By Robert "Gildedtongue" Adrian
Garrek swore as he fumbled with the spanner, trying to fix the lawnmower. "Reactor cores, easy. Phaser emitters, I can do in my sleep. Life Support, no sweat. But this God-damn motor… ARG! Yiffing eh!" the foxtaur cursed as he brought his wounded finger to his muzzle, sucking on it.
"Hey guys, it’s gonna be another scorcher, so give those cubs some fresh water pistols to cool down with and listen to those great oldies on XMRF, Your one stop station for the stars!" the announcer on Garrek’s personal radio chimed. Redfox sighed and took a swig of his water bottle, leaning back in his tool shed. He glared at his adversary, giving it a menacing growl. After a commercial about hemorrhoid cream, the announcer came back, "Hey folks, it’s Mickey Roswell again, offering you, our loyal viewers, a chance to dust off this planet and head over to Santa’s Workshop. That’s right; we’re talking about the Jupiter moon of Europa!" Garrek’s ears swiveled, turning to the radio. Apparently a century back a rather eccentric trillionaire bought out the entire planet. He put up a factory there since it was half way between Earth and a mining colony. Now it’s mostly used for toy manufacturing, thus the factories are often called "Santa’s Workshop" considering that it is also a giant snowball.
"All you need to do is call in and give us the number one hit on Tantive IV this time last Earth year!" Garrek blinked, he knew this! He was stationed on an orbiting station on that planet and that damned song was playing all the time when he was working. He fumbled for his mobile communicator, dialing in the radio station’s address.
Goldfur stretched long, as cats have the uncanny ability to do so, as shi got ready for bed. It had been a long day looking after the cubs in the market. Shi managed to pick out all the things shi’d need to make Garrek’s present. Oh, sure, he’ll say, "Goldfur, you don’t need to go through all this trouble, just some music discs are all I want, and you, of course." But shi’d much rather put a bit of heart in hir gift, rather than something generic. Shi stifled a giggle as shi heard Garrek stepping out of the shower, singing in a loud baritone voice. He came out, grinning wide, trotting over to his mate and lover, his tail cocked in the air. "Garrek, you’re either as randy as a teenager, or you’re plotting something." The chakat smirked.
"Can’t I be both?" Garrek asked and grinned, sliding into the bed to give Goldy a kiss on the cheek. Shi mmmmed and kissed his narrow muzzle.
"Sex will get you a lot of places, Foxy, but it won’t make me tell you my present." Shi winked, wrapping hir arms and forelegs around his body.
Garrek chuckled, "Mmmm, well, I guess I’ll just have to tell you mine." He stroked gently along hir forehip with a middle paw, "We are flying out to Europa this Christmas," he smirked.
Goldfur didn’t respond with the same joy, "Garrek, you know how much I want to be with my family this time of year!"
Garrek gave a slight sigh, "Goldy, hon, where’s Forest and Midnight right now?"
"The Balamb star system, researching the hibernation cycle of the chip-rabbits."
"Mmmmhmmm and your parents?"
"Mum’s sick with flu and Dad won’t let anyone in the house, stubborn git." Shi muttered the last part under hir breath.
"And Goldendale and Lupu are in California enjoying their first Christmas together with the pack," Garrek added quickly.
"What about your parents?"
"Well, Dad got into a skiing accident and broke his left foreleg… Don’t ask, everyone else told him ’taurs don’t ski," Garrek said after a pregnant pause, shrugging with his arms and forelegs.
"Chris, Leanna, and Trish?"
"Honestly, I’m beginning to doubt the ‘rumour’ that neither Chris, nor Leanna do not have knots. Last month alone I walked in on either two or all three in the afterglow, in the middle of their den!" Garrek laughs, adding a cocky grin.
"Well, you don’t expect me to leave Eudora and Tailstalker here."
"Oh, God, no. We have tickets for four this Saturday for a shuttle to Europa."
Goldfur submitted with a long sigh. It seemed that this crafty foxtaur had everything planned out to the nanometre. Shi cocked hir head, "So what put this harebrained idea into your head anyway?"
Garrek smiled, "Well, there was this contest on the radio when I was fixing that mower, bloody thing, Anyway, I called in, was the first caller with the right answer, and the rest is history." The fox grinned.
Goldy nods, "Well, that explains how you got it, but I’m still unclear on why."
Garrek sighs, "When I was a cub, to me, Christmas always meant snow, and frost, and hot chocolate."
"Garrek, you grew up in California, I doubt you had much of snow or frost."
"Hush, Goldy," Garrek smirks, "I mean the archetype, I mean seeing Father Christmas in shades and a Speedo is alright, but, to me, Saint Nick was a fat old guy in red flannel."
"You know, Garrek, we can have at least some of that here without having to travel a few hundred thousand kilometers." Goldfur giggled, tickling under Garrek’s forelegs causing him to squirm.
"I know, I know, but hey, it’s free!" he grinned, hugging the chakat tighter, kissing hir nose.
"Alright, Garrek, you’ve got me, I guess we’ll tell the cubs tomorrow morning." Shi smiled, licking his chin.
Garrek grinned and cuddled with his lifemate, letting out a low murr.
"We’re going in THAT?" Goldfur nearly screamed as shi pointed at the shuttle.
"Wow! That’s an old Apollo model! Never thought I’d get to see one, let alone fly in it!"
"In the words of Indiana Jones, Garrek, ‘that thing belongs in a museum!’" the chakat grumbled.
Garrek smiled, "Hey, they recommissioned it, I’m sure it’s absolutely safe," he said, looking out the window.
Goldfur let out a slight grumble. It seemed that this vacation was getting a bit more out of hand. Shi sighed, thinking, ‘at least the cubs are being qui…’
"Garrek, where’s the cubs?" shi asked, looking behind hir. Sure enough, both Eudora and Tailstalker were missing.
"I don’t know, I thought they were with you!" Garrek nearly shouted looking around more, checking the chairs and the surrounding area, "Okay, they were with us at home, and in the PTV, then at baggage claim…" he looked at Goldfur, then out the window.
A cart carrying the bags of the flights is riding around the area. On top is a moving bag, a black tail with a red tip peeking out, and if they could hear that well, the sound of cubs giggling. Garrek and Goldfur exchanged glances, then started to dash to the nearest stewardess, a ticket taker standing in front of the nearest loading dock, "Stop the baggage trucks!" Goldfur shouts, looking at a young rabbit morph.
"We’re sorry, but you’re going to have to wait in line like the rest of the people here," the young teen remarked, smacking her gum.
"This is an emergency!"
"I’m sure it is, now if you wait over there by the chairs we’ll get you on board as soon as possible," the doe said, sounding irritated.
"My cubs’ lives are in danger!"
"Uh huh, sure, I…" She was interrupted as Goldfur put hir foreleg paws onto the counter the rabbit was stationed behind, nearly doubling hir height, then quickly finding out how strong chakats can get as Goldfur picks her up by the shirt.
"You. Will. Stop. Those. Trucks. Now!" Goldie says slowly, hir patience wearing thin, especially as hir cubs were on the line.
"Umm, yes, ma’am, sir, ma’am," the rabbit gulped as she hit the intercom with her toe, "Erm, all baggage truck on the tarmac, please, please, please stop all activities. Take five." She breathed a sigh of relief as Goldfur let her feet touch terra firma again.
"Now, you see? Was that all that hard?" shi asks rhetorically, giving what could only be called a menacing purr. Shi started for the door as the baggage drivers found the two cubs, going to the terminal. Goldfur was nearly dragging Garrek by the tail.
"Sorry, Goldie! I thought I checked the bag!" The foxtaur whimpered, trying to put his tail between his hindlegs instinctively.
"I’m not mad at you, Garrek. I just need someone to hold me back!" A human came up the ramp escorting the two kittens, Tailstalker under his arm, and Eudora walking hand in paw.
"Sorry about this, shir. I should have looked in back before I drove." The attendant blushed, taking off his sound dampeners, running a hand through his hair.
"Thank you, sir, for getting my cubs back." Goldfur allowed a smile to him, relieved to see hir cubs back, then looked at the two, "Now, Eudora Whitepaw and Chakat Tailstalker, children of Goldfur and Garrek, what in the name of the Turners were you doing in there!"
The baggage driver gave Garrek a quick look, his face saying ‘I’m outta here!’ as he headed down the ramp back to quieter things, like the space shuttles. Neither of the cubs seemed too quick to respond as Goldfur continued.
"Those cargo bays aren’t even sealed! You would have suffocated and died before we got a metre out of the atmosphere, your eyes would have bugged out and you would have exploded..." shi paused, looking at the two rather frightened cubs. Goldfur offered a small smile, "Not to mention I’d have to wash both of your guts out of my new blouse. I’m sorry, you two just gave me a rather terrible scare." The cubs nodded and quickly hugged their mother, crying a bit, "Shhh, shhh, it’s okay, everything’s fine now, just don’t jump into duffel bags anymore, okay? Eudora, I’d think you’re a bit too big for that."
Eudora blushed, "Well, I had to hold my breath, but I could squeeze in there!"
Goldfur chuckled, "Well, maybe when you’re older, I’ll send you and Midnight out spelunking. Shi would probably like a younger comrade out there." The cub smiled wide, nodding intently, mainly glad about getting out of the proverbial ‘doghouse’ (cathouse? No).
"Excuse me, but the shuttle will be seating now, First class first, then the rows on your tickets." The attended on this terminal said, an elderly collie morph, giving a slight smile to the family.
"Ahh, finally some respectful service! Garrek, what’s on our ticket?" Goldfur smiled, looking at the slightly more relaxed foxtaur, who had the tickets in his paw.
"Erm… seats 45-48," Garrek gulped, "row double Q"
"That’s not even coach, Garrek. I think the cubs were safer in the cargo hold."
"Awww, Goldfur, I thought you were the adventuring type!"
"Exploring a new class M planet is one thing, getting sucked into space, that’s not something I want to experience." Goldfur grumbled, taking their seating area. The traditional recliners, after a bit of fiddling, folded down into surprisingly comfortable pads for ‘taurs.
"See, Goldie, at least they know our needs!" the foxtaur smiled.
"I still need one more thing," the chakat mumbled to hirself as shi found a flight attendant walking by. "Miss? When will the drinks be handed out? I could use a strong one."
She nodded, giving a cheesy smirk to the four. "Your first time flying?"
"More like the first time meeting Jack."
"Never mind, I guess I don’t need anything."
The flight went without any real hiccup. The only thing bad to be said was that both Goldfur and Garrek agreed was something unnatural was being grown in the unisex lavatory. The cubs had their eyes glued to the view ports on the side of the shuttle, looking at the approaching Moon, "Momma? Is that where we’re going?" Tailstalker asked, pointing to the white orb hanging in the sky.
"Yes, Tailstalker. That’s Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. From what I’ve heard, it is a beautiful place, and it even has an oxygen atmosphere. However, it’s really cold there. So you’ll have to be in thermals and space suits outside the Dome."
The Dome, the only structure you can see from space, is where the factory and living quarters are. It’s climate controlled and manages to keep the elements away, while also supplying sufficient light to the inhabitants. The sun does shine on the moon sometimes, but it looks like the rest of the stars in the sky.
"But Moooom! Those things matt down my fur and it takes ages to get it combed out!" Eudora whined, not liking the idea of a tight body suit.
"Only when we’re out of the dome do we need to wear those, sweetie," Garrek smiled, "Though, I wouldn’t recommend going totally naked. We’re kinda strangers in a strange land."
The ship started its re-entry run, going back into the atmosphere, which burned far more brilliantly here than on Terra, with the higher oxygen count here. Tailstalker was a little afraid of the light show, but Eudora seemed mesmerized by the flames bouncing off of the hull.
"Thirty classes of shuttles in the Federation, and we’re on one without transporters." Goldfur grumbled.
"Hey, relax, Goldie, stuff like this is hard to see anymore, since this is old technology."
The ship broke out of the upper levels of the atmosphere, circling around the entire moon a number of times to keep proper trajectory and descent.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Europa." The pilot said over the comm speakers in the fuselage. The tired passengers started to get off after their eighteen Earth hour flight. The airlock opened slowly into the tunnel into the spaceport. Goldfur sneezed in the boarding and disembarking tunnel, commenting how rarely used such things are anymore. The cubs looked out of the plastic view ports on either side, seeing the white snow covering the entire planet, purring happily.
Garrek stretched in his walk, looking out as well, "See, Goldie, it’s beautiful, such unadulterated beauty."
Goldfur had to nod, "It is rather peaceful, and the snow dunes make rather nice shapes." Shi purred, "Sorry about complaining earlier, Garrek. I guess I just felt a little out of the loop when you suddenly popped this up."
The foxtaur shook his head, "It’s okay, Goldie, you had your right…" he paused, walking into the terminal with his cubs and his mate. "Besides, I owe all of you an apology as well. I guess I was looking for some sort of symbol of Christmas." He knelt down to hug his cubs, "But I forgot why this time is so special to me. To see my children, my lovers, and my mates grow. Both physically and in their love." The fox wiped a tear from his eye. "It doesn’t matter if there’s six feet of snow on the ground, or if the sun is hot enough to fry eggs. As long as you all are with me. I know each Christmas will be special."
The three chakats hugged Garrek firmly, all purring deeply. "Erm, so dad, does that mean I can get that rocket scooter I asked for last year?" Eudora smirked.
Goldfur spied hir target. The foxtaur was totally unaware of hir presence. Shi slowly lifted hir weapon, packing the snow into a smooth spheroid. As he started to walk into range shi chucked it against hir mate with all hir might, causing it to explode on contact with a powdery ‘Pufft!’
"*Shhhk* You know, Goldie, *Shhhk* the Garrek said, turning to the chakat behind the snow dune, "*Shhhk* it’s more fun when your opponent isn’t in a thermally protected suit. *Shhhk*"
Chakats, Garrek, Goldfur, Eudora, et al © Bernard Doove
Apollo series shuttles © Longtail
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