By Eric Kern (a.k.a. Kathris)
Terry sat in his quarters and looked around at the small room. It was an average type of accommodation for a cruiser this size; he and his chakat companion were sharing a room. Chakat Firecloud and Terry had a long history, and they had pretty much grown up together. Their destination was Amistad, which meant Friendship in Spanish. The pair had a tour of the city planned, and served as temporary crewmembers to make the trip affordable. Finally, Terry spoke up to his companion. "It's your first time back in a while, right?"
The chakat nodded, waving hir tail back and forth. "To this city, yeah, but this world is home to me." Terry smiled, and looked out the window, to see a view of the planet from space. He was a young human male with brown hair that was combed over to one side, and an average build for a man of about five feet in height. He was the kind of guy who would look good wearing just about anything, and he had on the standard uniform they asked temporary crewmembers to wear. It was a boring, drab piece of gray fabric that left very little to the imagination. He much preferred his normal clothes to what they gave him. However, the difference in price of being a temporary crewmember compared to a simple passenger was a large sum to Terry. He'd suffer this indignity to save the needed money. His chakat companion was a jaguar patterned chakat with hir blonde hair done up in a decorative ponytail. Hir fur was the same as any other chakat of hir type, but it had a swatch of closely-knit rosettes near the area where hir spine curved at the 90-degree angle. Shi wore the same uniform, slightly modified for a chakat, and even though shi didn't like wearing this garment, it was regulation. The cruiser and the people who owned it didn't like having nude crewmembers, chakat or otherwise, as they saw it in bad taste.
Terry leaned close to Firecloud and whispered into hir ear "There's nothing more breathtaking than seeing one's world from space." The chakat nodded, took a deep breath, and closed hir eyes for a moment. Shi remembered the first time that shi had ever left hir home. It had to have been when shi was only 18. Shi had left with Terry to tour Earth, his home world. The two always got into some kind of trouble, but they were always doing it together, especially now that they were both 24. Terry's hand on hir shoulder brought the chakat back to reality. "You looked kinda distant for a moment."
Firecloud smiled and took hir companion's hand. "I was remembering when this all started, our tourism of the universe. You know, when we went to Earth and I saw my world from orbit...." Terry began getting nostalgic himself, but then shook out of it. After all, what mattered now was the present, not the past.
"It must have been what I said." He arranged his clothes in the suitcase, and made sure all of the chakat's possessions were together as well. His cabin mate came over and put hir paw on the suitcase.
"I can pack my own things, Terry." Shi was very independent, and Terry admired hir for that. The chakat folded a couple of hir shirts, and the little trinkets they had picked up all over the place found a spot in the suitcase. The young man handed Firecloud hir watch, and shi put it on quickly before resuming the packing duty. He smiled at hir, and then picked up a brush and began doing hir hair. "I can do that, too!"
Terry half smiled and said "Well, you're busy packing. Just relax and let me take care of you." His hands danced over hir hair with the brush, and made it soft and silky. "You'd be helpless without me, admit it." He knew shi was in hir female cycle at the time, and he also knew shi had feelings for him, but he kept their relationship to the closest of friends. He envied hir, being a chakat by birth, and wished that he could share in being a chakat also. Terry knew there weren't too many ways to do something like that, but somehow he would find a way.
Firecloud smiled and closed the suitcase. "In your dreams, Terry." He grinned, and then he realized exactly how true those words were. The young man was only a chakat when he closed his eyes, and even then in spirit only. "Now, you promised me you'd teach me how to dance."
Terry shrugged and said "Of course I will. You and I are gonna find a club in Amistad, and then we'll show off our skills to everyone. Remember, learn by doing." Firecloud let out a heavy breath and shook hir head.
"I don't want to be embarrassed so I turn red." The chakat twitched hir ears and rested on the floor.
Terry hugged his friend and kneeled down. "I would never let you get embarrassed. Trust me, I'll cover you. Just follow my lead and you'll be dancing like a pro. After all, you've got four on the floor." Terry laughed at his own joke, and Firecloud lets out a small chuckle at the reference. "Besides, we don't have time to practice now."
A voice came over the PA on the small cruiser with a short announcement. "We will be arriving in Amistad in a few moments. Those preparing to disembark must see Doctor Reisling to confirm your pathogen-free status for entry into the city. Thank you, and have a nice day." Terry listened to the click as the PA system shuts off.
"We should stop in on the good doctor so we can start touring Amistad as soon as the ship lands." Terry watched the door swish open as the motion sensor kicked in, and he escorted Firecloud outside as he carried the suitcase in his left arm. They walked down the hallway and rode a lift up to the higher level. The duo entered the infirmary and they stared at the old human sitting at his desk. He turned around and looked at both of them, and then got up from his chair. After inspecting both of them, he finally spoke.
"You're the first. I guess you want to get out of here, eh?" He smiled, and then took his little scanning device and ran it over Terry. "You're okay to walk around the planet." He moved the device to Firecloud, and then checked the device. "You're just fine, too." He paused, and then continued talking. "I so enjoy examining Chakats. You're all a sight to behold." He winked at Firecloud and waited around for the next group of tourists and crew to get checked out. Terry escorted Firecloud to the passenger-loading bay.
"He's right, you know." Terry kissed hir paw and kept talking. "You are a sight to behold."
* * *
The human and the chakat took in the sights of Amistad. Terry spoke up to Firecloud. "Remember the last time we were here? It's been quite a while. I wonder if your mother still lives in the east part of the city?"
Firecloud smiled and nodded. "I spoke to hir before we left. Shi wants us to come in and visit hir later." Terry let out an exasperated sigh. Firecloud's mother always tried to kiss him along with a hug, and shi always made it a long one. He knew it was just hir being friendly, but it was still a little awkward.
Terry walked beside Firecloud as they headed into the heart of the city. They made hotel reservations and dropped off their things before they began searching for a club. After some considerable wandering around, they found a small club that was bustling with activity. They went inside and checked out their surroundings. "This is perfect, Firecloud." Shi smiled and looked at the humans and chakats filling the club, as well as some foxtaurs and other furries. "What do you say we steal the spotlight and rule the club?" Chakat Firecloud grinned, and then nervously twitched hir whiskers. Terry held hir and looked into hir eyes. "Remember what I told you. Let me do the showing off., or have you been tuning out when I give my lectures?" Terry gave Firecloud a smirk, and then walked up to the edge of the dance floor.
The song "Dancin' Kinda Close" played over the speakers. Terry walked out on the dance floor and threw his jacket aside. Firecloud slowly followed, and he put his hand on hir shoulder and started to show off, dancing around hir and, after a short time, shi moved with him. They moved in concert with each other, dancing seductively and taking full advantage of every muscle they had. Terry played with hir hair for a moment, and then kissed hir full on. Firecloud just smiled, as shi didn't expect that. The two continued to dance, moving gracefully and seductively across the floor. Their fingers joined in a mesh, and Firecloud shook hir head back and forth, letting hir ponytail move freely. Terry ran his free hand over hir face, and started to sing the words. "Baby, us dancin' so close, ain't a good idea... Cuz I'm gonna wantcha now and here. The way thatcha shake it on me, makes me want ya so bad sexually... oh girl..." Firecloud blushed, but they continued dancing. The lights danced over their forms, and they seem to blend in with the twirling display of colored light. The young man ran his hands over every inch of Firecloud's back and touched the tip of hir tail before resuming their dance. He spun around, took a drink from the waiter's tray, and sipped it while moving in rhythm to the music. Terry placed the glass at Firecloud's mouth, and let hir take a sip while he blew hir kisses and clapped in time to the beat of the song.
When the song ended, a ripple of applause passed through the crowd, and they took a seat at a small table. "You sure you've never done this before?" Terry asked.
Firecloud smirked and turned to him. "You sure you knew what you were doing when you kissed me? I mean... I've had..."
"Feelings. Yes. I just... never had the guts to act on my own until now. Ironic, isn't it? I could do in front of dozens of people what I could never do when we were alone." Terry smiled at hir, and then held hir hands. "I have something to tell you. It's very important., and I don't know how you'll react." Firecloud became silent, and shi leaned in towards him. "I want to be your denmate... and a chakat!" Shi looked up at the second part of his statement. "My whole life, ever since I've known you, I've wanted to be just like you. I envy that which you've been given by birth is something that I may never achieve by any means, but I want to try. Will you help me?"
Firecloud ran hir fingers through hir hair and then thought to hirself for a moment. "I know I'd certainly enjoy it if you were a chakat, but I'd care for you no matter what you were. " Shi looked into his eyes as if to ask why this was so important to him.
Terry moved closer to hir and began to try to explain. "I don't know why, but I have it in me that I could be something more, that it's my destiny to find a way for us to be together, as chakats. I know I'm starting to sound like an idiot, but I believe it's possible. My heart tells me I have to try. I have to find a way." Chakat Firecloud blushed and held his hands.
"I'll help you. I can tell this has been a long time coming." Shi paused, and then continued on. "I'd sacrifice anything to give you what your heart desires." Terry mouthed 'thank you' to hir, and he escorted his companion back to their hotel.
* * *
The room was fairly lavishly decorated, and it was well designed for use by both taurs and bipeds. Terry hopped on the bed and spread out as he let out a sigh as he dreamed of what he'd look like as a chakat. "I suppose our first step is to figure out how I could become a chakat."
Chakat Firecloud put hir hand on his forehead, and smiled. "No, the first step is to get some rest. The travelling, and then the dancing... it got me all exhausted." Terry nodded in agreement, and the chakat joined him in the bed. The two held each other closely, and they fell asleep in each other's embrace.
* * *
Terry stirred as the sunlight had just started to peek through the blinds. He got up quietly so as not to disturb Firecloud. Shi had agreed to help him, and that was the first step. He began to wonder about his plans to become a chakat, and started to consider how far he'd be willing to go. The young man knew he'd rather not break the law, and certainly killing and forcing others to help him were out of the question. He'd do it by some method that wouldn't hurt any innocents. Chakat Firecloud opened hir eyes, moving hir tail, and pushing the covers off of hir taur form. "What are you doing?"
"Just thinking." He smiled at Firecloud, and shi came back at him with a witty retort.
"I didn't think that was possible for you this early in the morning." The two chuckled for a moment and then Terry came over and sat down on the bed next to hir. "What's on your mind?"
Terry sighed, and then smiled. "Thinking about my limits, mostly. Now, I can only think of two ways..." Chakat Firecloud held hir hand up for silence, and crawled out of bed, letting all four paws quietly hit the floor as shi moved to pour herself some coffee that Terry had made.
"I just woke up. Give me a minute." Shi breathed in the fumes of the coffee, and hoped the caffeine would jump start hir brain.
Terry grinned and said, "I thought chakats were alert when they woke up." His grin became a smirk, and then faded away when Chakat Firecloud gave him one of hir looks. Shi finished up the coffee and put the cup down, and then moved behind Terry. Shi held him around the waist and purred. The young man smiled and gently threw his head back and moved his head so they could kiss. They used their tongues to explore each other's mouths and slowed down as they took a breath. "I didn't know you like French roast coffee."
Firecloud winked at him and moved over to the mirror, trying to fix hir hair. "Coffee is coffee. So, before we get into our little quest, do you want to talk about our... uh... new status?" Firecloud brushed hir hair and awaited a response. Terry thought for a moment, and then turned to his chakat companion.
"Do you feel the need? I understand if you do, because after all, I'd want you to talk to me about my decision to become a chakat, or at least give it a try." Terry moved over to hir and took the brush from hir hand. He started to do hir hair and looked into hir eyes in the mirror.
Chakat Firecloud rubbed hir front paws together and looked down at hir waist. "Well... it's just... I don't know. I'm not quite sure how to react to your proposal." Shi held him and smiled. "It's what I wanted for a long time, but you never really seemed to share my feelings in the way I hoped you did before last night."
Terry frowned, and then hopped up on the bathroom counter. "I always did. I just, firstly, never had the courage. Secondly, I didn't think I could do you justice, and having a relationship with you would always remind me of what I didn't have." He looked hir over and waited.
"Well, I'm glad you do now. As for doing me justice, you've done that just by sticking around all these years. As for the third part, we're trying to change that, aren't we?" Chakat Firecloud smiled at Terry and continued. "So, what were the two ways you came up with?"
Terry moved off of the bathroom counter and back onto the floor. "Genetic alteration, but I don't know if that's possible on a full scale regarding fully grown beings past the embryo stage, and use of the transporter. You could duplicate a physical pattern and theoretically overlay the physical pattern onto someone else's mental pattern. The only down side is that you'd have essentially two of one chakat." The young man looked at hir and then frowned. "You see my problem."
Firecloud nodded and then hir face lit up. "If there's a way to do it, it'll be on this planet. Let's start with going to the local library."
Terry smiled, and they locked the door of their hotel room after they headed off. When they came to the large library somewhere in Amistad, they went inside and headed to the computers to use them for reference. Terry said "I'll look online, and you can use this computer to see if they have any books on the subject." Firecloud nodded and started to flip through the computer catalogue of the books they had available. Terry scanned the internet and came up with a few results of varying relevance. "Hmm... most of these seem to be either under development or people's personal pages listing the desire. Probably like mine would if I knew how to make a webpage!"
Firecloud giggled and continued to search through the files. "I've got nothing on this end. It just seems like there are medical books on human and chakat anatomy. Want a children's book on transmutation?" Terry gave hir a look and sighed, continuing to check out the information superhighway. "Hmm... there haven't been any books published on things like this. Maybe medical journals?" Terry shrugged and flipped through webpage after webpage that proved totally useless. After a few hours of this, the two gave up and left the library.
"Maybe a doctor would know?" Terry suggested. Firecloud thought about it for a moment, and then looked up in the local directory a respectable doctor.
"We could inquire, but who knows what this guy will tell us. He's a medical practitioner, but there's no such thing as a transformatologist. Is that even a word?" Firecloud asked. Terry shrugged again, and they headed to the local doctors office. It was a small place, but relatively well kept. The doctor was a wolf fur, and he seemed to be quiet and reserved.
"May I help you two?" He looked up from his papers and gave us a brief pass with his eyes.
"Do you know anything about changing your species?" Terry asked. The wolf looked at him cross eyed and then put down his papers.
"Not really; only in fantasy as far as I'm aware of. I did hear about something that happened regarding the Star Corps. Why don't you go look in the local magazines? Besides, I'm just a doctor, not a.... I can't think of the word. If you've got a cut, come to me. Otherwise, keep looking, because I can't really help you here." He picked up his papers and walked through a door, leaving them alone in the small lobby.
Terry frowned, as he was getting frustrated at all these failed attempts to find a way. "Do you think we should even bother trying to look in a magazine? I mean, if it's not in the internet or known to the medical community...." Chakat Firecloud bit hir lip and gave him an uncertain look.
"We've tried everything else. What more can we do? If we don't find it in a magazine, then we'll try again somewhere else." They walked to a local newsstand, and Terry bought a copy of Scientific Chakat. He flipped through the pages and stopped as he found an article of interest. "What is it?"
"A possibility." Terry held up the article, and it presented to them an opportunity. A small device that could modify a transporter in such a way that a being could change their species. "It's a prototype, and relatively well guarded, but we can sign up for the clinical test."
"Are you sure you want to take that risk? Transporters... if there's a mistake..." Firecloud frowned, and then turned to Terry.
"I know. This is our best chance so far." He closed the magazine and shoved it in his jacket pocket.
"Why do you suppose they advertised such a thing in a science magazine? After all, in the wrong hands..." Firecloud stopped Terry as they continued to walk.
Terry stopped at hir touch, and turned to respond. "I don't know. It does seem odd. I suppose we'll just have to sign up and ask." Terry smiled at hir, and shrugged. "It can't hurt to check it out." The chakat shrugged, and they proceeded to the building.
* * *
It was very clean and sterilized. The entire building seemed like a doctor's office. Eventually, a tiger-striped chakat came out to greet them. "Are you here for the clinical trial? I'm Professor Chakat Oceanwalker. Just call me Professor." Terry stood up and shook hir hand.
"Yes, I'm here for the trial. My companion, Chakat Firecloud, is just here for the ride. I have some questions...." Terry looked at hir uncertainly.
The professor nodded and sat down on the floor. "I hope you don't mind. I've been standing all night last night. Late work, you know. Okay, I'll answer all your questions, and I need your name and personal information so I know whom I'm testing on." Terry bit his lip and then started to tell hir the necessary information.
"My name is Terry Gray, I don't have a permanent address.. but right now, I live at the Ridian Hotel in Amistad. Suite 14B."
"What's your age, what species are we trying to make you, and who should we contact in the event that all doesn't go well?" The professor looked at Terry, and then at Chakat Firecloud.
Terry thought for a moment. "Of course, tell Firecloud first. You can reach my parents at this address." He wrote it down on a piece of paper and gave it to hir. "I'm 24, and I want to be a chakat, like my Firecloud."
The professor grinned and ran hir tongue over hir teeth. "How romantic. Let's see if we can oblige." As shi started to move off, Terry put his hand on hir shoulder.
"Professor, my questions?" Terry looked at hir and waited.
"Of course... what would you like to know?" The professor twitched hir ears and quietly purred, playing with hir hair.
Terry thought for a moment, and organized everything he wanted to know. "Firstly, why did you publish such a discovery in a scientific magazine? Isn't the possibility of misuse kinda high? And secondly, are there any neural after effects?"
The professor considered hir answers for a moment, and then turned to answer Terry. "Well, we figured that it's not a weapon, so there's no real need for confidentiality, and besides, the more people know, the less they'll fear it. As for after effects, you'll have to adjust to a new gait, a new body, etcetera. Obviously, you know chakat bodies are vastly different from a human one. Anything else?" The professor waved hir tail and checked hir clipboard.
The young man turned to hir and said "No, but can Firecloud watch? I'd feel better if shi were there." The professor nodded, and ushered the two of them inside a door at the far end of the room. Shi brought them to their transport facility and motioned Terry onto the pad. Firecloud smiled at him.
"See you on the other side, Terry." They kissed for a moment, and then Chakat Firecloud moved away to watch.
Professor Oceanwalker moved to talk to Terry. "There are a few other things I should tell you, too. The first stage is to scan your pattern. After we've run some tests on your compatibility with the program, then we'll change you and discharge you from the building. After all, we have to make sure you're mentally and physically stable enough for this." Shi used the scanners on the transport pad and then looked up at Terry. "Well, I'll review this data and we'll get back to this later. In the meantime, I've got a few more questions to ask you, and then something to explain." Shi handed the data to a young human woman, and walked off with Terry and Chakat Firecloud.
* * *
Professor Oceanwalker motioned for both of them to sit as shi began hir lecture. "First, I should tell you how all of this came about. This whole procedure was a total accident when it was first discovered. As a matter of fact, it was a total fluke regarding a transporter accident about two years ago. A starship had returned from a science mission, and the crew began beaming down from the space station. During this, there was some kind of disaster that caused the transport to fail. The mind-matrix had been received, but the physical pattern of one of the crew was lost. An officer named Chakat Goldfur managed to use hir own pattern to give the crewmember a copy of hir own body. I've read the reports so many times that I can recite them all word by word. After all, they're the basis of our research here. However, we have more control than shi did, and are able to have plenty of time to prepare you. The young human officer had an... interesting period of adjustment. Of course, that's why we're gonna run psychological tests on you. We have to know if you can handle it. Just so you know, your original pattern will be stored in permanent memory in the main computer. That's so if you ever change your mind..." Shi paused, taking a few breaths, and then looked at hir audience, to see if Terry and Firecloud were following all this. "Do you want me to repeat any of that? Any questions?"
Terry raised his eyebrow and spoke up. "Have you done this before, or am I your first subject?" He nervously twiddled his thumbs and hoped everything would go well.
Professor Oceanwalker twitched hir whiskers and looked at him. "We've done this twice before. It worked without a hitch, and both of the subjects met all of our criteria. Now, you're aware that you'll have to relearn walking and talking, as I hinted at before. Firecloud can help you with that. Also, you'll be experiencing the effects of equilibrium between testosterone and oestrogen in average concentrations. It's a good thing you two are close, so that shouldn't be much of a problem either. Let's see..." Shi tapped hir fingers to see if shi had forgotten anything. "That should be it. If you don't have any questions for me, I'll leave you with this questionnaire to fill out." Shi handed Terry a paper and pen, and he started to fill it out. Firecloud smiled at him and read over his shoulder.
"Now it looks like you'll be helpless without me." Shi giggled and looked at Terry.
"Oh, I've always needed you, Firecloud." The young man continued to write things on the lines and fill in all the little circles. "My, they get quite invasive, don't they?" Firecloud shrugged before offering a response.
"You know they have to be careful. It's not for just anyone, and if they mess up, this whole program could go under." Firecloud paced around and circled the room a few times. It was clean, quiet, and somewhat personalized. Chakat Firecloud realized this was the professor's office, and that shi was a very photo-loving person. Shi had photos of hir denmates and other friends and colleagues all over the place. When shi turned back to check on Terry, he was holding a stuffed chakat doll that had been sitting on the chair next to him. He squeezed the doll affectionately, and then put it down next to his completed form.
"I know. It's a cute doll though, eh? Not nearly as nice as you." Firecloud blushed, and then gave him a grin.
"Soon you'll be just as cute. Just kidding. You're cute already." Just as soon as Firecloud finished hir sentence, Professor Oceanwalker came back in the room.
"We'll check over these forms and this data, and we'll get started in the morning, provided everything's been given the green light. You're welcome to sleep here, if you don't want to walk down to your hotel." Professor Oceanwalker took the forms from Terry and looked them over.
Firecloud nodded and gave Terry an inquiring look. Terry said, "I'd appreciate that." Professor Oceanwalker nodded and told them they'd be issued a room in a moment or so. Shi padded off, and left the two alone. "My last night as a human. I'm glad I'm spending it with you." Firecloud gave hir companion a look, and let hir denmate know shi felt the same.
* * *
Terry woke up with renewed vigor, and stretched in the cot that had been provided for him. He looked around and kneeled next to Chakat Firecloud, who was still lightly dozing. The young man ran his hand gently over hir head, scratching behind hir ears, and observed the typical feline response. Firecloud stirred and looked at him with hir bright eyes. "Good morning. Are you ready to become a chakat?"
The young man nodded and replied, "Yeah. I'll need you to be my guide." He put his hand on hir shoulder, and they understood each other perfectly. "Let's not keep Professor Oceanwalker waiting. I have a feeling shi's a punctual scientist." They walked out of the room, after getting things in order, and headed for hir office. When they arrived, the professor was scanning hir files, and looked up at them.
"After reviewing your forms and pattern data, you're a viable candidate for our program. Now, there are just a few last minute reminders. One: your pattern will be stored should you change your mind later. Two, don't move when the transport is complete. It'll take a few minutes for the disorientation to wear off. Three, make sure you're fully aware that you won't be running around for a while." Terry nodded at hir and adjusted his shirt. "Well, since all that's taken care of, let's get started, shall we?" Shi led them to the transporter room they had visited earlier, and Firecloud purred in the corner, observing from afar. Terry stood on the pad, and awaited his instructions.
"Should I take off my clothes, Professor Oceanwalker?" Terry inquired.
"Don't bother. The transporter will take care of everything." The chakat smiled at him, and watched as the assistants brought the various samples of biomatter needed to make up the additional mass of a chakat form. It looked like a tub of goo, and it was rather unattractive. Terry was grateful that it didn't smell or anything.
Terry smirked and just had to say something. "Are we making Jell-O?" Professor Oceanwalker and the other occupants of the room chuckled, and then calmed down.
"No, it's to make up the mass of a chakat. Humans are smaller, you know." Shi pressed some buttons and ran some final safety checks.
Firecloud watched the goings-on as Professor Oceanwalker gave the final signal. The transport was initiated, and Terry disappeared in a glow of light. "Everything's going to plan, right?"
The chakat professor looked at Firecloud and nodded. "Don't interrupt me... now... inputting the data for a chakat pattern... overlaying it over the human physical data.... reintegrating the mind matrix... there we go... now... final safety checks.... all lights are green. Let's meet Terry, the chakat." Shi finished the process, and a brand new chakat materialized where Terry once stood. The chakat was tiger striped, and had strawberry blond hair going down to hir waist. "How do you feel, Terry? Probably dizzy with a hint of slurred speech." Professor Oceanwalker checked Terry's pulse to see if all was normal while shi awaited a reply.
"Yeh... Ah'm... kinda... ah little dizzy... but ah'll be... fine..." Shi blinked and looked down at hirself. Shi was very impressed with the process, and seemed to be fine for the most part.
"You can take hir to the room we assigned you last night. We'll call you if we need you. We can get what we need from the sensor data. If anything happens, let us know, and we'll investigate." Professor Oceanwalker gave them another glance and started immersing hirself into the data that shi had collected during the transmogrification.
Terry twitched hir newfound whiskers, and moved hir tongue over hir new teeth. Shi moved forward, and stumbled. Firecloud moved up to hir, and held hir up. Terry looked into Firecloud's eyes and started to talk. "How...dew... ah.. look..?" Hir speech was awkward, but Firecloud understood anyway.
"You look wonderful, my denmate. Now let's get you back to the hotel." Shi slowly guided Terry off the transporter pad, and nodded to Professor Oceanwalker as they left the room. Terry stumbled several times on the way down the hall, and Firecloud stayed at hir side to keep hir standing. "Don't fight your body's natural instincts. It'll take time to figure out walking and talking." Terry tried to coordinate hir four legs consciously, but it wasn't working very well. Firecloud whispered in Terry's ear. "Hold on to your tail. The doors will catch it if you don't lift it up." Terry did so and looked at it.
"Mah tail... thiss is so kewl...." Shi smiled, marvelling at how well built shi was. Chakat Firecloud scoffed and giggled.
"Having fun in this 'I'm the best' session?" Shi got hir to their small room without incident, and closed the door once they were inside.
* * *
The newly formed chakat tested out hir range of motion, moving hir legs in circles, and testing out hir tail. Shi sat down and played with hir handpaws, while leaving hir true hands to feel hir robust chest. Firecloud giggled as it was an odd sight seeing an adult testing out hir body like shi was a cub. "What shall we call you? Terry isn't a chakat name, my denmate."
The tiger-striped chakat pondered this for a moment. "Ah'll go bah chah khat.... Wind... rahder...."
Firecloud smiled, and sounded it out to hirself. "I like it. Chakat Windrider... it'll do." Shi came around to Terry's front. "I guess I'll have to start calling you Windrider from now on." Firecloud grinned, and licked hir new student on the face. "Now, I guess we'll have to start at the beginning. How are you adjusting to walking?"
Windrider, a.k.a. Terry, once again tested out hir legs on walking. Each paw hit the floor in the proper rhythm, and it seemed like shi had been born to it. "Ah think fahling about fiffty times on thah whay from Professor Oceanwalker's transporter room has eitherr given mee enough practisse, or Ah've just given mahself so many bruises mah body just sed 'enough'." Windrider giggled and marvelled at hir hair. "Hm.... neverr had hair this long behfore...." Firecloud picked up a brush and started to groom hir denmate's hair. Shi carefully and gently ran the brush through each strand, and smiled at hir denmate reassuringly.
"You look really good. When you're up to it, I'd love to try a little... extracurricular activity." Firecloud ran hir hands over Windrider's body, and wrapped hir tail around hir denmate's. "Only when you're ready." Shi smiled at Windrider and walked around in the room. Windrider did hir hair up in a ponytail, and drew it over hir shoulder, tying it with a piece of ribbon. "So, what do you want to do once you've adjusted? Shall we resume touring the planet?"
Windrider nodded and grinned. "Ah want to see Cha..khona again.. It's been uh long time since ah've been here. What will yewr parrents think...?"
"They may be interested to see how you've changed!" Chakat Firecloud laughed and continued. "My parents would just find it... well, I don't know how they'd take it. This isn't too common. How about yours?"
"They're on Eurth... Ah don't know how ah'd explain mah choice to them...." Windrider moved over to Firecloud, and they held each other for a moment. Windrider kissed Firecloud, moving hir tongue around inside Firecloud's mouth. Shi was startled at first, but found hir attentions welcome. "As for... us... Ah've been ready my whole life.... my love." The two embraced each other, with their hands massaging each other's backs. "Ah've been meaning to test out everything..."
Chakat Firecloud smiled, and winked at hir companion. "Your speech is getting better..."
"Ah guess we hefta give mah tongue plenty uff practice." Windrider kissed Firecloud again, and let hir tail just kinda wander in the air.
Firecloud smiled, and held hir denmate at arms length. "That's enough practice for now. tomorrow night, we'll really see what you can do." Shi gave hir denmate a smirk, and smiled warmly. This was only the beginning of the newest stage of their lives.