First Day : Revelations
I remember falling, then I was sprawled on my back with a very big cat bending over me, feeling my head, and looking in my eyes. Then the cat spoke, “I can't tell for sure if there is any real damage, but except for a possible concussion, I don't think she will have more then a few bruises.” Then through my throbbing head I also remembered waking up and discovering I had been turned into some kind of feline centaur.
Another voice I recognized as Colonel Deering's said, “That was a pretty spectacular tumble. At least we know we, or at least one of us anyway, has a pretty thick skull.”
Another voice added, “Yeah, and we don't necessarily land on our feet either.”
My head hurt and it felt like I had been beaten across the head and back. I was also still confused enough to ask, “Uhh, Wha. . . What happened?” a dumb question since I already figured out what happened.
The one kneeling beside me holding my head said, “You fell about eight feet on your head. You're lucky you didn't break your neck or skull. How do you feel?”
I groaned and said, “I feel like I fell eight feet on my head.”
As I rolled over and got to my feet, I asked the pretty auburn, white, and black coated, coppery maned person who helped me up, “Thank you for your help. Are you a medical doctor or nurse?”
She said, “No, but I have had some basic emergency medical training. I am May Parker. I overheard you asking the First Pilot about me. Why did you wish to see me? Do I know. . . Oh, you must be Mister Smith.”
I nodded, carefully, and said, “Yes, I was, but I'm White Tip now.”
Another person helping me get up said, “That was a nasty fall you took. You really should take it easy for a while. You could have injuries that may not be evident right now. Do you feel any sharp pains in your neck or back?”
“No, not any sharp pains, but my neck, back. . . upper back I mean, and my, uhh. . . waist(?) do feel sore in general.” I replied to the black and white coated, black maned person, before asking, “Are you a medical doctor?” as she felt my neck and began probing down along my back.
About then she poked a rather tender spot on my back, causing me to jerk, then she poked it again, and commented in a distracted tone of voice, “Mmmm, I do not see any obvious damage, but seems a bit tender here. Probably going to be sore for a few days.” After she finished her examination, she answered my question, “Yes and no. I am a Doctor of veterinarian medicine, and. . . ”
I felt like I was just handed the winning ticket to a lottery as I exclaimed, “You're a vet!?”
She seemed surprised by my reaction as she started to say, “Uh, well, yes I. . . ”
I interrupted her with a hug as I exclaimed, “That's great! You're just what we'll need. I expected there would be some people aboard the plane with some kind of medical training, probably two or three RN's and maybe even a doctor or two. But we're not human, so an experienced veterinarian would be the best doctor we could have.” I paused, then turned her loose as I remembered to ask, “Oh, by the way, what's your name? How long have you been a vet?”
“I'm Katherine, Katherine Kawaguchi. I've work with mostly the larger mammalian species during most of my career.”
Her name sounded familiar and I asked, “Katherine Kawaguchi? I think I've heard of you.”
May said, “I believe Katherine Kawaguchi has been the director of a rather well known veterinarian research institute for about the last twenty years. The Tokyo Zoo, as well as many other major zoos, often solicit the aid of her institute.”
Katherine seemed pleased May knew of her as she said, “Yes, you are correct. I was returning from a consultation with the veterinarian department of the Rio Zoo.”
I recalled where I heard her name and said, “Ahh, yess. You, and two of your associates, took the same boat tour I did, and ended up missing our original flight.”
She nodded and said, “Yes. That was most annoying, but I did not feel like waiting for hours at that tiny uncomfortable terminal. The tour boat was a pleasant way to pass the time, or at least it was until the pilot ran over that fishing net.”
I shrugged as I agreed, “Yeah. I didn't feel like sitting around twiddling my thumbs either.” Then I asked, “Would your two companions also be veterinarians?”
She said, “No, not both. Jason has work at the Institute for about two years as a general small mammal veterinarian, with a special interest in parasitic infections. Paula is not actually a veterinarian, but she has worked at the Institute for over five years, and has developed into a quite competent surgical assistant. Jason and Paula were newlyweds taking advantage of doing a few hours work with my consultation team in return for a paid two week honeymoon in Rio.”
I openly admired Katherine's rather sleek sexy feline form and asked, “By the way, you are looking quite, ahh, healthy. How do you feel?”
She gave me a puzzled look before replying, “I'm feeling quite well, thank you. Why do you ask?”
I smiled as I said, “Well, On the boat, I could not help but notice you were in your sixties or seventies.”
“I'm eighty seven.”
I nodded and said, “Okay, eighty-seven. A relatively healthy active eighty-seven, but you were eight-seven years old.”
“So, now physically, you do not seem any older me, or May, or any other adult here. I hope you do not mind, but I'd like to point out you are quite attractive.” I glanced over at May, smiled and said, “And, you are still a knockout, May.”
Katherine smiled as she replied, “Yes, I have already noticed the rejuvenation effect of our transformation. As far as I can tell the rejuvenating effect is not just appearance. I was initially quite distressed, but since I have had time to reflect on my transformation, I have decided as far as I am personally concerned, this is not such a bad deal.”
I nodded and said, “Yeah, I guess I feel about the same way, at least as far as getting a younger healthy body, even if it is female. But, I am extremely pissed off about being kidnapped, turned into whatever we are now, then dumped in a big hole in the ground, without any more choice in the matter then lab animals.”
Someone suddenly said, “Oh, we're Chakats! Chakats are not male or female. Chakats are both male and female. You know? Hermaphrodites!”
The three of us, and several others who overheard this, turned to stare at an obviously young person who had been following us. The young teenager(?) had reddish-brown coat marked by a scattering of black spots and streaks, with a black tail and a dark reddish-blond mane. Under our stares she looked like she was about to bolt like a frightened rabbit.
Before I could say anything, Katherine asked the girl, “How did you reach the conclusion we are hermaphrodites?”
When the girl still looked like she was thinking about running away I quickly said, “Don't be afraid. We're not going to eat you.” I paused then added with a smile, “We might skin you, you do have an attractive coat, but we wouldn't eat you.”
The girl smiled at this and I asked, “What's your name, and why do you think we're hermaphrodites?”
“I'm Brandy Wilson, but I think Black Tail fits better now, don't you think so too?”, she said as she turned a little and flipped her black furred tail around to show it off.
I smiled and caressed the girl's long black tail as I said, “Yes, you do have a lovely black tail, but I think you better ask your parents if you can change your name to Black Tail.” At this the girl's smile fled as she suddenly looked like she was about cry. I put an arm around her shoulders and tried to comfort her as I said, “Hey, hey, there's no cause to cry. Even if your parents says you can't change your name, you can still use Black Tail as a nickname with your friends.”
Sniffling, she shook her head and said, “No, you don't understand. I can't ask my parents about anything! They, they're not here!”
I hugged the girl and said, “I'm sure they've just been changed like everyone else. We'll get you back together with them in an hour or two.”
She shook her head again and said, “No! You don't understand! They weren't on the plane with me and my sister! They're not HERE!!”
I glanced over to May and she nodded as she said, “Yes, there was six unaccompanied minors on the flight. Brandy Wilson, age thirteen, and her six year old sister Melissa Wilson. There was also Jay, Buffy, and Randal Corbin, ages five, fourteen, and seventeen, and sixteen year old Valerie Avagondin.”
I turned to Brandy and asked, “Where is your sister?”
She pointed over to where several small kids were energetically playing under the watchful eyes of four or five adults and said, “She's over there, playing with the other little kids. She's the one with the black spotted white fur and black hair.”
I smiled at Katherine and said, “Well, it sure looks like the kids are not too distressed by their transformation.”
Katherine grunted or chuckled and replied, “Yes, so I see, but I'd still like to know how Brandy knows we're hermaphrodites. I'm sure we are too, but without external testicles, it is not all that obvious even though we do have penises.”
Brandy, or Black Tail, lay down on her side and hiked up a back lag to give us a clear view of her belly as she took hold of what was obviously a penis sheath. Then said as she totally unselfconsciously held her furry sheath, “Yeah, we all got a penis in penis sheath, lot like a dogs. And we all also have a pus. . . uhh, I mean a vagina.” Returning to her feet she added, “Besides, we're Chakats, and Chakats are hermaphrodites.”
We all looked at each other more then a little puzzled by Brandy's confident insistence we was something called 'chakats'. Katherine, obviously as puzzled as the rest of us shook her head and asked, “What is a Chakat?”
Brandy started to say, “We are. . . ”
I interrupted with, “No, you know that's not enough. Now, what are Chakats, and why do you think we are Chakats?”
She shrugged and explained, “Chakats are a genetically engineered species, based on the best traits of many different species, mostly feline, but with a lot of canine and human genes, and with bits and pieces of many other species, mostly mammals. A Chakat's physical form most closely resembles that of a feline-taur, or a cattaur.”
“Yeah, you know. They're like centaurs, except they have a cat's lower body instead of a horse. There's also foxtaurs and wolftaurs, and a lot of other taurs.”
Katherine seemed a bit bemused as the girl continued. “I think we're Chakats because Chakats look like Cataurs. We look like Cataurs. Chakats are hermaphrodites. We are hermaphrodites. Chakats have long very strong fur-covered prehensile tails, and so do we.”
Brandy cupped her good-sized breasts as she said, “All Chakats, except for really young ones, have two large firm fur covered breasts on the chest of their upper torso, like a human woman, like we do now. Chakats as a species, don't have a set fur color and markings. Their fur can have almost any feline or canine color and marking, just like our fur.”
When 'Black Tail' paused Katherine said, “Well, I think I see why you think we're 'Chakats', but how do you know about these things? I've never heard of anything like you're talking about and I've worked with animals of all kinds for over sixty yours.”
I asked, “Black Tail, you're talking about some kind of fantasy or science fiction creatures, aren't you?”
The girl was obviously pleased I called her by the name she choose, but still gave me a look like a lot of teenagers give adults they think asked a dumb or too obvious a question, and said, “Well, of course, there's really no such thing as real Chakats. . .” Then she looked kind of sheepish as she said, “Uhh, well I didn't think there were any real ones anyway.”
I chuckled and said, “Well, I guess there are now.” Then I asked, “But where did you learn about Chakats? I read a lot of science fiction and Sword 'n' Sorcery fantasy, and I do not recall reading anything that had Chakats in the story.”
Brandy smiled and said, “Oh, I read about them on the internet.”
Katherine muttered, “Of course, 'The Internet'.”
Brandy said, “youh, I do a lot of net surfin'. There is all kinds of really kewl things on the net.”
Katherine asked, “How detailed was the information about these Chakats?”
Brandy Black Tail eagerly replied, “Oh there was all kinds of information, about their biology, and about their family and social lives. But, my character on the MUSH was a foxtaur tod, Danny 'Black Tip' Anderson, so I really don't know as much about Chakats as someone would who had a Chakat character. You really should ask one of them.”
“You mean there are other people here who know about Chakats?”, I asked.
Black Tail nodded and said, “youh, I think so. I know at least three people from the base had characters on the MUSH, and two of them had Chakat characters.”
I'm sure my ears perked up at this and I asked, “Who were they?”
“Uhh, well, I don't really know who they really are. I just know that three, maybe four players on the MUSH used the same ISP I used. As far as I know, the people living on the base were the only non-government and non-commercial users of that ISP.”
May asked, “How do you know those particular players were not local civilian employees, and even if they're not, why do you think they would be on the same aircraft?”
Black Tail, with exaggerated patience, explained, “Because they 'sounded' like Americans, and local civilian employees did not have regular after hours access to the ISP that served the base. But mainly because three of the four people left messages saying they may not be playing for a while the same day the Colonel announced the base was being closed. And since nearly all the Americans who were still stationed at the base at that time were on the airplanes, they're probably here. All you have ta do is find out who was playing Chakat Quicksilver and Chakat Nine Toes.”
Katherine chuckled and asked, “Well, how do you think whoever they are will react to waking up and finding they've been transformed into Chakats? I somehow do not think they will be that hard to find.”
*** *** ***
I waited until everyone was awake then I climbed to the top of the boulder again and called, “Could I have your attention, please. Chakat Quicksilver. . . Chakat Nine Toes. . . I say again; Chakat Quicksilver. . . Chakat Nine Toes. . . I need to talk to anyone who knows what I am referring to. If anyone knows what I am referring to, then you probably have a good idea why I need to speak with you.”
I paused to see if anyone reacted to my request with more then curiosity before continuing. “Since everyone seems to be awake now, you should know Reconnaissance Teams are being sent out to find a way out of here, and to scout out the immediate area. I expect this will take at least five or six hours, but depending on what they find they may be gone until well after night fall. So, we will most likely be spending the night in here since this cavern seems to be pretty safe. After the Recon Teams return, we will decide what to do next based on what they find out.
“While the Recon Teams are doing this job, the former flight crew and flight attendants will be assisting me in gathering basic information about the skills and expertise we have available as a group. We will be primarily interested in any basic survival skills as well as any other skills that may improve our chances of survival in primitive conditions. This would include such things as basket weaving, ceramics, tanning, paper making, flint chipping, and any other primitive technologies. Other skills and expertise which are not normally considered to be 'survival skills and expertise', but which will enhance our comfort or 'quality of life' without detracting from our survival efforts, will also be needed. But, at this time, such high tech and specialized skills and areas of knowledge as computer programming, nuclear physics, and tort or corporate law will not be needed for quite some time.”
While I was speaking, I noticed five or six people making their way through the crowd toward my 'speaking platform'. This time after I finished talking, I got down off the boulder top by simply leaping down. The fifteen or sixteen foot drop proved no more difficult or jarring then a three or four foot drop would have been before my transformation. This was much easier and proved much, much less painful then the 'cautious, safe' way I tried the first time.
I found Deering, Di Vargin, Zandora and seven other people waiting when I rejoined May and Katherine. Deering and Di Vargin tried to speak at the same time and ended up glaring at each other.
While Deering and Di Vargin exchanged glares, Zandora spoke up, “While everyone was waking up, I had a couple of the guys take a look up a small water worn passageway that caught my attention. They reported it was a fairly easy direct passage to the surface, and opens out into a dry wash after a few hundred meters.” She paused then added in a serious quiet voice, “I took a quick look. I did not like what I found, not at all. It is starting to get cloudy out there, and from what I saw of how that wash runs, it will drain off any rain water and send it right down that passage into this chamber. From the way this chamber is silted up I'd guess it floods fairly regularly.”
“Damn!”, I exclaimed, “I was hoping we could stay together in here until after the Recon Teams checked the area out. I assume you're talking about storm clouds.”
Zandora nodded and said, “Yeah, it looks like we're in for a lot more then a light summer shower. And, personally, I would not want to be down here even during a light summer shower.”
I turned to Deering and said, “Get the Recon Teams out now, right now, Colonel Deering. They are to find any kind of shelter, at least enough for the children, as fast as they can. Send out as many additional people to look for other shelter as you think can do the job. We're getting out of here now, and assuming Zandora has read the weather right we'll need shelter. But in any case, we have to get out of here as soon as possible.”
First Day : More Revelations and a Hasty Evacuation
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