Frederikes sleepy mind at first thought the annoying sound of the bio-monitor near her was the alarm clock. "Was this just a bad dream?" she thought. "No…this isn't my bed…and wheres…"
She opened her eyes, and the first word she spoke was "Goldstripe?!?!"
"I…Im afraid not," a low voice said beside her.
Frederikes vision was still blurry, and she desperately tried to focus on the speaker. The form looked chakat-like and was mostly black. At first she thought that it was Goldstripe, but then she noticed the lack of the stripes that gave hir hir name. The hair was wrong too – it was pearly white instead of golden-yellow. And then the voice… Frederike tried to concentrate, and closed her eyes for a second. A furry hand touched her arm, and she opened her eyes again. "Starnight?"
"Yes," was all shi said.
"W-wheres Goldstripe?" Frederike asked, eyes wide.
Starnight swallowed. "Shi…shis still in surgery…Sunfur and Beetail are waiting there. The doctors don't think…oh, Makers…" shi started sobbing. Starnight and Frederike held each other for a while, both crying.
Sunfurs tail twitched and shi sighed. Beetail gently touched hir tail with the fingers of a handpaw and put hir true-arm around hir mother. "Mum, theyre doing their best for hir…" shi tried in an attempt to calm them both.
"I know…but I cant feel hir," Sunfur said and leaned hir head on hir daughters shoulder.
"Shis unconscious, Mum," Beetail said.
"Yes…but Im pretty sure I felt hir when shi was shot," Sunfur said and fresh tears started running down hir cheeks. "I always feel all of you," shi continued.
"Of course. Thats how the empathic bond between parent and cub works. Mum, Im scared too, but if shi can feel us, then we must be strong for hir when shi cannot," Beetail said holding back hir own tears, but was interrupted by a newcomer.
Dr. Trekotjev opened the door to surgery room one-oh-five, and looked at the two chakats hugging each other outside. They looked up at his arrival, and stared at him with both hope and fear in their eyes. He felt like one of the emperors of ancient Rome, as he approached them. He would sometimes have to turn his thumb up, other times down, as he told the relatives of his patients the result of his attempts to save their loved ones.
I really hate this part. How do I tell bad news without hurting people? Sometimes I wish I wasn't lead surgeon. Much as it is nice to see their happy faces when I tell good news, it kills me to see them when I can't, he thought.
"Shir Sunfur?" he asked.
Shi swallowed and nodded, and both chakats looked at him.
"Im afraid I have some bad news. You see…" he started.
Sunfur slumped down on the floor with a thump. "No…my…daughter…" shi said.
He knelt down and took hir face in both of his hands. "No…listen to me. Shis not dead!" he said, and shi looked back at him puzzled. "But shis very badly injured. Shis unconscious now, and we have to keep hir that way for a while."
"Oh…I thought…" shi said and swallowed. "I thought Id…lost hir, Sunfur sighed; hir last words a mere whisper.
"Will shi be okay, Doctor?" Beetail asked.
"We have repaired a lot of brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, and we think we have saved hir mind. But even today, the brain still holds secrets for us. We will just have to wait until shi wakes up. But there is another problem. Hir spinal cord was severed in three places, and one of them was where hir upper and lower torsos meet. It is a very complicated joint, especially due to the spinal nerves there. Shis too fragile yet, so Im afraid we will have to wait. It will be a very complicated operation, if it can be done at all. Until then, shi has to heal naturally – with a little help of course – and shi will be paralyzed from the waist down," he explained.
Sunfurs face still looked as if it was carved in stone. Hir daughter paralyzed – maybe forever? And maybe brain damaged too? Shi staggered to hir paws with Beetails help, and managed to collect hir thoughts. "Thank you, Doctor," shi got out. "Can we see hir?"
"Not yet, Im afraid. But soon. We have to take some readings, and we will also clean hir up a little before you see hir. We will bring hir to hir mate. Go down to your mate and daughter in law. They would want to know," he said.
Sunfur and Beetail both nodded, and left the doctor. The normally cheerful man sighed and shook his head. Though he'd had a share of the Humans First victims a little earlier, none of them had been as bad. I guess Im "lucky". Some of those that Dr. Whiteears got didn't look too good, he thought. It was a good thing they had had a medical conference with some other surgeons from Europe that day. That meant extra hands to handle the many patients.
Sunfur and Beetail entered the room where Frederike and Starnight waited. They relaxed visibly at their careful smiles. Sunfur hugged hir mate, and Beetail gave Frederike a hug.
"They are bringing hir down here soon," Beetail said.
"Thank God," Frederike said.
"But they said," shi paused to swallow, "that shi might be brain damaged despite their efforts…and that shi will be paralyzed from the waist down. At least for some time."
They talked for awhile until the door opened again. Two nurses and a hospital porter robot wheeled in a bed and some equipment. They all gasped as they saw Goldstripe. Though the blood had been washed out of hir fur, shi was still a terrifying sight to behold. Tubes and cables were connected to hir body, and an oxygen mask was put over hir muzzle. Most of the fur on hir upper belly was shaved off, and numerous bandages covered hir body.
The lower part of hir upper torso and the upper half of hir lower torso were in a cast, which meant that theyd had to put hir in a special bed where shi could lie on hir side.
"The doctor will be here as soon as he can to talk to all of you. But he said that they had made a new brain scan of hir, and that hir brain should recover fully," one of the nurses said.
"Thank you," Starnight said for all of them and gave hir mate an extra squeeze. The nurses put the bed perpendicular to Frederikes, so that they could see each other (or at the moment, so Frederike could see her mate).
Frederike gently touched hir ears and the side of hir head. "Oh Goldstripe. Im so glad youre back…and…and Im sorry that I…" she brushed away fresh tears, "that I failed you…I…" she choked and sobbed, but felt Starnight give her a hug. "You didn't fail hir. You didn't shoot hir," shi said.
"No…but I promised that I would protect hir and…" Frederike began, as she remembered the milk sharing ceremony.
"And you did. Shis still here. We don't think you failed hir in any way, and neither will shi," Starnight said gently. Sunfur gently stroked hir daughters fur, but didn't dare hug hir.
The family enjoyed quiet conversation for the next few hours. Beetail went out to comm the rest of the family and reassure them, and they were all relieved that both Goldstripe and Frederike were alive.
Frederike also asked hir to call Ashley and Dailada and also see if shi could inform either Leonard or Shiroi, and shi did as requested.
Dr. Trekotjev was almost back to his normal self as he knocked on the door and entered the room of Frederike and Goldstripe. He wanted to check up on the chakat one more time before he ended his watch, and then he would head home to his wife.
He greeted them all, and made his way to Goldstripes bed.
"I just wanted to do one last scan before I went home. The nurses will scan hir regularly until morning," he said and pulled out his medical tricorder.
He made a throughout scan of hir, only interrupted by his own "hm-hm" every now and then as the data registered on his display.
"Shis healing nicely," he said. "We will try to wake hir tomorrow afternoon, I think. Until then…" he continued, but was interrupted by a knock on the door. "Ah, right on cue," he said with a smile.
A chakat nurse entered the room, holding a foxtaur kit in hir arms. "Someone would like to say thank you I think," the nurse said.
Frederike lit up as she saw the little vixentaur, and she recognized her immediately.
"Oh, shes so cuuute," Beetail said.
"Her name is Tokalina," said the nurse. "We thought you would get better faster if you saw this little cutie. She looks much better without the gaffa, don't you think?"
"Yes she does," Frederike said and smiled for the first time since waking up.
The chakat put the little fox on Frederikes bed, and she walked up to her for a cuddle. "Now I know it was worth it; and I think Goldstripe will agree when shi wakes up," she said.
"Im happy to see that it worked. Im nurse Threespots by the way. I will be looking out for you while youre here. The comm on the nightstand will summon me or one of my colleagues if were needed," the nurse finished. When shi found shi wasn't needed anymore, shi left.
"You know, I think its safe to say you have cub appeal," Sunfur said with a smile as shi saw the little vixen snuggle up to Frederike.
"Yeah, I guess I have a talent there," she answered and hugged her.
Goldstripes family left in the early evening (by orders of the nurse, who said that it would be best for the patients), but not before Ashley and Bhaskar visited. They told Frederike, that she would be debriefed the next day, and that the skunktaur they found would be fine too. Hy had been brought to another hospital to be treated by specialists in telepathy. DNA scans had shown, that hy was Rizna, a skunktaur who had disappeared mysteriously a little over a year ago. Hys mates had been informed, and they were overjoyed that the mate whom they had feared dead had been found again.
Threespots had offered to take Tokalina off Frederikes hands, but the little vixen had curled up in Frederikes lap and she told the nurse that it wouldn't be necessary.
Frederike awoke the next morning to the feeling of something small, warm and wet in her face. She opened her eyes and saw that little Tokalina was giving her cheek lick-kisses.
"Heeey; good morning to you too, squirt," she said and nuzzled the little vixentaur. Tokalina lay on Frederikes chest, tucked under her duvet. As she scratched her between the ears, she turned her head to look at Goldstripe. She felt a chill down her spine as she saw Goldstripes still mangled body. Though the doctors had said, that they would start hir quick-heal treatment as soon as shi was awake, shi still looked horrible.
I just look forward to seeing you wake up; and even though you look like road-kill right now, I want to tell you that I still love you, she thought.
"Ah, I see youre awake," Trekotjev said as he entered, interrupting her train of thought.
"Yes, Doctor," Frederike said.
"Good. Now, Ill just start with a scan of your fair mate over here, and then Ill be right with you. Did you sleep well?" he said.
"As well as could be expected. Thank you for letting Tokalina stay with me tonight. I think it did both of us a lot of good," Frederike said. "How is Goldstripe?" she asked as he started his scan.
"Oh, I think shis fine," he paused and continued his scan.
"What about uh…can you tell me if…if hir brain…" Frederike stopped to swallow.
"I can tell you that hir brain has healed nicely and is still doing so. Whether or not theres any permanent damage remains to be seen. But I don't think so. Now, hir spine and hir motor functions are another matter. But I take it that your mother-in-law told you that yesterday?"
"Yes, yes, shi did," Frederike said with a sigh.
The doctor finished his scans, and then proceeded to scan both Frederike and Tokalina.
"Ah, you two are going to be just fine. Tokalina is ready to leave us, actually. Only…" he paused.
"Yes?" Frederike said and lifted an eyebrow.
"Only we haven't yet found any surviving relatives of hers. But Im sure they will be there. Foxtaurs tend to have large families," he said and nuzzled the little kit. "Hm, since she seems to relax in your company, I think Ill leave her with you if you don't mind?"
"Not at all, Doctor. Shes a little angel," Frederike said. "So…when can you wake Goldstripe?" she continued, a little nervous.
"Right after lunch, I think. Shi will still need a lot of rest, but it will do hir good to start using that cute little head of hirs again," he said with a smile.
Goldstripe felt the sun shine on hir face as shi walked. An old man stood a little further down the path shi walked. He was clad in what seemed to be a toga, and he smiled at hir from behind his long, white beard that reached a bit below waist level.
"Um…I seem to have lost my way, where am I?" shi asked.
"On the wrong track, little cub," he said and caressed hir face.
"Wait; I seem to remember…Wheres my mate?" Goldstripe said, eyes wide open.
"Shes not here," the old man said, stating the obvious.
"Uh, Im not…I mean…am I…dead?" Goldstripe asked, feeling the tears sting in hir eyes.
"Ah, not quite. And as I said, youre on the wrong track," the old man repeated.
"I don't understand. Who are you? Are you God? Or St. Peter?" shi asked, being both nervous and curious at the same time.
"I have many names, but that is not important. The important thing is that youre on the wrong track. You have a mate waiting for you. And you should be with her. Your time isn't now, little cub." The man put a hand on hir shoulder and turned hir around. "Oh, and one more thing: you will have your wish fulfilled one day."
"What wish?" shi asked, a bit confused.
Suddenly shi was back at hir parents house. Shi held hir newborn sister, and smiled as the little cub buried hir face in the fur between hir breasts.
Just as suddenly, shi was back with the old man. He gave hir another push, and for a second shi felt the sun in hir eyes.
"Eyes seem to react normally, the pupils contract properly," Dr. Trekotjev said for the benefit of his medical tricorder, which was recording his words as he examined Goldstripe.
"Goldstripe, can you hear me?" he said.
"Mmmf…?" shi got out. Shi saw two two blurry human faces. The closest was a doctor, the other was a red haired woman. Shi tried to concentrate.
"Are you okay, muffin?" Frederike asked anxiously.
Goldstripe felt the gentle hand against hir ears and the top of hir head. Shi felt the familiarity of the hand, and sighed in pleasure. Shi realized that the hand belonged to the woman and closed hir eyes in concentration again.
"I love you, Goldstripe" the woman said. She wiped some milk off her mouth that she'd just been suckling from hir breasts as part of a milk sharing ceremony.
Goldstripe answered "I love you too…" "Frederike," shi said and opened hir eyes again.
Frederike looked down upon hir.
"Yes, honey, its me. How…how are you feeling?" she said.
Goldstripe wondered for a second; hir thoughts flowed ever so slowly. "I feel…tired, I think. But Im happy to see you," shi said and tried to smile.
Frederike bent down to kiss hir. "Im so glad youre okay," she said.
Goldstripe felt hirself wake up more, and shi returned the kiss. Shi wrapped hir arm around hir mates head, and tried to scoot over to lie beside her. But then shi noticed that shi couldn't. Hir lower body didn't respond to hir mental commands, it felt like a dead lump of meat.
"What? I can't move – whats wrong with me?" shi asked, alarm and fear in hir voice.
"Easy now," the doctor said. "You can't move because your lower torso is in a cast. You were injured, and…"
"But I can't even FEEL my lower body," Goldstripe said and turned to look at hirself.
"Your body has been damaged, Goldstripe. Im afraid you have been partly paralyzed. We will try to fix that, however," the doctor said.
Goldstripe looked at the cast, and shi tried to touch hir own foreleg. It was like touching someone else. Shi felt nothing in hir lower body.
"What happened – I only remember…I remember I was shot," shi said and tried to calm hirself, though it was hard.
"Your spine has been severed in three places. One of them is in the joint where the upper and lower bodies meet. It is very complicated as the bullets simply pulverized your hip joint, and for us to fix you, well need to wait until your own body can assist us in healing you," Trekotjev explained.
"I…see," shi said.
Shi felt Frederike touch hir again, and turned to look at her.
"Rest easy, honey. Im with you, okay?" she said.
Goldstripe relaxed a little at her touch, and looked back at Trekotjev. "How long before you can fix me, doctor?" shi asked.
"We need to wait for a few months and let your body heal itself – with some quick-heal help of course – before we can even consider an operation. But I must warn you: it might not be possible to fix. Even the famous Chakat regeneration has its limits, Im afraid."
"Okay. Erhm…could I be alone with my mate for awhile?" shi asked.
"Of course. I have the scans I need," Trekotjev said, and left the room.
Goldstripe and Frederike hugged each other when he left.
"Im sorry, oh God, Im so sorry," Frederike sobbed.
"Me too," Goldstripe said and also started crying.
"Im sorry I failed you," she said between sobs.
Goldstripe looked at her. "Failed me? You didn't fail me," shi said and put hir hand under her chin.
"But I promised your parents to protect you, remember? They said I didn't fail you, but I feel that I did," Frederike said.
Goldstripe smiled for the first time since waking up. "In that case, you should listen more to what they say. I still love you. All I hope is, that…that you still love me back now that Im…" Goldstripe paused to sniffle and wipe away tears. "Now that Im crippled," shi finished and hir tears started flowing again.
"Yes! Of course I still love you," Frederike said and kissed hir. "Were mates. Were in this together. I will never leave you!"
"I know; I guess I just needed to hear it one more time…" Goldstripe let hir voice trail off, and they settled down again to just hug each other.
They were still hugging when the door opened again to reveal Goldstripes parents and sister. They all hugged Goldstripe and laughed, smiled and cried at the same time.
Trekotjev showed up a little later.
"Ah, I see youre much better now," he said with a smile.
"Yes, thank you doctor," Goldstripe said.
"Good-good. Now, I intend to start you on the quick-heal right away. It won't hurt a bit, I promise."
"Okay, Im not going anywhere, so go right ahead," shi said with a careful smile.
"I see you got your good humor back. Excellent! The mental healing will help pave the way for your physical recovery," he said and started arranging his equipment with great eagerness and enthusiasm. He gave hir some injections and did another scan, and then he took his leave.
The door opened again to reveal the chakat nurse from the day before. "Look whos back from her bath," shi said and carried Tokalina in and set her down on Frederikes bed. She padded up for a cuddle. "Tokalina is the kit we saved from the Firsters. Isn't she cute?" Frederike said.
"Yes she is. I think that seeing her made this," shi said and tapped hir cast, "worth it."
"Im glad you agree. I felt the same way when I saw her. Shes so full of life," Frederike said.
There was another quick knock on the door, and then it opened to reveal Donald Backfish, Ashley and Bhaskar.
"Howre you doing?" Bhaskar asked as they entered.
"As good as can be expected, I guess," Frederike answered with a careful smile. She was still nuzzling Goldstripe and Tokalina, the latter whod cuddled up near the former.
"We brought these," Ashley said and held up a bouquet of flowers.
"Thanks," Goldstripe said.
"And I brought these," Backfish said and held up a box of chocolates. "I thought it would be a nice change to the crappy food they tend to serve in hospitals."
"Thank you," Frederike said with a smile.
After everybody had been introduced to everybody, Backfish brought out a PADD.
"Now, Im afraid this isn't just a social call. I have to ask you a few questions, okay?" he said.
"Of course. Did they get that damn priest guy?" Frederike said.
"Im afraid not. At least not yet. They got into space and hypered out. But theyve got one of Star Fleets ships on their tails," Backfish said. "Apparently hes been a wanted man for quite some time in the HCKNA, although they believed him to have died in a prison riot. But apparently that wasn't so. Ill weeds grow apace as they say."
Backfish did his debriefing of Frederike and Goldstripe, and then Trekotjev arrived to inform them that visiting hours were over.
"My patients need to rest now," he said.
"Thats all right, Doc," Backfish said. "Youre the boss. Just get those two back on their feet, right?"
"Thats my intention," Trekotjev said with a smile.
"Oh, Donald?" Frederike said as they were about to leave.
"Ive been meaning to ask you…um…how should I put this…" Frederike said and tears filled her eyes.
"Whats going to happen regarding Tiponi?" Goldstripe finished the sentence for her, and shi too felt hir eyes mist.
There was a short pause before Backfish answered. "I haven't spoken to Kane yet. Sandtail did. I haven't had time to ask hir, but…" he paused to sigh. "Ill get back to you, okay?"
"Okay," Frederike said. As the door closed behind them, Goldstripe spoke up. "Doctor, I guess theyll bury her soon. Will I be able to attend?"
"I should think so. You see, we need your body to start growing a new hip joint," he said and pointed at where hir upper and lower torsos met. "You can just as well do that from a wheelchair. Actually, I only intend to keep you a few days more. It will do you much better to be home, in familiar surroundings."
"Really?" Frederike and Goldstripe chorused.
"Yes. Its been scientifically proven that people heal faster when their mental health are better," he said and made another scan of Goldstripe. "Ah, the quick-heal works nicely on you I see. Now, you two better get some rest. Ill take Tokalina down to the nurse," he finished.
But Tokalina had other ideas. When Trekotjev reached for her, she threw her little arms around Frederikes neck and buried her face in her hair while she gave a whimper.
"I think she can stay here with us. Its okay," Frederike said.
Trekotjev nodded and left the room.
When the doctor had closed the door, Frederike – still with Tokalina resting on her chest – scooted closer to Goldstripe so they could cuddle.
"Honey, would you turn on the TV? Id like to just relax with you, get my mind off things for awhile," Goldstripe said.
"Of course dear," Frederike answered and obliged.
The TV/terminal lit up, and Frederike adjusted the sound so it was low and relaxing, but still hearable.
A commercial ended, and a voice said: "Welcome back. Youre watching TNN – Terran News Network!"
The scene changed to a studio where a Caitian male and a human female sat.
"Welcome back," the woman said, smiled, and continued. "We will start out with the latest development of the Longtail Day terrorist attack. This morning local police in San Francisco found a disc where Humans First activist Edward Archibald Hughes, who was believed dead in a prison riot a few years ago in the HCKNA, took responsibility for the attack. The disc has not yet been released to the press due to the pending investigation, but our sources have informed us, that he believes himself to be some sort of holy crusader or savior of mankind. Mr. Hughes was originally a priest with the Catholic Church in the HCKNA, but was excommunicated prior to his faked death."
When she finished, the Caitian took over. "A statement was issued today by the Chakonan Prime Minister, Chakat Sunflare."
The scene changed to a press conference, and a chakat stood on the podium. "These acts of barbarism must stop. I have commed President Eloise Cortez of the GNA and King Roger IV of the HCKNA this morning and demanded that they bring these terrorists to justice. We wish to live in peace, to be able to walk the streets of every planet of the Federation…" The speech was cut off.
The Caitian continued, "And now, with us from the streets of Amistad is Linda Threesock. And Linda, hows the average Chakonan citizen taking this?"
The image changed to a foxtaur vixen with a microphone. "The terrorist attack has been on everybodys lips today. Those who have friends and relatives on Terra have tried to comm them, thus creating overload on the subspace relays. I made some interviews earlier today Id like you to see."
The image changed again, and the vixen was now in a market place. With her was a skunktaur in hys female mode and a female foxmorph.
"Whats your opinion of the terrorist attacks?" the vixen asked.
"Absolutely horrible. I saw the news when it happened. I wonder how that man can sleep at night. Im glad that I live on Chakona. At least here its safe," the skunktaur said.
"I had arranged to go to Earth to meet some friends and relatives of mine," the foxmorph said, "but now Im not so sure."
"So, how do you two feel about humans now?"
"I don't know, Im not sure Id trust a complete stranger if he was a human," the skunktaur said and let hys voice trail off.
"I agree. I have human friends and relatives whom I still like of course, but as a whole…? Even though I know that there are fortunately very few Humans First sympathizers, I must admit that I trust them less after this day," the vixen said.
The scene changed to another part of the market place. A male wolfmorph was being interviewed.
"I think this was just horrifying. I hope, that after these atrocities, our prime minister will get hir handpaws out of hir tailhole and start seriously thinking about stopping all human immigration to Chakona," he said.
"So how do you feel about humans now?" the vixen asked.
"I trust them even less now. I don't know whats with them. I wonder why they even made our kind in the first place, if all they want now is to terrorize and kill us. I say, that humans should all return to their caves on Earth, and not bludgeon the rest of the universe to death with their clubs!"
The scene changed back to the foxtaur alone. "This was the general consensus of the people I spoke to. There have also been a few examples of discrimination against humans after this, but the Chakonan authorities have come down hard on anyone doing such things…"
"Can't we find some other channel?" Goldstripe said.
"Sure," Frederike said and changed the channel.
"…terrorist attack, where…"
"…the Chakonan consulate…"
"…after the death of Chaka…"
"...and now weve entered the habitat of the Hexapuma. These creatures are rare and a bit shy, but also very dangerous. The Hexapuma resembles some of Earths big cats, only it has six limbs like a chakat. Though not equipped with handpaws, it is able to manipulate delicate items, as were about to see. Look how it uses a stick to dig out its prey of…"
"New channel. Something I can sleep to," Goldstripe said.
"I thought you could sleep to anything," Frederike said and changed the channel. A cartoon show appeared, and Frederike noticed Goldstripe sigh in relaxation and Tokalina stir with renewed interest.
"I think I found the right channel for my two little cubs," she said.
"Mmmm," Goldstripe said and lick-kissed her hand that was nuzzling hir.
A few days later Trekotjev decided that Frederike and Goldstripe were fit to leave the hospital. Frederike was almost fully healed, but Goldstripe had to use a wheelchair. Trekotjev had assured hir that hir new hip was starting to form, and that shi was on the right track. Backfish had come by to inform them that Tiponi would be buried the next Sunday, and they had commed Kane both to let him know that they would attend, but also to offer their condolences.
"Can you say goodbye little one?" Threespots said. Tokalinas ears were almost flat against her head.
"Have you found her family yet?" Goldstripe asked.
"No Im afraid they were all killed in the terror attack, but the clan will take care of her. They have to find a host family for her first, though."
"I see. Um…Frederike could I ask you something before we leave?" shi said.
"Ive been wondering…have you ever thought about having children? I mean…we can't have some of our own and…" Goldstripe said and let hir voice trail off.
"Am I guessing right that you want to adopt her?" Frederike asked.
"Yes," shi said, hir ears dropping back a little.
"You know, honey, we often tend to think alike. I had the same idea, but didn't dare ask you to do it in your condition. Id love to adopt her…if that is possible, that is?" Frederike said and turned to the doctor and nurse.
"Im sure that its not entirely impossible," Trekotjev said with a smile.
Threespots smiled too. "Ill contact the authorities and have the arrangements made. How about you take her home with you before she starts to bite me to get to you?"
Goldstripes family, who were there to pick them up, all awed as Threespots set the little foxtaur down on the ground and she made a beeline for Frederike, who picked her up.
"Good choice," Starnight said.
"Congratulations," Beetail said.
"Welcome to the family, little one," Sunfur said and tickled Tokalina.
It was a good thing that Frederike and Goldstripe had gotten themselves a fair deal with Tiponis uncle, but the three room apartment was still quite cramped with four adult chakats, a human and a foxtaur kit. Tokalina had captured everybodys hearts, and she usually zoomed from room to room and person to person. Though she was too young to even speak, there was no doubt who her new parents were.
It was hard for Goldstripe to mope over hir condition, especially as shi had to breastfeed Tokalina. Shi had had a sip of Starnights milk, and had now started hir own production.
Tokalina gave a satisfied burp and Beetail helped put her back down on the floor. The doorbell chimed, and Frederike went to answer the door. A catmorph nurse stood outside and smiled. "Hi, Im Wendy. Is this the home of Shir Goldstripe?" she said.
"It is indeed, come on in," Frederike said.
Wendy started out by making a scan of Goldstripe, and then put away her tricorder with a satisfied nod. "Youre still doing fine, Shir Goldstripe. Your new hip is slowly starting to form."
"Thank you. Any idea how long itll take?" shi asked, even though the doctor had told hir earlier.
"Oh, I think youll be ready for the operation in about three to four months," the nurse answered.
Goldstripe nodded at the confirmation of hir knowledge. "Thank you. Are we done with the prodding and probing for today?" shi said. Goldstripe had always hated going to the doctor.
"We are indeed. Now I think it is time to get you cleaned up a little," the cat said and started wheeling hir towards the bathroom. "Ms Weismann, could I have your assistance?"
"Of course," Frederike said. "And please, call me Frederike."
"Right," she said and smiled. "Now, Im going to teach you two how to do this, since I won't be here more than twice a week."
Though chakats had no nudity taboos, Goldstripe felt like a naked human on Turner Square on a busy day when they started washing hir. Frederike and Goldstripe usually showered together whenever possible, but the fact that shi couldn't do anything hirself made hir feel helpless, vulnerable and also – shi was surprised to find – quite embarrassed.
"Alright, weve made sure the water won't touch the cast now, so lets get started," Wendy said.
"Right," Frederike said.
"Goldstripe, I take it you can wash your upper torso yourself, so well concentrate on the lower" the catmorph nurse said.
"Yes, I can do that," shi said.
Wendy taught Frederike how to extrude Goldstripes penis, which wasn't so easy when shi couldn't do or feel anything hirself.
"I think I can handle the rest," Frederike said.
"Of course. I take it youve at least tried some of it before, hm?" Wendy said with a wink. "My sister is mated to two chakats. Shes told me all about it."
"I guess thats chakats for you," Goldstripe said with a laugh. It felt a little better now that Frederike did most of the washing.
"I guess so. Whenever I visit, they usually try to make me and my husband stay the night," Wendy said and smiled in fond memory. "Frederike, do you want me to help with hir tail?"
"Yes, please. So, can you feel any of this, Goldstripe?" Frederike said.
"Nope. I can feel the hot water on my upper torso, and thats it" Goldstripe said, trying not to feel bad, but failing.
"Sorry…I just wanted to know," Frederike said. She walked up to hug hir. "Sorry, I didn't mean to upset you."
"Its all right…I have to get used to this…oh, God but its just so damn hard," Goldstripe said and felt tears sting in hir eyes again.
"Goldstripe I know it hurts, but it will help you both if you learn to talk about it," Wendy said and put a hand on the shoulder of them both.
"I know," Goldstripe said and then looked at Frederike. "And Im not upset with you. I just keep wondering if Ill have to be like this forever. I hope not, but…"
Shi was interrupted by a knock on the door. "Everything okay in there?" Sunfur said, having sensed hir daughters unhappiness.
Goldstripe sniffled one more time and tried to keep hir voice steady as shi answered. "Its okay, Mum."
Frederike held hir for a little longer, and Wendy finished washing hir and started drying hir fur.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…" they sang as they stood around the coffin.
Goldstripe looked up at the other funeral guests from hir wheelchair. Shi felt hir tears run down hir fur and mix with the water from the light rain that fell from the gray clouds above. Shi saw Tocho crying in Kanes embrace, the young wolftaur being unable to look at the coffin containing his dead mother. Kane held his son, but otherwise looked like a statue, staring straight ahead.
"Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear…" the song continued. How fitting that text is – our hearts have indeed been taught to fear, shi thought and looked at Frederike who had been looking at Tiponis mate and son too. They gave each others hand a squeeze, and the song went on. When it finished, a group of officers with ancient repeater rifles were commanded into action. Their commanding officer started barking out his orders.
Soon a series of single shots could be heard. Each shot gave Frederike flashbacks of the horrors she had seen.
BANG – Tiponi ran towards the priest. She tried to stop him, but he just pulled his gun without a word and fired a single round. Tiponi didn't even scream as the back of her head exploded in a geyser of blood, brain and bone; and then everything that was Tiponi was no more…
BANG – Frederike was petrified by the telepathic force trying to force her to execute Tokalina who lay unconscious on the floor. Suddenly Goldstripe came through the door; shi looked at the scene just a second too long, and then Frederike saw hir body jerk as the two gunmen emptied a magazine each into hir.
BANG – Frederike felt the bullets tear through her flesh as the Humans First terrorists turned their machine guns at her as she fired back on them. She felt the sharp pain as the bullets tore through her right arm and leg.
"Are you all right, honey?" Goldstripe whispered.
"Yes; it was just the honor guard. The gunshots brought back unpleasant memories," Frederike said and sighed.
"I know what you mean. I felt it also," Goldstripe said and gave her hand a squeeze.
They watched as the police chief offered his condolences along with the neatly folded Federation flag, and he took the time to gently stroke Tocho on the head. "Im sorry, Son, but know that your mother will never be forgotten," he said to the wolftaur cub.
The funeral guests filed towards the hut in the forest cemetery that was there for funeral feasts of the relatives of its occupants. It was a simple wooden building, and though it had chairs for biped guests, it was obvious that it was made by and for wolftaurs.
Frederike and Goldstripe passed by Kane and Tocho and hugged them both.
"Im so sorry for your loss. We all loved her," Frederike said as she hugged Kane.
"W-why did they have to kill my mother?" Tocho sobbed with his head buried in Goldstripes fur.
"I don't know," Goldstripe said and gently held him. "But I promise you we will get them!"
Frederike ended up seated next to Bhaskar.
"Any news on the shuttle?" she asked him.
"No, Star Fleet lost them. They masked their warp trail, and Star Fleet is still looking. I even heard that they put an admiral on the search job…what was his name…Kline I think. Apparently he asked for the job as soon as he heard about it," Bhaskar said.
"I hope hell succeed. Ill never forget that man. Those eyes… How can someone like him call himself a priest? A man of God?"
"I don't know."
Yuki Kabayama snoozed in the cockpit chair of the shuttle, but was awakened by Hughes. He was whistling happily as he prepared a ration pack for each of them.
"Ah, I see youre waking up, Yuki," he said and handed her a package. He also pulled out a small bottle of red wine and poured them a glass each.
"To a job well done," he said as they clinked their plastic glasses.
"Hear-hear," she said, and they laughed.
"Ah; I think we deserved to indulge ourselves," Hughes said as he sampled the wine, and then they both dug into their relatively humble meal with gusto. They would be at the rendezvous point the next day, and then they would meet up with Hughes boss in the Organization, and hopefully get a real meal.
"Too bad we lost Doc and The Gizmo," Kabayama said.
"True, but you know that the ways of the Lord are past understanding. He was lost doing His work, and is now a true Martyr. Hes in a better place, and though it was a loss to the Organization, we should not mourn him, only pray that his soul be received well by the Lord," Hughes said and put a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"I suppose," she said. She didn't share Hughes faith, but agreed to the extent that you shouldn't cry over spilled milk. Fortunately, all his notes were in the shuttles computers, so a new Gizmo could in theory be built. She smiled as she thought about what they did. From their first experiments where they got a fox vixen to take a gun and execute her own frightened offspring and then herself to the day they exterminated all those animals on their Longtail Day. It was precious.
Frederike and Goldstripe drove home in silence, each pondering their own thoughts as the PPTVs AI drove. It was a special one for handicapped people, so Goldstripe could stay in hir wheelchair.
"Arriving at destination," the AI announced and pulled over.
None of them said a thing as Frederike helped Goldstripe out and wheeled hir home.
They brightened considerably as they entered their apartment. Sunfur had taken command of the kitchen, and Tokalina jumped up to stand on her hind legs on the wheelchair between Goldstripes forelegs, yipping happily and giving hir lick kisses.
"I thought it was you, I felt you even as the pee-tee approached. But Im glad that Tokalina has such a good influence on you," Sunfur said and hugged them both. "Dinner is almost ready," shi continued.
"Thank you," Frederike said for both of them.
"You look tired," Beetail said. "Was it really that bad?"
"Funerals are always sad. But the worst part was Tocho. He just kept on crying. Good thing Kanes sisters mate is a chakat. Shi was the only one who could help him. Poor kid," Goldstripe said and nuzzled Tokalina.
The mood lifted as they started to eat, and Tokalina curled up in Frederikes lap when Goldstripe had fed her.
"So how will the two of you manage now?" Starnight asked.
"I talked with the chief at the funeral. He said that he would extend my leave so I could take care of Goldstripe while shis on sick leave," Frederike said.
"But can you handle things yourself?" Sunfur asked.
"I think we can. I guess the hardest part is that we have to sleep separately due to my condition," Goldstripe said.
"Okay, but if you want me to stay, Ill take the time off, you know that," Sunfur said.
"Yes, thank you Mum, but we can handle it," Goldstripe said.
"And youre still welcome to go back to Australia with us," Starnight added. "Well gladly pay your tickets."
"Thank you, Dad. But I prefer to stay here, having the same doctors and all. And Frederike takes good care of me," Goldstripe said and held Frederikes hand.
"We know," Starnight said.
Goldstripes family stayed a few more days, and then they went home to Perth. Ashley and Bhaskar visited them twice a week, and sometimes they brought Donald Backfish and his wife too. They invited Kane and his son too, and Kane grudgingly accepted. But he was always a happier wolftaur when he left than when he came. Tocho also felt better, and he enjoyed playing with Tokalina; it made him forget that he was sad, even if only just for that evening.
Part Two: Healing Wounds
"Weve got to do something for him," Goldstripe said one evening as Frederike closed the door behind Kane and Tocho.
"Which one of them?" Frederike asked.
"Both, I suppose. But Tocho is coping better than Kane," Goldstripe answered.
"But he even laughed at Donalds jokes," Frederike protested.
"Yes, but hes building it up inside. Tocho lets it out when he plays with Tokalina. Kane just wears a mask of smiles all evening."
"Oh-well, its only been three months since his mate died. You can hardly blame him."
"True, but something must be done," Goldstripe insisted.
"Okay, youre the empath," Frederike conceded. "But now I think we ought to hit the sheets. Youve got a date tomorrow, remember?"
"Right. With a nice old human. I hope Trekotjev has something good to tell me. Im also a bit tired," Goldstripe said and yawned for emphasis.
Dr. Trekotjev smiled gently as Goldstripe was wheeled into his examination room by Frederike. Tokalina walked beside them, and when Frederike sat, she jumped into her lap.
"Good morning, how are we doing, Shir Goldstripe?" he asked hir as he ordered the porter robot to lift Goldstripe up on his examination table.
"Fine Doctor," shi answered. Why do doctors always say "we" instead of "you"? shi wondered.
Trekotjev took his tricorder and started his scan accompanied by his usual "hm-hms" as he took his readings of hir.
"I think this is going very well. Better than Id dared hope for, actually," he said with a smile.
"Really?" Goldstripe said enthusiastically.
"Yes. The quick-heal is working nicely, and youre slowly forming a new hip. I thought we would have to operate a prosthesis in, but apparently your own regeneration system has kicked in."
"Does that mean that I don't need an operation?" Goldstripe asked.
"No, but it will be a smaller one."
"I thought prostheses weren't used in these days?" Frederike asked, remembering some of what she'd heard from Leonard.
"Ah yes. But it is not a replacement were talking about. Its sort of a template that the real bone will then grow into and fuse with. In time the prosthesis will disappear, and the new bone will be entirely the patients own."
"But if shis growing one hirself, what then is the operation for?" Frederike asked.
"We have to grow new nerve tissue from hir stem cells and then insert it. Its a bit complicated, but much easier now that we won't have to worry about the bones. I think we should find an appointment for you in the next few weeks for the preliminary examinations," Trekotjev said.
"Thank you, Doctor…Um," Goldstripe said and paused. "What happens if it doesn't work?"
"There is a small risk it could go wrong, but I have confidence that it should work. If it does go wrong, then Im afraid you could be stuck like this for quite some time."
"So, when do we start?" Goldstripe said a bit insecurely.
"Lets see…" the doctor said and studied his scans as well as a calendar on his computer.
"How about Wednesday two weeks from now?" he continued after a moment of deliberation.
"That sounds wonderful. So...when will I be able to move again?"
"We will conduct the operation, and then your body will need to adjust to the new tissue as well as heal after the operation. How long that takes varies from patient to patient. Good thing youre a chakat. Then well be talking weeks rather than months."
Goldstripe nodded. "Very well, then. I have every confidence in you, Doctor," shi said.
"…and then well just give you a little injection that will help you relax. Youre going to feel drowsy, and when you do, I want you to try to resist it, okay? At some point you will fall asleep. And when you awake, it will all be over, okay?" the nurse said.
The collie morph nurse was nice and had a calming voice, but Goldstripe felt strangely annoyed by all her "okays" for some reason. Shi felt tired, and just wanted the annoying voice to go away so shi could sleep. Frederike held hir other hand, and was instructed to talk to hir. After awhile, even Frederikes voice became annoying, and then it sounded strange, as if coming from far away…
"Alright, shis asleep. You can leave now, okay?" the nurse said.
"Good morning, handsome," Frederike said. She knew Goldstripe was near hir male peak, so shi preferred "handsome" to "beautiful", "muffin", "cuddly-kitty" or the like.
"Good morning," shi managed.
"The doctor said that the operation went very well. He expects a full recovery now," Frederike continued.
Goldstripe sighed in relief. "Thank the Makers," shi whispered and smiled.
"In other good news, the doctor also said I could take you home in four to five days," she said.
"It gets better and better," Goldstripe said and shook hir head to get rid of the sleepiness, but with little luck.
"Damn, I feel like I could sleep for a week. Even though Ive slept for…" shi was interrupted by a growl from hir upper stomach. "Ah, I just remember I had to fast before the operation."
"Are you hungry?"
"Hungry? I could eat a horse!"
"Then I will leave again, I think," a newcomer said with a smile.
Goldstripe and Frederike turned their attention towards the newcomer. A quange mare in a nurses uniform stood in the open door. Though an equine, the Icelandic breed mare was not much higher than Frederike and Goldstripe, but she seemed quite sturdy.
"Ill just examine you, and then Ill find some food for you," she said.
Goldstripe nodded, and the mare started her scans. "Im Andrea, by the way. I hope that youre one of those people who don't eat food with a name," she said. Goldstripes ears turned pink, and Andrea laughed. "Don't worry, I didn't take any offense – just pulling your leg," she said.
Goldstripe relaxed, also feeling the warmth behind the words through hir relatively limited empathy.
Andrea finished her examinations. "And now for the food. We have veal or chicken today," she said.
"Veal, please. And don't hold the gravy," Goldstripe said.
Andrea nodded and turned to Frederike. "And for you?"
"Oh! Um, veal for me too, please. Thank you," she said.
Andrea left them to get the food.
"You know, she probably won't be back for at least half an hour…" Frederike said and sat on Goldstripes bed. "I think youre quite right, honey," shi agreed, and they started fondling each others breasts and kissing.
Frederike was helping Goldstripe shower as so many times before. She started with hir upper torso, and gave hir shoulders a massage. "Mmmm…thats good honey," shi said and purred.
"Hey, youre purring!" Frederike said.
Shi stopped as shi also noticed. "Yeah, that means…wow…I think there are some connections down there that are working!"
Frederike touched hir forelegs. "Do you feel this?" she asked.
"No…no, Im afraid not. I guess we were a little too optimistic. But I can purr again. Thats progress," shi said.
"Alright. Ill continue the washing," Frederike said and started to put shampoo on hir forelegs. After she was done with them, she moved behind hir to take care of the rear half of hir lower body. "What about this? Im cleaning your tail" she tried.
"Nope. Not a thing," Goldstripe admitted disappointedly.
[[To skip past adult section, please click here.]]
"Okay," Frederike said and started cleaning hir lower torso. She took the back first and then went under hir.
"Oh! I felt that!!!!" Goldstripe exclaimed as Frederike started on hir penis.
"Really?" Frederike said.
"Yes! Oh, its so wonderful!" shi said and almost wept with joy.
Frederike laughed and stood up to hug hir. "What, the fact that you can feel or the fact that its there you felt it?"
Goldstripe laughed. "Naughty girl."
Frederike tried to touch hir several other places, and they found out that shi could feel her touch on hir right hind leg, hir belly fur and everything below hir tail.
"Should we call the doctor?" Goldstripe asked.
"Yes, but not yet. Hold on a minute, I have something for you," Frederike said and left Goldstripe in the shower. Shi tried to turn, but couldn't do more than a human could as the cast wouldn't allow it.
When Frederike entered again, she wore a white leather skirt, a white leather tank top with a red cross on it and a ditto hat.
"I think its time for the nurse to examine her patient…" Frederike said.
"Ohhh…naughtyyy," Goldstripe said with an appreciative smile.
Frederike touched hir penis again. "Oh, I feel a huuuuge swelling here…I think well have to treat that one immediately…"
"Mmmm…" Goldstripe said and purred as she ducked under hir belly.
That night Frederike and Goldstripe managed to fit both of them into the bed. It wasn't easy and not very comfortable when Goldstripe couldn't bend hir upper-lower torso hip joint, but they slept better than theyd done many nights anyway.
Goldstripe purred hirself to sleep, for the first time in weeks feeling everything was right with the world. Tokalina was sandwiched between them, and was quickly lulled to sleep by Goldstripes deep rumbling purr.
The next morning they awoke to a beautiful late spring morning. The sun was shining through a crack between the curtains, and when Frederike got up and pulled them back, they were met by a crystal blue sky.
"I think the weather has decided to help celebrate your progress, dear," she said and turned to face her mate.
"It would seem that way. Mmm, don't move. I like what I see too much," Goldstripe said with a smile.
"Id love to humor you, but Id also like to put on some clothes before the neighbors start staring."
"Let them stare and be envious, because Ive got the prettiest mate on the block!" Goldstripe exclaimed and motioned for her to come over to the bed.
Frederike shook her head and walked back to hir and gave hir a kiss. "I see someone got hir feelings back down stairs, huh honey?"
"Damn straight. Ive got nearly four months of catching up to do!"
"Now how about I call Wendy and let her take a scan of you?" Frederike said while Goldstripe fondled her breasts.
"Right. Oh-goodie, two pretty females paying attention to me," shi said.
"Bad kitty. Now youve got your feelings back, I can swat you on the rump again, remember!" Frederike said and did so for emphasis.
"Okay, Ill behave," shi laughed.
Wendy arrived an hour later.
"Good morning, Goldstripe. I hear youre doing better," she said as she put her bag down beside the bed.
"Yes, thank you," Goldstripe said.
Wendy took out her tricorder and scanned hir. "It looks fine. I think that we should have you taken to the doctor, and then perhaps have you started on some therapy. How does that sound?" the catmorph said.
"That sounds wonderful. I long to be able to hold my mate with all six limbs and to wrap my tail around her. And I long to get out of this damn cast," Goldstripe answered.
Dr. Trekotjev had confirmed the cat nurses scans, and gave a satisfied nod as he closed his tricorder.
"I concur with Miss Softtail. We should indeed have you started on some physical therapy," he said.
Goldstripe smiled and then sighed. "How long will it take, Doctor? Im getting quite tired of being confined to this chair," shi asked and drummed on its armrest with hir fingers.
"I think we can take the cast off in two weeks, but we can start working with the joints that aren't fixed by the cast."
"But I still can't feel anything other than touch down there. How will I be able to move?" Goldstripe asked, afraid to get disappointed.
"I have a colleague Id like to recommend, one whom I met at a medical conference a while ago. Hys name is Queznal of House Redpaw," the doctor said.
"A teep?" Goldstripe asked skeptically. "Though Im willing to try something alternative and I must say that I like the skunktaurs, Id rather not have one poking through my thoughts. Besides, Im not sure what that would accomplish," shi continued.
"Ah, but it would be nothing of the kind. Hy helps people with impairment or paralysis of the motor functions. Hys therapy helps the mind and the body to work together once again," Trekotjev said.
"Alright, Ill give it a try," Goldstripe said with another sigh, and then turned to Frederike with a careful smile. "If thats what itll take for me to be able to hold my mate again, then Ill do it."
"And I will be there with you all the time, Honey," Frederike said.
"Thanks," Goldstripe said and pulled her in for a kiss.
"Very well, then. While you finish that," he said and gestured towards the kissing couple, "Ill try to contact Dr. Queznal."
The doorbell rang, and Frederike got up to open the door. She was beat to the door by Tokalina, who was yipping happily at the prospect of new people in the house. Youre almost a little chakat, Frederike thought as she scooped up the little vixen and opened the door.
A skunktaur in hys female mode stood outside, and Frederike invited hym in. "I take it that you must be Dr. Queznal?"
"You take it correctly," hy said and held out hys hand in greeting.
"Welcome, Dr. Queznal. I am Frederike and my mate Goldstripe will be here shortly," she said.
"Thank you. And please, just call me Queznal," the skunktaur said.
Frederike fetched a tray with some soda and tea from the kitchen. "Please, help yourself. Ill go fetch Goldstripe."
Queznal nodded and poured hymself a cup of tea. Hy took a swig and ahed contentedly. Hys flight had been a bit unpleasant, as the plane had carried no less than four infants, all placed strategically around hym. Queznal liked kids, but on a long flight all the way from Australia, even hys patience could be stretched to the limit.
Frederike knocked and entered the restroom.
"Queznal is here. Are you done?" she said.
Goldstripe nodded, and Frederike helped hir finish and wheeled hir over to the sink and then into the living room.
"Shis all yours," Frederike said and refreshed Queznals cup and poured one for Goldstripe and some soda for herself and Tokalina.
After the introductions were made, Queznal found hys tricorder and made a quick scan of Goldstripe, nodded, and then put it on the coffee table and set it to record.
"Okay, lets get started then. First I will ask you to try to relax. Then I will scan you briefly – and before you worry, it will only be your motor functions, not your personal thoughts. I will then proceed to instruct your brain in how to work with the new nerve tissue and start controlling those muscles of yours again. Are you ready for that?" hy said.
"I suppose," Goldstripe said and nodded.
Queznal nodded back and proceeded.
"…and we cleeench the paw….and we relaaaaax the paw…" Queznal said. "Don't resist me, relax Goldstripe; thaaats better," Queznal said. After one more try, Queznal called a break to Goldstripes relief.
"Youre making progress. I think I will have you up and running in no time. Ah, well, not running perhaps, but up never the less. You will still have to train with the program you got from Dr. Bochielli," hy said.
"That sounds like a step in the right direction," Goldstripe said. It was their seventh session, and shi had just been taken out of the cast yesterday. Shi hoped that they would be able to do some real lovemaking soon, something shi –no, shi corrected hirself mentally – that theyd both really missed.
"Look at this!" Goldstripe said. Shi was bent to a 45 degree angle forward, rather than the usual 90 degree one shi had been locked in when in the cast.
Frederike turned to look at hir. "Very good, honey," she said and went over to kiss hir.
"I take it you can't wait to show it to Queznal?" she continued when theyd broken the kiss.
"Very true. Hy will be here soon, but I still have time for this," shi said with a smile and started fondling her breasts.
"Behave, kitty!" Frederike said in mock seriousness and slapped hir wrist. "I take it youd rather not show your…ahem…enthusiasm to hym?" she said and pointed in the general direction of hir hind quarters.
"Heh, I suppose not. But perhaps if you…" shi said but was interrupted by the doorbell.
Frederike "honked" hir nose playfully and went over to answer the door.
"Sorry for being early," Queznal said as hy stepped in. Hy was in hys male mode this time, but otherwise looked as usual. "If you don't mind, Id like to start and finish early today. I have to switch gender and pick up my mate at the airport."
"Not a problem. Please make yourself comfortable, and Ill go get some tea and cookies. I made chocolate chip cookies yesterday, and believe it or not, my mate hasn't eaten all of them yet," Frederike said and gestured for hym to make hymself comfortable in the sofas.
When Frederike came back with the tray from the kitchen, Goldstripe was proudly showing hir accomplishments to the skunktaur.
"Very good, Goldstripe. You must have worked hard to achieve that," hy said and hugged hir.
"Yes, Shir," shi said. "I used almost every waking hour. Now that Frederikes back on active duty, I have little else to keep myself busy with. And every step I make here is a step closer to coming back on duty; and more importantly: to be able to show my girl just how much I love her!"
They all laughed at that. "Shi hasn't talked about anything else. I think shi needs a hobby," Frederike said.
Goldstripe gave her a mischievous smile. "But my hobbys in there with you!" shi said and pointed at the bedroom. Frederike blushed and the other two laughed again.
"Alright, Goldstripe – lets get started, shall we?" Queznal said.
"Right," shi said.
They all worked to get Goldstripe out of the wheelchair, and then they started hir training.
"How are you feeling, sweety-purrs?" Frederike said as they lay in bed that evening.
"Tired. But its the good kind of tired. Queznal said, that Ill only need one more session and then of course the physical training," shi said.
"Thats right. Hy said that. And Im so proud of you," Frederike said and kissed hir.
"You know, even though Im tired, it doesn't mean that Im totally spent for today…" shi said.
Frederike snorted in amusement. "Well, perhaps its time for Nurse Weismann to check on her patient?"
"Mmm, yeah I suppose…" shi said. They started kissing, and kissing turned to fondling which ended up with Goldstripe mounting her for the first time since the accident.
"Oh my goodness," Talanda said as she heard screams from their upstairs neighbors.
"Do you think theyre alright?" the wolftauress asked her mate.
"I think theyre more than alright," Winterpaws, her chakat mate, answered.
"It just sounded…well, more than they usually…mmfff," she said, but was stopped by a kiss.
"Its okay, and whatever theyre doing is making me a bit frisky!" shi said and started mounting hir wolfy mate.
"Oh…!" Talanda said and laughed. At moments like these, she was quite happy that her mate was high on the E scale…
Part Three: Getting back on ones paws
"Its good to have you back!" Sandtail said and hugged Goldstripe.
"Nice to see you fully back on your paws, kid," Backfish said and slapped hir shoulder.
"Thank you everybody. Its good to be back," Goldstripe said with a smile. Hir colleagues had received hir with flowers, hugs and applause. Shi was a bit embarrassed, but also deeply touched by their concern. Ashley and Bhaskar were there too, although they were in civilian clothes as this was their day off.
The chief was also there to congratulate hir on returning to active duty.
He asked for everybodys attention once the talk had died down.
"Gentlefolk; I have been given the honor of on behalf of President Cortez to present Frederike and Goldstripe with the Purple Heart. Congratulations," he said and placed it on their uniforms and shook their hands.
The other officers clapped, and Frederike felt her face heat. Goldstripes ears pinked too in the chakat equivalent of a blush.
"When youre done for today, wed like you to come by our place for a celebratory dinner," Ashley said when things had cooled down again.
"Thank you," shi said. "Wed like that, right, honey?"
"Of course. Well just have to pick Tokalina up from the crèche, and well be there," Frederike said.
"Oh, thats right. Hows she doing there?" Ashley asked.
"Fine. Shes been there for only a few weeks, but I think shes already made friends. Shes usually curled up with another foxtaur vixen kit there when I pick her up," Frederike said.
Frederike and Goldstripe went on patrol together that day. Goldstripe was a little stiff legged still when they took their walk on Redfang Street Station, but when Frederike asked if they should take it easy, shi refused. The rest of the day was spent at the station, doing paperwork.
Backfish was there too, and he helped Goldstripe with some paperwork concerning hir injuries, insurance and hir returning to duty.
Even though paperwork wasn't exactly either of their cups of tea, the day passed quickly. Frederike and Goldstripe took the bus to fetch Tokalina, and then a train to Ashley and Bhaskars place.
"Next station: Hunters point," the train AI announced, and Frederike, Goldstripe and Tokalina moved towards the doors. Their friends had an apartment at what was once a naval base, but now a residential area. Bhaskars uncle owned some of the buildings, and they had a very nice four room apartment with a view over San Francisco Bay.
When they arrived, they found the table set at the terrace, and after the welcoming hugs, Bhaskar took them out there.
"Ashley will have dinner ready in a few moments. Perhaps I could offer you a drink while we wait?" he said and pointed towards a small mobile minibar in the corner.
"Of course theres soda for you, squirt," he said to Tokalina, who yipped happily and ran towards the trolley.
They all got their drinks, and he also had a glass ready for Ashley when she arrived. "Dinner will be slightly delayed. There was a line at the Foxtaur Grocery Store today, so I got started a bit late. But theres fresh corn," she said.
The others gave sounds of approval. The Foxtaur Grocery Store dealt exclusively in items made by the nearby foxtaur clans. It was a little expensive, but buying vegetables and venison from there always guaranteed a tasty meal. Goldstripe was in heaven at the mentioning of the fresh corn, something shi always loved when they visited Dailada and her hunter vixens for the harvest festival.
Tokalina was fed first, and as usual she would settle down to sleep in Frederikes lap.
Then Ashely served a delicious dinner, and Bhaskar treated them to a good red wine.
They talked until late that night while watching San Francisco Bay while the sun set behind them, and finally Frederike and Goldstripe had to head home, carrying a still-sleeping Tokalina.
They took a PPTV home, and after theyd put Tokalina to sleep, they made passionate love.
Lick. Lick-lick. Lick-lick-lick…
"Mfff," Frederike wrinkled her nose, sighed, and then opened her eyes.
"Good morning," Goldstripe said.
"I suppose…what time is it?" she said sleepily.
"Half an hour before the alarm clock starts…and Tokalina is still asleep," Goldstripe said with a smile.
Frederike looked at the little vixen, who snuggled on the pillows. She had been put there last night after she woke up to the sounds of her parents lovemaking. While Goldstripe didn't care a bit, Frederike had felt embarrassed.
"Goldstripe…not in front of the kid," she said.
"But shes sleeping. Besides, foxtaurs aren't so body shy. Often the whole family sleeps together, even makes love in front of each other. Didn't Dailada tell you about that?"
"No, she didn't. While I think we should try to embrace some foxtaur traditions as we discussed, so they wouldn't seem alien when she tried to be with her own kind later in life, this is one Im not sure Im comfortable with."
"But one day shell ask questions anyway," Goldstripe countered.
"True. And we will answer her," Frederike said and paused. "I once walked in on my parents while they were…you know… It is something that Id rather forget. Parents don't do that. Its a law of nature, just like gravity"
"But your parents must have done it at least twice to make you and your sister, right?"
"I know. And of course I know they had a sex life. Its just something Id rather not think about."
"Okay. Ill never understand why, but I suppose its just one more cultural difference."
"Have you ever watched your parents having sex?"
"No, but Ive heard, smelled and felt them." At Frederikes cocked eyebrow shi added, "Empathy and good hearing, remember?"
"Right. Of course."
"And if I asked, they would tell me whatever I wanted to know."
"As would mine. Or rather, my father would. My mother was a bit more strict and catholic."
"Right. And your dad was the crazy one, right?"
"Theres still 20 minutes…"
"I think you need a bath," Frederike said.
Goldstripe looked a little disappointed. "But don't you want to at least snug…" shi said but was stopped by Frederikes hands closing hir muzzle. "I didn't say you had to go there alone, dear."
"Ah, now thats better," shi said.
[[To skip past adult section, please click here]]
They walked to the bathroom together, and soon they were both enjoying the hot water and the mutual "rinsing off".
"Now I know why they call it a hand spray…its very handy," Frederike said as she used it to arouse Goldstripes female parts.
Goldstripe gave a smile and then moaned again. "Mmmm…I suppose…oh…thats sooo goooood….mmrrrrrr…" shi purred. With a combination of strokes, licks and the hot spray, Frederike soon had hir over the edge. Shi felt her suckle on hir clitoris like a child would a teat, and that made hir almost faint from ecstasy.
Goldstripe then returned the favor, and Frederike was very much enjoying how shi alternated between using the soft underside of hir tongue and the rough top of it. Shi used the fingers of hir handpaw to enter her, and those rough and crude fingers were like magic wands.
Finally Frederike put hir on hir backs, let the water splash on them to keep them warm and then started giving hir male side her full attention. When shi was totally aroused, Frederike turned around so she could ride hir and then used the hand spray in massage mode on hir breasts.
They lay for awhile on the bathroom floor, both panting from the exercise.
"That was the best yet, at least since I got back on my paws," Goldstripe said.
"I couldn't agree more," hir mate said. "But now perhaps it is time for some real rinsing off, and not the hanky-panky kind, hmm?"
"Yeah, I guess so," Goldstripe said.
"Okay, Ill hurry up and finish, and then Ill bring Tokalina to you. If you do both of you, Ill have clothes and breakfast ready."
"Fine. What are we having?"
"Eggs and bacon and also some fried tomatoes a la Shina. How does that sound?"
"Like I could need a rather generous serving of that," shi said and felt hir stomachs growl in anticipation.
"Thats my kitten," Frederike said and gave hir a parting hug.
Goldstripe was absolutely enjoying hirself. The updated training program shi'd got from Dr. Bochielli this morning was much better. Shi had a music player in hir ears and was dancing a dance the doctor had taught hir, that would both strengthen hir muscles as well as train hir balance and coordination. Shi had moved the furniture a little to give hir room, and was now dancing and dancing to the music.
Shi was still on reduced time due to hir condition, and Frederike was still at work and Tokalina was in the crèche, which meant that shi had the whole apartment to hirself.
"…swing yer tail, swing yer body, jump n dance," shi sang along with the music and did as the song suggested.
Shi was glad that shi was a chakat, which meant that shi could do the dance topless as chakat breasts were a bit more "spongy" than that of most other races.
"Clap yer hands, stomp yer paws…" shi continued. The song was really a childrens song, but it had a catchy tune. Shi remembered it from hir school days, where hir teachers in PT would use it to get the kids to move about, as it was both easy to follow and fun. When shi wasn't moving hir tail to the music, it stood straight up, so happy was shi.
"Enjoying ourselves, are we?" a voice cut through the song.
Goldstripe turned to see hir mate who carried their daughter in her arms. Shi took the earplugs out and stopped the player.
"Sorry – I must have lost track of time," shi said.
Frederike smiled. "Not a problem," she said and put Tokalina on the floor so she could run over to hir for a hug. "And if youre not finished, please don't let me stop you. You look quite sexy when you dance…and with your tail up like that…"
"And I thought I was bad," shi said and walked over to Frederike to hug her as Tokalina took off in the direction of her favorite toy: a nearly headless teddybear that she enjoyed both to cuddle with and to "capture".
"Eeek; youre sweaty," Frederike said and wrinkled her nose. Though chakats nearly only sweat on their heads and on the inside of their paws, shi was still quite wet after dancing for more than two hours. "Go hit the shower, and Ill start on dinner. Were having lasagna today Shir Garfield."
"Sounds good. Whos Garfield?"
"A comic book cat from my time who loved lasagna. Now go shower."
"Yes, mummy," Goldstripe said and ducked a swat on the rump.
"And bring Tokalina too. She and Rina have played outside today, and since its been raining…"
"Oh, right. Little Muddy-fur. I know the drill," Goldstripe said and headed for the bathroom, picking up a protesting Tokalina on the way.
"That was absolutely wonderful," Goldstripe said and sighed contentedly.
"Im glad you liked it. It was my sisters recipe," Frederike said.
"I hadn't heard about putting gorgonzola and a bit of chili in lasagna. At first I thought it sounded crazy, but damn, it was good," Goldstripe said.
"If it hadn't been, Id have said you hid it well. You purred most of the time."
"I guess I did. Its just simply been my day today. Ive improved on my training, I have a daughter and a beautiful mate who came home to me and now Ive had this meal," shi paused and Frederike smiled. "And also," shi added, "I got a call from home while you were gone. Mum and Dad have invited us to Perth, and Dad said shi'd send us some tickets."
"Thats wonderful. When?"
"As soon as we can get the time off. They said that we had something to celebrate, among others that Bearstalker got promoted."
"Yeah, thats all they said. Mum was about to say some more, but then I think Kadira broke something and shi had to sign off."
"In that case wed better ask the chief for some vacation tomorrow, hmm?"
"Yes. But that is tomorrow. Right now I think we need to put our daughter to bed," shi said and pointed towards the vixen who lay sprawled on the sofa, fast asleep.
Goldstripe lifted her up, and they both walked into the bedroom and tucked her in.
"So cute, hmm?"
"Yeah, she looks almost innocent," Frederike agreed.
[[To skip past adult section, please click here]]
"You know what I find most strange about human garments?" Goldstripe said.
"Erh…no," Frederike said, puzzled by the change of subject.
"Theres always too much of it, and those buttons can be a real pain in the tail," shi said and started to pull down her pants.
"I should think that Ive trained you quite well," Frederike said as she stepped out of her pants and undies.
"Yeah, I think Ive got the hang of it," Goldstripe said and began thrusting hir finger in and out of her.
"Oh…youre soooo baaad."
They got each others tops off too, and Goldstripe gently pushed her down on the bed.
"Mmmm…no…not like that," Frederike said and gestured for Goldstripe to lie on hir backs instead. Goldstripe did as requested, knowing what she had in mind. Frederike found a dildo and gave hir a double jeopardy as they used to call it.
"Oh! This is so good…mmmrrrrr," Goldstripe sighed and felt how shi was on the way to a double climax.
When they finally got over the peak, they both screamed out their joy and then Frederike sank down to lie on hir belly fur.
"Mmmm you know what I really like about the afterglow part?" she said.
"Lying here on your belly fur. It is so extremely soft, and I can feel your purr vibrations."
"I also enjoy it. Just relaxing together…"
"Yes. And you know what? The feeling of those vibrations and softness against my breasts…it kind of helps me recharge faster."
"Ah, an added bonus for both of us," Goldstripe said with a smile.
"Yes, and…oh, hi squirt," Frederike said and noticed that Tokalina had woken up and now waited for her place between them.
Goldstripe nuzzled the little vixens ears. "Before we go to sleep," shi said as Frederike untangled herself from hir embrace, "would you mind pulling the dildo out of me?"
Frederike blushed and did as requested. She still couldn't get used to having their daughter around when theyd had sex.
Tokalina, though, didn't seem to care what her parents had been doing, and as soon as there was room, she settled down on the bed between them with a happy yip and a yawn.
Part Four: Aussie Party
"Oh, you're getting heavier," Frederike said as she wrapped her arms around a purring Snowpelt.
Snowpelt didn't answer, but just hugged her back even more with all seven limbs (including hir tail that was wrapped around her arm).
"I take it you had a nice flight?" Beetail said as shi gave her a hug without squeezing hir sister.
"We did indeed. But I think you'd better feed Shir Hungrymuzzle over there," she said and gestured towards her mate.
"Hey, it's not my fault they served that horrible crap," Goldstripe said as shi released Summerwind. "I'm a carnivore, not a rabbit."
"We had seats in the rear of the plane, and when they reached us, there was only the vegetarian dish left," Frederike explained. "I averted some of the disaster by giving hir my cake."
"That's my sister alright," Beetail laughed. "But enough whining, Sis, let's get to the PTV. We have to pick up Starnight at the office, and then we're going to Lightpaws & Co. Sunfur and the little ones are already there."
"I'm not whining," Goldstripe protested.
"Okay, sorry," Beetail said as shi hugged hir.
"No, it's okay. Maybe I was whining a little," Goldstripe conceded.
They all stopped to look at Snowpelt and Tokalina, who now noticed each other. They sniffed each other, and then everybodys heart melted as Snowpelt said. "Youre cute. I like you," and then embraced the little vixen. Tokalina enjoyed it, and when they were put in the PTV, they settled down together and hugged.
They left the airport, and drove away in the family PTV. Beetail guided the PTV to one of the automated highways and released the controls.
"Estimated exit time: sixteen minutes," the AI informed.
"So, how's everyone?" Beetail asked as the PTV entered the highway.
"Dailada and company are fine. Shina has claimed Leonard for Obligation, and with success I might add," Goldstripe said.
"Yeah, they're all ecstatic. It's like they were all expecting," Frederike said.
"That's good. How's Kane and Tocho?"
"Tocho's doing fine. Kane is not. He hides his feelings, especially to Tocho, but it's hard work to try and pry him out of his shell. We had an argument with him two weeks ago. We said that he ought to go out and see other people. He got real angry and said that we should stay out of it and that he was already mated thank you very much. I don't know," Goldstripe sighed, "we're trying the best we can."
"Have you tried not trying? Maybe he needs more time?" Summerwind suggested.
"We considered it, but this whole thing is eating him up. He visits her grave at least once a week. We know because we look after Tocho while he's out there," Frederike said and sighed too. "But enough about that. How is everybody here?"
Beetail and Summerwind sensed that the subject was closed, and Summerwind said, "We're all fine. Kadira is growing fast. Shi's so cute, and we're all crazy about hir. Grayspot is pregnant. Lightpaws is the sire, and Bearstalker and shi are looking forward to having hir more at home once shi goes on maternity leave. Aaaand...we're also expecting. Found out this morning!"
"Congratulations," Frederike said to the beaming Summerwind.
"Yeah, that's wonderful," Goldstripe agreed.
"Recalculating route due to heavy traffic," the AI interrupted.
"Ah, yes, you guys arrived just in time for the rush hour traffic," Beetail said, and ordered the AI to continue in automated mode until they reached their final destination, rather than taking control hirself for the last part of the trip.
"Bearstalker got promoted by the way," Beetail added.
"Yes we heard - what was that all about?" Frederike said.
"They found out what an excellent guide he is, so now he's permanently taking hikers on trips like the one we went on last time you were here," Summerwind said.
"And that also included a nice salary raise. Those things are what we're celebrating tonight, and of course also the oncoming cubs. We decided to wait with the partying until you two were here," shi added.
After what only seemed like minutes the AI announced, "Arriving at destination."
"Hi, Wintersky," Beetail said as they met Starnight's Caitian secretary, Sky-of-the-cold-season. "Is my mum in there?"
"Hello Beetail. No, shi's not," the white furred Caitian said. "Shi's in a meeting with some Chakonan customers. But you can wait in hir office."
As if on cue, Starnight appeared in the door with another chakat and a human male. "No need for that now. I'll be with you shortly."
Shi turned to the other chakat and the man. "Those are my kids and their mates," shi explained.
"Nice to meet you. I am Chakat Brownmuzzle, daughter of Brownsugar and Threestripes," shi introduced hirself.
"And I am Lord Henry Steele," the man said. The huge black man towered over them all with his two meters ten, and he looked like he could carry both chakats with little or no effort if he chose to do so. Frederike couldn't help but find his very British dialect quite at odds to his appearance, but he was also one of those kinds of people that you just for some strange reason instantly like.
The others introduced themselves too, and Frederike was a bit surprised to find handshakes replaced by hugs, even among strangers.
"Well, we better leave. We have a flight to catch, and our starliner won't wait either," Brownmuzzle said.
"Of course. Wintersky, please arrange a PPTV for them," Starnight said, and she nodded.
"Oh, and start looking at departure dates for Chakona – I need to go there in about two months," shi added.
"Yes, Shir," Wintersky said and nodded again.
"Are you going to Chakona, Dad?" Goldstripe asked.
"Yes honey. I need to oversee the beginning of our next big project. Were making a new dome for the space station on KaTurna. Ill show you the holo later. Its actually quite impressive if I may say so. Sir Henry and Shir Brownmuzzle are building a new branch of Lunar Intergalactic, and the hotel needs its own park. Thats where we come in," Starnight explained.
Lunar Intergalactic was a hotel chain whose specialty was hotels on moons and space stations. In some areas they would just have a hotel, and in others – like this – they would have an entire vacation resort.
"Yes, you should bring your family," Sir Henry said and turned to Starnights family. "Its going to be huge – we will have a park, a pool area with four pools and an in-pool bar. We will add some shopping areas and restaurants too. Were even going to have our own Cosmos," Sir Henry said in the manner of a proud father.
"Whoa!" Goldstripe said. Cosmos was the finest restaurant chain in the Federation. They specialized in gourmet dishes from the entire known galaxy, and their slogan was "we bring the galactic kitchen to you". For that reason, it was also extremely expensive, especially as some dishes required ingredients that were easily perishable, and had to be transported aboard some of the faster (and more expensive) merchantmen, if they couldn't be produced locally.
"Then I guess its a good thing I have a rich sire," Goldstripe said suggestively.
"Hey, youre old enough to buy your own food, kitten!" Starnight said in mock anger and swatted hir daughter on the rump.
They chatted some more until Wintersky announced the arrival of the PPTV, and then Lord Steele and his chakat business partner took their leave.
Snowpelt and Tokalina started squirming in Starnights arms as they turned down the road to Lightpaws and hir mates house. As soon as they arrived and had opened the doors, they leapt out to find the other cubs.
"I think they just broke the sound barrier… again," Starnight said.
"Meep-meep," Frederike said. At the others puzzled look, she sighed and said, "Never mind. Stone age womans joke."
They were received by the adults and taken inside. When theyd stowed their gear, they were offered refreshments outside on the terrace.
"Whats that we hear about new additions to the family?" Goldstripe said as shi squatted on a taur pad with Kadira in hir arms.
"Ah, they told you. Yes, we decided we needed another one. I very much enjoyed being a father the last time, and I wanted that again. And with Bearstalkers additional income, we ought to be able to support at least one more cub. We have promised him he can sire the next one, though," Lightpaws said with a smile as shi handed the cubs a bowl of candy.
"Shi just wants me to be the perfect housewife. How is it – keep them barefooted in the winter and pregnant in the summer. And Im both now," Grayspot said with a smile.
"Of course, dear. But its because we can't bear to be without you, you know that, right?" Bearstalker said and hugged hir. "Besides, youre a better cook than Lightpaws," he added and was immediately swatted by both of his mates.
"Youre one step away from the sofa, mister!" Grayspot said in mock annoyance.
"Good thing that the familys here. That way I can be bad and still not sleep alone," he said with a laugh.
"Thats right. I seem to remember someone complaining about the stamina of some seniors a while ago," Sunfur said and put an arm around him. "Can we borrow him?" shi said.
"Of course, but don't be too hard on him, right?" Lightpaws said.
"Well be nice and gentle," Starnight promised.
"A-wimoweh-a-wimoweh. In the hammock, the cooomfy hammock the Chakat sleeps toniiight," Frederike sang and started to drum a beat on Goldstripes lower belly. "We-de-de-de, de-de-de-de-de de, we-um-um-a-way" she continued.
"Mmmf…" Goldstripe mumbled and opened hir eyes. "Not anymore, shi ain't," shi said. "Whats with the song?"
"Oh, its an old song from…well actually from my parents time, I think. I just changed the text a little," Frederike said and continued her drumming.
"So did you just come out here to drum on my belly, or did you have something in mind?"
"Grayspot said dinner would be ready soon. And Bearstalker has put the meat and the corn on the barbie."
"I hear youve picked up some of the local slang," Goldstripe said and gestured for her to join hir in the hammock.
"I try my best," Frederike said and accepted the invitation, placing herself on top of hir, face to face. "By the way, I think your sister has come up with something rather special this evening, better not show up late," she continued and kissed hir.
"Oh? Whats that?"
"Ahem…I think its a little weird. I don't know if its an old Aboriginal recipe, I think were having cockatoo. I didn't think people ate that anymore. I haven't seen it anywhere else."
"Hm…I suppose some people eat it, but weve never had it here before. I think my sister think theyre too cute to eat or something. And Snowpelt and the other cubs would freak."
"Well Lightpaws asked Beetail to fetch the cockatoo plum, so I guess thats what were eating."
Frederike felt the hammock shake as Goldstripe started laughing.
"Whats so funny, dear?" Frederike said. "Was it something I said?"
"Hehehe…yes. Oh, that was precious. Kakadu Plum is an Aussie dish. Its what were having for dessert, and there are no cockatoos in it."
Dinner ended up taking most of the evening, and they only got up to put the young ones to bed. When the time neared one in the night, Lightpaws noted people started yawning.
"I suppose wed better discuss sleeping arrangements. Frederike, sis, wed like you two to share our den this night as guests of honor. Besides, our parents will be busy having their ways with our wolfy lifemate in one guest room, and Beetail and Summerwind will be in the other one celebrating their cub, so if you want to have at least some sleep, I suggest you don't go with them. How does that suit everyone?" shi said.
There were a murmur of agreement from all around the table, and then they all decided to call it a night.
The next morning found Frederike and her mate the center of a huge pile of fur. The cubs had decided at some point during the night to join the adults, and Frederike found herself looking up at a very satisfied-looking white furred chakat kitten entangled with an equally satisfied looking foxtaur kit.
She got one hand free from its position cupping Goldstripes breast and started nuzzling the cubs ears. Snowpelt started purring in hir sleep and then slowly opened hir eyes.
"Mrrr…morning…" shi mumbled and closed hir eyes again.
"Good morning, squirt. Wasn't it today we would be going to the market on Gene War Memorial Plaza?" she said, knowing it was so.
Snowpelt opened hir eyes again, nodded and started to wake the others with hir usual enthusiasm. Shi started with the other cubs, who immediately awoke to full alertness at the mentioning of the outing.
"How unfair of you to use the cubs," Goldstripe said with a smile.
"But theyre…effective," Frederike said.
"I think thats an understatement," Lightpaws said, also smiling while the cubs crawled all over hir, giving hir lick kisses and either meowing or talking to hir to get hir and the others out of bed.
"Alright, kids. Go out and wake the others, and well be right there, okay?" Grayspot said, lifted Desertstorm down from hir mates lower torso, kissed hir and put hir on the floor. The cubs started running out the door, headed for the guest rooms.
The market was huge, and everybody enjoyed themselves. They split up into smaller groups, and agreed to meet for lunch on a small restaurant that faced the plaza. The Oishii Sakana was a small Japanese restaurant run by an elderly couple who were friends of Sunfurs. The couple consisted of a Japanese man called Takeshi Yamada and his wife, a plantigrade foxmorph called Sanshi.
Even though they were both well into their seventies, they still went down to the fish market in the harbor every morning to buy fresh fish.
The two expecting mothers went off looking for clothes for their cubs, and Goldstripe joined up with them.
Frederike opted to go with Bearstalker, and they found their way to some of the foxtaur-owned stalls.
"Are those yellowish foxtaurs Stellars like Treespirit?" she asked.
"Yes. These however, are the desert breed Stellars. They were adapted to live in hot and dry areas, and this tribe decided to settle in the Australian outback rather than on another planet. I met them once when they were close to the national park. Theyre good people," he said.
"I see. What are they selling?"
"They are not so wealthy, but they shoot a roo for food or find some crystals in the desert they can sell for the little money they need."
Frederike bought herself a straw hat. Most of them were made for people with ears like themselves or Bearstalker, but they also had a few that were suited for humans.
Bearstalker found himself a bow. "I have decided to train a little with the bow. I intend to participate in the games when we join you at Dailadas village for the Harvest Festival this fall," he said. "Its been a while, but I hope that I can at least get a decent place; although I don't expect to win."
"Ah yes, that reminds me. Ive been meaning to ask you something. Why did you leave your tribe? Ive always wondered…" she said.
"I met two pretty chakats, what more reason did I need?" he said with a smile.
"I suppose. Once you meet the right one…or in your case right two…"
"So, how did you three meet?" Frederike asked.
"Oh, its a long story – how about I tell you over some ice tea. The booth over there is run by people from the Avon Valley Clan. Im sure they won't disappoint us," he said.
Frederike nodded her agreement. "Sounds like a plan," she said.
When they were seated – or rather when Frederike was seated and the wolftaur lay comfortably on a taur pad, he took a sip of his cold treat, sighed in contentment, and started his tale.
~ ~ ~
"Im so glad youre back, Honey," Lightpaws said and gave Grayspot an affectionate lick-kiss.
"So am I, Sweetypaws," Ensign Chakat Grayspot said and returned the lick-kiss as the PPTV AI swung out from Melbourne Spaceport and sped down the on-ramp for the highway.
"So, how was your trip?" Lightpaws asked and started to caress Grayspots breasts. Shi always did like uniforms, and especially when that uniform belonged to hir denmate.
"We caught ourselves a pirate and a slave ship. Also, we had a stop on Raksha during their fertility festival time. Got a little souvenir for you: its a Rakshan statuette of one of their goddesses. Its supposed to be good luck."
"Thanks, muffin," Lightpaws said and gave Grayspot another lick-kiss.
"So, whatre our plans?" Grayspot asked. Shi did want to have some "fun" with hir mate, but at the same time decided that the PPTV wasn't the place for it.
"Were going back to my parents place first. Beetail is having hir coming of age party. And then were going on a field trip, if youre up for it," Lightpaws said.
"Field trip?" Grayspot asked.
"Yes. I wanted to enjoy the national park one last time before we move," Lightpaws said.
"Ah, yes. Ive been meaning to ask you about that. You only just mentioned it in your last subspace message. Whats that all about?"
"Dads been promoted. Shis now Mr. Wurrumgidees right hand so to speak. And the main offices in Perth."
"Whoa, thats pretty cool. XO of Wurrumgidee Skydomes Inc. What did shi do to deserve that?"
"I guess hir aboriginal boss likes hir. No, seriously. Reginald Winton decided to retire himself, and since Dad did design the new transparent aluminum alloy and won a rather large contract with the Caitian government, they decided that shi would be his successor. Thats the short story – shi can tell you the rest hirself."
"Mmm, Ive forgotten how much I liked the smell of eucalyptus," Grayspot said and inhaled again.
"Yeah, me too. Now cmon slowpoke. We want to reach the lookout spot that this Forestwalker told us about," Lightpaws said.
"Sure. After you, my dear," Grayspot said and gestured with hir hand towards the path. "Rather fitting name for a ranger, huh? Forestwalker, I mean," shi added as shi followed hir denmate, enjoying the view of hir swaying hips and the sight that was revealed when hir tail rose into the air in happiness.
"I guess. Pretty kitten too," Lightpaws said.
"Yeah, and those titties? Mmm, Id have loouuuved to invite hir to join us. But shi had to meet hir mates and sister, and we had something we needed to see."
"Honey, can we stop for awhile?" Grayspot asked after some time.
"Of course. Is the tough Starfleet officer tired already?"
"No, but Ive been walking behind you for the better part of an hour now, your tail has been up nearly all the time, and we haven't seen each other for five months…"
"I guess thats true," Lightpaws said and turned to smile at hir mate. "How about that spot?" shi asked and gestured towards a small clearing up ahead.
"That seems mighty fine to me," Grayspot agreed.
"But itll have to be a quickie this time – Forestwalker said we would have a thunderstorm this evening, remember?"
"Relax – we have time."
"Dammit, how far yet?" Lightpaws grumbled as the rain soaked hir fur. The "quickie" had turned out to be quite more than that, and what had started out as a light drizzle had turned into something heavier and now it was pouring down.
Grayspot looked at the map Forestwalker had given them. Thank God its laminated, shi thought. "At least 10 klicks…er…kilometers," shi said aloud. "More likely 11 at my estimate."
"But at least we had fun earlier," Grayspot reminded hir.
"Yeah, that we did. I just wish we were up at the lookout now, watching the rain…" Lightpaws was interrupted as the twilight of the rainy forest suddenly became the brightest day, as lightning flashed above, followed instantly by a thunderclap.
"Oh-shoot! Its right on top of us. Lets get moving; we can't stay in the forest," Lightpaws said and put the map hurriedly back in hir pocket.
They continued for another five kilometers when the path – now no more than a trail – forked ahead. Grayspot dug into hir pocket, and Lightpaws saw hir eyes widen.
"Oh no! Ive lost the map!" shi exclaimed.
"Well, then I guess well just have to…" Lightpaws said, but at the same time lightning struck again. The thunderclap was like an explosion, and both chakats found themselves on the ground.
"LOOK OUT!" Lightpaws screamed and rolled away. Grayspot looked up and screamed too as shi saw the tree falling towards hir. Shi tried to roll away too, but the tree which was now so unfairly assisted by gravity, was faster.
"OH MY GOD! GRAYSPOT!" Lightpaws screamed. Shi bent to check hir mate. "Grayspot! Can you hear me!?" shi cried.
"Yes," shi said and grabbed hir mates arm to steady hir. "Im not hurt badly – mostly just stuck!"
"Oh thank the Makers!" Lightpaws sighed. Shi then tried to pry the tree off Grayspot, but it was too heavy, and Grayspot groaned as the tree scraped over hir lower body.
"You should go get help," Grayspot said.
"No way! Im not leaving you. Besides, what if something happens to me too?" Lightpaws said flatly.
"Right. Um…" Grayspot was now sorry shi didn't take more than the absolute needed survival course Star Fleet provided. But shi was an astrogator, not a planetary surveyor, so shi hadn't paid those courses that much attention.
A snapping branch made them turn their heads. Through the pouring rain came a huge form towards them. It was tall and black, and Lightpaws felt hir claws extend as shi got ready to defend hir mate.
"Need any help there?" a voice said out of the (now) semi-darkness, and Lightpaws felt hirself deflate as shi recognized the wolftaur for what he was.
"Oh, thank goodness. Yes, please," shi said with a sigh. "My mate is stuck."
The wolf nodded and walked over to the tree. He wore nothing but his fur, and Lightpaws saw his muscles ripple as he got himself a good grip on the tree. Shi shook hirself and grabbed the tree too.
"Ready? Now HEAVE!" he rumbled, and together they lifted the trunk off Grayspots body. Lightpaws was surprised at his strength. Normally, chakats had quite superior strength, but shi was sure, that if he'd chosen to, he could have taken on both hir and Grayspot at the same time.
He bent down and looked at Grayspots lower body. Shi told him that shi wasn't hurt, but he examined hir anyway. When shi was helped to hir paws, shi found that shi had been hurt after all. Hir right hind leg was sore, and shi felt it burn whenever shi tried to add weight to it.
"Ill carry you on my back, then," he said. "We must get out of this weather. Ive found a cave nearby, and theres room enough for all of us."
The chakats agreed, and the trio headed in the direction the wolftaur indicated.
He introduced himself as Bearstalker as they walked, and the chakats returned the favor along with the traditional hugs (Grayspots somewhat untraditional from hir position on his back, though).
"You know, even though my hind leg still hurts a little, this is actually kinda nice," Grayspot said from hir position resting on Bearstalkers back.
"Im glad youre enjoying the ride," he said. "Actually, so am I," he added with a smile.
"Whoa, sounds like he likes being mounted," Lightpaws noted with a laugh.
"Well, I…no! No, its just that er…" Bearstalker said.
"Sorry, just pulling your leg to lighten the mood," shi said.
"Ah, okay," he said and sighed with relief. There were some things his pride couldn't allow, and the thought of…that was one of them.
They soon arrived at small rock formation, under which a cave mouth could be dimly seen (and that only if you had sharp morph senses).
They got inside, and shortly after Bearstalker had his little field kitchen running and had made some well deserved hot cocoa for everybody.
"So, forgive me for using an old cliché, but what are two pretty ladies like yourselves doing out here?" he said when everybody had had a chance to sip their hot beverage.
"We were hiking, or rather we were going to a lookout point to celebrate that Im back from a five month tour of duty for Star Fleet," Grayspot answered. "We were a little too slow to get there, and were surprised by the rain."
"What about you? From your accent, it sounds to me as if youre not from around here. So, what does a lonely wolftaur do here, so far from his pack?" Lightpaws asked.
"I wanted to be a ranger, and I wanted to study to become one. My dad, and most of the tribe for that matter, didn't think much of studying, so I went away on my own. My tribe lives in Sweden, so I started out in Stockholm. I found that I didn't like it much there, I think mostly because I was the only wolftaur in the class. The rest were foxtaurs with a few chakats and foxmorphs thrown in. My teacher then suggested I travel here, as he knew from a colleague and pen pal of his here that they had a few wolftaurs. I didn't have much money, but I managed to get here," Bearstalker said and paused for another sip of cocoa. He then continued, "Though Ive found a few friends here, I still haven't been able to find peace of mind. One of the teachers here is an elderly aboriginal man whos much into his ancestors culture. He pulled me aside after class, and when he learned about my problem, he suggested I go on a walkabout, and that I took the time needed to find myself and my purpose in life. So here I am," he finished and shrugged.
"So have you found your purpose?" Grayspot asked.
"Im not sure. Maybe it was to rescue damsels in distress from thunderstorms, although I suppose youre only half-damsels," he said with a laugh.
"Very true. Actually, Im close to my female peak while Grayspot is sort of in the middle," Lightpaws explained.
"Oh? I thought that chakat couples were usually in opposite phases," Bearstalker said. That was after all what one of the chakats had told him in Stockholm.
"Thats usually true," Grayspot said, "but thanks to the time Ive spent in hyperspace I have somewhat cheated Einstein a little. Time in hyperspace and Einsteinian space isn't the same, and thus Ive been displaced a little. But that will change when Ive been with Lightpaws for awhile."
"Ah, I see," Bearstalker said, though it wasn't entirely the truth. He knew shi was right, but he didn't (and probably never would) understand the math and physics behind why that was true.
"Lightpaws, I was wondering if we shouldn't show our savior some gratitude?" Grayspot said with a smile and a wink.
"I couldn't agree more," shi said, and both chakats scooted closer to the wolftaur and placed themselves on each side of him.
Bearstalker was a little surprised and his ears turned pink. "Er, thanks uh…you don't have to do this mmfff..." he said but was stopped by Grayspots kiss.
"No, we don't," shi said and looked him in the eyes, "but we really want to. That is, if you don't mind?"
Bearstalker smiled a little sheepishly, and shook his head. "How could I say no to two pretty kitties like you?"
Nobody got much sleep that night, as the threesome lasted until morning when their sounds of pleasure were replaced by the birds greeting the sun with their song. They all snuggled together and let the cacophony of the avians around them lull them to sleep.
Bearstalker woke to the smell of food cooking on his little field kitchen. Only Grayspot was beside him, breathing slowly in hir sleep. A gentle voice awoke him fully. "Brunch is ready," Lightpaws said and nuzzled them both.
"Id love to get up, but I don't have the heart to wake your mate," he said in a low voice and indicated the other chakat who snuggled against his chest.
Lightpaws smiled and lifted hir finger in a one moment please gesture. She took a fork and placed some fried bacon on it and slowly held it close to Grayspots nose. Hir whiskers moved a little, then there was a sniffing sound from hir muzzle, and finally shi opened hir eyes and smiled.
"Oh, breakfast already?" shi mumbled sleepily.
"Actually, its more like brunch," Lightpaws informed.
They all laughed at that, and finally Grayspot and Bearstalker got up and joined Lightpaws.
They enjoyed the food together, and never lacked for a subject to talk about. Grayspots leg had healed during the night, so when they left the cave at noon, shi had no trouble walking on hir own.
When they reached the path, Lightpaws asked, "So, which way are you headed?"
"Im not really sure," Bearstalker said hesitantly.
"How about you join us on our way back to civilization?" Grayspot suggested.
"Id like that," he said, relieved that he could spend some more time with the two chakats.
~ ~ ~
"I followed them home, and what should have been just a short visit turned into true love and I stayed. When they moved here, I only had two months left until graduation. I followed as soon as I got my diploma. Two weeks later we declared ourselves denmates," Bearstalker finished his story.
"That was fast," Frederike said.
"Yes, but I guess thats chakats for you," he said with a laugh.
"But you aren't one," she countered.
"True. I guess I was just young and in love," he said.
Frederike smiled, "I know the feeling. When I was with Goldstripe on my first Christmas here, it also happened so fast. But I guess that chakats are just so loveable."
"Heh, yeah. That they are. At least our favorite kitties, right?"
"Especially our favorite kitties!" Frederike agreed, and they both laughed heartily.
As they had both finished their ice tea, Bearstalker rose, stretched and gestured towards the market. "How about we go look at some more stalls? Theres still a little less than an hour before we need to head for the restaurant," he said.
"Sounds like a plan," she agreed, and got up too. They walked back into the crowded market, and as they found a new booth that caught their fancy, they agreed that they were both very lucky mate-wise.
When lunchtime came, Frederike and Bearstalker headed back to the restaurant to meet the others. They passed the statue in the center of the plaza that gave it its name. Frederike paused to look at it. It showed a human and a foxmorph in military outfit shaking hands. The pedestal was inscribed with the names of the fallen, and above the names were the text:
"If not for the different species to which we are born, we could have been brothers
- Z. Onesock, December 12th, 2090."
"Those two are Samuel S. Benson and Zekkor Onesock. They were the ones I mentioned on our hiking trip last time you were here. You know, the ones who signed the local declaration of peace. Perhaps we ought to go to the Museum of War if youre up for it?"
"Id like that. Even though Ive been here for a few years, I still need more history lessons, I guess."
Bearstalker nodded, and they found their way to the restaurant. They walked inside and were met by the proprietor, who bowed and said "Irasshaimase!"
He then walked up to them. "Ah, Bearstalker-san. Welcome. The others are already here," he continued and led them to the first floor where they were seated at a table with a view of the plaza.
During lunch they all showed each other what theyd bought. Starnight had been persuaded by Sunfur to go to one of the stalls selling clothes, and they had found themselves a matching set of tops. Frederike showed her hat, and Bearstalker his bow.
"So are you going hunting with that thing?" Lightpaws asked.
"I think Ill start out with some training, but if some of the roos need to be culled, I might; why?" he said.
"Because I kind of like the thought of our big man bringing his catch home to his darling wives. Itll show just what a big stud you are," shi said and gave him a seductive look.
"I think someones in heat over here," Beetail laughed.
"You betcha!" Lightpaws said.
After lunch they continued their shopping trip on the market. The cubs were tired though, but Bearstalker volunteered to take them to a nearby park where they would find a place to snooze on the grass.
"Ive had enough shopping. But you girls go ahead and enjoy yourselves," he said.
That being decided, they headed out again.
Frederike joined up with her parents in law, and started shopping at some of the food stalls for fresh foodstuffs for that evenings dinner. Goldstripe went out with the others, and they started once again to look for stuff for the oncoming cubs.
"Look what I found for our daughter," Goldstripe said when they met again in the park.
Shi held up a small top sporting the text "I may be small, but Im still a foxy lady!"
"Cute," Frederike said and kissed hir. "Im sure shell like it, even if she can't read yet."
"I hope so. Did you find something good?"
"Yes; we found some food for tonight. And as usual when shopping with your sire, we have enough to feed a small army."
"Hey, Im just prepared. I have hungry cubs and grandcubs," Starnight said.
"True," Frederike conceded, "Im not complaining." Frederike then reached into her bag. "I found something else too," she said and held up two matching t-shirts. Both were purple with some silver text on it reading "Hottie with the body!"
"I found one for each of us, and also this for Tokalina," she said and held up the t-shirts. Tokalinas said: "Improved version: now with X-tra cuteness!"
"Oh, those are hilarious," Goldstripe said and laughed.
"Then look at this!" Frederike said and found an extra t-shirt. "Bearstalker, I bought this for you," she said a little louder.
He got up from where he'd been sprawled on the grass and took the t-shirt. "Thanks, but why?" he said.
"Look at the back," she said.
He did so, and laughed.
"What does it say?" Goldstripe asked.
Instead of answering, he turned the T-shirt which back read "If you can read this, the
bitchbiped fell off!"
"I think it was intended for Quange, but they had some in smaller sizes too," she said and accepted his hug of thanks.
They gathered their things and left the park, headed for the tram that would take them home.
"Brother Edward, I must say that you have done extremely well," the bishop said.
"Thank you, Your Excellence. You are too kind," Hughes said with a modest smile.
"No, seriously, I mean it. You have saved a lot of tortured souls today as well as putting the fear of God into those who would fornicate with these beasts."
"I couldn't have done it without my associates; they deserve the same thanks as me. Doc even more so, as he gave his life for the Organization."
"Very true, and we should pray for him," the bishop said with a nod.
"I have already done so, Your Excellence," Hughes said.
"I thought as much. Now, perhaps we should also look at the future," the bishop said and paused. "The Organization is pleased; very pleased I might add, and the powers that be – and I agree with them – have decided to promote you."
"Thank you. I am only happy that I may serve the Lord. Rewards are not required," Hughes said modestly.
"Oh, but it is. You see, our Western Australia branch – though over a hundred strong – have long suffered from poor leadership and even worse logistics. We intend to send someone to fix that. And wed like that someone to be you," the bishop said and folded his hands and looked straight at Hughes.
"I…what can I say? I am honored," Hughes said with a smile. God was indeed on his side today.
"Please. If anyone can organize that place, it is you. We put our faith in you as we do in the Lord," the bishop said with a smile and rose.
"Thank you, Your Excellence. I will not disappoint you," Hughes said and rose too, sensing the conversation was coming to an end.
"Good luck and Gods speed, Brother Edward," the bishop said and gave him as warm smile as they shook hands.
"Thank you, Your Excellence," Hughes said and returned the smile and the firm handshake.
The door closed behind a very satisfied Reverend Hughes, who walked straight towards the new shuttle the Organization had provided for his and Kabayamas return. He was both happy and honored that he had been entrusted with the task of getting the Western Australia branch organized. H1 was expanding in that area, and now he would have about a hundred men at his command.
In the room the bishop still sat at his table. He stared straight ahead, looking almost like a statue. From behind the curtains, another person stepped out. The newcomer looked at the bishop, who still hadn't moved at all. "Ah, for each minion, we put on another mask," the person said and gave a laugh. The well polished black shoes turned and the previously hidden person headed towards the door, only to pause before it. "Computer, save modified holographic double alpha-zero-five and end program," and with those last words the Humans First leader left the room, which faded into the nothingness from whence it came along with the bishop.
To be continued in Part 5: To Leisurely Go...
Chakats and the Chakat universe are Copyright © Bernard Doove. These are used with permission. The rest of the characters belong to me. Ill try to add references to owners of other characters in the following parts. Should I forget some, please tell me, and Ill correct it.
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