Chakat Commander Nightshade watched grimly as the Waitaki closed in on the fleeing alien ship, the jet black felitaur's face full of determination.
"Commander! Target within tractor range!" the young sub-lieutenant chakat at the helm called out. "Ready to lock on!"
"Engage tractor beam and lock on to their ship!" Nightshade ordered. "We don't want them to get away this time..."
A beam of blue energy leapt out from the front of the Chakonan runabout, brushing against then firmly fixing the Fiora's Fury in its grasp, both ships shaking as the gravitic connection was established. The Fury seemed to struggle in the Waitiaki's grip, slowing down and being drawn closer towards her pursuer -
- before a blue glow appeared around the rear engine pods of the alien ship, glowing brighter and enveloping the alien vessel. The Fiora's Fury began to move forward, now dragging the Waitaki behind it as the runabout desperately engaged full reverse impulse thrust...
"Commander! Subspace resonance building up around the target vessel - "
"Maintain tractor lock, increase power to beam," Nightshade growled, bracing hirself as the runabout shook under the strain.
Swift chakat hands flew over the runabout console as the young chakat officer feverishly worked. On the viewscreen, the alien vessel was now completely surrounded by the glow, the intensity rapidly increasing.
"The other ship's going to warp speed, Commander!"
Nightshade jumped in shock. "WHAT???" As if in confirmation, the shape of the craft outside was starting to stretch in an all too familiar way -
"Deactivate the tractor beam - now!"
"We're getting power feedback from the target - tractor controls are frozen, Commander!"
"Pull the bloody breakers by hand then! Shut the thing off -"
Ripples of energy coursed down the tractor beam linking the two ships, causing lightning surges to play across the Waitaki's hull as the Fiora's Fury pulled away -
With a flash of light, the connection was severed, and the alien ship leapt victoriously from the Chakonan runabout's grasp, disappearing into the blackness of interstellar space. The Waitaki shuddered as the tractor beam was broken, flashes of light emanating from inside before all external sign of activity dimmed and gutted.
Aboard the darkened runabout, almost every form of propulsion aboard the Waitaki was burned out by the energy spillover from the tractor beam, leaving the ship to drift helplessly in orbit on emergency power. The shaken Swiftsure wearily picked hirself off the floor where shi had fallen, nursing a sprained hind-leg and shaking hir head in disbelief.
A glance out the viewscreen confirmed hir fears - the alien foxes, carrying Sundown with them, had disappeared. To have lost hir dear lover again in such a short time... A sense of numbness ran through the chakat's body as a now familiar feeling of shock and loss washed over hir. Swiftsure bowed hir head, blinking back tears from hir golden eyes, and rested hir head disconsolately in hir hands. "Sundown love..." shi whispered.
Shi looked up towards the frustrated Nightshade as the rest of the crew tried to restore power to the impulse engines and manoeuvring systems, grief slowly giving way to rage. "And you thought I was going to foul this up, Commander?" the sandy-spotted chakat coughed. "You seem to have done well enough without my help!"
Nightshade's ears went back, annoyed at the interruption. Shi had enough on hir plate as it was! "Shut up, you!" shi growled, trying to concentrate on getting the stricken ship up and running again.
"I told you they would be suspicious, I told you we had to get their trust," Swiftsure snarled back, hir own feelings of frustration and loss fuelling hir anger as the sandy-spotted chakat glared dangerously back into the black chakat's face, "But you just had to try that encirclement idea - and now you've not only lost Sundown, you've lost them all! And why the hell did you put a weapons lock on them, you, you - housecat!"
"Damn you! I don't need this from anyone!" Furious at the insult, Nightshade rounded on the defiant Swiftsure, hir hand raised to strike... and stopped. Shi was suddenly aware of the chilling silence throughout the runabout as all eyes were fastened on hir, waiting to see what shi would do. The black chakat slowly lowered hir hand, letting out a sigh of frustration. "Everyone... back to work... " shi muttered, lowering hir eyes in shame. "Lieutenant... try and hail Chakona Gateway and see if we can get a tug to come and tow us in."
Nightshade padded over to Swiftsure, and gently laid a hand on hir shoulder. "We'll get Sundown back for you." shi quietly murmured in hir ear.
Now free in the safety of warp-space, the Fiora's Fury flew unhindered through the endless night, powering smoothly towards the projected rendezvous point.
Sundown was still in a dazed state, the chakat scarcely believing that hir homeworld was now left far behind them, and that shi was still with MayFurr and Ranthe. Shi sat there, open-mouthed, staring at the vista of streaking stars through the window, while the two foxes busied themselves following the trail of their quarry.
"What have you done?" the chakat whispered. In hir mind's eye, shi could see the stricken look on Swiftsure's face on the viewer replayed over and over again, hir friend's expression mirroring hir own. "MayFurr, Ranthe... what have you done? Why?"
The chakat's question went unheeded, the two foxes intent on their work. Ranthe looked up from her calculations on the Fury's tactical display. "The fix on the Asimov is holding, May," she announced, "It's making approximately Warp Five, so at our current speed... we should intercept them in three hours."
"Ranthe... why?" Sundown insisted, hir voice cracking a little and hir tail twitching in anxiety. Shi was acutely aware that every minute took hir further and further from home. "We could have given you so much..."
MayFurr nodded to Ranthe. "Three hours shouldn't be a problem for the Fury. What's our current turnaround duration?"
"Six hours before we have to return to Chakona, based on fuel and life support," the vixen replied. "Though to be on the safe side, I'd say that if we miss that rendezvous we start to head back two hours after that point."
Sundown's feline ears flattened back further and further, anger building at being ignored after going through so much... suddenly shi lashed out and grabbed MayFurr's seat, violently shaking it. "ANSWER ME DAMMIT!!!" the chakat screamed at the top of hir voice, wrapping hir arms around the startled fox's neck and body as hir temper exploded. "You've stolen me away from my home, my family, my people, my homeworld without a word of explanation - WHY MAYFURR, WHY??!!??"
MayFurr struggled vainly, pinned to his seat, desperately reaching to prise the chakat's arm from crushing his windpipe. He gasped for breath, choking as the relentless strength of the 'taur's embrace throttled his supply of air, his body being flung about like a rag doll in the pilot's seat. Ranthe turned in horror and grabbed Sundown, trying to pull the enraged chakat off the suffocating fox. "Let him go, Sundown!" she yelled, hammering at her arms, prying to no avail at the chakat's hands. MayFurr gave a strangled yelp and collapsed in his chair, strength slowly ebbing from his body... "Let him go!"
"Why should I!" Sundown snarled, blind with rage, tightening hir grip even further as adrenalin rushed through hir body. "We asked you, we begged you to let me go, but you didn't! Why didn't you? WHY???"
"He'll die if you don't let go!" panted Ranthe, struck with terror at Sundown's strength and determination. "You're killing him, Sundown - you're killing him!"
Sundown stopped abruptly as Ranthe's urgent words penetrated hir mind. Shi blinked, feeling as if shi had just awoken, and looked around. Beneath hir still-iron grip MayFurr's face and skin was blue under his fur, his head lolled back and his tongue hanging limply out the side of his mouth, barely conscious. Hir hand was still grasping tightly around the fox's throat -
- you're killing him Sundown! -
What was shi doing?
Hir hand was grasping MayFurr's throat -
Aghast, Sundown released hir grip, recoiling back from the collapsed fox in horror as shi realised what shi had almost done. To kill another being - to take another's life - was against all aspects of a chakat's makeup and personality, against everything that every chakat had been taught as a cub. Yet in hir anger shi had almost snuffed out MayFurr's existence, deeply-buried genetic instincts overriding Sundown's advanced intellect, reason lost in the surge of panic and fear...
Shi had been mere moments from being a murderer.
Sundown slowly collapsed onto the floor of the cabin, all hir legs giving out underneath hir as Ranthe hurriedly struggled to revive the unconscious MayFurr. First the chakat's lower body, then hir upper torso fell to the floor as Sundown started crying, hir golden feline eyes brimming with tears as shi lowered hirself on the floor and buried hir face in hir arms. Before hir, MayFurr choked and spluttered, gasping for breath while Ranthe carefully massaged his neck and chest. "MayFurr! You okay?" she urgently asked.
"Arrgghh..." MayFurr rasped, clutching at his throat, taking deep breaths. "Geez.... yeah, just give me a few... I'll be fine." He bent over and started to cough, his windpipe sore and bruised.
Satisfied that her companion was alright after his experience, Ranthe slid out of her chair and knelt down next to the sobbing chakat, briefly stroking hir back before lifting Sundown's upper body onto her lap and holding hir close. "I'm sorry, Sundown," the vixen murmured, carefully stroking Sundown's muzzle and cheek as she tried to comfort hir.
Captain Walker smiled to himself, sitting back in his command chair on the bridge of the Isaac Asimov. The voyage had started smoothly with no problems at all, which was always a good sign. The Asimov continued on course at warp speed into the deepest regions of unexplored territory, having left Chakona far behind.
Dawnfire handed him the duty roster for the bridge, which he duly checked and approved, watching the bridge crew with a quiet pride. "All going well, Dawnfire?" Walker asked.
The uniformed chakat nodded. "Yessir," shi replied. "The extra supplies and equipment taken on at Chakona are now securely stowed, and the additional science team members are settling into their quarters even as we speak." Dawnfire smiled. "I must say sir, it's a pleasure serving with you again."
"And with you too," Walker grinned. "I'm glad you were assigned as my First Officer for this mission, Dawnfire - it'll be just like old times." Walker and Dawnfire had known each other for a long time, ever since they met as cadets back at Cape York on Terra in what seemed an eternity ago. The young human and the chakat had taken an instant liking to each other, and had remained firm friends ever since.
"Not quite like old times unfortunately sir," Dawnfire murmured, smiling secretly and leaning over to whisper in hir captain's ear. "You know what the regs are about... relationships, especially in our position." The firm friendship built between the two of them had developed on several occasions to be very personal and intimate, something that was almost inevitable for close relationships with the amorous chakat race. However, both were fully aware that they couldn't indulge in that aspect of their relationship while on the Asimov, so the two maintained a professional but still warm regard for each other.
"True... too true I'm afraid," Walker chuckled, resisting the temptation to affectionately ruffle Dawnfire's head-fur. "Y'know Dawnfire, even after the time we've spent together I'll never understand the overwhelming chakat urge to cuddle!"
"We're just built that way, sir - will I need to show you how to remind you?" Dawnfire joked, gently pulling away from him and glancing around the bridge, meeting the eyes of anyone who happened to be watching them too long with a 'mind your own business' sort of look. Several of the other bridge crew had noticed the playful banter between them, but kept their thoughts to themselves, knowing well the affectionate relationship between their captain and Number One.
"Is that a threat or a promise?"
"Both sir, if you really insist..."
"Get on w' ye!" Walker smiled, lightly swatting the chakat on hir lower back. "I'm sure you've got more things to do that try and tease me, haven't you?"
"Of course sir... but anytime you want to change your mind..." Dawnfire smiled, adjusting hir top to cover some more of hir ample cleavage, before padding off towards the helm and navigation stations, hir tail swaying perkily behind hir. Walker's gaze followed Dawnfire for a few brief moments before it returned to the unfolding vista of warp space out the main viewer, the Doppler-streaked beams of light whipping past as the Asimov travelled deeper and deeper into unknown space. He guessed what some of the newer crew might be thinking, and sighed. They just didn't know chakats the way he did, they were just naturally affectionate, he thought to himself. To them, showing warmth and caring was as natural as breathing. Honestly, you'd think from what some dimwits told you that all chakats really wanted to do all day was to f-
"Captain! Unidentified contact dead astern, and closing!"
Walker jerked upright in his seat as Dawnfire raced to the helm officer stationed there. "Can you identify it yet Legaspi?" shi asked, leaning against the back of the chair.
"Heading indicates it's come from Chakona... no size or Intercode identification yet, still outside effective range," the dark-skinned human replied. "Appears to be closing rapidly - at current speed it will rendezvous with us in twenty-five minutes."
Dawnfire blinked. "THAT quickly?" She turned to the Captain. "Captain, Chakona Gateway didn't have any other warp-capable ships in dock at the time, did it?"
Walker shook his head. "Other than the standard complement of small support types, no."
"Sir, got a size bearing on it - appears to be roughly double the size of a Geelong-class runabout."
"That doesn't sound right." Walker stood up and joined Dawnfire, studying Legaspi's instruments. "We've been travelling at warp five for the last four hours or so, but nothing that small could match our speed..."
"There she blows," MayFurr grinned as the bulky shape of the Asimov filled the Fury's viewscreen. Their intended target was still quite some way off, the viewer at full magnification as the Fiora's Fury slowly ate up the distance between them.
Ranthe nodded. "Lowering shields, May," she replied, looking behind her to the sullen chakat resting hir muzzle on the cockpit chair. The vixen took Sundown's hand in hers, and squeezed it gently. "It'll be alright this time Sundown - I promise."
Sundown sniffed a bit, returning Ranthe's squeeze, but said nothing. Shi was feeling mentally exhausted after the events of the last few hours, and even a light doze hadn't really helped much. Hir normally agile mind was slowed by stress, and shi was sure that a headache was coming on.
The pursuing spacecraft now appeared on the Asimov's main viewscreen as it drew closer, causing more than a few on board to scratch their heads in puzzlement. It looked nothing like any ship they were used to.
"Captain, the ship is hailing us, video and audio," Dawnfire reported.
"Put it up on screen," Walker ordered, straightening his shirt. The view of the oncoming ship changed to show two fox 'morphs sitting at the controls, with what appeared to be a disgruntled looking chakat sitting behind them just out of view.
"Hello vessel Isaac Asimov, this is... the Fiora, outbound from Chakona, requesting permission to dock to transfer cargo." The voice coming over the speakers sounded stilted, and Dawnfire noticed that the male fox addressing them had his mouth movements slightly out of sync with his words.
Walker faced his first officer. "I don't recall being told about any last-minute outfitting, do you?" he asked curiously. Dawnfire shook hir head.
"Vessel Fiora, this is Captain Keith Walker of the Terran exploration ship Isaac Asimov. We have received no notification of any deliveries scheduled - what is the nature of your cargo?"
The two foxes on the viewscreen looked at each other briefly. "Navigation documentation and additional... linguistics expert," one replied. "Also last-minute information about... traces of possible first contact leads."
Dawnfire's ears went back slightly. "Something doesn't seem right with this," shi commented after muting the transmission. "We still haven't positively identified who they are."
Walker considered this for a few moments. "Mr Legaspi, can you give me a scan of that ship?"
While Legaspi carried out the scan, Walker glanced at his first officer. Hir instincts were pretty reliable, and he had learned to trust them on many occasions.
"Scan shows a rather unusual power plant and warp signature, design doesn't correspond with anything in the Terran fleet inventory," Legaspi announced. "Twin projected-beam weapons in a forward mounting, apparently deactivated. Three life-forms aboard... one felitaur, matching Chakat biosignature, and two... well, I'd call them modified vulpine recoms."
"Hmmm," Dawnfire muttered. On one hand, information on all major races and genetically-engineered life-forms were stored in the ship's computer, and a match should have been made... if the two fox morphs had originated in known space. On the other hand, it was likely that there were a few odd strains of crossbreeds around that simply hadn't been catalogued yet - and the unidentified ship's path had come from Chakona, that much was certain. "What do you think, sir?"
"Regardless of why it's here, we've got an obligation to check out its story, especially this far out. I'd guess it's at the end of its range," Walker decided. "Dawnfire, signal to the Fiora to proceed to the main shuttlebay - and get a security team down there to meet them."
Ranthe piloted the Fury under the Asimov's mid-section into the cavernous shuttle bay, the bay doors slowly closing behind them as the ship lowered its landing gear and settled into position on the landing grid. The entire hangar slowly started to pressurise again after the crafts' entrance, and once normal atmosphere was restored Dawnfire led the security team in.
The chakat officer shielded hir eyes from the glare of the bay lights as shi got a more detailed look at the unknown ship. Up close, it bore a passing resemblance to a small late twentieth-century jet transport, with a high-mounted drooping wing arrangement from which equipment pylons were attached, and two warp engine-like nacelles tucked in behind and underneath a largish tailfin. Whatever it was it appeared to have had a hard life recently shi thought, judging from the general state of the crafts' paintwork. The side hatch opened, and the two foxes climbed out, closely followed by a tawny-red chakat, the latter having to back out through the narrow doorway and lower hirself carefully down the ladder.
Dawnfire padded up to the strangers, escorted by the security team, and looked them over critically. Hir nose twitched as shi caught the unfamiliar scent of the two vulpines. "Greetings," shi said. "I am Chakat Commander Dawnfire, First Officer of the Asimov. "
The male fox replied in an unknown language, a simultaneous translation coming from a device of the chakat's lower back which Dawnfire recognised as a portable Universal Translator. "Greetings to you, Commander. My name is MayFurr, and these are my companions Ranthe and Sundown. We wish to speak to your captain, if that is possible."
"They don't speak Standard at all, if that's what you want to know," the other chakat explained, catching Dawnfire by surprise. "I'm Chakat Sundown, child of Riverscent and Blacktip. As you can see, they're using a translator to talk to us."
"Indeed." Dawnfire's muzzle wrinkled. Hir security team remained at the ready, not aggressively so, just enough to give an impression of control. "We weren't aware of your journey to meet us, you realise."
MayFurr nodded. "I admit it was rather a... last minute affair," he replied, the remark causing Ranthe to roll her eyes behind him. "But I believe that you'll find that it was worthwhile."
"Very well," Dawnfire answered, hir tail looping behind hir. "I'll take you to the captain - I'm sure he will be very interested in what you have to say."
Walker leaned back in his chair in one of the Asimov's conference rooms as MayFurr finished speaking, the captain eying the trio from the unknown ship seated on the other side of the desk in front of him. Dawnfire sat at his right, the chakat having pushed the seats out of the way to sit on the carpeted floor.
"An interesting story MayFurr, Ranthe. So let me get this straight," the captain asked, steepling his fingers. "You two are actually from another galactic civilisation, effectively castaways in this area of the galaxy through some freak accident... and you chose to make contact with us out here in deep space instead of on Chakona."
"That's about the size of it, yes," MayFurr answered, trying to contain the aesthetic revulsion he felt at Walker's furless appearance. "You see, you're in a really good position now to carry out a First Contact between your races and the Furrderation with this ship - and we can help you in ways that you'll find extremely useful. Maps to get there, who to contact, guides, interpreters... you name it, we can help you." He leaned forward. "Captain, just think of the opportunity you have here. We can lead you and your ship to a known association of intelligent races in a matter of months, instead of you randomly charting star systems hoping to do the same thing. It will save you years... and I'm sure it will boost your career immeasurably, to say nothing about your entry into your history books."
"While giving you a free ride back to your own people, no doubt," Dawnfire observed. Shi turned to Sundown. "And you decided to come along with them to help them with this?"
Sundown coughed, flexing hir pawhands on the carpet, finding it a welcome relief to the cold metal deck plating shi had been sitting on the last few days. "Well... sort of, I guess," shi replied, inwardly wincing with humiliation. It sounded so lame and unconvincing... but what else was shi supposed to say? That hir unthinking pursuit of MayFurr and Ranthe back into their ship at Chases-My-Tail had landed hir into this mess?
"You did choose to accompany these two, did you not?" Dawnfire pressed. Sundown nodded.
The captain looked speculative, rubbing his chin. MayFurr decided to press home his advantage. "We can get you the navigational co-ordinates of the fringe of Furry space within a matter of minutes from our ship's systems. Within a few hours, we can be on the way there. Captain... this is the chance of a lifetime!"
Silence reigned for a few minutes, Finally Walker stood up. "That's a very intriguing offer, which I'll have to consider." He gestured to the security guards to leave. "Dawnfire, allocate some quarters for our guests. We'll need some time to think about their proposition."
"Well that seemed to go well!" Ranthe whispered in MayFurr's ear as Dawnfire led them down one of the myriad of corridors. "You think they'll go for it?"
"Hard to say... I think the captain might, but the first officer... did you notice the way shi was looking at Sundown? I think shi's suspicious."
"Yeah well... I would be too May, if I was in hir position. A collection of strangers who just happen to turn up on your doorstep, offering great fame and fortune in exchange for a lift? Hardly convincing... but I think you did fine, considering."
MayFurr smiled. "Thanks Ranthe, that means a lot to me." As Dawnfire ushered them into their guest accommodation, he shrugged. "It's up to them now, in any case."
Dawnfire returned to the conference room, where shi found Captain Walker sitting alone deep in thought. Shi closed the door behind hir, and softly padded up to his side before massaging the human's neck and shoulders.
"You know this goes beyond what we agreed between us when we took this assignment," Walker wryly smiled, wincing a little as Dawnfire's expert hands worked at his muscles. "I know we're - "
"We are alone, sir," Dawnfire grinned, lowering hir muzzle to against his ear, hir ample breasts pressing into the human's back. "It's only a little thing - or do you want me to stop?"
"I didn't, but - "
"Then sit still and relax." The chakat licked around his ear. "Think of it as medicinal if you like, I don't mind."
Walker rolled his eyes heavenward and surrendered, relaxing back into his chair. "So what do you think of our guest's suggestion?" he asked. "Screw up the mission profile we've spent the last year planning, and head off on a guided tour to a new civilisation?"
Dawnfire paused. "Hard to say, I'm afraid. You're right - we're not even a month into the mission yet, and something bothers me about those two vulpines. On the other hand, it could be too good a position to pass up."
"The thought had crossed my mind," Walker agreed. "We'd need more information from our guests to plot an alternate course. It does seem to be well within our reach to get to - what did MayFurr call it again?"
"The good thing is that we do have authority to vary from the planned mission at our discretion," Dawnfire added, resuming hir massage. "And if we did decide to do that, I'd back you all the way."
"You know what I like about you, Dawnfire?" Walker smiled, taking the liberty to tickle his first officer under the muzzle with his finger. "Not only do you look like the sort of busty female I enjoy, you've also got balls."
"I'm a Chakat, sir. Comes with the territory."
Walker laughed, and was just about to muss up Dawnfire's headfur when the small console behind him beeped. "Bridge to Chakat Commander Dawnfire."
Dawnfire leaned over to activate the communicator. "Dawnfire here. What's up?"
"Commander, we're getting the latest deep subspace broadcast from Command, relayed from Chakona. There's something on it I think you need to see."
The chakat glanced to Walker, who nodded. "Put it through to Conference Room four," Dawnfire instructed. "The captain and I will review it here. Dawnfire out."
The captain sighed, and reluctantly disentangled himself from the chakat's grasp. "Back to reality," he groaned.
Dawnfire's left ear twitched. "What do you think this'll be about?"
"I've got no idea."
The door to the room that MayFurr, Sundown and Ranthe had been assigned to opened, and three of the Asimov's security guards came in.
"You three. Come with us - Captain Walker wants to talk to you."
Sundown, MayFurr and Ranthe were led back into the conference room, where Captain Walker and Dawnfire sat there waiting for them.
"Please - take a seat," Walker said, his human features inscrutable to the two foxes. "I've just come into some rather interesting information about you three." Dawnfire silently pressed some controls, and a wall-sized viewer at the far end of the room lit up, showing the Terran Deep Space Command logo.
"MayFurr, it seems that in your story to me you neglected to include the fact that you have come into contact with others on Chakona besides Sundown here," said Walker. "Dawnfire, if you please." The chakat first officer nodded, and immediately a split-screen view appeared on the screen - one half of the interior of a spaceship, and the other showing the Fiora's Fury slowly manoeuvring in space with the blue globe of Chakona rotating below. Ranthe gasped as she recognised herself and MayFurr on the commscreen in the spaceship view, and the back a familiar-looking jet-black chakat...
"This was sent to us as part of a general information broadcast on subspace to Terran Command stations and vessels," explained Dawnfire, who had now got up and was slowly pacing towards the startled vulpines. Behind them, Sundown shifted uncomfortably, hir tail looping and swishing behind hir, not sure as to how hir involvement would be treated.
Dawnfire continued. "Chakona added this little... gem to it. It came from the commanding officer of a runabout vessel that had to be towed back to Gateway station after getting caught in a warp backlash when it was trying to secure an unknown spacecraft. Yours, in fact." Behind the pacing chakat, the screen showed the agitated conversation from the perspective of the Waitaki, followed by the chase that followed. The video footage - obviously from some kind of flight recorder - clearly showed the Fury in evasive manoeuvres before getting snagged by the Waitaki's tractor beam, followed by buffeting, flashes and sudden darkness as the Fury broke away and went to warpspeed.
"Y'know, I'm not quite sure what to make of you now," Walker casually added as MayFurr and Ranthe's ears went back and their tails started to twitch nervously. "You two vulpines manage to abduct a Chakonan citizen and evade subsequent interception, managing to cause injury to a Chakonan security force and to totally fry a Geelong-class runabout's engines and power plant in the process. Yet, you voluntarily follow Sundown here into hir home on Chakona, and effectively surrender yourselves to me out here in deep space now. You're both quite... unpredictable."
MayFurr and Ranthe looked at each other fearfully as Walker continued. "Your story is intriguing to say the least, but one thing I'm sure of... if I let you both run around loose you're a potential risk to the Asimov and her crew."
The captain turned to Dawnfire. "Take these two back to their assigned quarters, and confine them there under close guard. I don't want them going anywhere."
Continue to Chapter 11
Copyright 1996 Terry Knight.
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