A FOREST TALE 30: Meanwhile...
By Bernard Doove © 2008

Part One: Field Trip

Malena and Blaze arrived the morning after Goldfur, Garrek and Goldendale had left on their Star Corps assignment. Forestwalker was the first to welcome the foxtaur vixen to the den. Malena felt a little strange – she had visited many times before, but always just for a short stay. Now it would be her home for the foreseeable future. Blaze on the other hand had no such worries. The moment that the Public PTV had stopped and the door had opened, the cub had bolted out to find the other cubs. Shi always loved playing with hir chakat relatives, and Malena hoped that shi’d not miss the foxtaur community much. The chakat cub had outpaced foxtaur kits hir own age, which had left hir feeling a bit frustrated lately.

Forestwalker tracked Blaze as shi dashed past hir into the house. Shi turned back to Malena to give her a welcoming hug, then said, "It seems like Blaze is really pleased to be here."

Malena returned the hug warmly, glad to have the friendly physical contact she’d been missing so much lately. "I think that it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise having to come here to live. I did not anticipate this problem with Blaze. I always thought that cubs and kits were basically the same at that age, but they’re not. Shi’s going to be a lot happier here in the long run."

"I think that you’re right, but you certainly haven’t done badly with hir up until now. But what about you?" Forestwalker asked.

"Despite Mom’s cold shoulder, I’m going to miss home a lot. I might not be susceptible to Territorial Attachment Syndrome like many vixens, but Mountain Glade has been my home all my life, and that won’t be easily dealt with, but I really need family to help with the care of these triplets when they arrive. I imagine that carrying them is going to get very hard as I get close to full term."

Forestwalker nodded in fervent agreement. "You said a mouthful! My twins were bad enough. Don’t worry, you’ll get all the support that you need. I’m sure even Garrek will help once you’ve resolved your differences."

"Yes, that’s going to be the big task. I hardly know where to begin. Did anyone tell him that I’m having triplets?"

"Not yet. Goldie is going to tell him at some appropriate time during their trip."

"Fair enough. It’s not as if telling him sooner is going to achieve anything."

"Right. Now let’s get your stuff packed away into one of the rooms. It’ll soon be time for lunch also."

Malena immediately felt better than she had in many days. She was back in a friendly, supportive atmosphere and she could start planning a new start. Blaze was much happier now that hir mother was happier, and shi had playmates too. Best of all, Malena got to sleep communally again. She had missed that so badly after her mother, Jaleth, had banned her from sleeping with the rest of the family as punishment. For a foxtaur, that was a very harsh penalty to pay. Sleeping alone was usually avoided if it was at all possible. Malena felt that she wouldn’t have gotten much sleep at all if she hadn’t had Blaze with her. The cub had absolutely refused to be separated from hir mother despite Jaleth’s wishes. However, even her father, Rikandor, had felt that that was going too far.

Malena slipped into the routine of the household quite easily. During the weekdays, she helped Lupu with household chores, then spent some time investigating courses with a career outside of the foxtaur clans in mind. In the evenings, it was pleasant social interaction. She did nothing of any really exciting nature, but that was the quiet interaction that Malena preferred and needed to gather her emotional strength again. Forestwalker had been Malena’s long-time Companion, and she especially enjoyed snuggling up to the chakat at night. There were no thoughts about sex though. The horror night with Garrek was still too fresh in her mind for her to get interested in anything more physical than a kiss goodnight.

Blaze raced past Forestwalker, heading for the backyard where shi had already heard the other cubs. Shi didn’t get there before three other chakat cubs and fox kit came racing inside after hearing the PTV arrive. Patchwork, Stonefur, Snowcloud and Markus wanted to check out who had arrived, and they practically collided with Blaze. Immediately it turned into a scrum as the delighted cubs pounced one another.

"Outside, you little terrors!" Leanna ordered, then followed them outside in order to keep an eye on them.

Blaze was a tiny bit disappointed not to see hir half-sister, Eudora, but the other three chakat cubs made up for that. Shi had been getting so frustrated with the foxtaur kits, always complaining that shi was wrestling too hard or cheating with hir tail. Furballs! None of them could even climb properly! Shi loved visiting Momma’s family. So many playmates who could keep up with hir. Shi was in heaven!

A soccer ball was found, and Stonefur teamed with Blaze against the twins. Snowcloud and Patchwork were older and stronger, but shi and Stonefur were more agile and sneaky. They balanced out fairly well. Not that anyone cared much – they loved the game rather than the score. Markus had a ferret-morph friend over and they joined in too. Unable to keep up with the four-leggers, they instead took their place as goal keepers, a pair of trees at each end of the yard acting as the goal posts. Leanna acted as the umpire, although shi only intervened when things started to get too out of control.

Lunch was only an excuse to refuel for more activity after the meal. Hide and seek was the new choice of game. The forest backing onto their yard was a great place for hiding spots. Forestwalker was the child-minder for this particular activity. Although ostensibly lazing in the sun, half-asleep, shi was in fact carefully tracking every cub with the benefit of hir keen physical and mental senses. There weren’t any real hazards nearby, so shi let the cubs play without any overt supervision, ready to act only if they strayed too far. When that game was ended, the cubs came pouring out of the trees and made a beeline for the pool. By then the afternoon had gotten quite hot, and the cool water was very inviting. Forestwalker pulled off hir halter and added it to the pile of various clothing stripped off by the others. Shi then jumped into the water and joined the cubs in some wild splashy games. It wasn’t long before the rest of the household were drawn outside and joined in also.

Eventually they tired of that and hauled themselves out of the water. Quickpaw pulled on hir T-sirt, hir wet fur instantly saturating it, giving hir the desired appearance. Donning hir sunglasses, shi gave Boyce hir best 'come hither' look, an invitation he readily accepted. The rest picked a shady spot under the trees where they let themselves dry off, most of them snoozing too.

After dinner, there were a few quieter indoor games, most left unfinished as the cubs succumbed to sleepiness. Blaze snuggled up to hir fellow cubs, blissfully happy with the day. Shi hoped Mommy would never go home again.

The fortnight following Goldfur and Dale’s departure on their Star Corps mission was as close to normal as things ever got in the chakat household. Midnight left two days after the others on the next regular patrol with Boyce, but not before shi had given Forestwalker a wonderful night to help tide hir over until they returned. Boyce did the same for Quickpaw, leaving his Companion both satisfied and sad to see him leave so soon. Forestwalker thereafter went into the office every day, Kris to his job, and Trina worked out of her home office as usual. Leanna split hir time mostly between minding the cubs with Quickpaw, doing Trina’s administrative work, and doing hir studies. Lupu took back some of the housekeeping duties and garden maintenance, but also spent a lot of time with Avissavaunte, teaching him reading and writing as she had promised Dale before shi had left.

Avi applied himself diligently to his studies, adding a few more home courses as he grew more familiar with modern equipment. However, studying didn’t fill his days, and by the end of the first week, he was beginning to feel like a fifth wheel, at a loss to know what to do with his time. Lupu realised what was happening though. First she encouraged him to explore the adjacent forest. As she anticipated, he started bringing home raw materials to do his crafts. Soon the wolftaur was happily occupied with his work again.

It was Thursday of the second week when Forestwalker came home from work and walked into Trina’s office. As always, the vixen was comfortably nude and engrossed in her work, thus failing to notice the chakat until shi draped hir arms over the vixen and gave her a grope and a nuzzle.

Trina lifted and turned her head so that she could give Forestwalker a lick-kiss. "Hi, hon. How was work?" Trina asked.

"Interesting as always, but they’re sending me out into the field again though. Want to come with me?"

Trina frowned in thought. "Exactly when?"

"Monday. I won’t be back before the next week."

Trina sighed in disappointment. "Sorry, but I’ll have to pass this time. The modifications to the project that I am currently working on are due next Thursday, and there’s no way that I can have them done before you leave, even if I worked all weekend.

"Aw crap," said Forestwalker with a grimace. "There goes that idea. I already know that Kris has commitments, so he’s out."

"What about taking Leanna?" Trina suggested.

Forestwalker looked thoughtful, then replied, "Shi doesn’t strike me as the outdoors type, although shi never really got the chance to try it. Shi did like the foxtaur village. Hmmmm. Can’t hurt to ask. I know that whatever shi needs to learn, shi’ll learn fast. I wish that I had hir memory. I could take the cubs if Leanna came along to look after them while I worked. It would be a good experience for them."

"Sounds like a plan to me," Trina agreed. "If shi takes a shine to it, we can plan a proper holiday hike. We haven’t done one in too long. That’s what happens when you get children, I suppose, and it will only get worse when Leanna and I have our kits. Life turns upside down, and you have to take your opportunities when you can. Anyway, if you’re done feeling me up, I have to get some more work done before it’s time to quit for the day. Go ask Leanna now."

"Yes dear," Forestwalker answered with a grin.

Leanna was quite enthusiastic. "I’d love to go with you! I want to see some of what you do for your job, and I’d get to see some more of this new world as well."

Forestwalker laughed. "Okay, it’s settled then. I had no idea that you’d be this keen. We’ll do a bit of shopping on the weekend and outfit you with some of the essentials."

"Like what?" Leanna asked curiously.

"Like tough protective clothes and footwear. You don’t go tramping around the Australian Bush barefoot and near naked." Forestwalker dug around in hir closet and pulled out a set of four shoes. "See these? They’ve been specially designed for chakats. They protect most of the feet while still allowing the use of the claws on the hind paws, and the grasping ability of the handpaws. I don’t need them all the time, but I use them where there’s a risk of injury. As you are plantigrade, normal hiking boots will do fine, and I don’t want to hear excuses about your feet being tough enough. So are mine, but I know when it’s necessary to wear protection and when it’s not. OK?"

"Yes, Forest," Leanna said meekly. "And the clothes?"

"Just trousers and a shirt. Actually shorts will probably do in this weather, and I know you’d prefer them. We’ll be pushing through forest without trails in some places, and you’ll soon appreciate the extra protection. I sure don’t go bare tit on these jobs."

"Makes sense. I’ll put up with it if I must. Anything else?"

"Basic hiking and camping equipment. Mine will probably be adequate for the job, but it’s best to get you outfitted properly with your own gear, especially if you’re going to do this sort of thing with us on a regular basis."

"I’m already looking forward to it," Leanna said enthusiastically.

Forestwalker reckoned that the khaki hiking outfit that Leanna wore really suited the fennec. Even the dedicated nudist admitted that they looked good on hir and were quite comfortable. Forestwalker knew that shi hated the boots though, even if shi never said a word about them. However, the sharp rocky ground that they had been traversing since they’d left the trail had made the footwear important. The chakat knew that they both could probably have coped with the terrain bare-footed, but it wasn’t worth the risk. A badly cut foot would cause huge problems, and bare feet on the adults would set a bad example to hir cubs who had been similarly outfitted.

Forestwalker was very happy to have Leanna along on this trip. Aside from the good company, it meant that shi didn’t have to leave Snowcloud, Patchwork and Windrunner behind in the care of the others. Shi could not do hir job and cope with three cubs by hirself. Shi loved having hir children along with hir on these jobs, and the cubs got valuable experience out in the bush at the same time. The older two had their own small saddle-packs carrying their essential supplies, as well as a waist pouch that mostly contained trail-mix. They also had concealed transmitters in case the unthinkable happened and they needed to be found. The youngest cub, Windrunner, spent much of the time in Forestwalker’s saddle pouch though. Research supplies and camping equipment filled the carisaks attached to the saddle. Leanna carried much of their food supply in hir pack. It seemed that Leanna’s great endurance carried over into hiking also as shi toted the load tirelessly. Both Leanna and Forestwalker kept a sharp eye on the other two cubs as they were allowed to roam freely.

As they travelled between sites, Forestwalker gave a running lecture on the vegetation and wildlife, pointing out and naming things whenever possible. However, when Forestwalker mentioned that Australia had several of the most venomous spiders and snakes in the world, Leanna asked, "What’s a snake?"

That surprised Forestwalker momentarily. "You’ve never heard of snakes?"

Leanna shook hir head. "I guess there wasn’t a local equivalent of them on Pharos, so the name never came up."

Forestwalker pulled out hir PADD and called up images of various snakes to show to Leanna. "Snakes are reptiles and they don’t have limbs. They slither about usually by undulating their ribs. They kill prey either by constriction or venomous bite. It’s the latter that we need to worry about." Shi proceeded to show Leanna images of the most dangerous species, what sizes they were, which they were most likely to encounter in the immediate area, and what to do about them.

Leanna felt an uncharacteristic thrill of nerves upon viewing them. "So the best thing to do is to just stay still?" shi queried.

"Snakes are afraid of people. Given a chance, they will get away from you as fast as they can. They’re deaf, but the vibrations from heavy footfalls will warn them. Sudden movements may cause them to panic and attack, so either stay still or slowly back away. Never try to pick one up. They can bend around and bite you faster than you can react."

"I’ll remember that," Leanna said fervently.

The group did encounter a snake, but it was a harmless grass python. The cubs watched it in fascination as it crossed their path and disappeared into the undergrowth, Leanna and Forestwalker standing by them to make sure that they didn’t try to go after it. Despite the foreknowledge, Leanna still had to admit to a mixture of fascination and fear while watching it.

When it came time to stop and make camp for the evening, Forestwalker showed Leanna how to choose a suitable area, then how to make a safe fire pit, and to find suitable wood and kindling for it. After the fire was burning properly came a lesson in camp cooking while Snowcloud and Patchwork were kept amused by gathering more firewood within sight of the camp. Leanna loved every minute of it.

A full stomach on top of a strenuous day quickly made the cubs sleepy, and they were soon put to bed in the tent. Leanna insisted on cleaning up while Forestwalker breastfed Windrunner, who was then put to bed with hir sisters when shi was replete. Finally both adults could rest, and Leanna cuddled up to Forestwalker with a happy sigh.

"I’m so pleased to be able to do this with you," Leanna told hir mate. "It’s been wonderful back home, but it’s extra special with just the two of us alone."

"It’s kind of like our honeymoon," agreed Forestwalker.

"I don’t know if this is what you did with Kris and Trina, but I’m enjoying mine."

"Next time we’ll do something a bit more scenic though," promised Forestwalker.

"I’ve never seen country like this before, so it’s all scenic to me," Leanna assured hir.

"Then it’s a promise to top anything you see on this trip," Forestwalker replied.

"I’m already looking forward to it," Leanna said with a big smile.

They cuddled in comfortable silence for a while as the sun sank below the horizon. Then cuddling turned to petting, and then Forestwalker put a muzzle to one of Leanna’s teats and suckled hir milk while the fennec groaned in pleasure. Two empty breasts later, Leanna mounted Forestwalker and brought hir to orgasm several times. By then the potent aphrodisiac in Leanna’s milk had worked its magic on the chakat, and shi was more than ready and willing to make love in the male mode. Forestwalker enthusiastically returned the favour.

Eventually both collapsed into each other’s arms, grinning at their wild love-making.

"Whew!" Forest said. "That was the best yet. Y’know, I never would have thought that I’d enjoy this much male sex before becoming your lover."

"If you could lay off your breast-milk drinking fetish, you wouldn’t need to," Leanna replied with a sly grin.

"Did you hear me complaining?" countered Forestwalker.

"No. Suits me fine too!"

"Time to get some real rest," Forestwalker said. "If you make yourself comfortable near the tent flap, you can watch the stars until you fall asleep."

"Let’s do that then," Leanna agreed.

And so they did, slipping contentedly into restful slumber.

The field trip lasted another ten days, and each was similar to the first. Everyone was as happy as a person could get. By the last day though, the cubs were showing signs of tiring of the trip, so Forestwalker was glad that they were nearly back to base.

"Stop wandering so far away, Patch!" Forestwalker called to hir errant cub for the tenth time.

"I’ll fetch hir back," Leanna said, diverting from the walking track. Moment later, there was a shrill squall of pain and fear, followed by a cry from Leanna. "Forest! Come quickly!"

Forestwalker dashed in their direction, and was just in time to see Leanna snatching a snake off Patchwork who was lying on the ground with hir hands on hir right foreleg.

"NO! Don’t, Leanna!" Forestwalker cried out too late as the snake coiled around and struck at Leanna’s forearm. Leanna yelped in pain, then cracked the snake’s head against a rock, killing it. Leanna then dropped the snake and clutched at hir arm.

Forestwalker dashed over to Patchwork, torn between concern for hir cub and hir mate. The cub whimpered as Forestwalker moved the cub’s hands away so that shi could take a look at the bite. A drop of blood on the fur marked the site of the bite of the snake that Patchwork had inadvertently stepped upon.

"Hold your hands tightly around your leg here," shi told the cub, showing hir exactly where shi meant. "Mummy will fix it up in a moment."

Forestwalker then attended to Leanna. Hauling out a first aid kit from hir carisak, shi pulled out a pad and a bandage and started applying them to the fennec’s arm, saying, "What the hell did you do that for? Didn’t you listen when I told you not to do anything? Are you trying to prove that you’re an idiot after all?" Concern for hir mate made Forestwalker’s words harsh.

Leanna protested, "Patch was bitten first! Shi’s in danger and you should be helping hir first!"

"Firstly," Forestwalker said as shi ignored Leanna’s protests, "the snake had already bitten, and if you’d left it alone, most likely it would have just left by itself. Secondly, chakats are survivalist creatures. We’re resistant to poisons and venoms. At worst, Patch is going to feel very sick, but I hope to lessen that considerably with quick treatment. You, on the other hand, have no such resistance, and could die from this bite. That’s a Tiger Snake, and very deadly if not treated swiftly. Now keep that arm very still. The pressure bandage will help slow the spread of the venom through the lymphatic system but movement will only make it worse." Shi moved over to Patchwork and repeated the treatment. "We will have to get you both treated as soon as possible."

"How are we going to do that? We’re still half a day’s walk from where the PTV is parked."

"Another lesson that was hard-learned years ago," replied Forestwalker as shi finished Patch’s bandage and gave the cub a reassuring cuddle. Shi then dug into the carisak and pulled out a device and switched it on. "A unicomm. Coverage anywhere on the planet, with built-in GPS and homing beacon, amongst other things." Shi dialled a pre-set number.

After a few moments, a voice responded, "Search and Rescue. How can I help you?"

"We have two snakebite victims – one a foxmorph, the other a chakat cub. Snake is positively identified as a Common Tiger Snake. We’re too far from civilisation to get to help in a timely manner. We request a rescue team with anti-venin. Sending coordinates… now!" Forestwalker pushed a data transmit button.

Moments later, the voice responded. "Coordinates received. Owner of record is Chakat Forestwalker. Is that correct?"

"That is correct," affirmed Forestwalker.

"Hang in there, Shir Forestwalker. Help is being despatched right now and will be with you shortly. You will be contacted by them on your unicomm as necessary. Please ensure your beacon is turned on in order for them to find you as fast as possible."

"Many thanks," Forestwalker said.

"You’re welcome. Search and Rescue out."

Forestwalker turned off the comm and switched on the beacon, then turned hir attention back to the others. Snowcloud had cuddled up to hir twin sister and was comforting hir. Forestwalker got Leanna to sit by them so that shi could cuddle the lot of them while they waited for help to arrive.

"Now just rest. Any movement will only make the venom spread more quickly. Help should get here soon, and you should get out of this with nothing more than a valuable lesson learned."

"OK. I’m sorry, Forest. I’m not sure why I did that despite what you told me. It’s just that when I was confronted by the snake, I felt fear and alarm like I have never felt before."

"Sounds to me like you had an atavistic reaction. Despite the sophistication of the genetic engineers, they don’t always eliminate such things from our make-up. Chakats have a different kind of flaw. You can’t be blamed for a reaction to a situation that would never have come up on your old world. In a way, it makes you a little less perfect and fallible like the rest of us. Anyway, you still reacted on instinct to protect Patch, and I can hardly fault you for that."

"I think that I would have preferred a less dangerous method of learning that lesson," Leanna replied. "I feel okay so far though."

"It takes a while for the first symptoms to appear. Hopefully we can have you treated before anything develops. Just relax – you’re going to be fine."

All four rested quietly, and even Windrunner behaved hirself until the sound of the rescue air-vehicle grew closer as it homed in on Forestwalker’s beacon. The area was rocky and sloping, but mostly devoid of trees, so the paramedic had no trouble rappelling down to the group.

When the rescue worker removed her helmet, revealing a lop-eared rabbit-morph, she said, "Shir Forestwalker, I presume?"

"Correct. Leanna here was bitten on the forearm, and Patchwork on the foreleg," Forestwalker said as shi indicated the bites. "Pressure bandages were applied immediately and the patients kept quiet until you arrived."

"Excellent. Nice to see that you know your first aid properly. Now you said the snake has been positively identified as a Common Tiger Snake? Are you absolutely sure of that?"

Forestwalker pointed to where the dead snake was still lying where it had been left.

"Ah yes," the rabbit doe acknowledged. "That’s a correct identification then. We’ll have them both fixed up in a jiffy." She pulled two drug pumps from her pack. She adjusted the metering for each patient, inserted the needles and strapped the lightweight pumps to the limbs. Checking the bandages and nodding in satisfaction, she then pronounced, "Everything looks fine. We can transport them both back to the base aid facility for further treatment and observation, but such early intervention means that they should be perfectly fine. Your prompt treatment has saved them a lot of grief. Unfortunately, we cannot fit all of you into the vehicle. You’re going to have to make your own way out and meet us at the base."

"No problem," Forestwalker said with a nod. "I know that my mate and cub are in good hands."

The doe smiled, then radioed the hovering air vehicle to come back in and lower the rescue harness. Leanna was hoisted aboard first, followed by Patchwork after Forestwalker told hir, "Look after Mama Leanna for me, dear."

The cub nodded solemnly and forgot about being concerned about being separated from hir mother as shi focused on hir ‘duty’.

The doe was then hoisted back aboard and the air vehicle headed back to base.

"Come on, ’Cloud. It’s time for us to finish hiking out of here." Of course that was when Windrunner decided that shi had been good for long enough and started mewling for a feed. Forestwalker decided not to delay though so, although it was somewhat uncomfortable, shi breast-fed the cub while on the move. It slowed hir down, but shi made a lot of progress that shi would not have done otherwise if shi’d stopped to feed Windrunner.

It took Forestwalker nearly two hours to get back to where the PTV had been parked. It took another twenty-five minutes to drive to the Search & Rescue headquarters which was located in the opposite direction from Forest’s travels. Shi was quickly shown to the medbay where shi found Patchwork and Leanna resting in adjacent beds. Patch was asleep, so shi gave hir a soft kiss without waking hir, then turned to Leanna who grinned sheepishly back.

"We ought to be on our way home now," Leanna said, "but they want us to stay overnight for observation."

"Take as much time as you feel the need. It wouldn’t be the first time that one of my field trips has run overtime," Forestwalker assured hir.

"OK. I think that I’ll take their advice. It’s funny, but I have never been so fearful of my own mortality until this incident. Even when my former master died and I was certain that my days were numbered, I was not so worried about death. This time though, I was afraid."

"You have a family now, though," Forestwalker pointed out. "You have mates who love you, children who adore you, and one day children of your own to look forward to. You have so much to lose now that it’s no wonder that you were afraid. And I was afraid for you too. As much as I was concerned for Patchwork, I knew that you were in far greater peril than hir."

Leanna gave the chakat a big hug. "Thank you for being my mate. My life is complete with you."

"And mine is better for having you too," Forestwalker agreed, returning the hug with interest.

After Forestwalker had to go on the field trip, taking Leanna with hir, Malena still enjoyed the company of the others, but nevertheless missed the cheerful chakat’s presence. Several days later, the family got the news that Forest’s return was delayed a day because Patch and Leanna had both suffered snake bites. Forestwalker quickly reassured everyone that they were both fine, but that didn’t stop Malena from rushing out to meet them all as they returned the following day, and giving them hugs and nuzzles in relief.

That night for the first time in weeks, after getting such a scare, Malena was in the mood to make love again, but she didn’t want to usurp Forest’s mates’ rights, so she approached them all beforehand. She talked to Leanna first.

"No problems with me, Malena," the fennec assured her. "I’ve had Forest to myself for several days, so it’s only fair to let others have their turn."

Malena thanked Leanna, then checked with Kris and Trina.

"Nobody should go without sex for that long!" declared Trina with an irrepressible grin.

"How would you know?" Kris asked. "You’ve never missed more than a day in all the time that I’ve known you!"

"Actually, she still doesn’t have to if she and Forest agree to my request," Malena said.

Trina looked intrigued. "Ooh! Tell me more!"

Kris gave her a shake of his head and rolled his eyes. "Now you’ve done it. Nothing’s going to stop the sex fiend now."

Trina punched him in the arm, but didn’t bother denying it. "What did you have in mind, Malena?"

"First of all, you have to know something about me. You might even suspect if Forest has told you everything about the times that we have spent together, especially recently. You see, for a long time I have felt that I am a herm born into a vixen’s body. From the very first time that I learned about chakats and herms, I have felt an affinity for them that goes way beyond a normal attraction. After coming to know Goldfur and Forestwalker, only my long-standing love for Garrek left me much interested in any single-gender lovers. Then Forest used hir amazing Talent to let me feel like it was like to be male when having sex, and I have felt something missing ever since. Tonight I intend to ask Forest if I can make love with hir with me doing the mounting. I’m still not ready for female sex, but feel the need for physical intimacy.

"So where do I come in?" Trina asked.

"Normally Forest shares the sensation as shi mounts me, but as I don’t want to be mounted as yet, we need an alternative," Malena explained.

"Let me guess," Trina said. "You want Forest to mount me as you mount hir? Now that’s something new. Count me in!"

"And how do you feel about this, Kris?" Malena asked.

Kris grinned. "I’ll agree if you let me watch."

Malena nodded. "No problem. You should know foxtaurs well enough now to realise that we do that sort of thing with the entire family present most of the time, although that happened more when I was staying overnight at a friend's den than in my own, for some reason. Occasionally we like some privacy for deep intimacy, but most of the time sex is done quite openly, so it doesn’t bother me at all if you want to watch."

"Then it’s settled," Trina said with finality.

"If Forest agrees, of course," Malena added.

"Oh, I think shi will," Trina said with smug confidence.

Malena figured that Forest would probably concede without a fight rather than stand against the irresistible force that was the vixen’s will when shi made up her mind.

Forestwalker didn’t even bother making a token objection. "I enjoy our special sessions together, so if all my mates are going to conspire against me, I might as well make my Companion happy."

And that is precisely what they did that evening after the cubs were put to bed. After some petting and foreplay, Malena put on the strap-on dildo. Trina got onto her hands and knees to let Forestwalker mount her, and then Malena mounted the chakat. After a moment spent coordinating their efforts, the threesome were soon in the throes of sexual pleasure. Kris could tell that Malena was fully linked with Forest by the way the vixen mirrored the chakat’s thrusting and orgasm. Trina, never satisfied with bringing her lovers to coitus only once, worked on Forestwalker to bring hir to orgasm again after lengthy love-play. Then the three fell apart, panting and grinning.

Malena sprawled on her back with a dreamy look on her face. "That was the best that it has ever felt!" she declared fervently. "I am incredibly lucky to have a Companion with your Talent, Forest."

"You’re welcome," said Forestwalker, "but has it satisfied you though?"

"For now. I’m afraid that I am hopelessly hooked however, and sex will never be quite the same without me being able to enjoy both male and female sex in the future."

Trina said, "I caught a bit of what Forest was doing. If you want to do this again in the future, I’ll be in it. Right now though, that little stunt has left me feeling horny."

"You’re always horny," Forestwalker accused her.

"Okay, hornier then." She got up and went over to Kris. "Come on, love, let’s do something about that boner of yours."

"I thought that you’d never get around to me," he complained.

"Just getting warmed up," Trina explained with a broad grin, and then proceeded to more than make up for keeping him waiting.

Malena snuggled with Forestwalker while they watched the foxes. Forestwalker quietly said to the vixen, "It’s a good thing that you’re staying with us now. You’d get very little chance to do what we just did back at Mountain Glade. Here though, we can indulge you, and maybe even go one better and give you a double orgasm when you’re ready for that."

"That would be nice, I admit, but even though I like this sort of thing, it’s not what I want ultimately."

"What exactly do you want then?" Forestwalker asked curiously.

"I want to feel like a herm, think like one, be one. Knowing chakats like you, I know that being a herm is far more than just sex. It’s an attitude, how you relate to others, how the family dynamic works, and so much more."

Forestwalker nodded. "Good, I had hoped that you realised that. While I get a kick out of our special sessions, ultimately it’s just very pleasurable exercise without the psychological aspects. I don’t know what more that I can do to fulfil your dream, but if I can, I will help."

"Thanks, Forest. I knew that I could count on you." She laid her head against the chakat’s shoulder while stroking hir fur as they watched their friends come to coitus for the first of several times.

"I thought I heard the tough man cough as he ploughed through the dough," repeated Avissavaunte. He looked up from the page and gave Lupu a quizzical look. "That can’t be right. The same o-u-g-h spelling is pronounced six different ways."

Lupu grimaced. "I’m afraid that’s correct. It’s just one of the strange quirks of the English language. You’re better off memorising those words rather than trying to figure out why they are pronounced that way. However, aside from tricky words like those, you’re doing excellently. Dale is going to be very pleased with your progress during hir absence."

Avissavaunte nodded in satisfaction. "I want my reading and writing skills to be at a reasonable level before I start my courses. The new semester is only a few weeks away."

"So, you’ve decided what you’re going to do?" Lupu asked.

"Sure! A business course mainly, but side courses in mathematics and English. If I’m going to start my own leather-craft business, I reckon that I need a strong base on which to build it."

"What about the goods that you’ve already made?"

"Dale suggested that I try that weekend market that you drag hir off to occasionally."

"Excellent idea! I would have suggested that too if our denmate hadn’t beaten me to it. Let’s go there this weekend," Lupu urged.

"Okay by me. It’ll give me a chance to test the waters. However, right now I need to work on my spelling."

"Right," said Lupu, and continued with the lesson.

It was a pair of very cheerful wolftaurs who walked in the front door after returning from the Sunday market.

"You two look as if you had a successful day," commented Kris when he spotted them.

"You bet! Everyone was hot for Avi’s stuff," enthused Lupu.

"I got a lot of pre-orders," admitted Avissavaunte. "In fact, I’m going to have to scramble to get the materials that I need and the work done quickly. I’ve practically exhausted the supplies that I brought with me."

"That’s why Dale left funds for you, in case something like this came up," Lupu pointed out.

"If you need any help, just ask," added Kris.

"I don’t want to bother you with my stuff," Avissavaunte said.

"Avi, this isn’t just a house full of individuals, it’s the home of one family, and when a member of that family needs help, everyone pitches in. That’s what helps make us strong, like the wolf pack. You’re part of this family now, so let us help you. One of these days you will get to return the favour, I assure you."

"Thanks, Kris, I’ll remember that," Avissavaunte said gratefully.

"In the meantime, it’s Sunday afternoon and perfect weather for a barbecue," Trina cut in. "Who wants to cook?"

"Me!" chorused Avi, Lupu and Kris.

The following week, Avissavaunte barely had time to scratch himself. He bought the materials that he needed on Monday, then spent the rest of the day preparing them for his use. The remainder of the week, he was dedicated to his work, disappearing to the workshop straight after breakfast and not reappearing until he was dragged out for dinner. Lupu even had to take food and drink out to him for lunch. After dinner, he would hit the books until bedtime. Everyone was impressed with how hard-working the wolftaur was, but by Friday evening, Lupu was sick of it.

As Avissavaunte came out of the bathroom after cleaning up for dinner, Lupu intercepted him and asked, "Where do you think you’re going?"

"To dinner, of course," he replied in puzzlement.

"Right, but not here. You’ve been neglecting me all week, so tonight we’re going out for dinner and a movie."

"Oh. But what about my studies?"

"You can afford to skip a night. Besides, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

"Who is Jack?" asked Avissavaunte.

"In this case, you. We all appreciate how hard you’re working, but family comes first, and your mate especially. Now go put on a jacket or something smart, and I’ll get on something nice in the meantime. Then we can head off to our favourite restaurant. I’ve reserved a table for two for us."

"Two? Aren’t Kris and Trina coming?"

"No, hon, it’ll just be the two of us. They’ll be spending an evening with their son for a change, and Malena doesn’t mind looking after Stonefur. Now stop asking questions and get ready."

Avissavaunte shut up and did as he was told. Lupu was ready only a few minutes after him. Although she dressed a bit more elaborately than Avi, she was still a simple wolftaur at heart and didn’t waste excessive time on preparation.

At Cootamundra Gardens, Lupu introduced Avissavaunte to Sheila, the female half of the husband and wife team who ran the business. Sheila was delighted to have another of ‘that big chakat family’ gracing their restaurant, and did her best to get Avissavaunte to sample various local dishes. Avi ended up eating more than he had intended, but he enjoyed every morsel. He and Lupu thoroughly enjoyed the dinner in the relaxed friendly atmosphere.

After the meal, they walked to the cinema to watch the latest blockbuster movie. Avissavaunte found that a bit strange but entertaining. He knew about movies, but had never experienced one. He got caught up in some of the action scenes, much to Lupu’s amusement.

It was fairly late as they strolled home, so Avissavaunte was curious as to why Lupu diverted into the park, but he assumed that it was just for the pleasant moonlit atmosphere. He rather liked it, especially in the company of a gorgeous bitch with her arm around his waist and vice versa. Then she stopped by a small dense copse and checked it out with ears, nose and eyes. She then surprised him by pulling him into the bushes with her.

"How do you like it here?" Lupu asked Avissavaunte.

Avi looked about. "Cosy. Very private too. What have you got into mind, Lupu?" he asked suspiciously.

"This was where this cub was conceived," Lupu answered obliquely, patting the swollen abdomen of her lower torso.

"Am I to guess that you’re in the mood for a re-enactment?" Avissavaunte asked.

"Dale was definitely right – you catch on quick. Not that you can completely replicate the experience, but as horny as I am, I’ll overlook your lack of breasts and prehensile tail.," she told him with a grin.

Avissavaunte gave her a lopsided smile. "Not that I’m uninterested, but are you sure that you want to do this? I don’t want Dale finding out and getting mad at either of us."

"Avi, our denmate made a point of making you a mate chakat style. Chakat co-mates make love frequently. In fact I’m sure that Dale wanted you to pay attention to me during hir absence, and believe me, I need attention right now!"

Avissavaunte still wasn’t absolutely sure, nervous about spoiling the best thing that had happened to him in all his life. Lupu didn’t give him a chance to chicken out though. She took off her top and pulled Avi’s muzzle to hers and kissed him deeply. At the same time, her other hand pulled Avi’s up to one breast and held it there until he relented and started fondling it. Resistance gone, the couple were soon madly embracing, caressing, nuzzling, licking, petting and otherwise releasing their pent-up desires. Then, as they paused a moment to catch their breaths, Lupu turned away from Avissavaunte, lifted her tail and presented her sex to him. Already fully erect from the foreplay, Avi immediately accepted the invitation and mounted her. Aside from a bit of extra care due to her gravid condition, the couple made love with gusto. Making sure that Lupu orgasmed a couple of times first, Avi allowed himself to come also, his knot binding them together while they enjoyed the afterglow.

A long while later, Avissavaunte said, "You were right, Lupu. We both needed this. We’ve both gotten used to having Dale there for us every day. Sheesh! It wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t get any sex at all, but now I miss it badly after just a few days."

"Now do you understand why I say that this is right for a chakat’s co-mates?"

"I do, and I really hope that Dale is okay with this. If shi had been born a chakat, I wouldn’t worry at all, but as shi’s a transformed human, I still have this nagging doubt. Shi’s still trying to learn a lifetime’s worth of experiences as a chakat."

Lupu sighed. "I suppose we’ll have to wait until Dale comes home before we can be sure, although I do admit that you make a very good point. We’ll be circumspect until we’re certain, I promise."

"Thanks Lupu. For everything."

From that night forth, Avissavaunte made sure to make time for Lupu each night. Occasionally the cubs had to drag their new ‘uncle’ out for some recreation during the day though. He still managed to have a very firm grasp of the required subjects by the time that his courses started, but he also enjoyed his evenings more. Both were in for a big surprise though.

One evening after he had completed his studies for that day and the rest of the household had gone to bed, he sought out Lupu and they retired to a private room to make love. They had reached the point where Avissavaunte had mounted Lupu and they were both savouring the feeling. Avi had his eyes closed as he explored her body with his hands while Lupu gently teased his cock. Suddenly she yelped in startlement, and Avi’s eyes flew open to see Goldfur practically nose-to-nose with Lupu. Both looked equally startled, but Goldfur was the first to recover. Shi looked up to see Avissavaunte mounted on Lupu. He sheepishly dismounted, his erection rapidly fading as the mood was broken. He noticed another chakat with Goldfur, hir black and white fur markings making hir less conspicuous in the dimly lit room.

"Oops! Bad timing," Goldfur said sheepishly.

"More witnesses!" groaned the other chakat.

Both the wolftaurs lowered their ears in embarrassment. Lupu struggled to understand what just had happened.

"Goldie! What…? How…? Aren’t you supposed to be weeks away on another planet right now?"

"I am, believe it or not. We just teleported here. Keep things quiet though, please. I want to keep this a secr…."

Shi was interrupted by a voice from the doorway. "Lupu, I heard you yelp. Is anything wro… Goldfur! What are you doing here?"

An amazed but pleased Malena threw herself into Goldfur’s startled embrace. The skunk-patterned chakat slapped hir palm into hir face and shook hir head in disbelief. Goldfur gave hir a helpless look over Lupu’s shoulder.

"As I was just telling Lupu and Avi whom we so rudely interrupted, Swiftwalk and I just teleported here from the planet that we’re exploring. Swiftwalk has an amazing Talent and we were just testing to see if shi could use it in conjunction with an empathic impression from me to go to places that shi doesn’t know. It’s obviously a big success. It’s also obvious that I miscalculated the time of day here. Sorry to disturb everyone."

"Who cares?" Malena said as she hugged and nuzzled Goldfur enthusiastically. "I’ve been missing you so much that I have not been able to sleep well, so I heard the commotion in here. Forest and the others are still sound asleep with the cubs though."

"Thank heavens," murmured Swiftwalk. "I was beginning to wonder if I should sell tickets."

"Don’t worry, Swiftwalk. These people are all part of my family and I trust them implicitly. People, don’t breathe a word of this to anybody. Forget that it ever happened, please."

Lupu replied, "Okay, but speaking of forgetting, please don’t tell Dale how you found us… y’know?"

Goldfur was puzzled. "Sure, but why the secrecy? Dale fully expected you two to be intimate in hir absence. Leaving you here alone was one of the things that had most concerned hir when shi originally considered going back to work."

"Goldie, you’ve been a chakat all your life. You barely understand the concept of jealousy. Dale has been a chakat for a mere few months. Hir thinking has been altered by hir new body, but shi spent most of hir life as a human. Shi understands the need to share intellectually, and on the surface shi is fine with that and expects that of us. However, deep down there’s still a human part of hir that could still be hurt by our relationship if we push things along more quickly than shi can adjust. We intend to take it very slowly so that our denmate remains totally happy. We care far too much about hir to make hir even the least bit uncomfortable."

"I understand completely now, and that’s very wise of you," Goldfur said with a nod. "You might like to know that shi coped very well with hir first heat spent with me. It was a mutually enlightening experience."

Lupu laughed. "As long as you both had fun."

"That we did." Goldfur looked down at the vixen still hugging hir. "As much as I am enjoying this, I’m afraid that we had better leave before we’re missed or Garrek gets too worried about my absence. However, here’s something to keep you going until next time we’re together again." Shi put hir muzzle to Malena’s and kissed her long and deep.

They parted with a happy sigh and Malena said, "I think that I’ll sleep much better now, love. Thanks for coming."

"The pleasure was mine, dear heart." Goldfur looked at Swiftwalk. "Let’s go, Swift."

The skunk-patterned chakat nodded and put hir hand on Goldfur’s arm. In a blink, they were gone, a momentary breeze the only indication that anything had happened. The trio looked at each other in amazement before Malena left to resume her sleep. The wolftaurs looked at each other, grinned in amusement at the silly situation, then resumed their interrupted lovemaking. Although Lupu reassured him once more, Avissavaunte could not help getting a bit nervous again. If Goldfur knew what they were doing, could Dale be far behind?

Part TWO: The Double H Club

Leanna gave Trina another nudge. "Time to quit for dinner," shi told the arctic fox again.

"Just a couple more minutes," Trina replied without looking away from the monitor screen.

"That’s what you said ten minutes ago," reminded Leanna who then interspersed hir head between Trina’s and the screen and licked her nose sloppily.

"Ack! OK! I get the hint. Have you done the data back-up yet?"

"All done except for the project that you’ve still got open."

Trina nodded and saved her work, then closed the screen. "Ready," she announced.

Leanna made the back-up, then shut down hir computer. Trina followed suit, and then the foxes exited Trina’s office.

"How long until dinner?" Trina asked Lupu whose turn it was to cook.

"About five minutes," Lupu replied. "Tell Quickpaw to round up the cubs, will you?"

"Sure!" Leanna replied.

As the two headed out into the yard to herd the cubs inside, Leanna said to Trina, "I’ve been meaning to ask you something. Before you met Forest, did you know any other herms?"

"Directly – not to my knowledge," Trina replied. "Of course unless they actually told you that they are a herm, it’s unlikely that you would know, unless you can scent it. Why do you ask?"

"Forest mentioned that there are other herms here, and I thought I’d like to meet them and see what their attitude is like, and what they like and dislike. I’d like to know better how I fit in."

They found Quickpaw who was playing with the cubs as well as minding them and informed hir that it was dinnertime. Then Trina had a chance to reply to Leanna.

"Hmm. I suggest that you ask Forest about the Double H Club. Shi used to frequent that before we met."

"What’s the Double H Club? Would I be right in guessing that at least one H stands for Hermaphrodite?"

"Got it in one. It’s actually the Hermaphrodite Haven, and it’s a club dedicated to serving the needs of the herm minority in the community." Trina was distracted by a reluctant cub. "No, Patch, you can’t play for five more minutes. We’ll be eating by then."

Quickpaw added slyly, "Mama Lupu is making her special stew tonight."

The recalcitrant cub quickly changed hir mind. "Loopoo stoo!" shi cried in delight, a call that was taken up by the other cubs as they charged for the door.

Trina laughed. "I wish it was always that easy. Anyway, as I was saying, Forest used to socialise a lot with people from that club. Shi may be able to introduce you to some people if you like.

At the table as shi doled out the stew, Forestwalker said, "The Double H? Sure, I can take you around there. It’s been years since I visited though. It’ll be good to see some of my old acquaintances again."

"I’m lucky that they have a club like that here. It will make it a lot easier to see a lot of people at once," Leanna commented.

"Actually the Double H is an international organisation. You’ll find a branch in most major cities."

"You told me that only a very small fraction of people were herms though," Leanna reminded hir.

"A small fraction, yes, but when the population is in the millions, that adds up to quite a respectable number, more than enough to justify the number of branches. Being such a minority means that herms tend to band together for support. We can try asking them exactly what the herm population is here."

"I’ll do that then. When would be a good time to go there?" Leanna asked.

"How about this Saturday?" Forestwalker suggested. "There tends to be a larger number at the club on weekends."

"It’s a date!" Leanna agreed.

After lunch on Saturday, Leanna and Forestwalker drove into the city in a public PTV, leaving the family vehicle for general use. The PTV pulled up in front of an modern but understated building with doors lettered with the words – The HH Club – in letters five centimetres high. The pair entered the cool foyer where they were confronted with a reception desk flanked by doors. On the right were double doors made of cherry wood, each with a large brass capital H attached to it. On the left was a much more modest door with a plaque stating – HH Club Administration. Behind the desk was a rabbit morph, ostensibly a female, but knowing what this club was, Leanna suspected otherwise.

The rabbit looked up from hir work on the desk to greet the arrivals, but hir eyes widened in recognition. "Omigod! Forestwalker! It’s been years since I’ve seen you. How have you been? Still going out with those foxes?"

Forestwalker grinned. "Hi Francine. I’ve gotten happily mated to those foxes since you last saw me. In fact I’m bringing my latest foxy mate. Francine, this is Leanna Fennec. Leanna, this Francine Lapin, the club’s chief greeter, or at least shi was when I was still coming around. How come you’re still manning that desk after all this time?"

Francine came out from behind said desk to give the chakat a greeting hug, affording Leanna the opportunity to give hir a good look over. Shi was a pretty bunny with light grey fur, cute face, generous boobs and pert ears. Shi had no human-type hair, but hir body shape was unmistakably feminine, even inside the business-type clothing that shi wore. Only an inconspicuous bulge at the crotch betrayed hir dual gender. Francine said, "You know me – I love to meet people, but I’m actually the vice-president of this branch of the Double H now. I just do a lot of my work at the front desk so that I can keep an eye on people coming and going." Shi turned to Leanna, hir body language indicating that shi would give the fennec a hug also if the fennec was amenable to the idea.

Leanna immediately stepped forward and they exchanged hugs. Francine then asked, "So how did you get hooked up with the taur kitty here?"

Forestwalker interrupted, "That’s a very long story, but if Leanna is in the mood to tell it, it’s best that shi do so in the lounge."

"Quite right," Francine agreed, "and you can tell me what you’ve been up to all these years after that. Now you realise that your membership lapsed a long time ago, so you’ve either got to renew it or pay for a day pass."

Forestwalker nodded. "Leanna and I will just have a day pass for now until shi decides if shi wants to be involved more regularly."

"Fair enough," agreed Francine as shi found a form from inside hir desk drawer. "Leanna, please fill in your details on this form and sign it. I’ll just reactivate your old membership for today, Forest. I take it that you are vouching for Leanna?"

"Yes I am," confirmed Forestwalker.

"Vouching for me?" queried Leanna.

"Confirming that you are definitely a herm," answered Francine. "Only genuine hermaphrodites can be members of the Double H club. Not even she-males or other transgenders can join. It’s a very strict rule. No one who is not a herm may pass through those doors," shi said as shi indicated the cherrywood doors. "Therefore, anyone whom you meet inside will also be a herm, no matter what they might otherwise look like."

"Then how do you deal with non-herms who might be here for whatever legitimate reason?" Leanna asked curiously.

"Well, if it has anything to do with administration, that door," Francine indicated the small door on the left, "leads to offices that are totally separate from the rest of the club. You have to pass through this foyer to get to the club proper. As for work needing to be done inside the club, we hire qualified herms for the job. Not only does that avoid the problem, but it’s also part of our policy to support the herm community. There are extremely few occasions which require a non-herm to be granted temporary access to the club, and that requires a firm appointment and due notification of the members. Some are very private individuals, so we take that very seriously."

"So I see. You’ve certainly gotten my curiosity aroused even more."

"Then I hope that you find some of the answers that you’re after here," Francine said with a confident smile. "As a newcomer, you are entitled to an introductory 50% discount for today. If you choose to return in the future, you may either purchase another day pass like today, or take out an annual membership which is a lot cheaper if you visit regularly."

"Charge both to me," Forestwalker said as shi handed over hir smart card.

Francine took the card and debited the cost of the day passes from Forestwalker’s account when the bio-reader confirmed that shi was the genuine owner of the card. Shi handed the card back along with a pass-key in the form of a badge, giving another badge to Leanna. "That badge activates a proximity lock on the club doors, so keep it with you if you leave the premises and wish to return," shi advised Leanna.

"Thanks," Leanna acknowledged.

"Go on in," urged Francine. "I’m going to chase up someone to relieve me at the desk and then I’ll join you inside. I’m eager to hear Leanna’s story!"

"Right," said Forestwalker. "Come on, Leanna."

The two approached the double doors and they opened smoothly and quietly for them. Beyond was a wide corridor that jogged to the right, thus preventing anyone in the foyer from seeing inside and conserving the privacy of the members. There was an elevator immediately to the left, with a sign indicating levels for a function room, accommodation, and so forth. They followed the hallway though and it opened up into a spacious lounge with a large quantity of chairs and sofas. Some were spaced with a large group of people in mind, while other were in twos or fours, etcetera. Many were already occupied by a variety of morphs, and the lounge buzzed with conversation and laughter. On the opposite side of the room was another doorway with a conspicuous plaque stating – The Green Room. To the left was the entry to what appeared to be a fairly classy restaurant. As they looked, a pretty skunk-morph waiter came out with a drinks tray and deposited it on the coffee table in front of a group of eight before returning to the restaurant. The only other door was inconspicuous but clearly labelled "Restroom". Leanna noted that it was singular, realising that there would only be one gender catered to in this club.

That was about all that they could absorb before they were noticed by one of the group. A pretty, full-figured, tabby-striped cat-morph said, "Forest, is that you? Why haven’t you called lately?" Shi practically ran into Forestwalker’s arms and the two hugged quite enthusiastically.

"Well, Lil. Let’s see," Forest began as they parted. "I last saw you when your mate gave birth to your first child. Where is shi, by the way?"

"Out shopping. Shi’ll be back soon. And who is this with you?"

"Lil, meet Leanna, my latest denmate. Shi wants to learn about the local herm scene."

The cat grabbed Leanna’s hand and started dragging the fennec over to the group that shi’d come from. "Come on! I’ll introduce you to the others."

Just then Francine rejoined Forestwalker and said, "Lil has discovered Leanna already, I see. I’m just in time."

"Barely!" Forestwalker replied with amusement in hir voice as they walked over to rejoin the tabby and fennec.

"How do you know Forest?" Leanna asked Lil.

"Shi introduced my lifemate to me years back. Life has been wonderful ever since."

"Shi’s been doing that sort of thing for a while, I see," Leanna observed.

"Still doing it, I take it?" Lil asked with a grin.

"You got it in one," Leanna confirmed with an answering smile.

"Hey guys, this is Leanna, Forestwalker’s denmate. Shi wants to know what the local herms are like. Why don’t you tell them a bit about yourself and we’ll tell you our stories in return."

"OK," Leanna agreed, pondering for a moment just how much to tell them. "I wasn’t born on Earth. In fact I wasn’t born at all, in the conventional sense. I was created on the Non-Aligned World of Pharos as a sex slave." Leanna saw their reactions vary from startlement to intense curiosity. Shi let them absorb that revelation for a moment, then continued. "My former master specialised in exotic sex slaves and, as far as I know, I was the only true herm on that world, although I believe that there are some on the other Non-Aligned Worlds. My master died though, and I was shipped off-world to a more favourable market. However, the ship broke down and its cargo of slaves rescued by a Federation starship. There I met Forest who was a civilian contractor aboard with two of hir mates. Shi managed to break a lot of my conditioning and introduced me to hir family lifestyle which I fell in love with, and I asked hir to be my denmate. Now I am establishing a new life here on Earth, and part of it is knowing what it is to be a herm in this society."

There was a moment’s silence before a fox morph said, "Wow! Best introduction ever!"

That started a barrage of questions, and Francine had to enforce some sort of order before Leanna could reply to some of them.

"No, it’s a misconception that all slaves are morons. Many of the exotics are, but the average household slave has normal intelligence."

"Yes, I’m an exotic, but I was engineered to be very smart."

"Yes, I do wish that I had parents."

"No, I’m comfortable with being a herm now, although I used to think that I was a female with a penis added for kinks."

"Yes, I want children. In fact I’m pregnant right now."

"No, obviously not to Forest."

"WAIT!" Forest declared loudly. "If we continue this, we may be at it all day, and it’s Leanna who came to learn about you. So how about giving hir a chance to ask a few questions?"

Leanna added, "I promise to give anyone who cares a thorough rendition of my story in exchange for some insights into your own feelings and experiences of being a herm. Please be as detailed as you like."

"I’d say that’s fair," Lil said. "I’ll start off, although there’s nothing really exceptional about me. My father is a herm, my mother an ordinary female tabby morph. I got her looks and dad’s gender. I grew up in a very mixed neighbourhood and I never felt unusual. I dated a few people of all genders, but I came to the Double H in the hopes of finding a herm cat like myself as a mate. Forest learned who I was looking for and knew of someone I might be interested in, but didn’t go to the club. Shi brought hir along one day, we liked what we saw and started dating, then tied the knot eight months later. We’ve had two kittens so far, one to each of us. We’re a pretty normal family actually, but we still like to keep up with the other Double H members. That’s me in a nutshell. Gabby, how about you next?"

Another morph grunted acknowledgement and stood up. Shi was a spotted hyena with a very solid build, medium-sized breasts, severely cropped hair and several gold earrings. Shi wore jeans and a tank-top, and the overall impression would have been called ‘butch’ on a female.

"Hi, I’m Gabriel, but everyone calls me Gabby. I don’t know how much you know about Earth animals, but natural hyenas were once mistakenly thought to be hermaphrodites. This belief was one of the reasons that hyenas were one of the first to have a herm morph version bred. We’re so common that if you see a hyena morph anywhere, you have a fifty-fifty chance of looking at a herm. Personally I’m male biased. Haven’t got a mate and I’m not interested in children. However, if you’re interested in a good time," shi said as shi cupped the bulge in hir jeans with hir hand, "let me know. I’m into new experiences." Shi said the last with a grin and a wink.

"And that’s the least of what you’re into," Lil added slyly, with grins and murmurs of agreement from the others. Gabby smiled unrepentantly as shi sat back down. Lil turned to the person next to the hyena. "Myst, your turn."

Myst got out of the easy chair… or at least to Leanna, more like flowed into an upright posture. Myst was a black-footed ferret, slinky and flexible like all their breed. Shi was also the most utterly androgynous person that Leanna had seen in all hir life, and shi had seen a huge variety of morphs. There was not one feature about the ferret, whether it was form, posture or clothing, that hinted at bias towards any gender. When shi started speaking, even hir voice had the same quality.

"As Lil said, my name is Myst, spelled with a "y". Some say it’s supposed to be halfway between miss and mister, but I just like the name for itself. I am descended from a pre-war slave species. Unlike many though, my progenitors were purely sex toys, and I am somewhat of a throwback to them. Although my parents and grandparents were quite normal, as soon as I hit puberty it became apparent that I was becoming more and more obsessed with sex. The medics diagnosed the problem to be genetic and gave me drugs to control the urges. My parents and I were advised that only gene therapy would be an effective cure, but that’s very expensive, so my parents started saving up for it. However, when I reached legal age, I stopped taking the drugs and applied for a job at a high-class brothel. Today I am one of the most in-demand pleasure givers in the city. I’m well paid, I get all the sex that I need, and I told my parents to put their money towards their retirement fund as I never intend to be ‘cured’."

"I suppose that you’d have many willing partners here too?" Leanna asked.

"I’ve never had sex with anyone from the club, and probably never will. The club is a refuge from my normal life where I can relax and enjoy socialising, or playing cards, or having a meal. Here I am just a normal herm person amongst other herms, and I don’t want to jeopardise that with any form of intimacy."

"I can understand that," Leanna agreed, although privately shi wondered how the others felt about that. Myst’s unconscious sexual allure was enormous, even for a former sex slave like hirself, and shi wondered if pheromones were involved.

Myst sat down and the next two got up without being prompted. The first to speak was a red fox, and shi looked like the ultimate female. Every feature of hir body was tuned to the finest feminine degree, from hir exquisite facial features to hir perfectly proportioned bust. Hir curves were lush and sensuous, hir fur was thick and glossy, hir hair long and luxuriant, hir eyes bright green and shining, and hir stance inviting. When shi spoke, hir voice alone was enough to give a male an erection on the spot.

"Hello, my name is Lisander. Like Myst, I have ancestors who were sex toys. Our genes are so hard-wired that all females look pretty much like I do. However, my mother mated with a herm fox, and I ended up with that something extra too. The most bitterly ironic thing is that I also ended up with my sire’s proclivities – I am extremely biased towards my masculine side. With a body like mine, it was nearly impossible to get any straight female interested in me, and the gay ones were usually turned off by me having a penis. There was the occasional bisexual one that gave me some attention, but none were mating material. Frankly when I came to the Double H club a decade or so ago, it was out of sheer desperation. I thought that perhaps another herm could appreciate my male qualities. I met Jonni here soon after." Shi turned to the person who had gotten up with hir. "Jon, would you care to take it from here?"

"OK, Lis." Jonni was red fox morph also, but besides being a herm, they had absolutely nothing else in common physically. Where Lisander had been the ultimate female, Jonni was the perfect male. Shi was tall with a very solid build, muscular without being exaggerated. Shi had a stern but friendly face with alert and penetrating eyes. Shi had no human-type hair, but had a rakish ruff of fur the same bold red-brown as the rest of hir pelt. Shi may have had small breasts, but they could more easily be mistaken as well-developed pectoral muscles under the form-fitting polo shirt. To top it off, where Lisander’s male genitals were invisible under hir dress, Jonni’s were a large conspicuous bulge in hir trousers. "My story is virtually the reverse of Lisander’s," shi began. "My father fell in love with a herm vixen, and I am the result. And if you’re guessing that I am going to say that I have a strong bias for my feminine side, you’d be right. Even before puberty I never felt male. When I grew up to look like every girl’s fantasy guy, my sex drive was telling me that I wanted to be one of those girls. And if you think that Lisander had it hard trying to be male, someone who looks like a vulpine Adonis looks perfectly ridiculous when acting in any way female. Sexually speaking, no straight guy ever gave me a look, and the gay ones that I met were only ever interested in my cock. Similar to Lis, it took a bisexual to get myself laid at last, but that's about all they were ever interested in. Finally someone put me onto the Herm Haven branch in Brisbane where I was living at the time. From there I put out some feelers within the local branch and out to other Australian branches. I did meet a couple of nice male-looking herms who liked me as I am, but none were really suitable as mates, although I did finally get some regular sexual satisfaction. Then a friend who was down here for a holiday contacted me and told me that there was someone here that I ought to meet, and he sent me hir bio. At first I thought that he was crazy because shi looked exactly the opposite to what I was attracted to, but he kept on insisting. Eventually I decided to take a few days holiday and check hir out for myself."

"I had the same reservations," Lisander interjected, "but I had nothing to lose. At least shi was a herm and would understand my situation."

Jonni nodded in agreement. "We met at this club for dinner. Sure enough, there wasn’t any sexual attraction while just looking at each other, but as we talked, we discovered that we had a lot of other interests in common. We liked the same foods, songs, movies, sports, activities, you name it. The meal that I thought would be doomed to be short and frustrating, instead went on all evening. They ended up having to kick us out of the restaurant so that they could finish cleaning up and close for the night. We spent several more hours talking in the lounge. It was like we were old friends who had hadn’t seen each other in years, and we were totally comfortable with each other."

Lisander gave Jonni a cuddle. "Then I dragged hir up to one of the club’s accommodation rooms and screwed hir brains out."

Jonni’s ears folded back in embarrassment, but there was still a smile of fond memory there. "Yeah, we may not have been each other’s ideal to our eyes, but everything else, including that night, was amazingly appealing. We saw each other every day for the rest of my holiday and found out that we weren’t just a one-hit wonder. When I had to go back home, we commed each other every day. Then I got a transfer to my business’s branch down here, and asked hir to be my mate two weeks later. We’ve been mates now for three years as of next month."

"Congratulations," Leanna said. "That’s truly wonderful. But did your attraction to your original preferences ever give you problems? I know how very strong that can be."

"You’re correct," Jonni confirmed, "and it did give us real problems. We very much wanted to be faithful to each other, but we were equally guilty of roving eyes and an unfulfilled need. So before we were formally mated, we made a pact. We could each have a lover, and that one must be another herm because we would only ever have an assignation within the walls of this club. Outside we would be 100% devoted to each other. That has worked out very well for us. It took a few weeks, but I finally met a male-looking herm who thought that I was the sexiest thing in the world and treats me like a lady. Shi’s not here right now, but shi’s due to meet me here for dinner."

"As for me," Lisander continued, "I met this really cute cat who just loves my male side."

"That would be me!" said the pretty marmalade tabby sitting next to Lisander, a cheeky grin on hir face. Shi had a lean frame that could have been either male or female, but shi had a pair of very high pert breasts that quashed the idea of hir being male, although the unusually large bulge in the crotch would have convinced people otherwise. Shi had blonde hair in wild bangs, and bright green eyes that were filled with good humour as shi spoke. "When I first saw hir in the club, I thought that I had died and gone to heaven. Hi, I’m Camphor, but I'll answer to Cam or Cami. Nothing special about me – my parents were herms, my grandparents were herms. In fact it’s herm all the way back to my progenitors. I’m just your ordinary herm cat morph with a huge fetish for chicks with dicks, and I scored the grand prize. I can’t get enough of hir cock!"

"Cam! Stop getting so carried away in the public lounge. You’ll embarrass our guest, not to mention me." Lisander said.

Leanna just grinned. "Believe me, as a former sex slave, I could tell you about things that would make steam come out of your ears, they’re so hot. You couldn’t possibly embarrass me, and I think that Camphor’s reactions are pretty tame."

Camphor just grinned even wider. "I wanna hear about those!"

"Not here and now, you’re not!" Lisander said emphatically.

Jonni spoke up before either could say more. "Anyway, we regularly meet our lovers here and get our needs and urges out of our systems. We do come here at other times just to socialise though."

Leanna said, "It sounds like a satisfactory solution. I can see how trying to look female would be mostly futile to you, Jonni, but are you sure that you couldn’t be more masculine in your attire, Lisander? It might make you more attractive to females of that inclination."

"Forget it, Leanna. I’ve really tried in the past. It’s a total failure at best, absolutely ludicrous at worst. This body of mine can make a mouldy potato sack look sexy."

"And shi’s not exaggerating," Gabriel said. "I once dared hir to do it, and shi did. It cost me a meal in the restaurant, but it settled the point. If shi was so inclined, shi could sell potato sacks as the next fashion trend."

Leanna conceded the point. "What about children?" shi asked.

"Three," said Jonni. "They’re at home with the babysitter today though."

"Would I be correct in guessing that you were mother to all three?" Leanna speculated.

"You bet!" Jonni said fervently. "I’ve never felt so feminine as when I’ve been pregnant, or later when nursing our babies. I may hardly have breasts to look at, but they still work well enough to adequately feed infants."

"Congratulations," Leanna said, then asked Lisander, "Have you ever had the urge to have a child also?"

"I’ve never had the slightest inclination to get pregnant. Jonni can have that all to hirself, thanks," Lisander said with finality.

"I see. Thanks for all that, Lisander. You too, Jonni."

"You’re welcome, Leanna. Hey, Pixie and Dixie, how about you two going next?"

A petite brown mouse sighed and said as an equally petite grey mouse rolled hir eyes, "We’ve asked you not to call us that a hundred times. We’re not cartoon characters. When are you going to stop calling us that?"

"When you stop rising to the bait, hon," Lisander replied with a grin as shi sat down next to Jonni and put hir arm around hir mate.

"Shi’s right," said the grey mouse, "you always bite. My name is Darla, and my mate’s name is Peta. I was born of herm parents, but shi had single sex parents with the herm recessive genes. As you can see, the result is practically the same – small but curvaceous. We both like our looks and dress to impress." Shi made a little pose and Leanna had to admit that while shi couldn’t match Lisander, shi was nevertheless very attractive in the female manner. "Sexually we’re mostly unbiased and have been mated for six years. We’ve had two children each, all of whom are up in the recreation room at the moment."

"I’d like to meet them if possible before I leave," Leanna requested.

"Sure! Always happy to show off the pups. I’m sure that you’ll find them as bright and as fun as we do."

"Oh, for God’s sake! Will you lay off the sunshine and roses?!" came a voice from behind the group. Someone got up from one of the lounge chairs that had been facing away from the circle of chairs and sofas that were occupied by the group of friends. Leanna saw that shi was a leopard morph, fairly androgynous looking, but where Myst had been a harmonious blend of the two genders, this person seemed to have gotten the worst combination of features. Hir face wasn’t quite right to call beautiful or handsome, hir hair did not have fullness, colour or vitality, hir body shape hinted at awkwardness, with plain lines and half-hearted curves, and hir breasts were meagre and unshapely. In short, shi was extremely homely. Worst though was the sullen look on hir face as shi said, "You wanna know what it’s like being a herm? Try growing up in a small country town where herms are unknown and you are a freak. Even your parents aren’t herms – they just had the genes that they foisted upon you. So you hit puberty and you don’t know what you want, but neither the boys nor the girls want anything to do with you, so you end up miserable and alone. No perfect partner. No serendipitous meetings. Not even a herm sibling to share your nightmare. That’s what it’s like anywhere but in this La-La Land!"

"Then what are you doing here?" Leanna asked.

"I had to get away from those idiots back home, and here at least I’m just one freak amongst many."

"I don’t consider myself to be a freak, especially after meeting other herms, but if it bothers you so much, have you considered gender reassignment to just one of the sexes?"

"Of course I have! Do you know how much it costs to do it properly? I’ve been saving ever since I’ve been old enough to hold down a full-time job. When I have enough for the gene therapy to make me one gender and fix my looks, I’ll be out of here, and none of these people with their rose-coloured glasses will see me again!"

With that, the leopard turned and marched off towards the main entry. As shi disappeared around the corner, Francine said, "Sorry about that, Leanna. Mikel is usually a pretty good person to know, quite smart and funny at times, but occasionally shi blows up like that. The rest of us know a lot more about hir background, and shi really had a rotten childhood. Shi didn’t even have a herm sibling because hir parents didn’t want to risk having another ‘freak’ like hir. When shi was finally able to move out and shi was referred to the Herm Haven, shi was at last able to socialise with people like hir, but shi was already psychologically scarred. We put up with hir tantrums because the Double H club is here to serve the needs of all herms, whatever those needs may be, whether they’re physical, emotional or psychological. This isn’t just a social club. Mikel is a permanent resident in the accommodation rooms upstairs. Until shi gets over the bitterness and self-loathing and makes a new life, that’s where shi will probably be for a very long time."

"What about the gender reassignment that shi was talking about? What sex does shi want to be?"

Francine smiled sadly, but instead of answering, shi turned to the group and asked, "What gender do you think Mikel should be to be happiest?"

"Herm!" Gabriel said emphatically.

"Yeah, herm," agreed Myst.

The rest of the group nodded and voiced unanimous agreement.

Francine turned back to Leanna. "The main reason that Mikel loathes hirself is that shi truly is what shi professes to hate. Shi is more gender-balanced than some of us in this group. When shi first came here, shi had plenty of sympathisers who gave hir attention and sex, and shi lapped it up like a starving person. The thing is that shi enjoyed it all equally and wanted more of both. To this day shi still indulges hir masculine and feminine sides equally, and hates hirself for it. The gene therapy that shi says shi’s going to have, shi could have afforded at least a year ago. Shi never spends any money on anything but essentials, so shi’s put away quite a good deal of money. It’s a pity because if shi spent some of that money on improving hir looks, shi could make hir life a whole lot better."

"Sounds like shi has locked hirself into a form of self-punishment," Leanna commented.

"We agree, and we all try to help hir out of that. Shi was far worse when shi first came here though, so we have hopes for hir."

"That’s reassuring. You know, I’ve met a herm who wanted to be just one gender. Shi’s a Stellar Foxtaur with a totally masculine personality. The only time that shi gets interested in hir female side is a couple of days when shi goes on heat. Admittedly though, shi was attractive and didn’t mind hir looks."

"What happened to hir?" Francine asked curiously.

"Forest hooked hir up with a foxtaur vixen who just loves having a herm as a mate and was quite willing to treat hir as a male most of the time, with just a little compromise on the Stellar’s part."

Lil looked at Forestwalker. "More matchmaking?" shi asked, cocking an ear in the same manner as another might raise an eyebrow questioningly.

Forestwalker shrugged. "I can’t help it if I see the possibilities," shi said defensively, but with a sly smile.

Lil said, "I suppose I can’t complain, otherwise I might never have met my lifemate. Speaking of whom, here shi is back from hir shopping expedition with our two children. You’ve got to see them, Forest."

Forestwalker turned around, expecting only to see a black-furred felimorph and the two children, but shi had some company. One was a very plushly furred skunk morph, but the other truly startled Forestwalker and Leanna.

"A human?" asked Forestwalker incredulously as shi gaped at the dark and sexy person approaching them. Shi was obviously of African ethnicity, and hir hair was cut in one of the classic native styles. Shi wore a tank top that nicely showed off hir breasts, and slacks that hinted at that something extra.

The human grinned widely. "Lord, I never get tired of that reaction. Close your muzzle, shir chakat; you’re letting the flies in."

"But… how? Human herms are extremely rare, and even then they’re usually… well… pardon my bluntness… they’re malformed."

"I assure you that I am a 100% fully functional herm. I’ll tell you more in a moment. It seems Jo here is dying to say something more important."

"Say?" said the black cat. "I want to hug you to death, Forest. It’s so good to see you again." Shi put actions into words and gave the chakat a fervent hug. Then shi indicated the cubs with hir. "This is Toni whom you last saw at hir birth."

The young cat with black fur with white markings smiled and said, "Hi! My parents told me about you."

"Good to see you growing up so well, Toni," Forestwalker told hir.

"And this kitten is Marky. Shi’s just turned two." The tabby-striped kitten hid shyly behind hir parent’s leg, but smiled a little back at Forest.

"Shi’s cute. Any more?"

Jo laughed. "We’re not chakats, so two is enough for us for now. Maybe one or two more in a few years' time. Toni, why don’t you take Marky up to the games room to play?"

"Sure thing, mum," Toni said as shi took Marky’s hand, obviously relieved not to have to sit around quietly while the adults talked.

"Okay, Forest, I know that you’re bursting at the seams to ask Nicky about hirself, so we’ll do a bit of catching up later."

"Thanks, Jo," Forest replied with a grin, then turned to the human. "So, Nicky is it? Tell me everything!"

Nicky finished entering a drinks order into a touch screen on the coffee table, then turned to the chakat and said, "First things first. Who are you?"

"Sorry. I am Forestwalker, child of Desertsand and Longstripe. You may call me just Forest if you like. I used to be a member here before I met the people who would become my lifemates and my life became too hectic to keep visiting the club."

"I see. I’ve only been coming here for just on two years. Anyway, my name is Nichelle Mgabi, but I’m mostly just called Nicky. However, my mate, Jacqui," shi said as shi cuddled the skunk morph shi’d come in with, "prefers to call me Shelly. We’ll be celebrating our anniversary in two weeks."

"Congratulations! You make a nice couple; I can feel it," Forestwalker said, referring to the feelings of affection between them that hir empathic senses were detecting.

"Trio, actually," Jacqui added. "I was already mated before we met Shelly, but we were both nuts about hir, so we asked hir to make us a threesome."

"You don’t seem surprised that a furry mated a smoothy like me," Nichelle noted.

"I have a male human as one of my mates. I understand the attraction completely," Forestwalker explained.

"I see," Nichelle said with a touch of disappointment for failing to get a rise out of the chakat over that issue. "You’ll have to tell me about him later. Ah! There are our drinks, and brought out by my favourite waiter."

Forest looked around to see the skunk morph waiter that they had first seen when they had first entered. Shi put the tray with a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice down in front of Nichelle and Jacqui, leaned down and gave them both a kiss.

"You’re early. I’m still on shift," shi said.

"I know," Nichelle acknowledged. "Hon, I want you to meet Forestwalker. Forest, this is my co-mate, Ashley."

"Everyone callas me Ash, or even Ashy, Forest," the skunk said with a pleasant smile. "I’ll be joining you all in about twenty minutes if you want to chat, but I need to get back to the restaurant right now."

"I’d like that," Forestwalker said, and Ashley left as soon as shi had picked up some empty glasses and mugs.

Nichelle watched hir swaying backside and pert tail as shi left. "That’s a view that I never tire of, and with Jacqui, I get double the pleasure."

"I’ll bet! Now enough distractions. Tell me how a human is a full herm!"

"OK, I’ve kept you in suspense for long enough. For starters, I was born a girl. There was nothing unusual about me – physically anyway. As I grew up though, I spent as much time playing with toy soldiers and other pursuits typical of boys as I did dollies and tea parties. Well, they called me a tomboy and reckoned that I’d grow out of it, but when I hit puberty, it became even more pronounced. I found females equally as sexually attractive as males, and I enjoyed sex with both."

"So you were bisexual, but that isn’t too unusual," Forestwalker commented.

"That’s true," agreed Nichelle, "but it didn’t stop there. I started feeling a sense of frustration and lack of fulfilment after making love with a woman. I got the most pleasure out of mounting them with a strap-on dildo, and got off on bringing them to orgasm that way, but I couldn’t actually feel it. One day I realised that that was exactly what I wanted to do – feel it both ways fully."

"What made you realise that after all the times that you had spent with women?

"I met a herm fox named Leisha. First it was curiosity to do it with a herm for a change. Then when I saw how much shi enjoyed both sides of hir sexuality, I realised that that was what I was lacking. Basically I was a herm born into a woman’s body."

Forestwalker was startled. That was pretty much exactly what Malena had told hir. Suddenly shi was twice as keen to know Nichelle’s full story. "What did you do about it though? Gender reassignment surgery?"

"Nothing so crude. I don’t know how much you know about gene therapy and cloning, but the bottom line is that if you have enough money, you can have very extreme modifications done to your body. I consulted with doctors and genetic engineers, and they assured me that converting me into a herm was not only doable, but also easier than some of the things that they had been called upon to attempt to do. In addition, the result would be quite natural as opposed to even the most sophisticated surgery. I also consulted a sex therapist to make sure about my feelings and intentions. What I planned to do was not lightly undertaken, and very difficult to reverse."

"That must have cost a fortune!" Forestwalker exclaimed.

"Oh, it did, but I come from a rich family whose children all received a large bequest upon their 21st birthday. I made my plans accordingly. When I told my mother what I planned to do, she said, ‘No you’re not!’, but I told her that I’d already made up my mind. She then told me that if I went through with it, not to bother coming home again. I did do it though, and I have never gone back." There was a slightly wistful pause before Nichelle resumed speaking. "It took many months, lots of discomfort and inconvenience, and buckets of money, but in the end I was no longer a rich, unfulfilled and unhappy woman. I was now a modestly well-off but very happy herm. I admit that I had been a bit nervous about the results, but the day that I was able to see my final new form, I nearly wept for joy. I was finally seeing myself on the outside as I had long known I was like on the inside. Leisha had promised me that shi would help initiate me into my new herm-hood, and that night I had the best and most fulfilling sex ever. There have been zero regrets ever since."

"How come you didn’t become mates with Leisha then?" Forestwalker asked curiously.

"Oh, shi and I were just having a fling. We didn’t have enough in common to make a mating work, but we did have some grand one-nighters. Shi’s still a friend nowadays. Shi was the one who put me onto the Herm Haven which is where I met my two lovely skunkies. We clicked immediately because we had so much in common. Several months later, I was thrilled to bits when they asked me to join them as their co-mate, and I accepted immediately. Life has been damn near perfect ever since."

"What about children?" Leanna asked. "You can’t be compatible with skunk morphs."

"I could be if I got extra treatment for that," Nichelle replied. "However, I’m young and not ready to have children as yet."

Jacqui added, "And we made it plain that if shi wanted to have a human baby, that was fine with us too. We wanted hir to leave hir options open."

"If I did, they’d be herms too," Nichelle said. "I specified that the genes for hermaphrodism be dominant. I want any children that I may have to be comfortable with having a herm parent, and besides, I reckon this world could do with a few more herm humans."

"I would think that a human herm might cop a lot of flak from other humans," Forest commented. "Although the majority of people are fine, humans have a lot of hang-ups about their own kind sometimes. No offence intended, Nicky."

Nichelle’s face fell slightly and shi nodded. "It’s okay, I know that’s only the truth. It’s strange, but while humans are used to having herms amongst the morph population, they aren’t really comfortable with the idea of herm humans, and I’ve gotten a lot of rebuffs on that account. I suspect that if I have any human children, they might have similar problems. It’s one more reason why I am not in a hurry to have kids. Of course, once I found myself a couple of mates, I did not actively pursue others anymore, and I tend to dress in a manner that make my dual gender unobvious. This change was to make me comfortable with myself, not to show off to others."

"Well I think what you’ve done is great. That’s one less barrier between humans and chakat or other herms."

Nichelle laughed. "I wasn’t exactly thinking of that when I did it, but I suppose it’s true."

"One last thing, and pardon me if I step over the mark here, but I would like to have a good look at the result, if you don’t mind?" Forestwalker requested.

Jacqui giggled. "Shi hasn’t knocked back a request done out of honest curiosity yet! While shi may not have made the change to show off, shi’s not adverse to doing so for an appreciative audience."

Nichelle glared good-naturedly at hir mate. "You’re not supposed to let them know that. It’s supposed to look like I’m doing them a favour!" Shi turned back to Forest and said, "I’m perfectly comfortable with satisfying your curiosity. As my garrulous mate has intimated, you’re hardly the first to ask. We could do it in the Green Room if you wish?"

"Fine by me," agreed Forestwalker, "but let’s do it a little later. We’ve interrupted the group who have been telling us about their backgrounds for the benefit of Leanna. Shi comes from one of the Non-Aligned Worlds where shi was a slave and the only true herm that shi knew about. Shi wants to know what the Terran herm scene is like."

"So far I’ve found a large and interesting variety, including yourself," Leanna added.

"I know what you mean," Nichelle said. "I got quite a surprise when I started looking into the herm scene. Maybe we can compare notes?"

"I’d enjoy that," Leanna said with a warm smile. "So who else is left who would like to tell me about hirself?"

A black panther got up out of the large easy chair. The size of the furniture had belied hir true height, and Leanna realised that shi could easily be compared to a Rakshani. Shi had a very strong build, with muscles easily seen rippling behind dense glossy ebony fur, but hir looks were softened with padding in just the right places, plus a set of firm, well-proportioned D-cup breasts. Hir tight trousers did nothing to hide hir male equipment though, and the boldly red-dyed hair added to the masculine impression rather than looking like a feminine style. Unlike Myst though, shi didn’t have an androgynous look, but a harmonious blend of each gender’s best features. Forestwalker found hir to be extremely attractive.

"Hi, my name’s Rik. Please don’t call me Ricky; it’s just Rik. I’m descended both from a long line of herms, and also one type of war beast, hence my strong physique. While I have many good friends who are not herms, any relationship beyond that has been unfulfilling. Only other herms interest me sexually, and I’ve had many casual relationships, a couple of times with chakats too. They’re some of the few who can handle a big person like me. In fact you’re kind of cute, Forest. Care to spend a bit of time with me?"

"Thanks, Rik, but I’ll take a raincheck on that for now. The feeling is mutual, but I have several other mates to keep happy for now."

"Too bad. The other chakats gave me top marks," shi said with a sly wink.

"Hey!" Gabriel interjected. "You always know who to come to if you want some lovin’, hon," shi said as shi cupped hir groin with one hand.

"Yeah, everyone knows who to come to as a last resort," Rik retorted drolly.

"Ooh! Right through the heart!" Gabriel replied irrepressibly. "Or was it through the balls?"

Rik rolled hir eyes, but there was a hint of a smile on hir face as shi sat down.

An extremely cute husky dog morph bounced up from hir chair, hir curled tail wagging happily. Shi had long wavy hair, a curvaceous body and full breasts. "My name’s Tavitiana. My parents were both herms. I come here just to meet other herms socially. I have a mate already. He’s a husky too, but just male. He loves to play with my tits, but he still plays with my cock too even though he’s otherwise straight. He’d probably kill me if he knew that I’d told you that though," shi added with a grin as shi sat down again.

"Well, that’s it for our little group of friends," Lil said. "There may be others here at the club that you’d like to talk to, but most are variations on the themes we’ve given. So how about telling us more about yourself now, Leanna. What makes you so exotic?"

"OK, let’s start with my breasts – they permanently lactate. I need to have them drained of milk every day. Weaning does not work on me."

"If I recall correctly," Francine spoke up, "Forest has a milk fetish, correct?"

Leanna smiled and nodded. "That’s right, and I certainly haven’t had a problem emptying them since we became mates. In fact, although I could have had that problem corrected when I had the others fixed, I left that alone specifically because Forest enjoys it so much. However, there’s one catch – my milk contains a naturally produced and very effective aphrodisiac. Anyone with male genitalia will have a very strong need for sex after ingesting just a little. And while chakats are resistant to drugs, my greedy mate likes to drink two breasts full, and you can guess the rest."

Francine gave Forest a keen look. "Didn’t you always favour your female side?"

Forestwalker laughed. "It seems that I do have a lot more male sex lately. Our co-mate, Trina, has threatened to bottle Leanna’s milk and sell it as the ultimate aphrodisiac, 100% natural and fortified with vitamins!"

"I think the poor dear would struggle to supply the market," Francine concluded.

"So?" Lisander questioned. "Supply and demand – Leanna could command very high prices for just a small amount. Shi could get rich very quickly."

"I’m not interested in commercialising it," Leanna insisted, "although it is something worth keeping in mind if circumstances dictate otherwise in the future."

"Smart girl," Francine acknowledged. "Anything else? That’s unusual but fairly tame by our standards so far."

"Well, before I was fixed up, when I went into rut, I had to have male sex or the rut would just keep getting stronger. My former master once punished me by withholding sex from me, and I came within a hair of dying because of it."

"Oh wow!" Jonni said. "That must have been horrible. What about going on heat? Did you have the same problem?"

"No. In that case I turned into the ultimate slut – I’d do anything for sex until it passed." Leanna refrained from telling them that shi also turned into a complete moron during that phase. Some things were still too personal to share casually.

"Heavens! You must be relieved to be a free person now," Jonni said, a little sorry that shi had asked, sure that shi had brought back bad memories.

"Well yes, of course, although technically I am still a slave."

"WHAT?" several people chorused.

"That’s outrageous!" Francine said.

"How could that be allowed?" Lisander questioned.

"Do you need help fighting that?" Nichelle asked.

Leanna held up hir hands. "Please let me explain!" Shi waited for the hubbub to die down. "First you have to know one thing – it’s not by anyone’s choice that it’s so, but it isn’t causing a problem. You see, as good as the Federation’s skills are with genetic engineering, the slave breeders of the N.A.W. are better. They perfected long ago a way of making slave morphs submissive to humans. It is virtually hardwired into us, and so far that can only be ameliorated but not broken by the Federation’s best scientists, much to their great frustration. That means that I will always need a human master. If I had simply been released into the community, sooner or later some human would have done something, probably unknowingly, that would have bound me to them inextricably until death. That could have been terribly bad for me, or completely benign. There was no way of knowing, so instead I chose my new master. He is Admiral Kline, the man commanding the starship that rescued the slave shipment of which I was part. The Admiral absolutely detests slavery, and therefore he was the logical choice as he would never abuse that position. Besides, he’ll always have Star Fleet looking over his shoulder to ensure that he doesn’t."

"And he’s also my mate," Forestwalker added, "and I’d make his life miserable if he tried!"

Leanna continued. "So you see that I am actually a free person except for that one technicality which I believe will never be a factor. The one sign of my lingering slavery is my almost complete inability to address him familiarly. I never address him by name – it’s always something like ‘Admiral’ or ‘sir’ at least. Drives him nuts sometimes! Other than that, I am totally emancipated and free to pursue my life however I please. It took a very long time for that concept to sink in, but I’m going to make the most of it."

Nichelle asked, "What about other humans? Can you address me familiarly, for example?"

"Yes, Nichelle, I no longer have that problem. I can even be friends with humans now."

"Good. I hope you’ll think of me as your friend, Leanna."

"I’d like that very much, Nichelle."

"Please, my friends call me just Nicky."

"Then I will call you ‘Just Nicky’ also," Leanna quipped.

"Silly fennec!" Nichelle said, giving Leanna a hug.

After Nichelle had sat down again, Francine said, "I’m not sure if I’m really game to ask this after that revelation, but is that it?"

Leanna thought for a moment, then smiled mischievously. "How explicit can I be?"

Francine answered, "As we said before, this club is for members to socialise and discuss problems with other herms, and that can get very adult. I don’t believe anything that you have to say will be a problem, especially as there aren’t any children present."

"Alright then. Everyone curious?"

There were several nods of agreement. "Don’t keep us in suspense, Leanna. Spit it out!"

"OK. I bet that I have the biggest penis in this club," Leanna declared.

Gabriel guffawed and Camphor giggled while the rest just grinned. Forestwalker though tried to keep a knowing smirk off hir face.

"Alright, that wasn’t quite what I expected," Francine admitted.

Jonni said, "Normally I’m absolutely the last person to go comparing cock size, but I am going to have to call you on that, Leanna."

"Oh? You do realise that I was bred to satisfy someone’s perverse sexual kinks?"

"Yes, but my excessive maleness extends to more than just my looks," countered Jonni.

"So are you formally accepting Leanna’s bet, Jonni?" Francine asked.

"Sure, why not?" Jonni replied.

Leanna was startled. Shi had only said ‘I bet’ as a figure of speech, intending it to lead into an explanation of hir remarkable adaptation. "Are you serious about actually wagering on this?" shi asked.

"Standard club tradition," Gabriel explained. "To keep people from making outrageous statements, we make them put up or shut up. None of us believe that a petite fennec fox could possibly be that well endowed, especially knowing Jonni here. So you have been called to accept the bet or retract that statement."

"And what would I be betting?" Leanna asked.

"The traditional bet is for the loser to buy dinner for the winner at the club restaurant, all you can eat, alcohol excluded. That’s the same bet that I made and lost to Lisander."

"I see. Okay, I accept."

Now most people were startled, fully expecting Leanna to back down. A couple of them though were starting to suspect something.

Jonni was one those who had been expecting Leanna to fold, but was still prepared to follow up on hir challenge. "Let’s do it in the Green Room then."

"The Green Room?" queried Leanna, wondering about its significance after Nichelle and Forest’s talk.

Forestwalker explained, "All the common club areas such as this lounge have a strict dress code of neat casual as minimum. Even chakats who may normally prefer to go bare-breasted are expected to comply. The Green Room is where members go when they are in the mood for something more than just a chat or a meal. It’s for people over the age of consent only, and nudity is allowed in there. If you go in there, don’t be surprised if you get propositioned. There are only a few extra rules in there – if someone asks for anything from a date to a night of hot sex, they must offer or listen graciously. If you turn down the offer, you must do so politely and graciously. If you get declined, accept the answer graciously. If you intend to accept an offer, always give the person a quick answer and never string them along. Lastly, if you do want to get hot and steamy, use one of the private rooms out of consideration for others. Other than that, it’s pretty much do as you please." Forestwalker looked at Francine. "Unless they have amended the rules since I was last here?"

"No, those are still the rules," Francine confirmed.

"I see. Fine by me. Let’s do it," Leanna declared.

The whole group followed Leanna and Jonni into the Green Room. The entrance had a dogleg in it just like the main entry into the lounge so as to prevent people from accidentally seeing anything from the lounge. It was almost as big as the lounge, but with fewer chairs and no tables. There were several sofas suitable for two or three people spaced well apart from each other. The upholstery’s green colour matched the heavy curtains that ensured the privacy of the room. The same green trim was used throughout the room which was lit in a subdued manner. Several doors lined the room, each just labelled with a number. Leanna presumed that they were the private rooms that Forest had mentioned. Currently the Green Room was unoccupied.

"It’s a good time to use the room," Jonni said. "Later there will be quite a number coming in looking for company for Saturday night."

Nichelle spoke up. "Before we proceed with the challenge, Forestwalker asked me something first, and I only think that it's fair that shi has hir curiosity satisfied first."

There were a few groans of frustration, and Gabriel said, "Yeah, sure. We all know that you can't wait to show off."

"That has never seemed to have stopped you coming for a look every time that I do," retorted Nichelle.

"Shi's got you there!" Francine said with a grin. Gabriel just shrugged non-committally.

"No serious objections then? Okay, one herm human coming out!"

Nichelle pulled off hir tank top, then unfastened hir bra to reveal a very shapely pair of C-cup breasts with prominent nipples. Then shi slipped off hir sandals as shi unfastened the belt on hir jeans. Shi pulled those down to reveal a pair of well-filled men's Y-fronts. Without a moment's shyness, shi pulled those down and held them aloft triumphantly and said, "Ta-daaaa!"

Forestwalker looked hir over carefully. Shi had a very curvaceous female body, with just enough fat to give hir a beautifully full look without even getting a gram overweight. Shi had finely toned limbs, and firey red hair both on hir head and in hir pubic area. But of course the most outstanding features were the very virile-looking penis and scrotum. A little larger than average, they nevertheless were not excessive and suited hir body size nicely.

Noticing where Forestwalker's eyes were, Nichelle said, "If I was going to be a herm, I was going to give myself a nice package. Not too big, but a lovely couple of hands full, yes?"

Forestwalker had to admit that shi made one heck of a sexy herm. Then Nichelle turned away from the chakat and bent over, demonstrating more than adequately that hir female equipment was still there despite the newer additions. Sexy? Forest thought shi was downright erotic and felt a stirring in hir sheath despite intending just to take a clinical look.

"Thanks, Nicky, I'm quite satisfied," Forestwalker hastened to say before things went too far. "You make an extremely attractive herm human. I can only hope to see more like you in the future."

"That would be nice," admitted Nichelle, "but for now, I'm enjoying my uniqueness."

"So we notice," Francine observed dryly.

"Anyway, my curiosity is satisfied. Leanna's turn now," Forestwalker said. Nichelle started dressing hirself again.

"Right," said Gabriel. "Okay, Jonni, you challenged Leanna, so you go first."

Jonni nodded and unfastened hir belt. Shi dropped hir trousers and Leanna could see that shi was already getting an erection, and that was impressive so far. Jonni then pulled down hir under-shorts, snagging them momentarily on hir stiffening member. Shi then stood a little self-consciously until shi gained full erection. Leanna could see that shi hadn’t been boasting. Shi was well enough endowed to be the envy of most males.

"So, do you concede?" Jonni asked, hoping to get this over with as soon as possible.

"Of course not," Leanna said. Shi only wore a short skirt that was fastened over hir tail. Shi released the fastener and let the skirt fall to the floor. Shi then pulled down hir panties, revealing everything, but totally without self-consciousness.

"No balls?" queried Lisander.

"Internal like a chakat’s" explained Leanna.

"You’re the first biped that I’ve seen like that," Lisander admitted.

"My master loved a big penis, but apparently didn’t care about the scrotum, so he put them inside so I’d look even more female. Anyway, the other adaptation that he made was to give me complete conscious control over my penis, or at least when I wasn’t in rut. I never have an unwanted erection, but I never have trouble getting one when I want." Shi extruded hir penis part of the way. "This is what I call stage one. It’s the perfect size in proportion to my small form, but it doesn’t end there. Next I go to stage two."

Leanna extruded hir penis further, its thickness increasing as well as its length, and there were murmurs of surprise.

"How the hell does shi fit all that in hir sheath?" Lisander wondered aloud.

Leanna continued, "This is what I usually use to copulate with much larger partners. It’s what I use when making love to Forest because chakats are pretty big all round. As a slave, I was also required to perform acts with other slaves like this."

"That’s damn impressive," Lisander admitted, "but still not as big as my mate’s."

Leanna looked at Jonni again. Shi was harder than ever, hir erection stretched to the maximum. ‘Of course,’ Leanna thought, ‘shi’s attracted to maleness and my penis is turning hir on.’ "You’re right, Lisander, but I didn’t say that this was as big as I can get. Watch!"

Leanna then extended hir penis to its bio-engineered fullness. There were gasps of astonishment as it grew to proportions way beyond what could surely belong on a petite fennec fox morph.

"That’s impossible!" Lisander said.

"Where on Earth is it all coming from?" asked Francine in awe, hir questioned echoed by several others.

"As I was going to explain before Jonni challenged me, I was engineered to please a master with a very serious cock fetish. Most of my flaccid penis actually resides inside my abdomen by means of a clever modification of the abdominal wall. Only the tip is in the sheath. I only ever get this big for special reasons, or when I was in that unrelieved rut that I told you about."

"Ouch! A normal-sized one would be bad enough, but that…. Anyway, we seem to have a clear winner here. Leanna was neither boasting nor exaggerating," Francine declared.

"I concede," Jonni said, hardly able to tear hir eyes from the sight.

Leanna allowed hir penis to start retracting. Forest came up to hir and gave hir a hug. "Congratulations, hon," shi murmured. "You’re a hit. They won’t forget your debut in a hurry. And somehow I don’t think Jonni minds losing. Shi’s getting repaid in other ways."

"I noticed," Leanna replied quietly. When hir penis had finally retracted enough, shi pulled on hir panties and skirt. Jonni also started dressing, although shi was having problems with a persistent erection. Leanna felt a bit sorry for having inadvertently teased hir.

The group began drifting out of the Green room. Leanna joined them as soon as shi was ready, leaving Lisander with Jonni, giving the aroused fox a sympathetic hug. Shi knew best how strongly this had affected hir mate, and they supported each other at times like this. It would be over ten minutes before they rejoined with the others.

They found the group deep in conversation, much of it centred on Leanna, but some on Forestwalker also. Ashley, the skunk waiter, came off hir shift and joined them too. Hir relief and several other kitchen staff drifted in to start preparations for the evening rush. Other members started filling the lounge, some of them joining the group. Leanna noted a deer couple, more rabbits, a mink, and many more foxes amongst them, but nothing particularly unusual. Only one newcomer caused hir interest to perk up. A white-furred foxtaur with bold black markings on hir paws, ears and tail, plus a streak down hir spine from neck to tail, walked in. Leanna and Forestwalker immediately recognised hir as being a polar breed stellar foxtaur.

The chakat stepped up to the foxtaur. "Excuse me, my name is Forestwalker. I saw your kind when I visited the planet Arisia and I’m wondering what you are doing here on Earth."

"My name is Permafrost, but I just settle for Frost. I work at the Star Corps headquarters as Project Coordinator for Stellar Foxtaur services. In other words, I figure out which stellars go where and what goods and services they require to do their job. I had an aptitude for the job, so they offered me that position here instead of sending me out to the colony. That suited me fine as I’d met someone that I liked who wasn’t really pioneer material. Staying on Earth allowed us to get mated."

"Yes, I’d heard that great pains were being taken to ensure that the stellars did the pioneering jobs because they wanted to, rather than being forced to by their adaptations. Speaking of which, doesn’t it get a bit too warm for you here during the summer?"

"Sometimes," Frost admitted. "Good thing that I work mostly in an air-conditioned office!"

Forest nodded. "Me too, although I still prefer the field work no matter what the weather is. So what breed is your mate?"

"He’s an Arctic Fox foxtaur tod that I met during field training up in Canada."

"Ooh! I bet the vixens weren’t happy that you poached him," Forest said with a grin.

"Nope!" Frost replied with an even bigger grin. "However, he and I fell in love, so too bad for them."

"May I ask how you being a herm affects his relationship with you?"

"He’s very accommodating, but when I go into rut, I come here looking for a willing partner with his blessing. He reckons that his rear end thanks him for that decision."

Forest laughed. "I’ll bet! So is this one of those occasions?"

"No, I’m meeting some friends here tonight. Zephon is currently visiting his family back in Canada. I tend to avoid that confrontation."

"Too bad. My sister also has a foxtaur tod as one of hir mates, and while there was a bit of trouble with a few of the vixens, for the most part we are on good relations with the clan."

Frost shrugged. "I’ll ask Zephon if the situation has changed much. If it has improved, I might go with him the next time."

"Good idea. You know we brought a Mountain Breed stellar back with us from Arisia. We hitched hir up with a foxtaur vixen at my sister’s mate’s village. Both were absolutely delighted. I hope it works out for them."

"That must be Strata that you’re talking about. So that’s where shi disappeared to. I was going to offer hir a position locally if shi was interested. Oh well, I’ll leave hir on the books in case shi needs to find work. Anyway, thanks for letting me know about Strata. I’ve got to go now."

"Thanks for chatting with me, and I hope that you have a pleasant evening."

"You too, Forestwalker. I’ll see you around, maybe." Shi gave the chakat a parting hug and Forest rejoined the group.

Both Leanna and Forestwalker were really enjoying the day and lost track of time. Eventually though, Gabriel stood up and said, "I don’t know about you blokes, but I’m starving. Anyone with me?"

The others murmured agreement and they all got up and drifted towards the restaurant. Forestwalker noticed that Jonni was hanging back, checking hir comm with a frown. Shi sensed concern mixed with disappointment.

"Anything wrong, Jonni?" Forest asked.

"Hmm? Oh, it’s just that my date for the evening is late. However, shi’s a doctor working at the Angel of Mercy Hospital’s emergency department, and delays are part of the territory."

"I see. I hope that whatever has delayed hir won’t take too much longer."

"Yeah, we don’t get to see too much of each other as it is."

They joined the others and soon ordered drinks and food. Leanna took full advantage of hir win, but luckily for Jonni, fennecs didn’t eat a lot. They had reached dessert when Jonni’s comm chimed. Shi saw the caller’s ID and brightened.

"Hello Sef! Where are you?" Jonni paused to hear the response. "Oh." There was a longer pause as Sef explained something. "I see. … Yeah, I’m sorry too. … Next week for sure, okay? … Bye!" Jonni turned off hir comm and shoved it roughly into a pocket.

"Bad news?" Forestwalker asked gently.

"Big emergency with multiple casualties. That was the first chance that Sef had got to call me, and shi won’t be able to get away for several more hours, so there goes my evening."

"I’m sorry to hear that."

Lisander leaned over to put hir arm around hir mate’s. "Do you want me to cancel my date with Camphor?"

Jonni shook hir head. "No, love, I won’t spoil the evening for you two also. I’ll just play cards or something."

"Okay, but if you change your mind, don’t hesitate to ask."

Jonni was still toying with hir dessert when everyone else was finished and had gotten up from the table. Leanna came over to Forestwalker and said, "It bothers me that Jonni is sad and frustrated, even more so because of me."

"I know what you mean," replied Forestwalker, "but can you do anything about it?"

"I think that I can, if you don’t mind," Leanna replied.

"Leanna dear, this day is all for you. If you wish to do something that doesn’t involve me, don’t let it worry you. Besides, Rik has been trying hir best to pick me up all evening and I’ve been gently deflecting hir efforts. I might just let hir succeed if I have nothing better to do."

Leanna grinned. "Good. You enjoy yourself, love. Now watch! I have a trick of the trade that I haven’t shown you yet."

Forestwalker watched Leanna curiously, then hir jaw dropped in astonishment as shi witnessed an astounding transformation. Not one thing changed physically about the little fennec’s body, but hir entire attitude changed. The way shi stood, the look in hir eyes, hir very presence screamed, ‘I am male!’. It had almost nothing to do with hir looks. The only adjustments that Forestwalker saw was the way shi let hir hair fall and shi allowed hir penis to gently bulge hir clothing. The rest was pure talent that awed Forestwalker. No wonder shi had been a spectacularly successful spy. Then shi spoke, further reinforcing the maleness with the timbre of hir voice.

"Jonni, could I have a word with you?"

Jonni looked up, then hir eyes practically bulged when shi took in the new Leanna. Shi was tongue-tied by the sight.

Leanna went over to hir, hir gait a male’s confident stride. Shi said to Jonni, "My dear friend, you would do me great honour to be my lady for tonight? May I have the pleasure of your company?"

Jonni’s inner ears flushed red, a female’s blush. "I… think I’d like that, Leanna." Shi took Leanna’s outstretched hand and stood up. Despite Jonni being a lot taller than Leanna, it was the fennec’s personality that dominated the scene. Shi put hir arm proprietarily around the red fox’s waist and led hir off towards the Green Room. Jonni leant up against hir as any female would take strength from her male, Leanna’s wiry strength coping easily with the load.

"Wow! Was that Leanna I just saw making off with Jonni?" Rik asked, hir eyes glued to the couple.

"Yep. My denmate has some quite amazing tricks up hir sleeve," Forestwalker replied.

"If you let me, I could show you a few tricks of my own," Rik said with an exaggerated leer.

Forestwalker thought, ‘Not hir best line, but it’ll do.’ Shi continued aloud, "Okay hot stuff, show me what you’ve got!"

Forestwalker took hir time with Rik, long enough to have some fun without making too much of the event. Nevertheless, shi was out in the lounge area, enjoying coffee with the late stragglers before Jonni and Leanna emerged from the Green Room. Jonni looked a little tired but blissfully happy. The indefatigable Leanna had a smile of satisfaction in accomplishment. Shi led Jonni over to Lisander, still in hir ‘male’ mode. Lisander’s eyes grew large in surprise.

Leanna passed Jonni’s hand to Lisander and said, "My compliments on your choice of mate. Shi is truly a delight."

"Thank you. I have never regretted my choice," Lisander replied as shi gave hir mate a cuddle.

Leanna turned away and Forestwalker witnessed the reversal of Leanna’s transformation as shi returned to hir normal state as shi walked over to Forestwalker.

"Leanna!" Lisander called.

Leanna paused and looked back. "Yes?"

"Could… can you teach me how to do that?"

Leanna looked thoughtful for a moment, then said, "I’m not sure. I’ve never tried teaching it before. Part of it is hardwired into me, part of it is training, and the rest is lots of practice."

"I’m willing to try if you’re willing to teach me."

Leanna smiled warmly. "Anything for a friend. Give me a call tomorrow and we can arrange a time that’s suitable for the both of us." Shi took out hir comm as shi spoke, and transferred hir number over to Lisander’s.

Lisander nodded gratefully. "Thanks, Leanna. Time for Jonni and I to go home, but it’s been really great getting to know you. And thank you especially for satisfying my mate’s needs."

"The pleasure was mine too, Lisander."

The vulpine couple departed, and Forestwalker said, "It’s time that we made tracks too, hon."

"OK," Leanna replied. Shi turned to Rik and Camphor, the last of their group still at the club. "It’s been a genuine pleasure meeting you, and I hope to see you again soon."

"Same here, Leanna," Rik said. "Don’t forget to bring Forest along with you though," shi added with a wink.

Camphor elbowed Rik. "Ignore hir one-track mind. I’m glad to have met you both."

"Me?" Rik cried out in mock outrage. "What about you, Ms I-Love-Chicks-With-Dicks?"

Camphor poked hir tongue out at Rik.

Both Leanna and Forestwalker laughed. "We’ll try to come around regularly from now on," Forestwalker said. "I’d forgotten how much fun that I had here before I started spending more time with my new mates."

"There’s a big poker game organised here for next Saturday, if you’re into that kind of thing?" Rik said.

"As long as it’s penny ante, I am. Leanna too, I think."

"It’s all played with chips," Rik assured hir, "but a small entry fee covers the winner’s prize of the standard club bet."

"A free dinner?" Leanna asked.

"Yep. Quite a prize as you should realise. You hardly touched on their large menu though."

"Stop! You’re making me hungry and the restaurant is closed," Forestwalker protested.

"I’ll make you supper when we get home," Leanna promised.

"Shi spoils me," Forestwalker said with an affectionate smile. "We’d better get going now. Tail high!"

As they exited into the lobby, Leanna said, "I bet those two spend the night together."

"Ha! No bet. While you were still busy with Jonni, I was chatting with them. Those two have been alternately bickering and screwing for years. Seems to be a bit of a game for them. Rik actually introduced Camphor to Lisander when shi realised hir needs."

Leanna nodded. "I got that impression. I’m glad to know that my instincts were right. In fact it seems that whole group supports and balances each other."

"Precisely what the club is all about. Whether that person’s needs are emotional, social or physical, there is usually someone there who can help. We were lucky to bump into that group as they’re a fine example of how it can work. Of course some are a lot tougher to deal with, such as Mikel. It’s going to take a lot of time to undo the damage done to hir psyche."

"At least others are easier to please. I got a heck of a buzz out of making Jonni happy," Leanna said with a big smile of satisfaction.

"I know what you mean. It’s how I got my reputation for always match-making. Still, I have had no complaints so far."

Leanna gave Forestwalker a cuddle. "Least of all from me!"

They boarded the Public PTV that they had called and got under way. After a while, Leanna said, "I can’t help but think that there’s something more that could be done for Jonni and Lisander. Dale comes to mind."

Forestwalker caught on immediately. "You mean using the transporter on them, only putting their mind matrixes into each other’s body?"

"Exactly. Each one would have the form that they see themselves as, and they’d still have each other."

"Hmm, well I can think of a few problems with that, the first of which is that Dale’s case was an accident," Forest replied.

Leanna nodded but said, "Dale told me that the scientists were ready to reproduce the circumstances if they could get hir back into hir original human form."

"But that process isn’t available to the general public," rebutted Forestwalker.

"Maybe not now, but I bet it will be in the future," Leanna said confidently.

"I reckon that you’re probably right, but the situation is a lot more complicated than that."

"Oh? How so?" Leanna queried.

"Despite what they prefer, they are both highly aware that they are extremely attractive to others, and I could sense pride in their looks. Lisander says that shi can make a potato sack looks sexy, but shi still dresses very fashionably rather than casual slacks or such. Jonni would look fantastic wearing just about anything, but those were expensive tailored clothes that shi had on."

"They have no big problem with their real-life image then, just their inner selves."

"Yeah, but neither needs to change to make their mating work. Those two are truly in love, and self-image has little to do with that in this case. That just leaves physical and psychological needs, and both are being adequately served by their lovers. Frankly I’d leave the situation mostly alone for now. Sure, give Lisander hir lessons – that won’t hurt. Maybe do the same for Jonni?"

"If shi wants, but I’m not sure that shi needs it much. Shi is very feminine when shi isn’t trying to live up to hir male outer looks. Believe me, I know."

Forestwalker laughed. "Yeah, I suppose that you don’t get any more clearer than when you’re making love. Did you enjoy yourself?"

"I always do, just some more than others. Jonni was a very willing and responsive partner. What about Rik?"

"Shi reminds me a lot of Midnight, but bawdier. Shi made me laugh a lot also. Gotta love it when they tickle your funny bone and your fanny at the same time."

Leanna chuckled. "I’ll keep that in mind for the future."

They fell silent for a while, the AI quietly piloting the PTV on the highway while they held hands and watched the scenery go by. Eventually Leanna said, "Something is bothering you, isn’t it?"

Forestwalker said, "Hmm? I suppose so. It’s about what Nichelle told me. It brought up another problem, but I am not sure whether I should do something about it."

"Want to go over it with me?" Leanna asked.

"I would, but it involves something told to me in confidence."

Leanna thought for a few moments, then said, "Then I would have to say that it must have something to do with Malena’s strong bisexual leanings."

Forestwalker looked sharply at Leanna. "How’d you figure that out?"

"Forest, love, you know what I am, but you still don’t truly understand in fullness. I was made to be the perfect sexual partner – to know exactly what my partner wants and needs sexually, and to give it to them. I had Malena figured out soon after I met her. Shi is a vixen of strong passions, with equal attraction to females and males. It’s her passionate nature that caused her impetuous mistake with Garrek. Goldfur told me about her first meeting with you chakats and what has happened since. It’s clear that she has always leant both ways. She has also mentioned to me in conversation that she wouldn’t have minded being born a chakat, so obviously the thought of being a hermaphrodite doesn’t bother her. The most important point of what Nichelle said is that shi had been unsatisfied with just being female, which is exactly how Malena feels. For these and other subtle reasons, I conclude that you’re debating whether to tell Malena that she too could be a herm if she wished."

"All correct. I was afraid that I was letting my own feelings for Malena cloud my objectivity, but I truly think that she would be happy being a herm. She has told me that she feels that’s the way she should have been born, but she’s a perfectly wonderful vixen as she is, and I’m afraid of meddling, although I promised to help her out in any way that I could."

"Nichelle has been a herm for a couple of years without regrets. Perhaps shi could have a talk with Malena and compare notes?" Leanna suggested.

"That’s a good idea, but is it too soon? She might get so excited about the idea that she goes ahead with it before she has thought it through, and then regrets it later. This isn’t like matching couples where, if you make a mistake, they can split up and try others. This would be for life. You can only modify a body so far by current technology before it won’t accept any more changes without the risk of damage, so if she became a herm, there would be no going back."

"I think that you’re worrying too much. While your concerns might be valid, she is mature enough to make her own decisions, and if we support her, we can help her over any humps. Besides, she has a lot of time to cool off over the idea. She wouldn’t be able to do a thing until well after she gives birth."

"Of course, that’s a very good point," Forestwalker conceded.

"And then there’s the cost," Leanna pointed out. "Nichelle spent a small fortune getting modified."

"A problem, but not an issue. If Malena needs this to be truly happy, then the family will provide. It might take a while though. More time for her to cool down on the idea."

"Then I recommend that we ask Nichelle and hir mates over for dinner and have hir chat with Malena. Give her all the facts so that she can make an informed decision. Then you can stop stressing over the situation also."

"Yes, dear," Forestwalker replied with a grin.

The following Saturday when they revisited the Double H Club, they invited Nichelle, Jacqui and Ashley over for dinner the next day, explaining their motivation to the human. As the trio were free that day, they accepted. As expected, when Nichelle was introduced to Malena, the vixen was rapt, although she wasn’t allowed to monopolise the human before dinner. They wanted all three visitors to get to know the entire family first. After dinner though, Malena dragged Nichelle away for a private chat. About a half hour later, a very thoughtful Malena rejoined the others. Forestwalker managed to get Nichelle alone in the kitchen for a moment as the human went for a drink.

"Well, what do you think?" Forestwalker asked hir.

"You’re right. I see a lot of my former self in her. Like me, she is quite happy looking female, but she feels the same lack that I did when it comes to sexual expression."

"That bears out what both Leanna and I think. So do you think she’s a candidate for a herm sex change?"

"She seems to think so, and I would have to agree, but I want to stress that just because I made the change doesn’t make me an expert. I went to see professional counsellors for a long time to make absolutely sure that my course of action was the right one. On the other hand, in my thoroughly unprofessional but experienced opinion, she’s a prime candidate for the change. I recommend establishing long-term goals with this in mind."

"Thanks, Nicky. We’ll do that. Now let’s get you back to the fun social part of this visit, shall we?"

As they rejoined the others, Forestwalker thought to hirself, ‘I wonder what Goldie is going to think of this?

Forestwalker almost got the chance to ask Goldfur much sooner than shi expected. One day as they were just having their after-dinner chat, Goldfur, Goldendale and Swiftwalk arrived out of thin air. Malena was instantly up and into Goldfur’s arms, hugging and nuzzling hir. Lupu was close behind and doing likewise to Goldendale, quickly joined by Avissavaunte. Forestwalker, Leanna, Kris and Trina were left hugely puzzled though.

"Would someone care to explain how come my sisters are here instead of on a planet far, far away?" asked Forestwalker.

"I think I’d better do the explaining," Swiftwalk said. "I think your sisters are going to be a little preoccupied for a while."

"One moment, Swift," Goldfur said and padded over to Forestwalker to give hir a huge hug. "Missed you loads, sis. However, I have a lifemate to attend to right now. Make Swiftwalk welcome though, will you?"

"Sure thing, Goldie. Love you!" Shi gave Goldfur a lick-kiss, then beckoned Swiftwalk to follow hir. "We have some great coffee here. Care to try some while you tell me all about this?"

"Sounds good to me, Forestwalker," Swiftwalk replied as shi followed, and hir travelling companions departed for more private rooms.

"Call me Forest, and don’t leave out any of the details," the jaguar chakat told hir as Trina, Leanna and Kris joined them to hear the explanation.

One very lengthy tale later, everyone was up to speed with all the details and Swiftwalk was enraptured by the coffee. Forestwalker insisted that Swiftwalk pay a proper visit as soon as their mission was complete. Swiftwalk promised to come, if only to get some more of that coffee!

Then Forestwalker asked, "Am I going to get a chance to talk to Goldie before you have to go back?"

Swiftwalk shook hir head. "I doubt it. We need to be getting back to camp soon, and it looks like Goldfur is going to be spending most of that time with Malena. Is it really important?"

Forestwalker had to admit that it wasn’t that urgent. "Oh well, at least I’ll get to give hir a hug and kiss before shi goes."

And that’s exactly what shi did. "I’ve got something important to talk to you about when you get back, sis," Forestwalker told Goldfur. "Nothing that can’t wait until then, so don’t worry about it."

"OK, I’ll make it a priority when I’m home again. By the way, there shouldn’t be any necessity to pick us up at the spaceport. Swift has already offered to give us a lift here. That should save a bit of time and trouble."

"Excellent. Love you, Goldie!" Shi gave hir sister one last hug, and one for Dale also before Swiftwalk insisted that they had to leave. As quietly as they had arrived, the three disappeared again, leaving several very impressed people.

Quickpaw only learned about hir sister’s visits much later. At the time shi had made hir second visit, the calico chakat was moping in hir room back at medical college, hir holiday break ending too soon as always. Shi had spent every waking moment packing in as much fun and interaction with hir family as shi could in that time, making love as often as possible, playing with the children, even being allowed to breastfeed Windrunner a few times. Eventually though, it was time to go back to college for the start of the next semester of hir nursing course. After the highs of the previous weeks spent with the family though, shi crashed into the lows of post-visit depression. Sometimes shi wondered why shi was doing all this to hirself.

Then hir alarm went off, reminding hir that shi was scheduled to be at the maternity ward soon to start hir rounds as a volunteer wet-nurse for children whose mothers were unable to provide properly. Shi put hir hands to hir breasts, feeling them to be full and heavy with milk. Shi smiled. Yes, that was the reason. Just two more years of sacrifice, then back to hir family again permanently, but with a cherished career goal reached and ready for hir. It was going to be worth it.

Several weeks later, Goldfur, Garrek, Goldendale and assorted cubs arrived again out of thin air, unannounced but not unanticipated; brought there directly from the spaceport by Swiftwalk’s amazing Talent. Lupu had been hanging around the room to greet them, and flew into Dale’s arms and smothering hir with kisses even before the chakat had gotten hir bearings. Then it was Goldfur’s turn to be the recipient of the wolftaur’s enthusiastic greetings, Avissavaunte stepping up to fill Dale’s empty arms. While the adults were occupied, the cubs immediately took off to find the others. Garrek looked about, wondering if Malena would be there, but was relieved to find her absent. He intended to confront her, but not right at this moment. Time enough later when he could do so in private.

However, Malena was there, but just out of sight, concealed from view by indoor plants. She waited until Garrek left to offload luggage before stepping out to greet her lifemate.

Goldfur smiled when she saw the vixen approaching. "How are you doing, hon?" shi asked as shi reached out to hug Malena.

"As well as can be expected, Goldie," Malena replied, hugging the chakat fiercely. "Blaze has been happier too since you visited with Swiftwalk a few weeks back, so I suppose that’s also a good indicator of my own state of mind."

Goldfur nodded. "This is the longest that you have spent away from your village. Has it been difficult for you?"

"Oh, I’ve been a little homesick – that was inevitable. However, as I hoped, not the slightest sign that it’s turning into Territorial Attachment Syndrome, so that’s a relief. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had suffered from late onset of the symptoms and had been forced back to the village."

"Well, I hope that you truly feel comfortable in your new permanent home," Goldfur said, "but we’re going to have to deal with the situation with your mother also. With triplet foxtaurs coming, you’re going to need the support of all your family. Besides, I can’t bear the thought of you and Jaleth remaining estranged."

"Good luck with that, Goldie. Mom is one of the most intractable persons that I know. She may usually be open-minded, but once she’s made a decision, budging her is near impossible."

"Then we’ll just have to work that little bit harder to achieve it," Goldfur said resolutely.

"Garrek and I will have to work things out first though. If we don’t, we won’t get to first base with mom," Malena pointed out.

"Are you ready for that?" asked Goldfur.

"How can you ever be ready to face someone whom you’ve hurt beyond comprehension with the stupidest mistake of your life?" Malena replied pessimistically.

Goldfur nodded. "Unfortunately true, so you just have to go in and do it anyway. I wish you both good luck with resolving that problem."

"Thanks. We’re going to need every bit of good fortune that we can get."

Malena waited until the entire family had gotten over the euphoria of being reunited. Rather than spoil dinner with possible tensions between her and Garrek, she chose to face up to her brother-mate beforehand. At an opportune moment, she approached him.

"Is now a good time for you, Garrek?" Malena asked.

He nodded and indicated a private room. Allowing her in first, he closed the door behind them. After a few moments of awkward silence, Malena said, "Allow me to say once more that I apologise unreservedly for what I did."

"I’ve already accepted your apology, Malena," Garrek replied. "That’s not the problem that we’re facing now. There are issues of trust, and worse. How can I ever be sure of your motivations when you choose deception to get your way?"

"Because that was a lesson that I learned in the harshest possible way, and also because I am going to need your love and support. Has Goldfur told you that we’re expecting triplets?"

"Yes shi has, and I admit that it was somewhat of a shock. However, it did help shake me out of the apathy that I had for you at the time."

"Then you realise that I am going to need everyone’s help, including our mother’s, and she will never do that without your support."

"I told you that I still love you. How could I not after all these years? But that was never a problem, even if you thought it might be. I need to get to like you again, but what you did to me is making that very hard."

"What can I do to make it up to you?" Malena pleaded.

"It’s not that simple. Mom told you that I’d remember everything, didn’t she?"

"Yes, she did."

"Even Mom doesn’t realise how deeply ingrained every action and every feeling is in me. I recall with crystal clarity every single thrust, every orgasm, every time you cried out, my utter domination of you, my total lack of care about your distress, and it sickens me. It is so alien to me, and yet it is an inextricable part of me. I am revolted that I could do such things."

"But it wasn’t you! It was the pheromone overdose that did that!" Malena protested.

Garrek shook his head. "All the pheromones in the world can’t stoke something that isn’t there in the first place. No, it’s a dark side of my nature that needs to be contained again before any relationship between ourselves can resume."

"But you’re fine with Goldfur. Shi told me that you have started making love with hir again."

"That’s true, but shi doesn’t trigger the memories in me like you do. Once I got over the worst of the pain, shi was able to help me a lot to get my head together again. Right now, just being alone with you in this room is straining that."

"You seem to be okay to me. We’re discussing this reasonably," Malena commented with some puzzlement.

"Am I? Let me show you something." He shifted his body in order to lift the hind leg nearest to Malena to reveal a full rock-hard erection. He then lowered his leg again. "Right now I am battling this desire to take you again. Every day that I have even thought of you since that day, this happens to me. I have to struggle to maintain control in your presence. While this keeps happening to me, I can’t trust myself with you."

"I understand, Garrek," Malena said sorrowfully.

"No, you don’t, Malena. You don’t because you don’t know the very worst aspect of this problem."

"And that is…?"

Garrek moved up to Malena, practically nose-tip to nose-tip. "Because while I was under its influence, I enjoyed it. It was an utter pleasure to take you as hard as I could again and again, to make you cry out in distress, to hurt you in every way that I did that night."

Malena instinctively took a step backwards, recoiling from that revelation.

Garrek laughed harshly. "Yes, you should shy away. And to cap it all, it’s addictive. The more that you do it, the more that you want to do it."

"But I've heard that there are mates in the village who actually like doing it that way, and the tod lets the vixen overdose him deliberately."

"It may well have started that way, but it rapidly goes beyond what the tod can control. The truth is that he's hooked on it. He can't even have normal sex anymore. It takes hyper-stimulation to get him aroused by any other vixens, but his mates must endure violent matings any time they are with him. It destroys den-matings, and even life-matings aren't immune. That's why vixens are taught never to do that to a tod."

"I won’t make any excuses for myself. It was my fault that I skipped the lessons that would have warned me. However, why didn't mother ever tell me? I’d think that it’s the kind of thing that would be essential to pass on to one’s daughters."

That made Garrek stop his tirade. "I can't think of a reason either. It would make sense to warn the tods also, but she never said a thing to me either."

There was a moment of thoughtful silence before Malena spoke again. "So what happens now?"

"Goldfur and I are going back to Mountain Glade for a few days. I will be seeing Thayla for advice, and I’ll be also looking for a counsellor who may be able to help me with my problem. Forest has also volunteered to try to help me with hir Talent in the same way that shi helped Leanna, but shi also suggested contacting Queznal. He might not be in that field, but he might be able to recommend a telepath who could help. Failing all that, it might be just a matter of enough time to let the memories fade. Fortunately, unlike Leanna, I don’t have a perfect memory."

"I see. I have faith in you, Garrek. I want us to be happy together again."

"I do too, Malena. Believe me, this wouldn’t have hurt me as much if it hadn’t been done to me by someone that I love."

"I will never put my feelings before yours again, I promise. To that end, I need to ask you something slightly related."

"What’s that?"

"How would you feel about me if I became a herm?"

That surprised Garrek immensely. "What? Like those fantasies that you indulge in with Forest?"

Malena nodded. "Just like that, only for real."

Garrek had to think about that for a few moments. Then he said, "It would be very strange, but after being life-mated to a herm for a few years, it doesn't bother me much at all. Malena, I would love you the same even if you became a tod! I’ve no idea how you could do it, but if that’s your desire, it’s none of my business." He stopped as a stray thought occurred to him, and he laughed rather harshly. "In fact, I think giving you a cock and balls would do you good. It might give you a greater appreciation of what you put me through!"

Great! Add penance to my list of reasons,’ thought Malena.

Garrek got up and walked over to the door. He paused with a hand on the doorknob and looked back at Malena. "Goldfur and I will be leaving for the village tomorrow. We have no more to talk about until after I return. I suggest that you take advantage of having Goldfur at home tonight. I’ll be sleeping with the cubs."

Malena nodded. "Thanks, Garrek."

Garrek grunted in acknowledgement and left.

"So very angry still," Malena murmured to herself, "but it could have been a lot worse. He still wants us to be happy together. I just hope that I haven’t done any permanent harm." She shuddered as she relived the revelation that Garrek had enjoyed their violent mating, even if he hadn’t been responsible for those feelings.

Goldfur had to soothe Malena’s feelings again before they made love that night. By the time the chakat was done with her, Malena no longer felt like a worthless bit of trash. They talked for a while about what had been happening to each other while they had been apart. Malena finally told her mate her ideas about becoming a herm, and was surprised by the blasé response.

"Just promise me that you’ll take your time and be sure that you’re making the right decision," Goldfur told her.

"You don’t seem surprised at all," Malena noted.

"Dear, you sometimes fantasise while having sex, don’t you?" Goldfur asked.

"Of course. Doesn’t everybody?" Malena confirmed.

"Yes they do. Ever since I learned about you and Forest and hir special trick, I have occasionally fantasised about you mounting me for a change. In a way, if you became a herm, it would be my wish fulfilment."

"I thought that you were happy with me just as a female?"

"I am, just as I am happy that Garrek is just a male. It was only a harmless fantasy. There are lots of things that I fantasise about that wouldn’t bother me if they never came true, nor do I expect them to. However, if this is one that actually becomes reality, then it will be a pleasant turn of events. The bottom line is that I am in love with the person though, and not the gender. Do what you wish, dear. I will support you whatever your choice."

Malena cuddled Goldfur warmly. "You always know the right thing to tell me. If I go ahead with this, I promise you a night to remember!"

"Malena, my love, every night with you is a memory that I will treasure forever."

The lovers then held each other until they drifted off to sleep. Malena’s sleep was untroubled by bad dreams for the first time in many weeks.

About twenty minutes after Goldfur and Malena had fallen asleep, the door to their room was quietly pushed open. Garrek stood in the doorway looking at the two, but the vixen in particular. The self-control that he had re-learned with the aid of his chakat mate on their long voyage warred with the insistent urges that he got whenever he thought about Malena. He managed to stop himself from unsheathing, something that he had made no effort to prevent earlier when talking to his sister-mate. She had needed to be shocked and impressed with the full enormity of what she had done, and its lingering effects. He was glad to have that over and done with now because despite everything she had done, he wanted things back to normal again. He had grown to like having Malena as a denmate, and now that they were going to have kits, it was important that they heal the rift between them. Although it might not be possible for their relationship to ever be quite the same again, perhaps this time it might be a more mature one when they got back together. Then he recalled what she had told him about the possibility of becoming a herm. He quietly chuckled – an honest laugh – amused at the possibility.

"My mate, the herm vixen," he murmured. "I wonder if you would become susceptible to pheromone overdose like us tods? I pray to Heaven that you never find out." He turned to leave, paused, then said, "Sleep well, my loves." He then left to rejoin the slumbering cubs, a tad more optimistic for the future.


Boyce is copyright his player.
All other characters and this story are copyright © 2008 Bernard Doove.

Art Credits

The pictures of Swiftwalk, Jacqui and Nichelle were drawn by Heather Bruton in my sketchbooks.
The image used for Lisander was drawn by Michael Higgs and was originally titled Destiny. (Told you I was going to have to steal hir!)
The image used for Jonni was drawn by Richard Foley and re-edited by Karn Carroll. (Found on the e621 website.)
The image used for Camphor was drawn by el Diman. (Found on Fur Affinity.) Original character created by Starless.
All the rest of the characters from the Double H Club were commissions done by Kyomana.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Find out what happens when Forest and Leanna return to the Double H Club the next week in Musical Climax.

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