Gazing - part 2
By Allen Billings


Barely had Sungazer and Copperhead left White Tip and Katherine, when Copper spoke up.

"Sun? I just have to ask. Are you really that dense? Or just a big, dumb male still?"

Sun's eyes widened, as shi was caught by surprise. "What?" shi asked in return, as shi turned to look at Copperhead.

"You heard me. Just because you managed to have ignored your first heat, doesn't mean that you can be insensitive to me!" Copper glared at hir partner. "I've been trying to get your attention all day, and all I've only gotten so far has been a brush off."

Sun stood still for several seconds, before shi lowered hir head. "I'm sorry, Copper." shi replied.

"Well, sorry won't cut it with me," Copper growled, hir voice low but no longer as angry as it once had been. "I just want to know. Do you find me even a little bit attractive?" shi continued.

Sungazer inhaled deeply, before shi answered. "I do, Copper. And I would like very much to learn more about you, what you were like back on Earth..." Shi stopped, as Copper raised a paw.

"That won't cut it here, Sun. If you haven't noticed, we're no longer on Earth, so spit it out. What's got you so wrapped up, you can't even see that I'd like to spend some time with you, and not just sleeping." Copper's muzzle curled up slightly into a grin. "Unless you were once gay back home."

Sun shook hir head. "No, no. Oh, gods no, Copper. I never was gay." Shi paused, then continued, as shi motioned with hir head for Copper to pad along with hir.

"You see, back home, I had a younger brother, who had a crippling disease. Muscular Dystrophy, and it was hard for my whole family. I didn't have anyone else save for cousins to play with, and they all were several years older, or younger than myself. It was hard for me to pick up social skills at high school, and in return, I turned into a bookworm. I basically did my homework, and wondered what it would be like, to live in a small town."

"Although I went to a small school, it was several miles away from home, too far to walk, and I never got a car during the last year. My father worked long hours, in order to keep paying the medical bills that my brother accumulated, so we hardly ever went anywhere as a family for vacations. The best we might manage would be say once every three or four years to visit relatives in Illinois, unless we had to go earlier than that for a funeral."

Copperhead listened, now that Sun was talking about hir past. "Still, that doesn't explain..."

"I'm getting to it..." Sun pondered for a moment. "I wasn't very popular in school, Copper. Shy, like you wouldn't believe. I got a lot of book-learning, and almost every thing in the library had, about astronomy mostly. Some of the books I'd checked out were on electronics as well. Wish I had taken the time to learn more of biology. That would have really been a big help here. Or chemistry."

Copper nodded, letting hir speak.

"All the way thru until my graduation ceremony, and even during the senior prom, I never really understood other people. I knew how to talk to them, but being able to understand what they meant?" Shi shook hir head. "It wasn't until I got to college, and found a local science fiction club, that I really started to become more open with others. For me, I finally found people I could talk with, and be able to finally relax. With that renewed confidence, I even went so far as to help at the convention they threw that year."

Copperhead smiled back to Sungazer. "Yeah, I can understand that." Shi chuckled. "I've been to a few Ren Fairs on my own, since I went to college."

Sungazer nodded. "Then, you're not that different from me after all." Shi sighed with relief. "I didn't want to unload all of my past upon you, but I felt you needed to know that I had a rough early life. It was never easy for me to make new friends."

Copper stepped closer, and hugged Sungazer. "It's alright, hun. We're all here to help you." Shi licked at hir muzzle. "Even if sometimes you are a horse's ass."

If it weren't for the thick fur covering Sun's face, shi'd have blushed as shi kissed back. "Well, I've unloaded myself upon you enough for the night, Copperhead. Would you care to unload your history upon me?" shi asked in return.

Copper nodded, then looked back and forth around the small cave. "How about we head over to where we normally sleep, and I'll tell you before we pass out?" Shi gave hir a slight nudge, pointing off to one section slightly dimmer than the rest as the fires were allowed to die down until only small flickers of light remained.

The two padded around several other clusters of chakats, who were resting or in a few places, already asleep. They left the main cavern, now letting their enhanced senses of hearing and scent lead them along past several small dug out shallow caves where they heard several other others whispering to each other, and in two of them, the sounds of whispered lovemaking going on.

Sungazer flicked hir ears, hir tail curling around a bit as shi felt partly embarrassed to be overhearing the whispered sounds, as shi followed Copper thru the tunnel that led to another branch of the main cavern, which opened up into another chamber. In here, about fifteen other chakats were already sleeping or whispering between themselves. Shi glanced at Copper, mostly by listening to hir heartbeat and the soft thump of hir paws hitting the cave floor.

"Would you rather be up out in the air?" shi whispered to Copper. "It would be more private there if you'd like."

Copper shook hir head. "No." Shi led the way around most of the sleepers, until shi reached the mats that shi'd carried here once the two had returned from the observation circle. Shi lowered hirself down upon the mat, one paw reaching up to pull Sungazer down with hir. "Come here," shi whispered.

Sun couldn't help but feel a bit nervous, which Copper felt thru hir link. Shi tried hir best to radiate confidence, as well as calm to Sungazer.

Eventually, after several heartbeats, Sun knelt, settling down besides Copperhead. Shi whispered back, while wrapping an arm around the other chakat's upper waist. "Alright. So, what's your story?" shi asked softly, keeping hir own voice low.

Copper began to speak.

"Back on Earth, my family had come over from Ireland during the Potato Famine. They settled in upper New York, living with another family who had arrived several years before, and stayed until great-grandfather could get work in one of the factories in New York City. Luckily, great-grandmother was able to save enough money to pay off after a few years, and once the stock market bottomed out, to purchase a farm away from the city. Once there, the family worked their butts off in order

to keep the farm during the Great Depression."

Sungazer nodded. "Sounds like you got your hair from them then." Shi grinned, bringing up hir paw to run slowly over Copper's red hair. "It's pretty, just like you."

Copper blushed at that. "Shusshhh, you gave me some of your history, let me fill you in on mine."

"After World War II broke out, two of my great uncles joined up. One went into the Army, the other into the Navy. We lost both of them, one during the early years fighting the Germans in Africa, the other at the bottom of the Atlantic by a German U-boat, when the ship he was on was sank, just off shore Greenland."

"So, in the years after the war, it was a bit harder for their remaining son, and his two sisters. Each of my great aunts finally got married, and took off from the farm, while my grandfather remained, after Grandpa died. About 1953, he married, and ended up with a wife who stayed with him, and bore him two sons, and one daughter, my mother."

Sungazer blinked. "So, she was born before 1960 or thereabouts?" shi asked, thinking it over.

"Hush, or I'll stop," Copper replied, while still grinning.

Sun nodded, before shi kissed hir again. "I won't interrupt you until you're finished, hun."

Copper started up again.

"Anyway, Mom ended up being the black sheep of the family for her generation. She grew up just as the hippie era was ending, and she fell into it. From what I gathered, she took off after her seventeenth birthday, and floated around the country for about three years, until she showed up back at the family farm, with a big belly. Seems she got herself pregnant, and came home for the birth. Granddad wasn't happy about it, and there were quite a few yelling fights for the next two months, until Great Grandmother put her foot down."

"She claimed that the child was family, and that there was no way a baby of any of her children would be aborted. She ended up getting Mom and her father to at least grudgingly settle down, at least until I was born. Once Mom had me, she took off again, and I only got some letters now and then, when she got the urge to write to her daughter."

"I grew up on the farm. Thankfully, everyone had by this time accepted me, and they all loved me. That helped, when I realized one day that I didn't have a Mommy or a Daddy, and that all my ‘parents’ were much older than they should be."

"And that's about it. One of my cousins was working down in New York City itself, training to become a police officer, and he was willing to share his small apartment with me, as I studied at Emporia University. That's where I was picked up to go along on this trip, and how I ended up here."

Sungazer chuckled. "Seems we both come from fractured families. Did you ever meet your mother?" shi asked.

Copper shook hir head. "Not often enough, as far as I'm concerned. She did eventually marry, and settle down, about the time I was fifteen. But she never came home after that, and I never heard whether she wanted me to come visit my step father."

Sungazer sighed. "Well, at least you had a family who loved you. It partly made up for your mother. Did she ever tell you who your father was?"

Copper snorted, as shi laid down on the mat. "Nope. As far as I could find out, Great Grandmother tried asking once, but Mom ended up saying that she wasn't sure. It could have been about four or five guys she had been with at the time."

Sungazer patted Copper's upper shoulder. "Guess there's nothing I can say to help, not after that."

Copper murred. "No. I'm used to it by now." Shi leaned over to kiss Sungazer. "Don't worry. I never let it upset me. And now, we're all going to let our past slide away in obscurity."

Sun nodded. "Well, let's hope on this world, we never let that kind of situation ever occur."

The two finished curling up, and gradually fell asleep.

The next morning, Sun and Copper headed out back to First Light hill, where they started moving some rocks around on the hill top. "Once we've gotten the rocks forming a circle, we'll dig the hole for making the sundial," Sun said. "Then, we'll have to keep checking everyday for the length of the shadow, to find out when it's the summer solstice. Once we got that date, we can start counting the days until it's the winter one, and we'll have a rough estimate of the length of the year of this planet."

Copper nodded. "Hey, Sun?" She held up a rock, turning it over a bit, brushing at the underside, cleaning it off. "You remember any geology?"

The rock had a lump on the side of it, formed into a crystal that was bifocal in shape. It was metallic, as if formed by growing along the side of the main rock. Sun scratched his muzzle, before shi shook hir head. "I'm not sure, Copper. It's not copper, 'cause it should look green." Hir paws reached out to lift the rock from Copper's paw, and shi turned it over again, looking at the various sides. "Nope, I've not a clue." Shi passed it back to Copper, who placed it into hir saddlebags.

"I'll take it back. Maybe one of the others can figure out what the rock is," Copper said.

Sun nodded. "Right. Well, I only wish Taurger hadn't vanished like shi had. Shi had quite a few good ideas about measuring distances, as well as the idea of using a plumb bob to help build straight walls." Shi glanced over the cleared area, which was on one side of the flattened meadow that was atop the hill. "Let's clear off the site then, and dig the hole for our measuring pole."

Between the two, they removed quite a few of the rocks, doing their best to clear a large circle about three times their length. In the middle of this clear area, the two dug down as far as they could reach, scraping it out with their front claws, tossing rocks away as they went down.

"There. Now we'll be able to tell the time of the day," as Sun picked up another rock, this time turning it over and looking at the different coloration. "Copper, here's some more of that same crystal structure." Shi paused. "We might as well grab all we can carry for when we go back tonight. See if any of the rock hounds can figure out what this is."

Copper nodded. "Indeed. You know, if this does turn out to be worth it, we could get quite a few others to help us clear out the rocks then."

Sun laughed. "Maybe. Still, it'd be nice to know that we'd done something besides rigging up a simple solar calendar and spotting circle. I hope one of the hunters remembers to find us a long straight tree or pole. Maybe we could use one of the long bamboo shoots from the Bamboo Canyon for our sun pole?"

Copper chuckled. "Yeah, but we'll have to come out here every day, and watch to see whether or not we've reached either the winter or summer solstice."

Sun grinned back, as shi padded over to hug Copper. "Either way, we'll then have a rough idea of how long the planet's year is. That'll be a big help, in order to find out planting times, the seasons, weather patterns." Shi stopped, then leaned in to kiss the other chakat. "And the time until the birth of cubs."

Copper blinked, then shi grinned and hugged him back. "Are you asking me to marry you?" shi asked.

Sungazer glanced down at the ground for a moment, before shi raised hir muzzle to look at Copper's eyes. "Yes. If you're willing to accept me, as your mate."

Copper kissed Sun back. "Only if you're willing to be mine as well, Sun. I don't want to be just the mother to cubs."

Sun's tail curled around a bit, before shi nodded. "It'll be a while until I can feel right at being … well… a mother, but if you're the one, I'll try my best to accept it."

Copper nuzzled for a moment with Sungazer. "Hun, believe me, it's not that bad being the one receiving another’s love." Shi eased around to where hir tail curled around Sun’s. "Trust me. Once you're in your feminine time, you'll be wanting for me or someone to help scratch your inner itching."

Sun looked a bit uncomfortable at that. "I… I'm not sure, Copper, but as long as you're willing to be careful…." Hir further words were cut off by Copper kissing hir.

"Of course I will, hun," Copper grinned. "Now, while we're not needed by the others…" Shi stepped a bit away from Sun. "Care to follow me?" shi asked, hir tail twitching around a bit. Copper slowed enough to let Sun catch up with hir, and the two padded thru the grass out of the meadow, until shi led him to a small glade that was shaded by large trees. "I found this a few days ago, Sun, and I've got something to ask you." Shi paused, then shi gripped hir paws in hir own. "If it's not past time, I should still be in heat, at least. If so, there's a good chance I should become pregnant if you would mate with me now."

Sun nodded, smiling at Copper. Shi reached out with hir arms, and pulled the redheaded chakat close, kissed hir deeply. "Just try to keep me from being your husband," shi murred, stepping slowly around as shi rubbed over Copper's upper then lower back. "Mind kneeling, hun? Or would you rather roll over onto your back?"

Copper giggled, as shi twisted hir upper section around to grin back. "Hummm, what a choice. Still, I think it'll be quite a challenge, if we did it like real cats would." Shi lowered hir front paws, still keeping hir rear legs standing. "That better?" shi asked as shi winked at Sun.

Sun chuckled. "Hummm, much better," shi said as hir paws slowly ran over Copper's rump. Shi watched as Copper pulled hir tail over to one side, then grinned, before shi lowered hir muzzle down to sniff at Copper's vaginal area. "Nice and clean, hun." Before Copper could reply, Sun extended hir tongue out to swipe over the pink lips and the slightly exposed inner flesh.

"Whoooh!" Copper exclaimed, shivering now at the touch. Shi closed hir eyes, murring as Sun repeated the action. "You won't need to do that much to bring me off, Sun."

The other chakat chuckled. "Hey, I want to make sure you're slick enough for me."

Copper laughed. "Oh, I'm more than ready, Sun. Now, come on, please? Don't tease me anymore. I want you." Shi breathed out huskily.

Sun perked up hir ears as shi looked at Copper’s face. "Alright, love." Shi stood up, and slowly straddled Copper's back half, purring as shi finally felt hir cock slip into that very tight wet covering of flesh. "Gods! Why did I wait so long?" shi whispered into the afternoon air.

Copper murred, shuddering as shi just enjoyed that touch of Sun's member. "Oh, Sun. Yes!" shi replied. "It's been too long since I've had a good fuck."

"Oh? What about a bad one?" Sun asked, grinning, only to receive a swat against hir right arm.

"Silly kitty. Now, come on, I want you to ride me, Sun. I really want to be a mother, and I don't want to wait another month for this."

Slowly, carefully, the two started in. After a few strokes to get their rhythm going, both of the two were moaning and gasping with their combined desires that seemed to grow. "Either… we're tapping… into our… empathy…" Sun gasped out, "Or… you're… just so…. sexy!" shi got out.

Copper murred, curling hir tail around behind Sun to wrap around Sun's. "I don't care!" shi got out. "I want you… Now!" as shi cried out, gasping as the first of hir orgasms hit.

Sun moaned as well before, with a roar, shi plowed hirself hard against Copper’s rump. Shi held still, as shi felt hir seed spill down into Copper’s body.

"Oh, yes…" Copper grunted out, as hir inner muscles tugged and pulled on Sun's member, milking the other chakat.

For Sun, it was pure heaven. Shi finally felt the last of hir sperm flow out, before shi leaned forward to lick at Copper's shoulders. "All done…" shi whispered. "For now, anyway, hun."

Copper chuckled. "Thanks, Sun." Shi twisted about to kiss Sun. "Yes, for now."

The two rested in the shady area, eventually falling asleep in each other's arms.

"It's a lovely day, folks. The parade's about to start," the female news reporter said, looking into the camera. "People have been lined up for hours, some even here before daybreak, to get their choice seats along the route."

In the background, the roaring of jet planes raced overhead, as they split off into various patterns with the other vehicles in the sky. The sounds of several bands all began at once to play, and the first of the marching troops started going down the route. "And the parade is on."

Back in the main studio, one of the older reporters asked. "How is the mood of the crowd?"

The info babe grinned. "Everyone we've seen today is ecstatic. Especially since the President's going to be giving a speech at noon from the White House. From what I've seen, several people have set up lemonade stands, or are selling bottles of water to those who forgot to bring something along to drink. Business is brisk at the moment, with the temperature at about ninety degrees."

From down the street, over the noise of the crowd, was heard something that shouldn't have been there. At first it was considered by some as just more firecrackers going off, before people started screaming. More and more gunshots fired out, then, as one of the parade tanks rolled close, a huge explosion rocked the street. The tank flipped up into the air, like it was popcorn, before rolling from the force of the bomb that had gone off under the street to fall with its turret hitting the pavement first.

New screams, and now utter panic set in. People were rushing past the camera crew, as they fought to see what had gone on. Another series of shots rang out, and a voice, possibly from the cameraperson shouting, "I ain't getting paid for this crap!" as the camera dropped to the street, the signal breaking off quickly.

The main reporter, back at the studio looked stunned, as the picture shifted back to him. "Carlie? Carlie? Can you hear me? What's going on?" as there were now voices picking up talking loudly in the back of the studio. "Anyone getting anything from the other camera crews?" he asked, as the picture jumped to another shot, this time from another part of the city.

This second crew had been parked near the Washington Monument, and with a sharp cry of disbelief, and the camera shot showed the tall white stone building crack, and fall over, the needle pointing towards the Capitol building.

From the main news studio, gasps could be heard as from several parts of the city, streaks leapt up from the ground, about half hitting the low flying jets. The aircraft came apart in mid-air, like they were children's toys. There were no parachutes that could be seen.

"My God," whispered the news anchor. "What's going on here?"

Copper awoke, as Sun mumbled in hir sleep. "Sun?" shi asked, looking at the other chakat. Hir tail flipping, Sungazer growled slightly, hir paws gripping as hir rear legs jerked in reflex as if shi were running away from something.

Copper paused, a bit spooked at how scared shi felt. Shi cleared hir mind, trying to reach out for Sun, only to feel a rush of fear and sadness sweep thru hir mind. "Sun!" shi called out, one hand brushing over the still sleeping chakat. "Wake up, hun!"

The touch awoke Sun, who growled as shi jolted upright, before stumbling a short distance, hir hands out, the claws on them extended as shi hurriedly looked about as if ready to defend hirself from an attacker. "Wha…" Shi stopped, panting as the fear shi'd been dreaming rushed through hir mind. "Copper?" shi got out, looking a bit embarrassed as shi hurriedly blinked, then brushed a hand over hir face, sweeping some of hir head fur out of the way. "Oh, gods…." Shi shivered, before settling down again, looking at Copperhead, hir eyes wide from the dream that shi had retreated from the front of hir mind.

Copper eased closer, once shi realized that Sun wasn't going to attack hir. "Easy, Sun. It was just a bad dream."

Sun barked a short burst of laughter. "You're telling me?" Shi placed a paw over where hir upper heart was, feeling the muscles contracting hard within hir chest. "Gods! It was like watching some gory end of the world movie." Shi licked hir lips.

Copper murred. "Care to talk about it?" shi asked.

The other chakat nodded. "Actually, I think I'd better." Shi slowly calmed down further, as shi told Copper about the dream, and all that had happened within it. "So, that's it. As far as I can tell, Washington comes under attack by someone. Who?" Shi shakes hir head. "I've no idea."

Copper shuddered. "And since we don't know where we are…"

Sun nodded. "We can't get word home, nor even know where home is." Shi turned to look at Copper. "As far as I know, hun, we may be the last of the… well, sentient intelligences from Earth."

The two sat there for a few minutes longer, each wrapped up in their thoughts as Copper continued to hug Sun. Eventually, shi shrugged. "Sun, I guess it's best then, if we concentrate on our survival. 'Cause, if what you saw was real, the world may have turned itself inside out if anyone started throwing nuclear bombs around."

Sun murred. "In that case, maybe our kidnappers knew it was a possible outcome, and decided to save some people. But, then why did they turn us all into chakats?"

Copper chuckled. "Simple. Why not? After all, we can all be mothers and fathers. So, this way, we'll be better as parents, and as a species, especially with our empathic abilities." Shi nudged Sun, getting up and stretching a bit. "Besides, hun. I'd say you'd be a very good father to our children. Or mother…" as shi winked back to the other chakat.

Sun laughed in return, also getting up from the ground. "Well, next time we'll have to try it on a mat, instead of the grass and all." Shi grinned, sliding an arm around Copper's waist. "Come on, let's get back and find out what's for supper."

Copper spoke after several minutes. "Will you want to tell the others about your dream?"

The other chakat thought it over. "No… not right now." Shi twisted hir muzzle a bit. "I… I wouldn't want them to think I was strange or anything, you know, like the X-men or anything like that."

Copperhead and Sungazer trotted back towards the area where the main den was sited. After nearly four days of doing nothing but moving rocks into a rough circle at First Light hill, as well as digging out the deep hole for the sun pole, they were exhausted. Happy, yet tired, they spoke for some time, wondering who they could talk with in the hunter group, about going with the next day to find a straight branch or tree that was dead and could be used for measuring the days with..

"After all, Sun, if we can find a long enough pole or something from Bamboo Canyon, it'll be just right for us at First Light hill." Copper said, as the two stopped to look around, a scent of a pukka having been caught by them both.

"Right." Sun replied. Shi waved a paw up, then closed hir eyes, sniffing slowly. Shi smiled, glancing at Copperhead. "Feel like doing some shopping?" shi asked, bringing up the spear shi'd built with several of the other chakats during the first week.

Copper slid hir tongue over hir lips. "Sure. Nothing like stopping at the supermarket, before going home." Shi winked back, and the two chakats spread apart slowly, each lowering their upper bodies until they were closer to the ground. By now, the usage of noses and ears had become common enough to them as they tracked the movements of the potential food, until Sun froze. Before hir, a thicket of weeds spread out into an area, just barely big enough for the chakat to slip hir head into, which opened before hir to reveal what was happening.

Sungazer pulled hir head back, while shi waved hir left arm slowly, keeping the spear pointed up and down as shi slowly backed away from the area. Once Copper had backed off as well, Sun shook hir head. "It's a female, and she's giving birth."

Copper blinked. "This time of the year?"

Sun nodded. "Well, perhaps it's normal for them to deliver about now. Come on, we'd better get back, and let the resident biologists know about our discovery."

"But, what about food?" Copperhead asked in return.

Sungazer shook hir head. "You don't kill a mother. That's one of the first lessons I learned from my grandfather and father. Especially when they are the ones who keep the species going. And would you like it, if something came after you while you were trying to give birth?"

Copper nodded. "I see. You're right."

Sungazer chuckled. "Don't worry. I'm sure White Tip will be very eager to hear this news. After all, it wouldn't do for us to strip out so many of the local herds, without knowing how long it takes for them to start replenishing their numbers." Shi grinned at Copper. "After all, we're only doing the same, right?"

Copper flicked hir ears as shi grinned back. "Right. But, you spoke the other day, about building up large water-power generators, and fish-farming the seas. Do you think we could do that?"

Sun nodded, keeping hir voice low as the two headed back towards the dens. "Of course, but not right away. At best, I think we should build up several small dams and watermills. Sort of like the type around Maine and New England for grinding grains. We could rig the buildings up so that as they turn the paddle wheels, they could also run turbines. After all, a few dozen of them, set up along small streams at intervals, would be much more pleasant looking than something like a huge dam like Hoover. And it wouldn't harm the local environment as much."

Copper grinned at that. "You do think big, don't you." Shi chuckled. "And once we've gotten our small streams all filled with these water mills? What then?"

Sun shrugged. "Well, there's so many other ways of power generation. Methane burning systems, that use compost and our shit mixed to be used and then the left over made into mulch for our gardens. That'd be a big help in the long run."

The two padded along, as Copper thought that over. "Gardens? You don't think we'll set up large tracts of land like farms?"

Sungazer laughed. "Nah. It wouldn't be worth the effort. After all, if we're trying to preserve as much of the local land, unlike what happened back on Earth, why not keep as much simplified as possible. There are ways of creating high tech, and still preserving the environment at the same time. Now, granted, the Millennium Project did think big, because they wanted to get large numbers of humanity off planet before the year 2500. Basically, they wanted first a series of floating ocean cities to hold several hundred thousand people, each city producing lots of money and electricity as well as food and water for the local major countries. But, here, we don't have the population and won't, with care, for several generations. And since we're supposedly able to live for about one hundred and fifty Terran years, that'll give us plenty of time to plan out very long range projects."

Copper whistled a bit. "Man, they thought big, didn't they?" Shi chuckled. "I'd have enough trouble back on Earth planning for two weeks ahead, and you're talking centuries now."

Sun chuckled. "Well, let's just say, I loved the big overall picture they wanted to follow. From the oceans on Earth, to a huge floating city in geo-stationary orbit, to a long term project of building up a dome over a crater on the moon and filling it with life from Earth's biosphere." Shi shrugged. "From the moon, to Mars, then outward bound, to the asteroids. Once we'd learned how to handle living that far from the sun, the whole universe would be no longer anything to be afraid of. Just one long trip to get there, then set up several colonies to build up to full worlds on their own."

Copper shook hir head. "And now? What would you change about living here on this world?"

Sun grinned. "Well, of course we should build electrical generators as soon as possible, as well as computers. The paper production is a good start to record our knowledge from Earth, and we should promote that as much as possible. I think the next major choice of our advancement should be a printing press. That, as well as copper and bronze, as soon as we can find a way to make them."

"Bronze?" Copper asked back. "I can see copper, for electricity, but bronze? What was that for?"

"Think back thru history, Copperhead." As Sungazer glanced at hir lover, shi continued. "Bronze was used for centuries by the Roman Empire, for their weapons until the knowledge of steel was developed. After all, it was called the Bronze Age of Man. Of course, since we don't know where we can find copper, we might just have to jump past to iron and steel."

Copper reached into hir bags, then brought out the metallic rock. "What about this?" shi asked. "Think it's something that might help?"

Sungazer looked down into Copper's right paw, to see the rock therein. "I don't know. Don't forget to show that to our resident chemist, DeVargin."

Copper laughed. "You mean Virgin Ass?" Shi giggled. "Anyway, sure. I don't think he'd mind, but we'll see when we get back to the caves."

Overhead, the overclouded skies darkened quickly, so that by mid-afternoon, about the time the pair were nearing the caves, it was nearly dark.

Sun glanced up at the clouds. "You know," shi murmured to hirself, "I think it's good we got back so soon. I think there's a storm brewing that's going to be rather rough out there." No sooner than shi said that, than the clouds burst open with a light shower, then quickly grew worse before steadying down.

"Yeup. A real cloud-burster." Copper chuckled. "What next, Sun? You going to take up becoming the resident weather forecaster?"

"Why not? After all, we'll all need to cross-train in dozens of scientific areas of knowledge, and with over a century of life to live, we'll have plenty of time to learn what we want to know." The two ducked into one of the smaller caves that had been used during the evacuation from the first cave when they'd arrived on this world, and waited out the brief shower.

"You know, Copperhead, we really should consider some of the other aspects that astronomy assisted in. I mean, your idea of me turning into a meteorologist isn't that bad of an idea. Nor that for us each to undertake new skills."

Copperhead chuckled, as shi cuddled next to Sun. "Well, that and we could also take time out now and then to become teachers to the cubs. Besides being useful by making sure the kids get a basic education in mathematics, we could help with long term planning, like your Millennium group had. If this is our new home, and from what you dream, it might really become it, we'll have to translate all we've learned from Earth, and adapt it to our new home."

Sungazer stopped, before shi glanced at Copper. "You've just reminded me of something, hun. Mathematics." Shi shook hir body a bit, the rain streaming down off hir fur coat. "What was it?" shi murred aloud. "There's something at the edge of my memory. It was a primitive calculating device."

Copperhead hummed, tilting hir head while looking at Sungazer. "Oh? What type was it?" shi asked back. "That old one with gears and pulleys?  Or are you thinking of Brainiac? Or whatever that first computer made from vacuum tubes was named?"

Sun snickered. "No, Copper. Brainiac was the name of a major villain that fought with Superman in the days before DC remade him in the mid-eighties or so. No, this was something even older." Shi paused, then brought up hir paws, making motions in the air. "It was a series of rods, with small beads placed upon each rod. Ah, now I remember. An abacus. That's what it was called."

Copper chuckled. "Oh, yeah. I remember it now." Shi nudged Sungazer before shi kissed him. "Think you could make one?" As shi spoke, a bolt of lightning rolled overhead, the thunder causing each chakat’s ears to flatten down on their heads.

Sun looked up thru the trees towards the clouds, holding a paw up to shade hir eyes from the rain. Hir tail swished slowly, as hir ears rose upwards once more. They flickered about, before shi turned towards a low roaring noise shi could hear from outside the cave. "What in…" shi breathed out. By now, Copper had also started looking towards the entrance, then back to Sun with a questioning look upon hir face. Sun's body quivered, as shi turned to grab Copper by an arm. "Come on, let's go further back into this cave." Shi led Copper away from the entrance.

Copper wasn't sure why Sun was dragging hir for a few steps until shi could gain hir momentum. "Why? What's wrong?" Hir ears swiveled from side to side, flickering back to where Sun had been looking.

"Think, Copper. Thunderstorm, high winds, and the latitude of the planet." Sun finished hir words, as the gradual downpour turned into a full-blown dropping of heavy rain, sheets of water dumping from the clouds overhead. The noise increased, as the two chakats looked towards the entrance.

Sun looked outside, seeing the wind starting to bend the trees. "Great. I left Earth, and I'm going to get killed by an alien tornado."

Copper couldn't help but squeal in fright as another hard blast of light lit up the area, and the two squatted down. Even as they watched the entrance, there was a *crash* as a tree fell over the front of the cave. The two hugged each other in fright, as the winds increased in volume. Sun moved quickly to place hir body between Copper and the entrance. Leaves, stripped by the winds, blew into the opening, as well as small twigs as the roaring grew. Each closed their eyes, as Sun prayed that Copper would survive, as shi felt hir left flank being scraped by the flying debris.

Copperhead hugged Sungazer, hir whole body quivering as the tremendous noise of the tornado roared overhead. Both of their earflaps were pulled down tightly, as Sun felt that the high roar kept going for what felt an eternity, before it gradually faded away. Sun pulled back, letting Copper ease away. "You okay?" shi asked, worry upon hir face as the other chakat pulled hir back against hirself into a hard hug..

"I just want to go home!" Copper wailed, hir terror fully evident, as shi broke down in tears. "I… want to be back on Earth!"

"Shushhh! It's alright, Copper. I'm here." Sun rocked Copper slowly, as the other chakat slowly recovered from the scare the two had just survived thru. Sun brushed hir paws slowly down over Copperhead's mane, using hir limited empathic to feel how Copper was doing.

It took several long deep breaths, before Copper pushed away slowly away from Sun, wiping hir eyes clear of hir tears. *Sniff* "I'm sorry, hun. I… I've always wanted to explore other worlds, but never like this."

Sun murred, as shi brushed a paw over Copper's muzzle, moving the reddish hair out of the way. "It's alright, Copper." Shi chuckled. "Neither did I." Shi kissed Copper, murring gently to hir mate. As the two released their kiss, Sun winced, and Copper noticed it.

"What's wrong?" shi asked. Shi ran hir paws over Sungazer's body, looking more closely, only to stop when shi found a trace of blood upon the other's left flank. "You're bleeding…"

"Yeah, I know. That storm blew in a lot of twigs and such…" Sun murred, as they got up from where Sun had protected Copper from the worst of the flying debris. "Let's see about getting out, before we call me a basket case, hummm?"

The two were forced to stop just short of the entrance, and look with astonishment at the size of the tree that had fallen down. Even with the darkened skies overhead, there was enough light to show that the tree's main trunk was almost as big as either chakat's main lower body. "Damn, that's going to be a pain to get around…" Copper said, as the two tried to push it away from the cave opening.

"It's no good…" said Sun, as the two were forced to halt after a few minutes. "We'll need axes at the very least to chop it away. And I don't remember if the flint-maker's been building any."

"Don't worry, Sun. I'm sure once the others find us, they'll start making one." Copper pulled Sun close and kissed hir. Shi ran hir paw down over Sun's body. "Turn around slightly, will you?" shi asked. "I want to take a good look at your wounds."

Sun did, and Copper could see that thankfully most of the injuries were minor, mostly cuts and abrasions where the twigs had only been able to imbed themselves about a quarter of an inch into Sungazer's flank. "I bet they hurt like crazy," shi muttered, starting to pluck the wood slivers out.

"Ouch!" Sun exclaimed, after a long one came out. "Well, at least you're not hurt." Shi sighed, then winced again after what felt like Copper pulled the third twig out of hir flank. "Easy, Copper. I'm not like that game, ‘Operation’, ya know?"

Copper stopped, then shi began to snicker. "You wouldn't want to be. I could never win at that stupid game. I was always banging that pair of tweezers against the sides, and setting off the buzzer."

Sungazer chuckled as well. "I never played it, Copper." Shi grinned to the other chakat. "Anyway, how many more of them are…"

From outside, could be heard a loud yell. It was from one of the other chakats, who was calling out for anyone to report in.

"That sounded like Autumnleaves…" Copper spoke, as the echoes faded.

"Yeah…" replied Sun. "Cover your ears, hun." Sun waited until shi could see Copper doing so, before shi yelled out with hir full lung capacity.

In a few minutes, several other chakats were all calling, and Sun repeated hir yell, but this time with only hir normal breathing lungs, to prevent Copper from wincing at the cry.

"Wow, take a look at this!" said a voice from the outside.

"Yeah, we've pretty well solved the wood problem for the paper mill," snickered a second.

"Hey, come on fellas," said Sungazer. "Copper and I are trapped in here."

Copper spoke. "And Sun's been hurt while trying to protect me," shi got out.

"It's only a few scratches," Sun began, as the outside voices chuckled.

"We'll have to do this in pieces, Sun. I don't know how long this will take," said Valeria.

"Take your time, Val." Copper hugged Sun. "Because there's no rush. Not now." Shi turned hir attention to hir fellow trapped chakat. "I've decided, Sun. I want you for my lifemate."

Sun blinked, because shi'd never expected this from Copperhead. "You sure?" shi asked, hir eyes wide at the surprise. "I mean, not just to have a child by me?"

Copper nodded back. "I'm sure."

Sun never felt the pain as Copper settled down to remove the last few wood pieces that had become embedded within hir flank. Shi coughed, then once the last one was gone, turned to raise Copper's paw and kiss it. "Would you be willing to marry me?" shi asked. "We don't have rings, or anything else to show our love to each other."

Copper placed hir paw over Sun's muzzle. "I will. And I do." Shi kissed hir lover, and now lifemate, purring deeply as hir love was freely returned.

Outside, Autumnleaves chuckled, as the other chakats working at cutting and moving the tree glanced towards hir. "About time!" shi called out to the two in the cave.

Sun and Copper blushed a bit, each of their ears turning redder on the inside. They looked at each other, then began to snicker, then laugh as the relief of finally admitting their love had caught up with them.


Chakats and the Chakat Universe are the creations of Bernard Doove and are used with permission.

The Colony and its original characters are copyright V. Ducain and are used with permission.

All else is copyright © 2005 to Allen Billings.

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