(Art by Mosa)
The light moved through the windows on a beautiful Saturday morning. The rays of yellow lit the room up and the soft black nose pad of Midsun began to wiggle back and forth as the young Chakat began to stir. Not normally one to stay in on such a fair-weather morning, Sun began to stretch, a yawn leaving hir muzzle as all four paws pulled outwards and away, getting the muscles to wake and get to work. Shi climbed from the pile of pillows and blankets that Chakats often called bed and made hir way to the shower.
"Where's Grill?" shi wondered, expecting hir to have been by sooner as shi glanced at the clock on the wall. It read back in glaring green numbers….. 9:32am.
Shi climbed into the shower, starting the warm water, and began to soak before cleaning every inch of hir body. The biggest issue was hir hair. Shi both loved and cursed hir hair. Shi loved how beautiful hir long and curly mane was; it was something many complimented hir on. At the same time shi cursed the mess it was in the morning and the time it took to make it presentable. "God, if I only had straight hair like my mother," shi muttered to hirself.
The brownish-red Chakat youngling climbed out of the shower and dried in the air dryer so commonly used by furs, before shi walked to the mirror and brushed hir black hair out and made it neat and orderly. Another glance at the clock revealed it to be slightly past 10. "Good lord, where is that 'kat?" Shi muttered before walking to hir room to put on a nice blouse. Shi made one last stop in a mirror to straighten hir bangs out. Upon hir forehead was a birthmark in the shape of a tribal sun; it was definitely a striking feature but it looked odd at times, and shi would often keep it semi-hidden under some bangs. The reason for the mark was unknown; after all, the random gene that was responsible for Chakat fur patterns had no rhyme or reason to do what it often did with color schemes of Chakats. It was just a bit off that the birthmark was a perfect Tribal Sun. Hir mother had a paw print of a Chakat paw on hir shoulder. Had shi been born with one of hir parents being a Skunktaur, it would be understandable but only on hir chest, so again that gene seemed to be strange in hir family. Shi walked out to find hir mother.
"Mom?" shi called out, hoping to find hir somewhere.
"I'm out on the porch, dear!" the voice of Midsnow rang through the house.
Midsun joined hir mother on the porch. The white-furred black-haired form of hir mother was lying back, enjoying the view of the city.
"I was starting to think you would sleep in all day, dear." Shi chuckled to the displeasure of hir daughter.
"Real funny, Mom. Did Grill stop by yet?"
Snow shook hir head. "No but shi called and wanted me to tell you to meet hir at the field for practice today at noon. I was about to wake you up before it got any later." Midsnow smiled up to hir daughter and took a sip of tea from a glass at hir side. "Why don't you go make some lunch real quick and join me out here before you run off to practice?"
Midsun nodded, knowing shi had plenty of time as the park where practice was held only sat a few blocks away. Shi went to the kitchen to make some sandwiches while Snow basked in the sun.
Snow let off a soft purr as the warm rays warmed hir skin. Melbourne was a beautiful place and shi felt content there. Even though it was Saturday, shi planned to stop by the Double H later and give Blacktail a hand on some maintenance work that required a few extra hands.
"Mom, did Dad make it back to Chakona yet?" Midsnow perked an ear at the mention of Midsun's sire. Hir mind immediately focused on Keklily and a small twinge of pain from missing hir. Keklily was the captain of the F.S.S. Longfall, a deep space cargo ship. For a while Snow was the Helmsman for the vessel, but later decided to pursue a new career as a Star Corps analyst for colonization projects. It meant shi could stay on Terra a majority of the time working out of the Star Fleet main office, but once in a while the job would require hir to travel with a colony expedition force. It was nice to have someone like Blacktail who would watch Midsun during those trips back when shi was a tiny cub.
Grill and Midsun formed a tight friendship growing up, and Grill convinced hir to try out chakker, the sport of Chakats, at age 9. Midsun and Grill had played for the same team, the Blind Bight Cubs, ever since.
"Terra to Mom, are you in there?" Midsnow shook hir head, having gotten lost in thought. Shi looked up to hir cub, who was holding a plate out to hir. "I asked, did dad make it to Chakona alright?" Snow smiled and nodded as shi took the plate.
"Yes Sun, your sire made the trip and is restocking supplies at Chakona and taking on the new cargo to be delivered here to Terra. So another week or so and shi should be home." Snow took the sandwich and began to eat as did Sun taking a spot next to hir on the balcony.
Midsun munched, hir head already going over the new ideas that Grill had come up with for possible plays in chakker. Shi was 15 and still inexperienced in hir developing Empathy.
"Already thinking about the game?" Midsnow giggled at hir cub, who looked up in surprise.
"How did you know what I was…?" Shi paused and blushed, the answer already in hir head.
"You have a bit of learning to do to keep your empathy from being so wide open. The exact reason they use those dampeners is that you cubs are still learning to control your talents." Snow smiled and took another bite of the sandwich, enjoying the ham and cheese.
Chakker was for all intents and purposes the sport of Chakats, and certain precautions were put in place for young cubs who played. Being so untrained in the power of their empathy, Chakats under the age of eighteen played in the junior league, and the standing rule was they were required to wear headbands that had built in empathic dampeners so the passion of the moment in an intense game didn't cause problems.
Midsun sighed and finished hir plate. "Well, you'll just have to work with me some more on it then, won't you, Mom?"
Snow nodded as hir daughter stood up to take the plate in and head out. "Sun, you be careful. I'll be at the Double H with Shir Blacktail, so when you and Grill are finished, meet us there." Midsnow watched hir daughter go to leave and then took another sip of hir tea while Sun replied.
"Sure thing, Mom. Also don’t forget our game against the divisional rivals is next weekend! See you later!" Shi put the plate in the sink, grabbed hir bag containing hir chakker gear, and slung it over hir shoulder before walking out the front door. Snow watched hir daughter from the balcony as shi headed towards Yarra Park.
Shi smiled and waved to hir daughter before taking hir own plate in and getting changed to help Blacktail.
The streets were active with people going about the daily grind. Midsun made hir way through the crowd making hir way to the park where the concrete and cityscape opened up to green trees and nature at its finest.
"Ahhh…now this is more like it," shi said simply as shi continued into the park to find the practice field devoid of hir fire-footed friend. "Must be early," shi said, dropping the bag and opening it to pull hir gear out. The headband required by all junior league authorities for both sanctioned games and practice was the first thing to go on upon hir head as shi brushed hir hair back as Azimuth had shown hir to do. The next thing to go on was the practice jersey and padding gear. Once shi was content with the fitment, shi stood underneath a tree waiting for Grill to get there.
The area was empty of anyone else and the sounds of the city were far off. Sun loved coming to this spot for its tranquility. The soft breeze in the wind was soothing and shi closed hir eyes enjoying the cool breeze.
Sun opened hir eyes and jumped as something pounced from the tree branches above hir. The clay colored Chakat with flame patterned feet landed on the ground and began to laugh.
"Ha! You should have seen your face."
Midsun made a scowl. "Very funny, Grill. How long have you been up there?"
The red-haired Chakat laughed. "A bit; I was starting to think you weren’t going to show up, but I enjoyed your little strip." Shi walked up and gave Sun a Chakat hug. "You get some good sleep?"
Midsun giggled a little. "Enough to get this practice going. You said you had some new techniques?"
Grill let go of the greeting hug and grinned. "In time, chakker buddy. First let me get in gear." Sun watched Grill walk off to retrieve hir bag and get hir gear out. Shi smiled, watching Grill change. Grill was so male dominant in hir persona, which was such a contrast to hir own heavily feminine disposition.
"Ok I’m ready." Shi walked back to the area they used to practice. While it wasn’t an actual chakker field, it was suitable for their needs. "Ok, so I was thinking, Sun – what would it take for us to go to the next level? We’re both good, but if we want to go pro, we need to come up with something that gives us the advantage and lets a scout be more likely to take notice when we play. That’s when it hit me!" The chakat was getting excited and reached up taking the headband off. "We practice without the head bands!"
Sun looked at hir friend and was astonished by hir suggestion. "Grill, you realize we wear those for a reason, right?" Shi shook hir head. Grill had done some ballsy things in the past… heck the destruction to hir mother’s house with Flamedart was one thing! But this?
"Pfft… Sun, what reason? It’s so that we can’t use our empathy to help us in the game, right? Well then why do the pros not wear these? That’s the advantage we need! I’m not saying to not wear the headbands during the games; we have to or the team has to forfeit. But if we don’t wear them during practice, we learn from each other, and when we’re in the game we’ll have a better understanding of each other despite having the headbands on then. It’s perfect, and just the thing we need to beat the divisional rival team!" shi exclaimed, trying to convince Sun.
"I don’t know… they would have sanctioned the head bands on purpose…" Grill gave hir a doubtful eye. "…but you know it would help us, wouldn’t it?" Shi reached up, taking the headband off. Hir empathic sense opened up again from being dampened moments prior.
"Awesome!" Grill grinned and pulled the chakker ball out. "Now let’s get going!" The two cubs took off, kicking the ball between each other to warm up.
Meanwhile Snow entered the doors of the Double H Club, or Herm Haven as it was often referred to. Shi was wearing a simple blue janitorial vest. The Melbourne branch of the Double H was bustling with activity common of a typical Saturday. After waving to a few people, shi stepped into the back area. Blacktail was busy working on a door as Snow approached.
"Greetings Shir Blacktail." Snow giggled as the green-haired tiger-striped chakat turned around and smiled.
"Greetings right back to you, Shir Midsnow. How are you today?" Shi moved the door to make sure it was moving along the track properly. "Oh, doing fine my friend. I figured you could use a hand on that heater system in the basement. I’ve had some experience with them on a ship." Blacktail giggled as Snow finished.
"I would love some help, Snow. That system has gotten more finicky by the day. I’m glad I have a good friend like you." Shi smiled and Snow smiled back.
"Hey it’s what friends are for! Midsun and Grill are supposed to meet up here after they’re done practicing. I figured since Gildedtongue’s away on that trip and Keklily is away as well on work, we could go see a movie after your shift is done, and maybe grab a bite somewhere with the cubs?" Snow walked with Blacktail to the office.
"Hmmm, sounds like a plan to me! What’s Azi up to?" Snow blushed and looked away. Hearing Azimuth’s name brought up memories. "Heh, shi’s gone home for a bit. I’ll probably go visit hir in a few months."
Blacktail gave Snow a glance. "Is the Territorial Sickness going to let you wait that long?"
Snow blushed again. It was a long story that explained how Azi had accidently passed on hir Territorial Attachment Sickness to Snow, but yet it was now a part of hir. "Uh…well so far it’s not been too much an issue. Time will tell."
Blacktail nodded. "Do you still…?"
Snow shook hir head. "No we resolved that issue. We don’t get confused anymore."
Blacktail was concerned for hir friend, but was happy to see shi was alright. "Well let’s go take a look at that heater then, before our spawn come to devour what little is left of our sanity!" Shi giggled and Snow joined in. "Heh, indeed."
"Sun catch!" Grill yelled out as hir tail curved the ball, moving quickly from the tail into the air towards Midsun. Shi jumped up, catching the ball into hir forepaws before landing on the ground. Shi transferred the ball to hir hands as hir four paws touched down. The ball was only in hir hand for a brief moment before being thrown up a few feet. Using hir athletic form and flexibility, shi jumped on hir front paws spinning hir body around a hundred and eighty degrees, lining up hir rear paws with the ball quickly approaching the ground, and using those back legs, kicked the ball back to Grill who wasn’t looking at the direction of the punt as shi ran to the next spot on the imaginary field. Shi didn’t need to look as shi could sense Sun’s punt, and felt that shi was going in the right direction from Sun’s emotions. Shi turned at the last second catching the ball, having only a fraction of a second to track it after the turn.
"OH MY GOD!" Sun cried out. "That was amazing! You didn’t even need to track the ball! You were right – this is the way to train for sure!" Shi was excited, the practice getting hir worked up. Grill hirself was faring no better, the intense emotions of both helping them to connect their emotions to read off each other with extreme ease.
"Yeah, Sun, this is the way to train, no doubt. I think we need to try this at every one of our practices. Sad thing we can’t do this at group practice though." Shi walked back to Sun with the ball in hir hand. "It’s been a few hours – we should get over to our moms before they come looking to tan our hides."
Sun nodded and changed back into hir blouse. Grill simply threw on a loose shirt and some sunglasses to complete hir masculine look. Hir short hair and smaller breasts made it easily to, at quick glance assume shi was a male felitaur and not a chakat.
"Ready?" Sun asked, and Grill nodded as they threw their bags over their shoulders and headed towards the Double H.
"I still don’t understand why they would make it so we have to wear those headbands if it means without them we play so much better!" Sun mused and Grill smiled.
"I don’t know, Sun. I guess to make it so the Pros look better by comparison? I really can’t figure it out. It seems stupid to me to be honest," Grill shot back as they left the park and re-entered the realm of the city.
"Let’s ask our moms why; maybe they can explain it," Sun said, and Grill stopped walking and stared at Sun, hir eyes narrowing. "What?" Sun asked the motionless Chakat.
"If we tell our moms about this they’ll take us out of the team. My mother made it very clear I wasn’t to violate the rules, or I wouldn’t be allowed to play again. We have to keep this a secret. Do you promise me?" Shi gazed hard at Sun who could see how big a deal it was to hir friend.
"OK…OK, I promise I won’t tell. Now let’s get going."
Grill took hir word and they both continued toward the club. As they stepped into the doors, they were greeted by the help desk personnel and told that their mothers were in the basement. After a quick elevator ride, the doors opened to the exclamations of their parents.
"Son of a …" Snow cried out as a pipe bar was heard hitting the concrete ground with a loud clang.
"The Longfall’s heater was never like this!" Blacktail laughed from a corner.
"Well no matter how bad the Longfall’s heater is, that last bang did it. The pressure is holding steady instead of fluctuating like it has been doing." Snow nodded, seeing the cubs walk in. "Well there they are. We were starting to wonder when you two would get here." Snow laughed wiping hir dirty hand on a towel.
"Now that you two are here, we can put you to work!" Blacktail laughed as the cubs moaned. Even Snow gave a chuckle. "Actually you two are going to go to the movies and get a bite to eat sometime after Blacktail and I get cleaned up. Does that sound good?"
The cubs hopped excitedly. "I want to see the new action flick!" Grill shouted and Blacktail giggled.
"Oh lord! We’ll vote and see in a bit. Right now your mommas need to go take a shower and change. You two go play in the arcade we’ll be out shortly." The cubs took off back to the elevator as Snow and Blacktail finished cleaning up, before taking the elevator themselves back to the back offices where a private large shower was set up for Blacktail to clean up after messy jobs. Being the janitor of the Double H had its perks.
"The shower is big enough for two chakats, Snow, so would you like to join me?" Blacktail giggled, taking hir uniform off and turning the water on. Snow giggled with hir friend. "Oh Blacktail, are you making a move on me?" shi teased hir friend as shi stripped down and joined hir.
"Hmm, maybe I am," shi laughed, playing with Snow. They began to wash, helping each other wash their backs.
"So Grill and Sun seem to be pretty serious about wanting to go pro with chakker," Snow said to Blacktail, who nodded as the water matted hir fur.
"Yes they do. I guess it’s getting close to time to start looking for a training camp that can get them trained to go into the pro field. They only have three more years until they qualify for the pro league." Shi smiled realizing how fast hir cub had grown up.
Meanwhile Sun and Grill were playing games in the arcade section of the club, and waiting on their mothers to finish. "Ten credits we’re going to end up having a sister from your mom and mine," Grill giggled.
Sun laughed. "Oh good lord, Grill, I would highly doubt that. Now they might be having some fun, but I don’t think either wants a cub right now." Sun continued at the controls.
"Oh is that so? Well they might be having some fun… wonder if it’s as "fun" as when we had fun." Grill giggled looking at Sun who immediately blushed, hir character in the game losing a life as shi forgot to jump.
"Heh…well that was uh…heh…yeah." Sun stammered remembering when they both had a moment together, the typical Chakat cubs after first heat experimentation. They were just friends and had no plans to go any further, but like all chakat cubs, they had a moment of love-making with each other as they learned about their developing bodies.
"Yeah, you liked it," Grill teased.
Sun scowled. "Hey! I’m trying to play – you’re distracting me!" Shi gazed back at the game as the elevator opened and Blacktail and Midsnow stepped out, ready to get a bite to eat.
"Let’s go, you two!" Blacktail said.
"Alright, I say we get pizza!" Grill cried out as Sun giggled and Blacktail rolled hir eyes.
"You cubs are going to be the death of us."
The next day, Grill and Sun rode with Blacktail to the team practice over in Blind Bight’s field.
"You cubs behave. I’ll be back to pick you up after practice," Blacktail told the two as they hopped out of the PTV.
"We will!" they said together, and Blacktail smiled and drove off as the two ran to join their teammates.
The game of chakker was played normally with seven players on the field, the seventh being a goalkeeper. In pro teams there were fourteen reserve players in addition to the seven on the field, but in the minor leagues, that was reduced to five players in reserve so that the cubs in reserve could have a chance to play. The other team members greeted the two, and after getting their gear on and the head bands were checked to be on, the team coach, Chakat Willow, put them on the field.
"Okay team, let’s go through the stretches. Touch your hands to your forepaws while stretching them out." Coach Willow walked them through the warm-ups. After several minutes of stretching and getting the blood pumping with some aerobic exercising, shi ordered the team to take positions on the field.
"Alright, I want a mock run for our upcoming game next week with the Werribee Roos."
The cubs made two teams as the goalkeepers went to their respected covers. Grill was made captain of the second team and stood in the inner circle where the ball would drop. Grill stood facing the team captain, Whitechest, as the two split groups who awaited in the outer circle, hoping their team got control of the ball first. Sun waited in the side area closer to the opposing team, watching everyone’s movement.
A moment passed and the ball dropped in between Grill and Whitechest.
Before the ball had a chance to land and bounce, Grill dropped hir paws to go low and swung hir right forepaw, making contact with the ball. As shi did so hir tail quickly flicked in front of Whitechest, distracting hir and blocking hir vision for a brief moment, allowing Grill to knock the ball from the main circle to hir team. Shi quickly rolled over back onto hir paws and ran towards the direction of the ball as Whitechest recovered and grinned before taking off in pursuit.
The ball rolled quickly to Goldlook who kicked towards the opposing team goal point. Midsun ran to keep up knowing Grill was going to cut through the middle line to intercept Whitechest from blocking. Sun moved quickly to the opposite side of the goal line and turned just in time…
Grill made it just as Pinktip tried to swipe the ball from Goldlook and intercepted while Goldlook kicked the ball. With just a split second to aim Grill caught the ball in hir hands and lined up a power shot before Whitechest could stop hir. The ball flew through the air and the goalkeeper, Brightarmour, tried to defend, but was surprised by the ball not going to the goal post, but to the side, and was caught in midair by Midsun at the last moment as shi turned, almost as if shi knew it was going to be right there!
Brightarmour tried to recover but having jumped to attempt to block shi was too late as shi skid on the grass trying to get back up but there was no time as Midsun punted the ball through the goal zone scoring a point.
Coach Willow blew the whistle and called the team in. "Very impressive, you two!" shi called to Grill and Midsun, and they grinned at each other.
After a few more hours of practice Grill and Sun sat in the park waiting on Blacktail to pick them up.
"You were right, Grill – we do need to be practicing together without those stupid head bands!" Sun said excitedly.
Grill nodded. "Yeah for sure…." Shi glanced around to see if anyone was listening in. "And we need to be having group practice without them too."
Midsun looked nervous for a moment. Shi was debating the choice of agreeing or putting hir foot down. On one hand it was against the rules, but on the other they were phenomenal in teamwork today, and group practice would only continue to improve them. Shi looked away, still scared to be breaking the rules but nodding. "You’re right, we need to practice from now on without them. I’ll….I’ll look into disabling them."
A horn honk was heard, and the cubs looked up to see Midsnow awaiting them at the other end of the parking lot. Shi called out from the window. "Get a move on you two!"
The cubs nodded, grabbing their bags and running to the PTV.
Moments later they were headed home.
"So how was practice?" Snow asked, putting the vehicle in autopilot and turning to talk with them.
The two responded it went well and then Snow got serious.
"That’s good to hear, but the reason I’m picking you up instead of Blacktail is shi was called into work. The elevator suspension line was blown away by an explosion."
The cubs eyes went wide the look of shock and horror.
"Everyone in the elevator is fine – the system had an emergency rail braking system that Blacktail installed a few months ago. The authorities thinks whoever set the charge line didn’t realize a backup brake system was in place, since the public record diagrams didn’t have that added yet. For once, slow bureaucracy has paid off. The theory is Humans First planted the bomb. It was an interesting setup using a tensile strength pressure sensor; it would only go off when the elevator was almost at weight capacity and was at the highest floor, the idea being to take out as many as possible I would assume. So I have to ask you two – did you see anything out of the ordinary at the club the past few days?"
Grill and Sun thought back but shook their heads. There had been nothing out of the ordinary to their recollection. "Is mom okay?" Grill asked.
"Shi’s fine, and the club is okay too, other than needing the elevator system taken apart and repaired and reassembled; something I’m sure your mother is not too happy about… and I’m sure I’ll end up helping hir with too." Shi sighed happy to see hir cub and friend’s cub safe and okay.
"You two keep an eye out – it’s still a dangerous world out there."
The cubs nodded and they proceeded home.
"Sun, if you don’t get your tail out of bed, you’re going to be late!" the agitated voice of hir mother rang in Sun’s mind as hir eyes darted open to see the green glow of the clock.
"SHOOT!" Shi jumped out of the bed, running to the bathroom.
After ten minutes and in a panic, Midsun burst into the kitchen, grabbed the pancakes and wolfed them down really fast off the plate. Midsnow laughed at hir daughter as shi adjusted hir Star Corps uniform.
"Calm down, you’re okay. You’ve got a little bit of time left. Just take it slower." Shi giggled as Sun slowed down a little. "I’ll be in the office a little late tonight. I have a presentation with the Science division of Star Fleet on a potential colony in the Hyades system, so I won’t be home until late. If you want to have Grill come over, that’s fine. I’m sure Blacktail will be busy with everything going on at the Double H anyway. I’m also sure hir sisters are back from staying at Silkpaws’ house for the weekend, so if you all want to get together and order pizza or something after school, I left some money on the counter." Shi glanced at the clock.
"I’ve got to run – you behave."
Midsun swallowed the last bit of hir pancakes and nodded. "I will, mom. Have a good day!" Shi put the plate in the sink and grabbed hir backpack and ran out shortly after hir mother.
Reaching the corner, Grill was waiting with hir two other sisters, Coldeyes and Coalspot.
"Hey Midsun!" Coalspot called out while adjusting hir glasses.
"Hey Coal, I see you got new frames." The grey with black spots chakat blushed a bit at Sun’s statement but nodded.
"Hey come on now, we need to get to school," Coldeyes said, already starting to walk ahead, the Siamese Chakat called over hir shoulder. Grill simply gave Sun the typical hug as they turned and walked off together towards the School. Grill and Sun stayed a small distance back to talk away from earshot.
"Any ideas?" Grill whispered.
Sun looked around to make sure no one was listening. To them it was life and death if it got out their plan, as silly as it was. Satisfied that undercover chakker referees weren’t eavesdropping, shi whispered back.
"I might be on to something…but we won’t discuss it here. We’ll talk about it at my house later on."
Grill nodded as Coal and Cold turned to see what was taking them so long.
"What would I do without you, Sunshine?" Grill took off as Sun blushed. Sunshine was what shi called Sun that night they explored their sexuality with each other. Shi said Sun was hir little ray of sunshine brightening hir day. It was so corny but so sweet.
Shi gathered hirself and then took off to catch up as Grill turned and grinned at hir. After some running, they arrived at the school and entered the hallways. "See you in Study hall!" The four chakats took off to their respective classrooms. Most studying was in the form of computers and online learning, but in the higher levels, a teacher was available for more advanced studies that required more personal and hands-on attention.
"Chakat Midsun, you’re nearly late," Professor Adam stated, staring at hir through his square reading glasses.
Sun quickly reached hir desk and stammered. "My apologies sir."
The rabbit morph nodded. "Well, now that everyone is here, please open your books to page 263 as we go over the acceleration formula for air particles in a sound wave." He began to write on the board. "Now as you recall the formula is (A = ₤ ∙ wⁿ = v ∙ w = p ∙ w / z = w √j / z = w √e / p = w √Pac / z ∙ a) Now using this formula we can…….."
Midsun let hir instructor’s voice drift off as hir mind was instead working on a separate problem. Shi was certain shi could override the headbands without tripping the failsafe systems and warning devices that would alert the coach that the head band was inoperable, but the question was how to do so without making the band appear to have been tampered with.
"Chakat Midsun – are you paying attention?"
Sun jerked at the sudden calling of hir name and the class looked back with several of the students laughing. "I asked if you could solve the problem on the padd?"
Sun nodded, quickly collecting hirself, and looked down at the desk. The built-in padd had a complex particle acceleration formula displayed and shi glanced over it for a few moments.
"As I figured – you need to pay attention. Now if you had been focusing on what I was saying the problem involves…."
Midsun spoke up interrupting the Professor. "The answer is A = 23.764 to the square root of 2. The particular particle is Vanadium vapor." Shi quickly double-checked hir math, but nodded looking back at the professor who was displaying a very surprised look.
"Uh…yes that’s correct."
Sun giggled and went back to hir thoughts as the professor realized it was better just to leave things be and to continue with his lesson.
Sun smirked a little and went back to hir ponderings, wondering how Grill was doing in gym. A soft hot breath of air left hir lips as hir mind suddenly focused on the touch… the sweet embrace as Grill nuzzled hir that night. It seemed so long ago but every minute that went by shi could recall the emotion, the sensations, clearer and more powerful. Shi shook hir head and tried to refocus hir thoughts on the task at hand. A hard feat to accomplish when hir body had suddenly become so worked up. "Grill…" shi whispered from hir lips.
Meanwhile in the Physical Education classroom, Grill was busy boxing with a male human named David.
"Come on Grill, you ain’t got nothing!" He went in for an uppercut which Grill deflected. The quick move gave the chakat an opening for a quick jab which shi took happily.
"Oomph! Ack! Time! Time!" the human called out, nursing the side of his head. Grill laughed.
"You’re wearing protection on your head – it couldn’t have been that bad." Shi smirked removing the gloves from hir hands. "Coach, I think we got a baby."
David glared at Grill.
"You two stop fooling around. Grill – you got practice on Wednesday with the team, and David – you have to run your laps for the SF early entry program. So get out of that gear and get going," Chakat Willow instructed the two.
"Sorry Coach Willow." David hopped out of the ring and Grill laughed following behind as shi took hir head band off. "Coach why isn’t there a training area for chakker on the campus?"
Coach Willow shook hir head. "Grill, the reason we don’t have one is because the Chakat population at this school isn’t large enough to justify having a field built. I know you’re excited about the upcoming game, but there is such a thing as working so much you burn yourself out. Go change and relax – you’ve already met your physical requirements for the semester anyways; you can take a few days."
Grill grumbled but nodded, heading for the locker room. The Coach had the final say in such things. As Grill proceeded to the locker room and opened the door, hir eyes went to the black sports top sitting inside hir locker. The top was a gift from Midsun on hir birthday, since shi had a habit of being so rough shi would tear the tops, so Sun had bought hir a custom-made top made of a strong material. Grill stood there looking at the top as images started to go through hir head. That night…. as shi slowly climbed upon Sun’s back. Hir hands wrapping around the chest to fondle Sun’s breasts. A hot breath left Grill’s lips as shi recalled every sensation of that night. Hir lips opened just enough for a soft whisper to leave. "Sunshine…."
"Terra to Grill wake up!" A soft bop to hir head and Grill quickly snapped out of hir daydreaming. David looked at Grill with some concern. "Are you okay?"
Grill shook hir head, regaining hir composure. "Uh, yeah, just daydreaming I guess."
David rolled his eyes before they darted down to beneath Grill before giving a wink. David turned and walked towards the shower. "Whoever it is…they’re a lucky one." David laughed over his shoulder and Grill’s eyes darted down to see shi was sporting an erection.
The rest of the school day went by and soon Sun, Grill, Coalspot, and Coldeyes were walking through the front door of the Longfall home.
"Mom said we can order pizza, so if you two want to see what to get. Grill and I will be right back," Sun told the other two.
Coalspot giggled and Coldeyes gave Sun and Grill a look.
Grill laughed. "Silly sis, it’s not that at all! We’re just doing some planning for the big game is all."
Coldeyes gave a ‘yeah right’ look as shi joined hir other sister in going over the menu, deciding what to order. Grill quickly went up the stairs and entered Midsun’s personal room and closed the door, looking at Sun with a twinkle in hir eye. A quick pounce and they were rolling on the floor making out.
Sun eeped in surprise as shi was pinned by Grill to the ground. "Ohhh…Grill," Shi muttered, finding hirself strangely content being in the other ’Kats embrace.
Grill grinned. "I don’t know why, but today in school, all I could think of was you." Shi leaned in, hir hands stroking Sun’s fur.
Midsun let a soft moan escape hir lips as hir hands reached up to wrap around Grill’s waist. "That’s funny; I couldn’t stop thinking about you too…..that night." Grill nodded. "That night. I thought it wasn’t such a big thing it was a few years ago, so why now are we both reacting to what happened?"
Sun shrugged. "Tell me which one matters more. Why we’re both getting worked up about it… or this?" Shi leaned hir head up and placed hir lips upon Grill’s and began to kiss deeply. Grill was at first surprised, but then quickly pushed back into the kiss just as hard. Their lips opened to allow both tongues to reach out and begin to dance as hands and forepaws found each other and held each other.
The beating at the door surprised the hot and heavy chakats, and they broke embrace as Sun weakly called out from beneath Grill, "Ye…yes?"
Coalspot called from the other side of the doorway. "The comm was going off – it’s your sire."
Sun’s eyes went wide as shi quickly pushed Grill off hir and ran to the door. Shi paused for the briefest of moments to straighten hir hair and shirt and then opened the door, pushing past Coal and running to the living room.
Midsun ran to the view screen and hit the hold button. Hir sire Keketh-Lilianne Longfall appeared on the screen. "Dad!" Sun called out.
Keklily smiled as hir cub. "Hey dear, how are you doing?"
Sun smiled back. "I’m good! Mom said you would be home in a week or so." Shi wagged hir tail, happy to see hir sire. It had been several weeks since they last spent time together.
"Yes I’ll be home in roughly a week. I’m guessing your mother is working late tonight?"
Sun nodded. "Yeah, shi has a presentation on a new potential colony planet. Hey, they’re going to be streaming the chakker game this Saturday; will you be watching?" shi asked, eager to have hir sire watch, even if it was light-years away.
"Oh my silly Sun, of course I’ll be watching. Just imagine me in the crowd cheering you, okay?" Kek responded just as a beep from hir office door was heard over the comm. "I have to go. Let your mother know I called. Love you!" Shi turned around to answer the door as the comm changed to a ‘disconnected’ Star Fleet message before going blank.
"Sun shall we…?" Grill started, but Coldeyes jumped in. "Pizza’s ordered and should be here in just a little bit. How about we all play some games together?" Sun giggled and then nodded. "Yeah, let’s play some games."
They played until the pizza arrived, and after wolfing down the meal, they loaded up a movie to watch. Sun brought hir padd over and was silently working on some stuff while the movie played. "Sun, you got a second?" Grill asked as the other two chakats were occupied with the movie.
Sun nodded and the two snuck up to Sun’s room.
"Okay, love, I…" Sun paused and then blushed – the word just seemed to have slipped out.
Grill grinned and walked over, wrapping hir arms around Sun’s waist. "Love, eh?" Shi giggled, teasing hir and then slowly leaned in and kissed Sun on the lips. A few moments and then shi pulled away. "You were saying?"
"Uh…heh…yes anyways, I think I can make the headbands shut off, but still appear to be working to our coach. I just have to shut the power off to the headband which is simple enough to do, and then build a small transmitter that transmits the functioning signal that the handheld picks up, indicating the bands are working even though they’re really off." Sun showed Grill hir padd and the data showing how small the transmitter would be.
"Sunshine, did I ever tell you how much a genius you are?" Grill said, reaching in for another kiss.
Sun laughed, slowly pushing hir away. "And did I ever tell you what a horny little chakat you are?" Shi smirked as Grill rolled hir eyes. "Mom’s going to be home any moment do you want hir to catch us in the act?"
Grill laughed. "As if! You know shi wouldn’t care even if we did!" As if on cue, the sound of a PTV pulling in the drive was heard. "Dammit!" Grill said and Sun laughed.
Moments later, Midsnow and Blacktail both walked in through the door. "Dad!" Coal and Cold cried out, running to Blacktail who was immediately surrounded by hir cubs and Midsnow was pounced by hir own child.
"Dad called a little bit ago," Sun told hir mother.
"Oh well shoot, it’s too late to call hir back now. I’ll have to buzz hir tomorrow. Did you all eat?" The cubs nodded. "Good we have something to tell you all now." Snow and Blacktail got serious and Blacktail spoke up.
"I received a call a little bit ago. Someone tried to break into the house." The three Blacktail cub’s eyes went wide. "It’s okay, they didn’t get in and nothing’s stolen. The police are investigating, but for the next few nights, Snow has offered to let us stay with hir just to be safe. I have your clothes and things for a few days sleepover in the PTV; could you go get them?"
The cubs nodded heading out the door. Midsun went with them, leaving Snow and Blacktail in the room.
Blacktail sighed and then leaned hir head on Snow’s shoulder. "Thanks for letting them and me stay for a few days. This week has been one thing after the next."
Snow nodded as shi hugged hir friend. "Anytime." Hir tail slowly circled around Blacktail’s and the tiger-striped green-haired chakat looked up and giggled softly as hir own tail wound a bit, giving a slight tug. After a few moments, Snow and Blacktail locked lips, kissing softly. "Mmmm….the cubs will be up soon; shall we have them spend the night together, and you and I have some ‘alone’ time?"
Blacktail grinned, hir flanks rubbing up against Snow’s who purred softly. "Oh yes, let’s!" shi giggled back, just as the door was starting to open.
The two chakats’ tails quickly unwound before the door opened fully and the cubs came in with the bags. "Okay you four – you can all sleep in Sun’s room. You have school in the morning, so everyone get going." Snow told the cubs who grumbled but gave in, heading upstairs. "After you…" Snow giggled to Blacktail as the two headed for hir bedroom.
"MIDSUN!" The loud voice of the professor rang out in the empty lab as shi eeped, turning quickly to face hir instructor. "How many times have I told you to let me know when a big game is coming up?"
Shi tried to stammer back realizing shi had forgotten.
"I’m so sorry, sir; I forgot to tell you!"
The human male laughed, taking amusement in seeing the Chakat jump so high. "Didn’t think anyone would be in here today, did you?"
Sun shook hir head. Lunch time was usually when shi would grab a quick bite and run to the electronics lab to play and tinker. Professor Daniels, was the instructor for the school, and he usually took his lunches in the professors’ lounge.
"Heh, you’re just like you mother in so many ways. I remember when you were just a tiny cub. Heck, I remember still the first day your mother showed up at boot camp. So what are you tinkering with, Sunny?" He laughed peeking around hir shoulder.
Shi quickly moved to block his view. "Heh…it’s a secret," shi said, hoping he wouldn’t press the issue.
"A secret you say? Well you know I’m not one to pry into private affairs. Should I assume though that it involves a Chakat Grill?" He grinned and shi started to panic! Did he know?
"You….you could say that," shi responded.
"Ha! I swear you two think no one else notices, but I see how you to are around each other. Should I be worried about great-granddaughters?"
Sun sighed at least a mental sigh that is. "As if! We’re teammates, that’s all."
Professor Daniels eyed the chakat. "If you say so. By the way, when you see your "teammate", could you let hir know to stop by my office? I would like an explanation as to why all of the electronic speakers in the presentation hall suddenly started playing "Kitty Kat Back" when the superintendant walked on stage during the Parent-Teacher meeting."
Sun giggled at that remark. Most likely another Grill prank. Oh, the poor superintendant Chakat Enlightened – if only shi could have seen that reaction!
"I’m sure if you look online, someone posted a video of it by now. Also make sure you’re using an audible range transmitter for whatever it is your building. They have a better output range and are significantly smaller. I believe the bell is about to ring, so carry on." He turned to walk away, leaving the dumbfounded Chakat to stand there.
"How did he….?"
"So the teacher wants 4 pages of info on the decline of internal combustion engines tomorrow, so can I borrow your PADD? Mine’s at home. Sun?" Coal waved a hand in front of the distracted chakat.
"What? Oh yeah, sure, no prob." Sun snapped out of hir inner ponderings. The four chakats were just turning the last street to get to Snow’s house after another day of school. "Hey you two, the door should be unlocked; mom should be home. Let hir know Grill and I are going to go practice. And my PADD is my room."
The two nodded heading off.
"You seem distracted – what’s up Sunshine?" Grill asked, and Sun blushed at the statement.
"Heh! You haven’t called me that in so long, and now you’ve said it multiple times in two days," Grill smirked.
"Well I don’t know – just seems appropriate… anyways, what’s going through your head?"
Sun smirked back, reaching into hir bag and pulling out two tiny little devices no bigger than the size of a watch battery. "These… they’ll send the all-clear signal and id info for our bands, as well as disable the bands themselves. Just tuck it under the band anywhere when you put it on and presto! No more dampening."
Grill looked over the small devices, hir grin going wide. "You’re a genius, Sun!"
The two chakats giggled and ran off to practice in the park.
While the two chakats ran off to practice, Midsnow was sitting in the living room with Professor Daniels.
"Are you sure?" shi asked.
"Positive. Snowy, you know I wish I could give you better news, but the truth is shi’s doing something with transmitting data packets in a small format. I think Grill is getting Sun in on some of those ‘pranks’ of hirs. Do you think Grill is a good influence on hir?" Snow took a sip of tea, offering a cup to Jason.
"I think shi’s a good influence on Grill. Now what shi’s doing building small transmitters, I don’t know, but I trust my daughter enough to know shi wouldn’t do anything that would be harmful to others, so until shi does do something, I’ll let it be." Shi put the cup down and smiled at Jason.
"Well shi is your daughter; it’s your call." He sighed and took a sip himself. "Mmmm…good tea. So how are you doing?"
Snow looked away for a moment taking a sigh. "Oh I’m doing alright. Work is getting heavy with this new colony being planned, and I’ve been dealing with the sickness."
Jason gave hir a look. "It’s still bugging you?" He reached out and took hir hand. "If it’s getting too much to handle, take some time off and go to Chakona. I’m sure Azi would love to have you there."
Snow sighed. "With what’s going on in the office? Hardly a chance. Maybe in a month or so once things settle down. I can manage until then." Shi gave him a hug.
He smirked. "You think Snow will enjoy you coming, Azi?" Shi laughed poking hir tail tip on his nose.
"Silly…we don’t get confused about who’s who anymore."
He laughed. "Just making sure."
Shi smirked, grabbing the cup and taking another sip, wondering if Grill and Sun were having a good time.
Meanwhile, in the park...
"Grill! Go long!" shi called out, and before all the words could leave hir lips, the red haired chakat was already running full out to the opposite side of their imaginary field. Shi wrapped hir tail around the ball, aiming and then flinging with the brunt of hir might. As the chakker ball went soaring towards Grill, shi leaped, and in mid air spun, catching the ball.
"Awesome! It seems like we’re getting better with each passing moment."
Grill nodded to Sun’s comment. "I owe you so much Sunshine!" Shi ran and pounced Sun, the two rolling in the grass until Grill pinned Sun to the ground.
"Grill!" shi exclaimed blushing, but at the same time hir hands began to wander against Grill’s body.
"I don’t know why I feel like this for you, but I don’t care!" shi exclaimed, and Sun simply nodded reaching up to lock lips and kiss hir deeply.
After several moments they slowly pulled away, and Sun smiled. "I feel the same about you. Take me right here like you took me so long ago."
Grill smiled, reaching down hir hands, rubbing against Sun’s breasts. Sun reached up and slowly pulled Grill’s shirt off and then hir own to expose those large mammaries to hir newfound lover. "Mmmm lovely." Grill tweaked a nipple resulting in Sun letting off a soft moan.
Without any more words, the two coiled their tails together and rolled over, making love on the soft grass.
Grill softly entered Sun who gave off another moan. "Ohhh…Grill…I...I love you."
The red headed chakat smiled softly leaning in for another kiss, but not before saying. "I know you do my Sunshine…and I love you too." Shi locked lips the two beginning to speed up the tempo as Sun rocked hir hips back to meet Grill’s thrust.
"AIE! What are ye two lasses up to?" The two chakats turned to the sound of the voice, their eyes like deer caught in a headlight. The site of a park ranger coming over the hillside made them both shriek as Grill pulled out quickly. The park ranger saw everything he needed to. "Oh for Ehvans sake, you two bonny lass’ find eh room! Go on! Get out of ‘ere before I call ye mothers." Grill and Sun didn’t need to be told twice. They grabbed their bags, threw their shirts back on and ran.
The park ranger merely smirked, watching them run. "Aie, to be a young lad again."
Sun and Grill got over the hill side and began to giggle, slowing down.
"Oh wow that was rush, getting caught like that," Grill laughed.
"Heh...Heh…yeah it was, sexy ’Kat. Too bad you didn’t get to finish." Sun giggled as Grill grinned back at hir.
"Oh? How about I finish right here right now?" Grill walked back around Sun’s rear. Sun found hirself slowly lowering hir forepaws and lifting hir rear to Grill, hir body wanting to finish as well. Grill was about to mount hir when the sound of a comm going off took them out of their trance.
"Ack! I think that’s mine," Sun said, reaching into hir bag and pulling the comm device out. "Hello?" shi said after tapping the device to answer.
"I think you two have had enough practice. It’s going to be dark soon, so get your rumps on home," hir mother’s voice called out from the device.
"Eep! Sorry mom! Didn’t realize how late it was getting. We’re on our way." Shi hung up, turning to Grill. "Sorry, love."
Grill simply nodded as the two got their things together and cleaned up quickly before walking home.
As the chakats were walking home, they turned a corner near an alleyway.
"Excuse me, are you Grill?"
The cubs stopped, turning to the sound of the voice. A man walked from the alleyway. He was dressed in a fashion that made it hard to identify his features. A scarf wrapped tightly around his neck and partially blocking his mouth. He wore thick black-tinted glasses and a fedora. "I said excuse me, but is your name Grill?"
Sun glanced to Grill who studied the person. "I’m sorry, I don’t know who you are."
The man chuckled lightly. "Very simply I’m Mr. Darxson, young cub, and I have a job… a very unique job that takes me many places and has me perform a wide variety of things."
Sun held onto Grill’s arm, taking a few steps back, covering behind Grill’s larger form.
Mr. Darxson ignored hir, turning his attention back at Grill. "One of my peculiar jobs involved me being hired to…otherwise make someone important otherwise unavailable. Instead the method of…making this person unavailable was thwarted unknowingly by your mother, little cub."
Grill and Sun’s eyes went wide! The attempted sabotage of the elevator!
"Wh…why…are...you telling us this?" Grill stammered, for a moment frightened about what was going to happen.
Behind that scarf, the top of his lips showed he was clearly grinning. "Because, little abomination, I lost a lot of credibility because of your mother, so now I’m going to make sure it loses the most dearest thing to its heart." The man pulled his arm away from his pocket to show he had a handheld phaser as he started to take aim.
"NO!" Sun threw hir hand forward, and the man flew several feet backward and to his back as if he was hit by an invisible PTV.
"RUN!" Sun pulled Grill away as the man slowly let out a heave before trying to get back up. Grill turned with Sun and they ran as fast as they could into the streets of Melbourne. After several minutes of running, they stopped, ducking into an alcove to make sure they weren’t being followed.
"Oh my god! He was going to shoot you!" Sun yelled, reaching into hir bag to retrieve hir comm.
"What are you doing?" Grill pulled the bag away.
"I’m going to call mom! There’s someone trying to kill you!"
Grill hesitated but let go. "Ok…call hir. Tell hir where we are." Grill took a deep breath, the scene playing out in hir mind, the weapon pointed right at hir. "I didn’t know you had gotten that skilled with your talent." Shi turned back to Sun who was about to dial.
"I…it just came to me. Heat of the moment, I guess. Usually it takes effort just to move a coffee mug. I’m not as talented as my mother…yet anyways. Speaking of which, come on mum – pick up!" The comm continued to ring until finally.
"Sun, where are you? It’s nearly dark. I…" But Midsun cut hir off.
"Mom! We were just attacked by a man! He said he was the one who caused the elevator bomb! He TRIED TO SHOOT GRILL!" Shi was screaming and getting frantic.
"Whoa, whoa! Calm down, Sun. Are you and Grill okay? Stay where you are. We’re coming to get you!"
Shi took a few deep breaths as Grill took the comm.
"We’re okay. We’re hiding in an alcove. You should see our location on the comm. He had a phaser!" Grill spoke, making sure to keep an eye out.
"We’re on our way – just stay there."
Moments later, officers swarmed the area along with Midsnow, Blacktail, and Jason. After getting the area clear, the cubs were taken to the local station to be interviewed. Sun and Grill sat in an officer’s area, waiting until a sergeant and Jason Daniels walked in.
"Professor?" Sun started to ask, noticing he was in a uniform.
"It’s okay, I’m part of the task force that monitors and goes after the Humans First organization. The Melbourne police force brought me on because of my technical knowledge and prior work as a drill instructor for consulting. Now this is Staff Sergeant Rowena Clarkson – she’s in charge of the task force. I want you both to tell her every detail.
The female wolf morph smiled at the cubs. "As Mr. Daniels explained, I’m Staff Sergeant Rowena. Please start from the beginning, and don’t leave out any details, no matter how unimportant you think they are. We’d like to get this guy before he causes harm again."
The two cubs nodded. Grill started. "We were walking home…"
The officers took watch at both Blacktail and Midsnow’s homes. The two families were not there, of course; instead they were staying the night in a hotel room under security watch.
"This sucks!" Grill whined, looking out the window.
"Why does it suck? We don’t have to go to school tomorrow!" Coal laughed from the corner while Grill growled softly.
"Because now we can’t go to practice tomorrow, or play in the big game!"
Coal got quiet, knowing when it came to chakker, Grill was not one to take jokes on the subject.
A moment later the door opened, and Blacktail walked in, a sigh escaping hir lips.
"They haven’t found him yet. They’re searching though and it won’t be too long, I hope. In the meantime we’re staying here, it looks like." Blacktail took a spot on the taur couch.
"But mom – the big game!" Grill started and Blacktail sighed again.
"I know my little one…we’ll just have to wait and see."
Grill humpfed, crossing hir arms but knew it was pointless to continue arguing.
The door opened again, and Midsnow and Midsun walked in.
"Well so far no one has showed up at either one of our places," Snow said, taking a spot on the opposite couch. "For the time being I guess we sit and wait. I’ve already contacted the school and let them know the cubs won’t be in class for the time being."
Sun walked over, sitting next to Grill. With both their backs facing away, no one noticed as their tails entwined. "I’m wondering what that guy meant by someone important," Grill said, which caused Snow and Blacktail to glance at each other before Snow would speak up.
"Chakat Goldendale was on board that elevator. The authorities originally thought the explosive was a tripline set by weight, but it was actually dual built to trip by full weight or by remote trigger."
The cubs looked at each other. "Who’s Goldendale?" they all asked in unison.
Blacktail and Snow laughed before Blacktail spoke. "Guess they don’t teach you cubs anything. Chakat Goldendale sixteen years ago was a human named Dale Perkins. A botched H1 attack ended up with him almost being killed during a matter transport. Thankfully, a Chakat Goldfur, who went through the transporter only seconds prior, was able to quickly save his mind matrix pattern and used hir own body pattern still in the transporter to save him. But of course he was now a shi and an exact duplicate of Goldfur. It took hir time to adjust to hir new body and species but grew accustomeed to it, and because of his change from human to chakat, shi is loathed by H1 and people who share that mindset." Shi paused and Snow finished.
"So H1, after finding out about Dale, always saw hir as a symbol that it didn’t matter what species you were. Something they can’t tolerate, so shi was apparently the intended target. But when that failed, this Mr. Darxson who must have promised to pull this "job" off, lost his standing and is now looking for revenge on Blacktail for installing those emergency clamps. That leads us to now." The cubs nodded as everyone sat in silence, not sure what was going to happen.
Snow broke the silence. "Well tomorrow we all don’t want to be cooped up in this hotel room. How about we take off and do something, away from Melbourne obviously. Perhaps a trip to the beach? We haven’t been there in a long time. Let’s go to Fairhaven – I hear the beach is pretty clear of people right now." The cubs started to quickly nod their heads, and even Blacktail beamed at the idea.
"Heh, I think it’s been years since I last went. Remember the big picnic we went to, Snow?" Blacktail asked reminiscing.
Snow nodded in response. "Yeah, Grill and Sun chased each other with those super soakers all day." Grill and Sun giggled recalling that event as well.
"Will it be okay for us to go out of town?" Coal asked, noticing out the corner of hir eye Grill and Sun’s tails.
Snow nodded again. "Yeah, Jason will have us snuck out and safe for the day; he insisted we get out of town to relax anyways."
Coalspot grinned. "I think we need to keep…"
But Snow cut hir off. "Yes, Coal dear, I know their tails are entwined." Shi closed hir eyes to take a sip of tea from a cup.
Grill and Sun went wide-eyed quickly uncurling their tails as Grill stammered, "Ho…hhhooowww? How did you know?"
Snow giggled along with Blacktail. After a moment, the white Chakat tapped hir forehead. "I’m telekinetic, hun, a thing you should very much try to remember. I can feel everything in this room…the hallway…and the surrounding area for several blocks if I wish. I can sense you two entwining tails very easily. Something you want to tell us, you two?"
Grill blushed and Sun stammered back. "We…we…we were just tugging each other’s tails! A workout to get our tail muscles developed for throwing the chakker ball better!" Shi cried out with too much effort. Blacktail eyed Snow and the two parents silently nodded to each other.
"Hmm... and for a moment I thought you two were in love." Blacktail smiled as Grill blushed harder, Sun quickly following suit.
Snow laughed, seeing hir daughter blush. "I think we should get some rest." Shi smiled as the cubs headed to the sleeping room. This hotel room being for chakats or other taurs meant it contained wider frames, more space, and a communal sleeping room per chakat norms. Blacktail and Snow stayed behind as the cubs ran to the communal room to claim spots.
"Snow – you look concerned." Blacktail got up, walking over to sit with hir companion.
"I am, hun. Remember when you use to live in the Double H?" Shi glanced out the window.
"Of course I do. I moved out and got my place when I had Grill and Gilded had Coal and Cold. There just wasn’t enough space in that small room in the Double H for three cubs and two adult Chakats. Why do you ask?"
Snow turned to face hir friend. "I just had the horrible idea if you still lived there with the bomb in the elevator."
Blacktail nodded and hugged Snow comforting hir. "You’re debating going back to Chakona, aren’t you? Shi’s in your thoughts every day."
Snow blushed hirself but nodded. "The curse and blessing of being bonded. If Sun wasn’t so involved in hir studies, I’d seriously debate moving now. I know Kek would be happy to have me home too."
Blacktail rubbed Snow’s shoulders, comforting hir friend. "I understand, hun, but you know Sun can be schooled on a ship just as easily as here." Snow took another sip of tea before laying back into Blacktail’s embrace.
"But to take hir away from the team would be a major disappointment for hir. We also have to consider Grill." Snow giggled. "You should have seen them, hun – those tails entwined tight. I wonder when we will have grandcubs?
Blacktail purred softly. "Shi’s always welcome to stay with us, hun. You could go back to Chakona…"
Snow shook hir head softly. "No, I won’t miss out on my daughter growing up just for my own self-satisfaction. I may visit in a few months, but I won’t contemplate moving until Sun at least graduates."
Blacktail nodded, holding hir companion as they both looked out the window at the night sky of the Melbourne skyline.
The cubs claimed spots in the communal room. Coal and Cold took up spots at one part while Grill and Sun took another. The usual sleeping patterns meant they would wake up a coiled mess in the morning. Sun whispered to Grill.
"I love you… I was so afraid I was going to lose you when he… pulled…." Grill brought hir into a kiss. "It’s okay, Sunshine. I’m safe…you’re safe and that’s all that matters right now.
They drifted off in each other’s embrace.
The smell of salt on the air and the sounds of water rushing over itself in waves were the dominant sensations as Snow and Blacktail set up the towel and umbrella.
Grill grinned, making sure hir black shirt was on and keeping hir eye on Midsun as shi slowly tied up hir black bikini top before brushing some of hir curly hair away. Grill laughed, tugging hir tail. "Catch me if you can!" Shi took off as Sun chased hir onto the beach and into the rolling waves of the ocean.
Coldeyes grinned, watching those two take off. "Hey Coal, there’s an ice cream stand over there. Let’s get a treat and then figure out something for Grill."
Coalspot adjusted hir glasses. "Figure what out?"
Cold smiled, glancing towards Grill as shi ran from Midsun. "Hmmm well shi’s always the little trickster – how about we get hir back for past pranks?" The two cubs smiled and walked to the ice cream vendor, plotting the whole way.
Midsnow parked hirself on the towel next to Blacktail and chuckled as the two had a front row seat to Grill and Midsun splashing each other about. Mostly Grill was doing the splashing.
(Art by Rhari)
"Those two do make such a cute couple. I’m surprised how fast they’ve grown upon each other. I know they experienced their Firsts with each other, but that was a few years ago and since then they seemed to be only friends. Now they’re acting like mad lovers and so suddenly too," Blacktail mused and Snow nodded.
"No telling," Snow replied as the two cubs collided in the water, giggling and laughing with each other. It reminded Snow and Blacktail of their own love lives with mates and companions alike.
But near the PTV, Coalspot and Coldeyes were snooping around Grill’s bag.
"It’s got to be in here somewhere!" Coal called out before finally pulling out Grill’s chakker head band. "Heh…Poor Sis will go nuts trying to find it!" the two cubs laughed together before Coal rubbed hir fingers over the band, feeling something hard inside the folds of the fabric. "What the…?" Shi flipped the fabric over to find a small pinky dot size electronic chip of some kind. "Coldeyes – take a look at this!"
The sister brought it close to hir as shi inspected it. "Seems to be some type of transmitter."
"Wait! What if it’s a locator!" Coal called out, afraid the H1 man could be tracking them.
The two cubs looked each other in the eyes before running as fast as possible to their sire.
"DAD!!!" They called out, running down the beach as Blacktail whipped hir head around, fear gripping hir at those cries. "COAL! COLD!" shi cried out, but was relieved to see them not being chased or anything alarm causing yet. The two cubs reached the adults as Grill and Sun came out of the water. Grill’s eyes darted straight to hir head band grasped firmly in Coalspot’s hands. A feeling of dread washed over hir.
"You two what’s a matter?" Blacktail asked as the two cubs caught their breath before Coal lifted the head band to hir sire. "We were going to pull a prank on Grill and take hir head band, but we found this inside it! We think it’s a tracking device!!!"
Blacktail took the headband as Grill and Midsun’s hearts sank.
"What in the world…? Snow take a look at this." Snow glanced at the chip and knew right then what it was. Years of working on ships, shi knew all too well what it was and how it was most likely being used. Shi whispered into Blacktail’s ear. A look of anger crossed Blacktail’s face.
"Coalspot, Coldeyes you two go to the PTV and wait for us. We’ll be there shortly." Coal and Cold glanced at each other and then a quick look at Grill, not sure what was going on, but they knew their sire was angry and decided to follow without asking questions. They quickly left for the PTV, leaving Midsnow, Grill, Midsun, and Blacktail looking at each other.
"I’m going to ask one time and I already know the answer. So you better be truthful with me…" Snow started. "I know what that chip is and how it can be used so I’m going to ask. Are you two practicing without headbands? Disabling them during practice?" Hir voice was firm and with a hint of anger behind it.
Midsun hung hir head the only answer Snow needed. "I see…I would have thought better of you, Sun. I am very disappointed in you. Were you planning to trick the ref’s too?" Again Sun remained quiet.
"My lord, Sun, you were raised better than that!" Snow started to shout, but Grill bit hir lip before calling out hirself.
"IT’S MY FAULT! I….I talked hir into it. I’m the one who had the idea."
Snow shook hir head. "I just got done telling my father how you weren’t a bad influence on his grandcub but I guess you sure showed me wrong. Do you two even know why they have headbands in chakker for the junior leagues? Any clue?"
Grill lowered hir head again. "To… make the pro’s look better by comparison?"
Blacktail could hardly contain it anymore and walked away before saying something shi would regret. Snow simply sighed. "The bands block your empathic talent because otherwise the heated emotions, the high of being in that moment, causes everyone on a team to become bonded to one another. Every chakker Pro team, the members are all bonded together. It’s not unusual to have a team that all the members are mated together because of this. That’s why the term is chakker babies after the championship cup for the winning team. The rules for junior league are to prevent that from happening to young cubs that aren’t ready for such an event. Being bonded is….."
Sun whispered cutting off hir mother. "Difficult." Shi had seen the issues that Snow dealt with being bonded to Azimuth – hir newfound Territorial Attachment Syndrome for a place on Chakona shi had never been to. The traits they’d gained from each other. How could shi have been so foolish to not realize that was what was happening between hir and Grill!
Snow nodded. "It makes sense now how in little more than a week, you two have grown so close to each other. You’re both bonded to each other and will be for the rest of your lives."
Shi turned to walk towards Blacktail, leaving the two cubs to stand there in remorse.
Blacktail stood off to the side as Snow approached.
"They’re bonded, aren’t they?" shi asked, and Snow simply nodded.
"Well they’ll be together from now on, no matter what. No chance of breaking it?" shi asked while taking a long sigh.
Snow bit hir lip but then responded. "You can’t really break a bond. They would never agree to it for one. That and there’s risk with trying it. They’re like Azi and I now. They’ll never want to be out of contact with one another for long periods of time, and it would be horrible for us to try to do that to them."
Blacktail nodded before looking at Snow eye to eye. "But…you and Azi are separated?"
Snow giggled, lightening the mood only slightly. "We talk to each other every day if possible."
"I see…." Shi sighed again looking in the direction of hir cub. "I can handle them being bonded. It’s actually really sweet thinking about it. I can handle that. We knew if they went pro it was going to happen anyway. But the cheating…" Shi growled softly, hir fangs showing as Grill quickly darted hir head away upon seeing hir mother bare hir teeth.
"I’m afraid I’ll have to do something about this. Grill! Get over here!" shi called out, and Grill slowly approached hir mother.
"You’ve overdone yourself this time, young ’Kat! And you’ve dragged someone else into this. Well you’re bonded to Midsun now, and since you’re the most male biased of the two and the ringleader of this, I’m going to tell you your punishment. After this week’s game, you will be banned from playing chakker for one year!" Grill was about to cry unfair when hir mother bared hir fangs again, shutting the cub up quickly. "Be thankful I don’t make it longer. Think if you were caught by the refs! You would be barred from playing junior league permanently! And what Pro team would want to recruit cheaters!" Grill hung hir head. "So one year! Again be thankful it’s not longer. I would pull you from this weekend’s game, but then it would cause a forfeit, and that’s unfair to your teammates. Now as I said, since your male biased and Midsun is female biased and raised in a traditional home, I have some words for you." Blacktail’s tail lifted the cubs chin up to look at hir.
"You are bonded to that chakat. You are like the man of the relationship which means you have a lot of growing up to do fast, cub. You will treat hir with all your love and you will be a good influence on hir! Your little pranks are one thing, but if this is a sign of where you’re going, it better halt immediately because you will not drag that ’Kat down with you – do you hear me?"
Grill nodded. "I….love hir. I wouldn’t….I couldn’t hurt…..hir," shi stammered, tears welling up.
Blacktail sighed again, walking up to Grill and wrapping hir hands around hir. "Calm down, little one. I have much to talk to you about in regards to this."
Snow slowly stepped back letting the mother and child be as shi walked to hir own cub.
Midsun stood a ways back, unable to hear what was being said. Shi was frightened like any kid who had been caught, but more so because of hir mother dealing with bonding. When shi found out a year ago, shi got upset at Azimuth, blaming hir for the problems hir mother went through – the TAS and constant confusion over who shi was. Azi took a lot of verbal abuse from Midsun who thought shi had lost hir mother at one point, but Sun apologized to Azi once hir mother explained everything. But surely hir mother was sad hir own cub would deal with something similar to hir own issues.
"Sun, come here – we need to talk." Snow pointed to the beach towel, taking a seat to the side as Sun joined hir.
"Mom I’m so sorry I just…"
Snow waved hir off. The sound of the waves was all that was heard as Snow took a look at the ocean before speaking. "Beautiful, isn’t it? The waves so calm and gentle, the soft breeze on the fur. I have a feeling you have some reservations about being bonded. I can assume easily where such ideas would be based from. Hun, do you think I hate being bonded?"
Sun was taken aback by the words. "Aren’t you upset?"
"Not at all." Hir words gentle and with ease they were spoken. "I might grow weary of TAS, but that’s just a side effect and one I deal with. I love being bonded, my sweet child. There are three things in my life that I cherish most – being mated to and with your sire…you…" shi giggled, hir tail lightly bopping Sun on the nose. "….and being bonded with Azimuth. I can’t imagine not having either of those three things. You being bonded to Grill is going to take time for you both to get used to now that you’re aware of why you have such strong feelings for each other. It’s up to you two to work out any issues with that. What I’m upset the most about is your decision to try to cheat."
Sun turned away hanging hir head.
"Mom…I should have known better. I’m so sorry."
Snow turned hir head from the sea back to hir daughter. "I’m giving you the same punishment Grill is getting. After this weekend’s game, you will not be allowed to play chakker for one year."
Sun nodded. "That’s fair mother." Shi looked up to hir mother’s eyes. "Mom, how….what are Grill and I in for?"
Midsnow chuckled lightly. "Being bonded, you mean? Well…you’ll never want to be out of contact from hir for long periods of time. If you don’t at least talk to hir, it will feel like a piece of you is missing. You’ll feel each other’s emotions, and you have to be careful it doesn’t feed on itself or you’ll find yourselves really worked up. But when you’re with hir…it will be like magic. It’s a feeling I can’t really describe, hun." Sun nodded already knowing a bit of what shi said.
"I’m still disappointed in your decision to try to cheat."
Sun hung hir head again. "I’m sorry, mom. I wanted to make Grill happy, and then when we suddenly got even better in our practice…I let this go too far."
Snow wrapped hir hands around hir cub and gave hir a soft kiss on the cheek. "I still love you, my little Sun. I’m sure Kek will be thrilled to hear this though."
Sun gulped. Hir sire nearly fought Azimuth, fearing hir mate was lost from the confusion! How would shi react to hir daughter being bonded now too?
"Let’s go, little Sun – we don’t want to keep everyone waiting."
The sun-colored chakat nodded and the two walked back to Blacktail and Grill.
A mere moment passed as Grill looked and saw Sun coming. Shi broke out into a run, meeting Sun halfway. "I am so sorry! I never meant this I…I…" Sun put hir fingers to Grill’s lips, silencing the cub.
"Do you love me?" was all shi asked, and Grill nodded without hesitation. "And I love you. That’s all that matters to me. Everything else is second to that fact." Shi let hir hand slide off Grill’s lips. The red-haired teen blinked a second and then let hir hug go so shi could better look into Sun’s eyes.
"Midsun, I’m rash…immature… and randy. Knowing these things…." The chakat looked Sun deep in the eyes. "Midsun Longfall, child of Midsnow Longfall and Keklily Longfall, will you be my denmate?"
Sun could hardly breathe. It took nanoseconds for hir to pull Grill into a deep kiss. In seconds the two had entwined their tails as Sun spoke. "Grill, child of Blacktail and Gildedtongue, I would gladly be your denmate."
Blacktail and Midsnow stood to the side, smiling as they watched their cubs make the sacred vow.
Finally after a moment, Blacktail spoke up. "Well you know the tradition – you both need to consummate the mateship." Shi looked down the beach, seeing no one. "We’ll be in the PTV – you two have fun." Shi grinned and grabbed Snow’s arm, pulling hir away, heading back up the beach and over the cliff to the parking area, leaving Grill and Midsun to make love on the beach as the waves rolled over the sand.
Three days had passed and still no sign of the terrorist. The cubs resumed school while being kept in watch by Jason Daniels and the other educational staff. It was apparent that Sun and Grill were a couple now, never leaving each other’s side unless needed to for separate classes or other circumstances. Otherwise they were tightly knit. Blacktail resumed work at the Double H with an assigned agent to keep watch. Midsnow also returned to work with an agent keeping tabs on hir throughout the day.
It seemed Mr. Darxson had moved on.
Grill and Sun had missed the Wednesday practice, but everything was set for them to play Saturday. It would be the last time for one year as per the punishment. Snow and Blacktail were generous and didn’t tell the coach the real reason the cubs would not be coming back on the team next year, instead running it off as a need to do better in their academic studies.
"Chakat Midsnow, you have a call from the F.S.S Longfall – do you wish to accept?" the voice of Peggy, the young rat morph, called to Snow as shi was entering hir office at the Star Corps branch office building.
"Oh…yes! Peggy, send it to my office." Shi walked in as the screen on the view wall changed from the standard Star Corps background to a Star Fleet Federation logo with a warning that all conversation was secure and that it was a Federation crime to record the video conversation, before switching to Keklily’s office. "Snowy!" the red-haired white tiger-striped chakat called out.
"Oh Kek love, I’m glad you called. This week has been something else. How are you?" Shi smiled at hir Lifemate, putting the padd and documents on hir desk and turning back to talk to hir lover.
"I’m good, Snowy. We should be docking tonight, so I’ll be joining you for dinner." Snow’s tail swayed quickly in excitement.
"Tonight! What speed records did you break getting here?" Shi giggled along with Kek.
"Well, after finding out my child was being attacked, what did you think I was going to do? So nothing new on that at all?" Snow shook hir head. "I see. And how is shi dealing with being bonded to Grill?"
Snow paused a second, remembering what happened when shi told Kek that what happened. Shi was upset at first and after talking to Midsun, shi understood, knowing it was bound to happen at some point anyway. Then shi was excited to hear of the two declaring their Denmateship.
"Shi’s doing well right now. Shi and Grill are nigh inseparable, it seems."
Kek chuckled. "Reminds me of us after you first came to Chakona. Well I’m next in the queue to dock. We’ve been waiting for some transport ship to finish with their seal before it was our turn. You should see it, hun – some old relic from the Gene Wars – a "Purgatorio" or something like that." Snow’s eyes went wide.
"Oh lord, that’s Gilded’s ship! Grill’s going to be so excited…hmmm, let’s all get together for dinner tonight at my place. I have enough room for everyone. I’ll call Blacktail and Gilded and invite them. Sound good?"
Kek nodded. "Sounds like a plan, love. I need to go – I’m being told it’s our turn. I’ll see you shortly, love." Snow blew a kiss as the screen went blank, proudly displaying its warning of copying the previous recording. Shi smiled, happy to hear Gildedtongue was back as well, and after a quick call to Blacktail to confirm the dinner plans, shi returned to work.
The smoke left hir lungs as shi put the butt of hir cigarette in the trash before being allowed onto the Terran Orbital Docking Station, a non-smoking facility like much of the Federation establishments in the universe.
"Chakat Wanderer?" A federation customs official looked at the docking register.
Shi slightly muttered under hir breath to have Saldura change that after all these years.
"Sorry, the paperwork is… uh… off. I’m Chakat Gildedtongue – here is the proper paperwork." The golden-muzzled red-furred leonine chakat knew what this meant. An extra hard look at hir paperwork to see if the name issue was a misprint, or if shi was hiding something. After some time, shi was flagged for entrance into the planet, and after getting a ticket to go planetside, shi used a communication line in the lobby of the station. Blacktail’s face showed up on screen.
"Hey there you. I was wondering when you were going to call. I needed to let you know we have dinner plans with Midsnow tonight." Gildedtongue blinked…how did shi know shi was arriving today – it was going to be a surprise!
"How did you…?" But before shi could finish Blacktail smirked.
"Midsnow’s mate is docking behind you right now and told hir you were here. Shi invited us to dinner. I can come pick you up at the spaceport. What time will you be coming in?" Gildedtongue shook hir head and smiled. Hir long tail waving behind hir.
"Well so much for my surprise," shi chuckled, giving the details to hir mate.
"So then Thallon lifts the pallet with all the crates with his mech and says, ‘If the crate was filled with cadmium of the amount your saying, this mech wouldn’t be able to lift it. Captain I think they’re trying to scam us!’ Gilded grinned as everyone listened around the dinner table. "And sure enough, those traders were. Thallon saved the captain something close to a hundred thousand creds. Gave him a boost in pay for it too." Everyone giggled and laughed.
The house was full. Blacktail and Gildedtongue and their three cubs, plus Midsnow and Keklily and their two cubs, and they were all enjoying a large meal and catching up on stories and events.
"Well then, sounds like quite an adventure for you," Kek replied, getting another helping of mashed potatoes and turkey. "My trip this time around was pretty routine." Shi eyed Sun and Grill at far end of the table and smiled. "So the big game is tomorrow, the Championship. I know my Midsun is ready; what about you, BBQ?"
Grill blushed. Kek had forever called hir that name. "Heh…yeah we’re ready," shi was able to blurt out while blushing to the giggles of the other chakats.
"Dessert is ready." Hopespaw smiled as shi walked in, and Kek giggled softly as Blacktail grumbled.
"I told you I was going to cook something, but you said no!" Blacktail grumbled as Kek’s daughter placed the desserts on the table. Out of the corner of hir eye, Snow saw Gildedtongue walk away and go out on the balcony by hirself.
"Hey love, save me a piece of that cake," Snow said to Kek before excusing hirself and joining Gildedtongue on the balcony. "Hey Gildy what’s wrong?"
The leonine chakat shrugged. "Eh…just needed some air." Shi reached into hir bag and pulled a pack of cigarettes out.
Midsnow eyed the pack. "And you think I’m going to believe that for a second? What’s on your mind?"
Gildedtongue lit the cigarette and began to puff on the butt. "I guess I’m just worried about Grill." A trail of smoke left hir nostrils.
Midsnow looked over the cityscape. "About hir being bonded to Midsun, you mean?"
Gilded nodded. "I know it was going to happen anyway but... I don’t know if you know this Snow, but I’m not like most chakats. I…." Snow laughed surprising the leonine chakat.
"Gilded, I heard from Blacktail about your past. We’re not too different. I was in the HCKNA after my parent passed away. I was abused in an orphanage and…" Snow took a deep breath – it had been so…so long ago, but thinking about it still…bad memories. "…other things. I lived on the streets until I was picked up by police and a judge ordered me to take part in a Star Fleet program and assigned a mentor. Turned out it was Kek. We had known each other at an early age, but shi moved to Chakona with family before mine passed away. Shi took care of me, got me to doctors, fixed my weight issues, and counseling and therapy for the abuse and….other things. Then when hir time was up in the program, shi found me a foster home. Chakat Softstripe isn't my real mother. Shi adopted me when I was sixteen, put me through school, and has been there always since. Listen, Gilded, I know how HCKNA is, what it does to people like us. But you have a wonderful cub that’s mated to my own now. Shi’s loved even if shi can be a little prankster sometimes."
Gildedtongue nodded and then gave Snow a hug. "Thanks, Snow. Let me finish this and I’ll come in." Gilded took another puff and Snow laughed.
"You know they call them cancer sticks, right?" Gilded rolled hir eyes.
"Don’t knock em till you try them I always say."
Snow looked at the pack on the rail and took a cylinder out. "Okay, fine. I will!"
Gilded just looked at Snow and slowly chuckled. "Okay, your choice." Shi lit the cigarette with a lighter and Snow put it to hir lips. Taking in a breath.
(Art by Seth Triggs)
"Ack!" Snow began to cough hysterically, the smoke leaving hir lungs burning as shi felt shi was going to vomit. Gilded merely watched and grinned, taking in hir own puffs. "You know you’re not supposed to inhale deep the first couple times, right?"
Snow pulled the cigarette out of hir mouth and put it out before throwing it away.
Gilded merely chuckled while Snow went back inside, heading to the fridge to find something to get that taste out of hir mouth.
"So mom and I figured we could save a few days trip time and make it back in time for my sister’s game," Hopespaw was explaining to Blacktail while Kek was playing with Coal and Cold. Grill and Sun had snuck off for some alone time. No longer having to hide their feelings, they often enjoyed the evenings to themselves.
"Even though tomorrow is our last game for a year, I wouldn’t change this, Sunshine." Grill held hir love close as they cuddled. Sun could only nod, hir lover buried deep inside hir.
The lights were on; the bleachers were packed. The championship final was about to kick off.
In the stands, the Longfall family and Blacktail’s family worked to get seats, wanting the best view of the game. "I’m telling you, they make bleachers on the incline that they do so you wear yourself out going up them. Then you get hungry and the concession stands are at the bottom so you have to go down the bleachers to get your food. By the time you make it back up the blasted thing and enjoy your meal, you’re hungry again. It’s a vicious cycle!" Kek ranted for a bit as the group worked their way past the other chakats and the occasional other taur. Finding a nice spot to set up at, they set the cushions out to lie on. Taur bleachers worked on the idea that since Taurs sat on their haunches anyways, they don’t make seats but instead make the row where their feet go extend out a bit so a family could all lay together and share in the event instead of being separated by a seating system from each other.
"Game should be starting soon," Blacktail commented after seeing the announcers walk into the observation box.
(Official Chakker Field Aerial Map View – Chakats Den)
The locker room was buzzing with excitement. The Blind Bights Cubs hastily worked on getting their protective pads on. Midsun glanced into the mirror, pulling the majority of hir hair back and putting it in a scrunchie to keep that curly mess behind hir. If only Azimuth could see hir right now. Shi left the bangs to hang forward partially blocking hir Tribal Sun marking.
Grill had no such issues with dealing with hir hair, having always kept it very short and in a male style.
The two smiled at each other and then tentatively reached for the headbands. They were warned by Midsnow what would happen after coming back from the beach – the effect the bands would now have on them. It took two days of practice, but the two cubs could stomach for a few hours the effects now.
A dry gulp from Midsun as they both slowly put the bands on their heads; they instantly gritted their teeth and snarled a bit. Where the warmth and sensation of being together once was, there was now coldness and emptiness. Only faint feelings of emotions between the two could be felt as the bands could dampen but not completely stop the empathic talent. Otherwise the bands had effectively cut them off from each other. Only a few days ago, the first attempt literally made them go into frenzy the instant they were blocked from each other. Disconnection was like having a piece of your mind ripped away. It was bad enough that Kek almost called off them playing, but after reassurances that they wanted to finish the game for their team and would deal with the complications that the headbands now provided, Kek could only give in and allow hir cub to play.
"You okay, Sun?" Grill asked as the two touched hands. Physically touching would bypass the bands, but only while contact was maintained.
Midsun smiled, feeling that sensation of hir mate once more. "Knowing that once the game’s done, we’ll be back together is the only thing stopping me from freaking out right now… otherwise, yes, I’m okay."
The referees entered the locker room and checked for proper working head bands before sending the team out onto the field to the roar of their supporters on the bleachers.
"GO TEAM!!!" the loud roaring voice of Blacktail was heard over everyone else. Grill would only face-palm as Blacktail looked around, realizing people were staring at hir now. Before shi could reply, the announcer came over the sound system.
"Welcome to this year’s Australian Junior League Championship game!" The roar and applause of both sides erupted for several minutes. Chakker was indeed the sport of the chakats and it showed in their pride. "These two teams have overcome all the obstacles to make it to this point. We have… the Bind Bight Cubs…"
The team ran onto the field to the supporting roars of their side.
"…versus the Werribee Roos!" The applause and calls of the other side erupted as their team took the field. After several moments of intense cheering and proclamation, the sounds died down and the announcer spoke again.
"Now if you would please join me in singing the Australian National Anthem."
Everyone took to their paws as the Australian Flag was shown being unfurled over the field by servicemen, women, and herms of the Australian Reserve Force. The whole stadium began to sing.
"Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair."
The Flag was hoisted and lifted into the air under the rafters of the stadium to be in view for the rest of the game as everyone took back to sitting manner. Hearts full of pride the game began.
The two team coaches came out and shook hands; the teams behind each coach then shook hands with each other. The two coaches departed the field as both sides set up.
"Grill, I want you to go in center ring for the ball drop," Captain Whitechest spoke, and Grill grunted hir understanding, hurrying to the inner circle ring at the center of the field. Only two people at the ball drop were allowed in the center ring. One member from each team would attempt to catch the ball as it dropped from overhead and put it in their respective team’s hands. In the outer circle, the six members of each team awaited for the game to begin. Grill stared down the rival opponent. Shi was a bulkier chakat, obviously used for heavy offense. Speed over strength would be key on the snap.
The teams became focused to nothing but the Grass. The sounds of the supporters, the announcers, and the outside world were gone. All there was and would be for the next round was the game.
A loud buzzer rang out indicating the start as the ball would drop from above. Grill’s eyes gleamed with hir mouth moving into a cocky smirk…and the effect worked – the other chakat lost focus on the ball falling and instead looked to see what Grill was grinning about. Before shi could realize it was a distraction, Grill picked up hir front paws and kicked hir back paws up, giving hir some height to catch that brown and red ball. The Roos broke out of the center circles, going into a defensive position as the ball touched Grill’s forepaws.
The game was on!
(Art by: Foxene)
Grill looked left to right, only having a split second to get the ball out of hir hands or face that bulkier opponent who had recovered from hir trick. A quick opening and shi tossed the ball to Hostile.
Quickly grabbing the ball, Hostile, the black-furred white-socked lion chakat glanced the field, letting the ball fall so shi could kick towards the opposing team’s goal. The Roos reformed their defense as the goalie took to the score circle, getting ready for any attempt to score.
Hostile knew shi wouldn’t be able to make a score, and quickly passed to Pinktip who was open and ready. The ball rolled across the field into Pink’s awaiting forepaws. Shi went for the shot, aiming up as the ball went from hir forepaws to hir hands, and after a quick aim, shi threw it towards the goal circle hoping to make it pass through.
The ball spun in midair towards the circle almost….No! It was deflected at the last second by the goalie’s tail. A fast and surprising feat, one the Werribee Roo was happy and amazed to pull off, and at the same time rubbing hir now aching tail at deflecting the ball like a bat.
The Roos took control of the ball and began their march towards the Blind Bight goal side of the field.
Up in the stands, the Bind Bight supporters awwwed at the block.
Forty four minutes remained in the first period of the three periods game. The fans settled in as both teams brought their A game to the Grass.
"I hope the headbands aren’t hurting their ability to play," Kek said nervously, concerned for hir cub and cub’s mate’s wellbeing.
Gilded looked to Kek. "If they said they could do it, then we need to put faith in their words. On Chakona they’d only be a year away from being adults in themselves."
"You’re right. It’s just my child; I’m concerned is all," Kek responded, watching possession of the ball return to the Blind Bights.
Brightarmour had the ball in hir grasp. The tiger-striped orange chakat was the brute force of the team, and it was going to be needed to get past the defense the Roos had put up. Shi made it past several of the Roos’ attempts to intercept the ball, and after a quick glance to Captain Whitechest, shi passed to the team captain.
Whitechest could see the Roo goalie taking up a defensive posture. Midsun was open and closer to the goal, so Whitechest passed to hir. Sun caught the ball and lined up to shoot over the goalies head. As soon as the ball left hir hands, the Roo goalie pounced up to intercept…
But someone closer in the line of the moving ball had already pounced to intercept.
Grill! Catching the ball in midair, shi turned just enough to face the goalie already in midair with hir. Grill aimed the ball and tossed it to land on the grass and pass through the goal circle just out of reach of the goalie who had jumped to intercept. Midsun grinned – somehow even being disconnected, shi knew Grill would do that. It was like knowing what you yourself would do.
The Blind Bight fans roared in support as the team scored five points.
"Go Grill and Midsun!" Blacktail, Gildedtongue, Midsnow, and Keklily cried out in unison.
But the game continued as the ball was quickly picked up by the Roos, and the Bight Cubs took up defense. Time passed with no scores until the first 45 minute period ended.
Both teams had a twenty minute break and headed to the locker rooms to cool down.
"Damn, they’re good!" Hostile exclaimed as they entered the locker room.
"Watch your language, Hostile," Coach Willow said to the cub.
"Sorry coach. Yo! Grill, Midsun, that was awesome what you two did!" The team applauded the two cubs and they smirked and nodded back.
"Yes, good play you two. Alright team – listen up. The Roos have a very strong defense. We need to step up the offense on them, but don’t underestimate their own offensive abilities. They’ve come close to scoring a few times. So far it’s been a clean game with no penalties. I’m glad to see both teams playing well." Coach Willow continued on with play strategies as the cubs got water into their systems and relaxed.
Meanwhile the fans were watching the middle entertainment and getting food from the concession stands.
"I’m thinking Grill and Midsun have a good chance of getting picked up by a college team. Surely scouts are here watching the players – this is the championship game after all," Kek was speaking to Gilded as Snow and Blacktail braved the massive lines at the stands.
"Okay, Hopes wanted a hot dog and Kek wanted a soda," Snow repeated to hirself to remember.
Blacktail was busy watching the crowds move and seemed to be pondering something. "Hmmm……"
Back in the locker room, Midsun and Grill were enjoying the brief break, their headbands off while resting on the cushions. Only a few minutes remained until the team needed to go back on the field. Coach Willow was making changes to the roster, taking Hostile off the field and a few others, and replacing them with reserve players. Shi decided to keep Grill and Sun on the grass since so far they had been the holding up the best defensive effort.
"Okay team, I’ve changed up the players. Remember team we’re leading by five points. That’s one goal. This game isn’t over by a long shot and we need to keep at it. The Roos have an excellent defense and we need to chip away at it. Now show me what you’ve got!" The team crowded around each other and called out their chant before running back to the field. Sun and Grill put their headbands on, wincing a little at the feeling of being cut off again.
The sound of the crowd cheering their team on was heard just as Snow and Blacktail made it back to their families in the stands.
"Okay, I got soda and a hamburger," Snow said, offering the items to hir family. Kek just chuckled and Hopes sighed.
"Mom I said I wanted a hot dog." Gildedtongue, Blacktail, and the others laughed as Snow blushed.
"Whoops, sorry hun."
The cubs entered just as the break countdown timer ended.
"Welcome back as we move into the second period of the game. The score is set with the Blind Bight Cubs leading at five points on the board and the Werribee Roos sitting on zero. As we move into this next period, we’d like to give a shout out to the sponsors of this year’s Australian Junior League Championship. First a big round of applause for…." The announcer droned on as everyone settled back into their spots on the bleachers. After a short time the game began with the second ball drop.
This time the Roos took immediate control of the ball and pushed towards the Bight goal. The Bight goalie, Coco, was on guard. Hir brown fur and white highlights let hir stand out to the crowd as shi got ready to block. The Roo player took aim and kicked the ball right at the goal.
But before Coco could deflect, an impatient Pinktip had jumped into the way, letting the ball hit hir side to deflect. But the force was just enough to get hir slightly off balance. Shi took a side-step and miss-stepped causing hir to twist hir forepaw and fall over into the goal circle.
Immediately the timer stopped as referees blew their penalty whistles.
"What the hell, Pink?!" Coco shouted while helping hir team mate up.
The all-white chakat with pink-tipped ears and tail stammered, "I…I was trying to help."
The referee looked over and then voiced over the intercom.
"Goaling; non-goalkeeper in the goalie circle, automatic five point penalty shot for Werribee Roos."
The Roos took up positions around the Bight goal as the player chosen to take the penalty shot stood at the quarter line mark. The Bight Cubs took up a defensive posture, awaiting the kick. The Roo grinned, taking a step ahead of the ball…and instead of kicking it, scooped it up in hir tail and with a fast forward flip, flung the ball at high speed through the air. Coco jumped, attempting to intercept, but was only able to brush hir fingers over the ball as it went through the goal circle, and the fans in the Roos bleacher cried out in celebration as the Roos tied the game five to five.
Coco scowled at Pinktip, but Grill simply gave hir a friendly tap with hir tail to Pinktip. "Don’t worry, we’ll get it back," shi said before taking off after the ball now in Whitechest’s control.
The game continued back and forth but with no scoring on either side. Five minutes before the second period was over, Grill gained control of the ball. Shi grinned, seeing a row of opponents in hir way and no one on the team open to pass. Shi ran ahead of the ball and let hir tail coil around the ball, so the ball would continue to roll on the grass but be guided by hir tail. It was a move not common in junior leagues due to difficulty in doing so, and being so rare the Roo players were caught off guard at first.
Midsun ran past Grill, but the Roos wouldn’t take the bait and stayed hard on Grill before giving hir a block check, only to find… the ball was gone! The sound of a goal score was heard as the players turned to see Midsun who had gotten the ball past the circle.
When shi passed Grill, they swapped control as Midsun let hir tail do the same thing Grill’s was doing. The Roos assumed it was a bait and switch, and paid no mind to Midsun who went on to score a goal.
The crowd was at first silent, not realizing what had happened. Then they realized the trick and the Blind Bight side let out roars of cheers. The chakker ball is coated in pigments that reflect UV and IR, making it easier for Chakats to track, but by placing the body ahead of the ball to block sight and covering the ball with the tail, such a switch was possible.
From the bleachers the two families cheered on as the game continued on.
Three minutes left, and after a heavy bout of back and forth play, Grill was in control of the ball again. Shi knew the same trick wouldn’t work twice and Sun knew it too.
Midsun darted past Grill hoping to get some of the players to go after hir, anticipating the same play. Shi came around next to the side line and was caught off guard at the last second. The bulkier chakat from the first kickoff was there, and shi tackled Sun right into the wall hard.
Gasps from the crowd as Midsun hit the padded side wall hard. Hir body was slammed violently by the opposing player’s actions. Immediately the timer stopped as referees came rushing to Midsun’s side. From the bleachers Snow and Kek jumped to their feet rushing towards the field.
Midsun cried out in pain as the referees stepped aside, the on-hand paramedics rushing in. The stadium was silent with an injured player on the field.
"Where’s the pain at?" a paramedic asked while looking over Midsun’s side. Shi clenched hir teeth and replied.
"Arm….I think it’s broken! ARGH!!"
Grill, seconds after the timeout was called, was at Midsun’s side. "It’s okay, hun…it’s okay. They’ll patch you up," shi was trying to calm hir bonded mate and keep hir anger in check…that was until.
"Serves hir right trying to show off." It was low…a whisper at best but Grill heard it.
Mere seconds later, claws were unsheathed and dug into the player who broke Midsun’s arm. "Fucking bastard!" Grill yelled in rage, clawing into the chakat with all hir anger, blood soaking hir claws and fur before the referees could split the two up. The Roo player stepped back, not having any chance to defend as blood seeped from hir flanks.
"Grill?" Sun called out, looking at hir as Grill looked back…sanity seeping back into hir mind as shi realized what shi just did.
"Oh god…no." Shi couldn’t…shi couldn’t. What had shi done? Shi turned, running as fast as shi could towards the exit, vaulting out of the stadium as shi tried to run away from hir problems.
Into the streets.
Down back alleys.
Anything to get away. Running, running, and then…PAIN!
The loud crack of wood against bone, and Grill toppled to the pavement, hir vision throbbing red. The pain in hir head was threatening to pull hir under. A baseball bat, the wood stained with a bit of fresh blood, made a resounding sound as it was dropped on the concrete pavement. Footsteps on the other side as Grill tried to turn hir head, the pain throbbing, the red clouding hir vision. It began to become tunnel vision as shi slowly gave in, hir mind going numb.
Seconds before passing out the image of a man entered hir field of sight.
"Now then, let’s try this again shall we?" Mr. Darxson grinned as Grill promptly passed out.
(Melbourne Alley Fading to Black)
"It’s been four hours now and no one has heard from or seen Grill!" Blacktail was frantic, pacing the room. The event from the game was still fresh in everyone’s minds. "Shi would’ve called by now or come home." Blacktail knew Grill didn’t have hir comm phone – it was in hir bag in the locker room when shi ran out of the stadium, so shi couldn’t call hir.
"Hun, its okay – we’ll find hir. I just got off the comm with Thallon and Saldura; they’re on their way here to help search, okay?" Gilded tried to console hir mate.
Kek entered the room. "I just got off the phone with Jason – he’s been looking but there’s no sign of Grill anywhere. He’s going to report hir missing so the police can start an active search," Keklily told the two chakats. "Snow’s coming from the hospital to help search."
Blacktail nodded to Keklily. "Thank you."
Keklily gave a smile. "No need to thank me – I’m just trying to help out a friend… well I see how you and Snow look at each other." Kek gave a wink as Blacktail blushed just slightly. "Now then, let’s load up and start looking."
Gildedtongue nodded. "You and Blacktail search – I’m going to the spaceport to pick up my mates so they can start looking too." Kek nodded.
"Where’s Hopes?" Blacktail asked.
"Shi’s staying with Midsun in the hospital while Snow helps us search."
"I would think Sun would be alright for a little bit by hirself there?" Blacktail mused as the two walked towards the door.
Kek chuckled. "If Hopes wasn’t there to stop hir, Midsun would be wandering the streets looking for Grill. Remember it took me and Snow to hold hir back from chasing after Grill when shi ran?"
Blacktail nodded remembering. "I have a lot to learn about this deep bond my child has now, don’t, I?"
Kek nodded. "Come on, Blackie, let’s find Grill." The two headed towards a PTV.
"Please remain behind the yellow line with your On-Planet Visa’s in hand," the voice on the intercom said to the massive group that had just come from the Terran Gateway Station.
"You would think they could speed this up," a male foxtaur grumbled his arms crossed. "I don’t like being crowded."
A chuckle came out from the person standing next to him in the line. A badger morph appearing to be female but in reality was a herm, shook hir head. "You’re canned up in the flying space vibrator for long periods of time and you’re claustrophobic?" shi spoke.
"Hey, it’s not the same thing. I know everyone on the ship and we’re not bunched up like this," he replied as an Australian official came and took a look at their passports.
"Thallon Rosefur…" He looked at the Badger’s passport next. "Saldura Holbock… if you two will come with me." The two looked at each other not sure why they were being pulled from the line. Reluctantly they followed the man into a back room security office. As the door closed, they stood there by themselves, not sure what was going on.
"Thallon, you didn’t bring anything illegal through the station again, did you?" Sal looked to hir mate.
"The one time! And you’ll never let me live that down…it was a mistake…"
But before he could finish, the door opened and Midsnow and a human walked in.
"Snow?" Thallon asked, having met hir once over comm when shi was talking with Gildedtongue.
"Hey Thallon, and you must be Saldura, I’m Midsnow Longfall pleasure to meet you, though I wish it was under better circumstances. This is Jason Daniels. He’ll fill you in on what’s happened." Shi shook hands will Saldura as Jason stepped forward and tapped a wall. The wall slid open to reveal a large screen which lit up with data. A picture of an alleyway was shown.
"Fifteen minutes ago we located a baseball bat left in an alley with blood on it. The alley was within the vicinity of the stadium, and after a quick DNA test, we concluded it is Grill’s blood on the bat."
Sal covered hir mouth in shock.
"Upon finding this, Special Investigations took over the search as we have reason now to believe Grill has been abducted by a professional hit man named Richard Darxson. Darxson attempted to carry out a hit on an individual who was in the Herm Haven, but was foiled unknowingly by Blacktail. Most likely this was a contract hit and Darxson was hired most likely by an H1 sect. With this update, I have everyone on point trying to find Grill, but at this point time is our enemy. Snow has told me you’re an exceptional tracker, Thallon. Is that true?" He looked to the foxtaur.
"I’m not sure about exceptional, but if you get me into that alley and let me have a look, I’ll see what I can do."
Jason nodded. "Then follow me. Gildedtongue’s already waiting in the car."
"Alright let’s just get this slipped over……and…….there we go! You’ll need to keep any pressure off this arm and give it I’d say a week to heal up fully. You Chakats and that healing ability, truly a feat. If you’ll excuse me now, I have other patients to attend to." The doctor smiled before walking out of the room, leaving Midsun’s arm in a sling and Hopespaw sitting in the corner.
"Thank god! OK sis, now that he’s gone, let’s go," Sun said getting up from hir bed.
"Sun, I have orders to keep you here for the time being," Hopes spoke up from behind hir padd where shi was reading some article.
"But Grill’s out there! I have to find hir!"
Hopes sighed, putting the padd down. "Sis, the best people are looking for hir right now. You need to let them do their jobs." Sun shook hir head.
"You don’t understand – I can find hir! Please sis!" Hir eyes were full of pain, and Hopes knew shi couldn’t let hir sister suffer. Shi sighed out, shaking hir head, knowing hir sire would be upset with hir.
"Get your things."
He looked at the cold lifeless concrete… that is to say that’s what appeared to everyone watching. They saw him looking at a cold lifeless piece of pavement and nothing more. But he saw beyond what they were seeing. The way the little bit of very fine powder laid… the patterns of dirt and markings. Every little piece was part of the bigger picture… a clue as to what happened in that spot… hours… days ago even. To the trained eye, the world wasn’t a point of the here and now, but the here and past.
"This Darxson guy is good but not great. He made sure to cover the head so blood wouldn’t leave a trail. But he didn’t have a means to lift Grill off the ground." Thallon stood up, looking at the alleyway to the surprise of the lab techs working the scene. "He dragged Grill this way…." He began to walk, following the path of unsettled sediment leading to one of the connecting roadways. "….and then loaded hir into a PTV that was parked here." He pointed to a spot at the entrance to the alleyway.
"Great job, Thallon!" Jason called out while making a call. "Dispatch, this is Officer Daniels. I need a trace on an unknown PTV. Its last know location was…."
Thallon looked to Snow, not understanding what Jason was doing.
"All PTV’s are hooked up to a grid system called a Control Zone in big populations like here. What that means is the PTV communicates with all other PTV’s, so accidents are exceedingly rare. This also means we can track criminals during a crime. The operator will look up in the logs this location and see what PTV’s were parked at that spot hours ago and then find where it went." Snow explained.
"So we can find out where this guy took Grill?" Thallon asked, to which Snow nodded.
"Yeah, we should be able to track him down. I just…." Shi stopped seeing Gildedtongue in the back of the alleyway, kneeling and not moving. "….Gilded?" Thallon stepped in hir way.
"Snow, Gilded is shaken up bad from this. Leave hir be – shi’s praying."
Snow blinked. Shi had always seen the crucifix around Gildedtongue’s neck but this was the first time shi had ever actually seen hir pray.
Shi nodded to Thallon just as Jason walked back over. "That PTV is in a residential area. A lot of apartments, and across from the area is an old steel mill. We have a lot of ground to cover and not much time. It’s getting dark." The chilling words caused silence. The only voice heard was Gilded’s.
"Go away Creekstripe. I’m not listening to you anymore."
"Mmmmmpppfffff…………" Sound – muffled and quiet, but sound.
That was the first thought to go through hir head. The second was the sound was hir own!
Grill’s eyes darted open, hir thought process kicking in and taking assessment. Shi was cold. Apparently hir muzzle was tied shut. Hir handpaws and hind paws were tied together like a hog and hir hands were tied behind hir back.
Shi looked around the room next, trying to not let panic set in. The surroundings were bland. Steel and concrete with brick walls surrounding hir was all shi could see. In the corner a large metal door was partially open. Perhaps shi could wiggle hir way out?
Shi let hir mind settle and worked on what shi could remember.
The game… Sunshine being tackled hard… hir rage at the other team, running through the alleyways.
Shi tried to hold back a muffled yelp. Shi was in trouble and shi needed to get out of there before he came back!
As if on cue, a sound of a door opening deep into the recess of the dark building was heard. Footsteps could be heard approaching hir location.
The PTV’s pulled into the apartment complex. In moments, officers had every exit blocked off.
"I want a systematic search of every house. By the numbers, people." Jason turned to Gildedtongue and hir mates. "You might need these." He reached into the back of one of the PTV’s and pulled out body vests with the words Special Investigations on them, and started passing them out.
Saldura slipped one on. "Point me to the son of a bitch. I’ll break his arm first. Then I’ll take a…" Thallon shook his head and pointed to Gildedtongue, who was seething rage as shi slipped the vest on.
"Sir, we located the PTV. No occupants but we found a note. It’s a ransom." Everyone’s attention turned to the radio as the officer on the other end of the radio read off the note.
"I understand the need for formalities, but at this given moment I think we’re past that point. I want one hundred million credits transferred to the routing number provided at the bottom of this note. Once the money has been transferred, I will release the cub unharmed at a location of my choosing and send a message informing you of hir location. You have 24 hours from reading this note to meet my demands. And yes I will know when you read this."
"Dammit! He must have the PTV bugged. We’re on a clock now. Search the perimeter and have some men work on where that routing number goes to." Jason gave out orders, but at that point things looked grim.
"Okay, thanks mom." Hopes hung up the comm. "Grill has been abducted by that man you ran into earlier. He’s demanding a ransom or he’ll kill Grill."
Midsun’s hearts nearly sank at that news. "Oh god, no." Hir voice trembled with fear and a small bit of anger. "Grill, where are you?" shi said, and Hopes ears perked.
"How do you expect to find hir?" Hopes put the PTV into automatic drive and turned to console hir sister.
"I can sense when I’m getting close to hir. We’re bonded." Sun tapped hir head. "I should be feeling something. Even a tiny bit but I’m completely cut off. There’s only one way that can be."
Hopes gave the questioning look. "How can it be?"
"Shi still has the headband on."
The footsteps were getting closer. Close enough voices could be heard clearly.
"I don’t know… can’t they track where it goes?" The voice was unidentifiable, at least no one Grill has heard before. The second voice was recognized right away as Darxson’s.
"Doesn’t matter because once the money goes into the account, I have some friends who split it into smaller bits and send it to millions of different accounts in small amounts. Then those accounts then send the money to millions of other seed accounts. Eventually the money goes so deep through transfers, all the money is eventually sent to one account and then withdrawn. By the time the authorities track it down, we will be long gone and enjoying retirement. Ah, it’s awake." He entered the room, followed by another man.
"Okay you fucking brat, how are you?" He grinned as Grill tried to speak, but with the tight rope around hir muzzle, all that came out were muffled sounds.
"Sorry, can’t have you screaming. Someone might hear. Oh wait…." He motioned around the room. "No one can hear you scream anyways." He motioned for his accomplice to remove the rope. After a moment, Grill was able to move hir mouth again.
"Ack!" shi let out getting hir jaw working again. "What the hell are you doing!?" shi asked him.
Darxson merely looked at hir hogtied form. "Simple. I’m getting my just dues. Your mother made things very difficult for me. You see, I was a person you called when you needed a job done. No questions asked. And for a good number of years I’ve always done the job and got paid. Until the event at the Herm Haven, you see. Because of your mother, I’ve lost credit on the black market. No one will hire me. So now I’m going to make sure I never need to worry about money again. I’m cashing in and retiring early, you could say."
Grill could see he meant those words. "And if no one pays?" Shi gave him a defiant stare.
"Oh that’s very simple. I kill you and leave your dead carcass for everyone to see. Maybe I’ll make it brutal. Leave just a head. Make a coat from your fur." Grill gulped. Usually being brash and bold, in this situation shi had no control. This man could easily carry out his threat.
"Yes… you mull that thought over for a bit and hope that you’re loved enough that they pay me my money. Will, watch the brat – I’m going to get us some dinner." He turned and left as the other man took a seat and began to read. But not before saying some words.
"Stay silent or I’ll cut out your tongue."
Grill closed hir mouth and tried to think of some way out of this.
If only shi had telekinesis like Snow and Midsun! This would be an easy thing to escape from.
Shi looked down heartened. Shi might never get to be with hir sunshine again. Sun…WAIT!
Shi had it. Shi had a talent and all this time didn’t realize it. Shi could call out to Midsun! But then shi realized shi was still alone and by hirself. But why couldn’t……?
The headband! It was still on hir. How would shi get it off? "Um sir? I know you said to be quiet, and I promise that I will be, but can I ask just one thing?" Shi said keeping hir voice low and humble sounding.
Will looked up from his book. "And what would that be?"
Grill tried to hold back any sign of happiness at his words. "My headband. Could you take it off please? My head is hot and throbbing, and it’s bothering me something fierce. I promise not another peep if you would remove it for me." Grill wasn’t one of faith, unlike hir sire, but shi was praying with hir whole heart in that second.
The man seemed to grumble a little but then got up and ripped the headband from Grill’s forehead. "Now shut your trap."
Grill couldn’t hear his words. For in that moment shi felt light coming into hir body, making hir warm, and it comforted hir. Like lying in a grassy field and feeling the sun rays beam down on you.
Midsun gasped as hir mind reached out touching hir mate’s. They couldn’t speak but they could feel.
"Shi’s in trouble. I can feel hir."
Hopes turned around. "Where is shi?"
"Go that way." Sun pointed towards the west. "I’ll tell you were to go as we get closer and it gets stronger."
"Gilded!" Blacktail ran up to hir mate and they hugged. Both looked into each other’s eyes. No words needed to be said about the raging fire inside them.
Blacktail turned to Midsnow and Jason. "Anything?"
Snow shook hir head and Jason responded. "So far the search has come up empty. We have 22 hours so there’s still time."
"Sir, we have a two chakats at the perimeter asking to speak to you." The radio crackled some as an officer’s voice came over the speaker. Jason took the mic and keyed back.
"Who?" A moment of silence.
"Chakats Hopes and Midsun Longfall sir." Snow and Keklily turned their heads towards Jason, hearing their cubs’ names.
"They’re suppose to be at the hospital," Snow said out loud, and Jason shrugged.
"Send them to me, officer," he replied over the radio.
Moments later, Midsun and Hopes were standing with the group.
"Explain yourselves," Kek spoke to the two, taking a commanding tone. Hopes, being in Starfleet, took to attention out of habit as Kek was a superior officer in the Fleet.
Midsun spoke up, walking up to the adults. "I know where Grill is and shi needs our help."
Gilded and Blacktail turned, looking to the young chakat.
"Where is shi?"
A few hours had passed.
Darxson had returned with some food, which he and his cohort ate while Grill remained silent.
"You know, I imagine they’re picking their brains apart looking through that old abandoned factory across from where we left the PTV, don't you Will?" The other man snickered between a bite of ham.
"Stupid fuckers. They'll search the whole area and never know we’re halfway on the other side of the town." He bit another piece before a low pitched sound was heard outside their hideout – an abandoned warehouse.
"What the hell is that?" Darxson said, getting up and walking to a window.
Outside, police PTV's had encircled the building, and Jason stepped forward with a loudspeaker, but before he could speak, Saldura yanked it from his hand and spoke out.
"Alright, listen here! Hand us the cub unharmed and I start by breaking only three fingers!"
Darxson pulled back from the window.
"Shit! How the fuck did they find us?"
He turned to Will. "Get the cub – we'll use hir as collateral to get out of here."
Back on the street, Jason had taken control of the mic back from Saldura and began to attempt to open dialog with the captors. Gilded and Blacktail were worriedly pacing behind some PTV's.
Snow watched them and could see Midsun putting on a vest out of eyes of everyone else. Moments away from storming in hirself, this was going to end badly. Shi closed hir eyes and reached out with hir talent to "feel" what was going on inside the building.
Two men were pacing the front facing wall in what was once an office. Grill was near them and was tied down. Shi turned to Gilded and Blacktail.
Shi whispered to them. "Go in the back door- they're in the front facing office. I'll make sure you’re okay."
They both looked at Snow and saw hir determination, and then glanced at themselves. The fire... the rage... They knew a price must be paid for the threat on their cub’s life. They began to move to the back without the officers realizing what was going on.
Snow then turned and approached Midsun. "What do you think you're doing, young lady?" shi asked, and Sun eeped, turning around to see hir mother.
" I...I....I'm going to save Grill," was hir response. Snow sighed and helped put the last strap of the vest on. "You’re just like me and Azi. Come on, hun. If you're going to do this, then we’ll do it right."
The two went off to the other entrance and entered the building as Gilded and Blacktail entered the other side. The two men were too busy dealing with the officers outside to hear the four chakats enter.
"I don't give a shit what you say. I want the money in the account in two hours and a shuttle out of here, or else I'm going to shoot the fucking cub and then everyone loses!" Darxson called out from the window while keeping a firearm ready. A noise was heard outside the office space. Will looked up from holding Grill, and Darxson silently pointed for him to check it out.
The cohort stepped out of the office closing the door behind him only to suddenly find himself suddenly being dragged by some invisible force to the other side of the factory floor.
Right into Midsun's punch.
"GAH!" he yelped, hitting the floor as Sun began to pummel him.
Darxson turned quickly to the sound of the door being knocked right down and saw two large chakats walking through the door. He went to aim but his weapon broke free of his hand and was flung into the corner as if by some magical force.
"Ahh! I surrender!" he yelled out, fear in his eyes.... Rage in Gilded and Blacktail's.
(Art by Seth Triggs)
Grill watched as hir parents took hold of Darxson and, without mercy, began to tear into him. Claws ripping into flesh as they growled in a dark, deep rage. His body was tossed about the room like a rag doll as Grill watched hir parents let out the primal instinct of a chakat protecting hir cub.
"Mom... Dad..." Grill said, and the soft words snapped Gildedtongue and Blacktail back to reality, looking to their cub.
"Grill..." they both whispered, and ran up, leaving Darxson's body to slump to the ground. Only shallow breaths were leaving his form.
They quickly undid the bindings and hugged Grill tight, never wanting to let go. "Thank god you’re okay," Gilded cried out between tears as Blacktail cried with hir mate.
"I'm okay," Grill whispered back, hugging hir parents. Shi was happy to see them and to be held by them in embrace once again. Then shi felt hir. Looking up from hir parents to the door way. Midsun stood there looking towards Grill with tears in hir own eyes. "Grill..." shi whispered.
Grill's eyes teared up as well and shi responded. "Sunshine!" Shi broke away from hir parents and ran toward Sun who ran towards hir, they both met in the middle, hugging each other and then kissing deeply in passion.
Gildedtongue and Blacktail smiled, looking on at the two as Snow did the same from the doorway.
Midsnow glanced at the body lying on the ground, gasping for breath. He was mauled up badly by the two chakats, and Snow knew he needed medical attention and quick to survive. Shi made a signal for the officers outside to enter, much to Jason's displeasure to see them having acted on their own. But having safely saved Grill was the important point.
A medical team quickly rushed Darxson and his cohort off to an Emergency Intensive Care Unit. Midsun having done a number on the man named Will hirself. Several officers followed behind the medical PTV.
All of this was oblivious to Grill and Midsun as they kissed and touched minds together once again.
"Sunshine, I'm so sorry. I went crazy when I saw what the other person did. I should have kept my cool. Look where it got me." Sun shook hir head.
"I probably would have done the same thing if it happened to you, my love. We’re bonded and we have to learn what things will affect us together now. But... I wouldn't change any of this. Ever." Shi gave Grill another soft kiss.
"MMMmmm...I love you Sunshine. Feeling you when the headband came off was like light filling darkness."
Blacktail, Gilded, Midsnow, and Keklily watched with open smiles.
"I love you too. I never want anything to separate us again."
"In local news, the Darxson brothers, charged with kidnapping, terrorism, use of an explosive ordnance in a public place, attempted murder, and extortion, were sentenced today by the honorable Judge Lawrence of the Australian Supreme Court. Having been found guilty in all charges, the judge ordered them to several consecutive life sentences putting them at 342 years of incarceration with no chance of parole. The Darxson brothers made news two months ago when they kidnapped a local Melbourne chakat cub...." The view screen turned off as Blacktail sighed.
"At least it's finally over," Midsnow called from the other side of the room having just walked in.
"That man is in a hospital bed. They had to broadcast him from the ICU for his trial. I talked to your father – he's never going to walk again and will only be able to use one of his arms. I did that to him." Shi shook hir head and Snow walked up and started to comfort the tiger chakat.
"You did what you had to do to save Grill." Shi began rubbing Blacktail's shoulders.
"You used your talent and disarmed him. Gilded and I attacked him unarmed." Shi took a deep breath and sighed again.
Snow worked on the tension in the shoulder and neck before working down. "You were going off our chakat instincts. Grill was threatened – you were being a good mother. Don't let it get to you."
Blacktail looked up to see Snow eye to eye. "If it wasn't for you and your talent, we wouldn't have been able to get his brother away from him and disarm him too. We wouldn't have even known they were all in one room." Snow blushed at those words.
"Anything to help. But it was Midsun who found out where Grill was. Shi was about to run in there hirself."
Blacktail nodded and smiled. "They're so wonderful together. I wonder how long till they decide to get married?" Snow giggled softly.
"You know they chose to go to Dewclaw University on Chakona right? I thought about it, and in two years when they leave, I will have nothing here other than my father. I suppose I should move too, and that way I can be with Azi and Kek. And be there for Midsun." Shi worked a little lower on Blacktail's back.
"What will you do? Still work for the Star Corps?"
Snow pondered that a second. "I don't know really. Haven't given it any thought.
Blacktail smiled softly purring at the massage. "Mmmm....guess I need to move then too. Someone needs to keep you straight. And I would like to be closer to Grill also. Only thing is there isn't a big Double H on Chakona. I guess I'd have to do something...." Shi got silent thinking, and then smiled, an idea popping into hir head. Hir tail coiled slowly with Snow's. "I have an idea. I have some friends who moved to Chakona a while back that I keep in contact with. They always told me to come visit, and one time I asked about the best spot to start a business on Chakona would be. Forestwalker told me Marpletown was a great place to build a business, and it’s actually near where shi and hir family lives."
Snow listened to hir companion speak. "So – what kind of business would you start?" shi asked.
Blacktail smiled, giving the coiled tails a soft tug. "I was actually hoping we could start a business together. I've always wanted to run a pub."
Snow giggled lightly. "A pub? As in sell drinks and food like a traditional German or Irish type pub?" Blacktail nodded and Snow smirked lightly. "Hmmm...well you know what? I think I'd like that. Let's do it! Let's build a pub in two years when we move to Chakona!" Shi smiled. "Two companions opening a pub."
Blacktail smiled and turned around, looking Snow in the eyes. "Actually....love. I was thinking. I don't want to open a pub with a companion." Snow stopped in blink.
"Wha...? You mean you changed your mind?" Blacktail chuckled and then gave Snow a deep glance hir eyes filled with soft loving light. What one would call...the sparkle in the eyes.
"I don't want to open a pub with a companion. I want to open a pub... with a mate." Shi smiled and Snow's eyes slowly opened wide.
Blacktail nodded. "Midsnow – will you be my Denmate?"
Snow took no hesitation to respond. "Blacktail – I would be honored to be your Denmate. And I would be happy to open that pub with you." Shi smiled giving hir tail a tug to Blacktail's affectionately.
"Wonderful! I know we should consummate the mateship right now, but Gilded is coming up before shi has to leave. The Purgatorio is set to leave dock later today. I want to spend a little time with my first mate. I hope you understand," Blacktail apologized, and Snow nodded.
"I do, love. Kek is also leaving shortly and I'd like to spend some time with hir too."
"Tonight then, my new mate?"
Snow nodded. "Tonight love."
As Snow left, Gildedtongue entered. "I see you’re happy," shi remarked to Blacktail.
"I have a new mate, hun." Blacktail could hardly hold back hir happiness.
Gildedtongue smiled. "About time you and Snow announced mateship." Gildedtongue watched as Blacktail blushed. "What? Everyone has seen how you two make eyes and interact. Only a matter of time. Though I'll admit, you have a good eye." Shi smirked. "Anyways Thallon and Saldura are out in the park, and I thought we could enjoy some time out on the grass. What do you think?"
Blacktail got off the couch and smiled. "It sounds fantastic, love."
"Oh...where are the cubs?" Gildy asked and Blacktail responded.
"Grill and Midsun are spending time together, and Coal and Cold are with Hopes, taking a walk."
Out in the park, Thallon and Saldura were enjoying a light jog down the path. The Australian air was invigorating to them. Thallon took strides behind Saldura who kept in more shape compared to Thallon who was a laidback tod.
"Can you not keep up? Or are you just ogling the ladies behind my back??" Sal laughed at the foxtaur.
Thallon chuckled. "I'm just enjoying the view.... of your lovely rump." He laughed and sprung up as Sal stopped, putting his front paws around hir side as hir hands held his front paws.
"You'll always be my goofy tod."
(Art by Miss-Sinnea-Nova)
In the park, not too far away, Gildedtongue and Blacktail laid on a picnic blanket, enjoying the feeling of being together in embrace, tails coiled.
"I love you my Leonine ’Kat." Blacktail purred.
Gilded smiled back. "As I do you, my tiger."
(Art by Miss-Sinnea-Nova)
"Heh, they act like no one can see them in a public place!" Coldeyes laughed while Coalspot and Hopespaw merely chuckled, walking down the path a ways off.
(Art by Miss-Sinnea-Nova)
Meanwhile in another part of the park, Midsnow and Keklily had gone off the path up a hill a bit.
"Are you sure, love?" Kek asked Snow who had told hir of Blacktail's plan.
"Yeah, I've been in Star Corps for a while and it's been fun, but I want to be closer to Azi and you. The "Longfall" makes port in Chakona more often than Earth, and I think starting a pub would be an interesting new chapter in my life. What do you think?" Shi gave Kek a soft kiss.
"Mmm...I think you need to do what you feel is right. I'll always support you love. Just like when we were kids."
Snow smiled and took hir and Kek's tops off. "I remember when we were little cubs. We had the secret kiss. Do you remember that?"
Kek smiled. "How could I forget the secret kiss?" Shi leaned in planting lips with hir Lifemate as they had done some many years ago as little cubs in the tree that was between Midsnow and Kek's family homes.
(Art by Miss-Sinnea-Nova)
Midsun and Grill smiled, their tails beginning to coil as Grill gave Sun a soft kiss on hir cheek.
"I'm so glad you’re out of that sling, love." Grill smiled holding Sun tight after a wonderful evening making love with hir.
Sun smiled back in loving afterglow. "I'm just glad you're okay, my mate."
Grill blushed but nodded. "I can’t think of not being with you."
Midsun smiled. "Forever and ever. Together Bound."
(Art by Miss-Sinnea-Nova)
End of: "Bound to Play"
Story to Continue in: "The Cat's Eye Pub"
Story By: James Jordan (Chakat Midsnow)
Characters of Keklily, Blacktail, Gildedtongue, Thallon. Saldura, Azimuth, Grill, Coalspot. Coldeyes, and any other characters, used with permission from their respective owners.
Chakats are the creation of Bernard Doove (Chakat Goldfur). Please support this wonderful creator and author by purchasing any of his books if you haven't already. And even if you have, it’s always good to have two copies, right?
Purgatorio and all stories involving it and Gildedtongue belong to Robert Adrian (Chakat Gildedtongue). Please read the stories also up at the Chakats Den.
Chakat Keketh-Lillianne Longfall (Keklily) and Hopes Paw of Lost Lives (Hopespaw) belong to Wictor Ingeborgson.
Chakats Midsnow, Midsun, Jason Daniels, and any other characters in this story belong to James Jordan (Chakat Midsnow)
Thank you for reading. I hope you have enjoyed!
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