The Impossible Dream - part 5

By Chakat Bluestripe (a.k.a Joe Prescott)

 

I awaken with a jolt, someone is next to me. As my eyes focus I see Summer cuddled against me still sleeping. As I examine hir beautiful face I am remembering the going-away party from last night. I remember the hours spent with friends and neighbors and all of the good food. The music still echoes in my memory as I smile at all of the dancing that I was called out for. Again I look at the beautiful chakat quietly sleeping next to me and I pull hir closer. Shi snuggles a little without waking as hir tail gently wraps around my leg. I canít help but to purr gently at the warmth and companionship. This is the only thing that can truly heal my soul. It has been a long time since I have been happy and I want this feeling to last. I gently cuddle hir as I softly fall back to sleep.

I awaken with a snort! I look up and see Summer smiling close above me. Shi nuzzles my cheek as my startled expression quickly turns to a smile.

"Oh Blue, last night you looked so cute sleeping there, I had to come in and cuddle you. I hope you donít mind."

I reach up and hug hir close, as shi snuggles me tightly. " I woke up last night and found you here with me. I was very happy, but now I think that I am going to feel even more lonely when I leave. "

Summer seems a little saddened and kisses my cheek. I smile as best as I can after ruining such a pleasant moment. I can sense hir uncertainty. Shi is doubting hir actions of the night. This is not at all what I meant to happen. I look back to hir and see that the situation is still in question. I smile broadly and roll upright and then playfully push Summer back down on the bedding. Shi looks a little surprised but I can sense hir playfulness beginning to awaken. I donít give hir a chance to speak before I move over hir and gently rest my body down on top of hirs. I can see the surprise in hir expression as I lean forward and kiss hir softly and passionately. Shi reacts quickly and cradles my head with hir arms and returns the kiss eagerly. I focus on hir passions and feel hir getting very aroused. I kiss hir lovingly and let myself react naturally. I feel myself being pulled into a warm envelope of passion as I look down to Summer abandon all inhibitions.


Thunder and Crystal are standing very close together and smiling as Summer and I walk into the kitchen, We are both a little damp from the shower and the room is filled with good thoughts and the smell of breakfast cooking.

I smile light heartedly at them as I gently poke summer in the side with my tail.

" Good morning, something smells yummy. "

Thunder laugh as shi turns to pick up a plate. "I had this ready for you this morning when I sent Summer back in to wake you up, so I donít want to hear any complaints about it being a little cold"

I look at Summer and then back to thunder "Oh? Is that why shi woke me up?"

I smile and do my best to put on an innocent expression.

Summer winks as shi speaks, "Well I guess I kind of forgot about that part after you woke up... I hope you forgive me"

"Well it might take a while, but I am sure that in time I can forgive you." I hug hir playfully and then take the plate from Thunder. "Well it does seem awfully cold" I say in jest as I begin to eat.


My bags are packed and the time to go is here as I look to my family, " Thank you all for helping me cope. I donít know what is going to happen now but I know that I have you with me with your support. I will do my best to keep Pathís love alive, and to preserve hir memory."

I am getting a little choked up so I just stop talking. I hug Crystal and Thunder tightly and do my best to project good feelings.

Summer steps up close and picks up my bags, " Blue, we are running a little tight, I need to follow the flight plan or it will get cancelled. "

I nod to hir silently and look back to Thunder and Crystal as I follow hir out to the PTV.

The drive to Summerís work shop takes a little longer than I thought and I am not feeling very talkative. Summer looks at me a few times and I can tell that shi is feeling more and more afraid that shi might have hurt me this morning. I try to feel happy but I am not successful. I am deeply worried at what will happen when I get home to my pad on base.

Summer begins to sniffle a little and I look at hir. Shi is getting upset and wonít look back.

"Are you okay? Please donít feel bad about this morning. It was a pure moment and you have done nothing wrong"

Summer wipes hir eyes as shi turns to look quickly at me, " I donít know, I feel like you are unhappy with me now, you are so quiet in here and yesterday you were so happy to be with me."

" It is not like that, I am very nervous about going back to work. I am afraid that it is going to be very painful to have to re-answer all the questions again and relive every moment of Pathís last hours. I am not looking forward to that. As for you, you have helped me have the strength to go and face this. Please donít think that I am upset with you in the slightest."

Shi smiles slightly and sniffles again. I can sense that shi feels better.

We pull into the driveway and stop at the gate. Summer looks into the camera and the gate opens. We drive past a few buildings and then have to stop at another gate. The gate opens and we pull up to a large hangar. I feel a mixture of reluctance and excitement as I take my bags and follow hir through the office door.

Summer is busy filling out entries on the Comm log so I wonder over and look out through a window into the hangar. The shuttles are parked in a row. Mostly small sub orbital models, the exception is a large transport parked at the far end. There are a few people loading a satellite into the cargo bay and I watch closely.

Summer comes up close to me, " Okay, the flight plan has been actuated, you ready to go?"

"Ummm, yeah, I guess so... Where is that satellite going?"

Shi looks out and thinks for a second. " Oh... yeah, that one was hit by some space debris and had to be brought back and repaired. It is going to be taken back tomorrow."

I look for a few seconds and then follow hir out into the hangar. Shi waves at a few people as we walk past. I can see them looking at me questioningly but they donít seem worried. Summer stops at a shuttle and we enter through the opened cargo door.

I look around at the interior as Summer goes forward into the crew area. I can hear small motors and hydraulics come to life as shi begins the preflight preparations. I walk forward and close the door behind me as I enter the cabin. Summer is sitting in the pilots seat and motions me to sit next to hir. I drop my bags and eagerly sit behind the copilotís controls.

We are granted flight clearance as shi closes the hatches and backs the shuttle out of the hangar. We taxi almost silently out onto the pad as Summer begins the engine start up sequence.

The cabin pressurizes as the main engine powers up and the instruments come to life.

Shi smiles at me as the ship takes off automatically. It rises vertically and gently climbs to altitude and then accelerates forward, all this with us just watching the automations.

"See isnít that easy" shi giggles.

" I guess so... But I was hoping for something a little more exciting."

"Once we get out of the city limits we can switch off the auto pilot and make minor deviations in our flight plan, you know, incase we have to avoid some threatening clouds or an angry goose" Summer giggles and gives an exaggerated wink.

The shuttle speeds quickly through the clouds as Summer relaxes a little in hir seat.

" So I know you have had some training on flying shuttles, is your certification still valid?"

"Well it is limited to federation vessels but it is still valid"

Summer motions me toward the controls as shi taps on the screen and the autopilot disengages.

I take the controls quickly and just hold them steady for a few moments.

"You should have seen your expression!" Shi laughs, " You got all wide eyed and tense" Shi makes a funny wide eyed look and continues to giggle.

"Well I did not look like that! I might have been a little surprised but you didnít give me any warning."

"Donít worry, the shuttle wonít let you do anything that might be dangerous. It is fully "I.P.""

"I.P.?"

Summer giggles loudly " Yes, Idiot Proof!"

"Grrrr! So if I was to let go of the controls, what would happen?"

"Well the ship has the flight plan loaded in, so even with the auto pilot turned off, it will still fly to the destination unless you control it to some other place. "I.P." really stands for Integrated Piloting. It wonít let you fly into a mountain or get too close to dangerous situations. It will just follow your "suggestions" but do it safely."

"Well that certainly takes all the fun out of flying, you canít do anything without the computer agreeing to it first." I pull back on the shuttle controls and we climb up another thousand meters before I level off.

A little red square starts blinking on the screen.

I look at it and all it says is "Warning". I point at it " What is that for? All I did was climb a little"

Summer smiles smugly "Well you climbed out of our lane and now you are in the oncoming lane. If the lane were busy, the ship would have stopped short of this lane."

The screen begins to flash all red and I donít have to guess why as I press forward on the controls and drop back down to the correct altitude.

The screen clears off as Summer smiles. "Well that was just to get your attention for being in the wrong lane too long nothing else would have happened unless traffic was coming, then the ship would have moved itself out of the way."

I continue to fly the ship gently, only making slow turns and minor altitude changes until we come into the Bases airspace. The Base contacts us on the Comm and Summer gives them hir security clearance as well as mine. Summer takes control and follows instructions for landing. Shi is given clearance to land on the pad closest to the Admin building.

The ship touches down as gently as it took off. Summer shuts down the main engines and drives the shuttle over to the Admin building.

I look out the window as a several people walk past. I recognize a few of them. I feel like it was a past life since I was here last. Everything is very familiar but I donít feel like I am at home.

Summer opens the cargo door and we both stand up and stretch.

I take my bags and lead the way out into the fresh air. I smell the fresh mountain air and it ignites my senses. I look up at the mountains and feel a little better.

The office door is only meters away but I feel a long walk ahead to get there. My legs move sluggishly as I force myself up the few steps and open the door.

As I walk into the Admin office I see the familiar face of the receptionist. He looks up at me and shows a cold expression of recognition.

"Hello Charlie, Is the Commander in?"

"Hey Blue, naw he is out lookiní at the new team that showed up last week. He has them doing tricks down at the compound."

"Okay, Iíll be over in my pad, can you call me when he comes in? I was supposed to let him know the minute that I got back."

"Sure thing Blue, and I am sorry about Red, we will miss hir. We havenít touched anything in the room, we left it for you."

"Thanks Charlie."

I turn to leave when Summer walks up to Charlie.

"Hello, I am Summerbreeze, Pathmakerís sister. I am here to pick up hir personal belongings."

A shiver runs down my back. I had totally forgotten about Summer wanting to get Redís things. The reality of the situation sinks in a little and I turn back to Charlie.

"Iíll take hir to our room and help hir pack them up"

Charlie nods, " Iíll have some forms here for you to sign when you are both done."

Summer looks at me painfully as we turn and leave the office.

I hug Summer tightly as I can feel hir starting to fall into a pit of sadness. I try my best to be strong. I have been preparing my self for this moment for some time and I donít want to let my self lose control now. We walk slowly the short distance to the room and pause at the door. I look around at the scenery. The mountains look so inviting. I feel that Red would be urging me to go for a walk if shi was here.

I open the door to my room and walk in. The familiarity of the place seems to be a little off. Have I been gone that long? I walk around to all the rooms and then stop in the kitchen.

Summer hugs me tightly. Shi can feel my sadness as I notice the two packs on the kitchen table. My eyes cry silently as I open up Redís pack and piece-by-piece empty the contents onto the table.

I gently fold the leather vest and place it aside. Next I take the four moccasins and place them with the vest.

"I am keeping these," I say as I look down at the floor and walk tiredly into the living room. The pillows feel cold as I silently rest down on them. Summer comes over and stands for a moment looking down at me. Shi gently kneels down and hugs me lovingly.

I feel drained of my warmth. I am cold. I feel like the room is stealing my energy. The coziness of the place has left and now it is just a home to the ghosts of the past.

"Damn it! What do I do now? What do I do with the rest of my life?" I wish for answers but know that I am only looking for a release from my grief. Summer hugs and begins to speak but I stop hir.

" Please donít answer... I know, I know..."

I look around the room slowly and take in the details. All the little knick-knacks that make a room into a home are displayed nicely on shelves and windowsills. I breathe deeply and then nudge summer as I begin to stand, "Do you mind if I send most of this stuff back home with you? I donít know what I will be doing next and I would have to put it in storage if I leave."

"Sure. It is fine, there is room back at the house"

I nod and walk into the bedroom closet to get some duffle bags.

I hand a bag to Summer and then pause " I think I will put everything I want to keep here on the living room floor and then everything else will be easy to pack up."

Summer nods and watches as I walk around and open drawers and cabinets and collect the bare essentials I want to keep near me. I pack everything into one bag and then look to Summer, " Everything else goes." Summer nods and begins filling up the bag with clothes and Pathís personal papers and possessions.

I start tossing all my things into the bag carelessly; I just want to get it over with as quickly as I can. "Out of sight out of mind" I am thinking... hoping it is really true.

I am throwing handfuls of things into the bag when I stop and look. I have a necklace that I got from a short visit to the old Tahitian islands. It is a piece of shell that was hand carved into the shape of a sea turtle. I hold it gently and feel the smoothness of the polished edges. I remember the old Tahitian woman telling me that the turtle is the symbol of fertility and how chakats are the living image of fertility. I remember how happy she was as she smiled broadly and explained, "Well you see, chakats, with both male and female sexes are the true symbol of fertility. With your persistent supply of milk, you are the giver of life and nourishment, and with your love of family, you preserve the future"

I had worn the necklace for a few months before it ended up in the drawer. Summer is beginning to fill up hir second duffel bag as I walk up and put the necklace around hir neck. I smile a little as shi looks surprised.

"This is a little thing I got from one of my trips to the old Tahitian islands. The turtle represents fertility. I think it looks very fitting on you"

Summer smiles coyly as shi looks down and holds up the turtle, "Thank you, but are you trying to imply something here?"

"Who? Me? Oh no. Just a little gift for you and Leona" Ėwink-

"OH? Do you know something that I donít?"

"OH no, but I can hope canít I?"

Summer gives me a quick hug and smiles a little more before returning to packing.

We are nearly done when the Comm alerts me that the Commander is back and would like a meeting.

"I donít know how long this will take, I hope you can wait until I am back, if not then I will call you as soon as I can"

"I canít wait too long, I had a few things scheduled to check out in the area. If I do have to leave then I will stop back before I head home, Okay?"

I hug Summer tightly and nuzzle hir neck for a second.

"That sounds best, I have no clue what is going to happen next. Thank you for everything, you have helped me more than I can say."

Summer purrs softly and smiles.

"Thank you Blue, you have been such a help to me and the whole family. Getting us through the most difficult times of our life. We have had you to center our thoughts and by being with you, we have not felt so helpless and useless."

Summer kisses me tenderly as I caress hir head softly in return.

Only a moment, and then I am alone again, walking towards the main building.

One of the mechanics looks at me as we pass. It takes him a moment to recognize me in my natural colors, "Welcome back Blue" he says over his shoulder as he keeps walking.

"Thanks"

I get a nod towards the Commanderís open door as I walk up to Charlie. I nod back and continue to the door. I pause for a moment just out of view. I have forgotten my uniform blouse. All I have on is a light green t-shirt. I look down and straighten it as much as I can. Charlie smiles "Go on in... he wonít bite"

With that encouragement I step into the office.

"Please come in." The commander says as I round the corner into the doorway.

I walk in and stand at attention as he stands up and walks around his desk and over to the door behind me. I can hear him closing the door before walking back to his desk. He stands for a moment and looks me over from head to tail tip. I do my best to keep my eyes straight forward and my body at attention and my tail still.

"Sergeant Bluestripe, you may stand at ease." The Commander says as he sits down and leans back in his chair.

I stand at ease trying to keep my tail from twitching from my apprehension. He is silent for a moment as his face slowly begins to show an expression of familiarity and understanding.

"Sergeant, I have lost a large portion of my best team. None of them are replaceable; in fact, I have really lost the whole team.

Those that were killed were done so in the line of duty and are heroes. Those of us who still breathe are tasked with the duty to learn and to try to prevent that from happening again. "

I stand silently as his words echo in my mind.

The Commander looks disappointedly into the distance behind me before he again focuses on me.

"We have been through a hell of a lot together and we did it as a team, maybe even as friends. That team has been disbanded but it will never be forgotten. I have a new team here now and they will work out fine I am sure, but they will never be like your team.

Do you have any questions?"

I shift on my paws a little as I try to think of something to say. My mind is echoing with his words as I finally speak.

"What will happen with me now, sir? I mean what is my new assignment? "

"Well, I wish I could say that this was all new, but there is a standard procedure for your position. First you will report to the hospital for a complete evaluation. After that or at the same time, you will be given a psychological evaluation, and after that we will review the results and go from there. My guess is that you are a strong willed chakat and you will be given a choice of one or two new assignments. I will most certainly forward my highest recommendation for your profile."

"Thank you sir, I look forward to my next assignment, I look forward to the future."

"You can report to the hospital in the morning and we will get things moving, is there anything else you would like to say?

My mind is clouded with transient thoughts and fears when I remember.

"Sir, I would like to ask you a personal favor if you would?"

The Commander looks a little surprised but nods affirmative.

"Sir, as you no doubt know, I was raised as an orphan on my home planet of Amaethon. I have had little success in locating my real family here on Terra. Recently I have come into some information that is very interesting and seem to open more questions than it closes. I wish to forward this information to you to see if you can help identify the issues I have discovered. Your rank may be the key to finding the information."

The Commander looks perplexed and intrigued.

"I will do what I can Blue, but I donít think that my rank will help with locating lost family. Forward the information to me and I will see what I can do though."

"Thank you Sir, I will send it to you tonight"

"Sergeant, if you have no other questions, then you can leave"

"None, Sir"

"Then you are dismissed."

I turn and as I leave, I can feel a little spark of hope growing somewhere deep within me. It is all I need to make it through the next day.

As I begin walking back to the pad I notice Summer Loading the bags into the shuttle. I detour over to hir and shi smiles as shi sees me.

"How did it go?"

"It was nothing too special, just the standard "Hello, Welcome back, now we will have to check to see if you are still useful to us or if you are F.U.B.A.R." type meeting. I have to go in for a physical and a Psych test in the morning though"

Summer makes a funny expression and rolls hir eyes,

"Fun... I am running a little late, if I donít get some work done today I might have to do a little explaining. I will call you tomorrow night Okay?"

I hug Summer tightly. I can tell that hir mind is a little distracted by hir pending work so I donít prolong the goodbye and let hir go.

I stand and watch as shi waves to me from the pilots seat and then drives the shuttle over to the closest pad. I can hear the main engines powering up and moments later the shuttle has taken off and faded into the distance.

I feel that I am now really back to the base and I look around slowly. Everything is the same... but everything has changed.


Morning.

A restless night and what can loosely be called sleep. I am not sure if I dreamt or was just thinking all night but either way, I feel tired and anxious. I have an hour to report to the hospital and I look a mess. A quick snack for breakfast and 30 minutes trying to make myself look presentable. I feel awkward having not dyed my fur black but I guess it is not necessary for my current position. I just feel unprepared should something happen. I look at some of my scars; they are noticeable but not eye-catching. There is no point in trying to hide them; they will probably just be fuel for conversation.

Soon I am out the door and walking quickly towards the hospital, I am just a little short on time and I donít want to be late. I can see a few people from the new team standing over by the mess hall. They nod to me and I nod back. I can sense that they are highly focused on me but their outward appearance seems to be that of only casual glances.

The hospital is not very large since it only serves the Base but it is equipped with the latest technology and is staffed by some of the best. I report to the front desk and then I am escorted to a room. The nurse quickly leaves and I sit alone for what seems hours but is probably not more than 30 minutes.

I am restless but trying to focus on the emotions of the building. My empathy can pickup a subtle feeling for a building by averaging the morale and attitude of the people within it. This building seems to be on the positive side and I am optimistic that I will be treated well.

The doctor finally walks in and closes the door behind him. He is tall, and rugged in appearance and has the look of a field doctor by his weathered face and short hair.

"Artemis Bluestripe, that is you?"

I nod "Yes Sir"

"I am Dr. Snodgress. I have your file here and I am going to see how everything has healed"

"Ok, should I turn my head and cough?"

He shows a trace of a smile as he walks up and begins looking closely at my side, gently poking and pressing where my wounds were, all the while talking about various medical terms, which were meaningless to me. I got the feeling that he was not even talking "to" me but just "about" me.

He asks me to move, lift a handpaw or lean forward while still talking medical terms as if I was not there. He looks at my tail very closely and presses on the new skin covering the tip.

After a few minutes he is finished and I see him turn off the recorder on his wrist. It all makes a little more sense now, I smile to myself feeling a little relieved. The doctor sits on a stool and brings up my profile on the computer. I can sense that he is finally turning his attention to me personally as he looks towards me,

"Sergeant Bluestripe, I can see that you have healed quite well. I am going to run you through the scanner to be sure that there are no hidden problems. Do you have any symptoms I should look at first?"

"I feel that I am healing fine, a few aches and pains in the mornings sometimes but other than that am doing well."

"That is good. It looks like your tail has already regrown a few centimeters too. Iíll have all the statistics on that after the scan. The results should be compiled by this evening and if there are no problems then tomorrow we will have you interviewed by our psychiatrist, do you have any questions?"

"None sir."

The Doctor logs out of the computer and then stands. "Fine, then lets go and get started"


It has been a long day as I walk back towards my flat. The muscle relaxant has almost worn off and I can finally see things with relative focus. The smells from the mess hall actually smell inviting. I realize that I havenít eaten since the snack this morning. I pause and look... I can hear people talking and the sounds of dishes and eating... I turn and go in with thoughts of "How bad could it be?"

The smells are strong and my appetite has taken control of my actions as I grab two trays and begin to pile it on. I sense something. There is another empath near. I focus and I can tell that shi is offering the space next to hir for me. I turn and look across the room. I smile as I see a chakat a few tables away. I send an acknowledgement and then continue to load up on the food.

My stomach growls loudly as I walk up to the table and put down my trays. The other chakat giggles and then laughs loudly.

" I have never heard an introduction like that before."

I laugh too as my stomach grumbles again, "Hello I am Artemis Bluestripe, sorry about my stomach, I havenít eaten all day"

I take a few seconds to look at this chakat as shi slowly composes hirself. Hir bright yellow eyes seem glow from hir solid black face. Hir short white hair seems attract my gaze as if to demand attention. I can tell that the front of hir body as well as the bottom of hir stomach is solid black, but after a few inches, some small white dapples on a black base color begin to fade into view and then cover hir whole sides, back and tail. Hir hands and paws are solid black up to hir elbows and knees and then the dapples begin to fade into view.

I am almost drawn out of a trance as shi stands and smiles, "Hello, I am Chakat Nokomis, daughter of Moonlightgray and Windy, sorry to laugh at you but it was kind of funny"

I hug hir tightly and shi returns it customarily, "Please excuse me, I need to eat a little and then we can talk." I send hir a feeling of my hunger as I turn to eat. Shi sends back an acknowledgement and I can tell that shi is looking at my scars as I am eating. I am fairly certain that shi has a lower empathic rating than I do. I think that shi feels that hir thoughts are safe from me, but I can tell that shi is engrossed by the scars and doesnít want me to notice.

My attention turns to my food and in a short time my trays are cleaned off. I stand and stretch a little before turning to hir and smiling.

"I can sense your feelings very well, you must be in the ĎProgramí. Are you on the new Team that just arrived?"

"Yes, I am relatively new to the program, I only finished my training two months ago. My partner is Chakat Sanura and shi and I have been working together for about 6 months. We were attached to this Team last month and we are really feeling a strong connection with them lately. It is a good feeling."

I smile and nod but my memories are strong. I can still feel the connection I had with my Team and the emotions are bittersweet.

" I know that feeling very well, it is a connection between you and the others. A kind of trust that your life depends on but also like a family. It is a blessing and a curse."

Nokomis nods but looks at me a little questioningly. I can feel that my scars speak to hir in ways that I canít voice. I can tell that shi wants to ask me something but is very nervous about it. I know what hir question will be; It is a complicated one and I am not prepared to explore those feelings until after my evaluation.

"I have to go now, sorry for rushing off but I have a meeting in the morning and I need my rest" We exchange hugs and I can sense a little disappointment in hir as I head back to my pad. My thoughts are on hir eyes until I open my door and walk in.

The barren room feels cold and lifeless as I head straight into the shower. A long hot shower then right to bed and I am out.


Red kisses me and smiles as I look up from my pillow. I reach up and hug hir down close to me in the bed. Hir warmth and love penetrates my body and I close my eyes and hold hir close. Our purrs seem to harmonize and all is well in my dreams.

My purring wakes me up and I open my eyes to the morning sun just cresting the mountains to the east as it shines through my window. I feel loved but a little lost. I feel normal.

I snuggle down in my blankets and just reflect on my feelings and what might happen in the interview today. The skunktaurs are very thorough in their psychological assessments and it is best to know your deepest emotions as well as you can or else they might surprise you with their findings. I have been through a couple interviews before but now I feel they are going to really dig through my feelings and thoughts. Am I liability now? They might think I am unstable and dangerous to keep in active duty. They must first be sure that I am safe to the department and after that, they will check my wants and needs.

I lay there thinking and wondering what I really do feel. Maybe they will keep me and maybe they wonít and what do I really want them to do?

I am thinking in circles and not getting any answers, I decide to get up and eat and then prepare for the interview.


Soon enough, I find myself alone in the waiting room. I sit on a taur cushion and wait. The room has a few pictures of the historic cities and a solid door into another room. There is a sign on the door, which reads, " Wait until called". I wait... and wait... It is definitely well past the time of my appointment when the door finally opens and a frazzled looking woman walks out. She walks quickly past me and then leaves through the exit. I tried to feel her emotions but I couldnít focus. I am hoping that now they will call me into the appointment. I wait longer. There is nothing to read and no windows so I just sit and think. My mind wanders through all the recent events and I think a little about Nokomis and hir bright eyes. I think about Summer and Thunder and Crystal and then I start thinking about Red. I remember hir last birthday and the gifts I gave to hir. I remember the team and how we would play as clowns sometimes while training. I start remembering the last operation and my thoughts seem to be clear as I go through all the events leading up to the explosion.

Suddenly I feel it. I had not noticed it before but a gentle and soft feeling, no... more like a soft warm push in my mind. I focused my thoughts on the feeling and it was gone. I know that feeling!

It is a "Carrot". It was a gentle persuasion to think about a train of thought. It is a telepathic tool used to covertly gather information.

I sudden flash of enlightenment hits me, "They were already evaluating my emotional state telepathically!"

I empathically send an apology for discovering their technique and shortly after the door opens and a very sharp looking skunktaur walks into the room. Hie has a pleasant little smirk as hie calls me into the next room.

This Room has a table and several comfortable cushions scattered around near it. There is a skunktaur sitting very comfortably on a large cushion near the table and the Second skunktaur that lead me in.

I smile and nod to them "Hello, I am Sergeant Bluestripe".

I am lead to a cushion and motioned to sit.

"Hello, I am Dr. Santiago. My associate Dr. Trellen and I will be interviewing you to see how well you are doing after your trauma.

We will be asking you some very personal questions and we will be examining your deep feelings and the extent of your grief and any unresolved issues that you may have. This will take a few hours and we will stop for lunch if we are not done by then. Do you have any questions before we start?"

"No, no questions but I do feel a little dread at what is about to happen. I would prefer not to stir up my grief, I just got it all worked out, and to me, I think it would be better to see how I am now."

"We understand, but this is part of the process and we apologize.

I nod and try to get as comfortable as I can.


It is 2:45pm, I feel very tired but confident. The interview was more like a therapy and I feel that talking about everything one last time for the official report was the final closure on the event.

For the next few days I have the pleasure of having nothing planned. I will be free to do as I like until the report is finalized and approved. I pass a few large trees on my walk back towards my pad and I decide to sit for a few minutes in the shade. The warm breeze brings pleasant smells of the mountains so close. I begin to think about what I want to do next. What do I want to do next? This is it; this is the moment where I turn my life in a new direction. I know that I donít want to be on another Team like I was. I think I have lost my taste for that kind of action. I will ask for a transfer but I donít know to where. I think about what would make me happy. What would keep me busy? What would keep me from stagnating some place for the rest of my life? What do I find exciting? What am I qualified for?

I think about piloting Summerís shuttle, it was fun and I am already certified to pilot small craft. What if? What if I could be a pilot? I know that I am not nearly qualified for a fighter or a gunship of some sort, but what about being a shuttle pilot or even a transport pilot?

If I were a transport pilot then I would travel more and see new places. A deep space pilot... now that would be the life. Again, I donít know if I qualify.

I am a little excited at all the possible things I could do if I was a pilot. That is it. I have made up my mind. I am going to see just how far I can go as pilot.


Back at my pad, I wander around the rooms nervously for a while before I decide to write a letter back to my parents on Amaethon.

It has been a few weeks since I dropped them a note and I know they are still very concerned about me and my recovery. I quickly read through their last letter again. They had mentioned something about a little trouble their colony was having getting their produce to market. It seems that the shipping company had been having a labor dispute with its employees and some of the ships were parked while the dispute negotiated. This left a great amount of the produce aging at the docks and ultimately much of it was ruined. Some of the more exotic fruits had been hastily processed and preserved but that was an added expense and also decreased the value of the fruits. The colony isnít poor and usually makes a good profit but at this time they were frustrated at the lack control over the situation. The next closest planet was also inhabited by a farming colony. They grow similar crops but also had a fertile cool region where they grow some rare delicacies. The Colonies support a small inter-planet shuttle. They are able to move workers where they are needed seasonally but they donít have the ability to transport their crops the long distance to Chakona or Terra.

The letter also mentions that my sister Zephyrus had married a local broker and was planning to travel to Terra for their honeymoon. This trip would be her first time away from the planet.

It will be nice to see her again and I know she will love the change of scenery. We will have to go hiking!

As I finish writing the letter and hit "Send" I realize that I had only said the usual "Hello, I am okay, I hope you are okay, hope to see you soon." Babble.

I walk into the kitchen and look whatís available to eat. There is plenty of food but I am missing something. I stop and look around, I want something but I am not sure what. I realize that I am lonely. I feel a little dread that loneliness will become my closest companion and I must do something right now to chase it away. I decide to go to the mess hall for dinner. Maybe Iíll see Noko again. This is a happy thought and I decide to be a little playful, while I change my top, I add a small blue velvet spiked collar. This always seemed to lighten up the gang back in the old Team.

I leave and walk out quickly into the evening and towards the mess hall. I notice a certain eagerness in my step and it makes me think. Just what do I expect to find when I get there?

The thick aromas of the food hit me as I walk in, it is not a bad smell but it is strong to my senses and it has the affect of muting out every other scent in the room. I glance quickly through the tables and notice Noko looking right at me. Shi smiles and motions to sit next to hir. I smile and nod as I begin to pile on the food.

As I weave my way between the tables and head towards hir, I begin to notice the other people sitting and eating. I stop for a moment and look around at the faces of people there. I can only recognize a few of them but none that I would call friends. A few people look back but only out of curiosity, they donít show a look of familiarity. I donít know what I expected but I feel a little odd.

Noko has a nice warm smile as I sit next to hir.

 

I lean to hug hir and then it hits me, hir scent! My body reacts instinctively and instantly. It has been a while since I was with a chakat in heat. I utilize every bit of control and training to keep myself calm. Concentration and distraction, mind over body. This is training, to remain calm in the midst of swirling emotions. I just smile to hir.

"Hello again Noko, I was hoping to find you here. I was getting a little stir crazy all alone in my pad."

Nokomis has a playful look as shi Repeats "Noko?" and pokes at my collar a little.

" I was hoping you would get my message, I donít know you very well but I thought I would try."

"Your message? What message? I donít think I got it?"

"You are here, so I think you did get my message, I could not link to you but I kind of tried to focus the dinner idea at you. You are right on time."

"HA! And I thought it was my idea. You surprise me, I left myself wide opened and you tuned in to me. I feel a little embarrassed at not noticing your seed in my thoughts, but then I have been stressed out lately. Did you also have anything to do with me putting on my little collar?"

Shi giggles playfully and hir Eyes burn brightly as shi looks at me,

"Donít be embarrassed, I have been training hard lately and I wanted to test my ability on someone who would understand. I am excited that I could actually get you to come here and meet me, I feel obligated to treat you to dessert."

Nokomis reaches over and unhooks my collar, I let hir do as shi wants, curious as to what shi is planning. Shi looks coyly to me as shi hooks it around hir neck.

Shi is emanating pure sexuality and I feel it striking a spot in me. Hir scent is strong as I notice myself beginning to breathe it in deeply. Hir gaze is fixed on me and I can tell that shi is trying to link. I resist the link but not the offer.

"Meow! That is a good projection. You are very focused and I can sense your emotions very accurately. However, I think you still have to learn something."

Shi breaks off the attempt and gets a little poutish expression as I ruin hir attempt at seduction.

"Well, What would the Master of empathic links suggest that I should learn next?

I lean in close and whisper quietly in hir ear,

" Discretion, look around, pay attention to your surroundings."

Nokomis slowly looks around. The room is totally quiet. Every person in the mess hall is looking right at us. They all have odd expressions.

" Noko... You have successfully turned on everyone within 500 feet of you. I suggest we leave now."

Shi nod and looks uncomfortable as we stand and walk out.

I can easily feel Nokoís embarrassment at having ruined hir seduction and affecting everyone in the hall. I silently walk over to some grass next to one of the buildings and sit. Shi follows and sits close. There is an awkward silence before I begin to laugh quietly. It builds slowly and soon I am rolling back on the grass gasping for breath. Nokomis looks disappointed and stares blankly at me. I reach over and pull hir handpaw and shi lies down next to me.

"I am sorry (gasp) but that was classic!"

I slowly stop giggling as I feel that Shi is sadly disappointed

"That was a very... effective... projection but I wonít let you forget that you still owe me dessert."

I gently caress my collar on hir neck and I can feel hir excitement jump. I breathe in hir scent deeply and "murrrrrr" softy. Nokomis needs some attention, it is a chakat issue, nothing unusual, but my excitement is peaked and my instincts are fighting their restraints in anticipation. Hir eyes burn with passion again and I can feel us connecting as we stand up and walk. The sun sets low behind the mountains to the west as we slowly walk towards the forest.

 

To be continued in Part 6.

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