Episode 3: Discovered
By Bernard Doove © 2009
Ken said in a surprised tone, "Since when do they send the FBI to look for missing pets?"
Unperturbed, Agent Fairbanks answered, "This is no mere pet, sir. We have allegations that a unique specimen was captured, then stolen, and then had everything covered up. Pretty interesting, wouldnít you say?"
"I suppose so," Ken conceded, "but how does that involve me?"
"Are you familiar with the recent news of a werewolf being caught in this area?"
"I am. Youíre not going to try to tell me that this exotic animal is actually a werewolf?" scoffed Ken.
"Hardly, Mr Morita. I donít even know if itís a kind of wolf at all, but the people who claimed to find it said thatís what it looked like."
"So, once again, what has somebodyís fantasy creature got to do with me?"
Fairbanks consulted a notepad that he pulled from his jacket pocket. "You were at the veterinary clinic of Doctor Bethany Carter on Monday morning, correct?"
Ken wondered how the FBI agent knew that. "Thatís right," he confirmed.
"What was the purpose of your visit?"
Ken thought quickly, realising that anything that he said would be compared to other peopleís statements. "I was there for some advice for breeding dogs." Seeing as he had arrived without any animal, it was the best that he could come up with at short notice.
Fairbanks wrote something in his notepad, then asked, "You were observed taking your vehicle into the yard at the rear of the surgery. What did you do there? Did you see anything unusual?"
"I picked up some basic supplies for the breeding so that I would be prepared when I get the animals. I wasnít exactly sight-seeing though, so I didnít look around much. I saw the pens there, and a few of the animals, but nothing out of the ordinary."
"I see," Fairbanks said as he noted Kenís reply. "Would you mind if I look around your house?"
Ken frowned. "Yes, I would. And donít give me any of that crap about innocent people having nothing to hide either. One of the reasons that I live out here is that I highly value my privacy, and the only people who come in here are relatives and friends whom Iíve invited over. Anyway, you wonít find your werewolf or whatever here."
"Very well, sir. Iíll bid you good day then," Fairbanks replied impassively. He then returned to his car and drove off.
Ken stood on the porch and watched him leave. When the carís engine could barely be heard any more, Jazmyn joined him out on the porch.
Jazmyn had overheard the entire conversation with her keen hearing. "Do you think he believed you?" she asked Ken.
"Hard to say. It depends a lot on what other people may have told him. I hope that I didnít overplay my hand though."
"Perhaps you should have let him in and look around? We were pretty well hidden, after all."
"Maybe, but I got the impression that this agent is pretty observant. He may have spotted something that we have overlooked due to familiarity."
"It would have helped if weíd had a little warning. I wonder why Bethany didnít call us about him?"
"Thatís a very good question, Jaz," Ken said with a frown. "Perhaps she was spooked by him being from the FBI and feared heíd check the phone records, although thatís a bit paranoid at this point. She might not be coming around tonight for the same reason."
"Iím worried, Ken. What if he comes back and this time uses his authority to search our home?"
"He canít, or at least not without a search warrant, and he needs some solid evidence to get one of those. I donít think he has anything but suspicions right now."
Jason Fairbanks was feeling pleased. This investigation looked like it might turn out to be different from all the other oddball assignments that he had been handed ever since his colleagues had found out about his hobby. Heíd had to endure digs about "X-Files" and being called "Fox", despite his African-American heritage not making him look even the slightest bit like the fictional agent. Little did his colleagues realise how closely that hit home. Of course these weird assignments tended to be more interesting than the average investigation, but they were doing nothing for his hopes of promotion. As soon as the complaint about a stolen werewolf had hit his desk, he thought that he would be off on another wild goose chase. In fact, up until now, he hadnít really uncovered anything really worthwhile. The stories that the doctor and sheriff had told him seemed reasonable, although he had yet to check some of the details. One of those details had just made things interesting though.
Fairbanks prided himself on having an excellent bullshit detector. What fascinated him about Morita was the curiously conflicting messages he was getting from him. He had given some details that didn't agree with the vet's account, and yet at the same time he had a genuine feeling of innocence. Whether the man was actually guilty of anything that he was investigating remained to be determined, but he was definitely hiding something. Whatever the reason for it, it bore further investigation.
The next morning, Fairbanks was on his way back to Kenís cabin. However, well before his car could be heard from there, he pulled off onto a fire track far enough to be out of sight from any casual glances from the road. He got out and took a backpack from the back seat and locked the car. Dressed in practical outdoors gear, he now looked like a typical recreational nature-loving hiker rather than an FBI agent. He walked up the road until he was close to the cabin before he took off into the scrub. He made his way carefully under the concealment of the foliage until he was in position opposite the track that was the driveway to Kenís cabin, hidden from view by a dense bush, but in clear line of sight of the front door. There he settled in for a long bout of surveillance.
Although Fairbanks had been prepared to watch all day, he only had to wait little more than an hour before his patience bore fruit. The door opened and someone emerged. His binoculars were up in a moment, and he got a good view of the person as he walked over to one of the chairs on the porch and sat down in the morning sun. Fairbanks was stunned. There was no mistaking what he was seeing, and while it wasnít a vicious werewolf out of a horror movie, it definitely was not human. Instead it was something plucked right out of Fairbanksí dearest fantasies Ė a wolf morph! He was dressed only in shorts, so his digitigrade legs and all-over fur served to back up the evidence of the lupine head, which might have been just an elaborate mask otherwise. Belatedly he remembered his camera. Uncharacteristically flustered by the huge surprise, heíd forgotten to take any photos. He set about correcting that oversight. He was about to start packing up when a second person emerged. Still holding the camera, he focused the zoom lens on the newcomer. He didnít think he could be surprised again, but his jaw dropped as he was flabbergasted to see another morph, and a female this time.
She was obviously a fox rather than a wolf even though her overalls hid much of her body. Her tail and colouration were dead giveaways though. She headed over to the toolshed and emerged with a few garden tools which she took over to one of the garden beds. It seemed to Fairbanks that this vixen was the caretaker of the lush gardens surrounding the cabin. He couldnít help himself; he watched her work for half an hour while the wolf apparently just snoozed in the warm sunlight. Eventually he forced himself to get back to work. He packed up his camera and other equipment, put the backpack on, and headed toward the cabin.
While the others had insisted that he keep resting while healing, Kayde was enjoying the sun but he wasnít asleep. It was too soon after getting out of bed to be sleepy. Instead he was using his enforced rest to simply enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of this little corner of heaven. Abruptly his pleasure was jolted by the sight of an unfamiliar human walking down the driveway.
<Hsst! Jazmyn! Thereís a man walking toward us down the track,> Kayde said in a low urgent tone.
Jazmyn looked up and saw Fairbanks still some distance away down the track. <Shit! Get inside now, Kayde!> She hastened to follow him, hoping and praying that this hiker hadnít gotten a good look at them as yet.
Inside the cabin, Ken was doing the weekend cleaning. He was startled when both Kayde and Jazmyn burst inside, then closed the door. "Whatís going on?"
Jazmyn replied, "Thereís someone coming this way on foot. I donít know if heís just heading for the cliff trail, or if he was looking at us, but I thought that we had better hide quickly anyway and hope for the best."
Ken peered through the window at the approaching man, then got a shock as he recognised who it was. "Oh hell! Itís that FBI agent. Iíll go out and talk to him, but this isnít looking good."
As the two morphs headed for Kaydeís room, Ken stepped out onto the porch and waited for Fairbanks.
"Good morning, Agent Fairbanks. I canít say that Iím particularly pleased to see you," Ken said as the man got within comfortable earshot.
"No doubt," agreed Fairbanks. "Iíve come to talk about the wolf morph that you are harbouring in your cabin."
"Your imagination is interesting," Ken replied.
"Did I imagine the vixen morph too?" Fairbanks asked pointedly.
Ken slumped, the last vestige of hope now vanquished. "You had better come inside. We have a lot to talk about."
"Thank you, Mr Morita."
"Please leave your muddy boots on the porch. Iím trying to clean up inside."
Fairbanks smiled. "No problem. I donít wish to upset my host."
"Too late," Ken said with a resigned sigh.
Jazmyn had overheard the exchange, and had abandoned her attempts to conceal Kayde and herself. Both of them were waiting for the agent when he walked inside; she with her arms folded and with a steady gaze at the source of their problems, and he with a troubled, uncertain look.
Fairbanks gave the wolf morph a good look over, noting the bandaged shoulder. He was a handsome specimen, and far more impressive in real life than he had dared dream. Then he had a closer look at the fox morph, noting her attitude and sexy good looks. He felt that he had died and gone to Heaven. Nevertheless he forced himself to be professional. "Okay, Mr Morita, you said that you had a lot to tell me?"
"Take a seat, Agent Fairbanks. This is going to take a while," Ken replied.
"Would you like something to drink?" Jazmyn asked.
Fairbanks was delighted by the sound of her voice. "Iíd like that, thanks. Coffee if you have it."
"How do you like it?" she said as she walked over to the kitchen area.
Fairbanks watched her digitigrade gait with fascination. "Black with two sugars, please."
Ken said, "Make me some too while youíre at it, please. I think Iím going to need it."
"Coming right up."
Ken turned to Fairbanks and said, "First, let me introduce you properly. The lovely vixen making us coffee is Jazmyn Ė my lifemateÖ or wife if you prefer."
Only tight discipline kept Fairbanks from showing surprise at that statement. Instead he said, "A pleasure to meet you, maíam."
Ken continued, "And the object of your search and the undoing of our little secret is named Kayde. He has just started learning English, so donít expect him to be able to talk to you much."
"Good to meet you, Kayde," Fairbanks nevertheless said politely.
"Good to meet you," Kayde echoed.
Ken said, "Before I start, I must say that you are taking this rather calmly."
"I might explain why that is if you manage to impress me sufficiently, Mr Morita."
"Iíll keep that in mind. Anyway, to answer your questions properly about Kayde, first I need to tell you about Jazmyn and her role in the events that has brought this meeting to passÖ."
With that, Ken started recounting Jazmynís story, while she kept up a steady stream of comments, coffee and snacks. Eventually Fairbanks was brought up to speed on all the details and the others fell silent. The agent was quiet for a time, contemplating what heíd been told.
"Well?" asked Ken, "How do we stand?"
"Mr Morita, youíve put me in a difficult position. First off though I will say that I donít feel that you have a case to answer for. Kayde is obviously not property, and as such cannot be stolen. As he went with you willingly, neither has he been kidnapped, and under the circumstances, I can dismiss the attempts to deceive me by you and Doctor Carter."
Ken and Jazmyn both sighed with relief.
"Thank you, Agent Fairbanks," Jazmyn said.
"Donít thank me yet, Jazmyn," Fairbanks said ominously.
"Why?" Ken asked suspiciously. "You just told us that you were dropping the case."
"I have a lot of sympathy for your cause, Jazmyn and Kayde. I promised that if you impressed me with your explanation, I would tell you why I was so matter-of-fact about you morphs. Mr Morita, are you familiar at all with anthropomorphic creatures, or furries as they are nicknamed?"
Ken frowned in thought as he cast his memory back to when he first encountered Jazmyn. "Yes, I found out about that when I was trying to find information on what Jazmyn was. At one time I considered approaching some of them about her for help. That didnít prove necessary though."
"That could have worked out well or badly, depending on who you talked to," Fairbanks said. "As it happens, I am a fan of anthropomorphics. In fact I role-play a character named Jason Oakbark, a grey fox character, and I have been absolutely fascinated by encountering real-life morphs. When my colleagues found out about it however, I got a lot of ribbing and my career got a bit side-tracked. It resulted in me getting assigned to this case though, which I will be forever grateful for."
"I sense a great big ĎButí coming," Ken said with a sense of dread.
"Iím afraid so, Mr Morita. Furries are just my hobby. I have a job to do, and I donít intend my pastime to compromise that. While neither Kayde nor Jazmyn have committed any crime besides a little financial deception in regards to Jazmynís job which I will let the IRS worry about, thereís the bigger problem that they are both aliens in this country. I know that there is no provision for extra-universal travellers, but they nevertheless werenít born here."
Jazmyn said, "That depends on your point of view. History may be different, but the actual physical world is the same. I was quickenedÖ or born if you willÖ about ninety miles north-west of here."
Fairbanks looked glum. "Itís just semantics, Jazmyn. The way that Immigration and the Department of Homeland Security is going to view it is going to be completely different."
"Do you really need to tell either of them?" Ken asked.
Fairbanks nodded. "Aside from explaining why I am dropping the case, I do need to maintain my integrity in this matter. As a representative of the federal government, I cannot turn a blind eye to their status. Although it pains me to do so, I will be reporting both Kayde and Jazmyn. It will then be up to the government to decide what to do with you."
Ken got angry then. "How dare you decide our lives so cavalierly? You say you understand us and have done nothing wrong, nor any crime to answer for, but you are going to ruin our lives anyway!"
"Believe me, I donít really want toÖ"
"Thatís not good enough!" Ken interrupted. "Get out of our house, mister hotshot agent! Youíve done enough damage for one day."
Fairbanks got up from his chair. "Thank you for the coffee and snacks, Jazmyn. You have been a delightful host."
"I wish I could say that it was my pleasure, Mr Fairbanks," Jazmyn replied. "Iíll let you out."
Fairbanks paused at the front door. "Itís the weekend, and I wonít be expected to make a report before Monday. May I suggest that you go to the media with your story? If you can get them behind you, it would lend an enormous amount of weight to your case. Think carefully about what you want to tell them though. Not everyone will be happy about your relationship."
Kenís anger eased. He realised that the agent was bending the rules a little for their benefit. "Weíll think about that, Mr Fairbanks."
Fairbanks smiled and took out a business card. "Very good. Iíd like to be able to mitigate some of the trouble that I am going to cause you, so if I can be of any help, please call me. And I hope that we will be able to meet as friends in the future."
"I suppose that depends on how this works out." Ken took the card. "Goodbye, Mr Fairbanks."
"Farewell, Mr Morita, Jazmyn, Kayde." The agent shouldered his backpack and started his trek back to his car.
Ken and Jazmyn watched him glumly for a short time before they re-entered the cabin.
<I gather that this did not go well?> Kayde queried.
Jazmyn replied, <No. He is going to report our existence in two days. However he has recommended a course of action that we must consider.>
<And what is that?>
<He told us to go to the media and try to get their support for our cause.>
<Isnít that one of the things that you were trying to avoid?>
Jazmyn nodded. <Yes, thatís true, but it is now probably inevitable. The trick is going to be getting them on our side before the authorities become involved.>
Kayde understood. The politics of their old universe was just as strongly influenced by the media. <Letís hope for the best, then.>
Jazmyn agreed, and then turned back to Ken. "Well, what are we going to do?"
"Unless you can think of something better, Iím going to take Fairbanksí advice."
Jazmyn shook her head and came in close to Ken to hug him tightly. No matter what they did, their happy lives were going to change. "Do what you must," she told him.
Ken kissed her deeply. "I love you. No matter what happens, Jaz, I will always do my best to make you happy and secure." He then gently broke away from the vixen and went over to the phone. Picking it up, he speed-dialled a number, and a familiar voice soon answered. "Hello, Rick. Remember your desire to put Jazmyn on TV? Well, it looks like youíre getting your wishÖ."
To be continued in Episode 4.
All characters and this story are copyright © 2009 Bernard Doove.
Return to the Forest Tales main page.
Return to the Chakat's DenTM main page.