"Can you hear me?" the voice said again. Though the voice was very kind, she found it extremely annoying. She just wanted to sleep, to hide in the comfortable darkness...to slip into sweet, sweet unconsciousness again. But the voice didn't go away. A gentle hand touched her shoulder. "Wake up, Frederike". Her sleepy mind didn't quite register the fact that the voice spoke to her in English rather than her native German, but it did register that the voice reminded her of her grandmother. "Oma...?" she said, only half conscious.
"Erh....no...I'm afraid not. I'm a nurse..." the voice said and paused. A piece of paper was unfolded, and the voice continued. "Ich bin ein...Krankenschwester" the voice said in German with a heavy accent.
Frederike opened her eyes, and finally managed to focus on the elderly woman in front of her in a nurse's uniform. "Can you understand me?" the nurse asked carefully. "Yes...where am I?" Frederike finally got out.
"You are in a hospital, actually to be more precise, you're in Edinburgh University Hospital, the Department of Applied Cryogenics. You remember, that you were put in cryostasis...that you were frozen, right?" the elderly woman said.
Frederike's mind started working, and she felt as if the gears in her mind desperately needed oil to work more smoothly. Her thoughts flowed annoyingly slow. "Yes...It's getting back to me now."
Frederike blinked and tried to force the tiredness from her mind when the door opened. She turned to face the newcomer, and instantly awoke to full alertness. In the door stood a creature out of some ancient Greek myth, only not quite so. The creature had the muzzle of a predator and the teeth to go with it. The lower part looked like an oversize fox, but where the head should have been there was a new torso with arms and a huge, man-sized head. Above the muzzle were eyes that looked at Frederike with a not-really-human intelligence. Frederike returned to primal instincts, as she turned and grabbed the small lamp on the nightstand.
Dr. Leonard Quickfox had decided to check up on his latest patient, a Frederike Weismann, and put on his best smile as he entered the room and saw that she had regained consciousness. He yelped as the young woman, who were supposed to be only just awake turned with lightning speed and threw the small lamp at the nightstand at him. He hadn't gotten his last name without reason, so he only just managed to dodge the lamp that shattered against the wall behind him. She looked at him with terror in her eyes, and he suddenly understood. Her journal told him she was from the late 1990's, a time when genetic engineering was only done on bacteria.
"Er... I think I'll come back later" he said, as he quickly made his retreat.
The door closed, and Frederike looked at the nurse in horror. "It...it SPOKE! W-what is this place???"
"Eeeasy now. That was Dr. Leonard Quickfox. He's the one who brought you out of cryostasis, and..."
"What - I was awoken just to be someone's DINNER????" Frederike shrieked.
"No! Wait! Look at me. This is a hospital. I'm Ivanova. Easy no one is going to hurt you."
Frederike finally slumped back in her bed, and Ivanova drew a deep breath in relief.
"Now maybe I ought to tell you a little about what's happened since you last lived, and especially how the world is today." Ivanova paused, and Frederike nodded.
"Very well. First of all, humans are no longer the only intelligent species on Earth, as you might guess having seen Dr. Quickfox."
"So he's an alien?" Frederike asked, looking suspiciously at Ivanova.
The older woman smiled. "No, not at all, although there are aliens on Earth, and before you worry, yes, they are friendly. We haven't been invaded or anything horrible taken out of Invasion from Mars".
"Okay...that sounds reassuring. Ahem. I... I guess I should apologize for my behavior, then. And for the lamp too," Frederike said and turned a little pink.
Ivanova noticed that, but decided that it might be better to continue her little speech. "An understandable reaction. Now, to continue the history lesson, " she said, and picked up the broken lamp. "Shortly after you were frozen, mankind picked up on genetic engineering. At first there were some protests over ethical matters, especially when human DNA was involved. But given that we needed a labor force due to low birth rates, and especially after we'd started exploring space, most of those protests stopped. Animal and human DNA was fused into new morph species, and for a while that was good. But the morphs were not always treated well. In some cases they were just second class citizens, in others – most in fact – they were slaves or worse. So, in 2050, the so called Gene Wars started, where mankind had to fight a war against his own creations. Many people were killed on both sides in a bloody and terrible war that lasted for four decades. Then, at last, mankind and his "children" were able to make peace." Ivanova paused to put the pieces of the lamp in the trash can. "Then began the Great Reconstruction, and new laws were made to ensure, that mankind and all the other species that lived on Earth would be able to coexist in peace and with equal citizen's rights. Among the morph species that live today are also the taurforms of which Dr. Quickfox is a representee. He's a foxtaur, and I might add, a very nice person. I think you'll like him."
"I... hope so. Although, don't you think he'll be angry with me for attacking him like that. I feel really bad about that incident."
"It was our fault. You should have had this little history lesson before you were introduced to anyone not human."
"Maybe so." Frederike looked a little less pink in her face.
"Hm...at some point we'll have to have the doctor check up on you. If you're uncomfortable with Dr. Quickfox, I'm sure we can find a human doctor. Dr. Quickfox will understand" Ivanova continued.
"No, I suppose I can manage. Just give me a little time to get used to this."
"Really, it won't be a problem," the nurse tried.
"No, I was not discriminating in my old life, and I suppose that people like Dr. Quickfox are quite common. I guess I better get used to it."
"Ah! That's the spirit!" Ivanova said with a smile. "Tell you what, Dearie, I'll help you into some decent clothes, and we'll go see the doctor."
Frederike got out of bed, but then paused. "Ehm, I wonder if you could tell me: when I was frozen, I had a brain tumor. I wondered if...uhm..."
"Don't worry, Dearie - Dr. Quickfox has removed that too. Today that's a routine operation. It won't bother you any more." Ivanova said with a smile.
"Jeez, and I almost threw a lamp in his face. Some way to say thank you, huh?" Frederike said.
The elderly woman chuckled at that. "Oh, I think he'll forgive you. Besides, he needed to get off his lazy haunches anyway!" Ivanova said with a grin.
Frederike laughed at that. It felt good to laugh again.
As Ivanova helped Frederike get dressed (she was still a bit off balance from the cryo sleep), Frederike found, that she liked Ivanova's grandmother attitude.
"So, what's the date now?" she asked.
"July first, 2331" Ivanova answered, and looked for Frederike's reaction.
She froze for an instant. "Wow! I've been gone for quite some time."
"Yes, but don't let that bother you. We'll help you get started again."
They walked together through the hospital, and Ivanova led her through an office door. Frederike couldn't help but look at all the non-humans she met on her way. There were morphs of bunnies, wolves and foxes (the latter two made Frederike a bit nervous, and she had to tell herself firmly not to run away). Behind a well-sized office desk, Dr. Quickfox sat on his haunches, typing at a computer. "Welcome to my office Ms Weismann. I hope you've run out of lamps," he said with a smile, this time careful not to show his teeth.
Frederike turned pink again, and forced herself not to hesitate to shake his hand. "I'm sorry for my behavior. I... I've just never seen someone like you."
"It's alright. My bad. I could have kicked myself for that toothy smile I gave you. You must've thought you had a nightmare, huh?"
"Ah, yes, it was a little um... scary I suppose." Frederike was still very red-faced.
"Now, perhaps we should move on to more practical matters," Dr. Quickfox continued, and Frederike decided, that even though this man - man? tod? - looked quite different, he seemed like a nice person. His voice was just like you want your doctor's voice to be: calming, reassuring and with a tone that radiated competence.
Leonard grappled a medical tricorder. "This is a scanning device, called a tricorder. I'm going to give you a quick scan to see if everything looks normal. It won't hurt, I promise" he said.
Frederike nodded, and he started his examination. "You said 'tricorder'? That sound suspiciously like a device from the sci-fi show of my time called Star Trek," Frederike said.
"True. It was actually named that way because of the series," the doctor replied.
Frederike frowned, but seemed to accept that answer. She used to be quite the sci-fi fan in her spare time in her previous life. 'It's not the first time, that the real scientists have taken after the fiction when finding new things to develop,' she thought.
"I don't suppose they still run the shows?" she asked, mostly to make conversation.
"No," Leonard replied and snorted in amusement. "But I've researched a bit in the history of your time. It started out as a necessity, given my specialty in cryostasis, but it developed into a hobby of mine."
Frederike watched as the doctor made his scans, and waited until he finished by closing the device and nodding in satisfaction.
"Well, it seems that you're fit for fight so to speak. You might still be a little dizzy from the cryostasis, but that should wear of after a good night's sleep. I'd prefer that you stayed the night just to be on the safe side though. But tomorrow you'll be free to go."
"Thanks Doctor," Frederike said.
"Oh, please call me Leonard," he said with a smile.
"So, um... what happens now?" Frederike asked.
"We have a program to get people like you back into society. Tomorrow Ivanova and I will pick you up, and we'll take you to meet your integration officer. Hy is a Skunktaur, and also a very nice person."
"Skunktaur?" Frederike asked a bit puzzled.
"Skunktaurs are a taur race like myself, only they're made with a skunk as the template. Don't be alarmed, hy doesn't smell like a real skunk. Otherwise I wouldn’t be there," Leonard said, and tapped his muzzle near the nose.
Frederike laughed at that, and decided that even though her instincts still told her to be a little afraid, she liked Leonard the Foxtaur.
"I have some work to do here, but Ivanova will stay with you the whole day. I suggest the two of you go for a walk in the small park near the hospital. If you have any questions, medical or otherwise, I will be here until five o'clock."
Frederike nodded, and left the office with Ivanova after shaking the Doctor's hand again.
Frederike and Ivanova walked through the park, and Frederike enjoyed being out in the fresh air. "When Dr. Quickfox - Leonard - told me about the integration officer, he said 'hy'. Didn't he mean 'he'? Or has the English language changed so much in my time in hibernation?"
Ivanova turned to look a Frederike. "No, he meant 'hy'. 'Hy' is a term used about skunktaurs because they're hermaphrodites. They have the ability to alternate between male and female gender at will."
"What? Are you kidding me?" Frederike said. She was sure the old nurse was trying to pull her leg.
"Not at all. They were made that way."
"Are there many hermaphrodite species? Is Leonard one of them?"
"There are some, but our dear doctor is not one of them. He's a handsome Foxtaur tod in his mid thirties." Ivanova said, and paused to think. "You know, if you're up to it, we could meet a friend of mine who's a herm too. Shi's a chakat, which is a taur form that has been made using some of Earth's big cats as templates.
"I..erh...guess that would be interesting...um..."
"Only if you're up to it. I know you were shocked by Leonard's appearance, and I've seen the way you've looked at some of the morphs. But shi is really a very good person."
"Okay. What's her name, then?" Frederike asked to try to buy some time. She was quite nervous about being next to some big tiger or lion or whatever, but at the same time she knew she had to fit in, in this strange world. ‘Might as well start out with the benefit of Ivanova's help’, she thought.
"Hir name is Quickpaw, and..."
"Herr?" Frederike interrupted, startled at the apparently German word. "I thought you referred to this... chakat... as 'she'?"
"Ah, .I guess we'd better take the quick guide to chakats as well. Chakats are herms - hermaphrodites - like skunktaurs, only chakats are both genders at the same time, and unlike the skunktaurs they can't change. They use the words 'shi', 'hir' and the formal 'Shir'. Example: Shir Quickpaw is a chakat. Shi is a nice person, and hir fur is soft," Ivanova told Frederike.
Frederike nodded. This was all very strange and alien, but she eagerly listened, determined to get to know her new Earth and all its people and customs.
"Okay, I think I'm getting this. So, who is this Quickpaw, other than the fact that... shi... is a chakat?" Frederike asked, trying out the new word.
"Quickpaw is a wet-nurse and midwife in training. But, as part of hir education, shi has to have some general knowledge, so shi can do other kinds of jobs as a nurse than handling infants. I've been hir mentor during hir stay here in England. I could comm hir and ask hir to join us for coffee?" Ivanova said.
"That would be nice. Um... but please tell her, that if I keep my distance a little, it's not because I'm being rude," Frederike said, and turned a little pink again remembering her "Dr. Quickfox Incident".
Quickpaw stretched after a long day at the hospital when hir comm demanded hir attention. 'I hope this isn't a work call, because I'm so headed home for some sleep,' shi thought as shi picked up the comm. Hir mentor and friend Ivanova smiled at hir on the com. "Hello, Dearie, had a hard day?" Ivanova asked.
"A little. What can I do for you. I see you're still on duty," Quickpaw said, looking at Ivanova's white shirt and her name tag that read "I. Selesnjov".
"Yes I am, sort of. I have patient I'd like you to meet," Ivanova said and paused as she saw Quickpaw's tired eyes look back at her. "She's one of the cryostasis patients, and she needs to learn to trust morphs."
"Oh? What do you mean 'trust'? As in she doesn't like morphs or as in she's afraid of them?"
"She's from when the height of genetics stretched to bacteria and soy beans. You should've seen her first meeting with Leonard." Ivanova said and shot a sidewards glance at Frederike. Frederike stood near the pond in the park, looking up at the formidable hospital building, that, according to what Ivanova had told her, was one of the few buildings to survive the Gene Wars, of which people of today were most grateful, as the Victorian style building were one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in this part of England.
Quickpaw decided that even though shi was tired, shi still wanted to meet Ivanova, and shi was also interested in meeting Frederike. It wasn't every day you could talk to a person from 300 years ago.
"Okay, when and where?" shi asked.
"Linda's in half an hour," Ivanova replied. "Thank you, I'm sure you'll be a huge help. You chakats are so good with people," Ivanova said and signed off with a smile at Quickpaw.
Quickpaw nodded to the empty screen, and understood Ivanova's hidden message.
The door to Linda's Cake 'n' Coffee opened with it's usual cheerful chime, and the proprietress, Linda Connelly looked up from her cappuccino machine. She smiled at the nurse and her friend as they entered. "Welcome, nice to see you" she said, and moved out from behind the desk. She served the two cappuccinos she'd made for an elderly pair of humans and moved to serve the newcomers. "Your usual table upstairs is free. I'll be with you in a minute." Linda said, and gestured to the old wooden stairs that led to the first floor.
Frederike and Ivanova went up the stairs, and found themselves some recliners at a small coffee table. From their table, they could enjoy the view of the street below where they could see the light of the setting sun reflected in the windows of the other houses.
"Knock-knock" said a voice behind them.
The two women turned, and Frederike tried to force herself to relax. The catlike taur creature in front of her were - though perhaps a little smaller than herself - a bit intimidating.
Shi gave out hir hand in greeting "Hi, I'm Chakat Quickpaw, daughter of Desertsand and Longstripe. You must be Frederike?"
"Yes. Nice to meet you" Frederike said. She felt a little strange. She was supposed to be a little afraid of this strange being, but instead she found hir company oddly relaxing and enjoyable. She didn't notice the satisfied smile on Ivanova's lips, as the old nurse saw the effect of the Chakat's empathic abilities on her patient.
The three of them sat for a few hours and chatted. Frederike was surprised when the old grandfather clock in the corner of the room told her that it was seven o'clock. Had they really been sitting here for that long? She found this a little funny. In the morning, she'd been afraid that Leonard was going to eat her, and she'd been afraid of nearly every morph she'd met, and now here she was, talking almost like old friends with a Chakat – a species she didn't even knew existed a few hours ago. She sat for a while, looking at Quickpaw while shi talked to Ivanova and wondered again how she could've been afraid of such an attractive and nice person as Quickpaw. She also couldn't help but think how strange shi looked. Not just because of hir resemblance to several other creatures (some of them mythical) at once, but also because Frederike noticed that, as shi lay on hir side on the special 'taur recliner, it was obvious that shi was both male and female at the same time.
Frederike suddenly noticed that the conversation had stopped, and she looked up at Quickpaw, whose face told her, that shi knew exactly what Frederike had been looking at.
Frederike turned scarlet and was about to make a silly excuse when she was saved from further embarrassment by a newcomer.
"So, are you ladies enjoying yourselves?" Leonard asked. "I knew I could find you here" he said with a smile.
"You know me too well Leonard" Ivanova said with a smile. "So, weren't you supposed to have left the hospital at five, and head home to the little missus?"
"Guilty as charged. Fortunately, she and the kids are out to watch Roran play cricket, that'll buy me some time" he said with a smile, and then turned serious. "So, Frederike. I just wanted to check up on you one more time before I went home. Have you had any trouble today? Dizziness, headache, etc?"
"None. Thank you once again Doctor" Frederike replied.
"You're welcome. And again, please just call me Leonard. I see you've adjusted quickly. That's good. No longer afraid of big bad morphs with pointy teeth?" he said.
"No...I feel much better now. Quickpaw here has been like a soothing medicine for my fears, I suppose."
"I believe that. Quickpaw?"
"Yes, I think Frederike is right. She was a little shocked to see me, but, as you see, things have turned out just fine".
"Good. Well then, I bid you a good evening, miladies" Leonard said, and made a bow and a gesture of someone taking off his hat. And with that and a wave with his tail, he left them.
* * *
On the way back to the hospital, Frederike felt better than she'd felt in (literally) a long time. One thing nagged her, though.
"So, um, tomorrow, when I meet with this Skunktaur person...what's going to happen exactly?"
"First of all, hy is going to have a friendly chat with you. Hy will ask how you feel, what you did in your previous life....all sorts of things that will help hym to help you make a new life in this world" Ivanova told her.
"Well, that doesn't sound so bad. I hope hy'll be able to find something useful for me to do."
"So, what did you do in your previous life? With the history lessons and all, I never got to ask you what you used to do, and the journal didn’t say" Ivanova said.
"I was a police officer with the German Bundespolizei. I take there's still police officers today?" Frederike said with a slightly forced smile.
"Yes. And I'm sure we can find you a spot. Usually, the people we unfreeze are engineers, lawyers and other reasonably wealthy people. You're the first officer we've found, but I bet Shiroi - that's hys name by the way - can find you something useful. We're always in need of skilled people these days, so it shouldn't pose a problem."
"Glad to hear that." Frederike said with a smile. She then sat silent for a moment, thinking.
"It's strange...here I am in the distant future...three hundred years from my friends...my family...my fiancée....." she said.
'Here it finally comes' Ivanova thought, and put an arm on Frederike's shoulder. Ivanova had no fancy degrees in psychology, but a long life as a nurse, sharing the happiness and sorrows of her patients meant she knew people. This was also why Dr. Quickfox had specifically asked for her on his staff once he had been put in charge of the Cryogenics Rehabilitation Program. She held the younger woman as she finally cried her heart out as her mind finally realized, that all her loved ones were gone. When the last of Frederike's sobs faded, Ivanova gently asked her to tell her story. She knew Shiroi would ask her the same questions in the morning, but she thought that it was better for Frederike to get most of it out of her system when there was only the two of them. The park had actually closed at this time, but it helped that Ivanova was married to the manager of the park. That way she could use the whole park sometimes as her own private therapy room.
After a little encouragement from Ivanova, Frederike finally told her story.
"Well," she said and sniffled one last time, "I had just recently graduated from the police academy, and everything seemed fine. I've met my fiancée at the academy, and we just bought our house. We both had a sister, and well, um..." Frederike paused, sighed, and then continued. "They were both...you know...playing for the other team."
"I know what you mean. Don't worry. That kind of thing is no longer as taboo as Leonard has told me it was at your time. It's perfectly acceptable today. So, they were a couple too, right?"
"Yes. Well, anyway, the four of us decided to buy a house together, thus giving us more space, and also it would mean that mine and Dieter's coming children would have not just two, but four loving parents. We'd just moved in, found jobs, and everything seemed fine. One day I was so lucky as to win the lottery. We celebrated, talked about how much better life would be, and all in all I think I was the happiest person on Earth. But then disaster struck. We had taken a cruise ship sailing around the Philippines, when I woke up one morning, and couldn't move my legs. I was flown to a hospital, and the doctors found the tumor in my brain. Apparently, it had grown large enough to have reduced the blood flow to the part of my brain that controlled motor functions. At the moment, it would just be the conscious motor functions, but, they told me, as the tumor grew, it would also affect the unconscious motor functions such as the heart. The way it sat meant they couldn't remove it without turning me into a vegetable. I was mortified as I left the hospital in a wheelchair. Life seemed so unfair. I mean, I've always been a healthy person, always been on the move...why me? Why now? I had my whole life ahead of me." Frederike paused to remove fresh tears and blow her nose. "I got worse rapidly, and I knew I would die soon. I had prepared myself, talked to my family to prepare them as well, spoken to a priest etc when Renate - Dieter's sister - came to see me. She gave me a careful smile, as she said: 'Frederike, I think I've found a way to give you another chance. It's slim, but it's there!' She then showed me some info from something called Institute of Applied Cryogenics. They promised to freeze and store people – for a rather large sum of money - who were sick until they could one day be 'repaired'. I thought it was just science fiction, but I didn't have anything to loose. I suppose the short version of it is, that apparently, it worked." Frederike finished.
"Yes, it did. In fact it was one of the very few of those kinds of companies that survived the Gene Wars. They had been smart enough to build their plant underground, complete with it's own power plant and all. Leonard showed me the place once. It was amazing. Hundreds of people were stored in cryogens there. And even though the technology was primitive compared to what we have today, it was very well constructed."
"I suppose I was lucky then, huh?" Frederike said.
"Yes you were, Dearie" Ivanova said, and gave Frederike’s shoulder another squeeze.
"Thanks. I think it helps to talk about this" Frederike said.
"That's also what I'm here for, my dear" Ivanova said with a smile. "Now, what do you say we head back to the hospital, get some dinner, and make sure you get to sleep early?"
"That sounds like a plan" Frederike answered, noticing her own hunger at Ivanova's words.
They chatted a little during dinner in the hospital's cafeteria.
"There's a thing that has puzzled me today" Frederike said after a short pause in their conversation.
"Oh? Just one?" Ivanova said with a smile.
Frederike smiled back. "Well, no...but one that I wonder if you could help me with. At the coffee house, I felt strangely calm when I met Quickpaw. And later, when that Wolftaur couple sat just behind me, I didn't feel any fear at all. Isn't that a bit strange?"
Ivanova gave her a knowing smile. "Not at all. I'm sure that must be Quickpaw's influence. That's one more reason I wanted you to meet hir. Chakats are so good with people."
"Oh?" Frederike said.
"Yes. Well, actually, there's a bit more to it than that. Chakats are empaths. They can 'read' other people's feelings. But even more importantly, they can also project feelings. I told hir a little about you, and while there, shi projected calm and a feeling of being safe to you. That way you got to relax and get used to the fact that there are morphs around you."
"I see. Well, strange as it may sound, I suppose it's true. It worked like a charm, anyway. I mean, I haven't felt any fear at all when passing anyone not human. Not even the Rakshani couple we met earlier on our way to the park. I was still a bit intimidated, but that was mostly because they were both 2 meters 10."
"Well, I'm glad it worked" Ivanova said.
* * *
The next morning Frederike woke up early. She wondered if it had all been a dream, when the door opened, and Ivanova entered. "Breakfast's ready, Dearie" she said in her usual grandmother fashion.
They talked while Frederike ate and got dressed, and then Leonard arrived and told her it was time to meet Shiroi.
Frederike found, that the Skunktaur was a very handsome and nice person. They shook hands, and Shiroi told her that hy was of House Redpaw, which meant hy was a telepath.
Hy asked her to take a seat in the recliner that stood near a small coffee table, while hy laid down on a mat on the other side. Hy poured some coffee for both of them, and started asking her about herself, her previous life etc.
Ivanova and the doctor had left so they could talk just the two of them, but Ivanova had assured Frederike that she was nearby, should she be needed.
"Well Frederike, it's nice to see that both Dr. Quickfox's and Mrs. Selesnjov's treatments have worked. And I think I can find some good workplaces for you to choose between. I'm afraid you're gonna have to go back to the academy and retake some of the subjects. Law will be one of them, but I'm sure that you'll be back in uniform in about a year, without having spoken to someone at one of the academies. How does that sound?"
"That sounds very nice. I was afraid I had to start all over again" Frederike answered.
"Not in your profession. Had you been for instance an engineer, then yes, it would have been almost all over again. But much of the work police officers do have stayed the same, I think" Shiroi said. He paused to offer Frederike a refill of coffee, and then continued.
"So, any place you particularly want to work? Should I go for somewhere in Germany, or do you prefer other places?"
"I don't know. I don't know anyone here apart from Leonard - Dr. Quickfox - Ivanova and you. So I guess one place is as good as the other" Frederike said, and tried not to remind herself how alone she actually was.
"Okay. Well, then, I can see this is a little uncomfortable for you" hy said, and tapped the red fur on hys chest at the word "see". "So maybe I can recommend one for you?"
"Then I can recommend California Police Academy. It's placed near San José, a bit outside of town. You told me that you liked hiking. A few hours drive away is the Blue Peak Springs Foxtaur community. It's a great place to start. My brother has gone there several times. Hy has a Foxtaur vixen as a mate, and whenever they're visiting her family, they usually go hiking there. I've been there once myself, and it's a nice and friendly place."
"That sounds nice. I think I'll go for that. I suppose it would also put a bit of distance to...what I've left behind."
"I'm sure it will. Oh, and you should go there on their annual harvest festival - it's so nice - and it's a great place to meet people."
Shiroi and Frederike talked for a while longer, and then Shiroi decided that she needed a break after the long interview and called for Ivanova. Hy then started to make some calls, first of all to California, where hy talked to the local authorities, the chief of the academy and a number of other people.
Frederike had lunch with Ivanova and Quickpaw (who were on break), and then she was to see Dr. Quickfox for one last checkup.
"Do you know anyone in the Blue Peak Springs village?" Frederike asked. They'd been talking about her interview with Shiroi, and Leonard had assured her that Shiroi's suggestions were right.
"No, but I have a cousin in a nearby village called Mountain Glade. If you wish, I can give you her name and address. She loves guests, and I'm sure she would be delighted to hear your story at some point."
"Thanks...I'd like that" she said.
* * *
Shiroi had Frederike in for some more interviews the next few days. Hy chatted with her to ensure her mental health were as good as could be assumed for someone in her situation, and hy also had a video conference with the headmaster at the academy, so he could ask Frederike some questions to decide what subjects she required and what subjects could be skipped.
They found, that she needed just one year to catch up, and then she would be
(re-)graduated. As semester start was not until 1st of August, she would have a few weeks to relax a little. The rehab program gave her a small amount of money, and also the plane ticket to America, so she would have time to play tourist in her new world. Ivanova suggested that she visited some of the historical monuments and one of the space stations, and Shiroi suggested she went to see some of the Foxtaur villages, perhaps got to know Dr. Quickfox's family and also hys own.
The academy headmaster was a Wolfmorph male, and seemed to Frederike to be a nice person, at least as long as you stayed on his good side. It was strange, he reminded her so much of the headmaster on the academy in Germany in her previous life. Albert Obermeir had been a man in his early sixties. He taught himself sometimes, and was one of the best instructors she’d had. But he also demanded absolute silence from the people in his class, or else he would rip their heads of. Not by screaming at them, but by telling them in a normal, calm voice how their lack of concentration could one day cost them their lives or the lives of others in a way that could not be misunderstood. No one ever needed to be told twice.
Rudolph Blackfoot leaned back in his chair, and said: "Well, in that case Miss Weismann, I’ll look forward to seeing you at my academy. I plan to bunk you with the senior cadets, as I suppose you’ll have most in common with them. I suggest you arrive one day prior to semester start, and I’ll be happy to greet you personally".
"Thank you, Sir" Frederike said.
"Very well then" he said with a nod that indicated the conversation were about to end. "If there are no further questions, I think I’d better head home to the missus. Have a safe journey Miss Weismann". And with that, he signed off.
Shiroi turned to look from the empty comm screen to Frederike. "Well, I suppose that was it. I’ll help you with your traveling arrangements, and of course, I’ll be available if you have any questions, problems or if you just need to talk."
"Thank you Shiroi. Thanks for everything" Frederike said with a smile. She found that she actually looked forward to this new life. Shiroi gave her a comm unit with hys own number already in the address book, and then they said their goodbyes.
Part Two: The Academy
Frederike had enjoyed her small ‘vacation’. Though the money she’d gotten from the rehab program wasn’t exactly a fortune, it had been enough for her to visit the space station in Earth orbit. Seeing Earth from space had been a beautiful sight, not to mention the trip between the station and Earth. She’d also gone to see some of the small Foxtaur villages, and she’d been quite taken with their back to nature way of life. She had gone to meet Leonard’s cousin Dailada, who had been extremely hospitable. The young vixen lived in a den with two other vixens, and when they discovered Frederike’s love for hiking, Dailada had invited Frederike to join her and the others on their next hunting trip.
Dailada had taught Frederike to shoot a bow (though they both agreed that she’d need a lot of practice before choosing other targets than large trees), and Frederike had had the most wonderful vacation she could remember with Dailada and her fellow hunters. She had planned to just visit the vixen perhaps for a cup of coffee, but had ended up staying the rest of her vacation there. She had planned to see things like the monument that were once Hoover Dam, but she’d enjoyed her stay in the Foxtaur village too much. So even though she looked forward to go to the academy, she’d been reluctant to leave Dailada and the other hunter vixens.
On her way to the academy she’d contacted Shiroi to let hym know she was doing well, and hy had been delighted to hear that she’d already gotten new friends.
So it was a very happy Frederike Weismann who went to San José and the California Police Academy.
* * *
It was very hot as Frederike put down her suitcase and went to talk to the receptionist in the main academy building. She felt, that the well air-conditioned reception was a welcome change after several hours in a bus from were Dailada had dropped her off. The bus was driven by a Quange mare, who had a mouth that would send sailors running away covering their ears. Frederike had stared a little at the strange creature, but had fortunately forced herself to stop doing so before she had noticed. The air-condition in the quite crowded bus had died shortly after leaving the stop near the Foxtaur village, and even after opening what few windows the bus had, the bus felt like a sauna. The driver had tried to repair the aircon, but without any luck. Frederike had been sure that the mare had used all her curse words during her attempt at the aircon, but had later been proven wrong after a truck had almost collided with them in an attempt to overtake another truck.
Frederike had decided though, that this should not ruin her happiness, and she’d still smiled when she entered the main academy building.
"How may I help you?" the young man behind the reception desk asked.
"Hi, my name is Frederike Weismann. I’m here to see Mr. Blackfoot. I am supposed to start here the coming semester" she said.
"Okay…just a second" he started to type something on his computer. He looked up at her, wondering why Mr. Blackfoot had decided to greet this particular freshman in person. "Mr. Blackfoot can see you in half an hour. His office is on the top floor, room six-oh-five".
"Thanks." Frederike collected her suitcase, which contained all her (limited) personal belongings, and headed for the elevator.
When Frederike entered Rudolph Blackfoot’s office 35 minutes later, she found the Wolfmorph sitting behind his desk. He smiled as she entered, and Frederike smiled back.
He shook her hand and welcomed her, and indicated for her to sit in one of the two chairs opposing his own.
Blackfoot didn’t waste time, and went straight to business. "We have made a study plan for you, and I’m afraid that your first semester is going to be a bit tougher than the other cadets’. But it was either that or adding yet another semester to your stay with us."
"That’s ok by me. I’ll much rather be back in uniform as soon as possible" Frederike said.
"Good. Now, Shir Shiroi didn’t give me much time to handle the logistics, so I’m afraid we’re going to have to bunk you in a ‘taur dorm room. Sergeant Graymuzzle, who is in charge of most of the logistics here, will help you settle in. The receptionists can help you get there if needed."
"Thank you, Sir" Frederike said.
"Very well. Now, to make sure that I’ve been correct in assigning you new subjects, I’ll leave you to lieutenant Quicktail, who will test you on some of the more physical matters. Shi will join us shortly. Do you have any questions?"
"Um…I might after having read my study plan."
"Of course. I’ll be here until fifteen hundred hours, but otherwise, my XO will be able to help you. Now…after my talk with Shir Shiroi about your....um…past, I will also recommend that you see our local councilor, Mr. Daniel Brown, on a regular basis – at least in the beginning. I hope you agree upon that?"
"Yes Sir. I suppose that’s good. I’ve been so fortunate to find myself some new friends already, and Shiroi, my doctor and the nurse in Edinburgh have helped me a lot…but this is still very new and strange to me."
"I suppose it is" he said, and gave her another smile. "Feel free to see Mr. Brown as often as you see fit. I prefer that the people we train to be police officers and are one day going to issue a firearm are mentally stable" he continued.
"Thank you, Sir" she said.
The doorbell chimed. "Come!" he said, and the door opened to reveal a yellowish-brown Chakat.
"Ah, glad you could join us, Shir Quicktail. We’re about done here." The Wolfmorph looked at Frederike to see if she had any more questions. When she didn’t, he turned back to the newcomer. "If you’ll just take care of Miss Weismann for awhile, and then send her off to Mr. Graymuzzle’s office. I look forward to hearing your results."
The Chakat nodded, and turned to look at Frederike. "Come this way, please" shi said. Frederike did so, and followed the Chakat out of the office.
Quicktail led her to Graymuzzle’s office, and she was allowed to drop off her suitcase. Shi asked the Foxmorph for some clothes for PT for her, and they left for the gymnasium. "Sorry for not letting you settle in first, but the Old Man is having a meeting later today, and he wants the results of my tests of you before he leaves" shi told her.
When they arrived at the gym, the PT officer told her to change, and then shi would see what her capabilities were. Frederike were hard pressed to follow the Chakat in the running exercise, but even though she was drenched in sweat (and Quicktail were panting annoyingly little), the results seemed to please the Chakat as shi entered hir notes on hir old fashioned clip board.
A man in his late thirties joined them, and was introduced as Sergeant Simmons, who was Quicktail’s assistant.
"Yep, I’m your fellow torturer for today" he said when Quicktail had made the introduction. Quicktail then instructed him to make a series of attacks on her to see how she did in the martial arts.
"Very well, Miss Weismann" Quicktail said. "It seems, that your previous instructor did a fine job. But I intend to make you better. First of all, some morphs have claws or teeth, and some are four legged. I guess I’ll have to focus in that area with you, just as expected. I still say you’re a bit of a slow runner, but I can assure you that will change. I guess we’re done here. Simmons, if you’d take her back to Graymuzzle. I need to see the Old Man." And with that, shi turned and left.
"Don’t worry – shi’s not really that bad" Simmons said as the Chakat left. "Shi might seem a little sadistic at some times, but that’s part of being a PT officer. Behind that hard exterior, beats a heart of stone" he continued with a smile.
"I heard that" shi commented on hir way out.
Frederike smiled back at Simmons. "So, shi’s really a nice person?" she asked.
"That depends. If shi sees someone trying to be lazy, that person will be doing laps so he’ll never forget it. Shir Quicktail used to work as a drill sergeant for Starfleet Marine Corps. But shi’s very skilled, and most people like hir…that is, as much as you can ever like a PT officer" he said with a smile.
"She’s all yours, Sarge" Simmons said as he ushered Frederike into Graymuzzle’s office.
The Foxmorph answered with a grunt, and only when Simmons had left did he look up from his terminal. "Well, then" he said and got to his feet. "Let’s get you outfitted, and then I’ll show you to your dorm room. As the Old Man has no doubt told you, I’ve had to bunk you with the ‘taurs."
She nodded, and he started taking her measurements, and then he found her some outfit. When finished, they left for the dorm rooms, and he showed her where she was to live.
The room had two bedrooms, a small living room with a wall kitchen and a dining table with one chair. The bathroom was rather large, but Frederike supposed that it had to be to allow for taurforms.
"Don’t worry, the facilities are made so they can be reconfigured between ‘taur and biped use" he said when he noticed her studying the bathroom.
"Thanks. Um, I take it I’ll have a roommate?" she asked.
He gave her a smile. "I thought you’d like to know that. Yes, you’ll share the room with" he paused to look at his clip board, "a Chakat Goldstripe. Shi’s two semesters from graduation, just like I’ve understood you are."
"Okay, thanks" Frederike said. The Foxmorph tod nodded and left Frederike to her unpacking.
* * *
Frederike was humming to herself as she put her new clothes in the closet in her bedroom, when she heard the door open. A black furred head with golden hair poked trough the half open door. "Why hello there….are you my new roomie?" the Chakat asked.
"Yes, my name is Frederike Weismann" she said and stuck out her hand to greet the newcomer.
The Chakat entered the room, and returned the greeting, giving her a firm handshake. "I am Chakat Goldstripe, daughter of Sunfur and Starnight" shi said. "I thought I would get a new roommate, but I had expected another ‘taur. Uh, not that I’m disappointed…just surprised that is" shi said and blushed.
"Well, I’m afraid you’re stuck with just me" Frederike said, and smiled to let Goldstripe know she hadn’t been offended.
The Chakat sighed in relief. "Sorry…um…me and my blabbermouth" shi said and then smiled back. "So…I haven’t seen you here before – I take it that you’re a freshman, then?"
"Well…the answer is yes and no actually. I’ve only just started, but I’ve only one year to go" she answered.
"Okay…something tells me that holds an interesting story" Goldstripe said. Shi loved people with interesting stories, so shi sat hirself on hir haunches and waited with anticipation.
Frederike paused to look at the Chakat. The description that she felt fitted best was that of an inverted tiger. Goldstripe had black fur, but with golden-yellow fur in tiger-like stripes on hir body, except for hir head, that had black fur but with long hair in the same golden color. As Frederike told her story, Goldstripe listened attentively, only to pause to ask her a question every now and then. When Frederike was finished, she sat on her bed, while Goldstripe had lain down on the carpet in front of her.
"Wow, that was quite a story" Goldstripe said.
"Yeah, I guess you could say that" Frederike agreed, and blinked back the tears as she’d once more come to think of her old life.
This didn’t go unnoticed by Goldstripe. "Oh my…I guess I shouldn’t have asked you to tell that story. Now you look all upset and…"
"No it’s okay. It actually feels good to share it with others." Frederike sighed and got up. Goldstripe did too, and put hir hand on Frederike’s arm. "Are you sure you’re okay? Y’know, I can be" shi smiled "if you’ll pardon the pun, curious as a cat sometimes."
"No really. It’s okay. Um…maybe we could uh…well, have you eaten yet?"
"Nope. How about I take my new roomie out for dinner…and perhaps your throat have become a bit dry too after all that talking. I know a small place downtown…." Goldstripe said.
"That sounds nice" Frederike said and meant it.
"Excellent. I’ll just stuff my bags into my room so our little living room looks civilized, and I’ll be right there!" And with that shi got up, and jumped out to fetch hir bags.
* * *
They took the bus to the downtown area, and Goldstripe led Frederike through the streets of San José. Shi led the way through some narrow alleys, until they reached a small place with a neon sign that read simply "Pepe’s Cantina".
"I would never have guessed there would be a restaurant here" Frederike said. "How did you find it?"
"One of my classmates, an Alfredo Garcia, comes from this part of town. It’s not much, as it serves mainly the locals here, but it’s cheap, and –trust me– it has the best Mexican food you can get. So I hope you like Mexican."
"Oh, I love Mexican. Just as long as you ask them to go a little easy on the chili."
"Sissy" Goldstripe teased as shi opened the door.
Pepe, the proprietor, was a fat man in his early fifties, and it was obvious that he needed a shave. But the place was cozy, and he turned out to be much nicer than he looked.
"Ah, Goldstripe. Amigo mio!" he said as he came down to the table, and with a smile he gave the Chakat a big hug.
"Hello Pepe, good to see you again. I’d like to introduce you to Frederike Weismann, my new roommate."
"Siiii" he said, smiled and turned to shake Frederike’s hand. "Nice to meet you. Friends of Goldstripe are also friends of mine. Now, ladies, what can I get you, huh?"
"Hm…could you get us each a Tortillas Grande, your own special version? Oh and hold the chili a bit on my friend’s. And for God’s sake, two large beers" Goldstripe ordered.
"Si, I will get that right away"
He scribbled their order on his little notepad, and went to the kitchen to place their order.
"I hope you’re hungry, because Tortillas Grande lives up to it’s name."
"That sounds good. I just remember I didn’t have lunch today."
Pepe returned with their beer. "So, Goldstripe, how was your trip back home?" he asked. "Your parents still live in Perth?"
"Yes they do, and it was nice to be home. My sire and my younger sister had finally finished turning the lawn into a real Japanese garden. Complete with little streams, bonsai trees and all."
"Magniffico. Oh, excuse me" he said, and turned to greet a new set of customers.
"Your...sire…and sister has a Japanese garden?" Frederike asked.
"Yes. My sister still lives at home. Shi and my sire – my dad" shi added at Frederike’s puzzlement over the word ‘sire’, "both have a passion for gardening. My sister actually studies botany. I’ll be happy to show you the pictures I took. I have one in my wallet." Shi paused to find a picture that she gave Frederike. On the picture was two Chakats that tended to a large Japanese garden. They’d both turned to smile at the camera, and one of them also seemed to wave with hir tail. One of the two was black like Goldstripe, but with white spots instead of stripes, while the other had yellow fur with black and white spots, except on hir tail, where the black, yellow and white were stripes. Frederike assumed that the former was the father – or sire to use the Chakat term – of Goldstripe. The garden was very beautiful, and obviously well kept.
"Wow, what a beautiful garden. They must’ve used years to achieve that" Frederike said.
"They have. Oh, and this is nothing. It’s actually winter in Perth now – you should see it during spring and summer. The Japanese cherry trees are so beautiful during springtime."
Frederike looked at the picture again. "I’d like that. Your sire and sister seems like nice people."
"Oh, they are." Goldstripe was about to say something more when Manuela, Pepe’s wife and the cook of the cantina, arrived with their dinner. Frederike was surprised by the size of the plates, but she supposed that someone like Goldstripe might eat a lot. Apparently they’d forgotten to scale Frederike’s plate down.
"Wow…this looks so good" Frederike said.
"Wait ‘till you taste it" Goldstripe said with a smile.
They both dug in with gusto, and Frederike had to agree with Goldstripe. This was without a doubt the best Mexican food she’d had.
They continued to chat through dinner, and Frederike asked Goldstripe about hir family, Perth and Australia in general. She found that Goldstripe not only loved to hear stories, but also liked to tell them. Frederike learned, that Chakats apparently had very large families. Hir parents had four children: Lightpaws, Goldstripe, Beetail and their youngest, little Snowpelt. Goldstripe carried a picture of the latter too, and the little Chakat cub was white except for hir golden hair and the black tip on hir tail.
"Shi’s adorable" Frederike said as she returned the picture to Goldstripe.
"Thanks. We’re all very fond of the little devil. My sire is hir mother, and shi likes hir a lot…except perhaps for the time when the little furball ate hir favorite bonsai."
Frederike laughed at that. "I suppose kids are all little terrors. My nephew once crawled on top of a cupboard. It turned over, and all the glasses inside it shattered. Some of those glasses were antiques. Needless to say, his parents weren’t thrilled."
Goldstripe laughed. "Did he survive?"
"What, the falling or his parents? Heh, both actually. He was only four, so he got off by being sent to bed without dinner. What about Snowpelt?"
"Shi was lucky – it was one of the very few years there were snow in Perth. Shi hid in the garden for several hours. Poor little thing. Starnight decided that being out in the snow, hiding and freezing, were punishment enough."
They both laughed at that, and Frederike couldn’t help but think how strange this afternoon and evening had been. She’d only known Goldstripe for a few hours, and already they were becoming very good friends.
When they got back to their dorm room, they compared study plans, and found that they at least had some subjects together, even though Frederike’s plan were quite different from the other cadets’.
* * *
The sun was shining from a cloudless sky, and the cadets stood at attention in their PT uniforms. Chakat Quicktail and hir assistant walked along the line of people staring straight ahead. "I’ve yet to see more sloppiness from the lot of you. It seems to me, that you’ve all become fat during the summer…but I can assure you that will change. You people are just as much in shape as a fat old country sheriff a month from retirement. And I will not have it – not on my watch!" Quicktail growled. Shi looked at the cadets, and then at hir assistant. "Sgt. Simmons, take them on a nice little starter exercise. Just to get them warmed up. Say…20 km, and then bring them to me at the gym."
"Will-do, Sir" he answered.
There were groans of unhappiness from the cadets as Simmons ordered them to start running. Frederike wouldn’t have minded the run normally, but on this hot summer’s day with absolutely no wind to cool them, she thought it was a little much. ‘At least I’m lucky’ she thought and looked at some of the morphs. ‘If I went around in a winter coat like that, I’d drop.’
Simmons took them out the main gate, and started them down the street. As they left the academy campus behind, he turned away from the street and into the forest near the academy. Frederike couldn’t help but think that it was good they hadn’t put the academy in the Arizona desert or something like that. At least in the forest there would be partial shade.
A white Foxmorph vixen ran next to Frederike, and she huffed like an ancient steam locomotive. Frederike looked at her, and wondered why she was gasping so much for air.
"Are you okay?" Frederike asked.
The vixen looked sidewards at her, and answered between gasps. "Yes…It’s just so…damn….hot" she replied. Frederike looked at some of the other morphs. Though everyone (human and morph alike) were gasping for air, none of them seemed to have the problem that the white fox had.
After five km, the group stopped to stretch. Frederike stayed near the white vixen. "I’d guess that the summer would be tough for all morphs, but you seem worse of than the others. Why’s that?" Frederike asked.
"I’m a white fox" she answered as if that explained everything. When she noticed Frederike’s puzzlement, she took one more deep breath and continued. "My kind was made with artic foxes as templates. Though I shed some of my fur, it’s still too hot for my taste."
"I’m sorry" Frederike offered.
"Well, I chose to come here, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much" she answered with a smile.
"It seems like you’ve got so much energy, that you’ve started chatting." Simmons said from behind them. "All right people, of we go. And don’t forget: if we’re too slow, you all know that Quicktail will have us all do this all over again, so get movin’" he said and started jogging. The vixen looked exhausted, but got to her feet.
"You two, Ms Recently Defrosted and Ms Snowprincess, up front" he told them.
They did, and Simmons let the vixen set the pace, only pushing them so much as to keep up with the clock.
When they finally got back, Quicktail sent them all inside to get some water. Frederike never thought that water could taste this good. She’d been through PT before, but not in 38 C. She looked at the vixen again, and found that she looked back at her. The fox wiped her mouth in her fur. "Thanks for running with me out there" she said.
"Likewise. I’m Frederike by the way" Frederike said.
The vixen smiled, and offered her hand. "Ashley" she said.
Frederike shook her hand. "Why did Simmons call you ‘Ms Recently Defrosted’ by the way?" Ashley asked.
"I guess because in a sense that’s true. I have just been woken from cryostasis a little over a month ago" Frederike answered.
"Really?" Ashley said, and look a little suspiciously at her.
"Yes. I was frozen in the 1990’ies due to an illness. But why did he call you Snowprincess?" Frederike said, and tried to change the subject.
"Well, I’d say that would be obvious" she said and pointed at her own white fur.
"Yeah, um, that’s not what I meant…"
"Oh, you mean…no-no, Simmons may be many things, but he’s not a fur-hater. He just finds a nickname for each and everyone. I guess that’s his way…" Ashley said. She was interrupted by Quicktail.
"All right, enough drinking and chitchatting. All of you head for the gym. Martial arts time!"
Frederike was lucky enough to be paired off with Ashley, as Quicktail had decided that it would be good for both of them. Frederike, because she needed to learn how to deal with morphs, and Ashley because she would benefit from Frederike’s experience with hand to hand combat with bipeds in general.
Later that day, they ate lunch together, and Ashley introduced Frederike to her boyfriend Bhaskar, whom Frederike learned, came from Delhi. They had met before they went to the academy, when Bhaskar had been on vacation in northern Canada.
The next Friday Frederike asked Goldstripe if shi’d make a reservation at Pepe’s, and then invited Ashley and Bhaskar along.
The four of them became good friends over the next couple of months, and spent much of their time together. Frederike’s best friend though, was Goldstripe. The Chakat was nearly always in a good mood, and shi’d come to know San José quite well in hir time at the academy, and the two of them often went out together, either in San José or else by bus to San Francisco.
* * *
Frederike threw her bag on her bed, and sunk into the chair in front of her terminal with a sigh. It had been a very long day, and she was quite exhausted. First a tough session of PT, and then Law for the rest of the day. After a while, she finally managed to turn on the terminal, and was delighted when the screen told her that there was a mail from Dailada.
As was usual with the Foxtaur vixen, she didn’t write much. The subject said "Call me" and the message body read "Call me when you’re home! Love Dailada."
Frederike did as requested, and soon after the comm. was answered. The smiling vixen in the other end of the line was Shina, one of Dailada’s fellow huntresses. "Oh, hi there! I take it you got Dailada’s mail, then. I’ll fetch her right away" she said, and called for Dailada, who replaced Shina on the comm.
"Ah, good to see you again. What are you doing the weekend two weeks from now?"
"Um…as in 25-26th of October?"
"Nothing special. I’d thought of asking my roomie Goldstripe if shi’d like to go see a movie…but I take it you had something in mind?"
"I do. Why don’t you take Goldstripe and ask hir to join you at our place. It’s time for our harvest festival – and we’d like to invite you stay at our place for the weekend and celebrate."
"That would be so great! Thank you Dailada. I’ll ask Goldstripe as soon as I see her. But I’ll definitely be there!"
"That sounds fine. Drop me a mail when you know if shi’ll join us. So…see you then" Dailada said with a smile.
It was late in the afternoon on Friday the 24th of October when Frederike and Goldstripe arrived at the den Dailada shared with her fellow huntresses. They’d taken the bus to a nearby city, and Dailada had picked them up and driven them to the small village of her clan.
Shina had bought some corn on the market earlier that day, and she served it with some herbal sauce and some deer they’d shot and prepared themselves. Dailada and the others liked Goldstripe immediately, and it was quite late when they finally decided to call it a night.
The next day Dailada and the others took them to the festival, and both Frederike and Goldstripe enjoyed it a lot. There were all kinds of competitions, small shops selling food or different kinds Foxtaur-made goods. Frederike found herself a leather vest adorned with what seemed to be a replica of Native-American drawings. Goldstripe found a woven top with a matching tail ribbon, and they all watched something called the Cross-Country Race. Shina partook in the race, that went through all different kinds of terrain, and Dailada had gotten them good places near a river, where the contesters should cross on a rope bridge, which had – just to up the challenge – been greased in the middle section, so that people had a chance to fall in the river, much to the entertainment of the spectators. When they’d seen Shina pass (and seen her almost fall in the river), they walked to the finish line. Shina and the other contenders had to pass some more obstacles, so Dailada, Frederike, Goldstripe and Laita (Shina and Dailada’s fellow huntress) arrived to see her finish in the 6th place.
After congratulating her and hearing her tell about the race, they decided to head back to the den so Shina could take a well deserved shower, and the rest could drop off some of the items they’d bought on the festival market.
"I am so going to enjoy this" Shina said as she headed for the shower. "Though fun, it was a bit though. So I might take a while to let the hot water loosen my muscles. So if the rest of you want to return to the festival, I’ll just catch up with you later."
"If you happen to have such sore muscles, I might be able to help" Goldstripe said.
"I’m rather good at massaging people, or so I’ve been told" Goldstripe explained.
"Yeah, that’s true. When I’ve been studying too long, there’s nothing better than a pair of strong Chakat hands to help my acing shoulders" Frederike said.
Shina smiled, and signaled for Goldstripe to join her.
Frederike, Dailada and Laita leaned back in the sofa. Frederike had taken of her shoes, as the taur-style sofa was rather big for a mere biped like her, and besides, it was good to relax after walking around the festival all day long. Not that she had anything against that. There were so many interesting things to see. As she sat in the sofa with the others, she decided that she’d try to make it a tradition to go to this place every time the Harvest Festival were held.
After a while Shina and Goldstripe returned.
"Feeling better?" Dailada asked.
"Much better. It was nice to get the dust and mud out of my fur. And Goldstripe is an angel when it comes to sore muscles." She smiled and looked at Goldstripe. "Thanks" she said and gave Goldstripe a hug.
"Any time, dear" shi answered and returned the hug and gave Shina a lick-kiss.
When they returned to the festival area, it was almost evening, and the vixens took Frederike and Goldstripe to the banquet area, and found a good table. Shina managed to find a chair for Frederike, a bunch of which had been thoughtfully provided to accommodate the bipedal guests at the banquet. All the food and even the wine were local, Frederike learned, and from what she tasted, those Foxtaurs certainly knew what they were doing. After they’d finished, they all sat and chatted.
"So, any news from Leonard by the way?" Frederike asked. They’d had so much to talk about and so much to see and do, that she hadn’t even had time to ask about Leonard and the others.
"Leonard is doing quite well. The rehab program is progressing fine, and he just told me, that he and his wife are expecting a new addition to their family" Dailada answered.
"Yep, and to celebrate, they have invited Shina, Laita and me to join them on their winter vacation."
"Really? Where to?"
"Chakona" Dailada answered, and when she noticed Frederike’s puzzlement, she continued. "It’s a planet that’s sort of become the home planet of Chakats. It’s a very nice place, with lots of beautiful nature, good beaches…" Dailada smiled.
"Lucky you. Well, I hope you’ll have a good time. Oh, and give them my regards."
"I’ll be sure to do that" Dailada said.
Goldstripe heard the conversation, and joined in. "If you’re in Equatoria for any length of time, my aunt Sandrunner lives there. Shi’d be happy to let you stay at hir place. Shi as pineapple farm a few kilometers from town and shi owns a piece of the beach."
"Wau, that’ll be great." Laita said. "But will shi have room for a horde of Foxtaurs?"
"No problem there. Hir house is designed to accommodate Chakat size families, so you’ll have plenty of room."
"Won’t we be intruding?" Laita asked, not wanting to just invade Sandrunner’s house.
"Not at all. Your worst problem will be to be allowed to leave. Shi loves visitors just as much as you guys if not more, and besides, hir children have all grown up and hir mate died a few years back."
"That sounds sad and lonely" Shina said.
"Luckily, Shi has found a new lover, but shi is a lawyer and works in Equatoria, and sometimes Amistad. But still, shi’ll love it to have a bunch of Foxtaurs in hir house."
It was quickly decided, that the time they stayed in Equitoria would be at Sandrunner’s place, and Goldstripe got to entertain the others much of the rest of the evening with descriptions of Chakona. Frederike found it extremely fascinating to hear of another planet. She hoped that she could one day (when she had more money) go with Goldstripe to see this wonderful world. She had always wondered how it would be to set foot on another planet (being a sci-fi fan and all), but even though she’d been on a space station orbiting Earth, it was only now, she realized, that she actually understood that she had that opportunity.
The next day Frederike and Goldstripe were driven to the bus stop by Dailada, and then they took the bus back to the academy after hugging her goodbye.
Part 3: A very merry Christmas.
Goldstripe sighed in relief as shi closed the door to the dorm room with hir tail. "What a day" she said and but down hir bags and carisak. Shi had spent all day buying Christmas presents for hir family, and shi looked forward to getting back to Australia to visit hir family. All shi needed now were the gift wrapping, and then shi could pack. Shi stuck hir head into Frederike’s room, and found her laying on her bed with a book.
"Have you really been in here all day??? The weather is beautiful outside" shi said. When Frederike didn’t respond, shi went inside and tugged gently on her trouser leg. "Frederike?" shi said to get hir roommate’s attention.
Frederike turned away from the book and looked at the wall. "Please leave me alone, Goldstripe. I’m not in the mood to talk right now" she said.
Goldstripe looked at her, and took a step further and put a hand on her shoulder, gently caressing it with hir thumb. "What’s wrong Frederike?" shi asked with concern.
"Nothing" she lied.
"Frederike, it’s almost Christmas, everybody is hap-…..oh. Sorry. I forgot" shi said. Frederike didn’t have any family to spend Christmas with. Shi heard Frederike started sobbing. Shi tried to calm her down a little, but without luck. Frederike turned away again, and Goldstripe silently left the room. Shi’d suddenly got an idea. Shi went to the comm. unit, and called hir parents. "Hello dear. Merry Christmas!" hir mother said.
"Merry Christmas to you too mother" shi answered.
"So, have you packed?" hir mother asked.
"Not yet. Um, mum, do you think we would have room for one more?" shi asked.
"Of course. Have you found someone we should meet?" Sunfur said with a wink.
"No…it’s not that" shi said, returning hir mother’s smile. "Frederike, my roommate. She doesn’t have any family. So I wondered if…"
"Of course, dear. I’ll let the others know. We still haven’t bought all the food yet, so I’ll tell your sire to get food for one more."
"You’re welcome my dear."
Shi then said hir goodbyes to hir mother, and went back to Frederike’s room. Shi carefully knocked on the door. "Come" Frederike said in a low voice.
Goldstripe entered, and walked up to Frederike’s bed.
"God, I feel so alone Goldstripe" she managed.
"No one should be alone at Christmas" Goldstripe said and gently stroked Fredrike’s back. "Frederike, how would you like to go to Australia with me? You could spend Christmas with me and my family, and try out a Chakat style Christmas" shi said.
Frederike pushed herself up on one elbow. "Really? I mean…Christmas is a family thing and…"
"…and Chakats are a very friendly, hospitable and social lot. I thought you’d learned that already" shi said with a smile. "I already told my folks. You’re quite welcome to join us."
"Thank you, Goldstripe" she said, and hugged hir. "Thank you so much."
"I take that as a yes" shi said and hugged Frederike back. "Should I book passage for you right away?"
"I guess you’d better. I don’t want to cancel this just because I can’t get a seat on some airplane!" Frederike said, and got up. She hugged Goldstripe again. "Thank you once again. You’re a real life saver, you know that?"
"Hey…that’s what friends are for, right? And as I said, we Chakats are very social. We love guests, and to us the term ‘the more the merrier’ is almost a lifestyle."
They went to Frederike’s terminal, and Goldstripe helped her order a ticket as well as ensure that they got to sit together on the plane.
* * *
The hot summer air hit Frederike as she left the plane with Goldstripe. The sun shone down upon them from a cloudless sky, and a nice cool breeze ensured that it didn’t get too hot.
When they’d gotten through baggage claim, Frederike saw a golden-yellow Chakat waving for them, and Goldstripe immediately turned hir luggage cart towards hir. The two Chakats gave each other a deep loving hug and a lick-kiss, and then Goldstripe turned to look at both of them. "Mum, this is Frederike Weismann, Frederike, this is Sunfur, my mother" shi introduced.
Frederike moved closer to shake hir hand, but was instead met with the traditional Chakat hug. "Good to see you, my dear" shi said. "Have the two of you had a nice flight?" shi asked.
"Absolutely" Frederike said.
"Yes, although the food was crappy" Goldstripe said with an innocent look.
Hir mother looked at hir with a frown. "Always thinking with your bellies, huh dear? You know, you’ve taken too much after your sire there. But don’t you two worry – Starnight has already fired up the grills. Shi’ve put two big turkeys and a whole pig on them, so no one will starve!" shi said with a smile, and started leading them out to the parking lot.
They entered Sunfur’s PTV, and shi moved it to the highway and turned over controls to the highway autopilot.
Shi told them the local news and gossip and every now and then pointed out sights of interest for Frederike’s benefit.
A chime interrupted hir speech followed by a gentle voice. "Warning: you are now leaving the automated highway, please stand by for manual control in 5-4-3-2-1…manual control engaged" the voice said.
"You still haven’t turned that annoying thing off?" Goldstripe asked hir mother.
"No. It’s actually Starnight who prefers to have it. Shi prefers to relax on the highway. Shi needs the wakeup call." Goldstripe smiled. That was hir sire all right. Shi always preferred when hir machines gave vocal info for some reason. Hir train of thought was interrupted by Frederike. "It’s really nice here, although it’s a little strange to have this weather at Christmas time. I grew up in northern Germany, were it’s winter now. Sometimes we even had snow this time of year."
"Well, the only white you’ll see at this Christmas party is our youngest, Snowpelt, and Lightpaws’s vanilla ice cream. You’re gonna love that"
"Sounds good. Oh, and once again, thanks for inviting me" she said.
"No one should be alone at Christmas" shi said in echo of hir daughter’s earlier words. "And besides, we’re a large family anyway. Lightpaws has two mates and five children, Beetail has one mate and two children – who all live with us by the way, and add to that Grayspot’s – oh that’s one of Lightpaws’s mates by the way – parents and sister."
Sunfur swung the PTV into the driveway and turned off the engine. When they entered the house, they were greeted by the entire family. Frederike was now prepared for the Chakat style greeting, so she wasn’t surprised by the many hugs. What did surprise her was one of Lightpaws’s mates. He was a very large Wolftaur male, who introduced himself as Bearstalker. Though he was both strong and very tall (two meters five by Frederike’s measurement), he was both gentle and had, she were later to discover, great sense of humor.
"Goldstripe, Frederike" Sunfur called from the kitchen. They went to see hir, and found hir and Beetail hard at work. "You two are going to sleep in the office, as we’re a little short of space. I hope you don’t mind sharing a mattress?" Goldstripe looked at Frederike, who answered for both of them. "No problem, we’ve been living together for several months now."
"Good. And if the two of you would help us make the salad ready when you’ve put your bags away, we’d be grateful" Sunfur said.
They both nodded and did as requested.
Soon after, the food was ready, and when Starnight called to lunch, a virtual stampede for the table started. They started out with grilled salmon, and then moved on to the turkeys and the pig.
"This is almost like the Oktober Fest in Munic. At that time – or at least it was so in my time – everyone would gather at large tables to eat and drink beer."
"That sounds like a good tradition" Bearstalker said. "Did I hear you just volunteer to come back next October and arrange things?" he said with a wink.
"Yay! More food!" Snowpelt said with hir mouth full of turkey. Shi was still learning to speak, but apparently, shi had inherited Starnight and Goldstripe’s lust for good food. Everyone laughed at hir remark, and Frederike reached behind Goldstripe to stroke Snowpelt. "Well, I wouldn’t dare disappoint the little ones…."
The Christmas lunch continued in merriment, and Frederike felt like a stuffed turkey when the remaining food was removed from the table. At that time things had cooled down a little, as the Christmas lunch had changed to be Christmas dinner since they’d been sitting at the table for so long.
"Don’t forget there’s also dessert" Bearstalker said to her. Frederike groaned and everyone laughed.
"You know, I’ll be insulted if you don’t eat any of the ice cream" Lightpaws said in mock anger, only to be rewarded with another groan from Frederike and another laugh from the rest of the table.
"I tried to keep up with you guys, but damn, you taurs eat a lot" she sighed.
"Oh you did well" Starnight said with a smile.
"That’s because you had to put that homemade BBQ sauce on the pig. It’s so unfairly delicious" Frederike retorted with a smile of her own.
"Heh…I know" Starnight said. "I started putting it on this morning, and have slowly added more as the pig roasted on the grill." Shi paused for a moment before shi continued. "Well actually, I think it would be nice with a break too before the ice cream. How about we give Frederike and the rest of us a chance to build up some more room?"
A murmur of general agreement came from all around the table, except from some of the cubs who had been saving their appetites. Their disappointment disappeared though, when they were allowed to play in the garden. Starnight invited Frederike for a tour of the garden, and they were joined by Beetail. Frederike was impressed with what she saw. Everything was so nicely arranged and well groomed. Miniature waterfalls and streams all around both cooled and watered the garden as well as providing gentle sounds of water splashing and gurgling.
"This is so beautiful Beetail" she said as shi showed her a miniature Buddhist temple with it’s own miniature garden. "One could spend hours here, just enjoying the garden" Frederike continued. "Especially if one had a hammock" she said with a smile.
"One does. We have several in fact." Beetail said.
"Yeah – if you want to sleep off some of the food, we can find one for you" Starnight added.
"Oh…thanks…but I think I can manage" Frederike said with a slight blush. "I’d like to see the entire garden. My grandfather had a rosary. I remember when I was a child…it was so very beautiful. Though I wouldn’t know how to keep a garden, let alone take the time to do so, I admire places like this."
Starnight were about to say something when Sunfur called them back to the table.
The ice cream was everything they’d promised it to be and more. Frederike enjoyed it to the fullest, although she was careful this time not to eat too much.
After dinner coffee and tea was served, and when dusk came, they lit candles all over the terrace where the party took place.
"Now we usually sing some Christmas carols, and then we give the cubs a small present each to lessen the wait for tomorrow" Goldstripe told Frederike.
"That sounds nice" she said with a smile.
"Yeah, it is" Goldstripe said and looked at Frederike. Shi was glad to see her so happy and content.
Frederike found that she liked the Australian customs for Christmas Eve, and when Beetail and hir mate announced that they had decided to call it a night, she was surprised to discover that it was actually two o’clock in the night. They’d just sat there, chatting and enjoying themselves after the caroling and then the cubs had been put to bed with their new toys. Soon after Starnight and Sunfur announced that they’d also hit the sack.
The rest of them chatted a while more, and then they too went to the bedrooms.
Frederike looked at Goldstripe in the near-darkness, and found that shi looked back at her.
"Thank you for the most wonderful Christmas Eve" Frederike said, and hugged hir.
"You are most welcome" Goldstripe said and hugged her back.
To skip past the mature content, please click here
Frederike kissed hir on the cheek, and then they looked at each other. Goldstripe then gave her a lick-kiss on her cheek.
"May I kiss you again?" Goldstripe said as they lay in each others embrace on the mattress.
Frederike was a little shy about this, but she really liked the Chakat. Shi had been her best friend and had been there when she had nothing and no one. But she didn’t know how to proceed. Finally she whispered "yes" and let Goldstripe lead.
Goldstripe gently kissed her on the mouth. Frederike had thought it would feel strange to kiss a Chakat (or any other nonhuman for that matter), but when it happened, it felt just right. She quickly found herself kissing Goldstripe back.
They lay for a while together, just hugging, stroking and kissing when Frederike felt a soft furry hand gently caress her right breast. She sucked in air, and looked into Goldstripe’s eyes. Goldstripe stared back to look for Frederike’s permission to continue. Shi was rewarded with another kiss, and by Frederike returning the gesture.
"Mmmm…..this is so nice" Goldstripe whispered. "I wasn’t sure if you were ready for this."
"Oh, it’s not that new to me. Remember I told you about me and my fiancée sharing our house with our sisters? Well, sometimes we switched partners."
Goldstripe smiled at that, and soon Frederike were as bare chested as the Chakat. They started licking each other’s breasts, and Frederike was surprised to find that shi was lactating. When Goldstripe saw her surprise, shi said "we call it milkwater. All Chakats produce this all the time, except for when we’re nursing cubs. Then it’s changed to real mother’s milk"
"Really? Well, it tastes okay" she said and giggled as she once again caressed Goldstripe’s breasts.
Goldstripe responded to that by slowly pulling down Frederike’s panties with first hir handpaws and then hir left hind leg. She was a little afraid Frederike wouldn’t like this, but she was positively surprised when Frederike spread her legs in invitation.
Goldstripe moved down and started licking Frederike, who sighed in happiness.
"Oh Goldstripe…" she moaned, and then looked at hir. "Take me…take me now!"
Goldstripe then instructed Frederike to stand on all fours. Shi then moved to mount her, and Frederike moaned when she felt Goldstripe inside her. She closed her eyes and let her be carried away by their combined lust. She felt Goldstripe’s thrusts, and hir continual caress of her breasts, and when they finally climaxed, it was like nothing she’d ever felt. She almost fainted from the experience that seemed to go on for ever.
They laid down together, enjoying their afterglow in each other’s arms. Frederike kissed Goldstripe again. "Mmmmm…this was so good honey" Frederike whispered.
"Yeah, it was" Goldstripe said and kissed Frederike back.
"Um…did you use that empathy thing your kind has?" Frederike asked.
"I did. Did you like it?" Goldstripe said.
"Absolutely. It was amazing to feel what you felt at the same time. I’ve always wondered how a male orgasm felt. Now I know."
They both smiled at that, and to Goldstripe’s utter delight, Frederike whispered "I’m ready for another round…how about you Sweetie?"
Goldstripe started to get up, when shi felt Frederike’s hand gently push hir back down.
"No…not like that. Lie on you back and relax. I’d like to try something."
Goldstripe obediently did so, and was rewarded first by a kiss on each nipple from Frederike. She then laid herself on Goldstripe’s lower belly, and Goldstripe could feel the wonderful sensation of Frederike’s soft breasts against hir penis. Shi sighed in happiness and started purring, and then shi felt Frederike starting to please hir female side.
Goldstripe started to touch Frederike’s breasts with hir handpaws, while hir true hands started touching her between the legs. Shi used hir empathy, so when they came again, it was as if it happened with double strength to both of them.
That night Frederike fell asleep in Goldstripe’s arms. And when she did, her last thoughts were, that she had to be the happiest person on Earth.
* * *
"Merry Christmaaaaaas" a chorus of little voices said. Frederike and Goldstripe groaned when they were awoken by the very enthusiastic voices. Four cubs had entered their room, led by Snowpelt. They were all either jumping on top of them or else tugging at toes, ears and other exposed body parts.
"Get out you little terrors" Goldstripe mumbled sleepily.
When the cubs only shrieked in laughter and continued their assault, shi continued. "Frederike, I think there’s some of Starnight’s BBQ sauce left. Ever tried barbequed Chakat cub?"
Federike looked at Goldstripe and smiled. "I say we fight fire with fire." When Goldstripe nodded, she exclaimed "Tickle attaaaaack!" and both of them jumped up to catch cubs. They quickly jumped away, shrieking with joy. But Snowpelt had been the most enthusiastic, and had been the one to jump on top of Frederike and Goldstripe. So suddenly shi found hirself trapped between hir sister and Frederike, and several hands were now tickling hir. "Muuuuuum!" shi shrieked.
Starnight’s voice came through the door. "You probably deserve it" shi answered. When Snowpelt were allowed to escape Starnight stuck hir face through the door. "Good morning, and merry Christmas. If you two would get up and wake the others, I’ll start getting breakfast ready." And with that, shi left.
Frederike looked at Goldstripe. "Are we going to eat again? I’ll be so fat when I get back to the academy, that Quicktail will order me to do laps around the clock!" she said with a smile.
They got up and dressed, and then they started waking up the others. When they stuck their heads into Lightpaws’ room, they were met by three tired groans. "Hey, it’s eleven o’clock. You can’t possibly be tired" Frederike said. "Yeah, up you go, or we’ll have the cubs terrorize you" Goldstripe said.
"Hey, you two were not the only ones having sex last night" Bearstalker said with a lazy smile. While Goldstripe just smiled, Frederike turned completely scarlet. His smile grew broader when he added. "Did someone forget to tell, that both Chakats and Wolftaur have excellent hearing?"
They all laughed at that, and Goldstripe and Frederike left them to move on to wake up Grayspot’s parents. They were both awake and smiling when they entered. "No need to wake you two up I guess" Goldstripe said.
"Nope. But tell Grayspot and Swiftclaw that we have some wonderful news for them" Reddash, Grayspot’s mother said.
"Oh? Is that what I think it is?" Goldstripe said.
"Yep. We’ve got ourselves a little extra Christmas present. Although shi has a few months delivery time."
"Congratulations!" Goldstripe said and moved to hug them both.
The coming cub of Reddash and Ivory were the big subject of that morning’s breakfast, except of course among the cubs, who looked at the Christmas tree and all the presents still clustered under it.
When breakfast was finished, the great Christmas present-frenzy started. The cubs were in heaven, as they unpacked everything from toy PTVs to fancy clothes. The grownups also exchanged gifts, although at a more relaxed pace.
Frederike just sat on the lounging mat on the floor, snuggled up against Goldstripe and looked at the Christmas tree and at the cubs. Snowpelt had gotten hirself a toy shuttle, and shi were "flying" it through the whole house.
"Excuse me for just a sec" Goldstripe said and got up. Frederike got up on her knees, and let Tailcatcher, the eldest of Lightpaws’ cubs, show her hir new jacket. It was jet-black, and Frederike had to agree, that it looked really cool against Tailcatcher’s deep red fur.
She admired hir, and gave hir a nuzzle and complimented hir on hir new jacket. She let the cub run along to show the jacket to Sunfur as well, and sat smiling on the floor, looking at the happy cub. A lick-kiss on the cheek broke her concentration.
"You’re good with the cubs, honey" Goldstripe said.
"Thanks. They are all so adorable. How could anyone not love them?" Frederike said and turned to face Goldstripe, who’d snug up behind her while she talked to the cubs.
"Merry Christmas, love" Goldstripe said and held out a small package.
"For me?" Frederike said with surprise. "But urh…I…thanks…um…you shouldn’t have." Frederike accepted the gift, and threw herself into Goldstripe’s arms. They kissed passionately. Normally Frederike would have been a little too shy to do something like this in public, but now she no longer cared. She loved Goldstripe with all her heart, and that was all that mattered. She kissed the Chakat several times and hugged hir again.
"Aren’t you going to open it?" Goldstripe whispered in her ear.
Frederike let go of Goldstripe, and looked at her with a smile. "Of course my dear" she said. She looked at the small package. It was wrapped in white paper with little Chakats in Christmas outfit. She slowly unpacked it, and found a small box inside. In the box was a small necklace with a golden heart in it.
"Oh it’s so beautiful. Thank you so much, Goldstripe" she said and kissed Goldstripe again. Goldstripe kissed her back, and gently took the necklace from her hand. Shi then put it around her neck.
"Aren’t they sweet?" Sunfur said and put a hand around hir lifemate’s waist.
"They sure are" Starnight said and kissed Sunfur. "It’s good to see our little Goldstripe has finally found someone special too."
Frederike looked at Goldstripe. "Uh, I didn’t get you a Christmas present…um…I hope you can wait until the shops open, and…" she was interrupted by Goldstripe’s finger on her lips. "You don’t have to. Seeing you this happy is more than enough for me" Goldstripe said. "You can give me another kiss and we’ll call it even" shi said with a smile. Frederike kissed hir again, and this time she kept doing it until they both had to gasp for breath.
* * *
The few hours were spent chatting, eating various Christmas food (and candy!), and the cubs were running around the house and garden playing with each other and their new toys.
Frederike sat in the garden with Goldstripe, Beetail and hir mate, just chatting when Sunfur announced from the terrace door: "Okay everybody! Time to go!"
"Go where?" Frederike asked Goldstripe.
"Oh, it’s another one of our little traditions. We usually go for a walk before dinner on Christmas Day. There’s a small forest nearby. Or, actually, it’s really just a big park, but it has been allowed to grow into a small forest. You’re gonna love it. There are tame kangaroos there as well cockatoos."
"Yeah, and it helps build up an appetite" Goldstripe said with a smile.
"You know, I think your mother is right" Frederike said.
"In saying that you think with your bellies" Frederike said and patted hir on hir upper torso’s belly. "One day you may be too fat to outrun a mere human" she continued and ran past Goldstripe, swatting hir behind as she ran by.
The two other Chakats laughed as Goldstripe started chasing Frederike through the garden.
Though the Chakat was much faster than her, Frederike made several sharp turns, and thus keeping her distance for awhile until Goldstripe finally caught up with her. Shi lifted Frederike up, and carried her towards a small pond in the garden. "Let’s see who’s laughing now!" shi said. Frederike shrieked with laughter. "Heeelp, I’ve been captured by a dangerous predator!" she said. "No! noooo nonono" she said as Goldstripe held her over the pond.
Goldstripe put her down in front of hir. "You now, you’re a really bad girl" shi said and kissed her.
"I know" Frederike said and kissed Goldstripe back.
"Do you know what we do to bad girls around here?" Goldstripe said and started tickling Frederike.
"All right you two" Starnight said from the door. "We’re leaving for the park. Would you two lovebirds rather stay behind?"
"Nooo…" they both said, and walked hand in hand to join Starnight and the others.
* * *
They all had a wonderful afternoon in the park. Frederike enjoyed petting the kangaroos, and Lightpaws showed her "hir" cockatoo, which shi’d taught to say "Gimme a kiss, -Sunshine". They all laughed at the bird, which answered them with a laugh of it’s own.
Snowpelt was hir usual naughty self, as shi taught one of the younger cubs to hunt butterflies, and that they would be very tasty. Starnight threatened hir with being sent to bed early without dinner, but settled for an apology from hir.
The cubs were playing rodeo with Bearstalker, and took turns of riding the "Wild Wolftaur".
When the cubs grew tired of the game, he rejoined the other adults for some cold soda and a massage from his two loving mates.
"The cubs really love you, Bearstalker" Frederike said.
He turned towards her, still panting a little. "Yeah they do. But I suppose they just need a real father figure sometimes" he said and gesticulated with his arms at the group of Chakats. The others complained and started throwing flowers and grass at him, and Lightpaws said something in mock anger about a certain Wolftaur who would have to sleep alone the coming night. When the attacks and complaints had died down he continued. "But to be serious. Yes, I guess they do. Rodeo is an absolute favorite of theirs."
"Well, it looked like fun."
"Wanna try?" he said with a teasing smile.
"Um…I" she said a little surprised.
"Come on, honey" Goldstripe said. "Let him show how much of a man he is."
Several words of encouragement came from the rest of the Chakats, and finally Frederike gave in. She took off her shoes and socks so she wouldn’t accidentally kick the Wolftaur, and then got on his back. "Ready?" he said.
"C’mon horsie" she said with a smile.
Bearstalker then started jumping about. He tried with some wild kicks with his hind legs, but Frederike had been prepared. Unlike the cubs, she had arms long enough to reach around his broad chest, and she had also wrapped her legs around his lower torso.
Bearstalker twisted and turned, jumped and ran, but Frederike stayed on his back. All the Chakats, cubs and grownups alike were cheering. He grunted and snorted like a bull, but with no luck. After a long time he paused to catch his breath. Frederike just laughed and reached behind her to pat him on the rump. "Giddyup , horsie" she said, and quickly resumed her firm grasp around his upper torso before he had time to throw her off.
He turned back and gave her a sly smile. "You know…there’s one thing I haven’t tried yet…."
And with that, he started running as fast as he could. He ran towards the park’s single pond. "I hope you can swim!!!!" he yelled.
"No! Stop! Bad horsie!" Frederike shrieked as he jumped into the lake.
They landed with a huge splash, and finally Frederike fell off.
She started splashing water at the Wolftaur, who laughed back at her. "Here’s one horsie that won’t be tamed" he said between laughs. Frederike looked at Bearstalker in mock anger. "I’m gonna get you for this!" she said. "Oh? Is that a promise? Well, I’m sure Goldstripe won’t mind if it’s just for tonight" he said as he continued laughing.
They got out of the water, and Goldstripe gave hir lover a kiss. "Mmm…I think someone needs a shower" shi said and wrinkled hir nose. Frederike gave hir a naughty look. "No, I just need a towel!" and with that she dried her face in Goldstripe’s fur. "Eeeek!" Goldstripe said and tried to dodge. "Now I need a shower too" shi said.
"Well, then we might take it together. I saw your bathroom was nicely big" she said with a smile. "Ah…I think we’re starting to speak the same language again" Goldstripe answered.
On the way back Goldstripe and Frederike walked a few paces behind the others.
"So, when we get back home, should we invite Bearstalker to join us in the shower?" Goldstripe asked.
Frederike looked at hir. "Uh….I…."
"Not if you don’t like it" Goldstripe added at her insecurity.
"Well….he is handsome, but don’t you think his mates might object?"
"Not at all. We Chakats believe that love should be multiplied, not divided. If anything, they’ll just ask us if it was good, or else join us"
"Okay…I’ll give it a try…" she said.
Goldstripe looked at her to check that she was okay with it, but Frederike seemed to accept the idea.
She was a little shy in the beginning, covering herself when he looked at her, but Goldstripe soon had her relax, and soon the three of them were having great fun scrubbing each other. Frederike had to admit, that the Wolftaur really was quite handsome….and strong too….
"How did you get your name, by the way?" she asked as she massaged shampoo into his fur.
"Well, when I was younger, and had to take the test to become a man in the eyes of my tribe, I had to prove that I could take care of myself and be a good hunter" he paused. "Oh….a little lower, please. Mmmm….better" he paused again. "I was sent out with a knife as my only possession, and was not to return before I’d made a good hunt. Unfortunately for me, the first animal I met was a bear. I followed it for awhile, but then the wind changed and it scented me. I ended up in a fight with it. I knew I couldn’t escape, so it was either me or him. I don’t know how long the fight went on, but I was wounded, and I was sure that I would not survive this. But suddenly I was lucky. The bear had taken a swing at me that missed. It had to get back down on all fours to regain it’s balance. I took a chance and went for it with the knife. The blade hit the eye, and went further in. The bear came at me again, but slumped over me and fell to the ground, pinning me beneath it. I lay under it for a few seconds until I realized that it was the bear rather than me who’d died.
When I got to my senses, I patched myself up and headed home. It was tough dragging the bear home, but I managed to do it. That day was the second best day in my life" he finished.
"Really? What was the best day?" Goldstripe said as shi purred in pleasure under the hot water and his strong hands.
"Why, the day I met Grayspot and your beautiful sister of course!" he said.
"Awww…" Goldstripe said and gave him a lick-kiss on the cheek.
Shi was about to say something more when Beetail knocked on the door. "Hey you guys! Are you quite done yet? Someone need to go to the toilet y’know!"
The three of them smiled at each other. "Okay, we’re almost finished" Goldstripe yelled back.
They quickly got the remaining shampoo washed off, and dried themselves quickly so they could vacate the bathroom for Beetail’s use.
When they got out, Sunfur, Ivory and Reddash were already busy in the kitchen, preparing dinner. Potatoes, coleslaw, salad and other food items were readied, while Starnight had once again taken it upon hirself to warm up the grills. The coal were burning merrily and shi was making hir secret BBQ sauce on the small table between the grills as shi hummed to hirself.
That evening’s dinner was just as good as the one the day before. ‘Actually it’s better’ Frederike thought, ‘because today I’m sitting next to the most wonderful person’. She looked at Goldstripe who sat next to her. The Chakat was still munching at some barbequed steak, but shi sensed Frederike looking at hir.
"You’re so quiet. Thinking of something special?" Goldstripe said after wiping hir mouth.
"Oh…I was just thinking….and enjoying the view" Frederike said leaned over to kiss hir.
Goldstripe embraced her and kissed her back. Frederike felt the wonderful sensation of the vibrations of Goldstripe’s deep purr.
"Hey, not at the table you two – get a room!" Lightpaws said with a laugh. Goldstripe smiled back, but Frederike turned slightly pink.
That evening they stayed up until half past two, and Frederike felt wonderful. ‘It’s nice to almost have a family again…’ she thought as she once again leaned against Goldstripe.
The Chakat noticed that she looked tired, and decided that their last few hours before they fell asleep could be put to better use, and excused them both.
That night there was no careful probing. Instead they made love as if it was their last day on Earth…
The next few days were spent enjoying being a family. Goldstripe borrowed hir mother’s PTV, and shi took Frederike out for sightseeing. They saw Perth and some of the local nature, among others a trip to Serpentine National Park. They enjoyed the nature, and Goldstripe showed Frederike the famous Serpentine Falls.
Frederike also found a beautiful tail ribbon made out of silk, that she bought hir as a delayed Christmas present.
* * *
One thing hadn’t changed in the last 300 years, Frederike found. New Year’s Eve was still celebrated with good food, paper hats and fireworks. And today like in her time, children would pest their parents to be allowed to get some fireworks of their own.
Sunfur had bought some fireworks, and had also provided some for the cubs (those that were old enough of course).
Goldstripe and Frederike had been sent to buy champagne, and they’d found some really good bottles. Goldstripe were trying to find some room for the bottles in the fridge, and noticed Frederike disappeared with Lightpaws. Goldstripe cursed at the bottles and their inability to fit in the fridge. After rearranging all the food inside (and getting complaints from Sunfur about not being careful enough with some of the food for tonight’s dinner) shi finally succeeded. Shi went to find Frederike, who at the same time left the office where shi and her slept. After her came Lightpaws, and both of them smiled. Frederike was slightly pink as she came up to Goldstripe, kissed hir on the cheek and left for the garden to help Starnight arrange the tables for the party.
"What was that all about?" shi asked Lightpaws.
"Oh, nothing" Lightpaws said innocently.
"Was she good?" Goldstripe tried.
"I wouldn’t know" Lightpaws answered and followed Frederike into the garden. "I think I heard someone call for some help outside…" shi said and went by the puzzled Goldstripe, giving hir nose a short nuzzle with hir tail.
Goldstripe looked after hir sister. Shi was about to follow when shi heard the sound of things clattering to the floor in the kitchen. "GOLDSTRIIIIIIPE!!!!" Sunfur growled. "Get out here now!"
Goldstripe did so.
"Why did you have to place things like that? When I opened the fridge, an avalanche of vegetables, baguettes and other items fell on me" Sunfur growled.
"Sorry…" Goldstripe said.
"You’re just as good in a kitchen as your sire" Sunfur grumbled as they helped each other pick up the spilled items.
"Sorry, Mum… " Goldstripe said and gave hir mother a lick-kiss.
"It’s okay, honey. I guess I’m just a bit stressed today."
Goldstripe offered hir help, and soon after the ‘falling food’ incident was forgotten, and the preparation proceeded more smoothly.
When the New Year’s Eve party started, Goldstripe had forgotten about Frederike and hir sister’s strange behavior earlier.
As were tradition in the family of Sunfur and Starnight, the evening’s dinner consisted entirely of seafood (except for the vegetables). And, as were also usually the case, Starnight had bought enough food to feed a small army.
The cubs were talking about the fireworks they’d been given for later, and as soon as they’d finished their food, they left to play in the garden. They chased each other, and were mostly visible by their raised tails, that were moving like periscopes among the bushes in the garden.
When midnight came, they all gathered for champagne and to watch Sunfur (and the cubs) fire of their fireworks. Mutual wishes of a Happy New Year as well as hugs and kisses were exchanged.
After a while, most of the family was filing back into the house. Sunfur and Starnight stayed out to watch more of the fireworks as well as watch over the cubs while they finished their small firecrackers.
Goldstripe and Frederike stood a little away from the others, looking at the sky and the fireworks still being fired.
"It’s beautiful out here tonight" Frederike began.
"It certainly is" Goldstripe agreed, and gave her another squeeze.
"You know, earlier today when I left with Lightpaws?"
"Yes…what about it? It’s okay if you two…" shi stopped talking when Frederike put her finger on hir lips.
"We talked a little about Chakat customs – they are still a little new to me, you know…"
"Oh? Well if there was somethi- …"
Frederike gently shushed hir. "I learned something new. Um…I hope I’m doing this right" she said, a little nervously. "And I hope that this is not too soon and…oh I guess I better get to it." Frederike moved in front of Goldstripe, and took both of hir hands in her own.
"Chakat Goldstripe. Will you be my denmate?" she said.
Goldstripe were a little baffled. Though shi had hoped that Frederike would like to formalize their relationship too, shi hadn’t expected it so soon. Shi noticed that shi hadn’t answered, and that Frederike looked a little anxious.
"Yes. Yes I will. With all my heart, yes" shi answered and kissed Frederike.
Frederike kissed hir back, and it was as if the world around her disappeared. She no longer heard nor saw the fireworks. For a moment it was as if the only thing that existed was Goldstripe, herself and their mutual love. Both of them had tears of happiness in their eyes while they kissed. None of them knew for how long they stood there, kissing, stroking and hugging.
They were brought back to reality by Lightpaws who hugged them both. "Congratulations you two" shi said and kissed them both. "Now, may I suggest you come inside before Grayspot drinks all the champagne?" shi continued with a smile. "I’m sure mum and dad would like to hear the news…"
The three of them returned to the terrace. Lightpaws was met by a slightly drunk Grayspot, who were being supported by Bearstalker. They silently seated hir at the table, and gave hir some soda instead of champagne. Frederike couldn’t help but smile at the little incident, but turned to Goldstripe as they sat at the table. Everyone turned to look at the newcomers, and even the cubs (those that hadn’t fallen asleep that was) sensed that Goldstripe was about to tell something important.
"Mum, Dad, Family. I’d like to announce that Frederike and I have decided to become denmates."
Everyone clapped and cheered, and words and hugs of congratulations were exchanged.
Both Sunfur and Starnight gave Frederike a lick-kiss as they welcomed her into their family.
Bearstalker also gave both of them a hug. "Good thing you two decided to tie the knot. Now that you’re part of the family, Frederike, we’re gonna expect you to make good on your promise to make that…Oktoberfest of yours!" he said with a huge grin.
"Already he’s thinking about food again" Lightpaws commented.
"Oh, it’s not just the food" he retorted and smiled again. "She told there would also be beer!"
Lightpaws sighed and threw hir napkin after him.
They all laughed, and Frederike hugged him again, promising him to return next October, if he in turn would convince his mother-in-law to make hir famous secret BBQ sauce, which Starnight announced shi’d gladly do.
The party continued, and everyone was having a very good time. The sun had started to rise when they discovered the night had ended, and they all agreed that perhaps it was time to move on to the bedrooms.
Frederike felt a little lightheaded as they entered the office of Sunfur and Starnight that served as their bedroom, but she decided that shouldn’t keep her from having a bit of fun.
She kissed Goldstripe and murmured in hir ear. "So….don’t you think it’s time for me to ride the wild Chakat?"
Goldstripe looked back at her. "You’ll get no argument from me" shi said, and let Frederike gently push hir down on the mattress. Frederike helped hir out of hir shirt, and shi felt hir nipples harden as she kissed each of them. Goldstripe were about to help her out of her clothes, but Frederike wiggled out of hir hands. She smiled at the Chakat, and started moving her hips in a seductive manner. "I don’t know if you can give a Chakat a lap dance" Frederike said, "but I’m willing to make a little experiment. How does that sound, my beautiful denmate?"
"That sounds very appealing" Goldstripe said, and leaned back to enjoy the show. Frederike started giving hir a show as she slowly took of her clothes. She moved her hips to an unheard beat, and wiggled her hips over Goldstripe’s lower belly. She gently stroked hir sheath, and Goldstripe sighed in anticipation. Shi tried to reach for her, but she just slapped hir on the hand. "Bad little kitty" she said, and teasingly moved out of reach. Goldstripe leaned back again, and enjoyed her sexy moves instead.
Finally she sat herself on Goldstripe’s belly, and moved herself backwards and started riding hir. Goldstripe sighed in relief as shi felt hirself slide inside her. "Hm….do you know the expression ‘double jeopardy’?" Frederike said with a naughty smile. She then moved one hand behind her back, and reached for Goldstripe’s female parts. She massaged hir with her fingers, and at the same time she moved her hips rhythmically to keep satisfying hir male side.
Goldstripe moaned and sighed, and Frederike could feel hir projecting hir feelings. Goldstripe reached up with hir handpaws to caress Frederike’s breasts, and she enjoyed the rough, strong fingers of Goldstripe’s handpaws.
When they finally came, it was almost at the same time, and Frederike were a bit shocked of how loud a Chakat’s howls of pleasure could be. After that, she leaned forward, and just lay there for a while, listening to Goldstripe’s purring and enjoying the afterglow with hir.
She then let herself slide up to kiss Goldstripe on the mouth. "Mmmm….was it good, honey?" she asked.
"Couldn’t be better, my sweet, sweet denmate" shi replied and kissed her back. Shi then hugged hir, whispering in her ear. "You know what, I’m actually at the peak of my male cycle…"
"Is that so…?" Frederike whispered back.
"Yes. And that dancing…mmmm…..that really turned me on….and thinking of it still does…"
They looked at each other, and Frederike took the hint. She kissed Goldstripe again, first on the mouth, and then on each (hard!) nipple, and then she readied herself to be mounted by Goldstripe.
Shi first licked her nipples, and then shi moved behind Frederike. They touched and stroked each other as Goldstripe mounted her, and finally they felt the explosion of pleasure as they both came again.
The rest of the night (or rather morning) they just kissed and stroked and enjoyed each other and the closeness between them. Frederike lay in Goldstripe’s warm, soft embrace, once again feeling the soothing vibration of hir purr, when another yowl were heard from outside the door. They looked at each other, and laughed.
"I guess that Snowpelt won’t stay the youngest for long" Goldstripe commented.
"Really? You sound so sure…" Frederike said, and lifted an eyebrow.
Goldstripe smiled at her. "Well, first of all, that was my mother’s voice. Second, shi’s in heat. We Chakats can smell these things, you know?"
"Well, in that case. Congratulations on being an older sister…again" Frederike said and kissed her mate.
"Thanks." Goldstripe returned the kiss.
They lay for a while longer, chatting and nuzzling, until sleep finally overtook them.
They spent New Year’s Day (or what was left of it) talking about Sunfur and Starnight’s coming cub, which they proudly announced at breakfast, and of everyone’s plans for the coming year.
It was agreed upon, that the birthing parties of Reddash and Ivory and Sunfur and Starnight would be held together, and that it would be held in Perth. Frederike learned yet another thing about Chakat customs, as Lightpaws took it upon hirself to explain how a birthing party took place. Frederike were astonished to find that Chakats were so precise in knowing when a cub would be born, and also that Chakats had been made that way by design.
Frederike found, that the day – though shortened by their sleeping in – was coming to an end surprisingly fast. She wished she and Goldstripe could stay longer, but they had to fly back the next day in order to be ready for the beginning of the coming semester.
She said so to Sunfur as she helped hir prepare a light dinner (by Chakat standards), and Sunfur smiled and hugged her.
"I wish the two of you could stay longer too" shi said and kissed Frederike.
"I hope that Starnight and I can get some time off when Easter comes so that we could visit you" shi continued.
"Me too" Frederike said. She hugged her ‘mother in law’ back, and kissed hir on the cheek.
They finally let go of each other, and returned to the food.
That last night Frederike and Goldstripe didn’t sleep in the office. Instead they slept with Sunfur and Starnight (and little Snowpelt, who snuggled up between Frederike and hir sister).
Even though they were about to head home that day, Frederike felt more rested and happy when she awoke than she’d been before in her new life. The heavy breathing of the Chakats told her, that they were all still asleep. She lay for a while, listening to their peaceful sleep, and then she started gently nuzzling Snowpelt, who still hugged her in hir sleep. Snowpelt started purring even while still sleeping, and Frederike gently gave the cub a kiss on hir forehead.
Shi started squirming a little, slowly waking up. Frederike looked at hir with a smile, and felt Goldstripe wake up. Shi moved to look at Frederike and hir half-sleeping sister.
"Shi’s so adorable" she said.
"That shi is" Goldstripe agreed and also nuzzled the little white Chakat. Shi yawned and opened hir eyes.
"Good morning" shi said.
"Good morning little one" Frederike answered.
Snowpelt yawned again, and got up to wake hir parents. "Muuum….Daaaad….breakfaaaast" shi said and tugged at their ears.
"Go wake the others, then we’ll make breakfast" Sunfur mumbled.
Snowpelt ran cheering out the door, and started waking everyone.
"That wasn’t a nice thing to do" Starnight said to hir mate. "I’m not sure our guests will appreciate the company of our little terror so early".
"Your little terror. When shi’s bad, shi’s your daughter, remember dear?" Sunfur said and stretched.
After breakfast Goldstripe and Frederike said their goodbyes, and then Sunfur drove them to the airport. They hugged hir goodbye, and shi promised once again to visit at Easter time, if at all possible.
The two denmates had a peaceful flight home, and used most of it to discuss how they should rearrange their dorm room, now that they were a couple.
Continued in Part 2: Back In Blue.
Chakats and the Chakat universe are Copyright © Bernard Doove, as are Chakat Quickpaw who guest stars in part one. These are used with permission. The rest of the characters belong to me. I’ll try to add references to owners of other characters in the following parts. Should I forget some, please tell me, and I’ll correct it.
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