger into the police van. The master of the house, the distinguished Colonel Achilles Graves, looked weary as he answered a few questions from the tall and shrewd labrador. The golden bands on his uniform indicated that the canine was the lead inspector. There was an air of relief in the black panther’s features as he answered yet another question. “...yes, exactly. If it wasn’t for detective Cross’ quick action, that tiger would have succeeded in his attempt to stab me.” He answered. “I see.” The inspector nodded, hastily scribbling the colonel’s words on a notebook. He hummed as he thought his next question. “What can you say for Mr. Nikolai Vasilyev? I understand he’s your guest. However, he wasn’t on your guest list.” “Oh, young Vasilyev. He was standing in for his uncle, Admiral Vadim Vasilyev, who had fallen ill and couldn’t come. The admiral and I had gone a long way back.” The inspector made a long, drawn out hum. “Ah, that makes sense I suppose.” “Vasilyev helped to restrain Rogers when detective Cross was struggling to restrain him.” The colonel added. “Furthermore, without his help, that damned tiger and his accomplices would have managed to steal some valuable information.” “Did he now?” The labrador’s eyebrow rose Colonel Graves gestured to the two felines who were being interviewed by another police member several feet away. “See that they had sustained a number of cuts and bruises?” “Mmm…” The inspector continued to ask several more questions to the colonel, before he nodded in satisfaction, and signaled for his subordinates to move. Breathing a sigh of relief, the black panther turned to the cougar who was making his way towards him. Trotting directly behind the cougar was a male lynx. Both were draped in long, heavy coats and scarves wrapped their necks. “I really cannot thank you enough for your help, Mr. Cross… I am forever in your debt.” He said to the cougar. Detective Leonidas Cross, or Leon as he liked to go by, gave a dismissive wave to the panther before he brushed off the snow that had accumulated on the top of his hat. A small smile was etched on his bruised face. Indeed, the feline looked slightly worse for wear after the small brawl earlier that evening. “Anything for an old friend, colonel. The worst is behind us with Rogers gone.” He nodded towards the tiger who was glaring balefully at them through the windows of the police car. “I think you can sleep well now without anything burdening your mind.” The detective added, pulling the coat closer around himself. “I suppose.” Colonel Graves exhaled, watching as the police shoved the bound tiger into the car and slammed the door. “Still, I hadn’t thought it was Rogers of all people…” Cross gave a comforting pat on his friend’s shoulder. “At least Mr. Vasilyev was kind enough to subdue Rogers and recover the stolen plans.” The entourage of police and their cars soon drove off, leaving the villa back in its relative peaceful state once again. With the police gone, so was the excitement. The guests and servants slowly trickled back into the villa. The colonel, Cross, and Vasilyev soon followed the others, walking side by side as they headed into the warmth of the colonel’s villa. “All clear with the police?” Cross turned his question to the lynx as he handed his coat and hat to the butler who was standing helpfully by the door. Nikolai Vasilyev looked worse for wear. His face bore a few scratches, some were bleeding openly, and his dinner jacket was in disarray. However, the feline’s expression was one of immense satisfaction. “I’m all clear once I showed them my identification and papers. Good thing the good sergeant can read Cyrillic.” The lynx voiced with a small grin on his face. His voice bore almost no traces of his Rosvenian heritage. “I must apologize for deceiving you both however. It was imperative that my real identity was to remain hidden for my mission to succeed.” Cross nodded. “Yes of course. And we’re grateful that you’ve recovered what had been stolen, aren’t we, colonel?” “Hmm? Oh, yes.” The colonel nodded, absentmindedly caressing the folder that was pinned under his arm. “The Avalorian army is grateful for your help, Mr. Vasilyev.” “I’m just here to help.” The Rosvenian agent gave a small chuckle. “Well, I don’t think any of us is ready for bed now.” The colonel continued. “There was too many excitement for the night.” With the expressions of agreement from the two feline companions, he continued, “Why don’t we retire to the library for the time being?” The library, which had been used by Cross to confront Rogers of his motives early that evening, had been efficiently tidied. Looking at the room now, one would not expect that a brawl had taken place inside the richly paneled and thickly carpeted room. The servants had tidied the books back to their respective shelves in an orderly manner, the seats and chairs rearranged back into their prior position, and the colonel’s writing desk had been returned to its original, upright position by the tall windows. There were several blotches of ink on the carpet from the bottles that had shattered when Rogers slammed Cross to the desk in an attempt to escape, but the ink stains would wash off, hopefully. As the two felines made a beeline to the fireplace, the colonel went over to pour them whiskey from the side table, which had been thankfully untouched during the confrontation. “Thank you, Colonel.” Vasilyev nodded at the panther gratefully and drank. Colonel Graves went to take the spot beside the cougar detective. “So, you will be returning to Rosvenia soon, Vasilyev?” Cross inquired, sitting on the nearby velvet settee. “Since you’ve completed your objective here and whatnot.” “In a few days.” The lynx nodded as he sat to the adjacent settee. “I’ll be taking the train straight to Pierrograd,” said Vasilyev. “My services would be needed with how the country is at this moment… What about you, Mr. Cross? You’re from the Hesperian Federation, aren’t you?” The cougar took a big gulp of his whiskey before replying. “Yes, yes I am. I’ll be taking the train home, all the way to Valmagne-sur-Mer in Gallia. From there, I’ll take the connection to Kingshaven by ship.” “Sounds like you’ve got a long journey ahead, Mr. Cross.” Vasilyev sipped his whiskey. “Which train are you taking? The Continental Express?” Cross shook his head. “I’m not sure yet, but I’ll either take that or the Nightliner Limited back. Whichever won’t deplete my wallet.” He added with a small dry chuckle. “Why not the Mercurius Express?” Colonel Graves chimed in. “It’s the fastest, and not to mention the best train in all of Ivoria. Takes just four days to travel from here to Gallia.” “That’s true, right there.” Vasilyev agreed. “I’ll be on that train myself. Fine meals, cocktails, and not to mention, charming travelling companions.” The lynx chuckled. The colonel gestured in agreement with his glass. “You would be right.” “However, it’s also the most expensive option for me.” Cross sighed. “I simply can’t afford spend so much on a trip. I’ve used quite a huge amount of my savings to get here from Hesperia by airship.” He said. “It’ll be cheaper if I take the regular express trains.” Colonel Graves was quick to protest. “Oh, no, no. I can’t allow that. You’ve helped me a great deal, Cross, and I intend to repay the favor.” “Oh, but you shouldn’t—“ “I insist.” The colonel smiled. “I’ll cover for your travel expenses from Anatolia to Gallia. Besides, I’ll be taking the train too, but only as far as Ansburg. We could all travel on the same day.” Cross blinked. “I didn’t know that you’re heading back so soon. Why Ansburg, pray tell?” “There will be a joint military drill between Avaloria and Arlemania, requested by the Kaiser Albert himself.” The colonel replied. “Part of his plan to smooth out relations between the two countries.” Vasilyev hummed. “I heard rumours that the Kaiser is eyeing Princess Alexandrina for marriage. Perhaps this is one of his attempts to soften relationships between his empire and Avaloria.” “Judging from the number of times the Kaiser himself has visited Avaloria, I wouldn’t be surprised.” Cross remarked, sipping his whiskey. “Either way… you will be overseeing the military exercises, am I correct?” He turned to the colonel. The black panther nodded. “Quite right! And what better way to travel back with good company, eh?” He chuckled. Cross fell into a long, ponderous silence, sipping the last drop of his whiskey all the while. “Well then…” he gave a sigh and showed the colonel a small, amused smile. “If you insist, colonel, I would be happy to join you two.” The colonel grinned brightly. “It’s settled then!” He clasped his paws together. “I say why don’t you two enjoy a few days here before going back? Enjoy the rest of the week to recuperate, and then we can head to Hieropolis to catch on the Friday afternoon train next week.” He suggested, standing to his feet. “And to be frank, you two don’t look like you could travel without gaining a few looks.” The other two felines turned and glanced at each other, noting the bruises and scrapes on their faces. Cross chuckled. “Yes… I think you’re right, colonel.” “I could use a few days of rest.” Vasilyev nodded in agreement. “Splendid! I’ll have our berths arranged.” The colonel spoke again. “You won’t need to worry a single thing.” Vasilyev poured another helping of whiskey to himself. “Looks like we’ll have a pretty enjoyable journey ahead of us.” Cross couldn’t agree more. “Looks like we will.” He smiled at the lynx, and asked to refill his glass. * * * Richard Caine took a large drag of his smoke and blew, looking down to the open air palm court from the balcony of his hotel room several floors above. Tables and chairs had been arranged by the hotel stewards so that the guests could dine under the fine, clear night. He could see a few guests had trickled out from the adjacent dining room, clad in dinner jackets and elegant gowns. Some of the ladies braved to bare their shoulders and arms even though it was quite a chilly night. Nights in Misarya could be very cold, especially in winter, contrasting to its daytime temperatures. It baffled Richard to no end how extreme temperatures could shift in the desert. The wolverine continued this idle activity of observing the servants and guests for a few more minutes before he flicked the butt of his cigarette and headed back into his room. Closing the doors behind him, Richard went to check his reflection on the nearby mirror, straightening his collar and bowtie, before he went to grab the black tailcoat hanging by the open wardrobe. There came a knock on the door just as he was straightening his dinner jacket. “Yes?” “It’s me, Rick.” Came his uncle’s voice from the door. “Just a second.” Richard went to the door and turned the lock open. His uncle was standing just outside, sporting the small grin that seemed to be permanently plastered on his face. Like Richard, Simon Caine was dressed in a dinner jacket, which was slightly stretched over the wolverine’s large, but sturdily built figure. His salt and pepper hair was neatly combed back, and Richard thought his uncle looked pretty dashing for his age. “Well, well. You look strapping, as always.” The older wolverine smiled appreciatively, before he blinked and made a small gesture with his paw. “Your bowtie is slightly off.” He told his nephew. His fingers were already reaching for the tie. “Do you mind if…?” Richard had a bemused smile on his face as he shook his head. “Not at all.” Simon made a short work to straighten his nephew’s bowtie, and took a few more seconds to make sure the younger wolverine was presentable. “There. Perfect.” Richard chuckled and beamed. “Thanks, uncle.” “You’re welcome!” The older wolverine smiled. “Oh right, these just came in.” He then pulled out several enveloped from inside of his jacket. “Oh?” Richard quickly flipped through the letters and tore them open. The first two was from his alma mater, the Stainbridge University in Avaloria, inviting him for an alumni spring reunion. The second one was a letter from his archeology professor, asking about his recent expedition to the Misaryan Great Tombs. The third envelope was a telegram, sent from a hotel in Hieropolis, Anatolia, dated today, and it was sent just about an hour ago. The name of the sender was his friend, whose letter Richard had been waiting for a few days now. Opening the envelope, Richard’s eyes fell to the neatly printed letters which read, ‘FOUND NEW INFO ABOUT THE BOX = OLD BIRD KEPT ASKING ABOUT THE TRINKET = WILL HEAD TO AS-QAIR & MEET YOU AT THE HOTEL IN TWO DAYS’ “Was that from Warren?” Simon inquired when Richard folded the telegram back to its envelope. The younger wolverine nodded. “Yeah. Sounds like Trent had finally found a lead on our nifty little trinket here.” He said, turning his head slightly to the corner of the bedroom. “Oh, really?” Simon hummed. He followed his nephew’s line of gaze, looking at the large, solid black trunk nestled right next to the end table. It was heavily secured by three locks with a combination number on each lock. Opening them would also require a special key, which the two wolverines always kept on themselves. Getting that little souvenir from the Great Tombs had been quite the grueling task, and not to mention the permits they had to apply to get it shipped across the country. The ancient and valuable trinket they found held a few surprises… if not shocking. Richard didn’t want to risk it being lost or stolen after all the trouble he and his uncle had been through. Especially not when their client had promised a large amount of payment for that artefact. “Well any information about that strange box there would be good. What did he say?” Richard shook his head. “Nothing, really…” He handed the envelope to his uncle. “He said he’d meet us here in two days, and that’s all.” Simon hummed as he read the letter. “Looks like your client is getting more impatient to get his souvenir.” Richard let out a soft snort. “Ainsworth is too impatient for his own good. We’ll give him the box when he’s given us the payment.” “Of course, boy.” The older wolverine chuckled. “Well, let’s head down. They’ve rang the dinner gong a while ago.” Nodding, Richard went to lock every windows and doors before he followed his uncle to the hallway outside. Simon’s paw was on Richard’s shoulder as they headed for the elevator lobby, pulling the younger wolverine close. The elevator brought the two down to the ground floor and they made a beeline towards the dining hall just off to the side of the lobby. The magnificent hall, two stories high and lined with windows on two sides, was already filled with guests. The orchestra was playing a lively waltz to which several couples were dancing to on the marble lined dance floor. Wall to ceiling glass doors opened to the palm court outside. It would seem most of the guests wanted to enjoy some fresh air tonight, Richard noted as he and his uncle were shown to their table by their waiter. They weren’t lead outside, thankfully, but it would seem their table had already been occupied by a single guest. He was a tall, broad shouldered grey wolf with a stern looking face and a predominantly black and white fur, with shades of brown spread evenly along his robust figure that was clad in impeccable set of tails. The wolf’s sharp amber eyes flicked between Richard and his uncle for a moment before he gestured to the empty seat with a flicker of a smile. “Good evening.” Simon greeted as they sat down. “I’m Simon Caine.” “Heinrich Luther.” He introduced himself. His tone carried the slight guttural, Arlemanian accent. Richard introduced himself as well before he picked up the menu card and looked through the list of food that was offered that night. For some reason, he felt that Luther was scrutinizing him and his uncle a bit too closely. When he went to glance at the wolf, the canine’s gaze was already somewhere else, casually so. It would seem that the wolf was studying a pair of lions who were dancing slowly with the music, Richard thought as he followed the canine’s gaze. Honeymooners, judging by their expressions on their faces. Richard thought that the lioness was very beautiful in her simple, but undoubtedly expensive black dress. An impressive necklace was draped over her neck, consisting of huge, intricate golden beads and beautiful sapphires. The lioness’ husband was also very handsome, with strong jaw, a dazzling smile, neatly trimmed auburn mane, and brilliant grey eyes. His white dinner jacket fitted his athletic frame perfectly. “Those two made a really good pair.” His uncle remarked thoughtfully. “Oh, isn’t she Eliza Baxter?” “She’s Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer now.” Heinrich Luther intoned. Simon Caine regarded the wolf with interest. “Indeed? I didn’t know she’s married. That Meyer is a lucky bastard.” He chuckled. “And she’s a very lucky girl.” Richard remarked, eyes fixed on the couple. “Undoubtedly.” Luther nodded, drinking his wine. “News of her marriage was all over the newspapers in Avaloria for the past week.” “Ah, I see. My uncle and I had been busy with the excavation at the Great Tombs for the past month, hence why.” Richard chuckled. “She’s a big star then?” “I tell you, nephew, Elisabeth Baxter—or Meyer as she is now, is one of Avaloria’s richest women.” Simon Caine explained. “I was well acquainted with her father. Julius Baxter was a brilliant businessman. He also invested a lot on theatres and cinemas at the Cross End. We’ve been to one of his theatres a few years ago, actually.” He chuckled. “Remember, Rick? It was a performance for Wilhelm V.” “Oh, really?” The younger wolverine nodded slowly. “Oh, right, right. That theatre was quite opulent, and I remembered it was quite the brilliant play too. And… did you say Julius Baxter was a brilliant businessman?” He added. “He had passed away two years ago.” Luther remarked in his guttural baritone. “Mrs. Meyer now holds his businesses.” “As it is expected.” Simon nodded, drinking the champagne which had been poured by the waiter. “I heard she’s also a shrewd businesswoman.” The wolf nodded. “That she is. How well are you acquainted with the Baxter family, Mr. Caine?” He asked, levelling his gaze to Simon. The wolverine blinked. “Just quite, actually. Me and Julius were schoolmates. We shared the same dormitory and classes, but never really talked to him that much outside homework and school projects. I’ve also made a few business deals with the late Mr. Baxter, with his obsession on ancient artefacts and such.” Luther nodded with a hum. “I see.” He uttered, before his attention was drawn to the waiter who had come around, bringing another person to their table. It was a male Akita with handsome brown coat with black markings. He looked pretty young, perhaps in his early twenties. However, despite a hint of nervousness tugging on his smiling muzzle, the canine had an air of ease about him, like a well-seasoned traveler. “Hullo. Spencer Calius. Pleasure to meet you.” Richard blinked, not expecting the fluent Avalorian, if not slightly inflected with a hint of an accent, coming from the Akita’s lips. His name itself suggested that the canine wasn’t wholly oriental in his origin. “The pleasure is mine, young man.” Simon Caine shook his paws with the Akita, giving a very wide, if not a rather too friendly grin. Richard nudged his uncle slightly. Simon Caine quickly cleared his throat and toned down his smile. “Travelling all by yourself, Mr. Calius?” “Yeah, I am. I had friends actually, but we parted ways awhile back,” said Spencer. “They wanted to go back to Columbia and I would like to explore the old world a bit more so, we agreed to split up here.” He explained with a shrug of his shoulders. “Understandable. However, it’s rather taxing, travelling by yourself, isn’t it?” Richard went to ask. Spencer hummed. “Hmm, that’s true but it’s rather refreshing actually. I got to sightsee every interesting part of Misarya with my own, leisure pace. My friends could be rather excitable, really.” “Of course.” Richard nodded. “So, you’ve toured the Nahail River then?” “Oh yes, it’s quite the adventure!” The Akita said with a wide grin. “I’ve seen so many interesting ruins and sights. My fellow passengers were quite interesting too. Professors, archeologists, novelists, honeymooners… like those two over there,” he nodded to the Meyers couple, “and uh…” He turned to Luther, tilting his head to the side. “Huh… didn’t we meet on the boat?” The wolf’s response was rather noncommittal. “We might have.” “Ah? Er… alright then.” Dinner proceeded without many comments. However, Richard did engage Spencer in a small discussion about their excavation work at the Great Tombs and what they found. It certainly drew interest from Akita, who had apparently visited the location during his tour down the Nahail. The Meyers had gone to occupy the small table next to theirs, and Richard couldn’t help but admire the couple. They looked truly in love, especially Theodore Meyer. No doubt, his new wife had truly captivated him. However, aside from the cheerful music and the splendid food, dinner progressed rather uneventfully. Heinrich Luther offered a curt “Evening,” before he stood up and left, making his way towards the bar that was outside the dining hall. As the waiter brought out the desserts, Richard watched as two guests rose from the table across the room and made their way towards the Meyers, hand in hand. One was a young lioness with her hair curled into fashionable waves, and the other was a rather boyish looking leopard. Both of them were quite good looking, but they didn’t quite stand out. Richard guessed that they were another newlywed couple, or perhaps recently engaged. He couldn’t be sure. However, the strange, intense expression on the lioness’ face was quite startling for him. “Oh, Eliza! I didn’t know you’re staying here. What a pleasant surprise!” The lioness exclaimed. From the expression on Eliza Meyer’s face, it was indeed a surprise, but far from pleasant. Her husband, Theodore Meyer, also looked quite shocked. In fact, the two lions looked rather awkward meeting this Cathy. Eliza quickly stood up after she managed to gather he bearings. “Cathy! I didn’t know you’re staying here!” She turned her attention to the leopard standing beside Cathy. “Oh, and who is this?” Cathy pulled the leopard by his arm, smiling rather brightly. Too brightly at that. “Zachary Hale. Meet Eliza Bax—I mean, Eliza Meyer. And I’m sure you knew Theodore Meyer?” She nodded her head to the lion. Theodore Meyer nodded wordlessly. He was still staring at Cathy and Zachary Hale, but mostly Zachary Hale, in surprise. “Oh yes. We met a couple of times,” said Zachary Hale. The leopard smiled somewhat shyly at the lion in question. Theodore Meyer gave a small, if not nervous smile. “Yes… we studied at Bridgeford together.” There was an unreadable expression in the lion’s grey eyes, which was reflected by Zachary Hale. However, the leopard turned his attention to Cathy who had continued speaking. “Well, I just wanted to tell you, Lizzy. Me and Zach are engaged!” Cathy practically exclaimed to her friend. “Engaged?” Came the astonished reply from the Meyers. Richard quickly turned away from the conversation, knowing how women liked to gush and gossip, especially when they were going to get married, or during their honeymoon. His attention was completely drawn away the next moment, as one of the waiters came down towards him with a small tray bearing an envelope. “Telegram for Mr. R. Caine.” The uniformed bear announced. “Oh, that’d be me. Thank you.” Richard went and took the telegram from the waiter. He quickly opened it when he read that it was sent by Trent Warren. ‘CHANGE OF PLANS = DEPART MERCURIUS EXPRESS NEXT FRIDAY 5 PM HIEROPLS. CENTRAL STATION = OLD BIRD WILL BE THERE WITH THE GOLD = REPLY PROMPTLY = YOUR PAL TRENT’ Folding the telegram, Richard made a mental calculation in his mind. Travelling from Misarya to Anatolia will take half a day by air. Two if they were delayed by the weather. If they left the day after tomorrow, there will be still time to catch up with Trent and take the Friday train. He turned his head to his uncle when the older wolverine nudged him softly. “Something urgent?” Richard gave a slight shrug. “Well, sounds like it. Looks like we’ll have to meet up with Trent in Anatolia instead.” He said. “Why the sudden change?” His uncle voiced his confusion. “He didn’t say, but it sounds like he found some new leads.” Richard replied, lowering his tone slightly and handed the telegram to his uncle. “Well, we can catch up with him if we take the airship in two days.” “Ah, that’s rather sudden, isn’t it?” Simon remarked. “I suppose so.” Richard sighed and stood up. “I better reply to this telegram, so please excuse me.” He added to the guests on his table. “No problem!” Spencer gave the wolverine a nod. “It sounds urgent so I don’t mind. Perhaps we might even meet in Anatolia later on.” He chuckled. Evidently, he had heard about their part of conversation. Simon smiled rather tightly as he turned to the Akita. “Oh?” “I’ll be going back to Columbia after this. A friend of mine was kind enough to book me a passage on a train.” Chuckling, Richard straightened his jacket and made his way out of the dining room, intend to find the telegram office in the hotel. He was sure he saw one this afternoon, close to the lobby. * * * Several hundred feet above the vast, arid desert of Eravia, a silvery airship was sailing lazily through golden dunes with several dozen passengers housed within its cigar-shaped hull. While not being the largest airships, the Adhara was one of the fastest with the most comfortable, finely appointed accommodations with affordable price. It was that sole reason that Dr. Hector LeFevre took the Eravian airship on his return trip to Anatolia. From there, he would take a transit flight back to his home in Gallia. The badger, short and robust but also unusually tall for his species, was seated by the airship’s small, but cozy lounge. A cup of chilled sweet tea was wrapped around his paw. The doctor’s attention wasn’t directed to the drink or even the view outside the wide, picture windows of the lounge. Instead, LeFevre was fully engrossed with the newspaper before him. It was the international edition of the local papers that had been printed and translated to Gallian. “Là là.” He muttered in annoyance as he read the headline on the third page, which announced that weather conditions in northern Ivoria had worsened. Weather forecast predicted that snow will come down heavily in the next few weeks. All flights to and from Avaloria, Hesperia, Gallia, Arlemania, Rosvenia, and Norvdal would be canceled until further notice. “Looks like I would have to take the train instead.” He said to particularly no one. “Perhaps you should, old friend.” LeFevre stood, let out a delighted exclamation, and went to give the sabertooth that had been standing right behind him a friendly hug. “Armand, mon vieil ami!” LeFevre beamed. “What brings you here? Come, come, sit with me.” Armand Förstner was a sabretooth tiger of middle age with a friendly demeanor. A single silver plated false fang was in place of his original right-side fang. His bright brown eyes were energetic and playful as he gave a good-natured slap on the badger’s back (who was a few heads shorter than him) while grinning brightly. “I am here on business, LeFevre. The usual duties of a director: monthly supervision and other nonsense.” The sabertooth replied in his usual, slightly synthesized voice as he sat down. LeFevre could see the mechanical collar that wrapped around his old friend’s neck partially hidden under the feline’s shirt collar. It assisted the sabertooth’s speech since Förstner had his vocal cords damaged during an accident a few years ago. “Ah, you’re overseeing the grand project to connect your train lines from Southern Ivoria to the East?” LeFevre guessed. “You’ve been monitoring the progress in Evaria then?” “Quite right my friend.” Förstner nodded. “Progress is slow, but the Ispania-Misarya-Anatolia-Eravia railway would be completed by the end of next year if favor is in our side.” “And soon your gleaming trains will thunder through the sandy deserts, eh?” LeFevre grinned. “It would be a dream come true for your bosses, no?” The sabertooth nodded with a small smile. “Quite right. Trains bearing the Mercurius Ferroviaire name would soon be rolling through this new route. I’m thinking of naming this route as the Horus-Aerion Express.” “The Horus-Aerion Express? After the Horus Mountains?” The mustelid doctor tilted his head slightly. The sabertooth smiled. “Naturally! The new train route will pass through the mountain range.” He revealed. “The company had decided to extend the Aerion Express’ route from Ispania onwards so I think it’s the most fitting name. This new line will be our most profitable one, I’d wager.” “That is a pretty fitting name, I agree.” LeFevre chuckled. “And I’m sure it will. This rail will link all of your company’s train routes, doesn’t it?” “Why of course!” The two continued to talk about Förstner’s new train project as the day slowly passed, discussing about how the new line would connect all of Förstner’s train services throughout the continent. When fully completed, the Horus-Aerion Express could take passengers from Madrino City, Ispania towards Misarya, and then all the way to Asaddia, Eravia where the train will continue towards its terminus in Hieropolis, Anatolia. “I didn’t get to ask,” said the sabertooth when he and LeFevre were strolling around the glass enclosed promenade deck, “what business have you in Eravia? I’ve never known you’d like to travel too far away from home.” “It was a patient’s request, you see,” replied the badger. “A Gallian diplomat had fallen seriously ill after a trip to the local excavation site. I won’t bore you with the details, but I had to perform an emergency surgery on him. He’s in fine condition now, but I had him sent to Gallia for better treatment ahead of me. He’ll be arriving approximately tomorrow morning in Luciere.” “Ah, that’s good news then.” Förstner nodded. “Still, it was surprising that you would fly all the way this far south.” The doctor chuckled with a nod. “Life can give us some few surprises, yes. Like the news of the cold front brewing in the northern regions for instance. No doubt a telegram informing that my airship to Gallia is cancelled would be waiting for me in Hieropolis.” He lamented. Förstner gave a slight hum. “Well, when airships couldn’t make it due to bad weather, trains or boats certainly can. At least, I’m confident my trains could go through the cold weather with no problem. No problem at all.” He chuckled at that. “You’re heading back to Gallia then?” “Yes I am. I must see my patient, after all.” “And you haven’t booked a berth on a train or a ship?” LeFevre knew where his friend was going, but he humoured him nonetheless. “I haven’t, yes.” “Well then, as the director of the line, let me provide you with a berth on the Mercurius Express, my friend. No, no, it won’t be a problem. It’ll be a pleasure, travelling with a friend, yes?” With Förstner’s insistence and persuasion, the badger doctor finally agreed, much to the sabertooth’s delight. “I owe you, my friend.” He said. “Consider this a debt repaid. After all, you did save my life during the Great War.” Förstner was practically purring pleasantly. LeFevre responded by giving a warm pat on his friend’s shoulder and a small smile. “You flatter me.” He added with a slight chuckle. “You will be joining the train then?” “Oh yes, but only until Obersthaven. I’m personally overseeing that some important guests will have a comfortable journey to Arlemania.” The sabertooth said. “Like Dirk Thorstein, the famous Columbian violinist who’s in this airship with us right now. He and his two friends had just completed their tour, playing for the Eravian sultans. In fact, I think I saw him and his group right there.” Following the sabertooth’s line of sight, LeFevre saw a tall, broad shouldered arctic wolf standing a few ways away, leaning over the promenade windows. He had a rather sophisticated but approachable and charming air. Standing close to the wolf were his fellow musicians, as it would seem. One was a ram whose curled horns caused him to have the impression that he towered over every everybody else, and the other was an gangly, lean, male leopard. All three were in the company of sophisticated, important looking people, conversing about their latest performance and whatnot. However, Dirk Thorstein was talking with a rather unassuming wolf with a predominant dark grey fur. “You said you’re also a violinist, Herr Schroeder?” LeFevre heard the wolf spoke as they walked past the two canines. “Yes I am, but I’ve fallen out of practice, unfortunately.” The grey wolf replied. “I used to have a tutor from the… Ansburg Philharmonic. I am not as good as you, Thornstein, I must admit.” “It takes time and practice.” The Columbian violinist replied amicably. “And a tutor from the Ansburg Philharmonic? Really? Well, I say that was quite the distinction!” “Hmm, where did you say Dirk Thorstein was from again?” LeFevre finally asked as Herr Schroeder replied in a humble manner, adding that his tutor was talented but quite the slave driver. “I didn’t say.” Förstner hummed. “Also, I’m not quite sure. I knew he debuted in Centropolis a few years back and gained prominence in Columbia as a brilliant soloist. He had even toured around the world a few times.” LeFevre nodded. “I heard of that as well. I do believe he has a bit of an accent… Norvdallian perhaps?” “Still have an eye over the details I see!” The sabertooth chuckled. “Well, Columbia is a big melting pot of a country, my friend. One living there could have any strange accents from all over the world.” The doctor pondered his friend’s statement. “I guess you’re right.” He said. “Well then, tell me more about your special guests you have to escort.” “Gladly! We have a few celebrities beside Thornstein. There’s Diana Adler, the famous Cross End actress; and also, Arturo Lazzari, the world-renowned opera singer. I heard he’s going to tour the North Columbian continent for the season… Ah, aside from the celebrities, there’s also Count Viktor Konstantinov and Duchess Natasha Nikolaevna of Rosvenia who will be travelling back to their home. No doubt they would be needed in the royal court with the current political turmoil in their country…” The day quickly turns to night and along came a very satisfying dinner in the airship’s wide, and cozy dining hall. Even though it was somewhat simple, the meal was extremely delectable, thought LeFevre. The badger soon found himself strolling along the promenade once again, intent to get a little exercise after the hearty meal. He couldn’t do to sleep with a full feeling in his stomach. Humming a little tune, the Gallian doctor greeted a couple of passengers who had went to have a nightly stroll just as himself. Most had turned in for the night. The sky outside was calm and cloudless, he noted. Stars shone through brightly in the inky black sky and there’s no moon in sight. It was almost poetic, LeFevre mused as he continued his stroll and rounded through the hallway that would lead to the other promenade on the other side of the Adhara. Just as he was approaching the entryway to the staircase, he heard hushed voices, almost like a lament. The doctor slowed down his steps as the noises became slightly clearer. “I wish I’m strong enough to get through this…” A pause, a light, almost inaudible gasp, followed with a sigh. “You are strong. Why did you ever think otherwise?” “If only I could.” The first voice said again. It was Herr Schroeder’s voice, LeFevre realized. Only, he sounded not like himself. “I just…” “You can, and you will. We’ll get through this… together.” The second voice, which LeFevre had identified as the firm voice of Dirk Thorstein, intoned. “After that… nothing can touch us…” Schroeder agreed softly, before it abruptly stopped. LeFevre turned his head away from the doorway where he had caught a glimpse of the two wolves standing closely under the staircase. Both men seem to be frozen in place, and the doctor could feel their eyes following him as he walked past. “The stars are very bright tonight,” he thought to himself absently as he continued on his stroll, smiling lightly to himself. When he came around to the staircase landing again, the two wolves were nowhere to be seen. Nor the doctor could see the end of their tails in the corridors as LeFevre returned to his cabin on the lower decks of the airship. The sky was clear and blue the next morning, with a blanket of white covered the hilly fields that surrounded the city of Hieropolis. It marveled the badger doctor on how snow could even fall in a country known by its humidity and heat in the summer. During breakfast, LeFevre was reminded of the conversation he overheard last night as he was seated right across Dirk Thorstein. The arctic wolf was alone, while Herr Schroeder was sitting a few tables away, apparently engaged in a conversation with a family of huskies. The Columbian violinist was barely eating his food. Schroeder would occasionally glance to Thornstein’s direction, but the musician didn’t give him any signs of acknowledgement. Within a blink, the grey wolf’s gaze was directed to something else entirely. It would seem that the two wolves were keen not to acknowledge each other today. LeFevre observed that the two men merely gave each other curt, polite greetings as they walked pass by. “This is a funny little drama I’m witnessing.” The doctor thought to himself when he saw the two men standing side by side by the lounge windows a few hours later. None of them spoke a thing, appearing to be very lost in thought. Or perhaps they were just amazed by the sight of the snow covered, sprawling city of Hieropolis that loomed underneath them. Thoughts of the two wolves eluded the Gallian doctor’s mind as the Adhara finally landed at Hieropolis International Airfield. LeFevre was wholly distracted for the next few hours, as he had to mind his large number of luggage during disembarkation. He barely even noticed when Herr Schroeder bumped past him as he and the other passengers descended down from the airship. The Arlemaninan wolf was apparently in a hurry, as LeFevre quickly lost sight of him in the crowd. After getting through the immigration checkpoint and making sure that he had all of his luggages with him, LeFevre found Förstner by the airfield’s entrance. The sabertooth had took it upon himself to escort the doctor to the Continental Court Hotel. Apparently, the hotel was operated by a subsidiary company to Förstner’s train company that managed hotels which would provided quality accommodations for passengers of his train, before and after their train journeys. Perhaps it was a coincidence that LeFevre had booked a room in the hotel in advance beforehand, but he found it really convenient that the hotel would provide a shuttle service to Hieropolis Central Station on the day he and Förstner would have to depart. Not a few hours after he had checked into the hotel, a telegram from the airship company came for the doctor. It confirmed LeFevre’s prediction that his flight to Gallia was cancelled due to bad weather. The sabertooth was quick to book LeFevre a berth on the Mercurius Express when the doctor told his old friend about the news. “The earliest train would leave this Friday afternoon.” The sabertooth had said as he rejoined his exasperated and bemused friend on the hotel’s bar. “You will be berthed in the finest first class compartment onboard, and your expenses will be on me. All in good will of course.” LeFevre’s polite protests fell on deaf ears. “Like I said, you won’t need to worry about anything,” said Förstner with a broad smile. “I had the nuisance of the ticketing and registration taken care of. You’ll only need to sit back, relax, and enjoy your journey back to Gallia.” “If you say so, mon ami.” LeFevre nodded to his friend with a small smile. “If you say so.”
It was Night Shift, and once again, Aric found himself sitting behind the main Operations console of the bridge. The young cougar had found it funny that there were called “Day" and “Night" shifts considering there were no distinction between night and day in the perpetual darkness of space. But the crew had taken to call it Day and Night Shifts since the cycle was based on Standard Imperial Solar Cycle, and the name had stuck. The bridge, darkened with minimal amount of lighting as it was standard during the Night cycle, was devoid of its usual eighteen crew members operating it. Instead, it was manned by a skeleton crew of four, five if you included the Captain who was currently absent. Yawning, Aric stretched his arms, trying to pop the kink out of his shoulders as he idly gazed about his surroundings. His eyes fell on the large, looming view of the planet Velos and its three moons from the bridge's wide viewscreen. Of course, he couldn't really see Velos' emerald green hued surface as the RSS Arcturus was orbiting above the dark side of the planet. Only faint trail of lights from the small number of tribal settlements below them stood out from the intense darkness of space. Aric was just glad he was back on the ship after a strange, and physically exhausting mission. It began soon after their commanding officer, Captain Dominic Marshall, reported their discovery of the Corona Tonitrus star system and the Terran-Grade Planet orbiting the bright yellow sun. Imperial Command then gave them instructions to investigate the planet and report their findings. Their leonid Captain then choose a small team of six officers; two Ensigns, two lieutenants, his trusty commander, and himself to go down on the planet scouting and information gathering mission. As per protocol, the team had kept themselves heavily cloaked and hidden as scan results showed that the planet had a sentient, indigenous inhabitants who were still primitive, thus not fit for a proper first contact scenario. Velos itself had been a rather strange planet for the most part. Everything was bathed in various shades of green, blue, and yellow. Even the sky was emerald green. The environment was pretty harsh, with strong winds and a perpetually cool temperature. The entire planet was made of mountainous terrain with equally large bodies of water, and abnormally large vegetation. The flora on Velos possessed vivid, neon-like colors in various shades of blue and red. The trees towered even the tallest trees in the Imperial homeland, with tough silvery bark and vivid yellow or orange leaves. The wide variety of fauna they'd encountered were equally fascinating. The airborne species were covered in feather-like fur for the most part, while most of the land based ones were covered in thick, fatty hide and fur. But none were as interesting as the Velosians which the team found on their second day. The Velosians—a temporary name given to the dominant, sentient indigenous species—were quite eye catching. Their form was of a humanoid mammal, with thick midnight blue fur, four sets of piercing yellow eyes, large ears, and prominent underbites that showed their sharp tusk-like lower canines. They stood on two powerful legs, which allowed them to move with surprising agility and ease, and possessing large, dexterous arms with deadly sharp claws. Aric had seen one of them cutting several of the thick silver trees down with its claws like it was nothing. It didn't take the team of five officers to start their study of the new species' culture and how their society worked. In terms of cultural advancement, the Velosians were largely primitive in terms Imperial standards. They lived in large tribes and possessing bronze-age level of technology. They were quite advanced for their era however. Their team had found one of their cities on the third day, and it was pretty breathtaking. Magnificent stone temples rose from the mountainous skyline, towering over a sprawling city made of mortar and stone slabs, arranged in a very neat grid. It was no doubt that the Velosians had mastered masonry and was well developing sophisticated means of transportation, judging from the wind-powered wheeled carts darting around the cobblestone streets, and the complicated pulley and leverage system which were used in one of the new temples that was being constructed. It also had been quite the shock when they discovered that the Velosians were a mono-gendered race. Based on discreet scans on several Velosians they had passed, every single one of the large eared, feline-like aliens seemed to be males. It was further enforced when they witnessed a large group of the blue furred aliens going bare before proceeding with an odd sort of ceremony, giving a very good view of their reproductive glands. Each of them had a pair of dark, fleshy copulatory organs that were very prehensile, conical in shape, with large, visible orb-like growth on their base that would later emerge from their furred sheaths. However, further scans revealed that a number of the Velosians have an extra pair of organs within their bodies. It didn't take much of Aric's imagination to discern the function of this extra organ once he take a good look at the details of the scan results. That explained the mystery of the existence of Velosian younglings he had seen a few times. The scouting team also soon realized that the ritual and ceremony they had been witnessing were some sort of a bizarre union ceremony. Aric almost couldn't believe his eyes, and was flushing brightly when the loud ceremony he and a Lieutenant was studying started to escalate and get really heated. Much to Aric's embarrassment, he found the sight to be very intriguing, even though he didn't want to admit it. Captain Marshall had later concluded that they had came during the Velosian's “mating season" as the ceremony was happening city wide, mostly congregated around specific temples. That explained the perpetual musky odor which Aric could smell from miles away, and why the Velosians were wearing virtually nothing to cover their genitals. The young cougar had never been so relieved when they boarded their camouflaged shuttlecraft and left the atmosphere. The sight of the starship's sleek, streamlined hull, which was shaped like a dagger of sorts, was a very welcomed sight. The starship practically gleamed from the light of the yellow star which Velos was orbiting, illuminating the large white and bright red letters which spelled: RSS ARCTURUS SV-9. He had enough of the planet's cold environment, biting winds, the perpetual scent of sex, and hearing the Velosians' mating howls and yowls all night long. Their ceremony had lasted for days and showed no signs of stopping. Aric was already craving for warm bed, real food, and some peace and quiet by the time they departed from the planet's surface. But it would seem that his troubles weren't over. Somehow, there was this persistent, musky and earthy sort of smell that clung around him and the members of the scouting team. It refused to dissipate no matter how much the cougar scrubbed and bathed himself clean. The same problem persisted with other members of the scouting team. Captain Marshall had it the worse, since he had ventured directly into the city (under a very heavy cloaking technology which would mask his biological signature and scent for a short time) and thus was in close proximity with the Velosians. Doctor Seinn, their resident physician, had theorized that being so long on the planet and so close with Velosians had layered their bodies with the Velosians' scent, who were pretty much in heat when the team decided to investigate. After conducting a few harmless tests, the pale feathered gryphon bluntly told them that the odor would probably last for a couple of days, and promptly gave them some powerful anti odor soap and antiseptic before giving them future appointment schedule and pushed them out of the medbay. The soap didn't really help much with Aric's odor problem. “Man, did you even shower, Aric?" Aric gave a startled jolt as his attention was brought back to the present. He sent an annoyed huff at the wolverine who was grinning teasingly at him. The mustelid's dark brown and black colored fur looked pale from the light coming from the holographic screen on Aric's station. “I did. Four times. I even put on tons of cologne..." The cougar let out a groan, giving himself a sniff and grimaced. Even with the cologne, he still smelled like he had been rolling in the damp soil and Velosian gunk. The smell wasn't overly unpleasant… but still… He shook his head. “Shouldn't you be on your own station, Ralf?" He gave the Wolverine a slight nudge to shove him away. The mustellid Ensign shrugged. His cybernetic left arm whirred softly as it moved. Aric could see the mechanical parts showing under the wolverine's form-fitting duty uniform. “I need to check on the Security Station either way." He replied. The cybernetics, which had replaced Ralf's entire left arm and most of his chest, the left side of his face, and his eyes, were quite the sight when they first met at the academy as roommates. They were a result of an interplanetary shuttle accident, as the wolverine would explain. Ralf Lenner hadn't expect Aric to consider his cybernetic limbs cool, however. The wolverine seemed amused and somewhat elated that someone found his half cyborg-like state un-freakish, as he later explained to his really embarrassed roommate. They became fast friends after that. “Right, right." Aric nodded. “I should check on the Comms too." He said, straightening his form fitting black and gold trimmed uniform as he stood up. “Yeah, you do that." Ralf replied as he bent over the Security and Tactical Systems console, which was just next to the one Aric had occupied. “I hate night shifts…" he yawned. A huffy snap came from the other occupant of the bridge, who had been otherwise silent. “Then you should've taken the day resting, Ensign Lenner. Don't you think Ensign Torssen and me aren't more tired than you?" He said, nodding his head at Aric for a moment before he was glaring at Ralf again. Ralf rolled his eyes, shooting the uniformed grey wolf a slightly envious look. “I dunno how you can keep running on high levels of energy twenty four-seven, sir. You smelled as bad as Aric here either way." He wrinkled his nose comically. Damon Braun was one of the lieutenants Captain Marshall recruited for the scouting mission. As a senior member of the Science division, Lieutenant Braun had a pretty keen eye. Coupled with his strong sense of smell and hearing, the wolv been the one to notice the tell-tale signs of civilization. His discovery quickly led the team to see their first sighting of the Velosian natives, and it was his eye of detail that led them towards the Velosians' complex of temples and settlements. He had followed Captain Marshall under heavy cloak to get into the city, getting important scans that could only be obtained on a much closer distance. As a result, Braun had the same musk clinging to his body, even when the odor wasn't as thick as the captain's. The lupine seemed exceptionally annoyed by this, evident from the constant scowling and wrinkling of his nose, and his bad mood. “Just shut your trap and return to your work." Came the wolf's bark, stomping towards the auxiliary Science station, passing by Ralf in the process. The wolverine's eyes glazed over for a moment, staring blankly at the wolf's figure before he snapped himself out of the temporary daze. “If I hear you complaining, you're going to clean every single latrine on deck seven. Is that clear?" Braun hissed, eyes narrowing at the wolverine who fidgeted under his glare. “Yes, sir." Ralf replied with thin, pursed lips as he swiveled his chair around and concentrated on the screen of his station. He sighed and shook his head, turning to Aric who was standing right beside him. “He's even smellier than you. If I didn't know better, I'd thought you guys had been going at it in the closet." Ralf snickered in a lower tone, winking suggestively to Aric. The uniformed cougar flushed crimson and hit the wolverine on the back of his head with a random book he found from the side of the console. “And I here thought Oshiro was more perverted than you." Aric responded dryly. “Guess I was wrong. No offense, sir." He quickly shot the otter who was currently manning the Flight Controls. The otter gave Aric a nonchalant shrug and a grin. “Non taken. Just call me Oshiro, Aric." The otter said with a genial smile, swivelling on his chair. “And I don't mind, really. Feels good that there's at least someone who's more lewd than me. At least you're good lookin'." He grinned widely at Ralf and wiggled his eyebrows. The cybernetics-clad mustelid let out a groan, cheeks flushing crimson. Aric couldn't help but snort in amusement as he made his way towards the Communications station. It was no secret that Roger Oshiro had a wandering eye and doesn't discriminate on who or what he chooses. Backed up with roguish good looks and an equally charming personality, it wasn't surprising that there were many rumours that the otter had slept with practically everyone in his year at the academy and then some. Aric didn't find it particularly far-fetched. He'd seen how the otter flirt effortlessly with some of the crew members. He'd even made the usually stoic Commander Hadrian flush beet red, which was quite a feat. Nevertheless, Lieutenant Oshiro was a really chill officer and was fun to work with—even with a tendency to spout inappropriate jokes now and then. As an Ensign in the Operations Department, Aric sometimes got paired with the otter whenever he was tasked to man the co-pilot console during the night. It was somewhat surprising to see the pilot on the Night Shift at first, as the Lieutenant was usually stationed during the day shift with the rest of the main crew. Aric soon learned that as a pilot, Oshiro practically had to be behind the wheel nearly every time. The otter had laughed when Aric asked if he had felt dragged down by his duties and practically told him that he loved piloting, especially for “this big bad beauty" as he had put it affectionately. Aric swore he saw Oshiro running his paws over the Flight Control Station in a really loving way and whispering sweet nothings at one time. It was a really awkward sight. Ralf still had that noticeable flush on his cheeks as he turned to look at the pilot. “I can only wonder how you and Lieutenant Braun can keep yourselves up and still take on the night shift. That's all." “Really, Ensign Lenner? Have you forgotten something?" Braun spoke up from behind his station, rolling his eyes. The wolverine frowned, racking his head but his fatigue had impaired his ability to think through and came up with a blank. “We're both Iolian-born." Oshiro started, gesturing to Braun and himself, “World-born colonists like us have adapted to our planet's harsh conditions and much, much longer day-and-night cycle." He then indicated to Aric and Ralf. “So it's natural for Iolians to be able to stay up longer and last longer than any other Spacer, Colonist, or Earth-born." “Can't put it any better." The wolf lieutenant replied with a nod. “So, you can go suck it up, and get back to work Ensign. We've got a job to do." Ralf grumbled something unflattering under his breath and went back to his duties. Unfortunately, Braun's sharp ears could pick up nearly every noise, even the faintest of whispers. The wolf practically glared at the wolverine, eye twitching. Ralf shrunk under the Lieutenant's intense gaze, the cybernetics that replaced his eyes whirring softly as it shifted to look at anything but the ticked off wolf. Before he could stammer up an apology however, there was a familiar whooshing sound coming from the elevator doors, followed by a pleasant beep. The next second, it hissed open, bathing the entire bridge with the elevator's bright light as the occupant stepped out. “Captain on the bridge!" Aric announced, the words rolling out of his mouth automatically as the robust, tough figure of their leonid Captain entered the dimly lit bridge. Aric's heart seem to skip every time he saw Marshall walk in. Powerful muscles under smooth white-blonde fur moving under the form-fitting duty uniform, the smooth waves of his platinum mane that was always neatly trimmed and combed, and that brilliant pale blue eyes which exudes a commanding, but warmth that just spoke volumes of his years as a Captain. Aric couldn't help but admire the Captain ever since he saw him. The cougar knew what he felt, of course. He was no stranger to his own preferences. Aric had a couple of boyfriends in his time at the academy and several one-time romps, but he had felt so intensely for his superior officer. He had tried to repress those feelings of course. Marshall was way out of his league. The Captain was a decorated war hero and a well known Captain of the Imperial Armada. The lion was at least a decade older than him, but had proven to be a very good company from the few times he had been working on the bridge. They'd even got on last name basis instead of the formalities, and it was enough for Aric. Truly, Marshall was the best Captain the Arcturus could have. “Status report, Lieutenant Oshiro." Marshall uttered somewhat groggily to the otter as he moved to the Captain's chair, situated in the exact centre of the bridge on an elevated platform. Aric was somewhat surprised that the Captain was in a slight state of underdress. Usually, the lion appeared orderly and immaculate. The white and gold trimmed Captain's Jacket he was wearing was left unclasped, showing the slightly wrinkled form-fitting black and gold duty uniform he was wearing underneath. He had even forgot to tuck his trousers under his boots. It was evident that Marshall was tired. There were dark circles under his eyes, which appeared slightly red. His usually neat mane was somewhat in a state of disarray. No doubt the lion had slept in and rushed to the bridge. And of course, the musk that was the 'souvenir' from their outing to the planet right below them was as thick as ever. Aric could practically smell the strong, masculine odor the moment Marshall entered the bridge. Combined with the musks sticking to himself and Braun, the Captain's scent felt intensified. Breathing it in made Aric's head slightly woozy, and his body feeling oddly warm... comfortably so. Looking at the dazed state of the rest of the night crew, he wasn't the only one feeling it. “The... Arcturus is keeping orbit as you requested. Our cloak is holding, and there are no lasting engine failures after that last solar storm." Oshiro reported after he got over his daze, his voice faltering slightly as if he was trying to compose his words. “Alright… what about Engineering, Lenner?" The lion turned to Ralf, who was perched on the Security station. The cybernetically augmented wolverine responded promptly, though his eyes were somewhat glazed. His nose was twitching. “Engineering reports that we could leave the system by the end of the solar cycle, sir. The... antimatter cells are refilling in good speed and we should be able to achieve Stardrive Factor-5 without any trouble… Sir." Marshall nodded. “Good, good." He replied, nose wrinkling slightly as he detected the musky odor in the bridge. “Ugh, remind me to wear hazmat suits next time we land down there…" He said, trying to sit up straighter on his chair. “I really need to get my chronometer fixed. Blasted thing went off half an hour later from what I've set it…" he shook his head. “Torssen, make a note to Lieutenant Commander Jameson to have a look on the systems in my quarters tomorrow noon. He should be free from his Engineering duties by that time.” “Noted, sir." Aric nodded with a slight grin to his muzzle, turning back to the station and retrieved his pad to send the Chief Engineer the memo. “Are there any comm links from Imperial Command, Ensign Torssen?" the Captain added, swivelling on his chair to give the cougar his full attention. Aric tried to ignore the fluttering feeling which had crept up his throat as he tore his gaze away from the Captain's icy blue eyes and shook his head. “Nothing so far, sir. No transmissions intended for the Arcturus as for now." He reported, tugging on the collar of his duty uniform. Several beads of sweat were trailing down from his brow and down his cheek. Since when did it get so warm in here? He thought as he dabbed it with his sleeves. Marshall rubbed his tired eyes, but nodded gratefully. “Right, thank you. Any reports from the Sciences?" He turned to face Braun, who was still standing on his station a bit ways behind the Captain's chair. The light grey and white furred wolf gave a single nod. “Complete scans of the planet had reached 83% and going up. The drones should be finished by next morning, Captain." He reported slowly. Aric could hear the wolf's somewhat drawn breathing. “That's good. Oshiro, plot course to Tarsus V system. We will leave at 1100 hours. Make sure your replacement pilot could follow your instructions clearly." Marshall instructed, rubbing his forehead. Somehow, he had went to unzip his uniform halfway down his torso, and Aric could see a bit of the lion's well formed chest muscles, as well as the trails of sweat which was running down his chin and neck. The Captain wasn't wearing anything underneath his suit it would seem. He wondered if the lion was wearing anything down there... “Torssen, could you help me with the astrometrics?" Oshiro's voice snapped Aric from his reverie. He blinked, dispelling that strange line of thought from his head. “O-oh sure." He said, shaking his head, frowning as his cheeks flushed red. Where the heck had those thoughts come from? The cougar stood, scratching his neck idly as he walked past the Captain to reach the auxiliary flight control console, usually occupied by an Operations co-pilot. His steps slowed down when he caught a whiff of a very strong, and very compelling sort of musk. His pale green eyes caught with the Captain's electric blue ones. He didn't even realize the Captain was staring back at him, having breathed in the odor coming from the cougar, seemingly lost in a daze. Aric blinked and slowly turned towards the co-pilot's seat and sat down, not even sure what was happening as his paws moved through the screen, assisting Oshiro in charting their course to the Tarsus V system, which was 14 lightyears away. The journey would be easily achieved in half an hour by a comfortable speed of Stardrive Factor 5 or 6… but there would be the issue of the gravitational wells in the way. And there's the newly formed Gavarian Supernova which could very well disturb their path. Perhaps they'd need to port into the number of spaceports for detours. It'll be a longer path for sure. Sighing, Aric went to recalculate the safest route towards their destination with Oshiro. Somehow, he found it hard to concentrate. As he looked to his left, he could see the pilot was having the same problem. The otter kept tugging on the collar of his uniform. His fingers would falter as he tapped away at the holographic screen. Aric turned his attention back at hand, but mind kept running back to the image of the Captain's sculpted chest peeking from his semi-unzipped suit, and how tantalizing the lion had smelled. Without even realizing it, a tent was slowly forming in the cougar's trousers as the alien musk slowly muddled his mind to focus on one thing, or rather, one specific bodily function. He jumped when he felt a pair of strong paws brushing down his arms and a hot breath on his neck. Aric whirled around, pupils dilating when he locked his gaze with Marshall's. The lion was hovering close to him. A low purr escaped from the large, powerfully built lion's throat as he lowered his muzzle in, brushing across the crook of the Ensign's neck. “C-Captain!" Aric yelped, shuddering as he felt the lion's hot breath prickling his skin and fur, squirming as he felt the larger feline's paw trailing down his body, feeling around his form. He could whiff out the thick musky odor coming from the Captain, making his mind fuzzy, and feeling really, really warm. He moaned when Marshall dragged his tongue over his exposed neck and chin. Everything else seemed insignificant right at that moment. He wanted, no needed the lion, Aric thought as the Captain began to unzip his uniform down, trailing licks on the side of his face. Dominic Marshall, Captain Marshall to his crew, and Dominic—or Dom— to his friends, was a lion of honor and principal, but even a tough lion such as himself was not immune to the calls of instinct. Particularly when a potent, intrusive and mind numbing odor full of sex pheromones had latched on one's body and senses. The only thing that was going through his mind was the intense need to breed the young cougar before him. Oh, he recognized the feline of course. Aric J. Torssen. A brilliant Operations Ensign transferred from the battleship RSS Chevalier along with a number of other officers, and also the cougar who had caught his attention from day one he stepped into the ship. He knew the Ensign was crushing on him, there was no doubt, and he longed to touch young Torssen's smooth fur and hold him in his arms… But the feline had seem to be rather oblivious with his own feelings, as Marshall thought, but he wasn't the type to back down so easily. One of the reasons he often placed Torssen in several night shifts was just so they could spend some time together, without seeming intrusive and stalkish. The lion was content to slowly build the cougar's trust, and they had become comfortable with each other. It was enough for the time being. But none of that mattered as in his muddled, emotionally and hormonally high state, he wanted the cougar now. Marshall licked his lips as he was satisfied feeling around his cougar officer's body with his paw. Letting out a rumbling purr, the lion turned the co-pilot's seat to face him, earning a surprised yelp from Torssen, and promptly mashed his lips, tongue, and fangs, with the smaller feline's own muzzle. The young cougar didn't even resist as Marshall forced his tongue into his mouth, his own lips smacked and sucked needily at the lion's. He could feel Torssen pushing his own body to his touch as he slipped his paw under the uniform and undershirt. The young feline was definitely a hard worker as he felt the firm muscles underneath a lush expanse of smooth fur. Torssen, was a fit, young male, there was no doubt about that as he snaked his paw down through the belt line. However, it wasn't only the two felines that were affected by the alien musk. Ralf squeaked in panic and surprise when Braun suddenly tackled him from his seat and to the hard, cold floor. He hadn't even notice the large wolf sneaking up behind him, or realizing that Braun had been eyeing him pretty intently for the past ten minutes. The sight of the Captain and his friend making out and groping each other was pretty mind jarring. But it wasn't as shocking and as fear-inducing when a particularly large wolf who was evidently on heat pinned you on the floor, and was grinding his ever growing bulge to your face. The wolverine got a face full of the musk that had clung to the wolf, and also the lupine's own bodily scent. His eyes watered and glazed over, the cybernetics whirring slightly as they tried to refocus his gaze. Ralf gasped from the weight that was pressing on his chest, squeaking when he saw Braun had unbuckled his belt and pulling down the zipper of his trousers. His canine hard-on flopped down directly to the wolverine's face as Braun slipped down his briefs, making Ralf to breath in more of his ripe, masculine scent. The mustelid let out a low moan as he felt his own member harden. He couldn't really comprehend what was happening around him, or why it was happening. Lieutenant Braun was panting hard. Drool was dripping down from his muzzle as he straddled Ralf with his crotch, showing his hard canine-hood in its erect glory. The wolf didn't know what hit him, but he had an overwhelming urge to breed the wolverine as the pheromone-charged odor invaded his brain and senses. Ralf was shaking, both in fear and anticipation as he inadvertently inhaled more of Braun's scent. The musky odor was quickly overpowering the young wolverine's mind as his eyes slowly went hazy. Though it didn't stop his body from jerking when a paw grabbed the bulge on his pants and gave it a squeeze. Ralf let out a surprised yip, only to be cut off as Braun stuffed his cock into his open maw. Blinking through watery eyes, he craned his neck to see Lieutenant Oshiro fondling him right behind Braun, and was in the process of freeing his lower regions from its confines. Back to Marshall, the leonid Captain grinned as he squeezed his subordinate's hardening member inside the black fabric of his pants, earning a high pitched squeak while the cougar's trembling paw fingers clumsily fumbled with the belt buckle. The potent scent of arousal was palpable as the metallic clasp was unlatched, loosening his pants. Marshall rumbled a chuckle as he pulled the trousers down, revealing the sizeable bulge pushing through the elastic fabric covering his manhood, which was soon discarded, freeing the hard, equally barbed member. The cougar was panting and moaning as Marshall pushed him into another lustful kiss, shuddering from the pleasure when he stroked the younger feline's hard on. He broke the contact between their lips so he could push the pesky standard-issue grey colored undershirt over Aric's head, and over his shoulder. He left it at there, not even bothering to remove the unzipped uniform. Aric's golden tan fur and white underbelly appeared pale and darker under the bridge's dim light. He could clearly see the Ensign's well formed pecs and defined abs. He wasn't as big as Marshall, not even close, but the cougar had a really nice bulk to him. Aric Torssen was a young, fit, and virile male indeed. “I love studly officers, Torssen." He purred, licking the cougar's exposed neck and nibbling the Ensign's twitching ear. He could feel young feline flush under the compliment, paws reaching tentatively to unzip his Captain's uniform. His smaller paws roamed through his mound of strong, leonine muscles. The result of years of hardwork and determination. Aric could only watch dazedly, cheeks still flushing as the Captain unbuckled his own pants, dropping them down along with his boxer briefs to the smooth, glossy flooring. He kicked them aside, not bothering to remove his boots as he proceed to hop on top of the seat, making it creak from the additional weight. His hard, barbed manhood prodded the edges of the cougar's muzzle. Pre dripped down to the young officer's bare, white furred chest. It was much bigger and thicker from what Aric was used to, and was oozing with heavenly musk. The cougar didn't even realize he had wrapped his lips around the Captain's manhood until the salty taste of the feline's precum rolled down his throat. Marshall let out a content purr, pushing his cock deeper into Aric's muzzle, sucking his breath as the cougar rolled his sandpapery tongue around his shaft and sensitive barbs, coating them with his warm saliva, as he slowly went deeper. The Ensign's movements were too smooth and skilled for a first timer, Marshall noted with a slight pang of disappointment. Though… that meant he could go all out on the younger feline, he thought with a slightly feral grin as he gripped the cougar's head and drove the rest of his shaft deep into Aric's mouth, hilting his throat. “Mmph!" The cougar choked as the sizeable cock was forced through his throat. He willed himself to relax, exhaling slowly so that he could adjust on the length and the girth. His nose felt ticklish as it was pushed to Marshall's bushy crotch fur, smelling ripe of sweat, fur, and distinctively leonid musk which practically oozed masculinity. The scent alone sent Aric moaning as he gulped around the barbed shaft as Marshall began to rock his hips, holding his head in place. Meanwhile, Ralf was a writhing, moaning mess as he was already half naked. His was down to his undershirt, with his uniform suit practically hanging on his right sleeve when Braun had rather impatiently shed his clothing with the help of Oshiro. His mouth was starting to go sore as it was stretched to the limits, trying to accommodate Braun's sizeable girth. The grey wolf was growling heatedly as he jackhammered his knotted cock into the mustelid's maw. The other reason he was writhing, not in discomfort but in pleasure, was the fact that his own member and ass was given the most heavenly service by the otter who had commandeered his nether regions. The whole situation felt surreal for the cybernetic-covered Ensign as he groaned through the cock, trying to accommodate the girthy meat as much as he could. He bucked when Oshiro gave a rather sharp jab to his tailhole while the otter himself had engulfed Ralf's full length into his maw. The warm, slick muzzle that closed around his manhood and the cool wet finger that pressed and prodded against his tailhole was really driving Ralf to his limits. He was really new to the barrage of sensations, and he was loving every second of it. The level of pleasure he was receiving proved to be too much however, as he cried through a mouthful of cock as he ejaculated his load directly into Oshiro's muzzle. The otter didn't waste a single drop as he happily gulped the wolverine's potent spunk, giving the engorged member a helpful squeeze to milk out more of the sticky, hot goodness. His saliva slicked finger was driven deep into the wolverine's tight, and very much virgin ass. He could tell just by how much the mustelid squirmed under his touches. Smacking his lips, as he licked the half hard member clean, Oshiro withdrew his muzzle, looking at Ralf's plump ass cheeks with lustful, clouded eyes, and drove his muzzle in. Effectively eliciting another pleasured gasp from the cybernetically enhanced bear-like mustelid. This… is certainly a nice dream, Aric thought, wincing as the numerous, tiny, spines around Marshall's cock grazed the soft flesh of his throat over and over, spilling salty pre which rolled down his tongue as Marshall face fucked him mercilessly. The musk which invaded his sensitive nose pushed him deeper into his own, carnal needs. The cougar began to lap around the cock, bobbing his head along with Marshall's hip movements, hungering for more of the tantalizing taste of the lion's pre and scent. With a pleased purr, the larger feline increased the intensity of his movements, slamming his member into the cougar's mouth and hilting it deep down the younger feline's throat. Aric was openly moaning now, grasping the lion's exposed hips for support. The force of Marshall's pounding was strong enough to make his head hit the leather backed chair repeatedly. It creaked and groaned in protest from the combined weight and the force Marshall was applying in his movements. Gods above, this isn't really happening... is it? Aric thought through his lust clouded mind as he eagerly savored the taste of the larger feline's manhood buried in his muzzle. Marshall was beside himself in bliss. He would've came then and there as the cougar's mouth was expertly squeezing and driving pleasure to his throbbing rod. That tongue of his certainly was good at pleasuring his meat. But he didn't want to give the Ensign that satisfaction just yet. He had yet to fill another hole, he thought with a large grin. “Fwah?" Aric blinked dazedly when Marshall suddenly pulled out, leaving his mouth sore, full of spit, and tasting heavily of pre. The cougar glanced up at the pale-blonde lion, only to gasp when the much bigger feline suddenly lifted his legs—not entirely bare as he still got his boots attached—up to his shoulders. His eyes widened when his sluggish mind finally picked up what Marshall was going to do, and clenched his eyes shut, preparing to be drilled with the maned feline's meat. He certainly didn't expect a wet, slobbery appendage to attack his ass crack however, as he opened his eyes again, and flushed at the sight of the Captain lathering his pucker with his large, rough tongue. “C-Captain...mmh…" He panted out when Marshall continued to tease his hole, prodding the soft, pink, fleshy ring with his tongue. He continued to tease the cougar's tailhole before he pushed in, driving it deep within Aric's rectal walls. The young cougar let out another string of moans, tail twitching slightly from the small jolts of pleasure which shot along his spine when Marshall tasted his rump, coating it with a generous amount of spittle. Purring loudly, the maned feline slowly pulled himself out from the cougar's rear, smacking his lips audibly as he lowered his subordinate down, but not by much. His arms were still grasping Aric's leather covered feet, holding them in position as he aligned his large, barbed manhood with the dribbling, wet tailhole. Aric himself gulped as he felt Marshall pressing lightly against his pucker, readying himself of what's coming. “Hgnngh!" His eyes shot wide open when the leonid Captain practically shoved his cock inside his rear, stretching his rectal walls wide. The Captain was definitely way bigger than what he was accustomed to… it certainly felt as if he was being fucked for the first time again. Moaning from both pain and ecstasy that coursed through his body, Aric's body slumped against the chair as Marshall pounded his ass mercilessly. The feline's cock was hilting deeper and deeper into his rear, the numerous tiny barbs sending shivers up his spine. His own cock was starting to leak pre from the amount of pleasure he was receiving. It bobbed and twitched as his body jerked when the Captain drove into him over and over. The young cougar let out a yowl as the Captain's cock jabbed against his prostrate, sending a fresh wave of euphoria that left him see white spots on his eyes. Ralf let out an audible choke as his head slammed against the floor by a particularly hard thrust Braun gave him. The wolf on top of him howled when he reached his orgasm. The wolverine Ensign's mouth was rapidly filling with hot, salty, slime like liquid, and he instinctively swallowed the whole lot of it. However the sticky load of goodness kept coming to his mouth and he couldn't swallow it any longer. He jerked his head away from the cock, choking audibly, spluttering as Braun's semen smeared his face as it continued to pump. Ralf gulped the rest of the cum inside his mouth and panted, shuddering as Oshiro was slowly stretching his tailhole wide open with his deft fingers. He breathed out a sigh of relief when the fingers retracted from his anus, leaving him with an oddly hollow sensation as he tried to wriggle away. His muddled mind still trying to comprehend why he was enjoying this so much. His cock twitched needily as he felt Braun's weight leaving his chest, and was left with the sight of Oshiro who was bare to his fur. Without his uniform, Ralf could see that Oshiro took a really good care of himself, and he's pretty well endowed. He flushed when the otter pilot caught his gaze and gave him a glazed sort of grin, before he flipped the wolverine over his belly and raised the Ensign's rump to the air. Ralf whimpered as he felt Oshiro draping himself on top of him, prodding his stretched tailhole with his slick, tapered manhood. The cry that the wolverine emitted was like the sweetest sound to Oshiro's ears as he speared the virgin ass with his rod. The tightness and warmth were just perfect. The otter murred to himself, looking at the grey wolf who was giving him a stink eye for 'stealing' his prey. He merely smirked, and waved his rudder-like tail to the hunk of a wolf, lifting it up as he drove into Ralf again, eliciting a moan, presenting his own pucker for the horny wolf whose dripping member was standing full mast, hard. Braun didn't waste time asserting his dominance over the cheeky Lieutenant. “That's it Torssen… roar it all out…" The Captain murmured huskily as he increased the intensity of his thrusting. He was loving every second of it. There was a particular pleasure he felt seeing the writhing, moaning muscular form beneath him. Aric's claws were digging to the leather seat as Marshall mercilessly pulverized his tailhole. The cougar's back arched as he let out a yowl of pleasure, cock twitching and throbbing madly. No doubt aching from release. From the tightening and loosening sensation around his rapidly moving shaft, Marshall could tell that the younger feline was getting close. He promptly began to hammer Torssen's firm ass with renewed intensity, stimulating Aric's pleasure points hard, hilting his cock all the way to the base with a rather wet smack over and over. The cougar finally came with a loud roar, followed by weak, panting mewls. It was music to Marshall's ears as he looked down to Torssen. His seed was splattering across his red face and chest at the angle he was being fucked in. The sight was incredibly arousing for the lion. The tightened pressure around his cock was driving the lion to his limits however. It didn't take long for him to cum. With an equally loud roar, Marshall shot jet after jet of hot, potent spunk down the cougar's hole, filling the younger feline as his cock throbbed and the torrent of semen slowly died down to an ooze. Aric felt distinctively full as the white spots danced across his vision. That orgasm was just… nothing like he had ever felt before. He licked his lips, tasting the tangy, salty taste of his own semen. His own junk was resting on his toned belly. A loud panting moan caught his attention and he glanced sideways. Now that the Captain blocking his line of vision with his hulking, muscled figure, he could see—to his surprise—that Ralf, who was caked with a lot amount of cum, was being screwed by Oshiro, who in turn had Braun burying his bone on the otter's ass. He couldn't really process what he was looking at for long, as Marshall returned to his field of vision again. The lion grinning widely and lustfully at him, all of his fangs showing, and his soiled, barbed manliness standing at full mast. Somehow, the sight of the powerful male before him made him hard again, and it made the Captain's grin to grow wider. “Ready for round two, Ensign?" ******* Aric slowly woke to the sensation of warmth and soreness. His head was pounding as he blinked his eyes open. The sky was dark, as it was customary on space, but there was a lighter hue shade from the polarized windows. He frowned, staring at the windows in confusion. His cabin doesn't have any windows… nor does his cabin have a really comfortable bunk. His bed felt larger than usual, come to think of it, and he definitely didn't have a fur lined blanket… he thought as he felt around the warmth that wrapped around his chest. It felt like an arm. A really muscled, fluffy arm… Oh. Oh. Oh gods… He cursed inwardly as memories from last night slowly crept up to his sluggish brain. His face reddened considerably. That explained the soreness around his thighs and his jaw. He didn't really remember much, but he did distinctively remember the feeling of Captain's member buried in his ass... and also him driving own cock inside the Captain's sculpted rump... Had he and the Captain really fucked each other that hard? “Mmmh… Ensign?" Aric froze. He hadn't felt the lion that was practically draped around him stir. It was then Aric realized how both of them were completely nude, and smelling heavily of sex, with dried cum sticking to their fur. “Ensign?" The tone was slightly more firm from before. Oh gods… he's done it. He fucked a Captain! A lowly Ensign fucking a freaking senior officer on duty no less! No one does that! His mind was reeling from the thought of how many regulations he broke by one night. The thought made his ears flatten to his scalp. Damn it to oblivion… This is it. His career as an officer of the Imperial Armada is gone. What would his parents think of him now?! He was going to be punished for insubordination, stripped off his rank, kicked out from the ship and the armada, and sent to a penal colony planet to labor for the rest of his life and, and— “Torssen? Aric, are you alright?" The gentleness of the voice derailed Aric's increasingly hysterical train of thoughts. The young cougar sucked in breath and slowly turned his head, peeking over his shoulder. Marshall's brilliant blue eyes were looking at him with concern, and was that trepidation? “Y-yes Captain?" His voice wavered slightly. Was the lion going to reprimand him? He thought with increasing dread, trying to ignore a tiny part of his mind that had taken that his butt was pressing against the Captain's flaccid member. Even when soft, he could feel how big it was—Stop that! “I… erm," Marshall coughed, sounding out of characteristically awkward. “I… Ensign Torssen. I wish to apologize for my unbecoming behaviour last night." Okay, he wants to— Wait what?! “What?" Aric's throat caught as he turned his body to fully face the Captain. Under the dim light from the distant Velosian sun showing the chiseled features of the white-blonde furred lion. He looked decidedly apologetic and embarrassed. “Last night, I didn't know what got into me." He began, sounding grave. “I forced myself into you. I-I know we weren't ourselves last night, and in the heat of the moment I forced myself to you until you pleasured me yourself. It was unbecoming of a Captain like me. I hope you can forgive me, Ensign." Aric was at loss. Did he seriously just… Just as he thought he was going to get the boot. He shook his head, and took a deep breath, before exhaling, trying to formulate his words. “A-about that, Captain…" He trailed off. “I, er, wish to apologize for my actions too, Captain. I, er… shouldn't have mounted you like that, after what you did to me…" he flushed crimson. One particularly steamy memory resurfaced to his mind. “And uh… you didn't actually force yourself to me, sir. I kinda let you to take the reins and things just… escalated from there. I-I did enjoy it though." He added hastily. The captain's form seem to relax. A small smile began to grow on his muzzle. “No need to apologize, Ensign. We were both in the wrong, to a degree, and… I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was afraid I might have scarred you despite what happened." He scratched his head. A warm feeling fluttered across Aric. He was reminded how he admired Marshall. He found himself leaning in closer to the much bigger feline, burying his head around the lion's short mane. “You didn't, sir. I really enjoyed it… even if the pheromones did a number to our senses." He chuckled. “Ah." The lion chortled, evidently relieved as he wrapped his arm over the cougar's back. “Then there's that… We'll have to have Doctor Seinn to look into it some time." He thought with a light hum. “Now I'm quite worried about how the rest of the scouting team was faring…" The cougar nodded in understanding, flushing slightly. He also wondered what happened to the other three in the room? He managed to get some random flashes of Ralf, Braun, and Oshiro, but none of them made sense. Everything was still hazy. “Hmm… would you prefer if we refer each other by our first names?" Marshall spoke suddenly, drawing Aric's thoughts back to the present. “When in private of course. Last night really shed some barriers away." “I… wouldn't mind that, sir." Aric replied, grinning happily. “You can call me Dominic, or Dom. Whichever you prefer." The lion rumbled pleasantly, rubbing circles around Aric's exposed back. The cougar nodded with a wide grin. “Alright, sir— I mean, Dom. That'll take sometime getting used to. I guess you can call me Aric." “Much appreciated, Aric." Dom chuckled, lowering his head slightly as he cupped Aric's chin with his other paw. “You don't mind if I ask you to stay in my quarters for some more hours, would you?" He said, licking the cougar's chin and lips. “I don't mind that." Aric purred happily, content with staying longer with the bigger, muscular lion for a couple more hours… and perhaps something more. Officers who got night shifts weren't expected to report to their duties until the midday cycle. “Er, by the way… what happened to the rest of the night crew, and how did we get into your quarters?" He couldn't help but ask. “My mind is drawing a blank on the most part." he admitted. Dom had to think for a few moments, trying to recall as much as he did. The musk-induced sex session had drove their bodies into a kind of inebriated state after all. Hell, he woke up to something akin to a mild hangover. “I think I carried you to the elevator which deposited us directly to this room… where we had our final run." Aric flushed crimson, which sent Dom into a fit of chuckles. “As for Ensign Lenner… I believe the last I saw him was pinned between Lieutenant Braun and Lieutenant Oshiro… though I couldn't be really sure, and I don't have any inclination of where they went to after we left.” Aric gaped. The thought of the wolverine being rutted by the big wolf and the otter was just… He gulped, feeling his own cock hardening at the image. “I think they would have moved like us… perhaps." He chuckled, shaking his head. “I guess we just have to steer clear away from Velos for the time being to avoid any… accidents like this." The leonid Captain shook his head with amusement, and kissed Aric's forehead lightly. “I'll make sure to write the necessary reports and warnings. But for now, let's just enjoy the moment." He added, reaching down to rub the cougar's hardening manhood. “Yes, let's just do that." Aric agreed shivering from the touch, burying himself deeper into the embrace as he ran his paws through Dom's massive, sculpted arms, purring in content.