A FOREST TALE 25: More Terrible Than Chains (a.k.a. Leanna’s Story)
Part 6: One Perfect Day
By Bernard Doove © 2006

Leanna drifted pleasantly out of the unconsciousness of the most restful sleep that shi could recall in a very long time. Something was different…. A deep breath behind hir and the feel of an arm draped over hir waist reminded Leanna what it was. Shi smiled softly to hirself and enjoyed the feeling for a bit longer. Shi examined hir feelings a bit more closely in light of the events of the previous night, and was forced to the conclusion that shi had yet to learn everything about hirself. ‘And here I thought that this ‘freedom’ business meant that I would want and need different things. I’ve been silly enough to turn a blind eye to my existing desires.

Shi snuggled up closer to the vixentaur, unwilling to let the precious feeling go as yet, but shi was fully awake now, and nothing could stop hir from thinking. ‘Every time I think I’ve gotten a handle on these new circumstances, something else changes. Sometimes I think that it was a little less confusing when I had a master and knew clearly where I stood.’ Just then, Moyshu shifted her arm into a sleepy hug, and Leanna smiled. ‘But then again, the benefits have thus far outweighed the drawbacks. I needed this even when I was still enslaved to my former master, but he was never considerate of my needs like the Admiral’s family. I couldn’t have found a better family to serve.’ The irony was that Leanna still could not think of hirself as a completely free individual, but shi didn’t care and was more comfortable with the idea of hir perceived position within their family.

Just then, a softly chiming alarm interrupted hir introspection, reminding hir that it was time to get hir morning routine started. Moyshu’s shift started much later than hirs though, so shi carefully disentangled hirself from the sleeping foxtaur. Leanna paused long enough to look at the slumbering vixen and smiled. It made hir happy to see hir friend look so contented. Shi then busied hirself with breakfast and only left getting into hir uniform until the very last. Shi could tolerate it better now after so many days, but shi still felt the most comfortable while completely nude. Shi became aware of a feeling that shi was being watched, and turned towards the bed to see Moyshu with her head propped up on an arm, watching hir with an appreciative smile.

"Good morning," Leanna greeted the vixentaur.

"A very good morning indeed," Moyshu agreed. "It’s been a long time since I’ve woken up to such a pleasant sight."

Leanna felt oddly pleased. It was hardly the first time that someone had admired hir, but Moyshu gave the impression of admiring Leanna as a whole person rather than just sexually. Shi came closer to blushing than shi ever had in hir life. "Thank you. I’m glad you spent the night with me." Shi completed dressing as shi added, "But now I need to get to my duties. I’ll see you tonight as usual." Shi walked over to Moyshu and gave her a lick-kiss which was promptly returned. Leanna left the cabin with a feeling of excitement that shi hadn’t felt before.

M'Lai noticed Leanna’s mood as she gave the herm vixen hir daily check. "You look almost as happy as I feel," she commented.

Leanna grinned at the Caitian. "So, it was a pleasant night, I take it? I was wondering if you’d even be here this morning. After all, your pre-mating night must have been tiring."

M'Lai grinned. "Oh yes, it was a very energetic evening, but even that’s par for the course for my physiology. Boyce, on the other hand…." She left it unsaid, but Leanna easily filled in the blanks and returned the grin.

"Anyhow, your readings are still the same as the previous couple of days, so that’s all for today. You can tell me later what has gotten you so happy. You need to get to work now, I think."

"You’re right. Cubs can’t wait!" Leanna said as she got off the examination couch. "And I want to be with them as much as possible. Catch you later!"

M'Lai grinned as she watched Leanna scamper out. ‘I’d almost think that she got laid too!’ She shook her head in puzzlement though. ‘But who could get a former sex slave that excited?

Leanna found Boyce having his breakfast already when shi arrived. Although shi had seen him more energetic in the mornings, he seemed otherwise okay, and he greeted hir cheerily enough.

"A good evening then, sir?" shi asked.

"A very good evening indeed, Leanna. I’m glad that I have a Caitian Firstwife who knows my tastes so well. I’m a damn lucky man, and I hope M'Lai feels the same way."

"I think that I can safely say that she does, judging by how she looked this morning," Leanna assured him. "So, the mating ceremony will be going ahead this afternoon?"

"Yes, it’s all rather rushed, but we can’t stretch out this layover at the Starbase any longer. We need to depart again tomorrow, and Zhane insists on being at the ceremony. Fortunately M'Lai doesn’t seem to mind the haste."

"I think the Caitians seem to know their minds a bit more clearly in this matter than humans, if you don’t mind me saying so, sir."

"Relax, Leanna, I know that very well. Chakats are even more so, which is how I ended up with Forestwalker as a mate. Midnight was a different set of circumstances though, but once shi made hir decision, shi was as wholehearted about it as Forest. Chakats are a very passionate race."

"So I’ve noticed," Leanna replied with a smile. Just then a squeal from one of the bedrooms interrupted them. "Sounds like duty calling. Have a good day, sir."

"You too, Leanna, but please call me ‘Boyce’ when we’re home in private."

"Yes, sir," shi replied, cheerfully defiant.

Boyce sighed. It seemed that was going to be a difficult habit to break hir out of.

Rosepetal had come out of the bedroom at that time and gave her mate a good-morning kiss. She had noticed the interchange and said, "Give it time, my love. Hir conditioning won’t be broken so quickly."

"I know, but it still irks me."

"You have other things to worry about today. I believe we’ve got a mating ceremony to put together, hmm?"

Boyce grinned up at her as she draped her arms about her seated mate. "What do you mean, ‘we’, love? You’ve got this completely under your management, haven’t you?"

"You better believe it, Boyce, and since this is the first time we’ve been able to do it traditionally since Zhane, we’re going to do this properly! Now, get about your duties and let me get to work!"

"Yes, dear," Boyce replied, cheerfully accepting her authority in this matter.

Leanna was surprised a little later when Forest walked in with Yeoman d’Armand. "Are all the kids okay, Leanna?" Forest asked.

"Of course, Forest. What’s going on?" Leanna asked curiously.

"The Yeoman is going to look after the cubs this morning. You, Kayla, Kernos and I are going for an outing on the Star Base. This is the last chance for the kids to have a bit of fun there, and while I expect you to keep an eye on the kids, at the same time I want you to have some fun too."

Leanna was surprised, but happy to comply. Hir curiosity had been whetted by the one visit to Zhane’s office, and shi knew that there was a lot more to be seen on such a large structure. Even then shi underestimated how much more. Previously they had been taken through the more official sections. This time they headed in a completely different direction that opened onto a long and wide concourse. Lining it were shops and entertainment venues of almost every conceivable kind. Potted trees and planters gave the place an open, airy feeling, the illusion only shattered by the huge panoramic windows overhead which showed only the blackness of space dotted with stars bright enough to be seen over the glare of the concourse lighting, and a couple of huge starships moored within view. Leanna gaped in awe. Shi had seen the Pegasus on the viewscreen of the slaver ship, and shi had spent some time exploring the ship itself, but neither had given hir a real feel for the sheer size of the vessel.

"Yeah, I did much the same when I first saw the ship directly," Forest commented when shi noticed the fennec’s gaze. "However, I think you’d better do your gawking later, or else we’re going to lose track of our two charges."

Leanna guiltily tore hir gaze from the Pegasus in time to see Kernos dragging Kayla away in the direction of some amusement. Leanna knew that because Kernos often lived aboard the starbase, Forest really wasn’t concerned about his safety, nor Kayla’s, but wanted to keep the group together. Let the kids enjoy themselves, but the grown-ups were going to get their share too.

Kernos shamelessly took advantage of Forest’s generosity so that he and his half-sister could enjoy the amusements and stuff their faces with treats. Forest laughed when shi saw Leanna’s face lit up with glee as shi played some of the interactive games with the children. Shi was like a great big kid hirself. In a very real way shi was, considering how shi had been bred. Then shi and the kids dragged Forest into another game and soundly thrashed hir, of course.

A little later, while Kayla and Kernos feasted on ice cream sundaes at a bench outside some shops, Forest and Leanna investigated a boutique that had attracted their interest. Neither had much interest in the regular clothing shops, but this one named ‘Fur Finery’ specialised in articles that could be worn by fur-bearing persons who had little need of clothing, but still appreciated things that enhanced their looks. While the shop had a section for expensive items such as gold and jewellery, it also had a larger section devoted to reasonably-priced goods such as scarves, necklaces, ribbons, bracelets, hats, beads… you name it! Forest soon found some additions to hir tail-ribbon collection and a couple of pretty anklets. Shi paid for hir purchases, and then went to find out what Leanna was doing. Shi found hir looking at hirself in a mirror, modelling a broad-rimmed hat. It had been designed with long-eared wearers in mind, and fitted hir perfectly. Forest was a little surprised at what had attracted the fennec’s attention, but had to concede that it looked good on hir, although a bit out of place in conjunction with the ship uniform shi was wearing.

"Have you decided to buy that?" Forest asked Leanna.

A slightly sad look came over Leanna’s face. "How can I? I don’t have any money."

Forest smiled. "What makes you think you don’t?" shi asked as shi pulled a card out of hir hip pouch and handed it to Leanna.

Leanna looked at what shi held. It was an e-cash card, with ‘LEANNA FENNEC’ embossed on it, hir image in one corner, and hir details recorded on the microcircuitry within. Leanna looked at Forest in puzzlement. "This is mine? How come?"

Forest hugged the confused fennec. "Leanna, we keep telling you that you’re not a slave. You’ve been doing a full-time job with us for quite some time now, as a childminder, teacher, and assistant for dealing with the rescued slaves. Boyce, Rose, Midnight, Zhane and I discussed this and decided on a fair wage for all the work you’ve done for our family, and of course the consulting work you’ve done for Star Fleet was referred to the paymaster. Once we got into the Star Base, your account was finalised with the Federation Credit Network and that card issued. Your accumulated pay has been deposited into that new account. I’ve been aching for an opportunity to surprise you with it. It’s all yours to spend as you wish. Now, are you certain you don’t want to get anything else?"

Leanna’s expression changed from uncertainty to gratitude, and shi hugged the chakat so strongly that Forest wondered if shi was trying to squeeze the breath out of hir. Then Leanna said, "Wait here for a moment!" and then dashed off. A slightly puzzled but amused Forestwalker waited patiently for the fennec’s return. Before long, shi did, wearing a matched pair of leather-strap armlets. "These would go well with my Egyptian-style garments, don’t you think?" shi asked Forest eagerly.

Forest grinned and nodded appreciatively. "I like them. Although you really don’t need my approval, you have it anyway."

Leanna practically danced with happiness, then dashed off to the counter to pay for them. Forest brought along the hat that Leanna had left with hir. "Still want this?" shi asked hir as shi handed the armlets to the clerk.

"Oh! I was so excited that I forgot about that. Yes! I do want that still."

When the clerk gave hir the total, Leanna proudly handed over hir brand-new card, then placed hir hand on the identity scanner that verified that shi was indeed the same person to whom that card was registered. The computer then deducted the cost of the goods directly from hir account on the Pegasus. The clerk then handed back hir card and a bag with hir purchases, smiled and said, "Thank you for shopping at Fur Finery. I hope you will come again."

Leanna hugged the bag to hir chest. Hir first ever personal purchases! Paid for with hir own money! Leanna looked at Forest. "Are you sure there isn’t a catch that you haven’t told me about?"

"Of course there’s a catch," shi replied. Leanna looked alarmed. "It’s the same catch that we all have to deal with – income tax!"

Leanna gave Forest a dirty look for getting hir worried, but Forest just laughed. "Sorry, but I couldn’t resist that. Come on, let’s collect the kids. It’s about time we got back to the ship anyway. Rosepetal will be expecting us to be there to finalise the ceremony."

Two bored kids awaited them. Having long finished their sundaes, they had been quickly running out of patience. Kayla though, despite being much smaller than her half-brother, was a few days older physically, and many months in maturity, and had kept Kernos from sneaking off. Nevertheless she was much relieved when Forest and Leanna turned up at last. She scolded them for leaving them waiting for so long, which they took with guilty amusement. In truth they were gone only a short time, but that was an eternity to kids with nothing to do but wait.

Back at the ship, when shi got a moment to hirself, Leanna queried the computer about hir account. When shi saw how much was left, hir eyes widened in surprise. Hir purchases hadn’t made much of a dent in the balance, and Leanna wondered what shi would do with hir new-found riches.

"We need a couple more witnesses who are not part of the family," Rosepetal said. "I’ve arranged with Lieutenant Murawrr to represent the Caitian people. Has anyone any other suitable recommendations?"

Midnight spoke up. "I’d like to invite Sparks."

Rosepetal nodded. "Good. I’ll let hir know."

"Sparks?" Leanna queried Midnight.

"Chakat Sparks, the Chief Engineer of the Pegasus, and a close friend."

"I’m told that you chakats all get to know each other well on these ships for social needs."

Midnight grinned. "A little on the simple side, but essentially correct."

"What about you, Leanna? Do you have someone you’d like to invite?"

Leanna was caught by surprise. "Me? Who would I…?" Then a thought occurred to hir. "Well, actually there is someone, but she’s on duty at this time."

"Considering that we’re currently docked, she could probably be excused. Who would you like to ask?"

Leanna gained the impression that Rosepetal already knew which person shi was going to suggest. "Moyshu Blacktail."

"Ah, yes, I know her," Rosepetal nodded. "I will arrange to have her present for the ceremony."

"Thank you," Leanna said. It felt nice to have such consideration shown to hirself. There was a bit over an hour to go before the ceremony, so the invitees had plenty of time to show up.

Leanna checked the younger cubs who were having a nap, while Kernos and Kayla were engrossed in a game. With nothing in particular to do, Leanna followed Rosepetal into the room where M'Lai and the others were doing their preparations. Both Caitians were engrossed with what appeared to be Caitian script with Terranglo writing sharing a split screen. Midnight startled Leanna by being elaborately adorned in a blue satin taur-dress that matched hir eyes. Shi’d never seen the chakat so thoroughly dressed up. Outside of wearing hir uniform while on duty, or some kind of smart top at other times on the ship, Midnight invariably preferred wearing nothing, so the contrast was amazing. This was even more spectacular than the leather outfit shi wore for Forest, although obviously without the sexual connotations.

Midnight grinned at the goggling fennec, accurately assessing the reason for the surprise. "I’m just a sucker for formals," shi explained. "In my opinion, they’re the only time when it’s worth getting decked out like this."

"I suppose that I’d better start thinking about getting into my own formal attire soon," Leanna said. "Someone will have to keep an eye on the kids while I’m away though."

"No problem," Midnight assured hir. "I’ve nothing much left to do before the ceremony anyway."

"Thanks," Leanna said gratefully. Shi looked in the direction of M'Lai and Rosepetal. "What are they doing?" shi asked curiously.

"Basically, they’re translating the ceremony from the Caitian tongue to Terranglo, and adapting it to our special circumstances. They’re almost done. Just putting the final touches now. Then they’ll both finish getting dressed while I hold down the fort."

Leanna was a bit puzzled by that expression, but was smart enough to understand the meaning. "And where is the Captain?"

"Boyce was dressed ages ago and is currently nervously waiting with Forest, rehearsing his part. You’d think he’d be used to this by now!" shi snorted in amusement.

Leanna nodded fervently. From what shi had learned, these wives of his were hardly the only partners he’d acquired. "I think I’ll go now and have a shower first. I’ll see you well before the ceremony to take the cubs back off your hands though."

"Take your time, hon. We won’t start without you."

Leanna had added hir new armlets to hir Egyptian style ensemble. Shi was as ready as shi could be for the ceremony, but the cubs were not. They had awoken from their nap shortly before shi had returned, and were getting into mischief. Finally Leanna managed to get Snowcloud and Patchwork engrossed in drawing with crayons. Patch had plonked down on the floor close to where the ceremony was going to be done, but Rosepetal had assured hir that the cub wouldn’t be in the way. Thankfully, Ember was content to curl up next to Snowcloud, head and shoulders cushioned on hir sister’s back, and go back to sleep. Little Windrunner was getting a quick feed from Forest, and was likely to follow Ember to dreamland.

Leanna spent the remaining time with Moyshu who had also gotten dressed up quite formally despite the short notice. They’d been introduced to the other two witnesses – Lieutenant Murawrr, the Caitian chief navigator and helmsman whom Leanna had seen briefly when shi had visited the bridge, and Chakat Sparks, head of engineering on the Pegasus, who turned out to be very short at a mere 152cm (just under 5 feet) and very prettily Siamese patterned, but with a rough sense of humour at odds with hir delicate look. Murawrr was 165cm (5'5"), very tall for a Caitian, but although he towered over Sparks, the little chakat dominated the duo with hir personality. Leanna learned that the two, despite their vastly different duties and rank, were actually close friends. Their acquaintance was made long ago during a shipboard mixed-species volleyball game when they were randomly paired as partners. The quiet and reserved Caitian seemed a mismatch with the loud and colourful chakat, but they had found that they played well together, not only ending up winning the ship's competition, but also becoming firm friends.

Murawrr said to Leanna, "I'm a bit envious of the Captain to be gaining a fifthwife. I've only got two so far."

Sparks replied, "Ever consider a chakat, hon?" Shi gave him a nudge and then blatantly snuggled up to him amorously.

Murawrr shot back, "Too much for me! I prefer my mates to have just two legs and one gender, thank you!" Everyone chuckled in amusement, but Leanna didn't miss the affectionate stroke that he gave the chakat's back.

Just then, Rosepetal entered from the main bedroom, dressed regally in a Caitian desert robe that was somewhat reminiscent of Arabian style, but elaborately decorated with gold and silver threads, and with colourful beads forming traditional patterns. She walked gracefully to the ceremonial area in front of a large view portal that had been simply decorated with some drapes, Caitian moonflowers, and a golden bell. Rose was carrying a ceremonial staff carved from a reddish-brown timber that she lifted to rap the bell twice, then paused momentarily, then tapped twice again, another pause then a final two taps. As the sound of the bell diminished, she then firmly rapped the staff on the floor. Everyone had come to a complete silence by then, and she began the ceremonies.

"Ektar mr’tesh tu kollar! Welcome family and friends! We are gathered today for that most joyous of occasions – the induction into our family of a new mate. Although this will be a formal Caitian ceremony, for the benefit of those not fortunate enough to be born of our species, the rest of this ceremony will be conducted in Terranglo." There was a brief smatter of laughter as she prepared to continue.

"Because we have no Mentarkan Priestess to conduct the ceremony, tradition says that honour falls upon myself as firstwife. I ask our mate, Admiral Boyce Kline, to join me now."

Boyce then emerged from the bedroom, clothed in his finest Star Fleet dress uniform adorned with his service ribbons and decorations. He took his place at Rosepetal’s left side, smiling in pride and affection at his mate.

"Welcome, my love," Rosepetal continued. "As your firstwife, and the avatar of the Virtue of Intelligence, I have chosen a suitable candidate for your fifthwife, and I am prepared to formally present her to the family. Do you approve?"

"I approve," Boyce replied, "but as tradition dictates, I will hear from my other mates first."

"Then I call upon the candidate to come forth and present herself for their appraisal!"

At that cue, M'Lai entered from the bedroom. She was dressed once again in the loose but elegant dress that Leanna had first seen at the formal dinner that had introduced her to the family. With excitement and anticipation in her eyes and her step, she approached Rosepetal and stopped at her right side, facing the audience.

Rosepetal addressed the audience. "I, M'Rrrt´t´tärkñ Silpurr, have sought out M'Lai Saarath to join our family as fifthwife, mate to Boyce of the house of Kline. M'Lai, I have come to know you well, and I have chosen you as the avatar of the Virtue of Fertility. Will you accept this role?"

"I, M'Lai Saarath, will accept this Virtue," she affirmed.

"I call upon the secondwife, Zhane ap Nashene na Zhane, avatar of the Virtue of Strength!" Rosepetal announced. "How find you the suitability of the candidate?"

Zhane stepped forward, resplendent in her Rakshani robes of ceremony. Normally seen in the familiar trappings of a Star Fleet officer, today she had dressed totally according to ancient Rakshani high tradition. Her race's culture was highly militaristic, and this was reflected in the style of the clothes. Bold coloured fabrics were defined by dark leather used for reinforcing and pseudo-armouring. The leggings were roomy, allowing ease of movement, and were tucked into leather boots polished to a highly gleaming black. They were not only designed to suit her digitigrade feet, but also were open at the toes to allow her claws to be extended. Military decorations profusely adorned her fulsome bust, and a long , flowing maroon cape with gold trim finished off the effect. She made a very imposing figure as she faced the others and said, "It is my opinion that M'Lai has shown great strength in adversity, overcoming significant handicaps to make a success of her life and career. She will bring this quality to our family for its betterment." She then stepped back to rejoin the others.

Rosepetal said, "I accept the assessment of the secondwife and now call upon the thirdwife, Chakat Forestwalker, avatar of the Virtue of Love. How say you about the candidate?"

Forestwalker stepped forward as Zhane had done. Shi was dressed in an eye-catching halter-top, over which shi wore a silken blouse embroidered with flowers. Hir recently bought tail-ribbons matched the blouse in finery. Shi smiled at M'Lai. "I have found M'Lai to be a beautiful and loving person. Despite her physical needs, it is her heart that rules her, not her body. Boyce will ever know love and caring from her."

Forest stepped back to rejoin the others. Rosepetal said, "I approve of the thirdwife’s assessment, and now call the fourthwife, Chakat Midnight, avatar of the Virtue of Courage. What is your assessment of the candidate?"

Midnight stepped forward, hir dress rustling and flowing as gracefully as the chakat hirself. "M'Lai has had the courage to take on many new challenges, undaunted by failures. Now she has chosen to accept a mating outside of her own species, something that is never to be taken lightly, yet she faces it with both joy and anticipation. I wholeheartedly approve of her as a co-wife." With a wink in M'Lai’s direction, Midnight rejoined the rest.

Rosepetal smiled at the group. "Thank you fourthwife, I accept your approval." She turned to M'Lai. "M'Lai, do you accept our assessments?"

"I do accept them, M'Rrrt´t´tärkñ."

Rosepetal then turned to face Boyce. "Beloved mate, you have heard the assessments of your wives, and we are unanimous in our approval of M'Lai of the house of Saarath as a potential new mate. Does she meet your approval as a potential fifthwife?"

"Beloved wife, I approve of your recommendation."

"There is but one condition to be met then. How went the pre-mating night? Boyce, is there any reason to believe that you and M'Lai would be incompatible?"

Boyce looked at M'Lai and smiled in fond memory. "No, there is no reason that I know of. M'Lai was an ideal partner, and I feel that will only become better as we get to know each other more."

Rosepetal then addressed M'Lai. "And do you, M'Lai, agree with our husband? Do you feel that a human can be a desirable mate?"

M'Lai smiled confidently. "I have known many good men of several species, but none whom I would say who is better than Boyce as a potential mate. I agree that we are very compatible."

Rosepetal smiled in approval. "Then it is my pleasure, privilege and honour to declare that the candidate is accepted and the mating may proceed. Boyce and M'Lai, you may exchange your mating vows." She stepped aside, and Boyce and M'Lai moved together and held hands.

Boyce spoke first. "M'Lai Saarath, I knew it was a moment of destiny that we met, and my mates must have known it too. How else would they have known that we belong together? You are beautiful in both my eyes and my heart. I am looking forward to spending our future together, both as partners and as a family. I vow that you will know happiness and fulfilment as long as it is within my capability to give you them. And if you wish to have children, they too will be loved and cherished by all. Do you accept my vow?"

M'Lai replied, "Boyce Kline, I had not known that my destiny lay with a human, but our time together and the opinions of your mates have shown me that it does, and my heart is filled with joy. I vow that I will do my best to bring prosperity to the family, and love and happiness to you. As the avatar of the Virtue of Fertility, I promise you children to love and to complete both of us. I accept your vow wholeheartedly. Do you accept mine?"

"I accept your vow, M'Lai."

Rosepetal stepped forward and put her hands upon theirs. "Your vows have been heard and witnessed by family and friends. I declare that M'Lai Saarath is now fifthwife of the house of Kline. Let us now celebrate their union!"

Everyone began cheering as Boyce pulled M'Lai into a long kiss. She cooperated willingly, and it was a breathless couple that eventually parted. Then the laughing crowd dragged them away to a table laden with food for the mating feast. Leanna went over to Patchwork who was looking at the crowd in puzzlement. "C’mon squirt, let’s grab some food before they eat it all," shi told hir.

The celebrations had gone on for hours, but finally Sparks and Murawrr had left and the new couple stood up and excused themselves. Mating night was to be spent much as the pre-mating night, but this would be the last time that M'Lai and Boyce would have purely to themselves for a long time, and they intended to make the most of it. Zhane had invited Midnight to spend the night with her, and the chakat had accepted, leaving for Zhane’s quarters soon after. Leanna helped put the last of the cubs to bed and Forestwalker gave Leanna a kiss goodnight and went to join them as it was hir night to watch over them. That just left Rosepetal, Moyshu and Leanna who said that it was time for them to leave also.

Before they left though, Leanna paused in the doorway and said, "It seems to be a bit unfair. You have been left alone tonight."

Rosepetal smiled reassuringly. "Unlike my co-mates, the average Caitian female does not need regular sex, and a firstwife must also be prepared to allow her co-wives their fair share of time with our husband. Besides," she added with a grin, "do you know how rarely I get a peaceful night’s sleep all by myself? Now shoo! You need your sleep too."

Leanna returned Rosepetal’s smile, said goodnight, and then left with Moyshu.

Moyshu said, "They really care for you, you know. I can tell."

"Really?" Leanna said in surprise. "I know that they have done a lot for me." Just how much, shi really didn’t want to tell Moyshu as yet.

"You weren’t just there as a witness like I was. It's obvious to me that they consider you to be family. The cubs are a sure sign, and even chakats don’t kiss everyone like Forest did to you. You’re more than just assisting them with the slaves, aren’t you?"

That was one of the things that Leanna liked about hir friend. Moyshu was very sharp and missed little. It also made Leanna a bit uncomfortable at how close to the truth she was getting, but shi didn’t know if telling Moyshu hir origins was a wise move as yet. "Yes, there is more, but I don’t want to talk about it now. Perhaps some other time."

Moyshu considered that and accepted it. "Okay, I’ll let it go for now. Instead, can I persuade you to join me in my cabin tonight? I have a larger bed at least," she said as she smiled slyly.

Glad of the change of subject, and happy at the prospect of being snuggled up to the lovely vixentaur again, Leanna readily agreed.

Once at the cabin, Leanna remembered something that had slipped hir mind. Normally one of the things that shi did when getting back to hir cabin after work was draining hir breasts of the milk that constantly filled them. Today shi had had no such opportunity, and experience had shown hir that shi could not leave it until morning without suffering from painfully full breasts. Shi either needed to find an excuse to be alone for the time it took to empty them, or.... Leanna had to face it – there was no way shi could find that time without hurting Moyshu’s feelings. However, it was very likely that Moyshu would like an alternative.

As the pair undressed, Leanna said, "Moyshu, there’s something that I have to deal with first. I have this... physical condition that has affected me since maturity." Leanna neglected to mention that shi had been ‘born’ mature.

"Oh?" Moyshu said, her curiosity aroused.

""My breasts, they lactate constantly. I need to empty them of milk at least once a day."

Moyshu hadn’t heard of that problem before. Usually it was the opposite – trying to get a new mother to lactate for her child. "What do you normally do about it?"

"Simple enough. I don’t need any equipment." Leanna lifted one breast and bent forward, hir narrow muzzle just long enough to meet with the nipple and seal against it so that shi could suck on it. Shi did so a couple of times before looking up to see Moyshu’s reaction. "Does this bother you?"

Watching Leanna suckle hirself made Moyshu feel as horny as hell. ‘I'm never going to get a better opportunity than this,’ she thought. "May... may I do that for you?" she asked with a little trepidation.

As Leanna had guessed, the lesbian foxtaur found hir need to be a turn-on. Problem solved. Shi would not have to hurt her feelings; indeed shi could make this the highlight of Moyshu’s night. Leanna smiled and cupped a breast. "Be my guest," shi invited.

Moyshu eagerly took up hir offer. She gently but enthusiastically put muzzle to breast, licking the nipple and playing with it a bit before she started suckling. She was aware of Leanna stroking her hair and back as she did so, and was surprised by the sweetness of Leanna’s milk as it flowed into her mouth. Despite the new sensation, Moyshu was getting more and more turned on.

As for Leanna, shi was feeling even better than Moyshu. While self-stimulation of hir breasts made hir extremely horny, it did not trigger orgasm. Someone else sucking on hir breasts certainly did though. Of course shi had been bred to receive much sexual pleasure from this activity, but having it done by a companion at hir own invitation was utterly arousing. This was even better than when shi had let Forestwalker drain hir. That was a need being very pleasantly fulfilled; this was a lover. Yes! Not just a friend, nor a companion. Moyshu was hir lover! Leanna exploded with an orgasm that felt more delicious than any that shi had had so far on this journey of discovery on the Pegasus.

Moyshu meanwhile had been caressing Leanna with one hand while playing with hir other breast with the other. She pushed her forepaw between her hind legs, feeling the dampness of her arousal, and started to stimulate herself even more. She fantasised that it was Leanna's paw that was pushing her up to heights of ecstasy and very quickly orgasmed also.

Leanna was too lost in hir own pleasure to notice Moyshu's self-stimulation. Between them, they had many more climaxes before the breasts were emptied and they collapsed into each other’s arms, tired but satisfied.

"So, what did you think?" Leanna eventually asked curiously.

Moyshu thought for a moment, then carefully replied, "Your tits are every bit as nice to play with as I had thought they'd be. Your milk is a bit too sweet for me though. Forgive me if I don't care to do that too often. Fondling your breasts is a huge turn-on, but I'm not into a milk fetish."

Leanna stroked the hair back out of the foxtaur's eyes so that shi could look into them earnestly. "I really didn't expect you to do so, but thank you for doing such a good job of it anyway. I'll make sure that I have them emptied in future."

"Does this mean that I get to play with your tits again soon?" Moyshu asked hopefully.

"I can't see why not," Leanna replied, happy to have pleased hir companion.

Moyshu grinned in delight and hugged the fennec tightly. Together they silently bathed in the warm glow of their togetherness until they began to drift into sleep. By coincidence, the last thing that both thought before slumber overtook them was, ‘What a perfect day’.

Moyshu woke up earlier than normal. Checking the clock, she saw that it wouldn’t be long though before Leanna would have to get up to begin hir day. Shi was still peacefully sleeping however, and Moyshu was loath to disturb hir. She did take the opportunity to admire hir though. Hir cute fennec features were surmounted by those sexy long ears and framed by that magnificent long reddish-blond hair. It was a face that Moyshu had found attractive from the very first day that they had met, and even more so now that she knew hir better. But even better, Leanna had a beautifully proportioned body, with modestly-sized but perfectly proportioned breasts with just the tips of the nipples peeking through hir fur, and a nice waist with hips that were pleasantly wide. Moyshu honestly didn’t care much whether her vulpine lovers were taurs or bipeds, so she also appreciated Leanna’s shapely legs with thighs that were neither too thin nor too thick, and small yet sturdy feet. Leanna was almost perfection in her eyes as a dream vixen.

But of course there was that added feature that had surprised her so much, and Moyshu’s eyes shifted back to there. It had taken her some time to grapple with her shattered illusions about Leanna, but once she had, Moyshu had come to realise that hir penis made no difference to her feelings. In fact, combined with the body language and other subtle signals that she’d been getting that she had previously failed to recognise, that male organ actually completed hir. Leanna was a herm vixen, and that’s the way shi should be. A grin spread on Moyshu’s face. There was one thing that definitely set hir apart from a female – Leanna suffered from that most common of male afflictions, the morning erection. She was a bit surprised to see how big it was considering the size of Leanna’s sheath, but had to admit it did not look out of place on hir anymore. Although Leanna was definitely feminine in many things, Moyshu could no longer imagine Leanna just as a female. She looked back at Leanna’s face and wondered. ‘Where did you come from, my lovely one? I’ve never seen a fennec morph before, and I’ve been unable to find out anything about your kind on the hypernet, at least not in the Federation. I know that some breeds of morphs have herms, but they are not common, so they tend to stand out, yet there is no mention of yours anywhere that I looked. I wanted to surprise you with something familiar, yet all I found was a mystery. Will you ever confide in me? Would you turn away from me if I knew? I don’t think that I want to know that badly.’

Just then, Leanna’s eyes fluttered open as shi started to rouse out of sleep even before the alarm went off. Their eyes met and Leanna smiled dreamily. "What a nice sight to wake up to," shi said.

"The feeling is mutual, I assure you," Moyshu assured hir.

"Shouldn’t you still be asleep? You need more sleep than I do."

"I have to get up to pee," Moyshu admitted. ‘But not so desperately that I couldn’t steal some time just to admire you,’ she added to herself though.

Leanna propped hirself up and lick-kissed the vixentaur, then said, "Go then. I need to start getting ready. We’re leaving the Star Base today and schedules are going back to normal."

"Okay," Moyshu said and rolled off the bedding and walked off with a flirt of her tail.

Leanna grinned at that and took a moment to appreciate Moyshu’s swaying rump and lively tail before it disappeared into the bathroom. So far this arrangement was working out well for both of them. Leanna desperately hoped it would stay that way.

Leanna ordered the computer to produce a new duty uniform for hir in Moyshu’s replicator. Shi didn’t think that it would be wise going back to hir own cabin in hir fancy Egyptian clothing. Last night alone shi had caused a couple of double-takes on the way to Moyshu’s cabin. Now the corridors would be a lot more crowded, even for the short distance from this cabin to hirs. Shi could drop off those clothes on the way to hir morning examination though.

Moyshu came back and climbed on the bedding, but still watched Leanna as shi got hirself breakfast. Leanna was aware of being watched, but that was nothing new to the former slave. If the vixen liked to watch hir, that was fine by hir. Then shi went into the bathroom to pee, shower, dress and brush hir hair. By the time shi emerged, Moyshu was asleep again. This time it was Leanna’s turn to admire hir companion. The pretty grey fox colouration had always been attractive to Leanna’s eyes, and her black hair framed an intelligent and attractively patterned face. She had breasts similarly sized to Leanna’s own, but with pink nipples prominently shown. Her taur body was sleekly furred, with the well-toned musculature visible as it flexed. Her paws were dainty yet strong. There was no question that Leanna found her sexually attractive, because it was built into hir to find all people attractive, male or female, human or morph, biped or taur. However, hir time spent with the foxtaur had built on that foundation, and Leanna truly felt an admiration for the taurform that went above and beyond what shi was programmed to feel. Moyshu was a very sexy and intelligent person, and shi would be glad to have her companionship, hopefully for the duration of the voyage. Still, Leanna worried about what would happen if Moyshu learned hir true origins. ‘You and I seem to have hit it off well on many levels, yet I haven’t been completely honest with you. I’m afraid to. Would it disgust you to know that I was little more than a fuck toy a lot of the time, and a sneaking spy the rest of the time? If you knew that I had killed my master, would you recoil in horror? If I went into rut while with you, would I be able to resist harming you? I care too much about you to hurt you in any way.

Leanna sighed, then leant over the sleeping vixen, kissing her on the forehead. Moyshu murmured something sleepily, but did not wake as Leanna picked up hir clothes and left the cabin to start a new day.


Admiral Kline, Zhane, and Rosepetal Silpurr are the creations of Boyce Garald Kline Jr and are used with permission.
All other characters and this story are © 2006 Bernard Doove.

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To be continued in Forest Tales #26.

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