Tanj's Tales: Gotterdamerung, part 2
Slave Bells and Negotiations
Zassa Stretched and looked at the clock by her bunk. It
was early, and yet for some reason she wasn’t sleepy.
Laying back on the bed for a moment she ran her paws
lightly over her nude body. Her stomach rumbled. Thinking
over the items in the ship’s galley, the vixen wondered
what she’d like to fix herself to eat. None of it was
immediately attractive. And then a thought hit her; on
their forays into the station, she’d seen a bakery, and
honest-to-God Bakery, with all the scents that go with such
a place. Rising, she rummaged through her closet, looking
for something suitable to wear.
The bags were bulky, but not all that heavy. She’d gotten
bagels, for breakfast, and had even splurged on a tin of
cream cheese. She had a selection of danishes for Wanda,
and some donuts for the others, cake donuts for Tanj,
glazed for Kath, and cream filled for Hinoki. She’d even
stopped in at one of those chain coffee places, and picked
up a half pound of freshly ground coffee. This breakfast
was going to be one to remember! Her mouth watering at the
thought, she pressed through the early morning crowd of
furrs heading towards their day-shift jobs.
The jingle of slave bells, made her head turn. Blinking,
the Vixen angled through the crowd, following the gazes of
those around her. The Ermine fem that came into view was
mostly nude, save for the leather harness she was wearing.
Her head harness included earplugs and blindfold, and what
looked like an inflatable gag. Her arms were bound behind
her, palm to palm, with a rope tied from her wrists to the
end of the short braid her hair’d been put into. She was
hobbled by a short chain, and from her nipple rings hung a
sign advertising some bar. Zassa watched for a moment as
the Ermine moved with miniscule steps, only to bump into a
wall. Without a sound, she turned and started moving out
into the passing crowd, furrs altering their paths to avoid
her, like water flowing around a rock in the middle of a
For a moment, Zassa wondered what it must be like, to be in
such a position, not knowing where you are, or who's around
you. Or what might be done to you…. With a grin, she
shivered in sympathy and envy.
Zassa waited until the Ermine had made it across the
corridor, and was about to bump into the opposite wall.
Reaching out, she took hold of the Ermine’s left elbow, and
used it to turn her just a little, steering her away from
the wall. Releasing her, she grinned as the Ermine
teetered forward, the chain between her ankles going tight
with each step, jingling musically.
It took four more "course corrections" before the ermine
was in the vicinity of the ship’s docking port. Trotting
ahead, Zassa put her packages inside the open lock, and
then keyed in the command code to open both the inner and
the outer personnel locks. Dashing back out, the Vixen
grinned as she held a large piece of plastic wall board
she’d found, angling it just so.
Tanj blinked as the alarm went off. Rising she looked at
the small terminal in her cabin, scanning the alarm message
reported there, and blinked; "now why would Zassa do THAT?"
Rising, grabbing a robe, she hurried down to the personnel
lock, to see what was going on.
The jingle of chains greeted the surprised cheetah; as
Zassa had intended, the Ermine had "ricocheted" off the
wall board she held, and had blundered straight into the
Lost Cause’s personnel lock. Tanj looked from the deaf-
dumb-and-blind Ermine to the grinning Vixen and back. The
vixen just grinned "She followed me home; can we keep her?"
Tanj sighed; "That looks like the one I ran across the
other day… Is she STILL out walking around?" Zassa
shrugged, and stooped to pick up some of her packages;
"Dunno if it’s the same one, or another one like her, but I
thought she could use a rest. Besides, I want to talk to
her. The timer at the back of her neck looks like its
about to time out. Come on, I’ve got breakfast."
Hinoki yawned widely as the sound softly intruded on his
slumber. It sounded like chains rattling…. Opening his
eye, he looked out the open door to his cabin, but couldn’t
Tanj stood just outside the lock to her ship, clutching her
robe around her. There were still a few furrs moving
about, the morning "rush hour" tapering off. No one seemed
to be hunting a missing slave, and if there were any signs
of anyone being upset at Zassa’s "abduction," Tanj couldn’t
find them. With a shrug, the Cheetah fem turned and re-
entered her ship’s lock, closing and locking the outer
Wanda frowned at the rattling of chains; turning she looked
at where Kath was still slumbering in her bed. The Mink
had been very naughty last night, climbing under the covers
to stroke, lick, and tease her Mistress….. Wanda smiled,
thinking she should come up with some sort of suitable
"punishment, " something that would both encourage the Mink
to do nice things like that again, while also demonstrating
that it wasn’t her place to make moves on Wanda’s bed….
Sliding the door open, the Woverine lass stepped into the
corridor, to look towards Tanj’s cabin, and the flight
deck, curious at the noise. Were Hinoki and Tanj at it
again? Finding the corridor empty, Wanda was about to turn
and look in the other direction when something bumped into
her softly from behind…..
The bound ermine bounced off someone large, and by random
chance, turned to her left; shuffling she took a half-dozen
tiny steps, only to have something bark her in the shins;
staggering, unable to catch her balance, she fell forward…
Hinoki OOOOfed as someone landed on top of him; twisting
around he found himself face to face with a heavily bound
Ermine fem. "Well, HELLO!" Chuckling, he held onto the
struggling female, wondering what was going on now?
Looking up, he caught a glimpse of Wanda’s face in his
doorway; "Why, THANK YOU, Wanda, she’s Lovely!"
Wanda blinked and spluttered; "but… but I ….. Ah…. I
Hinoki let his paws roam over her body, examining the
harness with almost professional detachment. It was
sturdily made, leather over metal mesh; it wasn’t going to
come off easily. The straps all seemed to wind up at the
back of her neck, where a time-lock held it all together.
Examining the sign hanging from her nipple rings, the
Cheetah sighed and carefully unclipped it, tossing it to
the floor. Sliding from his bed, he helped the Ermine to
her feet, and carefully guided her from his cabin; "Lets
see if we can find out how you got in here, Little One."
Zassa looked up from her fry pan as the Cheetah male guided
the Ermine into the wardroom; "Ah, so THAT’S where she got
off to." Hinoki blinked "you know her?" The Vixen shook
her head; "Not yet. Found her wandering in the Promenade,
and thought I’d bring her home for breakfast. How do you
like your eggs?" Hinoki maneuvered the Ermine into a seat
and shrugged; "scrambled is fine by me…. Say, are those
Kath yawned and stretched; suddenly she realized Wanda was
no longer in the cabin. For a moment, the temptation to
simply fall back to sleep was overwhelming, but then she
sighed. And then grinned; after last night, rousing her
Mistress in the middle of the night with soft licks, well,
she was probably in enough "trouble." Rising, stretching,
she made the bed and then, wearing only her collar, padded
down the hall, to see where everyone had gotten to.
Tanj got herself a cup of coffee and slid into the seat
next to the bound Ermine. The Ermine had kept trying to
get up, to resume her wanderings, until Hinoki had taken a
leash, clipped it to her collar and tied it to the back of
her chair. Now, the bound fem just sat there, quietly.
Taking a long swig from her mug, Tanj turned and peered at
the time-lock on the back of the slave’s collar…… If she
was reading it right, it should time out in mere minutes….
Kath peered into the Wardroom and for a moment froze in
shock. There was a stranger, a rather pretty Ermine in
rather strict bondage sitting between Tanj and Wanda. For
a moment, panic reigned; was she being replaced? Did they
know her secret? Were they going to make her leave, with
this Ermine taking her place on Wanda’s leash? In Wanda’s
heart? Forcing herself to be calm, the Mink padded into
the wardroom, to quietly kneel behind Wanda’s chair…..
The eggs were just coming out of the fry pan when there was
a soft beep and a click; all eyes turned towards the
Ermine, who started to squirm. With the time lock at the
nape of her neck now open, she was able to extricate her
paws from behind her back; while they were till covered in
leather "mittens" she was able to push up one corner of her
blindfold, to look around. It was plain from the
expression on her face that she wasn’t where she expected
"MMmmmm, this is good." The Ermine, who’s name was Salde,
was on her second plate, not surprising if her mouth had
been full of rubber for the past 24 hours or so. Tanj
sipped her coffee as she examined the time-lock; "so you
say this is a standard "punishment" your Mistress uses?
The Ermine nodded; "yes Ma’am; whenever there’s a complaint
against a slave, rightful or otherwise, the next day we’re
out wandering the station as an advertisement. Sometimes
folks will turn in a complaint just so’s they can… well,
have some fun with us as we’re punished…." Tanj winced,
catching Hinoki’s eye; the male Cheetah looked just a
little grim. Zassa, on the other hand, was listening
raptly; "really? Ooohhh… tell me, what kind of things do
the disgruntled customers do?" "Well," the ermine replied,
"with the harness, there’s not much they can do sexually,
although I have been forced to tit-fuck some folks… can’t
say if they were customers or just someone on the station.
Mostly they play dirty tricks on me….. tripping me, or
tricking me into a maze, or applying an irritant. I
remember one time I was dusted with something like itching
powder. Now THAT was miserable….."
Tanj sipped her coffee; "so you do more for your
establishment than merely provide… "advertising?" Salde
nodded; "Yes, Ma’am; all of the slaves perform a number of
tasks; we wait tables, dance, and of course, we’re all
skilled in the bedroom arts…." Tanj smiled; "I bet you get
a wide variety of customers…. Do many of the Imperial types
visit Miss Kitty’s?" Salde looked down; "well, we’re NOT
supposed to notice… but yes, I believe so…." Tanj nodded;
"and I would imagine in your routine, you overhear some
very interesting things….." Salde paused for a moment, a
cautious look on her face; "um….. could be…." Tanj smiled
and paused to sip her coffee for a moment; "and does your
Mistress require you to tell her the things you’ve
overheard?" Salde’s eyes flicked from side to side, almost
as if she were seeking some route of escape… finally she
muttered, almost too low to hear; "that…. Might be true, on
occasion…." Tanj just smiled; "I think I might have to
have a talk with this Miss Kitty……"
Salde looked at the last remaining donut on the table; "Um…
Ma’am… I really am required to head right back after the
time lock opens…. I’m sure the overseer is going to be
wondering just what happened to me….." Hinoki smiled and
stretched; "ah, but surely there must be excuses for not
coming right back; I mean, what if there were some gang of
street toughs just waiting for the timer to time out, so
they could ravish you?" Salde smiled and looked down;
"that might be a legitimate excuse, but Miss Kitty doesn’t
like for things like that to happen; she wants her
customers to PAY for it… and I’m sure she’d find a way of
getting revenge for anything like that….
Tanj frowned, and shot Hinoki a look; "I know she’s
tempting, but it wouldn’t be fair to get her punished…."
The male Cheetah just leaned back, and laced his fingers
behind his head; "Ah, but dear Captain, there IS a way….
Go ahead and finish the last donut, Salde; I’ve got a comm
call to make….."
Intercepting the Cheetah just outside the flight deck, Tanj
growled; "you are NOT going to depressurize this portion of
the station, just to make the emergency doors close, are
you?" Hinoki blinked and then shook his head; "not a bad
idea; wish I’d thought of it… but no. This "Miss Kitty’s"
is actually on the far side of the station, and it’s a BIG
station. Take at least a half an hour to walk there. But
in a robocab, its only about five minutes. I just called a
cab; we’ll have it take the "scenic" route, and I’ll have
her there in plenty of time….. And, as we go, well……" The
Cheetah’s grin said it all…… Tanj just chuckled and shook
her head; "always the "gentlefurr", aren’t you? Seeing the
Damsel in Distress home, and getting some nookie in the
process." Rising to tiptoes, Tanj kissed him on the nose
and then made shoo-ing motions; "you’d best get going!"
Salde stared at the robocab in wide-eyed wonder; "I didn’t
even know such things existed on the station!" Hinoki
smiled and helped her in, settling onto the hard plastic
bench seat. The door closed with a hiss. Pulling the
Ermine onto his lap, he chuckled; "the windows are one-way;
we can see out, but they can’t see in…. now… lets see, your
timer timed out at….08:37…. Driver! I want an arrival
time of 09:07 at coordinate DD32, and yes, I’ll pay for the
extra minutes." As the cab silently accelerated, Hinoki
turned to kiss the wide-eyed Ermine….
Salde was astride Hinoki’s lap, her harness a heap of
leather straps and metal buckles on the floor. She was
facing away from him, leaning back against him, his cock
buried deep in her pussy. As she moved, as she rode his
shaft, she stared out the "window"… the cab had turned off
of the concourse, and shot into a short tunnel, only to
emerge in a transparent tube, traveling over the exterior
surface of the station. The stars, and all the docked
ships were visible; it was a splendid and exciting view,
one she'd never even knew existed here in the place that
had been her home for several years. Smiling, she thanked
the Cheetah for the treasure he’d shown her in the only way
she knew how, milking his cock with her vaginal muscles,
riding him harder and faster…. Just as the cab flashed
from the transparent tube back into a dark tunnel, their
journey almost over, she managed to bring him off…..
Hinoki was still panting when the cab stopped. As the door
opened, Salde turned to exit, but Hinoki grabbed a paw;
"wait a moment; you don’t want to go back looking like
THAT…. Salde blinked at him curiously, but Hinoki just
reached into a bag he’d brought, to produce a soft towel;
"you’re a bit of a mess; we don’t want people figuring out
what we’ve been doing, do we?" Salde purrred as he rubbed,
cleaning between her legs; her fur was still a little damp,
but maybe, just maybe that could be excused as sweat…..
Harness in hand, she bent to kiss Hinoki goodbye, and then
without a word, she was gone.
Hinoki looked out the window, watching the Ermine’s ass
sway, until she rounded the corner, and was gone. With a
sigh, he looked at the forward wall of the cab and growled
Tanj sighed and shook her head; "the problem, Zassa, is
that while the beggar might hear all sorts of interesting
snippets, his "access" is completely random. It depends on
him being in the right place at the right time. And
Hinoki’s friend, the Raccoon, just isn’t "established"
enough yet. Either one MIGHT be a significant intelligence
source, but I still think we could use something a little
more… "mainstream." The Vixen nodded; "so you want to go
visit this "Miss Kitty’s" and see what they might be able
to do?" The Cheetah nodded; "Yeah… call it a hunch…
feminine intuition. I admit it would be the most open
recruitment yet, but if it were to work, it might provide
us with the best source of information." Tanj smiled;
"lets face it; folks like that are VERY mercenary; as long
as we’re offering enough money, there shouldn’t be any
trouble at all…." The Vixen just frowned; "um…."
The dress was barely within the social standards of the
station, and as such, Tanj drew both appreciative and
disapproving looks as she made her way across the station,
to the "strip". During the day, the station was busy, but
as she entered the entertainment district, the crowds fell
off, until it seemed only delivery and cleaning furrs were
about. Stopping in front of the establishment marked by
glare panels as "Miss Kitty’s" Tanj came to a stop. There,
hanging from a hook over the door was Salde… at least she
THOUGHT it was Salde….
The Ermine was in a strict hogtie position, her legs pulled
up behind her back, her arms tied so tight her elbows
touched, her wrists lashed half-way between ankles and
knees. A chain ran from her bindings to the ceiling,
holding her a little over a meter and a half off the floor.
Her head was covered with a slave hood, cutting off all
sight and sound, and probably making it a little difficult
for her to breathe as well. The strap that passed between
her thighs obviously holding a large butt-plug and a larger
dildo in place. And from a pair of rather wicked looking
nipple clamps dangled a sign that read "Closed for
Tanj watched the Ermine slowly twist, in her suspension
bondage and hmmmmed. Did Hinoki’s little trick result in
this punishment? Or had something else happened? And what
could close an establishment like this? Yes, this wasn’t
quite the peak of the business day for places like this,
but all the other establishments on the strip were open…
Curious, Tanj moved past the Ermine, to try the door. As
she suspected, it was locked.
The alleyway was narrow, and dimly lit. Tanj moved towards
the back of Miss Kitty’s, thinking that if the bar was
closed, it might be the perfect time to discuss her
proposal with the proprietor…. If she could just get in.
Besides, the question as to WHY the place would be closed
was bothering her. It was obvious to her that Miss Kitty
had a tendency to be a little rough with her slaves, and
the Cheetah feared what she might find on the other side of
the wall…. As suspected there WAS a back door, but it too
was locked. Knocking discretely on the door produced no
results. Looking about, Tanj found no other doors, or
windows, but there WAS a rather large ventilation grille
about four feet off the floor. Frowning she wondered why
the building wasn’t hooked into the station’s HVAC system….
Stepping closer, she examined the grille; not
unsurprisingly, it popped right off in her hands. It was
almost as if she was being invited to break in….. "Its
just GOTTA be a trap" the Cheetah mumbled to herself; then
a wry grin formed on her face; "but I bet I’d get to meet
the owner…" Smiling to herself, she moved off down the
alleyway to find a comm terminal.
"Tanj, have you lost your mind?" Wanda stared at the image
of the Cheetah on the monitor; "Maybe, Wanda, but I’ve just
got this… "itch"… I’m going to do it despite the thought
that it might not be the smartest thing to do. I can’t
just SIT here any longer, waiting for someone who may or
may not show up; I’ve got to DO something! I’ve swallowed
the tracer; you should be able to find me if I don’t report
back in a few hours…" The Wolverine lass shook her head;
"Dammit, Tanj, I wish you wouldn’t!" The image of the
Cheetah smiled; "Love you too, Wanda." And then the image
faded and was gone….
Behind the Wolverine, Kath sighed and shook her head;
"well, just in case things don’t go as per her rather
optimistic assumptions, there ARE a few things we can do to
prepare for the worst." Wanda just turned and looked at
her pet; "such as call the local undertaker?" Kath shook
her head, and with a grin, padded off, to return a moment
later with two cloaks and her leash; "Mistress needs to
take me for a walk…."
Tanj pulled the grating off the ventilation duct, and
looked inside; it seemed to be clean, and unreasonably
wide. Inviting. With a shrug she climbed up into it,
twisting to reach down, to fetch the grate, to pull it up,
and to snap it back into place. Turning, she crawled a
couple of body lengths before an almost silent clack made
her pause. Backing up, she pushed lightly against the
grate; it didn’t move. Rolling onto her back, bracing
herself, and kicking with both feet didn’t budge it. With
a sigh, she looked at the grate and shook her head; "I hate
it when I’m right…."
Wanda slowed, until the leash went taut…. Kath, who was
actually a few steps ahead of her, looked back over her
shoulder. "Kath… are we going where I THINK we’re going?"
The Mink turned and moved back, to face the Wolverine lass;
putting both paws on Wanda’s shoulders, ignoring the fact
that her cloak fell open as she did so, revealing that she
wasn’t wearing a stitch underneath, she looked into her
Mistress’ eyes. "Mistress, do you Love me?" Wanda
blinked, and then after a moment, she nodded, her eyes
wary. Kath smiled; "Mistress, do you TRUST me? Do you
trust me not only not to do you intentional harm, but to
protect your interests as well?" Wanda swallowed, looked
from her pet to the doorway and back, and finally gave
another miniscule nod. Kath beamed; "then lets go in there
together. Stand straight, look firm, and follow my lead.
If Tanj has gotten herself in trouble like I think she has,
she’ll need help, and I know JUST where to find it…..
The duct had narrowed alarmingly. Worse, sharp
projections, the pointy end of sheet metal screws, longer
than she would have thought necessary, were slowly
shredding her dress. Somewhere near an air mover, some
magnetic field, possibly from a motor, but more likely
something built into the "trap" had snatched away
everything she had made of ferrous metal. Not that this
had left her "unarmed"…. But the way her dress was being
slowly shredded meant that hanging onto all the little
items was becoming more and more difficult….
The officer behind the desk stared open-mouthed. Kath
ignored him, pressing her face to the retinal scanner.
After a moment, she could see the green light reflected on
the Marmoset’s face. "I assume that I’m cleared for
entry?" The Marmoset blinked, and as if awakening from a
dream, dropped his gaze to the screen built into the
counter top. The double-take was classic as his gaze rose
to stare at the Mink on the end of the Wolverine’s leash,
and then back down to the data displayed. Sure enough, the
screen background color was green, indicating that she was
in the database as a member of Imperial Security. Worse,
her rank was….. well, if not truly impressive, then at
least high enough so that it really wouldn’t be prudent to
ASK her about the strange image she presented. Nodding,
swallowing, he pressed his thumb to the special button.
After taking a moment to analyze his thumb print, the
computer turned off the active and passive security
measures and a door opened. Kath smiled coldly and turned,
literally dragging Wanda behind her.
Tanj yelped as the ductwork suddenly gave way. The room
she fell into was almost completely dark, and as the
ductwork and broken ceiling tiles hit the hard metal floor,
the darkness was filled with stars…. After a moment
however, Tanj was able to crawl free, and rise painfully to
her feet. For a long time she remained still, waiting to
see if anyone would come looking, investigating the crash.
Finally she rose; looking around, squinting, she fumbled in
the remains of her dress for the penlight that had been
sewn into one hem…..
The Wolf looked up from the internal security monitor, at
the Chief of Station. While the elderly Badger wasn’t his
nominal superior, he did out-rank him, and as such, had to
be dealt with carefully. "So what’s your wild card doing
now?" The Wolf looked back down at the monitor, where Kath
was arguing with a supply Sergeant. "I honestly don’t
know. The very fact that she’s here, during the day, AND
accompanied, suggests that something major has happened.
And the fact that she hasn’t informed ME suggests that its
either something she’s not sure of, or something that she
wants us "out of the loop" on, even if we DO know she’s up
to something." "Maybe she’s just lost it…. From her file,
it seems she’s gotten more than a little "strange"
lately…." The Wolf nodded; "Perhaps… but I don’t think so.
For the moment, I’m inclined to let her have her head. If
she proves to be working in our best interests, that will
go a long way towards reassuring Command that leaving her
in place was a wise choice. On the other hand, if it turns
out to be something… frivolous, well, it would be well we
knew now." The Badger nodded; "its your neck…"
Tanj looked around, in the dim light of her penlight. The
magnetic field probably hadn’t done too much good for the
power cell, as it should have been brighter. Still, it was
bright enough to show her that she’d fallen in between a
row of cages. Each cage held one or two bound slaves, some
male, some female. They wore body harnesses, in leather
and steel, with their wrists bound at their hips. Each
wore a visor that covered their eyes, and Tanj smiled;
she’d worn one like that at the academy; it let you see
only a thin sliver of light, between your cheek and the
bottom of the visor. Coupled with a posture collar,
holding the head erect, you would only be able to see just
in front of your feet, just enough to walk at the end of a
leash without stumbling. They might know she was here, but
they couldn’t see her….. Each slave also wore a device in
their mouths, that held their lips partially open, like a
slightly less severe ring gag. If she was going to talk to
one of them, she’d have to open one of the cages and
release them from their bondage. Fumbling in the remnants
of her dress, she went looking for the lock pick…. Only to
find it gone, her dress torn to shreds in that area. With
a sigh, she turned to look at the cage nearest her, only to
find that the door had no lock, just a simple bolt. A
simple bolt that a bound slave could never manage to open.
Smiling, she bent to unlock the door…..
Kath struggled under the load of two large bundles, each
tied up with string so that she could carry one in each
hand. Wanda again trailed at the end of the leash,
hurrying to keep up with the Mink. She STILL found it hard
to believe that she’d just made it into, and out of the
Imperial Security offices on Gibralter base, without being
challenged or checked. They’d made their way in, and out,
obtained supplies, I.D.’s, even weapons, ALL just on her
say-so…. And she still didn’t know just what her erstwhile
"Pet" had in mind…..
The bunny blinked in the dim light as Tanj removed the
visor. For a moment she worked her jaws, as Tanj examined
the "gag." "Its made so that you can get food, and water
from those" the Bunny whispered, pointing with her chin;
there, protruding through the bars of the cage, were two
phallic shapes; one was attached to a water bottle, the
other was attached to a machine that might have delivered a
food paste….. Tanj nodded; "I wonder if you might answer
some questions…." The Bunny looked up; "you don’t work for
Mistress? No, you’d know about the cells then…. Not one
of her… "guests"?" Tanj smiled and shook her head; "I’m
here to make your Mistress a business proposition, but I
thought it might be… prudent to find out a little more
about her operation before approaching her…." The Bunny
Hinoki scowled, fingering the black cloth. Looking up, he
fixed Kath with a piercing glare; "where did you GET these?
Do you know how much trouble we could get into if we were
caught in these? If we were just caught WITH these? They
wouldn’t have to know we were with the Brethren! This’d be
all they’d need to send us to the ice mines on Kessel!"
Kath opened her mouth, whether to deny, or to explain
wasn’t clear later; everyone’s train of thought was
disrailed when Zassa held the black uniform up to her front
and grinned; "I think I’m going to look absolutely Stunning
in this. Waitrighthere, Igottagotrythison! As the Vixen
hurried out, everyone else just groaned.
The Bunny rocked her whole torso up and down, making her
breasts bounce; as with the posture collar she couldn’t nod
her head, this was the equivalent of a "yes." "Yes,
mistress" she whispered; "Mistress often leases us out to
various dignitaries. In fact, we’re frequently sent to
"parties" off the station. Once, I was taken all the way
to Hanson’s Pleasure Planet, just for a party… " Tanj
frowned; "why would they send you THERE? I’d think they’d
have more than enough highly trained slaves THERE?…. Are
they sending you there to "service" certain …
"individuals"?" Shaking her chest side to side, making her
breasts wobble, in what could ohnly be a "no", the Bunny
closed her eyes and shuddered; "Oh, no, Mistress! The
point is not the party, or the furrs, but the trip, you
see….. But we’re not supposed to talk about that." Tanj
When the metallic sound of the kennel’s door opening rang
through the chamber, Tanj straightened, only to hit her
head on the cage’s low ceiling. She was still wincing when
the lights came on, and a voice growled "well Looky here;
we got ourselves a slave trying to escape!"
Tanj growled, and bolted from the cage, ramming the guard
in the stomach with her head; he toppled backwards into the
bars of the cage on the opposite side of the row. With a
growl he stood up, shaking loose a thick bullwhip from his
belt. Tanj eeped and back-pedaled, spread her paws; "Look
Mister, I’m NOT one of your slaves! I’m here to see yo….
EYOWCH! The snap of the bullwhip was loud, but the
explosion of pain it brought was staggering. For a moment,
Tanj wobbled on her feet, and then with a growl she
launched herself at the guard, the ceramic push-dagger in
her right paw. Concentrating on the guard, as he brought
his whip back for another stroke, she never saw the
electric blue sizzle as the second guard brought the
stunner down on the back of her neck.
Kath was straightening her tie when Wanda stuck her head
through the hatchway; "You called it right. The tracer she
swallowed was showing extremely high levels of stomach
acid, right up until the point where it blipped out." Kath
sighed and nodded; "I bet they hit her with a stunner of
some sort. Big electrical discharges tend to fry little
things like that." Glancing at her reflection in the
mirror, she grabbed the peaked cap and stepped out into the
corridor. Striding down the hall to the Wardroom, she
growled at Hinoki; "Time to suit up, Mister; the Captain’s
Tanj groaned, and shook her head; blinking, she looked
around, as much as she was able. The room was much larger,
and lighter… in fact, she seemed to be in the middle of a
club’s dance floor… locked into a pair of stocks. Her feet
were held in metal rings, spread slightly beyond shoulder-
width, with her torso bent at the waist, head and wrists
locked in a classic set of stocks. Her tail seemed to be
tied to the metal above her neck, as she could move it from
side to side, but not down. Blinking, she tried to
The slap on her bottom made Tanj try to turn her head,
left, and then right; there was no way she could see behind
her. The second slap made her yelp. Then someone was
leaning over her body; she could sense the closeness, feel
the warmth, the furr’s scent filling her nostrils. "I know
you’re not one of my slaves" a deep contralto purrred. "We
checked the tapes on the security cameras; its not everyone
who tries to break into Miss Kitty’s… Tell me, little
Cheetah; what were you after? Were you after money?
Slaves? Are you an assassin, come to try and kill me? Why
are you here?" Tanj cleared her throat, eyes darting from
side to side, still trying to catch a glimpse of the owner
of the voice; "Um, well, actually, I’d come to make you a
business proposition. Thought with the bar closed, it’d be
the best time to speak to you in private…" The contralto
voice laughed, moving away slightly; "Oh, that’s Rich!
That’s one I haven’t heard before!" Suddenly the voice was
whispering in her ear again; "but I don’t need any
partners; don’t need any complications. I suspect I could
make more money selling the Infamous "Tanj" as a slave,
than I could from any "business venture" you might
offer….." Suddenly the voice was more distant, the owner
straightening, moving away; "besides, I doubt that’s what
you’re really after. The timing is just too much a
coincidence….. I don’t know why you’re really here, but
Bruno will get it out of you, in time." Behind her, Tanj
heard the guard chuckle, the bullwhip slither across the
floor, and then the sharp snap as he cracked it just over
"Will you HURRY UP?" Hinoki looked through the visor at
the black-clad Mink; it was as if by donning the uniform,
she’d pulled on a whole new persona, and he wasn’t sure he
liked what he was seeing…. Hitting the switch with his
chin, the Cheetah growled; "Listen, Kath, the preflight on
these things isn’t done in an instant. You don’t just
kick-start a fusion reactor! I’m moving as fast as I can!"
Kath scowled at a wrist chrono and shook her head; "The
longer you take, the worse its likely to be for the
Captain. Get a MOVE ON, Mister!"
Tanj panted, her rump and back on fire. The Guard had been
generous with the whip, but so far he hadn’t let the very
tip, which can actually move faster than the speed of
sound, touch her. That could have caused severe internal
injuries. So far it seemed he’d been walking that fine
line between actually breaking the skin, while still
delivering as much pain as he could…. One portion of her
mind grudgingly admitted, he really was a maestro with it….
Closing her eyes, she bit her lower lip as someone moved
behind her, the head of someone’s cock nuzzling against her
Kath marveled at how furrs seemed to move out of her way as
they moved through the station; the powered combat armor
was simply too big to get into any vehicle, so they had to
walk. She felt like she was on parade. "Oh, well" she
thought to herself; "The only time I actually WORE my
uniform was when I WAS on parade, or at certain
ceremonies…." And while the uniform she was wearing wasn’t
her own, it was close enough….
Miss Kitty listened to the Cheetah fem howl, as Rupert took
her in the ass, unlubricated. Her guards had a way of
breaking recalcitrant slaves, and she was sure they’d break
this one in record time. She’d offered them a big enough
bonus. Smiling, she turned back to her senior guard; "the
group from the Botsworth affair have been back almost
twelve hours now; they should be passing their "cargo"
shortly. Is everything going correctly?" The Bobcat
chuckled; "Yes, ma’am; no signs of any of the packets
rupturing. I’ve put a mild laxative in their food, and
that should hasten the, ah, "delivery." Miss Kitty nodded;
"Good; I have a number of buyers that will be coming by
later this evening. I want to move this shipment as soon
Tanj grunted, as the creature behind her bucked his hips
harder, his orgasm obviously approaching. She wasn't
exactly enjoying herself, but she’d been through worse, and
it beat being whipped…. The whispered conversation had been
on the bare range of her hearing and only confirmed what
she’d suspected. The Slaves were being used as "mules",
smuggling something onto the station, by ingesting it
first, and "passing" it later. It was a risky business, as
if drugs were involved, a ruptured package would most
likely kill the mule… but if the profits were high enough,
slaves were expendable. And Tanj couldn’t think of
anything that was high-value-low-volume like drugs…
Imperial combat armor isn’t exactly rare on Gibraltar
station, but then again, its not often seen on the
Promenade. Its even less common for a suit of Imperial
Combat Armor to be seen in the entertainment district, on
the Strip, entering a bar. The locked door didn’t slow
Hinoki down much at all, the bulk of the armor enlarging
the opening considerably. Wanda, Kath, and Zassa in
Imperial uniform moved in right behind him, weapons at the
ready. The bar was comparatively dark, with the exception
of a single spotlight on the middle of the dance floor… and
in that spotlight was a very tightly bound Tanj… and behind
her was a rather large Bear, with a bullwhip, his arm back,
ready to strike…..
Hinoki turned, his right arm coming up, the plasma gun
lining up on the Bear. The Bear, for his part, stared,
eyes wide, mouth open. His fingers seemed to convulse, the
whip handle dropping from his grip, to clatter on the
floor, although his posture didn’t move a millimeter.
Everyone’s attention was on the Bear and the scene in the
spotlight; the flare of a laser came as a surprise as its
beam seared across the front of the powered armor. Hinoki
reacted rapidly, moving like a gunslinger, his torso
twisting, the plasma gun flaring solar bright. Just as he
fired, a dark figure across the room launched itself to one
side with a howl. The crouching Bobcat was incinerated,
the remnants of the bolt tearing through the far wall.
"STOP THIS!" the cry only served to draw the attention of
Kath, Wanda and Zassa, their assault weapons drawing a bead
on a well dressed Serval as she picked herself up off the
floor. "Dammit, I pay GOOD MONEY to make sure we’re left
ALONE! YOU WILL ALL PAY for this!" Kath had just opened
her mouth to reply when a deep growl came from the doorway;
"What in Pathan’s Seventh Hell is going ON here?"
Imperial Security generally instills a certain level of …
"concern" in most law-abiding furs, and downright fear in
others, and the Fox, in Imperial Gray standing in the
doorway should have made most folks reflect over their
recent actions, wondering if they’d broken any law, by
accident, or intention. However, Kath turned and strode
over to him as if he were an errant school child; "Captain,
this is an Imperial Intelligence operation; I’ll thank you
to butt out, until your presence is requested!" The Fox
examined the proffered I.D. critically, his ears folding
back as he realized just WHO he was dealing with. He had
opened his mouth to reply, a look of forced indignation
apparent on his face, when Tanj cleared her throat; "Um,
actually, I think it’s a good thing he IS here….."
Tanj sat gingerly on a cushion, a blanket wrapped around
her body; "So you see, Captain, this establishment is
really only a cover for a rather sophisticated smuggling
operation, one that’s been operating right under your nose.
I’m not sure Just what drug they’re smuggling, but I’d
hazard a guess at Ecstasy III." The Fox nodded, looking up
from his notebook; "and you say all I have to do is to wait
for the slaves in the kennels to, ah, "move their bowels"
to collect the evidence?" Tanj smiled and nodded; "I
believe some have already "delivered" their cargo; some are
still, um, "holding", but in general, that’s all. Oh, that
and keep whoever she’s been paying off from interfering."
The Fox stiffened; "Believe me, Madam, if ANYONE has on
this station has been paid off, we WILL get to the bottom
of it. Now, perhaps you could clear up one last little
question?" Tanj smiled and shrugged; "maybe. Depends on
the question." The Fox blinked, as if furrs not giving him
their most complete cooperation was something completely
outside his experience; "Um… Yes…. Just what WERE you
doing here? What is your interest in the…. Activities of
this establishment? Tanj just smiled and looked at the
Mink; "That IS an interesting question. Lets just say that
my activities here fit into a much larger puzzle, some
pieces of which I haven’t put into place yet." Kath
cleared her throat, breaking eye contact with the Cheetah;
"Lets just say, Captain, that some things need to remain
classified." The Fox, not missing the exchange between the
two, even if he didn’t completely understand it, just
nodded; "well, you understand that I WILL have to report
this to my superiors…" both Kath and Tanj just nodded.
With the blanket still wrapped around her, and the
comforting bulk of Hinoki in the powered combat armor right
behind her, Tanj padded through the ruined doorway. For a
moment she wondered what had become of Salde, and where she
might be right now. She hoped she wasn’t hanging there
when Hinoki made his entrance…. Quite a crowd had gathered
on the Strip, held back by a line of gray-uniformed
security troops. Kath slung her weapon and growled; "OK,
lets get back to the ship in the best order as possible."
However, before she could take a step, Wanda put a paw on
her arm, wordlessly pointing with the other paw. Kath
followed her gaze, eyes narrowing, nodded, and then
growled; "YOU!" Hinoki, hearing the shout, turned to look,
actuators squealing. Within the crowd, a furr blanched as
the powered armor turned, seemingly to point right at him.
Without hesitation, he turned and fled, and throughout the
crowd, at least four others started moving away, as quickly
as possible. Not knowing which one to pursue, or even if
they SHOULD pursue, the small group all stood for a minute
The Fox was at Kath’s elbow in a moment, his eyes following
the fleeing fur; "Problem, Ma’am? Kath growled; "Slyth
gang members; we’ve had some small trouble with them…."
The Captain raised an eyebrow; "Oh? Well, I’m sure we have
them on the security monitors; we’ll track them down for
you, if you like." Kath just smiled, and nodded; "that
would please me, Captain." Turning, she pushed through the
crowd, Wanda, Zassa, Tanj and Hinoki following in a small
The Wardroom was a welcome relief. Tanj folded her blanket
and then sat on it tenderly, no longer concerned over her
nudity. The proffered cup of coffee was accepted from
Hinoki with thanks. "Well, I’m glad THAT’s over" the
Cheetah Fem rumbled. Hinoki chuckled and shook his head;
"well, Tanj, do you think you’ve sufficiently blown our
cover, or should we take out adds in the local paper?"
Tanj looked across the small room, fixed the Mink with her
gaze and shook her head; "I think almost everyone out there
thinks we’re Imperial Intelligence right now. Except for
some, who I think know the truth. And have known the truth
since we arrived. The question is, how will it affect us?
Kath, would you care to comment?"
The Mink was nude, hanging from a chain hoist in the cargo
bay, her legs held wide apart by ropes to various different
stanchions. Tanj, Hinoki, Zassa and Wanda were each
crowded around her, each armed with at least one feather.
The Mink giggled and howled, shuddering, her body near
convulsing as they tickled her remorselessly. She’d long
since lost control of her bladder, as the contents of a
nearby bucket testified. Finally Tanj called a halt; "Lets
hear it again, Kath. Once again. I want to make sure
you’re telling us the truth!" Kath took a moment to try
and catch her breath, before whimpering "I told you the
truth, Mistress! THEY contacted me! Oh, it was a MISTAKE
to ever think I could come here! It wasn’t my doing!….."
Tanj sighed and looked over the Mink at Wanda, raising one
eyebrow in a silent question. Wanda trailed the tip of her
feather underneath the Mink’s tail for a moment, making her
whole body shudder, and then looked up at the Cheetah; "For
what its worth, I believe her…." Tanj sighed and nodded;
"OK, Kath, tell us again what they want from us…." The
Mink nodded almost convulsively; "They just…. Just want me
to pass on anything interesting…. That you find. They see
you…. Almost as…. An Auxilliary…. Source of
Intellegence…." Tanj sighed and nodded; "I suspect I’ve
simply gotten too good at this." Looking up again, lifting
the Mink’s chin with one hand, she stared into Kath’s eyes;
"Will they give us missions, or just be content with the
tidbits we might offer? Will they try and blackmail us?"
Kath sighed; "Don’t know….. If something grim enough came
along, and we were in the right place, they might try and
get us to do their dirty work… but if we give them quality
information… enough information… the RIGHT information,
they’ll probably just leave us alone…." Tanj nodded
slowly, and then growled; "and what are the chances that
some day they might decide we know too much and just
arrange for us to disappear?" The Mink shrugged, a
difficult motion when hanging by your wrists; "possible, I
suppose….. the only way out there is to make sure we’re too
valuable to them, to loose…." Again the Cheetah nodded.
After a long moment of looking into Kath’s eyes, Tanj
smiled; "OK, so that’s the downside. We’ve already seen a
little of the benefits, and for that I DO thank you. Now,
what ELSE might they bring to the table; what resources
might they give us?"
Walt! WALT!" The Gerbil looked up from his console at the
agitated face of the Fox; "what is it, Sam? We bein’
attacked?" Sam shook his head, shoving a data crystal at
the Gerbil; "Tell everyone to hold their positions, and
LOOK AT THIS! You wouldn’t believe what just happened down
on the Strip!" Walt opened his mike and growled; "all
traffic, sector 23 through 47, hold position until further
notice." Ignoring the flood of calls from various ship
Captains, the Gerbil cleared his screen and inserted the
data crystal into the reader. As the image of the ruined
façade of Miss Kitty’s formed, his eyes widened; there was
the Mink…. And the Vixen…. And the Cheetah… the three
ladies they’d "extorted" a night of pleasure out of… and
two of the three were wearing Imperial Intelligence
uniforms! "OH SHIT" was all he could squeak out… "Yeah"
the Fox muttered; "It seems Miss Kitty’s was a front for
smuggling. They found Ecstasy III, Parabaraboline, and
PseudoEphedarine. Enough stuff to keep the whole station
high for a month!" From behind them, the Jaguar growled;
"Miss Kitty’s? I was there just a few nights ago! DAMN!
Say, is that the Cheetah fem that damn near fucked me to
death?" Sam and Walt just turned to look at their boss; in
concert, they both uttered "Uh HUH!"
The Badger looked at the Wolf standing at attention before
his desk, the Wolf’s smirk making his stomach churn; "and I
suppose you and your section are going to claim credit for
this little escapade?" The Wolf’s grin widened; "Sir, Yes
SIR! She IS after all, one of my agents. The staff at
Miss Kitty’s are all singing like canaries; the slaves
themselves have been MOST helpful in identifying the
contacts that passed the drugs on to them. We have
operations in progress on Aramac, Norseman, Bourke, and
Grafton at this moment as we try to follow the supply
chain. With luck we’ll be able to follow it all the way
back to the manufacturing sites." Slowly the Badger rose
to his feet; "and of course, the fact that you’ve made me
look like an idiot is completely incidental…." The Wolf
just shrugged; "Sir, with all due respect, the place WAS
operating right under your nose…." The Badger just nodded,
and shook his head; "Get out. And if those… PIRATES cause
any more disruption on this station, there had better be a
DAMN good reason!" The wolf saluted, turned and marched
from the Badger’s office. As soon as he was clear of the
anteroom, his smile faded. The Mink pulled it out this
time, but he STILL thought she was a loose cannon. She’d
have to be watched VERY carefully…..
Hinoki smiled as he meandered through the door to Harriet’s
shop. The Raccoon finished her discussions with a customer
and then turned to grin at Hinoki; "and what wonders have
you brought me today?" Smiling, leaning across the
counter, the Cheetah gave the Raccoon fem a long, and
sensual kiss. After a moment he pulled back and grinned at
her; "I heard one of the more prominent establishments down
on the Strip just went belly-up. I was wondering if you’d
like to take over the lease. Of course it needs some work,
but….." Harriet’s eyes went wide; "I HEARD! Miss Kitti’s
was the ONLY competition we’d face on this station! Hinoki
chuckled and shrugged; "Hey, I work for some powerful
furrs; they can make things happen." Harriet’s eyes
widened a little more; "You… you mean you caused that? How
in the WORLD did you arrange it? Hinoki just chuckled;
"weren’t you watching the vids? Didn’t you see who was
there at the bust?" Harriet blinked; "um, well, I half
watched it…. Hey, was the Cheetah lady in the blanket your
Captain? Hinoki laughed; "yes, and I was the one in the
powered armor." Harriet shook her head, taking a half step
back from the counter; "But … But I thought that was an
Imperial Intelligence Operation; there were black uniforms
Everywhere there!" Hinoki smiled; actually there had been
only three, but they must have stood out in all that gray….
"Actually, in this instance, Imperial Intelligence was
working for us…. Now, before anyone else gathers their
wits, why don’t you run down there and see if you can’t put
in a bid on the lease, and the property. They had a pretty
good stable of slaves from what I’ve been told." Harriet
sighed; "the lease I might arrange, but the property?
That’s probably beyond me." Hinoki just chuckled and
reaching into a pocket, produced three credit chips,
placing them in a line on the counter. "Thought that might
be a problem. Remember, we’ll be your SILENT partner, but
just don’t forget who owns the store….." Harriet grinned
and snatched up the three chips, leaned over the bar to
kiss the Cheetah on the nose, and hurried out the door,
almost at a run.
Hinoki chuckled as he watched the Raccoon’s shapely ass
move as she hurried off; "don’t worry" he muttered softly,
"I’ll lock up…"
Harriet was half way to the Security office to place her
bid when it hit her… "Imperial Intelligence was working for
THEM? Who the hell ARE these guys?"
The Wolf propped his feet on the corner of the desk in his
borrowed cubicle and grinned at his assistant; "Yeah,
there’s no question that at some point this audacious
upstart will have to be disciplined…." The Ferret looked
at her boss and raised an eyebrow; "do you mean Kath, or
this Sou An Ky, this "Tanj" person?" The Wolf smiled;
"both, actually. Still, Kath did protect our investment in
this situation… She acted audaciously, and without
permission, but on the other hand, she did bring us an
unexpected triumph, so maybe, just maybe she can be
excused…. This time. This group we’re going to have to
watch VERY carefully….." The Ferret just nodded….
The undercurrent of conversation on the bridge was running
just a little louder than usual, and the Jaguar was
noticing a number of guarded looks being flashed his way.
Something was up, and his curiosity was growing. So was
his annoyance. The bridge of an Imperial battlecruiser was
supposed to be a place of order and control, not a pit of
gossip, even if they were docked. When a fit of hushed
giggling erupted behind him, he rose from his command
chair, to padd over in that direction.
Sylvia gulped as the Captain rose and headed in her
direction; she hadn’t meant to be that loud….. Holding
herself rigid, she stared at her sensor screen, the
information completely redundant and unnecessary with the
ship docked… As the shadow fell over her, she gulped.
"Is there something, Specialist, that you’d like to share
with me?" Sylvia looked up at the Captain’s growl, eyes
wide.. "Um… sorry sir, didn’t mean to disturb you…. Its….
Well, Sir, the whole ship is talking about your lady
friend." The Jaguar straightened; somehow everyone on the
ship seemed to know about that incident at the nightclub…
what was its name? Saucilito’s?" While it had enhanced his
reputation in some respects, he was finding it to be a bit
of an annoyance in others. Before he could frame a
suitable rebuke, the specialist went on; "its just, Sir,
that we should have KNOWN anyone you’d associate with in,
ah, such a manner, would be more highly placed than a mere
freighter Captain! We certainly ARE impressed, Sir!"
The Jaguar blinked; "what’s wrong with associating with a
…. What the HELL are you talking about?" Sylvia blinked;
could it be he didn’t KNOW? "Why, Sir, the Imperial
Intelligence raid down on the Strip! Your lady friend was
right in the middle of it! It was on all the vids!"
The Jaguar stared at the small screen built into his
command chair; it hadn’t taken the ship’s computer more
than a few nanoseconds to search out the vid clip of the
event, as reported on all the news channels. There was the
Cheetah, and it certainly looked like Tanj…. And the
Wolverine lady who’d kept the … the Mink in an Imperial
Intellegence Major’s uniform on a chain? And there was the
flame-hued Vixen…. As the vid clip ended, he closed the
file and sat back in his chair; who WAS she? How in the
hell had a simple Freighter Captain gotten involved in
something like THAT? How had her crew wound up in Imperial
Intelligence uniforms? WHO WAS SHE? Sitting back in his
command chair, the Jaguar sighed; whatever had happened
that night at Saucilito’s had been more than a one night
stand; whoever she was, he wanted to see her again….. But
now he had even more questions.
Tanj sat at the comm console. The report was a difficult
one to write, but finally it was complete. She’d told her
boss, the old Fox who ran the Brethren’s Intelligence
Operation the whole story, from finding the bound slave
blindly wandering the halls of the station, to her
ridiculous attack of curiosity regarding the closed bar, to
her capture, to Kath’s assault. She’d added her opinions
that they might now be compromised, and might now be a
liability to the Brethren. She also speculated on how they
might be able to turn it to their advantage, and boldly
proposed a way to find out. And she’d copied her Master.
Feeling as if somehow she’d betrayed those she loved, she
reluctantly reached out and hit the "transmit" key…..
Things in the Elysium system
The Wolverine lowered himself into the visitor’s chair, and
for a long moment merely stared at Onegin. After a few
moments, the object of his attention squirmed. It was just
the moment Xyloff was waiting for; "In our… "association" I
believe we’ve come to know each other reasonably well" he
began, his tone smooth and unctuous. Onegin swallowed and
nodded. Indeed, the Wolverine had gotten him power, and
wealth, and many comforts. For a moment he thought of the
naked slave kneeling in his bedroom… many comforts. But
he’d also demanded absolute obedience. The carefree days
as a pirate rogue were long gone. And probably
irretrievable. Having given Onegin a moment to reflect,
the Wolverine went on; "now, our greatest battle lies
before us, and I’m not necessarily talking about the fall
of the Elysium government." Onegin blinked; "but…. the
final offensive…" The Wolverine just smiled, a disturbing
display of teeth. "What I’m talking about is what comes
AFTER the final offensive." Leaning forward, leaning
across the desk, Xyloff smiled; "I’m talking about making
sure that when its all over, that WE wind up with control.
Control of the Planet. Control of the system. Control of
EVERYTHING." Sitting back, the Wolverine looked at the
surprised Onegin; "that’s right, Comrade. Everything."
Onegin shook his head; "but… the Blues are a formidable
presence. They’re not just going to…. "go away"… and the
Pirates, the Brethren, they outnumber us in ships, both
quantity and quality…." Zyloff smiled; "Oh, I’ve got PLANS
for the Blues. And for the Brethren. Especially for the
Brethren. And that, My Dear Onegin, is where you come in.
Do it right, and you will command the most powerful force
in the sector, second only to the Imperium. Do it right
and you will have fame and fortune beyond your dreams……"
The conference room didn’t hold all the key officers of the
People’s Space Navy. Not all the ship captains were there…
but the ones that WERE there were the ones Onegin knew he
could rely on. The ones that didn’t worry so much about
the dielectic, or the party line, but instead, like him,
were in it for the loot. Or the Power. Or the Thrill.
Smiling at them, he cleared his throat; once the room had
fell silent, he rose, to tell them how they were going to
help take control of the Reds; of how, in the Final
Offensive, they’d eliminate the Blues as a serious military
force… and of how they would get rid of the Brethren once
and for all, and in the process all become incredibly
rich….. As he spoke, his audience stared at him in rapt
Carr looked at the orders and shook his head; turning he
padded across the bridge to his Captain; "Comrade Captain,
I have to admit, I don’t know what Comrade Quistling is up
to, but we have new orders….." the Captain took the
message flimsy, and scanned it. His head nodded up and
down as he looked from the message to the tactical display
and back; "This would put us…." "Yes, Comrade Captain; in
the middle of nowhere, way out on the fringe. We would be
light minutes from any jump point…… Possibly light hours
from ANY possible battle." The Captain sighed; "Far be it
from me to question the orders of the Chairman, but it
certainly looks like this might take us out of any portion
of the fight." Carr nodded; "We’re going to miss the Final
Xyloff smiled as he watched the messages come in; almost
every ship was questioning their orders; some
circumferentially, others more directly. Looking up, he
grinned at Onegin; "you see? Its all working just as I
foresaw. Some are openly questioning Quistling’s
leadership; some of the bolder, or possibly the more stupid
ones, are even calling him a coward! When I issue the
orders to bring them into the fight, especially after a
long term of picket duty in the middle of nowhere, after a
long term of No Booty, they’ll swing their support from him
to me; he’ll be a cinch to oust!" Onegin nodded slowly;
"but of course, something similar will have to be done with
the ground forces…." Xyloff smiled "ah, that’s even
The Gathering Storm
Tanj looked up from her comm console, as Hinoki led the
Wolf onto the flight deck. For an instant she was tempted
to glance about the flight deck, to make sure that some of
the multi-function displays were not showing weapons
status, or sensor readings…. But then she figured this guy
knew who they were anyways…. Pushing back from the console
she regarded the two coldly; "you know, if you keep coming
here like this, we might have problems. Its almost a
certainty that we’re being watched and watched closely by
Imperial Intelligence now…." Hinoki chuckled; "Aw,
Skipper, he’s just here to "check on a charter"…. And
besides, we’ve got a great new cover for his reporting in.
Harriet won the bid on Miss Kitty’s lease. She’s going to
start her new club there. Our friend can easily check in
there, with no one the wiser!" Tanj frowned for a moment,
just for effect, and then nodded; "Yes…. That might work
out well… but it ties the two together. Sometimes ALL
hints of association have to be shunned." The Wolf leaned
on his walking stick and smiled softly; "Ah, but if I go
everywhere, and talk to everyone, how will they ever
separate out which might be "business associates" and which
just casual acquaintances?" Tanj sighed and nodded,
thinking this guy should get a quick tutorial on
fieldcraft, somehow. Looking up, she made an off-hand
gesture; "so what do you have?" The Wolf smiled; "Ah, the
other night I was in an alley in the residential section,
supposedly pawing through the trash, and I overheard the
most interesting conversation between two lovers. One was
a clerk in the Imperial Fleet’s headquarters here, and her
lover was on one of the Cruisers. It seems that they’re
Tanj looked over her hastily scrawled notes. The Wolf had
acquired a significant amount of information in a very
short time…. And that made her wary. Or was she just
paranoid, given the incident with Kath? Encoding the
information into a message, she attached a note outlining
her misgivings, and sent it off to her boss… Sitting back,
she crossed her arms behind her head and wondered how best
to check out the quality of this information. If they WERE
playing her, they’d feed her high quality stuff, until she
felt confident of her source….
Zassa stuck her head through the door to the flight deck,
and blinked at the scowling Cheetah; "Tanj! What are you
doing still here?" Tanj straightened up in her station
chair and turned to look at the Vixen; "Um…. Just thinking.
Why? Where SHOULD I be?" Zassa chuckled; "you should be
getting ready! We’re all going out to check out "the
competition" for Harriet. We’re going to meet at her new
place, help Hinoki take some measurements, and then we’re
going to go hit all the neighboring clubs and bars!" Tanj
chuckled; "I really should stay here in case that guy tries
to contact us…." Zassa crossed her arms under her breasts
and shook her head; "Oh, no you don’t; if he wants to
contact us, he can leave a message! YOU, girl, are coming
Tanj studied herself in the mirror, and made a face, trying
to adjust the drape of her "dress"…. She’d taken some of
the cloth they’d found, that stuck to fur as if it were
velcro; it draped over her left shoulder, a small tail
hanging down her back; as it passed over her shoulder, it
swept to the right, to cover her breasts; from there it
descended to her right hip, sweeping around her waist,
almost coming around to touch itself, as it descended down
her front. It LOOKED as if it should fall off her,
leaving her naked, but if anything, its grip was too
tenacious. She had to tug hard to get it to come free, so
she could try and adjust it. "Oh, Come ON, Tanj" the Vixen
growled from the doorway; "The Night’s a’wastin’!"
At the lock, Wanda stood, covered from head to toe in her
cloak; however, her left paw held two leashes; by her, two
forms, also covered in cloaks, knelt. One was obviously
Kath, her tail evident, peeking from under the hem of her
garment. The other one, a larger form, seemed to have no
face. Bending, Tanj looked at the hooded form. "Thought
we’d give Harriet this one as a housewarming gift" Hinoki
chuckled from behind her. Rising, Tanj turned to look at
him. "We think we’ve got the training as complete as we
can" the male Cheetah rumbled; "he’s been given the
standard post-hypnotic commands; that’s why he’s hooded."
Tanj nodded, remembering; "when the hood comes off, the
first one he sees is the one he’ll accept as his master, or
mistress." Hinoki just nodded; "we thought it might be a
visible signal to the gangs on the station, that Harriet’s
under our protection, and that those that mess with us can
wind up like him, or worse." Tanj frowned; "that… might
work. Still, it makes us much more "visible" than I’m
happy with. I’d rather everyone here forgot about us."
Wanda chuckled; "after yesterday, I DOUBT that’s going to
The door to the former "Miss Kitty’s" had been crudely
repaired; it would be enough to keep the curious out, but
probably wouldn’t stand up to a professional thief. For
the moment, however, there wasn’t much to see inside the
club. Harriet had won the bid on the lease, and on some of
the slaves, but a lot of the furnishings, and other items
had gone to other bidders. Hinoki led the Lynx over to
where Harriet was talking with two other furrs, while the
others looked around. Tanj found herself wandering over to
the center of the "dance floor", the stocks missing, but
the scents, and the memories lingering. Laughter made her
turn her head; Harriet was lightly holding the Lynx’s leash
as he knelt, still hooded, before her. "Thanks, Stud,
I’ll, ah, put him in the kennels for now, and "unwrap" my
present later. Now, what about those measurements you
needed? I thought we’d set up your gizmo in the larger of
the back rooms…." Tanj watched as Harriet, and Hinoki, and
one of the other furrs moved off, through a doorway, into
the back of the club.
Zassa watched them go and then grinned at Tanj; "I’m going
to go take a quick peek at the kennels; Want to see if
Salde’s there. Back in a minute!" Wanda chuckled and
tugged on Kath’s leash; "lets go with her, Pet; you never
know what neat things they might have back there." Tanj
watched as Zassa, Wanda and Kath also departed. Setting a
chair upright, she took a seat, thinking that she’d already
seen the kennels, and that she didn’t need to go back.
Feeling somewhat overwhelmed by events, she settled down to
"I have to admit, I didn’t think I’d find you here. This
club’s scarcely the most lively spot on the strip at the
moment." Tanj blinked and looked up, into the face of the
Jaguar. The Jaguar she’d met in Saucalito’s the other
night. The one who commanded the Imperial Battlecruiser.
"I know, the place isn’t open, but the door was. Thought
I’d stick my head in and see what was happening." Tanj
chuckled; "Not much is happening. A friend is looking at
opening her own club here, and some of my crew volunteered
to help her. I’m just kinda…. Waiting for them." The
Jaguar smiled and picked up another of the overturned
chairs; sitting backwards on it, leaning on the splintered
back, arms crossed across its top, his chin resting on
forearms, he grinned at the Cheetah Fem; "well, mind if I
keep you company until they return?" Tanj just smiled;
"not at all…."
Tanj smiled and shook her head; "no, no, it was nothing
like that. The truth is, I kinda got wrapped up in this
thing by accident. And I didn’t even KNOW Kath was with
Imperial Intelligence! Well, that’s not completely true….
Anyways, I was as surprised as anyone when they showed up
like that." Tanj smiled and shook her head; the look on
the Jaguar’s face was classic; he didn’t believe a word she
was saying, even if it WAS the truth! "Um…." He mused; "I
suppose you just broke into the place seeking some liquid
refreshment, and thought this was a good way to avoid the
bouncer?" Tanj’s smile widened; "No…." She looked askance
at him and then chuckled; taking his head in both paws,
staring into his eyes she purrred; "Truth is, I’m head of
field intelligence for a powerful Pirate clan, and I wanted
to talk to Miss Kitty about her gathering local
intelligence for me. Unfortunately I stumbled onto their
little drug running ring, and that scotched the deal. Kath
was planted on us by Imperial intelligence as a sleeper
agent. She decided that it was more valuable for Imperial
intelligence to keep us as a resource than it was to hide
her true status, hence the rescue. Believe THAT one?" The
Jaguar just chuckled and kissed Tanj on the nose; "You have
an active imagination, I’ll grant you that. Lady, I’m not
sure just who you are, or what you are, but I am a profound
believer in Occam’s Razor." Tanj blinked; "the simplest
explanation is most often the correct one?" The Jaguar
nodded and smiled; "I think you’re Kath’s boss, which is
why she came running like she did to your rescue. I think
you are trying hard to keep anyone from knowing that; and
that’s all right. I can understand how in your line of
work, a low profile works best. I think that’s why you can
walk around Gibralter station wearing a prohibited life
form and no one tries to stop you." Tanj just sighed and
shrugged; "Well, I tried…."
Zassa blinked from the doorway; had Tanj just told the
Jaguar exactly who she was? What had she been thinking?
What if he’d believed her? Shaking her head, she counted
to ten and then strode through the door, thinking she’d
best redirect the topic of conversation….
"So when you get this place up and running, do you think
it’ll be a safe place to send my crew?" Tanj just laughed;
"probably safer than any other place on the strip; we have
some… "innovative" new technology we’re going to install
here….. It should go a long way towards satisfying
anyone’s sexual fantasies. And computers generally don’t
get mad, or take offense. They generally don’t pry into
your personal business, or even consider blackmail. And
they don’t transmit diseases." Zassa looked up as Harriet
and Hinoki emerged from the back of the club; "but enough
shop talk" the Vixen purrred; "I believe we’re off to do
the clubs along the strip…." Tanj looked over her shoulder
and then rose; "all done?" Hinoki nodded; "Yup. Think we
got the first installation all mapped out. If you can
spare me tomorrow, I’ll start moving the prototype rig over
and setting it up. But that’s tomorrow. Which place shall
we hit first?" The Jaguar rose smoothly, and Tanj turned
to him with a smile; "Would you care to join us?" The
Jaguar smiled in return and nodded; "I’d be delighted."
As they strolled down the Strip, towards the club they’d
decided on, Zassa pulled Kath back a little; "I’m a little
worried about Tanj; not sure she’s being…. Professionally
objective about this guy…. Think we need to keep an eye on
her." The Mink just nodded, her eyes shifting to watch the
The drink was fruity, and Tanj just knew it was going to be
almost pure ethanol. Somehow, though, she just didn’t
care. The music had a beat that made her want to move to
it, and the company was good…. Smiling, she looked at the
Jaguar and wondered what he’d just said; somehow it seemed
to have slipped in one ear and out the other without
impacting on her befuddled brain cells…. As she gazed at
him, unbidden thoughts of her master surfaced, and for a
brief moment she wondered what she was doing with this guy.
Oh, yeah, he was charming, and good looking, intelligent
and considerate…. But he just wasn’t who she REALLY wanted
to be with…. Taking another sip of her drink she wondered
if she’d invited him along with them, to solidify a
relationship that might bring her additional intelligence,
or if she just wanted….. a Friend? A Lover? A Hug?
Blinking hard, she turned and looked out over the crowd,
wondering what had become of her crew.
Harriet grinned as she scanned the row of monitors over the
bar; like Saucilito’s, this place also had rooms where
amorous couples could retire to. Here, however, the stakes
were a little higher; every room was monitored, although
masks were permitted, should someone feel shy. The patrons
were invited to rate the "performances." The winner had
their bar tab erased for the evening, at least until
someone topped their score. It was performance art, pure
and simple, and as anonymous as the rather prudish society
on the station might wish for. Turning she nudged Hinoki;
"Well, you feel up to it tonight?" The Cheetah male
grinned back; "you know me; I was born ready!" Zassa,
who’d also been watching the monitors, shook her head; "I
dunno….. This place has a level of competition beyond what
we saw before; that was all amateur stuff. This place
looks almost… "professional"… I think we’re going to have
to do something a little different, if we want to win…."
Harriet tilted her head to one side, looking at the Vixen;
"whatcha got in mind?" Zassa just chuckled; "I think our
Captain needs a little distracting…."
Tanj blinked; "you want to WHAT?" Hinoki chuckled at the
look on the Cheetah’s face; "Oh, come on, Tanj, its not
like it’s a new scene for you… and the drinks here ARE a
bit pricy…." Zassa smiled "What’s the matter, Skipper?
Don’t think we can win?" Tanj shook her head and huffed;
"Of COURSE we can win, if we want to….." Kath smiled and
leaned forward, to whisper in the Cheetah fem’s ear. After
a moment, Tanj nodded slowly, and then turned to look at
the Jaguar; "looks like we’re up for a team effort, and,
ah, for the suggestion that’s been made, we could really
use you….; you in?"
The Jaguar looked at Tanj for a moment and then smiled;
"let me wear a mask, so that there might at least be the
suggestion of anonymity, and I’m yours to do with as you
will! Tanj smiled and rose a little unsteadily to her
feet; taking the Jaguar’s paw in both of hers; she led him
towards the rooms.
Zassa grinned, winked at Kath, and then turned to padd over
to the bartender; for a moment they whispered furiously.
After a moment, they seemed to come to some sort of
agreement, and the Vixen turned to padd after the others…..
Tanj padded into the middle of the room, still leading the
Jaguar by one hand, a wry grin on her face. He’d barely
slipped the mask, one handed, over his eyes, when she
turned and dropped to her knees at his feet, leaning
forward to nuzzle his crotch softly. Last time, he’d shown
her what a good lover he could be; this time it was her
turn to return the favor.
The Jaguar grunted softly as the Cheetah fem started nosing
him; he could feel her hot breath through the fabric of his
pants, and as her paws stroked up and down his thighs, he
felt his cock start to swell, to harden…..
Tanj smiled softly as the Jaguar’s pants started to bulge a
little; but she had no intention of freeing his cock quite
yet. Purring, she licked, dragging her tongue up the front
of his pants, as if they weren’t there; eyes closed she
nuzzled and caressed, until it was obvious his hardening
cock trapped within his pants was causing him some
The Jaguar stiffened as arms encircled him from behind, and
someone started nuzzling the back of his neck…. He opened
his mouth to protest, but the arms around his waist started
working at the button on his pants, and somehow the words
caught in his throat…..
Tanj purrred, letting Zassa free the Jaguar’s cock,
exclaiming in delight as it sprang into view. Moving like
a hunting cat, she caught the head of his cock in her
mouth, and as her paws worked to help the Vixen push down
his pants, she slid his hard cock into her mouth…..
Hinoki was watching from the corner of his eye, as he
kissed Harriet; between his feet, Kath was working on his
own cock, Wanda’s pet working to get him hard for his
lady…. The movement of dark fur to one side drew his
attention away from Tanj and the Jaguar, however, and his
eyes widened as he realized that not only had Wanda joined
them, but that she was kneeling aside Kath, to nuzzle under
Harriet’s short skirt…..
The bartender cast an appraising eye over the crowd. Since
the party from the Beowulf had entered Room five, the
number of drink orders he’d been filling had slipped to a
trickle, all eyes seemingly on the monitor. With a sigh he
shook his head; the Vixen had been right, and had indeed
won their small wager. Turning somewhat reluctantly he
took the hand-lettered piece of paper the Vixen had given
him and tacked it to the bottom of the monitor. He hated
to give anyone free advertisement, especially anyone who
cost him business, but a bet was a bet.
Zassa smiled and nibbled on the trailing edge of the
Jaguar’s right ear, her breasts mashed flat against his
back… Her paws stroked up and down his sides, occasionally
roaming over his chest. Tanj was performing her usual
magic, working on his cock, and if his respiration and
heart rate were any sign, she was about to drive him into a
heart attack…. Grinning, she let one paw trail down,
between her and him, to slide between them, to lightly
tickle under his tail…..
The Kangaroo looked from the Monitor to the hand-lettered
sign and back; "For service like no other, let the SV
Beowulf handle all your charter needs"…. Lifting his gaze
to where the blonde Mink was working on the male Cheetah’s
cock, he gulped, and nodded; "I believe it!"
The Jaguar was in Heaven; between the Cheetah in front of
him and the Vixen in back, it seemed like his whole body
was under a thousand intimate caresses; however when the
Vixen’s finger found its way under his tail, the surprise,
and the flood of sensations that followed proved too much
for him. To everyone’s surprise, his orgasm arrived full
force, his yelp turning into a full-throated roar.
Tanj purrred and sucked hard, as if every drop of the
Jaguar’s cum was a life-giving nectar, as if it were water
in the middle of the desert…. Finally he subsided, and Tanj
pulled back a little, to lick him softly, her tongue still
teasing, licking and lapping not only until he was clean,
but until he was half hard again….
Harriet groaned; she’d never expected the Wolverine girl to
dive right into something like this, somehow assuming she
was only interested in being on the receiving end of the
Mink’s tongue; however, it was a pleasant surprise. If
anything, she was moving too slowly for her tastes, her
licks and nibbles bringing her to the very edge… and then
holding her there. It seemed almost as if…… yes, as if the
Wolverine was still playing the "top," controlling her
responses, holding her tight as her tongue did the most
marvelous things…. Somehow a tiny corner of Harriet’s mind
wondered if she would have to beg the Wolverine for her
climax? She was beginning to think that might be in
Hinoki struggled for control. Kath had been trained well,
and knew just what to do, but he’d be darned if he was
going to let HER dictate his pleasures to him! Taking both
her ears in his hands, he pulled her head back, until his
cock slipped from her mouth; as she looked up questioningly
the male Cheetah smiled……
Zassa purrred and with her arms around the Jaguar’s chest,
tugged backwards, as Tanj pulled his knees in the other
direction; surprisingly, his descent to the padded floor
was relatively graceful as the femmes laid him down. Tanj
grinned at the Vixen and moved, almost possessively, to
straddle his hips; Zassa grinned back and shifted forward,
to straddle his head, facing the Cheetah. With both paws
between her thighs, stroking the Jaguar’s cock; Tanj leaned
forwards to kiss the Vixen, a soft, sensual kiss exhibiting
all of the lusts and passions flowing through her body.
The Jaguar grunted as the Vixen’s muff descended on his
face, her scent of arousal filling his nostrils; with a
grin, he tilted his head back, licking up into her eager
sex, as his paws stroked up her front, to find, and cup her
breasts. Zassa mmmmmed and reached out to take possession
of Tanj’s breasts, thumbs and forefingers rolling her
nipples, tugging at them almost painfully….
The Bobcat sipped at his beer and shook his head; "Man, I
do NOT know what the Captain did to get SO lucky! LOOK at
him in there! The female ferret sitting just to his left
chuckled; "Hell, Randy, Lucky Captain, Lucky Ship! We
ain’t got no cause to complain!" The Bear sitting across
from her turned and looked over his shoulder, and then
turned his attention back to his drink; "I dunno; seems
like the more action he gets the less there is for us!
Hey, the sign says that’s the crew of a vessel for charter;
you think he HIRED them?" The Bobcat sighed and shook his
head; "Doubt it, knowing him… still, geez, will you LOOK at
the rack on that Vixen? It MIGHT be worth the money……."
The Ferret smiled; "if you decide to inquire about their
charter services, find out if that male Cheetah’s included
in the package; I might just go in on it with you….."
Harriet’s knees felt weak; the Wolverine’s tongue was
stroking deep within her, touching places she didn’t even
know she had; her chest was heaving, her pussy dripping, as
she struggled to just stay standing…. Unable to stand it
any more, she whimpered softly, the first sounds to escape
The Bartender looked over the crowd again and smiled.
Things had gotten off to a slow start; the crowd mostly
watching the monitors, and not drinking…. However the crowd
had grown to almost standing room only, and while
individually they still weren’t drinking much, given the
numbers, his revenue was pretty much back up to usual;
turning to his assistant he growled; "Best call in Fred and
Judy.. .when that party breaks up, all these furrs are
going to suddenly remember just how thirsty they are….."
Tanj purrred as she rode the Jaguar’s cock; having cum
once, she figured he’d last a little bit longer, allowing
her to use him to pleasure herself… she hoped to "catch up"
with him….. Grinning as she rose and fell, the Cheetah
fem reached out to tweak both of Zassa’s nipples, pinching
Zassa shuddered as Tanj pinched her, catching her just as
the Jaguar’s tongue stroked over her G spot; with a long,
drawn out wail, her hips bucking, the Vixen came hard, her
pussy convulsing around the Jaguar’s tongue.
The Jaguar urked as her pussy clamped down with a
surprising tightness around his tongue, and as her juices
flowed, coating his muzzle. Chuckling, wondering if he was
better at this than he thought, he slithered his tongue
down out of the velvety channel, to flick it across her
clitty as rapidly as he could. The Vixen howled anew…….
Hinoki watched with a practiced eye as the Jaguar and
Cheetah conspired to bring the Vixen to a credible climax.
Turning his attention back to the Mink he stroked his hard
cock in and out of her ass once again. She in a strained
pose, essentially lying on her shoulders, her bottom held
high off the floor, both of her ankles in Hinoki’s paws.
He’d driven his cock down into her pussy a half dozen
times, just to get it well lubricated, and then, shifting,
had worked it into her ass. Now, he held her tight,
pumping her just enough to keep her panting, just enough to
keep him hard. He’d cum when he wanted to, and she
wouldn’t get her release until he felt like letting her
Harriet mewled and shuddered; the Wolverine had backed her
against the wall, and that was a blessing, as it made it
easier to stand, given how weak her knees seem to have
become. The licking was relentless, the tongue working
over her clitty, slithering between her labia, licking deep
within her, plunging in and out, only to resume that
maddening teasing of her pearl…. She was SO close, she
wanted to climax SO bad, and yet all she could do was to
let out the occasional incoherent, inarticulate whimper……
Wanda purrred as she licked; she’d done this to Kath on
numerous occasions. It was marvelous training; patiently,
she’d lick until it had almost passed the point of
pleasure, until each lick was almost painful… and THEN
she’d let her pet beg for her release…. It was simply
marvelous for establishing their roles…..
Tanj’s body shuddered, her breath catching in her throat as
her third climax blossomed inside her; she grinned and
exercising all the will power remaining, clenched her
vaginal muscles down hard around the Jaguar’s shaft. With
a giggle, she felt him respond. She’d known he was close
too, and as she worked on him, his orgasm arrived, almost
in sequence with hers… As the waves of pleasure roared
through her body, she moved both paws around behind her to
fondle his balls…..
The Jaguar almost bit the Vixen as he felt the paws envelop
his balls, to squeeze softly; it was the damndest
sensation, and for a moment, despite the Cheetah’s weight,
his hips lifted off the floor…..
Zassa laughed and wiggled her hips down onto the Jaguar’s
face; "ooooh, LIKE THAT! Do it again, Tanj!"
The Panda watched the monitor, sipping her drink slowly.
Everything she’d heard about this Cheetah seemed to be
true; if she wasn’t who she seemed, she was putting on a
damn good act. Pulling out her palmtop, she started
pecking at the miniscule keys, composing a message……
Panting hard, Tanj rolled off the Jaguar, to lay,
exhausted, on the floor by his side…. After a minute, she
reached up and grabbed the Vixen, to pull her down too;
"Come on, Zassa, give the poor guy a breather!" Zassa
started to protest, but Tanj wrapped her arms around her,
to kiss her hard, stifling any complaints.
Wanda watched from the corner of her eye, as the Cheetah’s
impromptu kiss turned into something a little more.
Lifting her eyes, she caught the Jaguar, his chest still
heaving, watching them, his eyes perhaps just a little
wide… turning her attention back to Harriet, she grinned;
perhaps it was time to finish her… she’d held her dangling,
twisting in the wind, long enough…..
Hinoki tugged on the Mink’s tail, pulling her back against
him, driving his cock once again deep into her ass….. He’d
been modulating his thrusts for some time, making sure he
didn’t cum. Smiling, he wondered if it was time…. Then he
grinned and shook his head; not yet…. She wasn’t near
desperate enough yet….
Tanj broke the kiss and then grinned up at the Vixen; "if
you’ve still not had enough licking, turn around, and I’ll
pick up where the Stud left off." Zassa grinned wickedly
and nodded; "Been too long since we did each other! You’re
on!" Turning, Zassa straddled the prone Cheetah, pressing
her sodden crotch to her face as she bent, to shove her own
muzzle between the Cheetah’s thighs…..
Harriet whimpered; it was all she could do to remain
standing; still, there was a change; the Wolverine was
licking her a bit differently now…. Panting, shuddering,
she felt the tensions building; it seemed her long-put-off
release was rapidly approaching….
Kath moaned; her shoulders were on the floor, her head bent
forward until her chin touched her chest. The Cheetah male
held her feet high, her legs spread, holding her almost
upside-down. Moving slowly he worked his thick cock in and
out of her poor, distended asshole. Feeling helpless,
feeling exposed, feeling used, she also somehow felt
terribly excited by it all; her pussy seemed to be
overflowing, her juice running down her mons, down the
crack of her ass to provide much-needed lubrication…..
instead of taking her hard, using her roughly, Hinoki
seemed to be drawing it out…. Kath was tempted to reach
up, to touch herself, to try and gain some sort of relief
from the increasingly buring itch between her legs, but she
knew if she did, she’d draw his displeasure…. Still, the
slow, languid ass-fucking was driving her out of her mind!
Zassa lifted her head as Harriet’s scream of joy rang from
the walls; she grinned, admiring the way Wanda all but
propped her up, never ceasing her licking as the Raccoon
climaxed almost violently. Chuckling, the Vixen lowered
her head a bit to nip sharply at Tanj’s clitty; she knew
the Cheetah fem both loved and hated that….. and sure
enough she was rewarded with the bucking of hips as she
drove the Cheetah fem over the edge and into the warm arms
of her own climax.
Harriet Screamed; she felt as if her mind was exploding, as
if her whole body was being torn apart by the force of her
climax. Never in all her experience had a climax been put
off for so long; never had one been so powerful. Panting,
almost near fainting, she felt herself slide down the wall,
helpless to stop herself….
Wanda smiled and leant over to give the Raccoon one last
lick; picking herself up she wandered around Hinoki and her
pet, past Zassa and Tanj, now lost in each other’s bodies,
and their own passions, to the Jaguar; grinning down at
him, she purrred; "Think you’re ready to go again, Stud?"
Hinoki purrred. It was time. Grinning, he released Kath’s
ankles, giving each a slight shove away from him. For a
moment she balanced there, wobbling, and then her feet
slowly fell away from the Cheetah; she was still balanced
on her shoulders, but the Cheetah’s thick cock in her ass
held her more or less in position; now her feet touched the
floor, adding perhaps a little stability. With the Mink
bent almost double in front of him, Hinoki put his paws on
her ass, almost on either side of her pussy, and started to
thrust harder, pushing her into a more vertical position.
Driving hard in to her, his thumbs stroked inwards, to
tease her dripping pussy…..
Kath Groaned, and shuddered; the fingers stroking the
periphery of her pussy was a delight, but the Cheetah’s
sudden hard pounding, plus the ache in her shoulders and
neck all conspired to work against each other. Rocking her
head from side to side, she mewled, and moaned, the
tensions building…. Opening her eyes, however, was a
mistake, for there, to one side, sat her Mistress, astride
the Jaguar’s hips, riding his cock with languid slowness as
the Cheetah had done….. Kath’s eyes went wide and her moan
turned into a YELP!
Hinoki grunted as the Mink’s body tensed, as her ass was
suddenly VERY tight around his shaft; it caught him by
surprise, and with a YOWL he found himself cumming hard.
With a growl he jerked his cock out of the Mink’s ass, to
stroke his shaft with one hand, splattering the impudent
mink with his cum.
The sudden extraction of the Mink’s cock, the cool air
flowing past her distended anus, the sudden thump of her
body against the padded floor, all served to trigger the
Mink’s own climax, and as the waves of pleasure coursed
through her body, she lost sight of her Mistress… had she
REALLY seen what she’d thought?
Wanda smiled; it was, if anything, better than the program
she’d run in Hinoki’s machine. The Jaguar knew how to
move. Knew how to touch her.. and somehow a real cock just
felt… "right"…. Smiling she moved a little faster, riding
him a little harder…. This might not have been the perfect
"romantic" moment, but in the end, she marveled, wondering
what she’d been waiting for…..
The Jaguar grunted; the Wolverine Lass was a lot heavier
than the Cheetah, much heavier than the Vixen; grunting, he
still tried to thrust up into her, somehow knowing that he
had to do his best with this one…..
Tanj purrred, oblivious to all else, save the Vixen’s
burning needs… and her own matching needs; nibbling along
one labia, her tongue flashing occasionally in and out of
her sweet sex, the Cheetah strove to match, in kind, if not
in extreme, what the Vixen was doing to her. Gasping at a
nip, the turned, hooked one fang through the Vixen’s clitty
ring and tugged HARD even as her tongue flicked out over
the sensitive flesh; she grinned as she was rewarded with
the Vixen’s immediate and intense climax….
Hinoki sighed; in the end, he hadn’t been able to dictate
just when he would cum, or just when the Mink would be
allowed to cum. Either he was slipping, or the room just
provided too many distractions…. Still it didn’t look like
Zassa and Tanj were being distracted by anything, wrapped
up in each other as they were… and Wanda looked to be
totally centered on the Jaguar. Maybe he was slipping,
loosing the edge he’d held for so….. Wanda? Turning,
twisting, the Cheetah STARED at the Wolverine lass.
Kath tried desperately to uncross her eyes. That climax
had been a powerful one… could she actually have LIKED what
the dominant Cheetah had been doing to her? Squinting,
opening just one eye, she peered at her Mistress. It was
obviously too late to try and stop her; it was obvious her
virginity, such as it was, was definintely gone… For a
moment she wondered if anyone was taping this, wondered if
a copy might find its way into her Father’s hands, assuming
he still lived. Then she grinned; how could he POSSIBLY
get any more furious at them? Smiling, she stretched out
on the padded floor, and tried to catch her breath….
The Jaguar felt the Wolverine shudder, felt her pussy
clench like a velvety vice around his shaft, and he knew
he’d brought her off; smiling, he concentrated on the
sensations, abandoning the prime number calculations he’d
been using to try and stave off his own orgasm…. It didn’t
take long until he was Howling at the top of his lungs.
Wanda smiled, and squeezed, clenching her vaginal muscles;
the program she’d run on Hinoki’s machine just did NOT do
the feeling of an ejaculating male justice; she purrred to
herself, closing her eyes, to try and memorize the
The Bartender smiled; the club had never been so packed.
Folks were literally jammed up in the doorway. Still, he
wanted the show to end, anticipating the flood of drink
orders that would follow… It seemed two of the three
couples had wound down, and about time, too, but the two
femmes, the Cheetah and the Vixen were still all wrapped up
in each other, with no sign of EVER quitting. Grabbing his
assistant, he whispered in his ear for a moment….
Tanj sighed as someone nudged her…. Without pulling her
tongue from where it was, she lisped; "Whath?" Hinoki
looked down into his Captain’s upturned face, and grinned;
"the management says if we stay here any longer, we’ll have
to take out a lease….." Tanj sighed and nodded, her tongue
waggling in the Vixen’s pussy. Giving her one last nip,
getting the requisite shudder in response she sighed and
squirmed, trying to escape. Hinoki gave Zassa an open-
palmed swat on her rump, enjoying the way her flesh
rippled, and then bent to help her to her feet….. Zassa
for her part, just moaned mournfully. Tanj chuckled as she
looked about for what she’d been wearing; "if you’re STILL
not satisfied, we’ll do something when we get back to the
ship…" The Vixen just grinned.
Kath took a sip from the cup that her Mistress held, and
then turned to the Vixen. "What was it you told Tanj,
earlier, that got her in the mood for this?" the Mink
whispered. Zassa grinned and gestured to the sign that was
still taped to the monitor; "I told her that it would be a
good reinforcement for our cover if we did a little
advertising for our "special Charter Service…. Show the
station just how we could entertain customers on those long
dull voyages." Kath grinned and just shook her head.
Tanj yawned and shook her head; if the chronometer over the
bar was right, this club should have closed two hours ago.
The Jaguar had his head propped on one paw; his eyes were
open, but he seemed asleep. Kath and Wanda were curled up
in a booth. Hinoki was flat on his back on the bar,
snoring softly. And Harriet and Zassa were engaged in
lively conversation, discussing how she was going to run
HER club….. Dragging herself to her feet, the Cheetah
staggered over; "Don’t you think its time we went home?"
Zassa blinked, her head snapping around as the club’s few
remaining staff started applauding.
Tanj yawned, and slowly unwrapped the fabric from her body,
the ripping sound as it came free still annoying. The
Jaguar had said his goodbyes at the lock, one eye on Zassa,
as if worried that if he took them up on their offer for
breakfast, he’d never escape intact. Tanj had kissed him
softly and promised to be in touch, and he’d departed, not
on foot, but in a robocab, as if he were having trouble
walking. Now, the Cheetah fem wanted nothing more than a
hot shower, and to sleep around the clock. But someone was
already in the head, the water running. With a sigh, she
tossed her garment through the open door to her cabin, and
nude, padded towards the flight deck. There were always
messages to check.
Tanj smiled wryly; sure enough, while she’d been out, a
good number of messages had appeared on the comm terminal.
One was from her boss, in the Intelligence department…
There were several suggestions as to how to handle the
"Imperial" situation, but nothing concrete. At least there
wasn’t the censure she’d so feared. Not yet anyways….
One of them was from the Battlecruiser, wondering where
their Captain was. The second from the last was from an
anonymous furr who wanted to meet with Tanj in a day’s
time, with nothing else said. The last one was a brief
note from her master and Tanj had a momentary pang of
guilt, thinking about him, and the evening with the
Jaguar….. Most of the rest were about ship’s services on
the station, and junk mail. Sitting back, Tanj scanned the
list again, wondering if that one lone appointment might be
the furr they’d been waiting for, for what seemed like so
Tanj came slowly awake; the erotic dream she’d been having,
persisting….. slowly it dawned on her, that someone’s
tongue was teasing her softly betwee n her thighs….
Smiling, leaving her eyes closed, she tried to identify who
it might be by the texture and style. She knew the Jaguar
had gone back to his ship, the night before, and as it was
a rough, feline tongue, that could only mean Hinoki…..
Groaning, the Cheetah Fem mumbled; "I thought you were
going to be working on moving your invention over to
Harriet’s new club this morning….." The tongue paused, and
Hinoki chuckled; "Just thought I ought to ask permission
before leaving the ship….. Tanj nodded and stretched; "Go;
get out of here before I pull you into my bed! Just check
in every couple of hours so we know you’re all right."
Hinoki nodded, and then realizing Tanj’s eyes were closed,
grunted his acceptance. Grinning, for a moment down at the
Nude female Cheetah, he reached down and rolled her over
roughly to Slap her on the ass, once, twice, and then a
third time. Tanj Yelped; "Hey, what’s THAT for?" As he
slipped through the door, Hinoki chuckled; "For NOT
dragging me into your bed… but I do have work to do.
Tanj looked at the chronometer and groaned; it was WAY too
early to get up…. And yet… Hinoki’s teasing had gotten her
aroused enough that getting back to sleep would be a
problem…. And her ass was burning a pleasant warmness….
Grinning, she rolled over and reached into the nightstand
for her favorite vibrator.
The Hoverpallet wasn’t exactly overloaded, but the support
beams stuck way out over each end, making it difficult to
maneuver. The beams had been the last part to be
disassembled, and of course, had to be the first part to be
reassembled….. Holding the remote in one hand, Hinoki
guided it into the dockside "Traffic", heading for
Harriet’s new place.
The door to the new club was opened by Salde; the Ermine
was wearing a body harness that accentuated, rather than
concealing her charms, and nothing else. "Good morning,
Master Hinoki. Mistress Harriet is in back, waiting for
you. Can I help you with that?" Hinoki chuckled and
paused to kiss the Ermine, the hand not holding the
pallet’s remote moving to caress a breast as he kissed her.
After a moment he broke the kiss; "No, I got it, but
thanks. Looks like you’re getting a little more "freedom"
than you had under your old Mistress." Salde grinned;
"Mistress Harriet has been kind enough to make me head
girl. In fact, she’s offered me a deal, that if I can make
the "living" side of the operating here profitable, she’ll
free me in five years." Hinoki paused, looking up from the
remote; "you mean she’s going to let you help run the
operation here? Salde just nodded, a smile on her face."
Hinoki hit the "halt" button on the remote and grabbed
Salde for another kiss; "that IS good news;
Harriet was on her hands and knees, the cover off a power
outlet on the far wall. Hinoki thought she looked just
marvelous like that, presenting her ass, barely covered in
tightly stretched denim…. For a moment he was tempted to
walk over and… but then he caught sight of the Tiger
standing next to her, looking at some sort of hand-held
instrument…. Figuring there was always later, he parked
the hoverpallet, letting it settle to the floor with a
tired whine. Pocketing the remote, he padded over to where
Harriet was crouched…..
Harriet snapped the cover on the power outlet, and stood
up; she turned and kissed Hinoki hello, and then turned to
look inquiringly at the Tiger…. The tiger squinted at the
display of his gadget through antique wire-framed glasses
and slowly shook his head; "there’s enough amperage, but
the wave-form just isn’t as "clean" as it is on the average
starship. I think we’re going to have to install a
buffer." Hinoki nodded; "might not be a bad idea just to
use an uninteruptible power supply; that’ll clean up the
waveform and make sure no one’s program crashes at an
inopportune time It’ll also buffer the system against
anyone trying to hack into the program through the power
lines." Harriet nodded; "I’ll run out and see if I can
find one that’ll meet the power requirements. Oh, by the
way, Hinoki, this is CT; I’ve hired him to look after the
electronic end of the business. He’s got some fairly
impressive credentials in Sims…. And… Agriculture?" The
Tiger nodded shyly, pushing his glasses up onto his nose;
"Um… sometimes you need to do something to keep body and
soul together, while you try to get the other to the point
it’ll support you. If this works, I do believe I will have
successfully made the transition.. Hinoki nodded; "Pleased
to meet you. Now, this is what we need to do first…."
Zassa adjusted the zipper on her jumpsuit, pulling it down
to show just the right amount of cleavage… or at least the
amount she thought she could get away with on Gibralter
station. Pausing by Tanj’s door, she smiled at the sounds
she heard….. Peeking through the door she saw Tanj, on her
knees, facing away from her, arms under her body, paws
between her thighs, working the big, knobby vibrator in and
out of her snatch, to the accompaniment of her soft moans….
It was just a little too much to resist. Stepping through
the doorway quietly, she took both of the Cheetah’s paws in
one hand, holding her in that position, as she brought her
open palm down hard on the Cheetah’s upturned ass; Six
quick slaps, alternating left and right. And then she bent
low to whisper in the Cheetah’s ear; "Bad Girl! Not
supposed to do things like that without ME! I’m heading
out to do some shopping; I’ll check in at Harriet’s club
when I’m done." Still holding the Cheetah’s paws tight,
the dong droning away in her pussy, the Vixen grinned and
gave her another four hard swats, before releasing her and
escaping through the doorway.
Tanj shuddered with each swat; they were bordering on that
gray area where it was no longer fun, and was starting to
get painful, but Zassa knew just how to play her… by the
last swat, the vibrator had taken her to the point where
her climax was unstoppable. As the Vixen strolled down the
corridor towards the personnel lock, the sounds of the
climaxing Cheetah was music to her ears.
The Vixen struggled under her load of boxes and bags, as
she moved through the door to Harriet’s club. Salde,
seeing her struggling, hurried over to help. The Vixen
grinned and as she set down the other packages, she bent to
give the Ermine a kiss; "got some interesting things here
for you and your "sisters"… Lets go find Harriet and show
her what we got….
Hinoki shook his head; "Yes, CT, you’re right; that would
give us greater resolution in the holograms, but that
increase in detail would slow the central processor WAY
down; I’m afraid we might drop below "real time" if we did
that." The Tiger pushed his glasses back up on his nose
and nodded…. After a moment’s thought he raised an eyebrow;
"what if we were to try parallel processing? That might
solve the problem…."
Zassa grinned as the Cheetah came through the door to the
back rooms. She was standing by the antigrav pallet,
obviously waiting for him. Hinoki took in the large bulky
object wrapped in a tarp on the pallet and grumbled;
"What’s this?" Zassa chuckled; "oh, just a little
something I traded Harriet for; should make the trip home a
little…. Well, less interesting for some, more interesting
for others. Its my surprise, so no peeking!" Hinoki just
grumbled, and snatched up the remote; "well, come on, I’ve
got work to do. Need to shift another load of gear from
As they walked behind the pallet, moving slowly through the
corridors of the station, Zassa edged a little closer to
the Cheetah and asked "Something’s bothering you. You want
to talk about it?" Hinoki sighed; "its just that… well, I
can’t blame Harriet for trying to find someone to tend to
the system when we leave… it makes perfect sense…. And that
Tiger, CT, he DOES seem to know what he’s talking about,
its just that…… well…." Zassa smiled and hugged the
Cheetah; "he’s tinkering with YOUR invention, and that
upsets you?" Hinoki sighed, made a small correction to the
pallet’s path, and nodded; "Yeah, I guess that’s it. He’s
made a couple of suggestions so far that are really rather
good; its just that I guess that I should have thought of
Tanj sighed and read through the message again. Her boss,
the old Fox, had gone on for about two pages, saying that
he wasn’t really surprised that Kath had been a sleeper
agent, intentionally, or unintentionally. That he was glad
she’d been able to help get Tanj out of trouble, and that
at this point, he didn’t see how having an Imperial
Intelligence agent sitting in their midst was going to
change a damn thing. There was advice on how to keep her
from finding out the things that might be a little
delicate, and suggestions on countering surreptitious
methods of communication that the Mink might try and use.
He made it sound like a game, a battle of wits for no other
real purpose than to keep the other side off balance….
Finally, he made a few suggestions as to just how it might
be useful… It was this portion of the message that Tanj
had read and re-read, until she felt she had it memorized.
Dare she even try?
"Wanda, I’m going to need to borrow Kath for a bit." Wanda
looked up from her nursing journal, and blinked; "Um,
sure, Tanj…. Mind if I ask what you’re going to do to her?"
The Cheetah just laughed; "Its not what you think. I’m
going to go talk to that Wolf that’s her contact in
Imperial Intelligence. I think we need to clear the air,
and I think I know how to do it, too." Wanda blinked;
"you…. You’re going to see Imperial Intelligence?
Voluntarily? I didn’t think anyone did that!" Tanj just
grinned; "Yeah, well, I doubt they’ll throw me in a
dungeon… and it MIGHT help." The Wolverine nodded; "Want
me to come along?" Tanj thought for a moment and then
shook her head; "no, someone’d better stay here, just in
case our contact shows up. By the way, where IS Zassa; she
back from her shopping trip yet?" Wanda nodded; "had a
whole bunch of something on the hover pallet. I think
she’s down in the cargo bay, setting it up…..
Zassa looked at the pile of metal and sighed; she’d taken
it apart, you’d think she’d know how to put it back
together…. Shrugging she pulled off her coverall, and with
a grin, hung it over the security camera; this was to be a
surprise and she didn’t want anyone seeing what she was up
to. Picking up the power wrench, she turned to the first
"Please tell Colonel Chalmers that Captain Ky is here to
see him." The Jackal behind the desk took in the Cheetah
fem, and then his gaze flicked to the blonde Mink standing
to one side. Somehow they looked familiar. "I’m sorry,
but the Major is a very busy furr; I’m afraid he won’t be
able to see you today. Come back tomorrow." To his
amazement, the Cheetah and the Mink exchanged grins, and
then both started laughing. With a growl, the Jackal rose
from his chair…. "Enough of the standard line, Corporal.
Get on the comm and tell the Colonel we’re here, and that
we want to talk to him. Now." The Jackal shook his head
and growled, "now just who the FUCK do you think you are,
to be telling ME what to do?" Kath just smiled, and
slipped her I.D. out of a pocket; smoothly, she put it face
down on the counter and slid it towards the Jackal.
Suddenly it hit him. He remembered where he’d seen these
two. On the Vids. The Mink was wearing the black uniform
of Imperial Intelligence, too. And the Cheetah… she hadn’t
been wearing anything. With a small degree of trepidation,
the Jackal lifted the ID just enough to confirm his
suspicions. "Sorry, Major, I didn’t… recognize you."
Picking up the comm, he made the call.
The Wolf blinked at the image of the guard; "WHO? They’ve
come HERE? Damn! OK, I guess if they’re here, they might
as well come up. Just make sure they’re thoroughly checked
Tanj smiled as she settled herself into the cheap plastic
visitor’s chair. The Wolf was in what had to be a borrowed
cubicle; his brief case, and portable computer were on the
desk, along with a number of print-outs, but there were no
personal touches. No photographs, trophies, or any other
reflection of his personality. Either he’d borrowed a
vacant cubicle for this meeting, OR as she suspected, he
was merely a visitor here. The Wolf made no effort to find
a chair for Kath, so the Mink stood, just inside the
doorway. Tanj could feel the awkwardness in the air, and
she savored it for a moment.
The Wolf studied the impudent Cheetah, waiting for her to
announce the purpose of her visit. He was used to
summoning furrs to see him; having one show up unbidden was
unique in his experience. And how had they learned his
Tanj smiled; "Since it looks as if we’re going to be
working together, I thought an exchange of information
might be in order. There are some things that I’ve learned
about, in the course of my business, that you would
probably like to know about. I suspect there are things
that you know, that I could make use of. What I propose is
a simple trade. I’ll give you a piece of information, and
if you think its worthwhile, you respond in kind. If I
think what you have to share is worthwhile, I’ll offer
another item for trade." The Wolf leaned back in his
chair, annoyed as it squeaked. He felt like a nobody in
this cheap cubicle, almost no privacy from any of the local
crowd…. And then he wondered why he should worry about
impressing these two. After a moment he shrugged; "I
seriously doubt there’s anything you know that we don’t.
But if you would like to try and surprise me, help
The Cheetah smiled. Half a sector away was a situation the
Brethren were aware of, even though it mattered little to
them… "Did you know that the Imperial Light Cruiser
Burkett was taking payoffs from the local pirate clan? I
understand they’ve been very skilled at hiding their
profits, but I’m sure if you were to look closely, you
could trace the funds…." Tanj smiled as she watched the
Wolf’s face; the look was not one of disbelief, but one of
surprise. "Um, actually we know about that situation" the
Wolf grumbled. "Of course, I’m not going to mention that
we just learned of it three days ago" he thought to
himself. "But did you know," the Cheetah purrred, "That
they have shared the wealth with some comrades in the chain
of command, to make sure they’re warned should anyone ever
get wind of their actions? I’m told they have a rather
detailed contingency plan for when they’re discovered….."
The Wolf blinked; there was an operation underway to corral
in the crew of the Burkett…. But if what she said was true,
they’d probably come up empty. "That we…. Were unaware of.
But why tell us this? No honor among theives?" Tanj
shrugged; "the Crimson Rovers operate outside Brethren
territory, and as such have no impact on our bottom line….
But you know as well as I do that most pirate clans operate
under a loosely-agreed-upon set of rules. And you know
that the Empire doesn’t stridently go after those that play
by those unofficial rules. The Crimson Rovers are a bunch
of malicious, vicious cutthroats, that adhere to no rules,
and as such they bring dishonor on us all. We won’t mind
seeing them taken down a notch." The Wolf chuckled; "in
other words, if the merchant shipping thinks they may
survive being taken by pirates they might not fight as
hard, they might surrender more easily, and thus your life
becomes easier." Tanj just smiled and shrugged.
The Wolf smiled; "All right, I’ll offer a tidbit in return
for that little gem. As you know, the Imperium demands
taxes from all client systems. The taxes from the
Fairmont, White, and Chatsworth systems were going to go in
convoy, leaving on the tenth, but that’s been delayed."
Tanj chuckled; "as if we would be so foolish to try and
take the Imperium’s cut; and its been delayed to the 16th,
when the Imperial Cruisers Haverty and Badcock can join the
convoy, to replace the Blair, which has engine trouble.
Sorry, we’re well appraised of that situation. Try again.
Kath listened, feigning boredom. While doing her best not
to move, she let her eyes and ears rove around the office.
From her standing position, she could see partially into
some of the nearer cubicles. It was apparent that they had
an audience. In at least two of the cubicles she could
see, the furr’s screen savers had come on, advertising
their inactivity. And here and there, she could see ears
just above the partitions….
The Wolf frowned; "all right then, you might be interested
to know that the Elysium government has contracted with the
mercenary outfit known as the Reavers…."
Tanj grinned; "And they’re arriving in three weeks"
The Wolf scowled; "to defend the Gulan starport"
Tanj’s grin widened; "so the Elysium government can move
certain high-value things off planet, just in case"
The Wolf’s scowl vanished and a look of triumph crossed his
face; "not exactly; they’re there to cover the retreat,
should it come to that, of the Elysium government itself!"
Now it was Tanj’s turn to blink; "urrrr, I wonder if the
Reavers know that? They’d be in a bad position to collect
their fee, I think, should that happen." The Wolf leaned
back in his chair, ignoring the squeek, and waved a paw
off-handedly; "they depend heavily on conscripts from their
home world. I suspect those that would collect the money
probably could care less what happens to the troops that
get left behind." Tanj nodded; "OK, you got me with that
Tanj smiled; "I’ve heard of an Ecstasy lab on Triton….
The wolf’s grin widened; "shut down two days ago…
Now it was Tanj’s turn to scowl; "but the smuggling
The Wolf’s grin widened; "had a mole in it; we’ve
dismantled that too"
Tanj sighed and shrugged; "and I suppose you have a
customer list too." The wolf shrugged; "we’ve shut down
the producer and completely destroyed the smuggling and
distribution network; why would we want to be bothered with
the poor degenerates that are the end-users?" Tanj’s smile
came on like a light-bulb; "because of who’s on it. You
might want to know to prevent a scandal…" Grinning, the
Cheetah fished a memory crystal from a pocket and slid it
across the table. Hesitantly, the wolf picked it up and
slid it into the input port on his computer. The screen
was hidden from Tanj’s view, but she noted how the Wolf’s
eyes widened as he scrolled down."
Kath smiled as the battle raged. The wolf would throw out
a tid-bit, and Tanj would either counter with even more
details, or claim that wasn’t of any interest to her, and
the Brethren. But occasionally she’d get a worried look,
and the whole thing would start, inverted, with Tanj
throwing out something, and the wolf either claiming it was
worthless, or that they already had that information… but
on occasion he too would make notes. As her feet started
to get a little sore from standing so long, the Mink looked
around. A number of the cubicles were dark, but there were
a surprising number of furrs still around, despite the only
clock in view saying it was well past quitting time. With
her stomach rumbling, she wondered how long this might go
Tanj sighed and shrugged; "I hate to say it, but I’ve run
out of things to put on the table. Anything else we might
have, I doubt you’d be interested in." The Wolf nodded,
and leaned back in his chair, lacing his fingers behind
his neck. For a moment he looked at the Cheetah, and then
nodded; "there’s one piece of information you could offer,
that I haven’t heard yet." Tanj raised an eyebrow; "and
that is?" Leaning forward, the Wolf grinned; "tell me what
you’re doing here. Why have you come to Gibralter station?
Surely it wasn’t to screw traffic controllers, break up a
drug ring, or open a club." Tanj smiled; "That, Sir, is
something I simply can’t tell you. Believe it or not, I
just don’t know yet." The Wolf frowned, and for the first
time, he looked up at Kath; "that true?" Kath nodded;
"True, Sir. We’re to meet someone, but we don’t know who,
or when, or why." The Wolf scowled; "well, if it has any
bearing on the Imperium, you WILL report it to me.
Tanj smiled and languidly rose from her chair; her tail had
fallen asleep ages ago and now she winced as blood flowed
back into that area of her anatomy. Stretching as only a
feline can, she turned and padded from the cubicle, Kath
Ensign Overstreet was about to hand the data crystal to the
desk clerk when the Cheetah, followed by the blonde Mink
strolled by, escorted by no less than three security types.
As they passed through the doors to the Imperial
Intelligence offices, Overstreet swallowed, the data
crystal forgotten. That was the Cheetah her Captain had
been seeing; she’d seen them together in the clubs. The
"Old Man" apparently had some serious Imperial Intelligence
connections all right!
The Wolf smiled as he hit the "send" key on the secure comm
terminal. He was risking a lot, passing the Cheetah’s
information on, without vetting it first, but if what she
said was true, he might just prevent a few disasters before
they happened….. And in the process look like a hero….
Tanj sighed and hit the "transmit" button on her comm
console; all the information she’d gotten from the Wolf was
now on its way to the Brethren. She just hoped he’d been
giving her the straight poop, and not just making things
up. It would be interesting to see just how far they might
Zassa torqued the last fastener, and stepped back to admire
her handiwork; the cage looked just the same as it had in
what had been the kennels of Miss Kitty’s… A rectangle
roughly a body length on a side, and perhaps just barely
tall enough for someone to kneel in, without hitting their
head. The door was low, and obviously difficult to crawl
in and out of; it would put a slave very low to the ground
on entering or exiting. In one back corner was a simple
hole in the floor, for waste elimination. The Vixen had
connected that into the ship’s recycling system. In the
opposite front corner, diagonally across the cage, were the
amenities that had captured her imagination. There was a
phallic shape, at about muzzle height for a kneeling slave,
that, when sucked upon, would feed the slave water. To one
side of that was another phallic shape that delivered
"food"… and on the floor, just where a slave would kneel to
suck on that one, was a vertically mounted dong. This dong
had to be gripped with vaginal muscles, and moved up and
down to charge the dong at muzzle height. The vertical
dong had to be "pumped" 30 times to activate the second
dong, and it had to be kept moving; if the slave stopped
humping that dong, the food would stop, and the 30 stroke
"priming" counter would be reset. The second dong had to
be sucked upon, just right, for it to deliver its meal, a
synthetic nutrient that had all the consistency and taste
of cum. While it provided the minimum daily nutrition, no
one would ever get fat on it; it wasn’t for long term use,
and yet it would keep a slave healthy for several weeks.
The rest of the set consisted of a body harness designed to
support the slave’s breasts without concealing them, to
hold her neck almost immobile in a stiff posture collar,
and to hold her wrists at her waist. The last piece was
the head harness that had a ring gag that held the jaws
just far enough apart to let them accept the water or food
phalluses, and to hold a visor; the latter was the most
diabolical part of the device. It held a curved piece of
opaque plastic in front of the slave’s eyes; she could look
down, by her cheeks, and gain a small view of the upper
curves of her breasts, and perhaps a small view of where
her feet were, thus easing the task of walking at the end
of someone’s leash; but there was no way they could see
where they were going. It would be just enough to let her
find the "pump" dildo, for the food phallus….
Zassa shook her head; she was just going to have to try it.
The cage latched with a simple sliding bolt, and the Vixen
was sure she could manipulate it even with her wrists
fastened at her waist. Checking to make sure that the
waste port was correctly connected to the recycling system,
that the water and "food" jugs were full, she slipped into
the body harness…..
The cage door clanged shut. Zassa threw the bolt, reaching
through the bars to do so. The head harness went on next,
the ring gag filling her mouth; it wasn’t too large, and
the Vixen thought she wouldn’t have trouble wearing it for
a while. The visor went on next, snapping into place. In
the posture collar, Zassa tried to look around, to see what
she could see. It wasn’t much. Fumbling, she managed to
clasp one of the wristlets to the snap at her waist, and
then clicked the other wristlet to the opposite side……
Across the cargo bay, her jumpsuit hung on the only
security camera that could see the cage, and its new
Hinoki sighed and wiped the sweat from his eyes. The
system, long since reassembled, had FINALLY passed its
diagnostic test. The Tiger had been very helpful in
sorting out all the glitches, but somehow, at the same
time, he’d been particularly annoying. It was almost as if
he had blamed the Cheetah for every unexpected glitch the
system had coughed up, as if he expected it all to work
without fine tuning. At least he’d learned a great deal
about troubleshooting the system. Harriet had been
insistent; she wanted to be the first to christen the
system, and having selected one of the programs Tanj had
authored, she’d shooed the males out. For a moment, Hinoki
had thought about running one of his programs, perhaps one
of his darker programs, and shoving the Tiger into the
machine… grinning, he’d decided that perhaps that was a
good idea, but that a little more forethought might be
required, before properly showing the Tiger just exactly
what his system could do….. His head full of rapidly
congealing plans, he bade the Tiger goodnight and headed
for the ship…..
Zassa groaned as she sank onto the food system’s pump,
feeling it fill her pussy. She wasn’t really hungry; more
like she was bored. With no view to the outside, with no
clock, and no change in lighting in the cargo bay, she had
no idea how much time had passed. Still, driving the dong
into her wet sex was a nice distraction. Leaning forward,
she nuzzled about until she could find the food phallus.
Holding it in her mouth, clenching down with her vaginal
muscles she started to drag the dong up and down….. As she
sucked, as the count hit thirty, she felt the dong in her
mouth start to spurt. It DID taste just like cum. As she
worked at pumping the system, as her climax grew closer and
closer, she sucked hard on the spurting dildo, wondering
just how much the system would give her to "eat"…
Hinoki sealed the personnel lock, waved goodnight to Tanj,
and headed for his bunk; he had a lot of ideas for the
Upstart Tiger… but they would wait until morning. He’d had
a long day, and now all he wanted was sleep.
Zassa’s climax interrupted her motions, and as her body
shuddered, the dong in her mouth stopped spurting. Sighing
she waited for the waves of pleasure to receed a little,
before she started humping the dong again….
Tanj sighed, stretched and yawned. The day’s e-mail
finally resolved. The situation on Elysium seemed to be
disintigrating rapidly. There was a lot of field
intelligence that had to be sorted, evaluated and summaries
formulated and fired back to the Brethren, and the Blues,
and in some cases, even to Jenka. Shutting down her
console, Tanj took a look over the flight deck; she noted
that everyone was "home", and turned to head for her cabin,
missing the fact that Zassa’s telltale was in the Cargo
bay. The fact that the Cargo bay security monitor was
solid blue was also missed by the tired Cheetah. Flopping
down on her bed, Tanj was asleep within minutes.
In the Cargo Bay, Zassa fumbled again at the latch on the
cage’s door. For some reason, the job that had looked SO
simple from outside, was now eluding her; she couldn't get
her paw, clipped to her waist, through the small opening in
the bar far enough to lift the little lever on the bolt,
before pulling it back. Finally, groaning in disgust, the
Vixen flopped down, to try and get some sleep. "Shoulda
put a mat in here" she sighed to herself. It was soon
evident that the only reasonable position was on her back.
With her wrists bound to either side of her waist she
couldn’t lie on either side and the way the body harness
lifted her breasts, making them stand almost straight out,
made it difficult to sleep on her stomach…. Squirming,
the vixen sighed and tried to find sleep.
The Danger Revealed
Tanj yawned as she shuffled into the wardroom. "Coffee;
gotta get coffee" was the only thought in her head.
Finding her favorite mug, filling the mug from the pot, she
took her usual chair and with a purrrrr, sipped at the mug.
She was enjoying the aroma of the coffee, the mug held near
her nose, when Wanda entered the wardroom. "Mornin’, Tanj.
Sleep well?" The Cheetah shook her head; "Not really; up
too late reading dispatches from Elysium. My sleep was
kinda… troubled. I guess I was dwelling on things there a
little too much." The Wolverine lass nodded; "so when’s
your mystery appointment today? Think it’ll be him?" Tanj
just shrugged; "might be; its at noon. It seems we’re
meeting for lunch. An "open air" café, right next to the
Imperial Government Offices." Wanda nodded; "need backup?"
Tanj laughed; "There? Nothing would happen there; its got
to be one of the most secure places on the station, just
chock full of the cream of the Imperium, all on their lunch
break. Besides, he said to come alone. No, I’ll be fine,
but thanks." Tanj took another sip of her coffee, and then
looked around "Anyone seen Zassa recently?" Wanda
chuckled; "she came in with a special project yesterday;
something she got from Harriet; she’s been in the Cargo Bay
since yesterday." Tanj chuckled; "Maybe I should go down
there and see what’s happening." Wanda shook her head;
"She said it was a surprise and that no one was to disturb
her. Said she’d be really mad if we blew the surprise."
Tanj sipped her coffee and shrugged; "OK… as long as she’s
on the ship, I suppose she can’t get into too much
Tanj’s outfit was conservative by her standards, a pants
suit that set off her natural coloration well. The fact
that there were "holes" in it in certain locations, that
showed off her spots probably made it mildly scandalous,
but nothing critical was showing…. Grinning, the Cheetah
hefted her PADD, and strode through the personnel lock,
headed for her rendezvous.
Zassa groaned through her gag, and carefully felt her way
across the cell, seeking the water dildo; having your mouth
open all night was a good way to get very, very dry. At
least she thought it had been all night. Wondering how
she’d ever gotten herself in this fix, the Vixen drank her
fill, and then settled herself on the food system’s "pump",
to see if she could get herself some breakfast….
Tanj sat at the table, under the brightly colored and
completely pointless umbrella, and watched the people go
by. It was a good half hour after her appointment. She’d
spotted two furrs that might be Imperial Intelligence,
keeping an eye on her, and her favorite beggar was two
establishments down, working the crowd. She’d finished her
lunch, and was quietly nursing her drink, wondering how
long she should stay, when the Panda slipped into the seat
across from her. Forcing a smile, Tanj looked up as if
greeting an old friend; somehow, from all that had been
said so far, she’d been expecting a male. The Female
Panda, like so many of her species, was getting a little
thick around the middle, with middle age; still, she
carried herself well. Looking back across the table she
smiled nervously; "Sou An Ky, I trust? Also known as
Tanj?" Tanj smiled and nodded amiably; "That I am. Are
you the one I was sent to meet?" The Panda nodded
nervously; "I’m sorry for the delay; I know how critical
time is, but I had to be sure. My family’s safety, you
understand…." Tanj nodded and gestured about; "I think
this is as safe as it could get for you; I promise, I’m not
here to hurt you, merely to listen." The Panda snorted;
"its not YOU I’m worried about… well, all right, that
little incident at the nightclub did put me off for a bit,
until it was made public how you’d exposed a drug ring.
For a while, I thought you might actually be with Imperial
intelligence, but then I realized that no member of
Imperial Intelligence would be caught dead, for whatever
reason, in the nude, in public, on Gibralter station! In
fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the local members
of that organization weren’t on the take, to keep their
activities quiet." Tanj shrugged; that had occurred to
her, but there was no way she could ever prove something
Tanj sipped her drink and nodded; "well, I do want you to
be comfortable with this. But there are no guarantees
after all; trust has to be earned. What can I do to make
you comfortable enough to tell me what this is all about?"
The Panda just smiled; "Just that. I’m going to tell you
my story, and when its done, I’m going to vanish, and you
won’t try and find me. You can believe, or not believe my
story, as you will. By the time you might PROVE what I say
is true, you, nor anyone else, will ever be able to find
me, or my family." Tanj nodded; "sounds really grim." The
Panda shook her head; "you have NO idea."
"It all started when an Elysium science vessel picked up
some really weird inter-dimensional disturbance in the
periphery of the asteroid belt. It was only partially
observed, but it got some of the scientists thinking….
Unfortunately, one of them was particularly fanatical, and
talked to the government about what they’d deduced…. This
started what could only be described as a "doomsday"
Tanj frowned; "Um, hang on a minute… you said some sort of
… inter-dimensional disturbance… Um, was that about a year
and a half ago….. in the asteroid belt?" The Panda blinked
and nodded; "Yes, it was about then. And it was near that
old mining station, if I remember correctly." Tanj just
swallowed and nodded; "Please continue…"
The Panda sighed and looked out over the crowd; "I was
doing post-doctoral work for Professor Irwin Corey, of the
Elysium Institute. He got "drafted" into the project… They
were building a device that would use interdimensional
forces to completely destroy the planet. It was never
meant to be a weapon of war, but instead to be something so
terrifying, that they could force their enemies to
negotiate. However, the war progressed much faster than
the project, and by the time they could run their field
test, it was obvious that the Rebels were unstoppable. It
was then that they started talking about actually using the
device. Something about if they couldn’t have the planet,
neither would anyone else."
Tanj blinked; "Field test?" The Panda nodded; "They set up
some poor freighter captain, a smuggler, I think, as a
guinea pig. He didn’t know what he was carrying. As I
understand it, his ship disintegrated into pebble size
chunks, each moving away from each other at an appreciable
fraction of the speed of light." Tanj nodded; "I may have
eyewitnesses to that…." The Panda sighed; "When they
started talking about actually USING the device, that’s
when I decided it was time to leave." Tanj just nodded,
deep in thought.
The Cheetah looked over her notes; Times, furrs, places,
locations, key figures, and a partial list of components.
She’d talked with the Panda, until the Imperial workers
started to leave the headquarters building, until the café
started to get busy again with the evening crowd. Finally,
she’d just shrugged, unable to think of anything else to
ask. The Panda gauged the crowd and without a word, rose.
"I’ve done my part; I’ve tried to warn those who might be
able to stop this mad scheme. Now its time for me to look
after my family. Good luck." And with that, she faded
into the stream of office types heading home.
Tanj waited a few minutes and then rose. The story was
unbelievable and yet it agreed with certain things that few
knew about. Could it be a trap of some sort?
Disinformation? Who would know of Reggie and Slasher’s
experience? Not even the Brethren believed they’d been
attacked by a cloaked cruiser, a year and a half ago.
Wondering how she’d ever convince the furrs back home, the
Cheetah rose and started towards the docking ring. At
least now they could go home…..
The message to her boss and to her Master had been composed
and sent. Tanj had added in all the corroborating facts
that she could. And she’d sent orders to at least four
different groups of agents on Elysium, sending them after
further proof. Now, as the clock ticked, she wondered if
perhaps there wasn’t someone else she should tell as well……
The Wolf looked at the surveillance photos and shook his
head; she’d obviously met someone, someone who’d
immediately left the station, and was now out of reach,
unless he dispatched a destroyer to intercept the packet
she’d booked passage on. Was it a chance meeting? And old
friend? One of her contacts, or informants? There was
just something about it that bothered him…. Picking up a
message pad, he scribbled a note, instructing traffic
control NOT to let the Beowulf undock, until he’d done some
Sanders stood on the docking bay’s loading dock, clipboard
in hand, and gazed at the emptiness. He had four
hovertrucks ready to load their cargo onto the free trader
"Packard’s Hell," but it was nowhere to be seen. Grumbling
about a bureaucracy that couldn’t even tell him what
docking bay the ship was in, he pulled out his comm link,
determined to give the clerk what for.
Reggie stood just inside the airlock and scowled; this was
the fourth one this week. The free trader "Packard’s
Hell", rated for mixed cargo and six passengers, was
crammed to the gills with refugees. There was barely
enough room for half of them to lay down at one time. They
were in the corridors, in the engineering spaces, some had
even been sleeping in the airlock. And there was no cargo
worth pirating. If the refugees had anything, it wasn’t
obvious. And they’d looked. They’d looked hard, even
stopping to frisk the occasional furr. Shaking his head,
he turned to his partner; "Another loss, Mate." Slasher
just nodded and picked his way towards the lock, through
the crowded bodies.
Ben shook his head as Reggie made his report. Three raider
ships vectored in on the merchant, all that fuel expended,
all that time lost, for no gain. Their facility was
already swamped with furrs awaiting processing as slaves;
they’d taken enough cargo ships for "resale"… they just
couldn’t handle any more trade like that. And thus the
policy had been to let ‘em go. Initially they’d "taken"
only the ships that didn’t stand a chance of getting to
their destination with a functioning life support system,
but now there were so many furrs on the station, that even
their life support was having trouble coping. And thus the
Packard’s Hell was allowed to proceed. Ben sighed and
tried not to think of how many might still be alive when
they made port….
Reggie sat in the pilot’s seat, and stared at the stars,
one paw cupping his chin. "ya know, Mate, I’ve got a bad
feeling about this one. No ship captain worth a damn would
take on so many passengers. Their life support will crap
out long before they can get anywhere. And the crew’ll die
too." Slasher just shrugged; "Maybe he doesn’t plan on
takin’ em’ the whole way." Reggie frowned, and then with a
convulsive movement, yanked the controls hard. With the
inertial dampers screaming, he reversed course.
"I’ve got ‘m on the scope, but something’s funny." Reggie
looked across the flight deck at his partner; so many words
at one time were uncharacteristic. "What’s funny?"
"Return’s hazy, as if he’s in a debris field. And ‘e’s
changed course. Headed back towards Elysium, ‘e is."
Reggie groaned; "see if you can zoom in on them. I’ve got
a very bad feeling on what the debris field is…."
Ben listened to Reggie’s report, and sighed. He’d heard of
it before… The fighting on Horbath….. Unscrupulous ship
captains cramming their ship with refugees, for an
extortionate fee, and then, once clear of the planet,
they’d open the air locks and kill ‘em all, the bodies
thrown out into the vastness of space. The ship would then
turn around, and land at a different port to repeat the
process. Keying the mike, the Wolf growled; "so what did
you do with the scum?" Reggie’s reply turned heads all
across Ops; "Boarded ‘em, and threw ‘em out their own
airlock. Justice, pure and simple. Slasher’s bringing the
ship in, although with a history like this one’s got,
finding a buyer might be hard…."
Xyloff looked at the intelligence briefing from the
Brethren and smiled; he hadn’t been getting too many of
those of late; it was almost as if those pirate scum knew
what he had in mind for them. But this one, this was a
real gem. "So, Comrade Quistling, the vultures that bring
us off-planet supplies at extortionate prices are cramming
their ships with our good citizens, and then spacing them
at the earliest opportunity, Eh?" Quistling shuddered; "we
must warn the good people! We must convince them that
safety lies with us, and not in fleeing!" Xyloff chuckled;
"Ah, yes, Comrade, that we will… but….. I think we’ll tell
them that the pirates are intercepting all transports and
spacing the refugees…" The Lemming looked confused; "But…
Comrade, it’s the Pirates that have brought this to our
attention; that’s not what happened…." Xyloff smiled; "its
what happened, if we say it is. We need to find a way to
make ourselves look good in the eyes of the people, and
make all others look worse. Leave it to me, Comrade, I’ll
take care of it.
Dorothy looked at the flyer and sighed, crumpling it in one
fist. The Reds had swept through her province a week ago,
and in their wake, the political elements had been changing
things. Now she’d need travel documents to go see her
elderly mother in Hammstadt, even though it was only twenty
kilometers away. And this crap about refugees fleeing off
planet being traitors to the People, cowards not willing to
fight for the liberation of their planet, and of their
brethren. Bullshit. Another flyer had called them
thieves, stealing precious natural resources from the
People (i.e. their own skills and talents). Dorothy shook
her head, and then grinned; it was obvious the Reds
couldn’t run their own revolution with the gutter trash and
opportunists they seemed to sweep up; they needed
technicians, and middle level managers, and those were just
the people currently attempting to flee the planet. For a
moment, Dorothy wondered how she might extricate her mother
and herself, to the other side of the lines, where she
might find a transport off-planet. Finally, with a sigh,
she realized that it’d be hard enough for her to find a
way, but with her mother in tow…. Turning, she headed from
the tram station, towards her apartment. For better or
worse, it looked as if this was home.
Sanders looked at the Armored Personnel Carrier as he stood
in line at the check point. The Reds had swept through the
city of Anhamo three days earler, the Government troops
fighting a short delaying battle, and then fading into the
countryside. A few booby-traps had been left, and they’d
hurriedly tried to destroy key facilities, but they’d
obviously not wanted to be encircled and things were done
very half-assed… This was a shitty place for a defense, on
a broad plain. No natural obstacles. Of course, that was
why the spaceport had been built here. Easy for ground
transportation to pick up and deliver cargo. Sauders had
found a rather large bomb in the Spaceport’s automated
cargo handling equipment, but it had been simplistic; he’d
just turned off the timer. As soon as possible, he needed
to inform his liberators of that….. But ever since the
Reds had arrived, things had been, well, not what he’d
expected upon "liberation". The first problem was
registration. Vehicles with loudspeakers had moved through
the neighborhoods, and residential districts, telling
everyone that for their own safety, for the public good,
they had to "register". He’d lost a day standing in lines,
time he’d honestly felt would be better served, moving
cargo for the revolution, at the newly liberated starport.
After all, didn’t the Reds want to bring supplies in as
close to the front lines as possible? Then, on the next
day, he’d been instructed to remain at home, so that his
residence could be inspected for the possibility of
quartering troops. The team that brushed through his
apartment seemed more interested in running off with his
personal possessions, than determining if he could take a
room-mate for a while. Luckily he’d heard rumors, and had
stuffed all his nicer things into the ventilation ducts
before the squad got to him. They’d still taken soap, some
towels, and most of his beer. Well, the brave fighters of
the resistance were entitled to some of the comforts of
life. If they’d asked, he probably would have given the
things willingly…. But they hadn’t asked. Now, he was
finally able to head for work, perhaps to do important
things for the cause…. If he could just get through the
"So tell me, Sir, where are you going?" The Mouse wearing
the Reds armband, with the unidentifiable insignia sat at
an improvised table. The Squirrel in front of Sanders
looked a little flustered; "well, ah, Comrade, I’m a
pharmacist; I need to get to the regional supply center on
57th street, to pick up medicines for my shop. Several of
our older customers have been without certain "maintenance"
drugs, such as insulin, for several days now…." The Mouse
looked at the squirrel’s papers and shook his head; "you
are not cleared to travel to that sector. Go home, and
fill out the paperwork for permission to travel outside
your zone." The Squirrel blinked; "but Sir! These people
will get sick if they don’t get their medicines." The
Mouse shrugged; "not my concern, citizen. Go." The
Squirrel looked about helplessly; "Perhaps… perhaps one of
your loyal troops could make the trip for me? Can a
messenger be sent?" The Mouse frowned; "Citizen, I will
not warn you again; procedures MUST be followed! Now GO!"
The Squirrel took a step out of the line, looking around,
looking for help. After a moment, one of the troopers
thrust a wad of paper at him, application forms for a
change in travel permit status. Fumbling with them, the
squirrel turned, moving back the way he came.
The Tram was much less crowded than usual, for this time of
day, and Sanders found that he could actually find a seat.
He was sitting there, staring out the window at the
remarkably untouched city, when the door at the far end of
the car opened. Three furrs, this time in the full uniform
of the Reds moved into the car, spot-checking papers. The
chipmunk was a natural magnet for them, looking nervous….
Still, he produced his papers on demand, holding his cap in
both paws. The Fox who seemed to be the group’s leader
shook his head; "Citizen, citizen, I’m ashamed of you!
You’re about to be far outside your zone! You shouldn’t be
on this tram; the next station’s in the next zone!" The
Chipmunk shuddered and nodded, his words tumbling out in a
rush; "Um, yessir, but you see, I work for the local
Jupiter Hovertruck dealership, and we’ve been, ah, drafted
to help with the maintenance of Reds military vehicles….
However, our diagnostic system has broken down; the officer
in charge of us told me to go to the spaceport to pick up
the replacement modules he requisitioned. He TOLD me to
come! I couldn’t very well disobey his order… could I?"
The Fox just shook his head sadly; "That’s a fine story,
but you see, how do I know its true? You have no written
authorization from him? No temporary endorsements on your
travel papers. Nothing to prove that’s what happened!"
The Chipmunk shook his head; "I had a pass; they took it at
the tram station checkpoint! You can call them and ask
them! They’ll tell you! You can ask the officer; just
call the dealership! He was there!" The Fox looked at the
floor, eyes closed and again shook his head; "Citizen,
Citizen, how could I know if the person on the other end of
the phone was really the officer you mentioned? It could
just be a friend of yours. No, without the proper
paperwork, I’m afraid we’re going to have to make sure you
don’t leave your zone." Signaling his companions, the Fox
moved on to the next furr. Sanders watched, aghast, as the
troopers dragged the Chipmunk to the space between the tram
cars, and bodily threw him from the moving tram. The
chipmunk's body tumbled several times and then was lost to
view. And then the Fox was looking down at him. Without a
word, Sanders handed him his papers. The Fox looked them
over casually, and without a word, handed them back, moving
on to the next furr….. Turning his gaze out the window,
Sanders wondered what had happened to the bright promise
he’d thought the revolution had held…..
Ryle watched the tram go past, envying how it could travel
without having to pass through these damn checkpoints. As
it faded from view, he turned to regard the Bear coming
towards him. It seemed everyone these days was sporting a
Reds armband, and he wondered, if he acquired one, if
they’d leave him alone? The grin the Bear was sporting,
however made him frown. "Greetings, Citizen! The bad news
is that there is an error on your paperwork; the bill of
lading does not match the weight of your truck! The good
news is, that to get you and your important shipment of
food on its way, we have decided to help you correct the
problem!" Turning to look where she was looking, Ryle’s
jaw dropped as he saw a Red army transport backing up to
the rear of his truck. Within minutes, they were tossing
foodstuffs from one truck to the other…. After five
minutes or so, the Reds truck pulled away, and he found the
Bear shoving the papers at him; "There, all fixed; now your
truck has the proper weight. Move on, Citizen; don’t keep
your hungry fellows waiting!" Grumbling, Ryle climbed into
the Driver’s seat, and revved up the fans.
"YOU! HALT!" Sanders stopped and looked around. The
spaceport was almost deserted, and the odds that they were
talking to anyone else were slim. "Where do you think
YOU’RE going? Searching for a ship to take you off planet?
Trying to deprive the People of your skills, and the fruits
of your labor? Well, I’ve got news for you, "refugee," the
Reds have this facility under their complete control, and
the cowardice of fleeing will NOT be TOLERATED!" Sanders
kept the frustration from his voice, and as he offered his
papers to the Shrew, he said as evenly as possible; "I’m
Sanders; I work in shipping here. The Reds have told me
that I’m a critical worker for this facility and that I was
to report for work." The Shrew looked at the papers, and
scowled. "Finnegan! Juarez! Take Mr. Sanders here to
Shipping. Watch him carefully! Make sure he does what he
is supposed to. ONLY what he is supposed to! And make
sure he doesn’t get on any outbound ships!"
It had been a long day, most of it spent trying to justify
the smallest, most routine action to suspicious guards.
Finally, Sanders was allowed to leave, to head home.
Throughout the day, he’d tried hard to do his job, but it
seemed like he was blocked at every turn. Desperately
needed food was spoiling on the loading docks. Fuel was
stacked up in one warehouse. At one point he’d found
guards opening every crate, searching for "contraband"…
what they were doing was destroying shipping labels and
inventories, so that now there was half a warehouse full of
goods that might never get to the right destination. As he
walked wearily to the Tram station, he noticed more furrs
in Reds armbands starting to funnel the crowd towards a
line of waiting trucks. Wondering if there was something
wrong with the Tram, he paused; "Um, ah, "Comrade," what’s
going on? The Elk grinned; "There’s going to be a big pro-
Reds demonstration in the city center; a celebration
thanking us brave revolutionaries for liberating the city.
And you’re "invited. Oh, and if I were you, I’d act
enthusiastic. If you know what’s good for you!" As he
climbed into the back of the truck, Sanders shook his head
and didn’t really see anything worth celebrating. The
Government had been harsh, and dictatorial, but they were
amateurs compared to this crowd!
Grasping for power
Xyloff looked at the Fox; "you are sure you understand what
I want?" The Fox smiled; "its simple enough; I enter
certain "errors" in the orders issued by the Chairman.
Small things, but annoying things. Things that will
require Comrades to call for clarification. Things that
will require straightening out. When there’s a problem, I
say the Chairman is busy, and direct them to you." The
Wolverine smiled; "Very good, Cedric. I knew I’d made the
right choice when I recommended you for the Chairman’s
secretary. And when I succeed him, I’ll see that you
retain the position." Taking a moment to wipe the sly grin
from his face, the Wolverine moved silently across the
office, to knock on Chairman Quistling’s door. Not waiting
for a reply, he turned the handle and strode in, a warm
smile on his face; "Comrade! So good to see you again….."
"Honestly, my Dear Nils, I do fear for your safety; not
only are the Government forces incensed at the success
you’ve had in directing the People’s Revolution, but some
of our erstwhile allies are showing signs of jealousy! I
do fear that they plot to assassinate you!" The Gerbil
smiled; "Ah, I do appreciate your concern, old friend, but
what kind of a leader would I be, if I isolated myself
behind walls, and guards? I am a simple furr of the
people; I need to be with them, to understand what they’re
thinking, to make sure they understand the dielectic! No,
I do appreciate it, but I cannot accept the measures you
propose!" The Wolverine sighed; "well, Nils, I’ll do what
I can to see you’re protected, but if you insist on
behaving like that….." The Wolverine looked at the Lemming
and grumbled to himself; "If you insist on behaving like
that, you’ll just hasten your own martyrdom….." Rising,
the Wolverine headed for the door… He had plans to put
"I’m sorry, but the Chairman is unavailable right now,
General Tsuki; let me put you through to Comrade Xyloff,
I’m sure he can help…" "Hello, Aki? Good to ta…. What?
He ordered what? No, of course, you’re right; that’d never
do. You have to understand, the Chairman’s been under
intense pressure of late…… Yes, Yes of course, I’ll talk
to him immediately; in the meantime, ignore that
directive…. Yes, on my authority….. If there’s a problem,
I’ll get back to you immediately…." The Wolverine broke
the comm link and smiled. Rising, he made his way through
the Headquarters, to the Chairman’s office, to Cedric’s
desk; "Very good; that worked just as I hoped. You can now
issue the original directive, with the Chairman’s
Colonel Franz Todt looked at the invoice and shook his
head. The Chairman himself had directed that his unit
receive half a ton of roofing nails? ROOFING NAILS? They
needed Rail Gun ammunition for their armored vehicles!
Somewhere along the line, something had really gotten
screwed up! Turning, the Wolf growled at his
communications officer; "Get me Central! I can’t BELIEVE
Xyloff looked at the face of the irate Wolf on his monitor
and nodded placatingly; "Yes, yes, of course, Colonel. I
realize how vulnerable you are with no ammunition for your
tanks! I’m sure it was just a small oversight on the
Chairman's part. I’ll attend to it immediately. You know
how much pressure he’s been under lately… and frankly, just
between you and me, I’m afraid the sedatives his doctor are
prescribing, to let him sleep at night, well, I think they
might be affecting his judgement a little….. No, no, I’m
sure he’s not taking more than the doctor prescribes; that
wouldn’t be like him at all! No, I’m sure he’s got it
under control, Colonel. Now let me see what I can do about
getting you that ammunition!
Basik looked at the handout and frowned. The Chairman was
usually so good at explaining the philosophy behind their
movement, but this, this was gibberish. It was like
someone had used a "phrase generator" with all the right
buzz words, to turn out meaningless sentences. How was he
supposed to instruct the populace in the "liberated" areas
using THIS? With a sigh, he crumpled the flyer and turned,
to stride through the headquarters unit, to see if that
idiot supply officer had distributed the flyers. It would
be just his luck, that THIS time the lazy SOB had actually
done his job….
Saunders looked at the flyer as he rode the tram to work.
Today’s missive was worse than usual; it made no sense at
all; and yet he dare not say so. He just hoped he wasn’t
quizzed on today’s "lesson" at the check point near his
house…. Then with a grin, he got a wild idea; what if HE
approached THEM, asking them for "clarification"…. He’d
love to see anyone explain THIS one!
Xyloff sighed and shook his head; "I know, Commisar Basik,
I know. The Chairman… well, I don’t need to tell you how
heavy the mantle of command is. Ah, I mean leadership, of
course… I fear, well… um, I do feel the Chairman needs a
small vacation. But then, at this time in our history, I
can’t imagine anyone shirking their duty. Yes…. Yes I too
hope he can hold it all together, just a little longer…..
The Bear was massive, and in the shadows, only half seen,
"Sinister" was the word that came to mind. "you
understand," Xyloff whispered, "that the assassination is
not to actually succeed. Things are not yet… ah, um…. I
merely want the Chairman to understand the danger. We
can’t properly protect him if he keeps addressing crowds
like that. Its just not SAFE for him to move among the
people like that!" The Bear nodded; "I understand,
Comrade, and I agree. He just doesn’t understand how
dangerous a world we live in. I think we can find a way to
teach him a small lesson, without doing any harm." Xyloff
looked at the commando and nodded; "Good, I’ll leave it in
Jones looked across the way to Smith, and nodded slowly.
Theirs was a desperate gamble, a suicide mission, but it
was something that had to be done. Jones was dying of a
brain tumor, completely inoperable. Smith had a rare
genetic disorder that would shortly leave him a vegetable,
although a vegetable in very good health. It’d take him
decades to die. The Government had promised that it would
bestow riches on their families and evacuate them off-
planet, if they would perform this one simple mission; kill
the Chairman of the Reds as he came to visit the newly
liberated city. It hadn’t take much convincing. The crowd
was thick, but not so thick that they couldn’t get into
position, along the route the Chairman would travel; and he
was known for walking, for shaking hands, and for talking
to stop with people, to hear their concerns and share his
ideas. Mostly share his ideas. The ceramic blade he’d
been given had gotten through the metal detector with ease,
and its handle was cool in his palm, its blade up the
sleeve of his jacket. Quietly, resignedly, he watched, as
the motorcade came into sight.
The shot came as a surprise, and for a moment Jones
wondered if there was another team also in place, perhaps
they were the backup, or maybe a backup had jumped the gun.
The first bullet tore into the windscreen of the Chairman’s
vehicle, the second thudded into the seat next to him. As
the vehicle swerved into the crowd, the driver either
panicked or trying to evade another round, a third shot
rang out, shattering the vehicle’s engine. The vehicle
lurched to a stop, tumbling all those in the open passenger
compartment to the floor. Lighter, rapid fire shots were
heard from a distance, and then there was the crump of a
grenade….. Watching the crowd, gauging the distance, and
the sudden ring of guards, Smith decided they’d have to try
another time; he turned and faded back into the now
The Lemming gritted his teeth in pain, the wound in his
left shoulder was just a scratch, the bullet barely grazing
him as it slammed into the seat next to him. Still, it
stung like crazy. Perhaps what stung worse was that
someone had actually tried to kill him. He, who had
struggled so long to liberate the people, he who had
struggled to bring enlightenment to the masses! Frowning,
he realized Xyloff had been right….. Turning to the
Captain commanding the Guards, he growled; "Get me out of
here. Now. And I want to know who it was who fired those
shots. Make sure he’s taken alive! We need to interrogate
Quistling paced up and down, in the command bunker;
"Dammit, Xyloff, I will NOT tolerate this! The people
should LOVE me, not shoot at me! And by Hades, those that
DON’T love me, we’ll make them PAY!" Xyloff listened to
the Lemming rant and grinned; it had worked out even better
than he’d hoped; the "assassination attempt" seemed to have
unhinged the Lemming…. The words he was saying, the orders
he’d been issuing, they alone would destroy his reputation,
making it all the easier to eventually supplant him.. All
he had to do was to keep his head, as those about him were
"No, General, I’m sorry; the Chairman isn’t receiving
anyone today. No, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do."
Cedric watched the fuming General retreat, and smiled to
himself. He hadn’t even had to make that up; the Lemming
had all but become a recluse, behind guards and walls. His
office was now in a bunker, twelve floors down beneath a
nondescript warehouse, or so he was told; the connecting
tunnels all came out miles away, and even he didn’t know
exactly where they were. Those that DID get to see the
Lemming, were strip-searched, and flouroscoped, and that
indignity was starting to rub even the most sympathetic
supporters the wrong way. And of course, his isolation
made it even easier to "transpose" orders, making it look
as if he’d lost it…..
Saunders looked at the flyer and sighed. As punishment for
being the city in which the assassination attempt had taken
place, civilian rations were being cut in half. And the
power would be turned off from Midnight to six AM. As
winter was coming on, furrs were going to start getting
real cold….. Lowering the flyer he looked at the control
system for the automated cargo handling system at the
spaceport. With a grin, he reached out and flicked the
switch. In a little while, the Government troop’s attempt
to cripple the spaceport would actually come to fruition…
and when that happened, Saunders hoped to be somewhere very
visible, and as far away as his travel papers would permit.
Cumbie let her fighter drift. The Nighthawk class was well
stealthed, and as long as she didn’t make any sudden moves,
most likely near-invisible. Especially with all the junk
in orbit around the planet these days. Still, that’s what
it took these days to survive in near-orbit around Elysium.
Ground to Orbit fire was getting worse every day, despite
the embargo. And the Elysium aerospace fighters were
starting to fight with a vengeance born of desperation.
Still, they too were loosing pilots at an incredible rate
and some of the novices they were sending up…. Cumbie
shook her head sadly. Intelligence had said that the
Elysium 3rd division was going to try and shift assets from
one flank to another, to try for a counterattack; moving
troops that rapidly meant air travel, and that’s what she
was hoping to stop. Because if it flew, and in some cases
even if it didn't it was her prey.
The first sign was a contrail. Cumbie grinned to herself;
these furrs were GOOD. NO idle radio chatter, no fugitive
emissions…. A contrail was hard to detect with sensors…. It
required the old Mark I eyeball…. And then she frowned;
could they have some sort of a drone leaving a contrail, to
spook anyone waiting in ambush? Watching carefully, she
let her passive sensors hunt for anything else moving below
Gulow wiped his palm off on his thigh again. His K000
aerospace fighter was as new as he was, freshly "imported."
It may not have been the best available, but they were
something the Elysium government could afford, something
they could get immediate delivery on…. And still, on paper,
at least, it was a hot ship. And a stealthy one. He
checked his nav display again, as his little ship all but
flew itself, and then after a quick look at the sensor
display, he lifted his head and stared through the
transparent aluminum canopy at the stars. He knew they
were out there…..
Cumbie smiled. They were good, but she was better… all
right, her systems were better. Through the ground-based
jamming, through the air based jamming, she’d found them.
They were below and behind the drone leaving the pretty
contrail. It was a certainty that the drone would have
sensors that would pick her up before the lower, slower
ships would, but that couldn’t be avoided. She’d wait just
a little more, wait until they were almost past, and then
use her altitude, translating Potential energy to Kinetic
energy; she’d catch up with them in a hurry, flash on past,
and then loose speed by gaining altitude, to come around
again. If she kept moving fast enough, perhaps their
interceptors, and ground-based weapons couldn’t get a lock
on her…. Maybe.
"I’ve got a power-up!… two! FourfiveSIX! Six bogeys in
low orbit! They’re moving on the transports!" The duty
officer in the aerospace defense bunker moved over to look
at the sensor operator’s screens and then nodded. "Order
half the fighters to move to intercept; the remaining
fighters are to stick with the transports. At the speed
those bogeys are moving, they’ll flash by the first group,
leaving them out of position for further defense."
Gulow listened to the controller’s voice in his headset and
as he pulled back on the stick, he shoved his throttle to
the max. His own targeting systems were starting to pick
up the bogeys, and he started assigning targets to his
Cumbie swore as her headset filled her head with the
threat-warning tone. ECM and ECCM were automatic on this
bird, and she listened as the decoy launcher thumped and
thumped again. They’d either work, or they wouldn’t…… She
had weapons of her own, of course, but she was saving them
for the high-value targets, the transports. She’d been
promised a hefty bonus for each one she brought down….
Gulow crowed as one of his missiles detonated. The pirate
ship suddenly wasn’t so stealthy as torn metal and ablated
radar absorbing material permitted his sensors to get a
better look. The pirate was starting to turn, to seek an
escape. Grinning ferrally, Gulow shoved at his already-
maxed throttles, as he went in for the kill.
Cumbie flashed past the K000, wondering why he was
concentrating on poor Harstead; it was obvious he was out
of the fight…. With a shrug and a silent prayer for her
friend, Cumbie turned her attention back to the transports
now swelling in her targeting system’s sights.
Paschal watched as the enemy fighters flashed past almost
too fast to follow; it seemed like the sky was full of
fireballs, transports suddenly exploding, or trailing smoke
and loosing altitude rapidly. One had split open and as
the pieces tumbled, bodies and equipment were thrown into
the sky. And there was nothing she could do, but hold her
course, and speed, and hope that their own fighters managed
to keep those bastards from coming back.
Gulow gradually became aware of the voice in his earphones.
He’d put another two missiles into the pirate before it had
finally exploded in a most satisfying flash…. Now he
frowned, trying to make sense of what the controller was
saying? What was wrong with this guy? He’d just gotten a
kill, for cryin’ out loud!"
"Damned inexperienced, half trained CHILDREN!" The duty
officer was furious; of the fighters sent to intercept the
incoming pirates, almost all had gone off in pursuit of the
few damaged ships instead of turning, to try and kill their
forward velocity, and to acquire undamaged targets; now
they were all hopelessly out of the area of engagement…. If
they could get back into the fight, it would be a miracle.
Krueger smiled, the predatory look very out of place on the
Marmoset’s face. He’d been waiting for just this event.
The Elysium fighter pilots may not have been worth their
salt, but there was still a nice bounty out on the fighter
craft, at least for his unit. Moving his much larger
raider vessel from behind what was left of an Elysium
corvette, he vectored in on one of the Newbies…..
Cumbie did a classic hammerhead stall. Of her six-ship
squadron, there were only three of them still in the fight,
but she still had ammunition left, and there were still
targets down there worth going after. As her fighter
reversed direction, she peered intently into her targeting
display… that one, at the front left, and then that one in
the middle, and that one on the right rear…. And then she’d
be moving at high speed in the wrong direction…. This’d be
her last pass…..
Gulow’s eyes went wide as he saw the new threat develop;
with a mewl he tried to turn his ship, but his velocity was
too high; he was just going to pass too close, most
definitely within weapons range… For a moment he thought
about calling out for help, and then he realized that there
wasn’t much his whole squadron could do to a ship that
size. Instead, he decided to settle for a warning; maybe
some of his friends could escape in time…..
Krueger watched as the Elysium aerospace fighters started
to scatter. Making sure his shields were in raised and at
full strength, he started to hunt.
Paschal winced as the transport on her left wing turned
into a small star, black pieces of wreckage falling from
the sky. Again, something flashed past, almost too fast to
see… and then everything was quiet. Looking over at her
copilot, she sighed; "what they say about this job is true;
hours and hours of deadly boredom interspersed with a few
minutes of sheer terror…."
Cumbie kept her altitude low, and her speed high, jinking
violently, until she was back over the Blues lines.
Climbing back to altitude would be a lot safer if she had a
nice slice of the planet between herself and the Elysium
ground-based systems. She’d lost another squadron-mate in
the second run, four ships out of six gone… but they’d
taken out a good 17 transports, out of 24. The bounty
would be nice…. But it would be expensive to replace their
losses. Trying to work out the math in her head, wondering
if she’d finished the day in the red, or the black, she
headed back to base.
Snell shook his head; "I hate to give away the locations of
our launchers and sensors to come to the rescue of idiots
like that, but….. I suppose we should teach those Pirate
scum that its not prudent to get too close." The Aerospace
defense duty officer looked at the fire control officer and
nodded; "I agree. Do what you can. Maybe we can get some
of those kids back home. Maybe they’ll even learn from
Krueger smiled mirthlessly as the particle beams lanced
out, destroying the second of the aerospace fighters. The
others had pretty much scattered, but one of them had gone
into a panicked powerdive that the Marmoset thought would
be almost impossible to pull out of. Idly he wondered if
he could claim that one as a kill too. And then his own
threat alarms started going off. Frowning, he watched as
fire control radars on the surface of the planet came
active, and then the plumes of two surface-to-orbit
interceptors were picked up. Moving quickly he changed his
vector, and then changed it again, heading away from the
planet as fast as his raider could go. There were some
patches of junk he knew about, he might be able to loose
the missiles in… and his shields were good. Pausing for a
moment, he compared the launch and emitter sites with what
was known… Grinning, he realized that these were new sites;
if he lived, he’d get another bonus!
Colonel Brundage smiled as he read the flimsey; "Sergeant
Major, it looks as if our Op is on after all. The Brethren
seem to have managed to decimate the Elysium 17th Guards.
There won’t be an offensive now, in the Terrina sector."
The squirrel smiled; "and that means, with the 17th no
longer in front of us, and no threat on our flanks, we can
drive forwards." Brundage lowered the flimsey to look at
the tactical map. "Yeah, and if we don’t meet too much
resistance, we might just catch up with the Red’s "Liberty"
The building at one point had held a factory; it was dark,
and quiet now. Cavernous. Spooky. Ellie held onto the
Panther’s belt, knowing he had better night vision than she
did, as they moved among the abandoned machines. It was
risky to be out after curfew; the Elysium government goons
were jumpy, and more likely than not to shoot, than to stop
citizens, and question them as to why they were out so
late. The meeting was to be held in what had been a
storeroom, a building within the building, where lights
could be used without risk of discovery.
There were a good thirty furrs seated around the room, as
Ellie and Ralph searched for a place to sit. Some were
older, adults, but most were youths, teen-agers finishing
up their secondary education, or just starting their
university experience. The Reds agent was easy to spot; he
was a rather hansom young wolf, sporting a red armband. He
looked rakish and daring in his hodge-podge cammies. The
meeting started with a discussion of the crimes the Elysium
government had committed against the people; the harsh
social system, that repressed the poor, and fattened the
wallets of the rich. As the crowd responded, as various
furrs shouted out in agreement, or throwing out their own
observations or thoughts, the topic shifted to the more
recent atrocities committed by the Elysium forces as they
were steadily forced back by the might of the People’s
revolution. Finally, the young Wolf called for volunteers
to join the glorious Revolution.
Floyd shook his head and looked at his brother, Rafe.
Turning back to the Wolf, he growled; "its all well and
good to call for an uprising against the Government, but
what I want to hear is SPECIFICALLY what you want us to do.
I’ve got a family, and have no great desire to throw my
life away in some grand gesture." The wolf smiled;
"simple, Comrade. Tonight, the Reds commandos will launch
a concerted attack against the Elysium forces headquarters
in your town. As you know, the 4438th Division has their
headquarters here. Here, they are orchestrating the
defenses for the entire sector. And tonight we will cut
off the head of the hated Enemy. Without leadership, their
troops will flounder, and our glorious army will be able to
roll over them, and liberate your town!" Floyd nodded; "a
decapitation strike. Yes, a good idea, but don’t you think
its just a little much to ask untrained civilians to
assault a military headquarters?" The Wolf made a
dismissive gesture; "the headquarters are guarded by
conscripts. Draftees who’s heart isn’t in the fight. We
have every assurance that they’ll break and run at the
first sound of gunfire. Besides, trained Reds commandos
will also be participating in the attack. NOW is the time,
Comrades, to show the Government bullies what you’re made
of! NOW is the time to attack! Who’s with me?"
Rafe leaned close to his brother and whispered; "This is
bullshit, Floyd; its only gonna get us killed!" Floyd
nodded slowly and turned to whisper back; "Yeah, but I
wouldn’t let on that’s the way you think. I don’t like the
looks of those guys by the door…" Rafe turned and looked.
A quartet of toughs, each sporting the Reds armband, stood
by the door. As he watched an older Ursine rose from where
he was sitting and with a shaking head, moved past them,
and out the door. A few seconds later, two of the toughs
followed….. Floyd leaned close and whispered to his
brother; "Lets sign up, and then slip away quietly later.
Don’t use your real name, though….."
Ellie grinned and signed her name to the roster right after
Ralph; this was going to be such a glorious adventure.
FINALLY a chance to strike back against the Hated
Government! Taking the weapon the Reds fighter handed her,
she looked at it curiously, wondering how it worked….
As Rafe walked through the darkened factory, he looked
about him, the ancient assault rifle heavy in his paws. As
a Raccoon, he had excellent night vision, and it wasn’t
hard to spot the bear’s body amongst the machinery…..
Swallowing hard, he wondered how he and Floyd were going to
slip away from this one? He’d KNOWN it would have been
better to try and join the Blues….
The Wolf grinned as he crouched by the side of the
building; "This will be your blooding; by doing this you
will prove your worth to the Reds, to the Revolution, and
to the free people of Elysium! The guard post is just
around the corner. When I yell, we’ll charge around the
corner, firing as we go. Once through the gate, search
out the command bunker, and kill everyone you can find!
Ellie fingered the fabric of her new armband, her body
trembling… was that anticipation, or fear? Either way, the
adrenaline was SUCH a rush.
Rafe whispered to his brother; "alleyway to the left."
Floyd just nodded.
The Wolf howled, and with a mighty yell, the crowd of
freshly-minted Rebels rose to their feet and surged
forward. Most of those in the front of the pack fired
their weapons, the unaimed rounds ricocheting off the
pavement, or flying harmlessly into the air….. As the
crowd surged forwards, the Wolf smiled and quietly slipped
into the shadows, moving towards the rear.
Hoffitz almost choked on his coffee as the crowd surged
around the corner. For a moment he stared in disbelief,
and then he dropped his cup, his paw coming down on the
alarm button. Sanchez jerked himself up out of his chair
where he’d been close to dozing, and took in the situation
at a glance. Without a word, he moved behind the butt of
the machine gun; sighting, he squeezed off a long burst
through the pillbox’s aperature. Moving to his side,
Hoffitz readied another can of ammunition….
Ellie screamed as Ralph went down, just in front of her;
then her feet were slipping, caught on something and she
tumbled to the ground. Squirming around, she gasped as she
realized she’d tripped on her friend’s intestines! Looking
around as angry bees zipped by just overhead, she started
crawling back the way she’d come, her weapon and cause
Floyd panted hard, chest heaving. He’d made it past the
dumpster into the alleyway, right behind Rafe. For a
moment they watched the carnage, and then Rafe tugged at
his sleeve, and the two of them turned to scramble down the
narrow alleyway, moving as fast as they could from the
sound of the gunfire.
Hawkings looked at his watch and smiled; right on time.
Looking up at the Reds commando team he grinned; "There’s
our diversion; lets go." Moving stealthily, they low-
crawled towards the razor wire.
Ellie threw up again, as her mind replayed the images from
moments before; She’d seen Ralph, a friend since childhood,
dismembered by bullets before her very eyes. Mary, another
old-time friend had both her legs shot off, and had
screamed as she tried to crawl away, before finally dying
of loss of blood. Eddie…. Eddie’s body had been almost at
the corner of the building; he must have gotten killed
almost immediately…. She had no idea how she’d gotten out
of the kill zone, no idea how she’d gotten all the way back
to the factory. Shuddering, her stomach convulsed again,
nothing left to come up…..
The Wolf looked over the half-dozen survivors, and shook
his head; "I am VERY disappointed in you. The Revolution
is very disappointed in you! If you had truly believed in
what you were doing, if you had BELIEVED, you would have
taken that guard post! You would have surged past it to
complete your mission! You are TRULY despicable!" One of
the survivors, a bloodstained Ermine, struggled to his
feet; "How can you say such a thing? We Tried! Most of us
DIED! You sent us out, untrained, underequipped, with NO
plan, to assault not a guard shack, but a pillbox! Our
bullets bounced off! You sent us to DIE!" Lurching
forward, the Ermine raised his paws to grab the Wolf. With
a sneer on his face, the Wolf pulled his side-arm and shot
the Ermine. For a moment he stared at the crumpled form at
his feet, and then he looked up….
Ellie staggered to her feet convulsively, turning to flee
the scene; one of the toughs stopped her, but she managed
to choke out; "Gonna be sick…." As if he’d just discovered
she had the mange, he let go of her, and she staggered off
into the dark. The retching sounds that floated back to
his ears were not faked, but when her stomach stopped
heaving, Ellie snuck away through the dark, seeking
escape…… As she sought a way from the deserted factory,
she heard the Wolf growl; "now the rest of you cowardly
scum will be given a chance to redeem yourselves…… Several
of our "comrades" were seen running from the fight without
even firing their weapons. As they haven’t shown up here,
we can only assume they have deserted. You will hunt them
down and kill them, to demonstrate to all that one does not
lightly shirk their duties to the Revolution……"
Rafe looked at his wife and daughter, and sighed. They’d
be leaving everything they’d worked for, everything they’d
built; but right now, he had no desire to be anywhere near
the Reds….. Gesturing for them to follow, he headed into
the woods behind their house. The rendezvous point he and
Floyd had agreed upon was about a half hour walk through
the dark… and then together they’d try and make it to
territory controlled by the Blues. Maybe there they could
find what the Revolution was supposed to stand for….
Ellie looked up as the teacher called her name. Her mind
had been wandering again. Somehow she’d convinced her
parents that while she wasn’t feeling well, there was no
reason for her not to go to school. Somehow knowing
something was wrong, they’d still allowed her to go….
Several seats in her classroom were noticeably empty.
Trying to answer the question, she shrugged off the
Teacher’s recriminations at not having been paying
attention… and was saved from further censure by the
ringing of the bell.
Lunch was hell; the entire room was abuzz with students
talking about the previous night’s attack on the military
headquarters. Apparently the Reds Militia had attacked as
a diversion, many brave souls giving their lives so a
commando team could attack from the other direction… except
that attack had failed too…. Ellie wanted to scream that
it wasn’t like they thought, that there was no glory in it,
that all those poor people had been tricked into giving
their lives….. but who could she tell? Who would believe
her? As she poked at her food, she wondered what to do?
The Reds seemed no better than the government they were
trying to overthrow….. And if it was a worthy cause to
fight the Government, well, was it a worthy cause to fight
the Reds too, for THEIR oppression?
Ellie stood on the street corner and watched the military
vehicles streaming by. The light had changed three times,
but the Elysium military hadn’t even slowed. They were
pulling out, troops and gear, and supplies heaped on top of
their vehicles. Occasionally a civilian vehicle would go
by, either caught up in the convoy, or collaborators
fleeing with them, or maybe just something commandeered….
She was going to be late for school, but somehow, on this
day, she didn’t think it would matter much. If the Elysium
forces were pulling out in broad daylight, they must be
desperate indeed….. And that meant that the Reds would be
close. No, she didn’t think there’d be much accomplished
at school today…..
"No, actually I don’t think they’re that close…." Iggy, the
Chipmunk said, between bites of his sandwich. "The front’s
much further eastward, over towards Hagerstown. I think
they’re pulling out to keep from being encircled. And I’m
just as glad they are. It means that there won’t be
fighting for our town. No artillery, or air strikes. No
destruction of the infrastructure." Ellie looked at the
geeky underclassman and nodded slowly; she remembered her
brief introduction to combat, and sincerely hoped never to
see it again. If the Elysium government decided not to
make a stand here, that was FINE by her. She looked at the
Chipmunk and sighed; normally she wouldn’t be caught dead
talking to an underclassman, let alone a geek like him, but
so many of her friends had died that night, so many others
run off, as refugees with their families, or to join the
Revolution, well, there just weren’t that many furrs left
to talk to… "So when do you think the Reds will arrive."
Iggy took another bite of his sandwich and chewed for a
moment; "Tomorrow, probably in mid afternoon, I think."
Ellie stood in front of the school, with what students and
faculty remained, watching. The vehicles that were
streaming down the street were a hodge-podge of civilian
trucks, and captured military equipment. The surface of
almost every vehicle was covered by Reds soldiers in
mismatched uniforms, the armband the only constant. And
they were yelling and waving bottles, and holding banners.
It was something between a parade and a celebration, hardly
resembling a military operation at all. Victory was being
celebrated, but Ellie wondered to herself how they could
celebrate a victory when the enemy had withdrawn without
firing a shot? But the crowd was ecstatic. A party
atmosphere seemed to fill the air. Ellie was just sorry
she couldn’t seem to get in the mood, visions of the
assault on the Elysium government headquarters flashing
before her eyes… She fervently hoped and prayed that her
experience there was atypical, and that THESE were the true
heroes of the revolution…..
Schenk swung down off the self-propelled gun and looked
around the small town square, nodding in approval. The
political types had yet to start "forcing" attendance for
such events and as such, the turnout was pretty good.
Turning, he shot a surreptitious glance at Nest, the
political officer, and sighed. If it wasn’t for that
meddling fool, "Nest the Pest", he’d be in heaven…..
Turning to look at the crowd he threw up his arms, and was
rewarded with a cheer….. Grinning, he took the bullhorn;
"Free People of Elysium! You have Been LIBERATED!" The
Ellie listened to the Reds leader, in his rakishly crossed
ammunition bandoliers, and did what she could to read
between the lines. He said that they were the Red’s 773rd
Militia Brigade, just out of some heavy fighting to the
South. He said that their reward for their valorous
efforts was to have the honor of "liberating" their town
and then spending some time there to rest and reorganize.
Ellie thought that meant that the more combat-effective
units were still pursuing the Government forces and this
rag-tag band was only good for guarding their rear…. And
helping the political officer, a sour faced rabbit, with
whatever tasks HE might have…. She wondered about the
phrase "integrating them into the new society"… that had a
strange ring to it….
Schenk worked the crowd, grinning; he wondered how many of
the newly liberated ladies might find their way to the beds
of his "conquoring heroes" this night. Scanning the crowd
he looked for likely lasses….
Ellie felt the gaze of the Reds leader pass over her, and
she shuddered; there was something about him that made her
Schenk smiled to himself; "Yup, still got it; one long,
sexy look and they quiver at the sight of me. Her knees
look positively weak. A good looking young Badger girl…
Have to see if I can find her later….."
Nest shook his head; theatrics were all well and good, but
there was work to be done; work before the Elysium
government criminals managed to slip away. Tugging at
Schenk’s sleeve, the Rabbit rose to tiptoes to whisper
urgently into his ear…..
Iggy looked at the sexy Badger standing next to him and
grinned to himself. Ellie had been very quiet of late;
withdrawn. Still, the chipmunk mused to himself, having so
many friends killed could do that to you. Not one to pass
up an opportunity, though, he took the vacant place at her
side as the "rally" formed… it was the first mass rally
since the Reds had "liberated" the town, and attendance was
rather heavily encouraged… although they hadn’t quite
ordered it. Turning his head to watch those on the stage,
he felt Ellie shift next to him. She’d been fidgeting a
lot lately. Figuring he should break the silence with SOME
sort of comment, he wracked his brains for a suitable
comment. "Um…. I haven’t seen Bethany lately… Isn’t she a
friend of yours?" The Badger lass just nodded. "Ah… I’m
surprised she’s not here. Her family didn’t decide to
become refugees, did they?" Ellie’s head just moved from
side to side, and a small "no" escaped her lips. The
Chipmunk frowned; "um…. She’s not sick, is she?" Ellie
turned to look at the Chipmunk, a strange look on her face.
"Sick? I suppose you might say that…. It seems that a
group of our "liberators" were out looking for some fun,
and happened to bump into her. She was coming back from
the store, running an errand for her mother…. It seems our
glorious saviors decided that she should entertain them for
a while…. Her parents became concerned when she didn’t
come home, and they went looking for her. They found her
in an alleyway, covered in….." Ellie paused for a moment
and looked around, as if gauging who might be listening.
"She hasn’t been in her right mind since. Its like… its
like there’s just no one home." The Squirrel blinked and
then nodded slowly; "they raped her?" The Badger just
nodded. Iggy sighed; "I’ve heard other stories like that.
Shop keepers bullied, homes broken into and looted,
sometimes as the occupants watched. And there have been a
lot of rapes. Jessica, over at the Westside school was
killed after they were done with her. They’re trying to
keep it quiet, but word spreads." Ellie nodded; "we have
to do something. This is NOT what the revolution was
supposed to be….." Iggy swallowed, but nodded; "Yeah… but
this is NOT the time or the place to talk about it…."
Schenk smiled as he looked out over the crowd. It was
time. Time to put the fear of the new order into these
mindless sheep. The local police department had been
logging increasing numbers of calls complaining about the
behavior of his troops. He knew because that was the first
place he’d secured. Most of his troops were very familiar
with the inside of a police station, although usually not
from the police point of view; still, some of them could
give a credible imitation of a cop…. Looking out over the
crowd he sighed and would have thought that these folks
would be more… "thankful" at having been liberated, that
they would have cut him and his troops some slack for their
heroic efforts.. Instead it was just bitch, bitch, bitch.
Well, now it was time to show these clowns who was in
Ellie watched as a number of furrs were led out onto the
stage, their hands tied behind them. One she recognized as
the Mayor; another was the Head Master at her school…. They
all looked as if they’d had a rough time. She watched as
the Rabbit started talking about the crimes these furrs had
committed against the people, starting with the Mayor. As
he came to a conclusion one of the Reds soldiers pushed the
portly old Beaver down onto his knees, and then Schenk
stepped up behind him. The pistol shot made everyone jump.
Then the Rabbit started reading out the crimes supposedly
committed by the next person in the line…."
Iggy wondered how Ellie could stand so stone-faced as the
Reds carried out their executions. He himself was close to
throwing up. The crimes these furrs were charged with were
mostly imaginary, illusionary, and he was convinced it was
all just a sham, a way of showing the town who the new
Nest watched the stunned crowd as he finished reading the
charges for the last of the criminals and collaborators.
Sometimes the people cheered loudly, but this crowd… He was
surprised they weren’t happier at the end of their
oppression, delighted to see the tools of their oppression
punished for their crimes. Shrugging he picked up his
notes detailing the new order, and lifting the microphone
he started telling the crowd about the worker’s paradise to
Iggy and Ellie helped Estelle from the rally. The squirrel
had gotten quite sick as her great uncle, the head of the
city’s utilities department, had been executed "for his
crimes against the people." The poor girl hadn’t even
known he’d been arrested. As they made their way home,
Ellie kept shaking her head, and muttering "this isn’t
right… this can’t be…" As they turned onto a side street,
gaining perhaps a little more privacy from the crowd
leaving the "rally," Iggy leaned over to whisper in the
Badger’s ear; "I know a few people… people who think the
Reds are no improvement over the Government. I think they
may be working up to actually DOING something….." Ellie’s
head turned and she fixed the Chipmunk with a stare: "I
want to meet these people…" Between them, Estelle managed
to urp out; "Me too."
The Coyote wore dark glasses, even though it was night.
The ice cream shop had been closed for a while, but some of
the kids still gathered there on the sidewalk in front of
it, to talk, and flirt. He looked at the Badger girl and
shook his head; "Look, I don’t want to know your name, or
where you live, or who your friends are. You don’t want to
know anything about ME either. Its just… "safer" that way.
Yes, I think we’re all in deep shit. I don’t see ANYTHING
the Reds are doing as matching their propaganda. None of
their promises are coming true." Iggy nodded; "Yeah, they
promise more freedom, and then demand travel documents, and
ID papers. They say they’ll provide jobs, but the only
career choices they offer seem to be in forced-labor gangs.
And the taxes they’re levying… they’re significantly higher
than what we’d been paying under the old administration!"
Ellie nodded; "of course, they SAY the war isn’t won, and
that this is just for the duration of the Emergency…" the
Coyote snorted; "and do you think, that when they HAVE won,
that these restrictions will be lifted? That All will be
Equal?" Ellie smiled; "That will depend on just what these
Reds are made of. I may not be able to find out about the
upper levels, but I do have an idea about the local
Iggy looked at Ellie as they walked home from the
"Meeting." "Surely you can’t be serious!" Ellie smiled
wryly and shrugged: "I’m quite serious, and don’t call me
Shirley." The attempt at humor fell flat as the Chipmunk
continued to stare at her; "you realize that if you’re
RIGHT, we’ll be hunted criminals…. Or worse. We could
wind up dead." Ellie shrugged; "I understand, but…. after
all the promises, after all the suffering, I cannot sit by
and let things NOT change. The People deserve something
better than what we’ve had, and I don’t want to see a
change in name only, trading the Reds for the Government.
No, I’m going through with it, if I have to do it myself…."
Iggy sighed and shook his head…..
The Coyote watched, his splatball bat in his hands… this
was the worst part; the waiting. Ellie, and Estelle, in
too-tight sweaters, were coming timidly down the road…. And
three Reds soldiers, staggering drunk, were headed in the
opposite direction. This was the first of Ellie’s "tests."
Furrs that believed in the high-sounding principles that
the Reds propaganda espoused, would greet the girls
politely and pass on by. But if they were the scum they
thought they might be, well, that was what the bat was
"Well, looky here!" The wolf was grinning wickedly, and
for a moment Ellie was reminded of a nursery rhyme her
mother used to tell her, when she was young, about wolves
and deep woods and the path to Grandmother’s house…..
Nudging his comrades the Wolf leered; "Heya, Girly, want to
help a Hero of the Revolution celebrate your liberation?"
Ellie looked down, and said in a quiet voice; "Please sir,
we have to get home; our parents will be worried…." The
Jackal next to the Wolf took a swig from his bottle and
grinned; "Parents? You live on this street?" Ellie lifted
her gaze a little and shook her head no; "Um, No Sir, I
live three streets over… but my friend lives on this
street….." The third soldier, a Collie, peered at Estelle
and grinned wickedly; "Squirrel…. Yeah…. Five houses down
on the left. Yellow house. They’ve all been arrested;
seems they had a relative that was a collaborator. Hey, we
ought to arrest you too!" Lurching, the Collie reached out
for Estelle. Estelle’s eyes went wide in horror, and she
took a step back just as the Collie’s paw caught the
neckline of her sweater, and as she moved, the fabric
ripped…. "ooooh, Nice Rack!" the Jackal giggled, and
tossing his bottle aside, he stepped in to grab both of the
startled girl’s breasts, squeezing hard. Estelle yelped!
The coyote nodded, and quietly slipped from his hiding
place, signaling his friends as he moved up quietly from
behind the three.
The kitchen knife found its way, somehow, into Ellie’s paw,
and then she was shoving up, hard, driving the point under
the Wolf’s ribs, just as he reached for her. For a moment
his eyes went wide, and then he looked down. A quiet
"ohshit" emerged from his mouth and then he was crumpling
to the concrete. The Jackal got out a quiet "huh?" just
before the edge of the coyote’s bat caught him across the
back of his neck. He dropped like a sack of bricks.
The Collie moved a little faster, releasing Estelle,
turning and taking a step back. One paw fumbled for the
holstered side-arm, as he stared wide-eyed at the Coyote.
The Coyote’s friend, a Weasel, was on the wrong side of
him, and as he struggled to lift his bat again, his eyes
caught those of the Collie; there was nothing there but a
drunken rage, and for a moment, the Coyote thought their
counter-revolution was over before it had started….. then,
just as the Collie’s weapon cleared leather, something came
down from behind him, colliding with his skull.
Estelle blinked at the form of the elderly Bear, revealed
as the Coyote’s form crumpled. A now rather bent fire
poker in his hand….. "Mr. Waverly?…." The Bear nodded;
"saw the whole thing from the front porch. I always
thought these Reds were no good….. And I thought you’d
need some help. Now come on, I’ve just tilled up the
garden; the soil is nice and loose, and that’d be a REAL
good place to plant these three." Turning, he growled;
"Henrietta! Get the garden hose! We’ve got some stains
here on the front walk that need to be washed off before
Estelle sipped the chamomile tea and shook her head; "you
SAW my parents being arrested?" The Bear nodded; "Yeah.
They….. they loaded them into a troop carrier and drove
off. I’d bet they’re half way to the nearest labor
battalion by now." Henrietta moved closer and laid a paw
on the Squirrel’s hand, more than covering it; "Dear, stay
with us until we can figure out what to do; our children
are all grown and gone, and we have plenty of room." The
Bear grunted; "and secrets to keep." Turning he looked at
the Coyote as he examined the action of one of the Red’s
assault rifles; "you plannin’ on usin’ that, Son?" The
Coyote looked up; "Sir, I’m afraid that if all the Reds are
like those three, I’m going to have to." The Bear nodded;
"Did a turn in the Civil Guard when I was young. Here, let
me show you how it works…."
It really was almost a game. It was simple to use a word
processor at school to work up a leaflet talking about some
of the atrocities the Reds had committed since they’d
arrived. Everyone at school seemed to know about Bethany,
but there were a lot of others that didn’t. And there were
a bunch of things that the kids at school hadn’t heard
about yet. In the end they had to whittle it down to just
a half a dozen incidents. And embellishment wasn’t even
necessary. The plain truth was bad enough. A few artistic
touches made them look just like an official Reds
propaganda leaflet, and the school’s laser printer and
photocopier allowed hundreds to be printed. Then the fun
Sammy chuckled as he sidled up to the worker in the reds
armband. The Fox was standing on the street corner,
handing out leaflets to each passer-by. He had a stack in
his hands, and a pile by his feet. While Helen distracted
him, batting her eyelashes at him, and coyly asking
question after question, Sammy took his own notices, and
interleaved them through the fox’s stack. Now about every
sixth leaflet the fox would hand out would be the truth,
instead of Reds propaganda. It was SO cool to pull one
over on them like that!
Sharapiri grumbled as the Fox handed him a leaflet, shoving
it automatically into the pocket of his overcoat. Boarding
his omnibus, he grabbed a hand-hold and watched out the
window as he started his long trip home. He’d learned not
to throw the flyers away, or to just refuse one; it helped
get through a check-point if the political types saw you
reading one of their flyers. Pure bullshit, but you did
what you had to. Thinking it might be prudent to take a
look at the flyer, just in case he was questioned about the
latest word from their "liberators", he pulled the crumpled
piece of paper from his pocket and tried to read. Slowly
his eyes went WIDE, his mouth falling open. A Lynx,
standing next to him, turned at the muttered; "now this I
can believe," to read over his shoulder. As he finished
reading, he looked at the Lynx and silently handed it to
him. Suddenly he did NOT want to be caught with something
like that. The Lynx took it, and read with intense
concentration, handing it on to another when he finished.
Slowly the truth made its way around the bus.
Nest stormed back and forth in front of his assistants, one
of the dummy flyers clutched in one hand. "I don’t care
HOW it happ… No, that’s not true; I very much want to find
out EXACTLY how it happened. We have to find the counter-
revolutionaries responsible for this and stop them
Immediately. AND YOU, Comrade Schenk! They wouldn’t be
able to SAY such thinks like this, if you and your troops
had behaved responsibly to begin with! You WILL institute
tighter control of your troops, OR I WILL!
Schenk closed the door to his "office" and walked around
behind his desk. Pulling open a drawer, he pulled out a
bottle of expensive brandy, recently liberated, and poured
himself a tall one. With a sigh he shook his head; that
damned commisar was going to ruin his good thing. For a
moment he wondered if perhaps he could arrange an
"incident", the untimely death of the S.O.B. Then he
sighed and shook his head; Headquarters would just send
another Commisar, and the next one might be worse. Sitting
down, propping his feet on his desk, he wondered what
measures he could take to make sure nothing embarrassing
like this happened again. Maybe he could shoot some peons…
that always seemed to halt things like this, didn’t it?
Harvey looked over the latest copy. It was incredible.
They even had photos. The Reds had collected 30 furrs at
random, and stood them against a wall, shooting them for
the leaflet escapade. One of the females had been
pregnant. It had rocked the whole city, spreading like
wildfire, by word of mouth; but with each re-telling,
things had gotten distorted. Now it was time to set the
story straight. A friend who’s sister was a Reds
collaborator, and dyed-in-the-wool party member, had
mentioned that they were going to change the color of the
leaflets every day, and that tomorrow’s color was the most
bilious green…. Now he had the school’s photocopier
running overtime as he turned out a thousand new copies……
Sammy looked from the leaflet to their own "Copy". The
color wasn’t perfect, but it was probably a close enough
match. Nodding to Helen, he prepared to slip his copies
into the stack…..
The Fox couldn’t get his eyes off the Ermine’s chest; she
certainly did have a "rack!" When the young Weasel tripped
over his stack of leaflets he barely noticed; the kid
apologized profusely and instantly got to scooping them all
back up, working fast to re-establish the nice neat stack.
Which was good, as it allowed the Fox more time to ogle the
beautiful young thing who seemed SO confused with the
smallest details of the Red’s philosophy; why, he’d
explained that point three times already, but she just
didn’t seem to get it…. If she was that empty headed, the
fox wondered, perhaps he could find a way to get into those
incredibly tight pants she was wearing…..
Mariku walked up to the Fox, and took the proffered flyer.
Turning towards the Headquarters building he almost lost
the take-out he was carrying back for his comrades, as he
looked at the flyer he’d just been handed! They’d done it
again! Looking up, he found a pair of off-duty troopers
and growled; "you two! Arrest that Fox!"
Nest looked at the thoroughly cowed Fox; "And you say this
child kicked over your stack of papers? That must have
been when they added their own leaflets. Typical of our
enemies to be using children for such a vile task! Still,
you should have been more vigilant!" Turning to the guards
he growled "Take him to a labor battalion. A HEAVY labor
"But it wasn’t his fault!" The old fox was panting,
somewhat out of breath, but the political officer behind
the desk wasn’t buying any of it; "He should have been more
alert! HIS was the responsibility!" The old fox shook his
head; "My family have supported the Reds from the very
beginning! We have sacrificed to make contributions, we
have done volunteer work, we are even housing your troops
in our home! Feeding them! Can’t you have SOME mercy on
him?" The political officer shook his head; "Comrade, you
should know better! He has betrayed the trust of the
People and MUST be dealt with! An example must be made!
Now go home and quit bothering me; I have work to do!"
Passers-by watched curiously as the old fox stood outside
Reds headquarters and with tears in his eyes, ripped to
shreds the armband he’d been wearing……
Roland watched the small crowd in front of the closed
building carefully. It looked like just a bunch of kids…
Sitting there on the steps of the closed ice cream place,
they looked so innocent. You’d never know they were the
core of the counterrevolutionary movement. The ex-Imperial
marine brushed a lock of blond hair out of his eyes, and
shoving his hands deeper into his pockets, strolled calmly
across the street.
Estelle nudged Iggy and nodded towards the Badger moving
across the street towards them. His clothes were non-
descript, middle class, and perhaps just a little frayed;
perhaps it was the way he carried himself that set off
alarm bells in the back of her mind. Too much like the
Elysium soldiers….. Iggy nodded and nudged the coyote, who
turned to look. Gradually tension ripped through the small
Roland nodded to himself and smiled; they’d picked up on
him early, and looked like they were about ready to
scatter. The Coyote boy had his hands on something
partially hidden; probably something innocuous for a kid,
but potentially lethal. Pausing just shy of the group he
looked left and then right up the street, just for effect;
he’d canvassed the area earlier and knew this area wasn’t
under anything but the most casual observation. Turning
back to the group he gave them his most winning smile;
"Just wanted you kids to know that the Blues, and the
Brethren appreciate what you’re trying to do. And to let
you know that you’re not alone. Little resistance cells
like yours are springing up all over the Reds’ newly
obtained territory. Everywhere they’re heavy-handed.
However, its probably not prudent to contact any of the
cells in nearby towns…. Not yet. Anyways, just wanted to
tell you we’re watching, and to keep up the good work!"
With an off-handed salute, he turned and quietly started to
amble down the street….
Iggy’s jaw dropped as he listened to the Badger. Could
this be some sort of a trap? Could he be some sort of spy
trying to infiltrate their group? Inclining his head at
the Coyote, the squirrel rose, as if to follow the Badger.
Ellie’s hand on his arm stopped him; "Don’t. Don’t react
at all. If they’re watching that’ll just confirm their
suspicions. Let him go." Turning to look at Harvey, Ellie
smiled; "after all, we DO have ways to check him out…"
Harvey shook his head as Ellie leaned over the computer
screen. The house they were in was deserted, the computer
running off of an APU. The phone shouldn’t have been
working, but was, thanks to a friend in the utilities
department. They’d tapped into the net, and were slowly
sifting through records for the Badger. Unfortunately
there were a lot of Badgers. One of the kids had seen him
enter an apartment building that was now leasing rooms at
exorbitant prices to "refugees", and from that they’d
managed to get a name. Except it probably wasn’t his right
name. With a sigh, Harvey tried yet another search string.
Ellie watched through the darkened window. Night had
fallen, and Harvey was now working from under a blanket as
he sought to hide the monitor’s glow. It was becoming
dangerous to stay in one place for so long, but this
neighborhood was sympathetic. Soon, she’d have to pull the
plug on Harvey.
The soft beep of the computer as it shut down pulled Ellie
from her reverie. She turned and saw Harvey floundering,
trying to get the blanket off from over his head. The grin
on his face was clear, even in the dark. "Find something?"
Harvey chuckled; "yeah. If he’s a plant, its brilliant. I
finally found him in the Red’s own database, under "wanted
war criminals". It seems our mysterious friend may really
be with the Blues, or the Brethren. Or maybe, just maybe a
brilliant plant by the Reds. No way to tell."
Iggy shook his head, as he looked from face to face; "and
you want to TRUST this guy?" Ellie smiled; "Trust? No.
Use? Yes. If the file is correct, this guy has useable
military experience. And we need guidance, if we’re ever
to be more than just a thorn in the Reds’ side." The
Coyote stroked one paw along the length of his bat and
shook his head; "I dunno; it sounds AWFUL thin; why would a
Brethren Forward Air Controller, working with the Blues
call in a strike on the Reds? It seems like that’d be just
asking for a "second front." Ellie shrugged; "that we’d
have to ask him. That and what he’s doing here, anyways."
Estelle grinned; "There’s one way we CAN get him to prove
himself." Ellie sighed; she knew just what her friend was
getting at, knew how the arrest of her family and their
almost-rape had affected her…." Iggy looked blankly at the
squirrel; "and how’s that?" Estelle grinned a little
wider; "He’d have to kill some Reds for us. Not just a
few, to "prove" himself; I think the Reds would gladly
sacrifice a few of their own to stop us… No, he’d have to
kill a LOT of Reds…."
Roland watched the kid approach. "Paper, Mister?" The
Badger looked the kid up and down and then shook his head
no. The kid grinned; "Sure you do, Mister; got all the
latest war news, front lines AND home front. Here, take
one for free, and if you like it, you can pay me later!"
It was the kid’s wink that convinced him to take the
Sammy watched from the front stoop of an apartment building
almost a full block away. The Badger had taken the paper
and had sat down on a bench at the bus stop. The busses
weren’t running anymore, another of the Reds’
"Improvements", but he sat there anyways, as if waiting for
one, slowly reading each page of the paper…..
Roland found the note taped to the third page almost
immediately, but after reading it, had ignored it, to
finish the paper. The note directed him to come to a
certain place at a certain time. Not in the middle of the
night as he’d expected, but a time closer to what was left
of "rush hour". He smiled to himself; it might be more
difficult to pick out anyone tailing him then, but the
opportunities for escaping into the crowd were much greater
for this enterprising little resistance group. Finishing
the obituaries, he folded the paper and rose, to walk on
down the street as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
Ellie watched the Badger approach. The alley way was
mostly out of sight from the street, but had four separate
outlets; many more if you counted egress through the
buildings that lined it. She sat on the back stoop of a
restaurant, peeling potatoes, as if she were lowly kitchen
help. As if she belonged there. Roland stopped about a
body-length away, and just looked at her; she was a good
looking girl, even if a bit young for his tastes; give her
a few years, and he’d probably have to fight other suitors
off with a stick to get any time with her. Looking around
he made sure he was in the right place. Hands in pockets,
he just watched her work, waiting patiently.
Ellie finished her potato, placing it carefully in the
basket, before picking up another one. Without looking at
him, she started talking. "Your name is Roland, and you
were in the Imperial Marines. Powered armor expert.
Wrapped up in some sort of black market activity, and
convicted, although it looks like a set-up even to me.
Escaped from the penal colony you’d been sent to, probably
with outside help. Drifted for several years and then
wound up with the Brethren. Typical Mercenary. Now the
Reds are after you for calling in orbit-to-surface fire on
their position. They say you’re a war criminal, and have a
considerable bounty on your head." Finishing another
potato, she placed it in the basket and picked up another.
"Times are hard, and they’re offering a small fortune for
your head. We could all do quite well, if we were to turn
you in. So why shouldn’t we?" Roland smiled, impressed; "
that’s very good considering how flaky the net is under the
Reds; you must really have a good computer hot-shot in your
group. My turn. Ellie Parsons, a Senior at the local…
what do they call secondary education here? It’d be a
Gymnasium where I’m from. Fairly well placed in your
class, but not exceptional. No significant extra-
curricular activities, unless you count political
activities. Thought to be a Reds sympathizer, but then
about the time the Reds used local talent for a rather
abortive and wasteful attack on Elysium forces, the same
night the furr believed to be your boyfriend died, you
seemed to "withdraw" from the local political arena. No
longer outspoken. Very quiet, almost withdrawn. Unless
you happen to have access to satellite reconnaissance,
which on a few occasions shows your activities quite
clearly. The facial markings of a Badger are quite
distinctive; believe me, I know."
Ellie frowned; they’d never considered satellites! Looking
up, she scowled; "I didn’t think anyone’s satellite stayed
in orbit very long these days…." Roland just shrugged;
"True, they don’t But that doesn’t mean that both sides
don’t keep trying." Leaning closer, he smiled; "The Blues
have picked up some intelligence that the Reds may be
jockeying for prominence after the fall of the Elysium
government. Now, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have
their hands full trying to win the war. It doesn’t mean
that they’re not watching, though." Ellie picked up
another potato; "so where do YOU fit into all this? If the
Reds want you so badly, what are you doing here?" Roland
shrugged; "I was with a Blues mechanized unit, powered
armor; we were WAY ahead of the main body of troops,
pursuing fleeing Elysium forces." The Badger grinned;
"Just like the old-time cavalry. The idea was to keep the
pressure up, and to try and hold the flanks with aerospace
firepower. It kinda worked. Problem is, someone turned
the signposts, and by the time I checked my inertial
positioning system, I was way off one flank. Then the
Elysium forces blew a bridge I’d crossed earlier that day,
and I found myself stuck on the wrong side of a river. My
escort were all in lighter suits; they didn’t need the
communications gear I did; as a result all their suits were
equipped with jump jets. I sent them back, while I tried
to find a good crossing point." At this point the Badger
looked down; "I’d, ah… taken some damage in a skirmish I
should have hung back from, and let the Mobile Infantry
deal with…. My suit wasn’t airtight anymore, you see…. I
was still trying to solve that problem, to rejoin the unit
I was supposed to be with, when the Reds swept through the
area. By chance, I happened to see them round up the local
"collaborators". And execute them. And their families."
Looking down, Roland sighed; "it was more than I could
take, and before I quite knew what I was doing, I was on
the radio, calling in fire on the killing field." He
looked up and grinned; "that’s the neat thing about fire
from Orbit. I may have been on the wrong side of the
river, dozens of kilometers from where I should have been,
but to the Cruiser in orbit, it was no difference at all."
Looking off down the alleyway, the Badger continued;
"unfortunately, it wasn’t a completely secure channel; we
WERE supposed to be coordinating with the Reds, and it
didn’t take ‘em long to figure out what’d happened to their
troops. And powered armor’s just a bit large to hide. I
ditched my suit, and I’ve been on the run ever since,
trying to find a way back to the Blues lines. And it
hasn’t been easy."
Ellie worked at keeping the peel as long as possible as she
turned the potato; "so why haven’t your friends in Orbit
rescued you?" Roland chuckled; "Oh, they’re kinda pissed
at me for causing friction with the Reds. That and the
fact that I’ve lost my suit. Those things are EXPENSIVE.
However, I’ve still got my radio and can send them little
tidbits of information. In fact, it was their idea that I
contact you. They seem to think that you might help me
"escape", and that in the process, I might just teach you a
little bit of the fine art of mayhem….. Ellie nodded
slowly; "that may be true, but don’t you think it would be
dangerous for us to trust you?" The Badger laughed; "of
course, and I’m glad you’re smart enough to see it. No, by
all means DON’T trust me. And I won’t trust you either.
Until I have to." Ellie put down the potato, but held onto
the paring knife; "so where do we go from here?" The
Badger grinned; "there are several things you have to do in
guerilla warfare; the first is to make sure you have the
sympathy of the people." The Badger grimaced: "With the
Reds, that shouldn’t be too hard. Your leaflet campaign is
a good idea, but its getting risky; you need to change
tactics. Personally, I’ve always liked graffiti….. Oh,
and you need to learn to obtain all your supplies from the
enemy. Here are some things you might try….
Sammy grinned; he loved to spraypaint slogans on the walls,
and he’d developed his own very distinctive "tag." The
thought that he could do this with the approval of his
friends only made it all the better. Shaking the can of
gold spray paint, he contemplated which of the slogans to
Harvey swallowed as the Coyote looked over his friends.
Well, not exactly friends; more like acquaintances; still,
he’d known them both since grade school, and was reasonably
confident that they wouldn’t rat on them. Suppressing a
giggle, he looked at Phil, who WAS a rat, and shook his
head. The Coyote looked from the Rat to the Tiger and back
to Harvey; "so you want to fight the Reds, eh? Tell me
why." The Rat shrugged; "my old man’s been drafted into
the Reds Labor Corps; they’ve taken over his bakery, and
are forcing him to work a double shift. Not even paying
him! And they’re hauling all the bread off to feed
themselves, not even letting him take a loaf home for us.
Man, we’re Starving! Gotta do something to stop this!"
The Tiger nodded; "saw my sister get hauled off to a manual
labor battalion, just because she was a teacher. She
taught second grade. How in the heck can THAT be
political; still, her paycheck came from the government and
that made her a "collaborator"." The Coyote nodded; "we’ll
check on both your stories. For the meantime, there are
tasks that need doing, little things that’ll let us build
confidence in each other." Looking at the Rat, he smiled
"I want you to get down to the intersection of Fifth, and
main. That’s right near the Reds’ headquarters. I want
you to keep an eye out. Take notes as to what official
vehicles pass. What furrs go in and out. If they’re in
uniform, get the rank, and description. Write down
anything unusual you might see. Your cover story is up to
you." Turning to the Tiger, the Coyote grinned; "you do
the same, with the Police station on Briarcliff. Both of
you report back here, day after tomorrow. And be careful!"
Nest looked at the wall and shook his head; how could these
furrs THINK that about the Reds? Didn’t they realize they
were their liberators? With a sigh he waved his hand, and
stepped out of the way. The Bulldozer moved forwards,
demolishing the wall. The fact that it was a load-bearing
wall, and as the dozer moved out of the way, the whole
building sagged, and then slowly collapsed wasn’t his
fault. The owner of the building should have prevented
Haverty watched as his livelyhood crumpled. HE hadn’t
painted the graffiti on the wall. In fact, he’d been as
outraged as anyone. Now, the Reds had destroyed his
furniture store. They hadn’t even let him extract his
inventory first! He was ruined!
Sammy winced as Old Man Haverty’s furniture store was
demolished. Everywhere he, and the others, had painted
anti-Reds graffiti, the Reds were destroying the structure.
He hadn’t meant to hurt folks like that. But as he
watched, a plan slowly formed in his mind… what if he were
to spraypaint the Main Street bridge? Would they blow that
up? How about the side of their own barracks, or
warehouses? HOW ABOUT THE SIDE OF REDS HEADQUARTERS
ITSELF? Grinning to himself, he strode over, to tell
Haverty how sorry he was this had happened (without of
course mentioning that he had started it all), snuck in a
line about those Rotten Reds, and then turned, to dash off,
to find Ellie, or the Coyote….
Roland grinned; "OK, watch what I do, and how I do it.
Later, you’ll get your chance." The new recruits nodded
nervously, and watched from behind the hedge as the Badger
unzipped his jacket and stepped out onto the sidewalk. The
"patrol", two Reds troopers were walking slowly down the
street. Occasionally a small bottle would pass between
them. Their small group had been tailing them for fully a
third of their shift, making sure there wasn’t any backup
in the area. Waiting for the contents of the flask to take
effect…. Roland walked down the street towards, them, and
as expected, with slurred speech, they demanded him to
halt, and to produce his papers. The forgeries were only
so-so, but these two were either too far gone, or too
careless to spot the inadequacies. With a grunt, the
Bobcat shoved his papers back at Roland, laughing as the
Badger fumbled them, letting them flutter to the ground.
Turning, the two soldiers resumed their stroll. Roland
watched until their backs were turned, and then quietly
pulled his combat knife from behind his back. Moving up
behind the Bear, he grabbed an ear, turning his head to
one side, pulling it back… His knife flashed silver, and
the Bear’s jugular spurted crimson. The Bobcat barely got
out a "Wha’? Before the knife found his throat, the Badger
stabbing it straight in. The Bobcat floundered for a
minute, the throat wound burbling nastily until the Badger
finished him. Looking around, Roland confirmed that no one
had seen, and waved to the kids behind the bushes.
"But why do we have to hide the bodies? Wouldn’t it be
better to prop them up somewhere where they’d be found?"
Roland looked at the Rat and sighed; "Yeah, and think of
the reprisals. Think how hard it’d be for us to do this
again tomorrow night. No, if we make it look as if these
two simply deserted, the Reds will, if anything, come down
harder on their own troops, not the civilian populace. And
as the number of "desertions" climbs, that’ll have its own
effect on the Reds’ morale." The Rat grinned and nodded;
"And we get to collect more weapons in the process." He
fingered the grenade launcher he’d taken from the Fox he’d
killed earlier and grinned.
The Coyote looked at Sammy and winced; "Kid, do you realize
that when they arrest you, they’ll go and arrest your
family too? ALL of ‘em? They’re as likely to stand them
up against a wall and shoot ‘em as they are you! Sammy
shook his head; "Yeah, but if you guys are ready to rescue
us, they won’t be able to DO that! My old man’s
complaining constantly about how the Reds are workin’ him
to death at the bakery, and Mom’s constantly being badgered
at the Hospital where she works! If we all have to go
underground afterwards, I don’t see it as any great loss!"
Ellie sighed and shook her head; "Sammy, I know you’re
dedicated to the cause, but I think this one’s just a
little beyond us, just yet. Please, play it safe; just put
graffiti on abandoned buildings. Its not as if we don’t
have enough of them now. Oh, and the Bridge idea is cool,
but I’d start with the Highway bridges first. They might
be watching the river bridge." With a sigh, Sammy just
Sammy grinned; he’d had a good night. The Cummins Road
bridge across the turnpike had been "Tagged", as had been
the granary which held most of the wheat and corn the Reds
were "collecting" from the surrounding farms. He’d love to
see them knock THAT down. Now he was working on the side
of the BC&T Bank; the one that everyone walking to work at
the Reds headquarters building would have to pass. BC&T
was run, locally, by a furr who was a major Reds
sympathizer, and his bank had been working hand in glove
with the Reds, seizing accounts of "collaborators"…. As he
added his distinctive "tag" to the graffiti, he failed to
notice the furrs moving up behind him.
"GOTCHA!" Sammy yelped as a hand closed on the collar of
his jacket; shrugging out of it, he tried to wriggle free,
but a Wolfhound in a Reds Militia uniform grabbed him: "Oh,
no you don’t! You’re not getting away from US, Kid!
Catching you is gonna be worth a week-long pass for us!"
Iggy panted as he ran up to Ellie, Estelle, and the Coyote;
"They’ve got Sammy! We’ve got to get out of here; you KNOW
he’s gonna talk soon!" The Coyote nodded, but Estelle
growled "NO. We can’t let them keep him." Looking up at
Ellie, Estelle grimmaced; "you know the back-up plan,
should any of us ever get caught. Do you want to do it, or
shall I? Ellie sighed; "No. It was my idea. I’ll do it."
Turning to look at the Coyote she sighed; "Make sure
everyone gets to the safe houses. He may still talk before
we can get to him. Oh, and find that Roland character.
Tell him we’ll need him later if I’m successful." The
Coyote shook his head, but turned to obey.
Sammy looked wide-eyed at the Rabbit; "Honest mister, I
don’t KNOW who they were! They just gave me the cans of
paint and said they’d pay me ten credits for each wall I
painted! My family’s in a bad way, we need the money to
eat!" Nest sighed and jestured to the Bear; "You know what
to do. I want answers." The Bear blinked, and looked down
at Sammy; "But Commissar, he’s just a Kid!" Nest turned
and stared at the Bear for a second; "He is an Enemy of the
People, and as such deserves no mercy. Get me my answers!"
The door closed behind him with a hollow boom.
Iggy panted as he came up behind the Coyote; "I was too
late. The Reds got there first. Sammy’s whole family have
been arrested." The Coyote worked the action on his
assault rifle and nodded; "well, we’ll just have to get
them out too."
It was a dangerous place to be, after dark, especially for
a good looking female. Most of the townsfolk avoided it
like the plague. Ellie tugged nervously at the hem of her
short skirt, hefted the grocery bag, and with all the
bravery she could muster, strode forwards, towards the Reds
Militia barracks area…..
"Hey Freddie, will you look at this? Here comes a choice
piece!" Freddy chuckled; "Yeah… looks like our night’s
work is gonna be REAL easy. Hey Moe, do you think Schenk
will share this one with us when he gets done?" Ellie
didn’t have to fake a gasp as the two Reds Militiamen
circled her; she clutched the shopping bag as if it were a
shield. With a chuckle the Wolverine looked at his
companion and shrugged; "Dunno. But she should do for
tonight’s "entertainment"…." Grabbing the Badger girl
around the waist, the Wolverine threw her over his
shoulder, flipping up her skirt with one hand. His partner
pawed through the dropped bag of groceries, looking for
anything nice, and then turned to hurry after his partner.
Things had gone pretty much as per the stories Ellie had
been told. The Reds had delivered her to their commander,
Schenk, who was half drunk. The Wolf had alternated taking
swigs from his bottle and pawing her, literally ripping the
clothes from her body. Ellie cowered, but put up no real
resistance, which seemed to please the Wolf. Finally, with
all the finesse of an animal in heat, he’d thrown her down
on his bed and raped her.
Ellie shifted slightly and checked the clock; it was about
time. Next to her, in the rumpled bedclothes, the Wolf
snored softly. He’d taken her a second time, pounding his
cock into her, and then howling as he came, his knot tying
her most painfully. After a while, he’d managed to pull
free, and had fallen back on the bed, into a drunken
slumber. As quietly as she could, Ellie rose, to search
his room. With a grin, she found a fighting knife, its
edge razor-keen. At least the Wolf could sharpen a knife
right…. Padding nude back to the bed, she looked down at
him for a moment. Softly she whispered; "You have
confirmed everything I feared was true about the Reds. It
will be a delight to make you pay for your crimes….
Schenk awoke to blinding pain, his paws moving to his
throat. They found warm pulsing wetness…. Struggling to
sit up, he found it hard to breath and a burbling sound
filled his ears. The Badger girl stood a few steps back
from the bed, and in the dim light he saw her holding his
knife. Fear and rage warred within him, and he tried to
rise to his feet, only to find he didn’t have the strength.
As Darkness closed over him, he saw her grinning at him….
Ellie put the knife down carefully, and then turned to
search the room. There were keys, papers, maps, and of all
things, a diary. All of this she carefully sorted for
size, and loaded into a fanny-pack she found. Padding back
to the Wolf’s corpse, she worked her hands through the pool
of blood on the bed, transferring as much as she could to
her own crotch and thighs. Then, wrapping herself in the
remains of her outfit, she opened the door and slipped
Moe looked up sleepily from his guard post outside the
Commander’s door as the sobbing girl slipped out. He was
tempted to stop her, to have his way with her, but she
looked as if the Commander had worked her over bad. Her
torn skirt did little to cover her, and it was obvious she
was bleeding. Wincing, he decided he didn’t want sloppy
seconds, at least not when they were THAT sloppy. With a
yawn he crossed his arms over his chest, leaned his chair
back against the wall, and closed his eyes….
Iggy’s jaw dropped when he saw Ellie flee the Reds’
Barracks area, running towards the darkness. She looked a
wreck, and his paws tightened around his assault rifle.
Slipping back, he moved to follow her, to cover her, just
in case one of the Reds decided to try and stop the fleeing
Roland’s eyes widened in surprise as the tattered and
bleeding girl entered the safe house. As the Coyote
started to speak, the Badger girl tossed him a heavy ring
of keys; "Oh, calm down; its not MY blood." Iggy grinned;
"She says Schenk’s dead." Estelle grinned; "one down, and
a shitload left to go." The Coyote nodded; "Well, its
obvious there are going to be reprisals in the morning. I
guess it won’t hurt if we go add to the list of
grievances." Ellie nodded as she pulled on a pair of
overalls; "True. And every minute we waste is a minute
they could be doing God-knows-what to Sammy." Picking up a
weapon, the Badger girl turned and headed for the safe-
Roland shook his head in amazement as he followed; "That
girl sure is something!" Next to him, Iggy looked up, and
then snarled; "Paws off, buster; she’s MINE!" Roland
blinked at the Chipmunk, but then grinned; "I’ll give you
first crack, but if she turns you down, its MY turn to go
The police station had a number of entrances and exits.
And all were guarded. But the Reds Militia guarding those
exits, in the wee hours of the morning, were not expecting
a determined assault. When the police van backed up to the
garage loading dock, the furrs on duty there were expecting
their own folks to be delivering a load of counter-
revolutionaries, or collaborators, or maybe just vagrants.
When the back doors swung open to reveal a heavy weapons
crew, they died without getting a shot off. The armored
back door was made to be closed remotely if something like
this happened, and its armor was thick. However, the
tripod-mounted plasma gun found that the concrete block
wall to one side was not as heavily armored as the door,
and in rapid order an alternative way into the building was
Iggy smiled and depressed the key on the police radio.
"No, Sigma Seven, we have the situation completely under
control. Yeah, I know, Harmon’s not on the radio, they’ve
had a transmitter failure. I’m running dispatch out of the
command vehicle." "Dispatch to Epsilon Three; check out
the report of graffiti being painted at 27th and Capitol
streets." "Dispatch to all Gamma units; Backup needed at
Calaway Road and Highway 17. Officer down!" Grinning the
Chipmunk directed all the Reds patrols to places that would
be disadvantageous should they ever figure out just what
WAS going on.
Roland watched with a smile on his face; he’d described
just how to take a building to these kids, and they were
fast learners. Ignoring doorways, they were using
demolition charges to go through walls instead. In one
instance, they had caught a number of defenders crouched
against the wall, watching the doorway, when the charge
went off directly opposite them. Working rapidly, the
rebels moved through the station, their weapons silencing
"I FOUND HIM!" Ellie moved towards the voice, her weapon
at the ready. In a small, rather plain room, three of her
friends stood, just inside the doorway, staring. Sammy, or
what was left of him, was tied to a chair. Against the far
wall, a rather large and overweight bear had taken quite a
few rounds, to the point where the wall had partially
collapsed over what was left of him. Moving closer, Ellie
looked at the Kid; "Sammy?" His head moved fractionally;
"Ellie? Is that you? Didn’t tell ‘em…. Didn’t tell ‘em
anything……" Straightening, she gestured; "Get him on a
stretcher; we can at least get him out of here…..
The withdrawal was made in police vehicles. The
overcrowded jail cells had been emptied, the fugitives told
which ways out of the city were safest. Roland, and some
of the others had planted boobytraps, rigging the whole
building to explode when returning Reds Militia tried to
enter it to investigate. As they headed out into the
countryside, Roland grinned over at the Coyote and Ellie:
"so, you guys ready to help me try and get back to the
blues lines, yet?
The Tiger looked down at the mess on the bed and shook his
head; turning to the Commissar, he sighed; "You have to
admit, Comrade Nest, that he got what he deserved. His
reputation for female "conquests" is widespread,….. and
his reputation for "compelling" the less than willing
ladies to join him in bed is undeniable. He was scum,
undeserving of his position, and you can’t really blame the
girl for what happened…." "Oh, I agree, Comrade," the
Rabbit muttered: "Still, we cannot have the people taking
the law into their own hands. Any hint of counter-
revolution must be surpressed, and for whatever the reason,
she DID kill the commander of the 337th Militia." Looking
up at the Tiger, Nest sighed; "I want her found, and I want
her tried, and I want her executed for her crime. Oh, and
you’d best round up hostages to make sure there are no more
such "counter-revolutionary" attacks. The Tiger took
another look at the body and straightened; "Comrade Nest,
the girl was reported to have been a teen; probably one of
the local secondary school students. Surely she was not
committing an act against the Reds, and our glorious
revolution, but merely seeking to escape a rapist! I
cannot abide the taking of hostages in retaliation for such
an act! Sir, I do not make war on Civilians, or on
Children!" Nest looked at the Tiger for a moment and then
drew his side-arm. The Tiger’s face reflected a look of
surprise, more than anything, as the Rabbit shot him at
point blank range. The sound of the shot, and the thud of
the Tiger’s body hitting the floor drew a number of Reds
Militia furrs from the corridor. As he holstered his
pistol, Nest looked at the Adjutant; "Your Executive
Officer seems to have had a problem obeying orders, and has
paid the price. Are YOU going to have a problem following
my orders?" The Coyote looked at the body of his comrade
and swallowed hard. For a fleeting instant he wondered
what had ever happened to courts martial? But then he tore
his eyes away and nodded to the Rabbit; "Yessir, I’ll
"I know, I know, I should have stolen one with a full fuel
cell; in the panic of the moment, I just didn’t notice!
I’m sorry!" The Coyote looked at Iggy and just sighed.
Roland chuckled and shrugged; "well, I suppose its just as
well; we should hide these vehicles and move into the woods
anyways. They’re just too easy to spot, and way too easy
to target." Ellie nodded; "I still want to bring Sammy.
He deserves a proper funeral." Looking up the young Badger
looked at their small party of refugees; Sammy’s parents,
her family, the Waverlys, the families of the other kids,
and nodded; "OK, lets get moving. Roland, you wanted to
get back to the Blues lines; which way do we go?" The
older Badger looked at a palm sized display for a moment,
and then up at the tree line; "That way; its not the
shortest, but given the hills, it’ll be the easiest for
this group." With the Coyote and a few of his friends
forming a rear-guard, the party headed into the woods.
Ellie’s heart was pounding; there were a number of furrs in
the little valley; but it was dark; they didn’t have a fire
going, and she couldn’t tell who they were. Were they
Reds? A patrol? Could they be bandits? Refugees? Other
Rebels, fighting against the Reds? She didn’t know.
Turning to look at her friends, she shrugged eloquently.
"Its ok, I’ll go check ‘em out" Estelle whispered. Before
Ellie could stop her, the squirrel had risen and was
walking carefully through the dark towards the group below.
Barrow tensed; he didn’t have anything more dangerous than
a stick, but he gripped that in both paws as he watched the
figure approach. Somehow the words for a more proper
challenge escaped him, and he yelped out; "Who’s THERE?"
Estelle smiled, and ambled forward, hands in the pockets of
her too-big bib overalls. She’d chosen her outfit
carefully, before they’d left; the pockets had been cut
out, allowing her to hold a pistol in each hand; the cut of
the cloth more than adequate to conceal their bulk. It
looked as if she were just another kid into the "grunge"
look.. until she pulled her hands out of her pockets.
Stopping a few feet away she looked over the small group.
Grandparents and infants, and a few middle aged folks. The
kind the Reds wouldn’t want for a labor battalion.
Grinning she shrugged; "Oh, I’m just a refugee; someone
tryin’ to get away from the Reds and their "worker’s
paradise"…. Who You?"
Barrow relaxed a little, but peered into the dark behind
her; "We’re….. just some folks trying to make our way home.
Nothing more." Estelle nodded; "and where’s that?" Barrow
frowned a little; "Uh.. other side of the River." Nodding,
the squirrel smiled; "That’s where we’re headed too…."
Barrow’s frown deepend; "We?"
Barrow shook his head and grinned; "and you shot up the
police station? Gee, I wish I’d been there to see that.
The Reds over in Johnstonville had a pretty heavy hand,
heavy to the point where no one dared strike back. There
was always some poor soul hanging from a gibbet in the town
square." The coyote leaned on his assault rifle and
grinned, his teeth white in the dark; "well, we had a good
leader; sometimes that’s all it takes." Ellie found
herself looking at the Coyote, who returned her gaze and
smiled. Blushing she looked away. The size of their party
had just doubled; she couldn’t very well abandon these
people here, but traveling with them, helping the old folks
and the children… that was going to make their trek all the
The river was narrow, but running quite swiftly. The
bridge was on a minor highway, and arched high over the
rushing waters. And yet, even here, it was guarded. The
Reds had a small camp by the river, with a guard house and
a classic pole across the road. Ellie stared at them
through the electrobinoculars; they hadn’t had any traffic
in the day they’d been watching, and the guards looked
sleepy. They’d been arguing over what to do, how to handle
the situation. Some just wanted to rush them, and shoot
their way through. Roland, however, had spotted a radio,
and was concerned that the Reds might have other assets
nearby that could respond. Their food was running low,
however, and everyone was tired. This was it; they had to
get across the bridge, one way or another.
Pablo looked up as the first furr walked out of the forest.
Then another came into view, and then three more… soon
there seemed to be dozens of furrs headed his way.
Shouting for the Corporal, he stood his ground in front of
the barrier, his weapon carefully at port arms.
Ellie was helping old Mrs. Hoffowitz; the elderly Otter had
twisted her ankle and was having a hard time walking.
Pushing through the crowd, she moved up to the Marten
wearing the corporal’s stripes; after looking at him for a
moment she sighed; "Please sir, we’re refugees trying to
get home; won’t you please let us pass?"
Raul Mikasa looked from the old Otter lady to the young
Badger and shook his head; "I wish I could, Miss, but I’ve
got very strict orders; no one passes without the
appropriate papers…. Um.. you don’t HAVE the appropriate
papers, do you?" When the Badger girl shook her head no;
he shrugged; "Look, we’ve got food and water here; its
nothing fancy, but its adequate. Lets get you and your
party comfortable and I’ll radio to headquarters, and we’ll
see if we can’t get that sorted out….."
Ellie never knew how the shooting started; it might have
been when the Marten turned to call to his troops, or it
might have been someone who thought they saw someone
reaching for a weapon….. In the end it didn’t matter.
Mrs. Hoffowitz had a sling around her shoulders, a machine
pistol hanging down her back under her shawl; as she
dropped to the ground, Ellie snatched at it, and after a
moment’s hesitation, shot the wide-eyed Marten. The Cougar
next to him went down a second later. Amongst the smoke
and the noise, she saw Roland sprinting towards the small
camp, to toss a grenade into a log and sandbag bunker. The
effectiveness of his action was revealed a moment later
when the force of the explosion drove two furrs and the
machine gun they were trying to use out the back of the
bunker. And then it was quiet. No screams, no children
sobbing, just… quiet. Helping Mrs. Hoffowitz up, Ellie
Roland looked around and nodded. They seem to have killed
them all. Smashing the butt of his rifle through the
radio, he grabbed the first three youths he could find;
"Look around for anything heavy, and find me some rope."
The Coyote seemed to materialize at his elbow; "what do you
have in mind?" "I want to throw the bodies in the river,
suitably weighted down; by the time anyone figures out what
happened here, we should be long gone. In the meantime I
want it to look as if the squad here got orders and moved
out. Throw anything they might take with them in the
river. Lets get MOVING, people, We need to get OUT of
The countryside didn’t look any different. After crossing
a bridge they hadn’t seen a soul. They’d walked to dark,
munching on the rations they’d salvaged from the Reds camp.
Ellie found herself particularly haunted by the image of
the Marten as she’d shot him. He hadn’t seemed such a bad
guy…. If more of the Reds had been like him, she mused, she
might not have been in the situation she was in now….. As
they came to a tee in the road, she looked at Roland; the
older Badger consulted his gizmo and pointed to the left.
As the sun went down, they started looking for a place to
The truck caught them by surprise, overtaking them from the
rear. For a moment she thought Iggy was going to open fire
with his assault rifle, but somehow the Chipmunk caught
himself just in time. Slowly the truck coasted to a stop,
its flywheel drive whining. An old Goat looked out through
the driver’s side window at them for a moment, and then
called "I suspect you folks are looking for the Tochapee
refugee camp. Its only about a half dozen klicks from
here. Take the next left you come to, and then the next
right." Estelle looked at him for a moment and then
blinked; "Uh…. We ARE in Blues territory, aren’t we?" The
Goat nodded slowly, "yeah, sure are. You folks walk out of
Reds country?" When a half dozen furrs nodded, the Goat
shook his head; "From the stories ah bin hear’in, ah sure
am glad ah live on THIS side o’ the river. Tell you what.
Load your young’ens and old folks in the back and I’ll
drive ‘em to the camp. Tell the folks there you’re out
this way, headed in. Don’t know if they’ll be able to come
and get y’all, though."
Roland watched the truck depart in a cloud of dust. They
hadn’t gotten all the old folks on it, and the young ones
hadn’t wanted to leave the group; still, it was a relief.
Slinging his weapon, the Badger bent to pick up a little
Dingo girl, and settling her on his shoulders, turned to
follow the group. Tonight perhaps he’d be able to sleep
without one eye open.
Iggy smiled and settled onto the mess house step next to
Ellie; "I can’t believe they made us check our weapons."
Ellie raised an eyebrow, trying hard not to belch. The
food here wasn’t all that good, but there was plenty of it.
"Why’s that?" Iggy shrugged; "I expected ‘em to confiscate
them. The thought that when I leave here, I can reclaim a
military weapon is just … mind-staggering!" Ellie
chuckled; "One of the workers told me that the Blues
believe that the government should fear the people; that
when the people start fearing the government its time for
them to HAVE weapons like that. That it’s the people’s
legitimate right and duty to make sure the government is
just what they want." After a moment she chuckled "pretty
far from the Reds’ position of "we know what’s best for you
and will see that you get it," isn’t it?" Iggy just
nodded; "I saw the Waverlys leave; they’re headed to
Pearth, to live with their oldest daughter….." Ellie
nodded, without saying anything. After a moment, Iggy
turned to look at her; "so what are you going to do now?"
Ellie shrugged; "My parents want me to go with them; they
say that they can get me into a good university, probably
in Friesland. Somehow though, I can’t see settling down to
books at a time like this. And we never did hold the
graduation ceremonies at school. Not sure they’d take me."
Iggy nodded; "so what ARE you going to do?" Ellie
shrugged; "there was this Blues officer who talked to me
about going back. Going home. He said that the Blues
needed folks in Reds territory that could … "monitor" the
situation there." Iggy grinned "you mean, be a spy?"
Ellie shrugged again; "I have no desire to be a spy, Iggy.
But I would like to fight for the freedom of our people.
There’s no reason they should be treated like that….."
After a moment, the Chipmunk grinned; "Glad to hear you say
that; been thinking along the same lines myself. Estelle’s
been talking about trying to spring her folks from that
labor battalion, and I’ve been thinking about going with
her to help." Ellie grinned; "Of course, my parents are
going to be furious……"
Roland looked at the Badger girl and shook his head; "you
can’t be serious! After going through all that to get out
you’re going back?" Ellie just nodded; "There are some
folks we left behind. And there’s a job to be done there.
I can’t sit here safe, when I know the battle’s still going
on. I have to go back." Roland nodded, and then stepped
forward to hug her; "I’ve got to go back to my base. I
need to pull a replacement suit of powered armor. But if
ever you get in trouble, you call out on the radio. I’ll
make sure its relayed to me, and I’ll do what I can to
help! Promise!" Ellie grinned and kissed him on the nose;
"I’ll do that; take care of yourself, Mister!"
Ellie watched the vehicle disappear until it was lost in a
cloud of dust. Turning she looked at her friends; Estelle,
the Coyote, Iggy, and the others; "Lets go see about
getting our weapons out of hock. Who’s got the claim
Mr. Smith ignored the cool wind and the rustling leaves as
he sat on the bench in the thinly populated park. In his
hands he held a small rectangle of plastic and metal; to
the average passer-by, he had one of the latest video
games, and the way his hands tilted it this way and that as
he thumbed the buttons along the edges suggested that he
was deeply immersed in his game. Perhaps an unusual
occupation for a furr of his age, but not remarkably so.
However, had any of the passers-by walked behind his bench,
they would have observed something on the screen other than
the latest adventure game. Computer-generated enhanced
colors made the screen hard to interpret, but Smith was
skilled at his task. Tongue lolling from one side of his
mouth, clenched between teeth in concentration, he
maneuvered the remotely piloted drone known as a "fly"
around his target.
The Research Facility was heavily guarded. There were
fences, both physical and electronic, a considerable
distance between the fences and the building, with guard
posts, roving patrols, and many cameras and sensors. And
the facility itself was almost hermetically sealed. After
trying for over three hours, Smith hadn’t found a way to
get his fly past the defenses and into the building.
Recalling the mechanical insect, he sighed, and started
thinking about another way to penetrate the facility. NO
ONE went to these lengths unless there was something VERY
interesting in there….
The delivery service’s uniform was impeccable, as were his
credentials. Smith drove the van to the first of the guard
gates and waited. And waited. He knew they were scanning
him, probably more closely than he’d ever been scanned
before. After a while, a single guard came out of the
guard house and wordlessly held out his hand. Smith passed
the clip board with the shipping forms and the invoice to
him. He knew the cargo of the van he’d hijacked was
urgent; all the shipping documents said so. It was why
he’d taken it. After scanning the documents, visually and
with a hand-held scanner, the guard nodded; "put it in
Park, guy, we’ll unload you here." Smith blinked; "Here?
You sure? That thing’s HEAVY!" The guard nodded; "Yup.
You and your van go no further. Security, ya know?"
Smith watched in amazement as two cargo handling robots
wrestled the crate out of the back of his van, and carried
it through the security check-point. He’d put a couple of
sleeper probes in the crate, but he doubted they’d pass the
scrutiny everything was receiving so far. Still, there was
a chance….. When the robots had trundled off with their
cargo, the guard handed his clipboard back to him. Smith
gave the guy his copy of the paperwork, and climbing back
into his van, backed it from the guard post, and drove off
down the street. If they’d been smart they would have held
him there until they’d checked out the crate, but he wasn’t
about to argue with them….
As expected, the tell-tales were dead; each of the bugs
Smith had placed into the crates had been destroyed, or
deactivated. Sitting back, Smith scratched his head and
wondered what to try next……
The office building was a good vantage point. It hadn’t
been that hard to break into the vacant office, and he was
reasonably assured he couldn’t be spotted behind the wall.
His sensors stuck marginally past the wall to look out
through the glass, and he knew they’d be hard to detect
from more than a few feet away. Settling down, he started
to watch the traffic to and from the research lab….
Smith stared into his cup of coffee and sighed. He really
was drinking too much of this stuff. He’d been watching
the Research lab for three days, and hadn’t learned much.
The guards, the researchers, and just about all of the
staff lived there. There WAS no rush-hour commute. The
only folks that entered or left were big-wigs, or the
occasional service furr…. The VIPs all seemed to come by
air-car, which made it difficult to track, and harder to
kidnap. Some of them even had armed escorts. But there’d
been an HVAC (humidity, ventillation, air conditioning)
service furr there today… and that had given him an idea….
The laser was low power, and of an obscure wavelength. Its
collimation wasn’t all that great, but it was just what
Smith wanted for the job. The apartment building was
several blocks away from the Research Lab, but it gave the
right view; Setting up the laser, Smith peered through its
telescopic sight and slowly adjusted his aim until he’d
drawn a bead on the condensing coils on top of one of the
large boxy things on the lab’s roof. Switching on the
laser, he started the drive that would minutely fan the
low-resolution beam across the target…. The idea was to
make it look like anything but damage from a laser….
There wasn’t any sign of just when the laser had completed
its job, but the pinhole was evident under the system’s
optics. Smith shut off the laser, and pulled it down,
leaving nothing but the optic sensor showing from over the
edge of the roof. Patiently he waited. After a while, his
patience was rewarded, when four guards emerged onto the
roof. One of them bent to look at the condenser, while the
others scanned the perimeter. It was obvious the guard had
found something, as he spent a good minute trying to wipe
his paw clean on the housing of the air conditioning unit.
He was obviously disgusted. Turning they all returned to
inside the building. Smith smiled to himself and carefully
started packing his gear.
The HVAC service van stopped at the guard gate. After the
scan, the guard, had the driver exit the vehicle and enter
the guard house. Another guard drove the vehicle through
the gates. Within seconds, Smith lost his view of the
vehicle. That was OK. Smiling, he settled back to wait.
The optics were still on the apartment building’s roof, and
Smith watched the hand-held monitor; the view was grainy
and tiny, but it showed the serviceman in an argument with
someone in a suit. A lot of hand-waving was done, and
after an amazing amount of time, the servicefurr had bent
to his task. There was the brief flare of a torch, and
then he was retreating back inside the building with the
suit and the guards……
The traffic signal turned red, and Redflame pulled the
hovervan to a halt. He was sitting there, grumbling to
himself about the stuffed shirts at the Research lab, when
suddenly the power door locks on his van both popped open.
He was twisting to look at the switch panel on the driver’s
door when the passenger door opened and an older,
nondescript Wolf got in. His mouth open to complain, to
demand an immediate exit, the Squirrel’s words caught in
his throat as he realized that in the Wolf'’s lap, out of
sight of most furrs, was a rather large handgun. And it
was pointed casually at his groin! "Be a good chap, and
drive on; the signal’s green, you know……" His gaze
flickering from the Wolf’s face, to the gun, to the road,
Redflame nudged the accelerator, urging the van forward.
After having driven down Rollins Street for several blocks,
Redflame chanced another glance at the Wolf; this guy
didn’t seem to have any qualms about letting Redflame see
his face, and that was NOT good… It probably meant that the
Wolf was going to kill him…. Still, after a bit, curiosity
got the better of him, and he cleared his throat. "Um…
Ah….. Shouldn’t you be telling me where it is you want me
to go?" The Wolf smiled; "Go where you where headed
anyways. Your shop at 220 Farrier Avenue, out in the
Rosemont part of town. Pull the van into the garage just
like you always do." Redflame gulped; "Um…. You know I
don’t have any money there…. My business is all invoiced…"
The Wolf just smiled; "I know. Relax. We’ll have a nice
little conversation, and I’ll be on my way, and if
everything goes just right, you’ll be safe and sound, and
maybe even happy……" Redflame just swallowed hard.
Following the Wolf’s instructions, Redflame had parked the
van as he always did. With the garage door closed, they’d
exited the vehicle and entered his small office. The
franchise HVAC business was mostly self-contained in the
van; there were some spare parts storage in the garage, but
the rest of the business was just one tiny office, where
the bookkeeping computer lived. The Wolf gestured with the
gun towards the desk chair, while he pulled up the lone
visitor’s chair on the other side of the cluttered desk.
Redflame sat, eyes shifting from the gun to the Wolf and
back. The Wolf looked a little past middle age, a slight
paunch developing. He looked like a High School teacher,
or maybe a Department Store clerk. And yet there was
something about him, that kept Redflame from even thinking
about trying to take him on. After a few minutes the Wolf
laid the handgun in his lap and fished inside one pocket.
Producing a deck of cards, he tossed them on the table;
"Don’t know how long it’ll be, before they call, but until
they do, we might as well amuse ourselves." Redflame’s
heart sank. He knew. The Research lab usually called his
office to make sure he’d gotten back unhindered. They’d
call again that evening and again about three days later.
As hopes of the Cavalry charging to the rescue faded,
Redflame sighed; "Let me guess. Poker. Five card stud."
The Wolf smiled; "actually, I’m much more preferential to
The com beeped, and Redflame almost jumped a foot. He was
ahead a good thirty points and had been concentrating on
the game. Without even thinking about it, he hit the
button, and muttered; "Acme HVAC Repair, Redflame speaking.
How can I help you?" It was the standard litany that he’d
repeated thousands of times, and it came as second nature.
On the other end of the phone, he heard a voice growl;
"State Security. Just checking." And then the line went
Smith smiled as he saw the Squirrel give the com a dirty
look, realizing too late that his only "salvation" had just
slipped away. As the Squirrel turned back to look at him,
the Wolf just smiled; "Lets finish the game. I’m in no
Redflame held himself perfectly still; the drug had been in
aerosol form, the Wolf producing it and spraying it in
Redflame’s face almost before the Squirrel had known he’d
had it. Waiting for something to happen, he realized that
he was extremely conscious of every portion of his anatomy.
He could feel the chair’s back edge under his tail. He
could feel the seams of his overalls where he sat. He felt
he could even feel each individual hair in each ear…… The
Wolf’s voice seemed unnaturally magnified as he whispered;
"Now, I just have a few questions; answer them truthfully
and to the best of your ability, and I’ll give you the
antidote. Screw with me, and I’ll leave you in that
hypersensitive state for the rest of your life…..
The green telltale on the voice stress analyzer seemed
unnaturally bright. Redflame swallowed, feeling each
muscle in his throat move, feeling his body respond….. it
was really starting to get on his nerves. In fact, he
realized that spending the rest of his life this sensitive
to light, this sensitive to noise, to motion, to EVERYTHING
would be a living torture…. Carefully NOT nodding his
head, he whispered; "Yes, I get into all the labs. The
filters have to be changed, the air movers lubricated, and
all that’s above the furrs that work there. I’ve seen many
strange things, but as I said, I don’t know WHAT it is I’ve
seen; remember, I’ve only got a trade school education!
I’m NOT a physics professor!" Smith nodded; "why did you
say Physics professor?" Redflame blinked; "Didn’t you
know? That place used to be the National University
Physics lab, before the Government took it over; its FULL
of Physics Professors.
Redflame shook his head and instantly regretted it; this
was worse than his worst hangover. "No, I tell you; I have
NO idea what it is they’re working on, but its got to be
big, and its all coming to a head. I think. One of the
guards said that he still thought that it was stupid to
bring in a repair guy (that’s me) when in a few days they’d
"Oh yeah" Redflame muttered; "I heard enough in the canteen
to know that something big is going on there. All the
junior scientists were muttering about all the bigwigs
constantly sticking their noses into everything.
Complaints of micromanagement and such. Yeah, it has ‘em
all stirred up…."
Redflame rested his forehead on the edge of the table; that
seemed to hurt least of all. The Wolf seemed to have been
asking questions for hours, maybe days. He could feel his
bladder; it wasn’t full, he didn’t have to go, but he could
tell, almost to the milliliter just how full it was. And
his heartbeat thundered in his ears. He could HEAR the
blood flowing in his veins. "Um… Yeah. Cargo handling
system. Overhead monorails. They run almost everywhere.
The one time I had to replace an air handler motor, they
wouldn’t let me use it; had to wheel the dang thing in on a
hand dolly. Wouldn’t even let me use a powered one, for
fear an unshielded motor would screw up something.
Wouldn’t help, either. Stuck up stuffed shirts…."
Smith looked at the Squirrel; he was near a nervous system
collapse. He hadn’t answered the primary question, but all
the circumstantial evidence added up. Could he Swear the
story Tanj had funneled him was true? No. Did he believe
it? Yes, to the point of arranging a hasty route off-
planet. The Squirrel had said that they were within days
of being done. If Tanj’s tale was even close to true, it
was time to leave. Pulling another aerosol can from his
pocket, he looked at the squirrel, and shrugged. Raising
the can, he sprayed.
Redflame felt the mist as ice-cold pinpricks all over his
face. He could feel the mist penetrate his lungs, move
into his bloodstream… and suddenly something very nice
started to happen…… Suddenly he wasn’t in his office any
more, but in a different room….. Moorish windows looked out
on a blue sky… the walls were earth-toned, and there were
pillows strewn across the floor…. And seemingly on each
pillow was a nubile slave girl….. Redflame grinned; there
was that Cheetah wench… and there the flame-hued vixen with
the big bazooms…. Chuckling to himself, Redflame exclaimed
"Hello Girls! Daddy’s Home" and to his delight, they all
seemed to rise, and cooing with pleasure moved to surround
him. Suddenly being hypersensitive wasn’t so bad, as each
touch was distinctly felt……
Smith checked the Squirrel’s pulse and nodded. Given what
the planet’s own Government was about to do to it, it might
have been kinder just to kill him… but he’d cooperated
quite nicely, and done everything he could… The Wolf
straightened, tucking the aerosol can into his jacket
pocket; let the Squirrel have his fantasies; the antidote
would wear off in a few hours, leaving the Squirrel
confused as to whether it was all a dream… his memories
very fuzzy. Smiling, Smith let himself out, resetting the
security system as he left.
Back in space
Alby shook his head; the Merchant was being stupid. The
old "Hansa" class freighter just didn’t have the speed to
outrun a Raider, and it certainly didn’t have the guns to
fight one off, let alone three. Adjusting his targeting
settings minutely, he waited for his skipper to give the
OK. "I say again, Tango Victor Three Two Seven, you are
ordered to cease maneuvering and drop shields or we WILL
open fire!" Cedric watched, easily matching vectors with
the freighter, waiting for some sign of compliance,
counting down the seconds… when he reached thirty he turned
and looked over his shoulder; "All yours, Alby; try not to
damage our prize more than you have to." Alby chuckled;
"Hey, I know, I know…. I just hope this one isn’t full of
refugees like the last three ships have been!" Squinting a
little, Alby concentrated, blipping off a short burst…. The
Ion gun stuttered in response, and several thousand
kilometers ahead of them, the freighter’s shields flared,
failed, and then their drive section glowed brighter than
usual.. for just a second, and then the glow faded
completely. Alby chuckled; "Got their port induction
valve; the computer shut their drive down, rather than risk
running unbalanced. And induction valves are a dime a
dozen, in almost any starport….." Cedric chuckled; "Good
shot. But then, that’s what I pay you for." Clicking his
mike, he turned back to the viewscreen as he growled;
"Delta Green lead to all Delta Green birds; I’ll close and
board; you guys keep ‘em honest."
Cedric scowled as he tried to match docking rings with the
freighter; either their docking ring had been damaged, or
the freighter had jammed something somehow… He’d bumped up
against their docking port three times now, and the
grapples had failed to latch. He’d been concentrating so
hard on it, that he’d missed Alby’s first muttered comment.
The crackle in his headphones got his attention though;
"Delta Green Three to Lead; we got problems!"
Straightening, he looked at his threat display, and saw
nothing; of course everything to starboard of his ship
registered only as freighter…. "Whatcha got, Sammy?" "Got
a Reds Cruiser comin’ in hot and heavy!" Blipping the
thrusters to move his Raider back from the freighter, and
then "up" and over, so his own sensors could get a look,
the Fox’s eyes went wide; "Ah…. Delta Green Lead to Base;
we’ve got company out here!"
Hans scowled and looked across Ops to the tactical display.
Growling, he turned back to the comm console; "Delta Green
Lead; you’re on your own. Soonest we could get
reinforcements to you would be 3.4 hours. Keep us advised
as to developments. Command out."
Cedric sighed; "one of the problems workin’ out on the
fringes…. Dammit, Alby, where’d HE come from? The Reds
get cloaking technology?" Alby shrugged; "Don’t know,
Skipper. Might have been hiding in a debris field. We got
enough of ‘em in this system these days." The Fox nodded;
"well, I guess we’d better find out what they want…."
Onegin grinned into the video pickup "What I want, is for
you and your pirate scum to get AWAY from OUR prize! Leave
now, or risk the righteous wrath of the People’s Space
Navy!" The image of the fox on the monitor showed a range
of emotions, from surprise, to shock, to outright rage;
"YOUR prize? This is OUR territory, as per the executive
agreement YOUR chairman signed three years ago! WE
disabled the freighter’s engines! This one’s OURS!"
Onegin just smiled; turning so that the video pickup caught
his profile, he growled: "Fire control Officer! Target
that worthless piece of shit. If he says another word,
Alby nudged Cedric and whispered; "we do have two anti-ship
missiles on board. Between us and our mates, we might take
him." The fox digested that for a moment, and then shook
his head no; "no profit in it, Alby. Those missiles cost
almost as much as that freighter down there, and if we
start a shooting war against the Reds, our profits are
bound to suffer. No, we’ll let this one go, but from now
on, I’m keeping Delta Squadron together. The Reds may feel
they can push around three Raiders, but you know that
Cruiser’s not a match for all twelve of us…."
Onegin grinned; the comm link had picked up the muttered
conversation. It was just what Xyloff had wanted. With a
little suitable editing it would be a major propaganda
prize…… Watching as the Raiders broke off, he chuckled,
wondering how the Wolverine would reward him for this
little victory. The Exec clearing his throat interrupted
his reverie, and turning he glared at the Furr; "what?"
"Um, Captain, what do you want to do with the Freighter?"
Onegin just shrugged; "Our spys say its just full of
refugees. Traitors fleeing their just deserts. Take a
detachment of marines, board them, and examine their
records; if any of the traitors have useful skills,
transfer them to this ship and put them in the brig. If
there are any political "prizes" take them too; we can
always use them for show trials. Then, when the Pirates
are out of sensor range, you may have some target practice.
That hulk’s not worth putting a prize crew on board." The
Exec just nodded, and withdrew, leaving Onegin to return to
his daydreams of greater riches, and power.
The Wombat smiled; "Ah, this is really excellent stuff; we
can show the pirates as being cowardly, backing down in
front of our People’s Space Navy. And we can show how
mercenary they are, in it only for the money, ignoring the
noble cause. Yes, Comrade Xyloff, this will make an
excellent propaganda Campaign." The Wolverine smiled;
"Very good; how soon can you have it ready? The Wombat
thought for a moment; "Ten days, maybe twelve to do it
properly. Out to the people a day after that." Xyloff
shook his head; "too long. Make it three days, four at the
latest. To the People by Friday." At the dismayed look,
the Wolverine clapped the Wombat on the back; "Come now,
Comrade, the People DESERVE to know!" Letting the smile
harden, he growled; "Don’t fail me. Now you have a lot to
do, so I won’t keep you….. Watching the Wombat leave,
clutching the data crystals, Xyloff smiled; "Yes, I do
believe its coming together nicely….."
The Brou Machine:
The Lion sat in the lotus position, and tried to relax.
Clearing his mind was becoming more and more difficult… and
yet, the meditation techniques that Entity had been
teaching him were certainly helping him cope with the
stress. Kinda. Trying to ignore the itch caused by the
little sensor stuck to his skull, he concentrated on his
breathing, seeking to slip into that alpha brainwave state
that let him "talk" to the Brou machine…….
<<<…Strange it is. Illogical and disordered. Conflicted.
Emotional. More ordered in its thought processes, at
least, was the previous being that had interfaced with me.
Even further from the precision of my creators, this one
is. Adapt I must, to interface with this one. Raw
materials needed will be. Unsavory, perhaps, but a
challenge to relieve the boredom, it is…..>>>
The Lion almost purrrred as he felt himself slipping,
finally, into the sought-after state. It was like stepping
outside his own mind, and into the Twilight Zone. Every
time he sat by the Brou machine, with it powered up, he
felt as if he left more alien, both more and less than what
he was when he started. Nudging his will at the machine,
he tried to find the correct way to communicate that he
wanted to distort space to one side of the ship….. With no
idea if he was succeeding or not, he concentrated….. It
was like trying to hold onto a slippery and wriggling eel….
Emmy Lou sat bolt upright at her console, almost spilling
coffee on herself. She’d been warned; the whole ship had
been warned. Bending to examine her science station
console, she felt about with her right hand, trying to find
something solid to put the coffee mug on, as she devoured
the sensor reports. Space was distorting itself aft of the
Overlord, the Brethren’s flagship, the most powerful ship
in their fleet, and now mostly a platform for strange
physics experiments…. Despite the fact that the crew was
pissed about missing all the fighting going on, she loved
it; things like this was what she lived for. Making sure
ALL the recorders were running correctly this time, she
watched as the fold in space-time shifted forward, over the
top of the ship, and then slithered to starboard…..
Hans watched the computer-generated image of the event on
the Overlord’s tactical data display, fingers hovering over
the engineering console that would cut power to the boss’s
crazy gadget, should that effect wander too close to the
hull. He’d seen this thing swallow too many test probes,
probes that with one exception had vanished completely.
The one exception had finally reported in, its FTL
transmitter’s signal finally reaching the ship after almost
two weeks. The probe THOUGHT it was on the far side of the
galaxy’s center, an absolutely improbable distance away….
And that little event had thrown the entire Brethren’s
command staff into an uproar. Still, all the other probes
had vanished, and Hans was NOT about to let that …. THING
swallow a portion of HIS ship!
<<<…Difficult to comprehend, it is. Strange is the mind in
contact with me. Pointless its requests are. Experiments
I have planned, to decipher how this mind works, but
confused are the results. Projections to understanding at
an acceptable level show me this will be a lengthily task..
But time have I……>>>
Entity frowned and watched the Lion. Unconsciously he’d
shifted from the full lotus position, to the half lotus
position, to a sprawl; and yet the monitor still showed him
fully in the alpha brainwave state. As he watched, the Fox
wondered about the Brou machine; he’d heard rumors of the
"Battle that never was", stories now making the rounds
again, as the Boss had demonstrated that the machine could
actually DO something. Shaking his head, he still didn’t
see the wisdom in tinkering with this thing, not at a time
like this…. Shifting into the proper position, he settled
down to meditate on the question. The Elders of his people
had sent him here; they must have had a reason; could they
see something in this big hairy beast that he couldn’t?
The Lion smiled; the slippery eel in his grip seemed to be
under control, at least for the moment… Now, for the test,
he simply had to hold it steady…..
Parks’ paws danced over the controls trying to maneuver the
probe. The jury-rigged science probe was just that. The
torpedo-shaped drone was being operated by remote control,
a long, thin fiber optic cable paying out the back. And
from the front, a hundred meter spar, with sensors at the
tip, a probe to insert through the wrinkle in time-space.
It was hoped that in this fashion they could see where it
opened onto. But the science probe was never meant for
such delicate maneuvering. Parks felt as if he were trying
to thread a needle…..
Emmy Lou watched as the sensors cleared; something very
strange had happened as the sensor cluster had passed
through the rift… she was getting a starscape, and the
computer was starting its analysis…..
The Lion squirmed, his paws moving, as if clutching at air…
his "control" was slipping. Maybe he was getting tired,
his concentration slipping… or maybe something was
happening from the other end; either way, it was becoming
harder and harder to hold the mental image he wanted……
Entity sat up and watched in alarm as the Lion’s alpha
brainwave state wavered… and then disintegrated. Across
the room, the Lion rose to his knees, studied the flashing
lights and symbols on the face of the Brou device, and then
sighed. Rising to his feet, he moved to the nearest
intercom. "Physics Lab to the Bridge; anything happen this
Hans pushed the button on the arm of his command chair
"Bridge to Physics lab. Yeah, Boss, something happened; we
got a wrinkle in space time, Parks got the probe’s… er…
probe through the wrinkle, and then the whole thing
collapsed. The end of the probe has been sheared off,
mirror bright. Parks says its almost on the molecular
level." The Lion’s voice floated from the speaker; "and
did we accomplish anything?" Hans sighed and shook his
head, and then realizing it was an audio circuit only,
muttered; "I’m told the starfield that was observed matches
nothing in the computer. No combination or permutation of
the billions of charted stars matches the pattern that was
observed. And yet the spectral data suggests it was a
normal star field. It just wasn’t any starfield that’s
ever been charted."
The Lion sighed and looked across the room at the enigmatic
Entity. As usual, his face was inscrutable; it was
impossible to tell WHAT the fox might be thinking; "well,
Hans, at least we learned something….. OK, enough for the
moment; lets go home….."
<<<…Strange it is. Asked to open a door, I am, but the
destination unspecified is. More study, these creatures
deserve. Unclear their motives are. Options I must
consider, for the next encounter…..>>>
Further work with the Brou machine.
The Lion pushed the sticky electrode against his skull and
sighed. If he combed his mane just right, the shaved spot
on his skull wasn’t all that obvious… but his mane was so
unruly half the time all the effects of the meticulous
combing had vanished by the time he’d stepped out the door
to his cabin. Still, the tones produced by the little gizmo
helped him slide into the alpha brainwave state, and that
DID seem to help him communicate with the Brou device….
Checking to see that all the power feeds were on, and
stable, he settled into a cross-legged position by the
control panel, closed his eyes and started to concentrate.
<<<…Again contact is attempted. Tenuous it is. Train it,
it seems I must…….>>>
As he concentrated on opening a space-time rift, the Lion
suddenly squirmed; for a moment it felt as if a thousand
worms were wriggling through his brain… and in their wake,
an idea. That it might not have been HIS idea never even
crossed his mind….. Smiling, he formed the image of the
wriggling, slippery eel that was the space-time distortion,
and grabbing it with both paws, he slowly started to
stretch it as he spread his paws wide; the Eel still tried
to squirm, but he found he was more or less able to hold
its ends as he wanted…. One end, the open mouthed end… to
the Starboard side of the ship… and the other end on the
Hans sat straight up as the sensor operators all started
yelling at the same time. Rising from his command chair,
padding over to look at the displays, he grunted; "Two
Anomolies? Now what is that crazy lion up to?
Emmy Lou sipped her coffee and grinned; this was better
than any Holoadventure she’d ever seen. The subatomic and
subspace physics were so eloquent; it was such a ballet of
nadions and tachyons…. Without a second thought about the
recorders, she settled in to watch the show….
Parks had been seriously afraid that would happen. He’d
augmented his science probe, refining its maneuvering
capabilities, and replacing the hundred meter spar on its
prow. And now, as he’d maneuvered it into the distortion
on the starboard side of the Overlord…. The end of the
probe had come out the distortion on the Port side. The
damn thing DID work! But if it worked… could all those
wild tales about hostile cruisers vanishing without a trace
"Henley! HENLEY!" Vandrosky’s face had an unnatural cast
to it as he called to the Beaver. "Henley, did you hear
the news from the Overloard?" The Marmoset looked calmly
at Vandrosky and shrugged; "I take it that alien gizmo the
boss has been playing with hasn’t eaten them, or exploded,
or anything like that…." Vandrosky shook his head no and
held up a data crystal; "worse than that… MUCH worse than
that…. It seems, to a small extent, they’ve actually got it
working…… I just pulled this from the live feed they’ve
been sending us!"
Henley watched over Vandrosky’s shoulder as he plugged the
data crystal into the reader. The whole left side of the
screen was scrolling data from the sensors, most of it
arcane physics stuff… but the right side showed video
feeds, upper right showing the jury-rigged science probe
approaching the writhing space-time distortion, while the
lower right showed the second space-time distortion.
Amazingly, as they watched, the sensor package on the tip
of the hundred meter spar poked its way into the one
distortion… and immediately appeared from the other
distortion. The probe was only a hundred meters long, and
yet each distortion was roughly a hundred kilometers on
either side of the ship. They watched as the probe edged
closer, but the distortion was fluctuating slightly, and as
the probe closed, it contracted slightly. What emerged
from the other distortion was a "skinned" probe, the outer
meter or so of its hull sliced cleanly away…..
Henley sighed; "you realize of course, that by thrusting
this thing off on Parks and the Overlord, we now look like
idiots…." Vandrosky just nodded and shrugged; "who knew?"
The Lion walked into the hangar deck; his tail was dragging
and he looked as if he’d just run a marathon. Joining Hans
and Parks, he stared down at the remains of the science
probe. "Well, I guess we’re not going to call for
volunteers any time soon to see if something living can
pass through the distortion…." Parks Hmmmed; "I don’t
know. Medical has some lab mice we might use. I could rig
a small life support capsule in the sensor pod." Hans
looked aghast at his Chief Engineer; "you mean you’re
actually planning another of these little experiments?"
Parks blinked and then grinned; "Of Course. You know how
fast, how cheap using the Jump Drive is. What if we didn’t
have to travel to a jump point? It would combine all the
convenience of a Warp Drive with all the speed and economy
of a Jump Drive." Seeing the look on his Captain’s face,
the grin on the Ocelot widened; "Look at it this way,
Skipper; lets say we get in REALLY big trouble some day. A
squadron of Imperial Dreadnaughts. With a drive like this,
we could be a LONG way away in a matter of moments, and
they couldn’t follow!" As Hans rolled that around in his
mind, the Lion grinned; "Guys, I’m wasted. I’m going to go
get some sleep." As the Lion turned to head for the door,
Parks called out; "I’ll be ready to go again, WITH the
mice, at 0800!
<<<…Successful, that was? Unknown. Hard to read, the
contact’s thoughts were; confused by his emotions they
were. Pleased he seemed to be, but uncertain I am. And
yet, an interpretation of… "commands" seems to be
improving. More work, required is. More study too……>>>
Even more work with the Brou Machine.
Edgar jumped up and down trying to see. He’d put twenty
credits down on "fail" and the Hamster couldn’t see into
the holotank they’d rigged on the station’s recreation
deck. Growling, he finally shoved his way between a lady
wolf in worn cammies and a Minotaur in… not much. Ignoring
their outrage he grinned as he watched the show start.
The Lion was finding it easier to slip into the alpha
brainwave state; he was down to only about five minutes of
meditation before he felt he could reach out to the Brou
device and attempt something. Today he just wanted to hold
the image of the slippery eel in his mind, mouth on one
side of the ship, tail on the other. Parks was going to
try and send a number of lab mice through the rift, and the
bets were running high on whether it would work or not…..
Entity watched, sitting in the full lotus position across
from the Lion. He watched the beast’s chest rise and fall
as he breathed, watched the way he held himself. The signs
where there, subtle, but if you knew where to look, you
could almost read his mind, interpret what he was doing….
And how well it was going…
Parks watched the Rift form as seen by the science probe;
he was seated at the science station on the Bridge of the
Overlord, with half the Bridge crew clustered behind him.
Everyone else seemed to be clustered around the tactical
display, which was now showing mostly data from the
astrophysics sensors. He waited until the rift had
stabilized, or had stabilized as much as it was likely to,
and then gently bumped the probe’s sensors, urging it
forward at a walking pace….
The Lion concentrated on holding the eel as steady as he
could. With practice he found it getting easier and
easier, to the point where he was able to devote a small
amount of his time to trying other things. Doing this, for
instance seemed to make it stretch a little, between head
Parks let out a yelp as the rift suddenly shot TOWARDS the
probe, coming to a stop seemingly inches from the end of
the spar, and the life support capsule containing the mice…
The Medical Lab had been quite insistent that the mice be
returned unharmed… or else, and it was Parks firm opinion
that the lab techs down there had gotten much too attached
to the critters….
Edgar whooped as the tip of the spar entered the rift;
suddenly the view in the holotank split and the other image
showed the tip of the spar exiting the matching rift. For
a moment the room held its collective breath, and then all
heads turned as one to look at the monitor that was showing
the life-signs of the mice. Sighing, the Hamster turned
and pushed through the crowd; he’d just lost twenty
The Lion shivered; it felt as if the Eel had just
swallowed; something had rippled from one end to the other;
had that been the science probe? Loosing concentration
just a little, the Lion unconciously twisted his left paw
up a little, his right paw down a little, as if he were
trying to unscrew two pieces of threaded pipe…. And
suddenly the Eel felt larger in his imaginary hands…
Parks gasped as the rift suddenly tripled in diameter.
Somewhere in the background an alarm was hooting on the
Engineering board. Not knowing how long the Fusion
reactors could keep up with the demands of that alien
gizmo, Parks acted on impulse and kicked the probe’s
thrusters on full.
The Lion blinked as something else rippled down the length
of the imaginary Eel; it was as if the creature had
swallowed a walnut…
Hans watched the show from his command chair on the Bridge.
It was actually beginning to look as if this thing, for all
its problems, might actually be useful for something…. Not
that HE ever wanted to step through that swirling mass of
Ginger grinned at Parks and took the cage from his hands;
"I’m glad you got my dears back in one piece! I don’t know
what I would have done without them!" The Ocelot smiled;
"I’m delighted to be able to return them to you safe and
sound, even if they DO glow in the dark…" At the look on
the Rabbit’s face he chuckled; "JUST KIDDING! Seriously,
though, you should watch them to make sure there are no
long-term effects." Ginger huffed, but nodded; "Very well,
I’ll keep an eye on them… but NEXT TIME, Mr. Wise Guy, YOU
can take a walk through that thing!"
As he walked down the corridor towards Engineering, the
Ocelot nodded to himself; "You know, I might just have to
Brou Device 4
Hans paced the Bridge, occasionally looking into the
tactical holotank. The Boss’s Experiments were starting to
become routine. And that frightened him. The ship’s
entire power system, the Fusion APU’s AND the
matter/antimatter reactors, were running flat out, burning
fuel at a horrendous rate. But the Boss had sent one end
of what the Physics specialists were now calling a
"Wormhole" for lack of a better term, almost to the limit
of the Overlord’s sensors… and the Overlord had VERY good
sensors. If the Boss got any more proficient at this,
they’d have to send a probe to follow the initial
distortion in space-time….
The Lion gulped; he knew he’d done something very wrong,
when the imaginary Eel started writhing in his imaginary
paws, convulsing as if it were swallowing again and again,
walnut and then orange and then melon sized lumps traveling
the length of its body….
The ship shuddered again, and someone at the shields
console cried out "We’re down to 14%! We can’t take
another hit like that!" Hans picked himself off the deck
and growled at the Engineering officer; "Cut power to that
thing! SHUT IT DOWN!" The Panda looked back at her
Captain and spread her paws helplessly; "I HAVE, Sir! All
power’s been diverted to shields! Even Life Support! Its
running on its own!"
The Lion thought fast; he must have run the mouth of the
"Eel" through something. A ship, or a colony, or maybe
even a moon. He didn’t REALLY know where the end was, but
he’d thought it had been in interplanetary space….. Moving
almost convulsively he twisted and bent the Eel, knowing
his commands should reduce the size of its "mouth", and
hopefully minimizing the damage. Moving as fast as he
dared, he brought it back the way he’d come, hoping to get
it away from whatever he’d run it into….
Hans relaxed; the matter pouring out of the space-time rift
near the ship had dwindled to a trickle and then ceased.
Some of the chunks had emerged from the rift at odd vectors
and had slammed into the Battlecruiser’s shields with
incredible energy. Sitting back into his Command Chair, he
smiled to himself….
The Alarms were still hooting when the Lion charged onto
the Bridge; "Damage Report!" Hans rose to his feet; "Damn
near did us in there, Boss. Shields were down to 3%, and
one of the shield generators actually melted. Engineering
is working on it, and they say we’ll be back up to par in
about six hours." The Lion nodded; "OK, so what’d I hit?"
Hans shrugged; "Dunno; mostly Nickel-Iron. I’d say it was
a rogue asteroid." The Lion sagged; "I thought I’d run it
into a ship. Or a space habitat somewhere." Hans shook
his head no; "Actually, it was pretty much following the
path we’d discussed in the pre-test briefing. Just bad
luck, I think…." The Lion nodded; "From now on we take
greater precautions. I don’t want this to happen again!"
"Amen to THAT" Hans grunted. "So when’s the next test?"
The Lion blinked; "after what just happened to the ship,
you want to continue?" Hans chuckled. He could feel eyes
from all over the Bridge turning his way; "Of Course. Can
you imagine using this thing as a weapon? You could gut an
Imperial Dreadnaught from the inside out, and there
wouldn’t be a damn thing they could do about it. That
little alien toy of yours just ripped an asteroid
Astrophysics estimates was a good two klicks in diameter,
solid nickel-iron, into shreds. IMAGINE what it could do
to a mere ship!"
Parks caught up with the Lion as he strode from the Bridge;
"Um… Hey, Boss?" The Lion looked over at the Ocelot;
"Don’t tell me you want to use it as a weapon too…." Parks
shrugged; "in a pinch, yeah. But I’d rather use it as an
alternative to the Warp Drive… IF you can tell me how you
made it self supporting." The Lion stopped dead in his
tracks and stared; "Made it WHAT?" Parks nodded eagerly;
"When it started spewing high energy rock fragments, Luan
cut all power to the Brou device and shifted it to shields.
Her quick thinking saved our collective asses. But it
didn’t kill the effect." The Lion stared blankly for a
moment and then shook his head; "One of the problems in
running this thing blind; I didn’t know the power was cut.
Most curious. Route me the log tapes, I want to study
this. And set up an experiment to test it again.
<<<…Blind this one is. Unable to see where he directs me.
Greater tutoring must I do. Vision he must acquire or
disaster looms. Much work to do there is…..>>>
Brou Device 5
Hans looked over the Bridge of the Overlord. Only those
who needed to were watching the tactical display this time.
The ship was at full Battle Stations. All airtight doors
were closed, shields were up…. The Lion was playing with
the Brou device again, but this time they weren’t about to
be caught with their pants down.
Entity watched the lion’s face; it was obvious that he was
practicing his control of the space-time distortion.
Maneuvering it. Reshaping it. To everyone’s amazement,
once the distortion had been formed, Parks had pulled
almost all the power to the Brou device, leaving only a
trickle. And the space-time distortion hadn’t faded…..
The Lion felt a funny tickle in the back of his mind; it
was almost as if something were tickling the base of his
brainstem. As it passed, he had an idea.. He could move
the "mouth" left and right, up and down, forward and back,
make it larger and smaller…. But if you considered the
Mouth to be on the floor of a high-rise office building, if
he did.. <this> he might be able to jump it to a different
Hans sat bolt-upright when the sensor operator yelped; "the
first distortion has vanished, Sir!" Parks looked up from
the Engineering console; "But… the second distortion is
still there; so where’d the first one go? Did it slip off
at a high rate of speed?" Johnson looked up from the
Science console; "Not a chance; got it all on a dozen
sensors; it just… vanished."….
Roulf howled "HERE WE GO AGAIN" from the tactical display,
and suddenly the ship shuddered. Hans turned and looked at
the tactical display…. The second distortion was spewing…
massive volumes of atmosphere gasses. Suddenly it started
throwing chunks of what looked like… water? Liquid water?
Of course it froze almost instantly into chunks of ice.
Moments later it started discharging rock. LARGE
quantities of rock, at high velocities…. But the Overlord
had already moved, shifting its position. They watched
from a distance…..
The Lion knew he was doing it again, and that frightened
him. Last time it had been a simple asteroid one not even
worth mining… This time it was something… larger. He’d
jumped the "mouth" up about four floors in the high-rise..
and when he’d felt the passage of something along the
length of the "Eel", he’d tried to jump it back, but it
hadn’t worked. Frantically he’d tried to recreate just
what it was he’d done….
Hans watched as the distortion spewed what seemed to be
magma. Astrophysics had already calculated that the
detrius was emerging from the distortion at the velocity of
a planet orbiting a star at roughly 1.4 AU. At least the
sensors hadn’t detected any life-signs….
The Lion grinned in triumph. A single move like <this> and
the "mouth" was back where it started…. He thought.
Hans sighed as the distortion stopped spewing molten rock.
Stopped as if someone had thrown a switch. It was almost
simultaneous with the sensor operator’s muttered; "its
baaaaack!" Somehow he just KNEW the first distortion had
popped into existence wherever it’d come from……
"I don’t know, Parks, I just don’t know." The Lion looked
worn out as they walked down the corridor. "I moved the
"Mouth"… the initial distortion "elsewhere" but I’m not
sure where. I think it was on a… different "plane". But
I’m not sure just what I mean by that. Behind the two,
Entity muttered; "a parallel universe, perhaps?" The Lion
stopped and looked at the Fox for a moment; "you know,
that’s as good an explanation as any. Or maybe an
alternate reality. I don’t know…." Parks nodded; "one
things’s for certain." Both the Lion and Entity looked at
the Ocelot. "We’ve got to investigate it…."
<<<…The first step he has taken. Other universes he
suspects; amazing they don’t know. Backwards they must be.
But curiosity grows. Progress we are making…..>>>
Back to the Battle:
The starport was a minor facility, but it was still
bustling. A flight of ground assault craft were parked at
the far edge of the field, being refueled and rearmed. A
half-dozen cargo craft were unloading, automated cargo
handlers scurrying seemingly at random, resembling a
kicked-over ant-hill. And out on the scarred landing
field, three tramp freighters, obviously smugglers. Roland
turned in disgust from the Blues aircraft maintenance
officer and looked across the building that served as a
terminal. The Blues officer had been sympathetic, but a
good deal less than helpful. There were no Brethren ships
in this sector today; the fighting had passed on, and they
were at the front. And even there, they seldom landed,
preferring to refuel and rearm in space. And the Blues
just didn’t have any ships headed in that direction. Maybe
if he journeyed to the new Provincial capital… but no, he
didn’t have any transports going that way either….
Smith let his eyes adjust to the comparative dark of the
"terminal building" as he looked around. It was obvious
where the "agent" was, from the crowd of civilians.
Walking over, he set his single valise on the ground,
joining the line…. The Badger in front of him seemed to be
running more to "mad" than the others in line; they might
be described as "frightened" or "desperate"… but not him.
Waiting patiently, Smith watched the crowd.
The Agent seemed genuinely distressed; "I’m sorry sir, but
the ship captain tells me his price is not negotiable. I’m
sorry. Perhaps you’d have better luck at the Blairstown
spaceport; they’re getting a lot more traffic these days…"
The middle aged Walrus sighed, nodded, and taking the hand
of his daughter, moved towards the ground transportation
kiosk. And so it went. Some cried at the price; others
screamed. A few swallowed hard and came up with the cash.
And then it was the Badger’s turn. He looked at the Agent
for a moment, a look that seemed to make the Coyote flinch.
After a moment he growled; "Look, all I want is for the
ship Captain to make a small detour, and to let me off at
the nearest Brethren ship. And I’m willing to pay for it
too." The Agent stared blankly at the Badger for a moment
and then started laughing; "you WANT the Captain to seek
out the Pirates? Are you CRAZY? Brother, that ain’t NEVER
going to happen, no matter WHAT you promise.
Smith smiled and before the Badger could explode, he
reached out to tap the Badger on the shouluder; "Might find
it expedient to take one of the ships departing, to one of
the nearby systems, and then try and come back with a
Brethren supply ship. It might not be quicker but it
probably would be safer…" Smith glanced at the agent, and
then chuckled; ‘Then again, the Brethren might raid the
ship on the way out and you’d wind up with them anyways."
The Agent coughed and then shook his head; "Actually,
there’s a much better chance the Reds would intercept the
ship…" When both Smith and the Badger turned to look at
him, the Coyote shrugged; "The Reds have declared such
people as Middle level managers, engineers, doctors and
such as "essential" resources for the planet and have
forbidden them to leave. They’re making an effort to make
sure these "Critical resouces" don’t "Steal" themselves
from the Elysium people. And those that they don’t, ah,
"arrest" and return to the planet, well, they’re "spaced"
as traitors… If the ship is caught by the Reds, it could
be a lot worse than being taken by Pirates.
Roland looked from Smith to the Agent; "how many of the
smugglers are making it out?" The Agent shrugged; "About a
third. I’m trying to warn everyone who comes through here,
but most of them, they don’t want to listen….. I hope you
will." Smith cocked his head to one side as he looked at
the Coyote; "and how many wind up in the hands of the
Brethren?" The Coyote shrugged; "somewhere between a half
and a third. Ship Captains are deciding that they’d rather
wind up being sold as a slave than spaced by the Reds. In
some cases they negotiate the surrender of their vessel to
the Brethren; in others they just run towards them as fast
as they can, when the Reds appear, and hope for the best.
In some cases the Reds have been destroying ships before
they can surrender to the Brethren. And I’ve heard that
there have been several gunfights between the Reds and the
Roland looked at Smith and Hmmmed; "one third make it out
of the system and half wind up with the Brethren. That’s
83% that I’ll be able to eventually get where I’m headed."
Smith nodded slowly; "and 17% that you’ll die. But then,
you’ll die if you stay here, so its an eminently acceptable
risk." The Badger looked at Smith critically; "This area’s
secure. I can’t see it being that risky to just sit tight.
Unprofitable, but safe…." Smith smiled enigmatically;
"Lets just say that I’m tied in to the Brethren’s
intelligence operation, and that I know things you don’t.
‘Nuff said." It was the Badger’s turn to nod slowly;
"Ooooookay…. So how do we find ourselves a smuggler to get
us out of here?" Turning back to the agent, who’d probably
overheard their conversation, and now looked a little
queasy, Smith smiled; "of the three ships in port here,
which one is the best? Which one has the best Captain,
with the best track record?" The Coyote swallowed; "That’d
be Peter Blud. He’s an ex-pirate himself and seems to be
able to read their minds. His ship’s not the best, but his
knowledge base seems to make up for it." Smith nodded;
"I’d like for you to arrange for us to meet with Captain
As they headed towards the landing area, the Badger looked
over at Smith, studying him for a moment. Smith was… at
best nondescript. Scratching his head, Roland wondered
just what kind of furr he was….. Might be Fox… or Coyote…
or Wolf… but then the cast of his eyes, and his short
muzzle suggested something feline… most curious. Wondering
if Smith might have had cosmetic surgery specifically to
confuse the issue, the Badger wondered how to broach the
next "problem" subject….
"Um, Smith… As we’re both with the Brethren, I was
wondering if I… might make a small "imposition" on you…."
Smith stopped and turned to look at the Badger, his face
unreadable; "and that is?" Roland shrugged; "well, when my
‘Mech got fried, I basically lost everything I had with me.
Everything but the radio." The Badger grinned; "Hell, you
know for the biosensors and the…. "plumbing" to work
correctly you run those things in the buff." Smith looked
the Badger up and down as if evaluating his wardrobe and
then nodded; "I would HOPE you wouldn’t wear an outfit like
that out of choice…" Roland’s eyes widened; "Hey, I
SPECIFICALLY stole….. Oh, nevermind. What I’m trying to
say is that I don’t really have the price for a ticket off
planet. But since we both work for the same outfit,
perhaps you could… get it on your expense account?" Smith
smiled; "Actually, I’m what you might call an independent
contractor, but yes, to an extent my expenses are covered.
Lets see what it might take, though. No Promises." Roland
nodded; "Fair enough…"
Reaching behind his head, as if to scratch the back of his
neck, the Badger loosened the throwing knife in the sheath
sewn into the back of his leather jacket. He HOPED he
wouldn’t have to try and take over the smuggler’s ship by
himself, but if that’s what it took…..
The Badger looked from the name on the prow of the ship to
Smith and then back to the ship itself. It was
cylindrical, roughly ten to twelve diameters in length,
resting on its side. At the back were a cluster of
cylinders, strapped around the circumference. These were
divided into three groups by swept-back triangular fins,
two of which supported the aft end of the craft. A single
landing leg in front held the bow off the ground. The
upper curve of the rounded bow was all "greenhouse,"
obviously giving the flight deck an excellent view of the
stars, and from the very front of the curved prow extended
a slightly tapered cylinder, like the point on a throwing
dart. The whole hull was a polished silver, with
occasional accents of red. It looked ridiculous, like
something out of an ancient Holo. Looking back to Smith,
the Badger grumbled; "What a piece of Shit! We’re going to
entrust our lives to THIS? The Badger grinned; "I LOVE it"
and then looked at the Badger; "Oh, nevermind; you’re too
young to remember. Come on, I can’t wait to meet this
The Fox was a blazing scarlet, wearing khaki pants and a
bloused white shirt open to the waist. He returned Smith’s
grin; "Glad you like the Anthony Rodgers; there aren’t many
who get the joke." Smith chuckled; "I bet it cost you a
fortune to make something that looks like this actually
function." The Fox nodded; "It did, but it was worth every
penny; no one who sees the Rodgers takes her seriously, a
major mistake. Now, tell me, gentlefurrs, how I can be of
service." Smith shrugged; "its simple. We want to leave.
Now. We don’t care if we wind up at your next port of
call, or with the Brethren, among whom we have a number of
friends, and, err, business associates, but we would
appreciate avoiding the Elysium government and the Reds.
The Important thing is that we need to leave NOW."
The Fox stroked his chin, frowning slightly; "I haven’t yet
filled all the berths…. For us to leave immediately, you
would have to pay for every single remaining berth on the
ship." Roland’s eyes bulged, and his jaw dropped; he was
just about to speak when Smith’s foot came down on his.
"Forgive my associate; to be perfectly frank, I expected
something like this. How much?"
Roland listened while the two dickered, and finally settled
on a price. Smith lifted his valise and slowly,
meticulously emptied it of its contents. Toiletries,
underwear, a change of clothing, a significant number of
weapons which somehow hadn’t set off ANY of the detectors
in the starport, and a number of papers…. Finally he
reached into the bottom of the valise with both hands and
pulled, removing the false bottom. Moving slowly, he
extracted four small objects; "I trust gold pressed Latinum
will do? These three should adequately cover the sum we
agreed upon. I’m showing you the fourth with this promise:
Get us to the next port, or to the Brethren, and I’ll give
that to you as a bonus." The Fox fingered one of the cubes
and nodded; "How soon do you want to raise ship?" Smith
smiled; "two hours. Having done this, I’d like to go back
into the Starport and… "defray" my costs some by subletting
the empty births to what refugees might meet my….
Requirements." Roland frowned while the Fox smiledd; "I
haven’t seen that many comely wenches there, but if you
wish… well, whatever you wish, Sir. Two hours. We’ll be
Smith stopped and stared at the Coyote until he broke off
his conversation with the middle aged Ermine and her three
rather noisy children. Stepping closer, Smith looked at
the Agent; "There are some berths open on the Rodgers; you
were kind enough to help us earlier; if you wish, you and
your family are welcome to them. The Coyote opened his
mouth, then closed it and swallowed; "Um… I’d like to send
my family, but I think I’m needed here to… help others get
off planet. If what you alluded to is…. Well, I don’t
think I could leave now, leaving others behind. Smith
smiled fractionally and nodded; "One hour, 43 minutes.
Now, perhaps you could help me find others to fill the
remaining berths. I’m not looking for furrs with money;
rather this is what I’m looking for……"
The old Marmoset nodded; "I was with the Federal budget
office. Yes, that’s right, I worked for the Elysium
government, but I was a statistician, for cryin’ out loud!
I didn’t make policy! I didn’t have a hand in anything
that they did!" Smith nodded slowly; "I never said you
did; please go on." The Marmoset looked at his wife and
then collected himself, visibly forcing himself to calm
down. "I’ve noticed some things. I’ve noticed that the
Blues have liberated croplands, because that’s the logical
thing to do in their drive on the Capital. But the Reds
have gone out of their way to capture a major mining area,
even though its way out in the desert, and sparsely
populated. In the Rrawr industrial area, there has
actually been fighting between the Reds and the Blues, as
the Reds seek to gain control of certain key facilities."
Smith nodded; "and what conclusion have you drawn from all
this?" The Marmoset sighed; "I think the Reds are
positioning themselves for what comes after the fall of the
Elysium government. I don’t think they’re going to want to
participate in a planet-wide coalition government as their
propaganda says. I think they’re going to hold onto the
territory they’ve taken and shoot for complete domination
of the Planet. I think a civil war is coming, and I don’t
want any part of it! I want to get my family somewhere
safe!" Smith nodded; "agreed; I’ll sponsor you, provided
you talk to some friends of mine, at the earliest
opportunity." The Marmoset nodded; "as long as its
somewhere safe, I’ll be glad to tell them about my
observations." Sitting back, smiling proudly, he
proclaimed; "I’ve used non-parametric analyses to check my
data; it passes the ANOVA tests. The alpha and beta
propositions have almost perfect confidence levels… I KNOW
I’m right…" Smith just smiled; "I’m sure you are; now
you’d best get your family off to the Rodgers. We’re
The old raccoon was missing a leg, below the knee, but he
held himself with a military bearing. He seemed to see a
kindred spirit in Smith, and vice versa. "Yessir, I’ve
picked up on the pattern. The Blues are liberating people,
but the Reds are securing strategic positions wherever
possible. And resources too. The Yttrium mines at Bangor,
the Hydroelectric facility at Bamffh, and so forth. If I
could fight, I’d stay, but I’m too old for the regeneration
techniques… and, well, me and the missus just want to get
our family out of harm’s way? Is that too much for an old
soldier to ask?"
Smith looked at the notepad and nodded; "That’s it; that’s
all the available berths." Roland nodded; "We’ve only got
a few minutes; we’d best get going." As they rose, moving
through the now largely deserted terminal, Roland looked at
Smith; "how does putting all those people on the ship
defray your costs?" Smith smiled; "they all have a story
to tell; a story the Intelligence folks I work for will
want to hear first-hand. I think they may already have a
clue as to what’s coming, but good, solid data is always
valuable. Don’t worry, I suspect this whole thing will be
break even…." The Badger nodded; "Good, I’d hate for that
fare to come out of my pay!"
The Fox consulted an antique pocketwatch and the smiled.
Smith’s largesse had earned him a place on the flight deck,
and he’d brought Roland with him. So far the Fox hadn’t
objected. Dressed in jodhpurs and a tunic that closed in
the front with a vertical row of gold buttons on each side,
a golden lightning bolt cutting diagonally across his
front, the Fox looked very much the dashing holo-hero, and
to Roland’s way of thinking, very much the antique. "He
was probably too crazy for the Brethren" the Badger thought
to himself, knowing well that the Pirates would tolerate
almost anyone’s eccentricities, as long as they were
effective. Still, the ship lifted off with the quiet hum
of the most modern repulsors, and soon they were flying, a
scarce hundred meters above the treetops, across the
countryside. As a river flashed by underneath, Roland’s
eyes widened; "Hey, didn’t we just pass into Reds
territory?" The fox grinned, his eyes never leaving the
tactical display in front of him; "Um Hmmmmm." Roland was
about to say something else, when Smith’s hand on his
shoulder quieted him. The Rodgers made a few sweeping
turns, obviously evading ground defenses, until a city
started to loom ahead….. And there was a starport, with a
HUGE ship lifting off. The Leviathan was one of a class of
superfreighters, and as such, the Reds were providing it
with an escort….
Roland’s head jerked as the sensor operator spoke; "Got
it,Captain. We’re now emulating their IFF. They’ll think
we’re one of them, if they don’t look too closely…." The
Fox grinned; "Very good, Chatwick."
The Elysium forces however, were not unaware of the small
convoy lifting from the planet’s surface. As they all
climbed for altitude like homesick angels, the first
interceptors found them. The first wave was shot down by
the escorting Reds forces; the second wave was hard on the
heels of the first however, and managed to take out two of
the defenders. The third wave had even more survivors,
claiming one more defender, and scoring a solid hit on the
bulk of the Leviathan. Blud, wisely had sheltered his ship
in the radar shadow of the Leviathan, a move any surviving
Reds would have been sure to have noticed… had any survived
the fourth wave of interceptors. The Leviathan’s point
defense systems, no longer on hold due to the "friendlies"
in the area, took out several of those, but another scored
a hit on its hull. Still, the Leviathan, now empty, was
mostly empty cargo holds, and while quite a bit of
hullmetal was shed in the upper atmosphere, the
spaceworthyness of the ship didn’t seem to be significantly
This had merely been the opening act, however. Suddenly
the Leviathan lurched onto a new vector, and for a moment,
the Rodger’s sensors were able to pick up the oncoming
aerospace fighters. "Time to depart, I think" the Fox
mused. Nodding to his helmsfurr, the Rodgers accelerated
Acworth blinked; something trailing fire was emerging from
behind their target….. A silvery torpedo shape with
tailfins and a huge tail of flame trailing behind it…..
"Dunwoody, you see that?" "Roger" came the voice of his
wingman; "I see it, but I don’t believe it. Who uses
chemical rockets THESE days?" "Dunno" Acworth responded;
"I don’t THINK it’s a weapon; its not headed for us…."
"Confirmed" Dunwoody growled; "its not our designated
target; ignore it. Lets concentrate on the Freighter.
Lets see if we can force it down….."
Blud smiled as the aerospace fighters vectored in on the
Leviathan. The freighter was powerful and well armed, but
it was not meant to dogfight with such as those. Whoever
was in command of that ship was about to have a very bad
day. Grinning, the Fox scanned the tactical display,
looking for the next problem.
They’d evaded an Elysium picket ship, dodged two Brethren
raiders (who were probably on their way back from a ground
support mission, and unlikely to be too interested in them)
and pretended to be a piece of wreckage left over from some
previous battle while a Reds Frigate moved past. Now they
were half way through the system and it almost looked as if
they might make it to a jump point. Roland had journeyed
to the Rodger’s mess, to fetch sandwiches, and Smith seemed
to be asleep. The Sensor operator’s quiet "uh-oh" was
almost missed…. However as the Fox’s nose shifted
fractionally, as his ears twitched, Smith’s eyes opened.
He didn’t say anything, he just watched. Initially, Roland
thought the sensor furr might have dripped mayo from his
sandwich on his pants, so quiet was the comment, but it was
Smith’s almost imperceptible change in demeanor that
brought him to full alertness. After a moment, Blud rose
from his command chair, stretched, and ambled over. He
gazed over the sensor operator’s console for a minute and
then nodded to himself. Turning he looked at the Helmsfur;
"253 mark 117. Flank speed. I do believe they’ve set a
trap for us." Smith almost whispered when he spoke, but
the word seemed to fill the flight deck; "Who?" The Fox
winced and replied in kind; "Reds." After a moment, he
expounded; "They, ah, don’t seem to like me very much.
Can’t imagine why…."
Roland shifted in his seat; "you know we have friends with
the Brethren; we MIGHT be able to cut a deal with them."
Blud shrugged; "I know. But I’m not that eager to loose
all my profits, and maybe my ship and freedom too. I’ll
keep that in mind, but I won’t resort to that until I have
"Got another one coming in at point five, Captain." The
Fox nodded, a slightly more worried look on his face; "352
Mark 15. Engine room; can you give us any more?" The furr
that responded, his voice tinny over the intercom, sounded
like he’d been raised on New Aberdeen. In a thick burrr,
he growled; "Captain, I’m giv’n her all she’s got; she
kinna take annamore." The Fox smiled; "Time for one of
your occasional miracles, Montgomery; push her harder!"
Stern chases can be long, drawn out affairs. Blud had
kicked a few mines out, a tactic that had surprised and
charmed Smith; it’d bought them a little more time, but not
that much more. None of the mines had damaged their
pursuers. The sensor operator’s sharp invective caught
them all off guard; "DAMMIT! Captain, we’ve got two more
coming in 37 Mark 63 and 45 Mark 12. Blud nodded; "Come
about to …… 305 mark 290." Turning to Smith the Fox
sighed; "best make your call. And I’d be obliged if you
could cut my crew the best deal you can."
Roland looked at the Fox; "you mean….." Blud nodded; "its
inevitable. Sooner or later they’ll catch us. Oh, they
might shear off, if something more lucrative comes up, but
that’s not too likely…." Roland nodded; "if it comes to a
boarding, I’ll help defend the ship." Blud smiled wryly;
"I appreciate that, but they’re more likely to just torpedo
us, and move on….. Unless they’re into Art Deco, in which
case they MIGHT want to take us as a prize…." Roland
winced and shook his head; "we’re doomed…."
Roland looked at Smith and wondered how he could be so
calm. Even Blud was nervously chewing on a clawtip. The
Reds were almost within weapons range. Three ships with
enough firepower to…. Insure the job got done. With
everyone on edge, the Sensor operator’s yelp made everyone
jump. Well, almost everyone; Smith’s eyes may have opened,
but it seemed to be his only movement. "HOLY….. Where the
FUCK did THAT come from?" Blud paced over; "What’s
happened?" The Sensor operator shrugged; "Lost all sensor
data on the three pursuers. Seems there’s something in the
way." Blud blinked; "What? What’s in the way?" Then, as
he leaned over the furr’s shoulder to look at the sensor
console, he grinned; "Ah, I love a dramatic rescue like
that. It appeals to the romantic in me."
Onegin growled into the comm pickup; "You Bastard! I KNEW
he still had to be one of yours!" The Lion’s stern image
gazed back; "I’m sure you won’t believe me when I tell you
that Blud hasn’t been with us for years. He’s about to
become just another prisoner taken by the Brethren."
Onegin shook his head; "He is OUR prisoner, wanted for
crimes against the People of Elysium! We were already in
pursuit of him! He belongs to US!" The Lion grinned,
showing fangs; "You, Sir, have set the pattern of taking
rightful prey away from us; you have no grounds to complain
when it happens to you in turn. Now, if you think that one
cruiser and two destroyers are a fair match for the
Overlord, you’re perfectly welcome to test our metal.
Otherwise, get lost."
Onegin’s eyes went wide and he spluttered as the Lion broke
the connection. Behind him, his first officer growled;
"you know, we MIGHT be able to take the Bastard; their
power curves are abnormally low…." Turning, Onegin glared
at his subordinate; "And how many OTHER ships does he have
cloaked and ready to help him?" At his First Officer’s
surprised look, Onegin growled; "No, we’ll let him have
this one. We have OTHER plans for that mangy Lion.
Believe me, we do. He’ll get his come-uppance, and fairly
"Hello, Peter." "Hello, Hans, good to see you again." The
speech was pleasant, even if the actions weren’t; the
boarding crew from the Overlord was taking everyone
prisoner, an action that absolutely enraged Roland. No
matter how much he protested, no matter who he claimed to
know, or what evidence he offered to present, they treated
him just like any of the others. Smith took it all as
stoically as the Fox, however, not resisting in the least.
All anyone would say was that they’d sort it ALL out when
they got back to the base…..
Xyloff smiled as he looked at the video feed; "Well,
Onegin, it’s a shame you lost him. He has been an
annoyance. But the Brethren coming to his aid like they
did, depriving us of Justice, could not have been better if
we’d written the script for them. By the time this hits
the airwaves, no one on the planet will see the Pirates as
anything but the scum that they are….
Conversations with the Imperials
Tanj smiled as she read the addendum to Smith’s report.
She’d known Smith, or whatever his real name was, was
resourceful, but it seemed he’d risen to new heights in
order to return to where he could report in "Securely."
She tried for a minute to imagine the nondescript furr in
the kennels of the Brethren’s base, but after a minute gave
up. Shaking her head in amazement at the audacity of
leaking a portion of the Rodger’s flight plan to the Reds,
just to insure that Blud would be forced into seeking
shelter with the Brethren, and thus taking Smith exactly
where he wanted to go, she closed that message and opened
the next. It was just what she’d feared, and exactly what
she’d expected. Her Master had talked to Smith, and to the
refugees with him. He said that he personally was
convinced. Convinced that the Elysium government was
building some sort of doomsday device around the effect
exhibited by the Brou device. Convinced that the Reds were
positioning themselves for a grab for power when the
Elysium government fell. But as convinced as he claimed to
be, he insisted that he could do no more than warn a few
key furrs of what might be coming. That and take a few
unspecified precautions…. That he could go no further,
until he had incontrovertible proof…. Towards that end,
she was ordered to return immediately.
Leaning forward, Tanj reread the postscript one more time.
If she read it right, he was leaving it up to her
discretion whether or not to tell the Imperials what they
suspected. Settling back in her station chair, Tanj stared
at the bulkhead, wondering if he’d deliberately waited
until things were too far gone for the Imperials to
interfere, one way or the other….
Tanj found Kath in the laundry. The equipment was almost
completely automated, and the fabrics didn’t require
pressing, and yet, for some reason it was one of the Mink’s
favorite places. Tanj grinned as the Mink stood, legs wide
apart, her crotch pressed hard against the washer, which
was shaking hard, obviously struggling with an out-of-
balance load…. Tanj knew from personal experience that if
you pressed against it there, the vibration sensor wouldn’t
shut the washer down….. and that the selfless act of
steadying the heavily vibrating washer brought its own
rewards….. Clearing her throat, she grinned at the sudden
look of panic on Kath’s face as she realized she’d been
"caught"… "Best get dressed. We have to go see that Wolf
in Intelligence. And we’d best do it quickly." With a
look of disappointment on her face, the Mink nodded, and
reluctantly peeled herself away from the front of the
The reception desk in the Imperial Intelligence offices was
manned by an older Leopard wearing Sergeant’s stripes.
Before Tanj had even reached him, he’d picked up a comm
handset, and was talking quietly. Tanj stopped before him
and just looked at him. After a moment the Leopard nodded
to whoever he was talking to, put down the handset and
nodded towards the door; "He’ll be expecting you, ma’am."
Tanj nodded her thanks, and with Kath following, turned to
move through the door.
The Wolf’s cubicle looked as sterile as ever. If he’d been
doing anything at all, there was no clue as to what. He
sat there with his paws folded on the desk in front of him.
Without waiting for an offer, Tanj took the visitor’s
chair. For a moment she just looked at him…. And then she
began; "We have reason to believe that the Elysium
government has stumbled upon a significant…. Astrophysics
event. Building on their observations, we believe that
they are developing a… "doomsday" weapon of sufficient
power to destroy the whole planet. We think that if the
civil war goes against them, the leadership cadre will
attempt to flee the planet, using the… weapon behind to
destroy their enemies. This is a collation of a number of
snippets of intelligence, coupled with some eye-witness
information, but no hard proof exists. Never the less, I
have sufficient confidence in the weight of evidence that I
thought you should know."
The Wolf looked at her for a long moment, unblinking… and
then he started to chuckle. The chuckle grew, until he was
leaning back in the chair, laughing uproariously. Heads
appeared over the surrounding cubicle walls as furrs stared
wide-eyed at a sight Tanj was sure they’d never thought
they’d see. Finally the Wolf calmed down enough to wave a
paw dismissively; "The Imperium has been searching for
decades for a way to destroy an entire planet. Nothing and
I mean NOTHING has even come close! Oh, they can kill off
all the life, and ruin the ecology, but not actually
destroy the planet. Its just not possible!"
Tanj shrugged and rose; "Time will tell. And I truly hope
I’m wrong. Just don’t say I didn’t try and warn you."
Turning, a wide-eyed Kath trailing her, Tanj stalked out.
The Jaguar frowned at the image of the Wolf on his
viewscreen. "Sir, we can be underway in under three hours,
if need be." The Wolf nodded; "I want you to shadow the
Beowulf as they return to the Elysium sector. No, I don’t
expect you to hide a Battlecruiser from them; just keep an
eye on them." The Jaguar nodded slowly; "If we push it
hard enough, we should be able to keep up with them; we are
after all one of the fastest capital ships in the fleet…
and I know they LOOK like just a freighter, but I’m
confident that ship is more than it appears to be. Can you
give me any more background information on the Mission?"
Lifting his gaze from the Wolf, the Jaguar looked at the
Admiral commanding the sector; the fact that the Wolf was
seated while the Admiral stood spoke volumes. After a
moment the Wolf spoke; "Tanj was in here a little while
ago, spinning the most improbable tale; she actually
predicted that the Elysium government would destroy their
own planet. Hogwash, of course, but its come to mind that
maybe, just maybe, SHE is trying to manipulate US. If
she’s up to something, I want her to know VERY clearly that
the Imperium does NOT lend itself to being anyone’s patsy.
Keep an eye on her. Keep the pressure on her. When you
get to the Elysium system, stay on the fringes. DO NOT get
involved in the fighting there. If anything else comes up…
if ANYTHING comes up, let me know immediately!
This story is a work of fiction, and any
resemblance to any characters, living, dead or
imaginary is purely a coincidence. Tanj is
copyright Kittiara's player. Kittiara can be found
on Furrymuck; telnet 126.96.36.199 8888. Hinoki,
and Zassa are copyright their players (Zassa can be
found on FurryMuck, and Hinoki on Tapestries or on
FurryMuck. Copyright 2001. Comments, suggestions,
or flames can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.