Tanj's Tales: Consultants
Stardate 2403.5

by Kittiara

Her nickname is "Tanj", and she's certainly living up to it. For her, it seems, "There Ain't No Justice." As a young engineer on a tramp space freighter, this Cheetah-morph found herself the victim of a scam, sold into slavery, and trained as a sex-slave. Sold to pirates, she finds herself as a pawn in a much larger struggle. This story contains bondage, non-consensual sex, and hopefully some humor, adventure and intrigue. Adults only, PLEASE!

This is a work-in-progress, and more will be added to it Later; please stay tuned and have patience!


Jenka looked at the package and sighed. Looking up at the courier ship Captain she grimaced; that would be the only way to describe the half-smile, half-snarl; "Thanks, Bertram. I'll, ah, see that she gets it as soon as we've checked it out, to make sure its not a bomb or anything." The Husky nodded, flipped the Jaguar a jaunty salute, and departed.

Jenka tossed the package on her desk, and turned back to her computer, but a moment later she picked it up again, and shook it, listening. Not a sound. "If I ditch this, or even delay it, it might wind up being something important" she mused to herself. Most of the Cheetah's info came in electronically, but there was the chance that one of her agents had decided on a more "physical" route.... On the other hand; "But if I give it to her, it might be something related to that wild quest she's on, and she'll leave." With a sigh, the Jaguar tossed it back onto her desk. What WOULD happen if Tanj succeeded in bringing back the Brethren? For certain, she'd loose her to the Lion...

Three hours later, when she'd finished all the current "paperwork", it was still there, and she had no clearer idea what to do with it, than she did when it came in. With a sigh, she scooped it up, rose, and headed for the door; "Might as well get it over with."

The Med lab wasn't really equipped to check for bombs, or booby traps. All the technician could do was shrug; "looks like solid, homogenous plastic to me."

Clancy frowned and shrugged; "Dunno, Jenka. I can't figure out WHAT it is. Just looks like a block of plastic. Maybe it'll mean something to Tanj." The chief mechanic had run every scanner he had over it and come up empty. Jenka sighed and nodded; "Guess there's only one way to find out."

Tanj fumbled for the socket; as her fingertips hit it, it rolled just a little, just enough to be out of reach. "Hinoki, can you....?" Hinoki shifted, his head turning; his voice was strained; "Um... not unless you want me to drop the plenum chamber. As I'm under it at the moment, that might not be such a great idea." Tanj nodded absently to herself and tried to squirm to her left a little. This time she was careful NOT to try and grab the errant socket until she was sure it wouldn't escape her. Snaking her arm down, and then across her chest, she snapped it onto the nut driver, placed a nut in the socket and moved the tool over the first of the sixteen studs that held the plenum chamber in place. It was then that she felt someone draw a finger over the pad of her left foot.

Trying hard not to laugh, Tanj drove the first nut home, as whoever it was continued to tickle her in one of her most sensitive places. Another finger stroked softly up the inside of her left leg, until it met her crotch. Trying hard not to squirm, she drove the second nut home.

Jenka's throaty laugh announced her presence as her fingers continued to tease. To tease both her footpad, and her sex. Tanj bit back a complaint; it wouldn't do any good. This is what she got for trying to save on the laundry bill, by doing the PM on her ship in the raw. Next time she'd wear the boots from her vacuum suit, and a chastity belt! Groaning, in frustration, both from the dropped nut and from the increasing heat between her thighs, she tried hard to secure the opposite corner, before Hinoki's strength failed.

That was when Hinoki groaned. It was the kind of groan a male makes when someone licks over his balls. Suddenly the finger disappeared from her left foot, and Tanj could just guess, from the noises Hinoki was making, where it'd wound up. Panting, the Cheetah fumbled again, the nut clattering across the deck plates. She'd retrieve it later. Reaching into the cup, she grabbed another one, fitted it into the nut driver, and pressed it against the corner stud. The device whirred, and then suddenly stopped. Tanj flicked the switch a couple of times, and then realization hit her; she tugged on the cord, only to find it loose. Jenka had pulled the plug! Oh, well, she had a box end wrench around here somewhere. With increasing distraction she fumbled around for it.

Jenka chuckled as she teased the Cheetah pair. Imagine, crawling into a cramped, dusty place like that, naked! In fact the only parts visible were from the crotch down. Why, she bet they'd both need a bath when they got done. IF they ever GOT done. Of course Tanj's increasing clumsiness was probably due to the two fingers she was working in and out of her dripping snatch. And Hinoki, poor Hinoki; he MUST be having trouble holding that large housing up, given the distraction of someone's nasty tongue running up and down the length of his shaft. Teach them to leave themselves so vulnerable!

Tanj muttered curses and imprecations to herself; she'd threaded at least six more bolts onto the studs by hand. All she could reach without her and Hinoki changing places, and that was going to be quite difficult given their current situation. Grunting, panting, moaning, she brought the wrench up and started tightening them. She just hoped the plenum would stay in place with just those few bolts....

Hinoki strained, trying to hold it all in place, over his head, as someone deep-throated his shaft. It was nice, real nice, but he wished it wasn't quite right now, wasn't quite right here..... If he dropped the plenum, well, he'd slid it under the air handler resting on his chest, and it wasn't going to fall more than a foot; he'd probably survive, but he was sure it'd leave a mark....

Tanj howled as the climax claimed her; for a moment her vision was filled with bright sparks, and her arms grew weak; somehow, though, she managed to keep from loosing the wrench. As it receded, she fumbled in the cup for one more nut; that was all she got, as she knocked it too, out of reach, its contents chattering as they rattled across the floor into the most unlikely places. Why was it things like that never rolled TOWARDS you? Groaning she twisted as much as possible, reaching across Hinoki's heaving chest, to try and thread the last nut in her possession into place.

Jenka grinned as she felt the Cheetah shift; she purred, worked a third finger into her dripping snatch, and then, doing her best to spread her fingers within that tight confine, she started twisting her paw from side to side, fingertips stroking deep within Tanj's sex.

Zassa paused at the door to Environmental. Behind her, Sabina almost bumped into her new Mistress. Muttering, the Kitten tried to keep the tray from tilting, tried to keep her mutterings low enough so her mistress wouldn't hear. Zassa shot her new slave a dirty look, and then turned to take the tray; "Sabina, you see Mistress Jenka over there teasing Tanj and Hinoki?" The Kitten nodded. Zassa grinned; "Well, I want you to go do to Jenka what she's doing to them. Use your tongue; show me how good you are."

Jenka smiled as she felt the zipper to her catsuit move, exposing her sex. A moment later she groaned as she felt Sabina's tongue. "Ah" she muttered to herself; "As the philosopher said; no good deed goes unpunished!"

Hinoki grunted; Tanj kept hitting him with the end of the wrench as she fought to tighten the nut; it didn't hurt much, but it was a distraction, and he was Soooooo close to cumming!

Tanj sighed, and flopped back; there, the last nut, or at least the last nut still in her possession, was tight. With luck the thing would hold. Now she could concentrate on the oh-so-nice sensations coming from between her big toes....

Hinoki shuddered, and howled as his orgasm erupted; he felt his back arch, his cock spurt, felt his own warm cum land on his tummy; at the last instant the lovely mouth had been replaced by a rapidly moving paw wrapped around his shaft. Oh, well, he was filthy anyways, and would need a bath in any case...

Tanj frowned, as the fingers suddenly vanished from her quim. From somewhere, she heard a female, a female that sounded remarkably like Jenka, moaning in pleasure.... With a sigh, shaking her head, she scrunched further under the air mover, searching for the missing nuts. They still had to finish the job, and there'd be time to finish the "unexpected pleasure" part later.

By the time Tanj had found the scattered nuts, finished bolting the plenum into place, and extracted herself, there was a small orgy in progress in Environmental. Sabina was licking furiously at Jenka's pussy, as the Jaguar crouched on hands and knees. Zassa was watching her slave's activities with a critical eye, as she rode Hinoki's resurgent shaft. The Cheetah male only had eyes for Zassa's bouncing breasts, however as his paws gently kneaded them, leaving oily dark marks on her white fur. Tanj watched for a moment, wondering how she could fit in, but then a really wicked thought came to her. Grinning she skipped lightly towards the door; "Guess this means that I get first shot at the shower!" she quipped.

The sound of four "HEY!'s" came to her as the door closed behind her. Oh, well, they could wait. Its not like they were going to run out of hot water, not with a fusion reactor to power the hot water tank!

Tanj Settled into her chair in the Wardroom, her hair and fur still damp, still without a stitch on. Such was shipboard routine. Things had been a little slow for the Black Fleet, and she'd taken the break in routine to catch up on some things that needed doing on her ship. There was always something that needed doing around a starship.... Tired, and just a little frustrated, she sipped her cup of coffee, mentally reviewing the things that remained to be done.

Jenka paused at the door; somewhere along the way, she'd lost her catsuit. On the other hand, she'd picked up a slave, her left index finger hooked through Sabina's right nipple ring, using it to lead her along. With her right hand, she tossed the package at Tanj, with a grin; "Think fast!" Tanj deftly caught it with her left paw, not spilling a drop of the coffee in her right; she grinned back; "Fast? Fast I can do. Cheetah, remember?" Jenka just laughed, and tugged on the Kitten's nipple ring, making her squeal; "I'm going to go get cleaned up; got just the bath-toy here to help, too! Let me know what's in the package!" And with that, the pair moved off towards the ship's head.

Tanj put down her coffee and examined the package. It was a standard "Tamper proof" interstellar mailing envelope. And whoever had opened it hadn't even tried to conceal the fact. They'd just taped it closed. The return address was patently false. That system wasn't even in the sector mentioned. Using a clawtip, Tanj slit the re-taped flap, wondering if it was going to explode, or emit a toxic puff of gas. Nothing like that happened. With a sigh of relief, she up-ended the envelope, to dump a smooth ovoid of plastic into her hand. It was a little larger than the palm of her hand, but smaller than a dinner plate. Maybe about the size of a salad plate. It was smoothly rounded, and about a finger-width's thick. On each side was a smooth depression, but other than that, it was just featureless, shiny black plastic. Frowning, Tanj looked it over carefully. No seams. No rattles. No nothing.

It was as she was holding it, frowning at it, that she found her thumbs close to the depressions on the edges. Turning it slightly, she held it from beneath with her fingers, holding her thumbs just over the depressions. Holding her breath, she let her thumbs descend.

When they touched the plastic, something akin to heat waves rippled over the surface of the disk. These shortly coalesced into the image of Professor Corey. The Lynx was looking as disheveled, as rumpled as ever. But his eyes were alight.

"Hello, Tanj. I think I've finally found a "secure" method with which to communicate with you. If you examine the device you now hold, you'll see that to any but the most sophisticated scans, it will show as a solid block of thermoplastic. And I bet there aren't but a half a dozen furrs in the known universe that could deduce it's a holoprojector! Anyways, I thought I ought to bring you up to date on my progress on the project."

At this point, the holographic image of the Lynx clasped his paws behind his back and started to pace. To Tanj's amazement, he paced right off the disk, his stride carrying him a good two feet to one side, before he turned and paced back.

"I've pursued the problem from Fenymann's point of view, working through his non-exclusion theorem. The first thing I tried was an N-space tensor analysis of space-time, working backwards from the Xenon traces and the Cherenkov type Lambda residual radiation in the, ah, former Elysium system. That suggested an investigation of the interaction between charmed quarks and leptons, but unfortunately that didn't pan out...." The Lynx waved a paw as if to dismiss the whole issue. "I then turned to Harmon's multiple phase-law concept...."

Tanj frowned as the Lynx paced, and lectured. Occasionally he would pause to write in the air, seemingly using only his finger. Color-coded text and symbols floated in space, gradually drifting further and further from the point of origin, as the Lynx wrote. Tanj had no idea how he was managing that.... While it was terribly obvious that Corey had been quite busy, it was also so much gibberish. At least to her. As the Lynx talked, Hinoki wandered in, stared for a moment, and then went to rummage around in the ‘fridge for something to eat.

"Are you understanding any of that?" Tanj looked up, to see Jenka, still nude, padding into the wardroom. Sitting at the opposite end of the table, she rested her chin on the palm of her paw, elbow on the table, just staring. Tanj sighed and shook her head; "I'm afraid not." For a moment they both watched the pacing Lynx, and then Jenka chuckled; "I pity his poor students!" Tanj chuckled and nodded; "I wonder when he's found time to teach!"

Finally the Lynx came to a stop, and turned to face Tanj; "So as you can see, I've run down all of the more reasonable, and even some of the more arcane approaches to the problem.... And I'm afraid I've hit a series of roadblocks on each one." His paws came up in a placating gesture; "now I KNOW what happened; I don't doubt it for a moment. But.... I'm afraid I need some help." Straightening, the Lynx seemed to look right at her; "In order to take this project to the next level, I'm afraid I'm going to need a... well, call it a "consultant." I need someone with high energy physics facilities that I just don't have, and cannot economically build, plus the help of some experts with a more focused field of expertise. I'd like... well, there are scientists on Gate's World that might be able to help. They're not cheap, but they're the best in their field. I've got a semester break coming up in three weeks, and I'd like for us to go there, and consult with them. Please let me know soonest if we can manage this. To signal "yes" push the right thumbpad five times in rapid sequence. To signal "no", please do the same with the left thumbpad."

Hinoki pulled his head out of the ‘fridge, and turned to look at Tanj; "I've heard of this "Gate's World". They're way out on the fringes of the Empire. In fact they're probably not even in the Empire, proper. They are to the scientific community, what we are to the shipping industry. Scientific Mercenaries. The pirates of the technological world. Patents mean nothing to them; they'll reverse-engineer anything for you, for a price. And they'll sell you anything, for a price." He grinned, showing fangs; "No morals at all!"

Sashi padded into the Wardroom, wearing only her latex panties; after kissing her Master, she took the dishes from his paws and turned to the microwave, to finish preparing his snack. As she moved, Jenka watched her carefully; "Make anything for you, eh? No qualms, no morality? Hmmmm. I wonder...." Tanj looked from the Jaguar, to Sashi and back; "Um... Mistress? What are you thinking?" Jenka's head snapped back; "Oh..... nothing. Ah, what are you going to do? Those folks aren't cheap, you know."

Tanj sighed; "If Corey seems to think they'll be able to help, I guess we'll have to follow through. He is, after all, our greatest hope of finding Elysium, the rest of the Brethren, and the Lion. I'll just have to find the money somewhere....." Jenka just sighed and nodded. "OK, Pet, that's your problem... I'm sure a solution will present itself. But while you're there, you're going to have to run some errands for me...."

Tanj nodded, looked at the plastic in her paws, and with a slight frown, squeezed the right-hand side five times in as many seconds. The image of Professor Corey smiled beatifically, and winked out. A moment later, the plastic disk crumbled to dust.

Hinoki fed Sashi a spoonful of Lo Mein, and then grinned at Jenka; "That was a dirty trick you pulled on us, back in Environmental. I could have hurt myself, if I'd dropped that plenum! Jenka laughed and waved a paw dismissively; "you forget your training, Hinoki. I know you and Tanj were both trained at the Academy, to conduct complex tasks despite the distractions such as those! I had every confidence you'd come through fine, and you did, didn't you?" At Sabina's curious look, Tanj leaned over and stage-whispered; "I remember one class at the academy, where I had to assemble what they SAID were hand grenades, while a rather well hung instructor took me enthusiastically from behind. Talk about learning to concentrate!" At the look on the kitten's face, Zassa and Hinoki couldn't help but chuckle.


Tanj tried to concentrate. There were just too many things that had to be done, and time was running out. Jenka had dragged her back to her quarters, that evening, and had bound her in a "ball tie." Taking her time with the straps, the Jaguar had encased Tanj's legs in a leather sleeve, methodically lacing it up the back. Her legs had been folded so that her ankles could be strapped tightly to the top of the sheath. In a kneeling position, Tanj had been pushed forward until her torso was flat against the tops of her thighs, and there she was tightly strapped in that position. Another sheath bound her arms tightly behind her back. The leather bondage helmet covered her head, deadening any sound in the room, the built-in prod gag pressing against the back of her throat, filling her mouth. Only two small holes over her nostrils were provided to breathe through. And then Jenka had added the vibrators; a big one in her ass, a bigger one in her pussy. The only thing not restrained was her tail, which lashed about from the droning stimulus of the two dongs. Tanj had been tied near Jenka's desk, a convenient footrest, as the pirate queen worked at her desk, reading reports. And it would have been a moderately enjoyable way to spend the evening.... If she just didn't have so danged much to DO!

They were supposed to leave in two days. The ship had yet to be fueled, the route had yet to be finalized, and she still hadn't heard from Corey where she was supposed to meet him. Property wanted her to drop off a load of booty to their "agents" on New Tortugas, Engineering wanted her to pick up some parts at Sahrayn, and one of her "sources" was demanding a face to face meeting on Grippen, with what she said was "Critical Information". And then there was..... Tanj's train of thought shattered as the vibrators hit a harmonic, suddenly acting together, driving her higher and higher until her world seemed to explode in another powerful climax.

Jenka smiled and looked from the message flimsy to the bound pet under her heels; the Cheetah was shuddering almost imperceptibly, but probably that was as much as she could do, considering how she was bound. Reaching out for the remote, she ratcheted its settings back a notch. Let her simmer for a while before her next climax.

Tanj groaned into her gag, as the waves of pleasure passed.... Now... where was she? Oh, yeah, Greta wanted that rather illegal software upgrade for her Timbalet nerve disruptor, and Hankins wanted a case of Saurian brandy, Dimmings wanted a hypnocube training program for his new slave, Dave was after a dozen andorian roses to impress his latest girlfriend, Subotai wanted some EM-514 wave guide modules for his ship... and then there was Jenka's list of things to get on Gate's world.....

The Badger's shout brought Tanj up short. Turning, trying not to drop her PADD, and the bundled printouts, she watched as Roland jogged through the corridor towards her. As he jogged, he tried not to stare. It seemed the Cheetah was wearing only a few stick-on-pieces of cloth. How they stuck to her fur, he couldn't imagine. And of course, they were black and circular, so it was difficult to tell she was wearing anything at all.....

"Hey, Tanj, I hear you're headed out on a mission." Tanj nodded, smiling wryly; "And you want me to pick up something for you." Roland shook his head no; "Actually, I was hoping to bum a ride." Tanj crooked one eyebrow upwards; "Sure, if we're headed anywhere near where you're going. What's up?" The Badger grinned and waved a paw evasively; "oh, its just a... a bit of a convention. Powered armor enthusiasts. Its out in the Disparta Nebula, in the Shirow system. Port Tippman." The Cheetah frowned; "Hmmm. Have to look at the star charts, but I think that isn't too far off of our route. Let me check and I'll get back to you." Roland nodded, and started to turn away; pausing he looked back; "Oh, and Tanj? I'll be bringing the Lightning. Gotta run! Catch you later!"

Tanj watched him trot off the way he'd come, shaking her head. Sure she could fit a five meter tall 60 ton suit of powered armor in her ship. Plenty of room. At least on the way out; with all the things folks had asked her to pick up, it just might be a little tight on the way back. With a sigh she turned and headed off to her next meeting.

"Don't be ridiculous, of course we're coming. You know it's the closest place that we might find help for Bruno." Tanj looked at Wanda and sighed; "I'm concerned about the safety of this place. Gates' world has a certain... reputation." Wanda grinned; "After all this time, I would have thought I'd proven that I could take care of myself. And Kath'll be along too; you KNOW her level of training!" The Mink just grinned shyly. Tanj rolled her eyes and sighed; "Yeah, I know you two can handle yourselves. Problem is, most other folks don't. That leads to the temptation to jump the poor defenseless females. Among other things, I don't really want to draw attention to ourselves on this mission. The lower the profile the better." The Wolverine lass nodded; "And what better cover than taking poor Bruno here to get medical treatment?" The Bear, sitting on the floor, looked up from his examination of the toes of his left foot, and grinned at the mention of his name. He'd taken to Wanda, "adopting" her as a surrogate mother. At least she'd managed to potty-train him.... Tanj sighed and shrugged; there was no point in arguing, but maybe she could modify things a little.... "All right, on one condition, though." Wanda frowned slightly; "And what's that?" Tanj crossed her arms and did her best to glare (upwards) at the Wolverine lass; "You take Ralph, as, ah, "security"." Wanda smiled; "Ralph? He's a pushover. You know that. A great analyst and not a bad manager, but he's no Ninja." Tanj nodded; "Yeah, but he's BIG. Very few folks will mess with a full grown Siberian Tiger. And they don't KNOW that he's not a Ninja."

Kath nudged her mistress; "She's right; Ralph IS big. Especially where it counts. It'd be, ah, good to have him along." Wanda glared down at her pet for a moment, and then grinned. The Tiger was well hung; and it might be a long, and otherwise dull trip... Looking back at Tanj, Wanda nodded; "OK."

Ralph looked at the Cheetah and shrugged; "Of course, Mistress, I am yours to command....." Tanj rolled her eyes at the sarcasm; "Yeah... but?" Ralph shrugged again; "Makes me think of the first law of Veterans." Tanj raised an eyebrow; "And that is?" Ralph grinned; "Fuck Exciting Adventures." Tanj sighed; "I thought it was "Never Volunteer". Ralph shrugged a third time; "Same thing, isn't it?" Tanj growled and shook her head; "Too bad, Stripes, you're going! Set up your department to make do without you for about three weeks, and make sure you're on the ship. Civilian clothes AND full combat load-out. Just in case." Ralph just sighed and nodded.

As the door whooshed closed behind the Cheetah, the Tiger sighed; "well, the good side is I get to look forward to probably more sex than I can stand, on the way out. The bad side is, things are never dull around her. Oh well....."

Tanj stood on the ramp and checked off items on her PADD. Intelligence shop running smoothly, with a full set of orders, and contingency plans for almost any event. Check. Fuel, and other consumables. Check. Flight clearances. Check. Booty to be delivered. Check. Data cube with "items to be obtained" list. Check. Crew. Hinoki, and Sashi were already on board, as was Zassa and her new slave, Sabina. Roland had loaded his Lightning, and was aboard. Wanda, Kath and Bruno were on their way. And so far, Ralph hadn't been seen. With a sigh, she stalked over to the nearest intercom, and jabbed a button. No, he wasn't in his quarters. No, he wasn't in Intelligence. No, he wasn't in the cafeteria. She was just about ready to call security, when the docking bay airlock whooshed open, and the Tiger emerged.

He was wearing sunglasses, and a black suit, with a white shirt, and a black tie. He had a simple black carryall in one paw. Striding towards her with a casual gait, he slid the sunglasses down his muzzle a fraction of an inch and regarded her. Tanj looked him up and down; "I didn't think there was a suit on the entire station! Where in the heck did you get THAT? And where have you BEEN?"

The tiger shrugged easily; "I've been getting fitted for the suit. You said I was to be "security" for Wanda, Kath and Bruno; I figured, given where we're going, I should at least look the part." At the Cheetah's gaping look the Tiger grinned; and this is a VERY special suit. In the first place its infra-red emissions can be adjusted to essentially zero. Yeah, it'll get hot in a hurry, but if we have to sneak past any detectors, it should be invaluable. Second, its made of "reflex" cloth. The harder you try and move it, the harder it resists. Yes, that will make running a little difficult, but it should be proof against most projectile weapons. Oh, and its got a built-in network of superconducting wires that should prevent damage from nerve disruptors. Yes, its got a hood that unfolds from the collar. Commo gear is built in, as well." The Tiger, looking immensely pleased with himself, concluded; "it's the same Suit that the Imperial bodyguards wear." Tanj just shook her head and waved the Tiger past her, onto the ship.

Tanj had barely time to look down at her PADD, when the docking bay airlock door whooshed open again, and Wanda, Kath, and Bruno appeared. Wanda was wearing a loose, flowing dress, Kath just her collar, and Bruno was wearing a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt. As Kath and Bruno moved up the ramp and into the ship, Wanda paused; "I think we've got a problem." Tanj raised an eyebrow; "Another one?" Wanda nodded; "On the way here, we passed what must have been some of Bruno's old associates. They were trying to tease him, to bait him. Fortunately, I think most of it went right over his head, and his lack of response caused them to abandon their teasing and move on. However, it might be difficult, or possibly even dangerous to bring him back here, if he regains his memory." Tanj nodded; "That's... true. I've thought about that a little, and, well, I just haven't come up with anything really satisfactory in that regard. Lets just wait and see what happens."

Following Wanda into the ship, Tanj paused for one last look around, before hitting the button to raise and seal the ramp. She'd said her goodbyes to Jenka the night before, and the memory of that brought a grin to her face. As the dogs slammed shut, and the panel showed green, Tanj turned and made her way towards the flight deck.


Roland eased into the chair in the wardroom, took a sip from his coffee, and sighed. As he opened the brochure in front of him on the table, Kart peeked over his shoulder; "Is that a..... convention brochure?" Roland took another sip of his coffee, and nodded; "yeah, something like that." After a moment, Kath wondered; "something on powered armor?" The badger nodded abssently, "uh-huh" as he tuned a page. Kath shot Wanda a look and then muttered; "So you're not coming with us on the mission?" The Badger just shook his head no as he closely examined a paragraph of tiny print. Kath flashed Wanda a mischevious grin, and then crooned into Roland's left ear; "its a pity; not often we get to Flosten's Paradise, let alone with a sure-fire way to break the bank at the casino!" TheBadger just muttered a polite noise, and started patting his pockets, looking for something. "Say, you wouldn't happen to have a pen on you, would you? Oh' and its got to be black ink....." Kath looked down at herself; aside from her collar, and a few pieces of jewelry, she wasn't earing a stitch; "Um no, 'fraid not." The Badger's scowl inverted to a smile as Wanda slid a stylus across the table to him.

Wanda rose, and gesture to the Mink; "come on, pet, we've things to do." Karh nodded abscently, eyes still on the Badger as he concentrated on filling out some form in the middle of his brochure.

Once they were in the corridor, Kath sidled up to the Wolverine lass; "Mistress, don't you find that a little odd?" Wanda just shrugged "I don't know what he's up to, pet, but I can guarantee you one thing; if you poke your pretty nose into his business, he's going to give you the spanking of your life!" Kath winced, and started to cringe in mock horror, but then a calculating look passed across her face, and she paused to look back at the wardroom door....

Wanda, watching her pet, smiled and shook her head; "you have been spending WAY too much time with Zassa!"

Tanj looked over her shoulder as the door to the flight deck opened. Ralph padded in, carrying a serving tray; the tray contained a carafe, and a single coffee cup. "Master Hinoki said that you might like some coffee." Tanj grinned and nodded; "That would go good right about now." Turning back, she scanned the pilot's console. Nav, Com, Engineering, everything was in the green. It wouldn't be more than an hour, before they'd be far enough out of the system that they could go to warp. Turning back, she watched as the Tiger clumsily balanced the tray on one paw, while pouring the coffee from the carafe into the cup. He managed, and without spilling anything, but it was a near thing. Accepting the coffee cup, she took a sip and smiled; "Ralph, you're a good analyst, and a decent department head; you work wonders with the spy drones, but you have a LOT to learn with respect to being a serving slave." The Tiger chuckled; "Yes, Mistress." He tried to bow his head humbly, but the grin was just too big. "I think, perhaps this trip will provide us with some time to address that situation." The Tiger looked up, still grinning; "Um, Master Hinoki mentioned something about you possibly needing help flying the ship...." Tanj forced what she hoped was a fierce scowl onto her face; "Don't change the subject.... And why should I need help flying the ship?" The Tiger shrugged; "I dunno; he just said that on the last trip he helped out... something about sharing the pilot's couch with you."

Tanj stared at the Tiger for a second and then laughed; "Oh... THAT. Hmmmm. Yeah....." Looking back at the Nav display she did a quick calculation. Yeah, at least fifty seven minutes to the Schwartzchild radius. Plenty of time. Looking back up she grinned; "OK, but to do this right, you've got to loose the suit. In fact, lets make that a rule; when we're alone on board, just normal crew, I want you in just the fur. Nothing but your collar." Ralph grinned, and rose to a standing position, unbuttoning his suitcoat. He did the best imitation of a male stripper he could; unfortunately the image was spoiled as an amazing amount of ordinance clattered to the floor. Tanj leaned across the armrest; "is that a Malwathian Disrupt... AND a Ne Tai disintigrator? Wait, is that... a DERRINGER? Where did you GET all this stuff?" Looking up, Tanj took in the Tiger's now-nude form; "Um. Save that. Right now, we've got, ah, "piloting" to do."

Kath watched the Badger. He had the left leg access panel open, and was crouched, half in/half out of the enclosure, a maintenance manual balanced on one knee, as he looked from the manual, to the interior of the leg, to a multimeter and back. He'd been working on the suit almost non-stop since they left. Any attempt to talk to him was met with a noncommittal grunt, as if he'd not really heard the question. As if it just hadn't registered. Even calls to meals were answered in the same way.

As the Mink was watching, Sashi led Sabina in on the end of a leash. The Kitten was bound, and gagged, her arms held behind her by a rather tight monoglove, her ankles hobbled with a short piece of rope. For a while all three of them watched the muttering Badger Finally, Sashi turned to the gagged Kitten and muttered; "Its not healthy. It just ain't right. Here we are, three attractive, highly trained, highly AVAILABLE sex slaves, and he hasn't even looked at us." Kath chuckled; "Aw, Sashi, you just want to get laid." Sashi looked down at her latex panties, and then grinned and shrugged; "Yeah.... But not so badly that I'd risk Master Hinoki's displeasure at tricking him into doing so...." Kath nodded sagely; "no... that wouldn't be prudent. So, what are you and short-stuff down here for?" Sashi grinned; "Exercise. Mistress Zassa thinks the Kitten's getting a little pudgy. Too much time tied up, not enough time struggling mightily against her cruel restraints. So I've been instructed to see that she does a full workout on "the machine". Kath oooohed and grinned; "Can I watch?"

Sabina listened to the two talk. She was NOT fat, and didn't care WHAT that Vixen said. She was lean and.... Scowling, she turned to look at the two girls. Machine? WHAT machine?

Kath grinned as Sashi stripped the tarp from the device. She'd heard Wanda talk about Hinoki's latest gadget, but she'd gotten the impression it wasn't quite perfected yet.... Or maybe it just didn't quite work. For whatever reason, none of the others on board seemed to have tried it yet..... As Sashi folded the tarp neatly, the Mink examined the device. It looked like a typical multi-function home gym... with a few attachments. The most prominent of these was a rather thick dong in the middle of the seat.

Sabina frowned at the size of the dong; that might be all right for, say, that Wolverine lady, or some other larger-than-average fur, but it was going to be a, well, a bit of a stretch for her. No sooner had that thought entered her head than the chocolate Pantheress started liberally coating the dong with lubricant.

Sabina moaned into her gag as Sabina gently but firmly pushed her down, until she was seated on the bench. It didn't take but a moment to secure her ankles to the framework so her feet rested on the pedals, or to secure her wrists to the framework so her paws could grip the handlebars. The Pantheress puttered about for a moment, adjusting a few things, selecting, rejecting and reselecting the weight load-out. Finally she stepped back; "Its pretty simple, ‘bina; you just pull on the handles, either down, or back or down and back, to work different muscle groups; you work the foot pedals, either in concert with your arms, or by themselves, pushing against the resistance. And as you do, well, I think I'll let you find out what each does......"

Sabina glared at the Chocolate Pantheress. She did NOT like exercise. Still.... She was a feline and felines WERE curious. With a grunt, she pulled back on the handles. As she did so, something nuzzled her bottom, and then a thin probe slid smoothly into her ass. Surprised, she let the handles slip back to their starting position and the probe vanished in response. "That was interesting" the Kitten thought to herself.... Her curiosity inflamed, she tried pulling the handles down; the thicker, longer dong in her pussy slid smoothly downwards, until only its head was nestled between her labia. Grinning, the Kitten let the handles snap back to their starting position, the dong driving sharply into her pussy, eliciting a sharp gasp. Panting, she pushed at the foot pedals, and felt the dong in her pussy change angle, its tip bending, to press against her G-spot. What was required, was obvious, and despite her resolution against exercise, she found herself pulling on the handles as she pushed on the foot pedals. The combination was MOST stimulating!

Kath watched the Kitten; her initial motions had been tentative, hesitant, but now she was moving faster and faster, her eyes wide with surprise and delight.

Sabina purrred into her gag; she found that when she exceeded a certain speed, the two dongs started to vibrate in a most delightful fashion. Talk about an incentive! Moaning into her gag, she strained to maintain the pace, hoping that her climax arrived before her strength gave out.

Kath nudged the Pantheress; "So how come everyone on the ship isn't lined up to try this thing?" Sashi grinned; "If you hit everything in just the right combination, it pinches. Hinoki's working on an interlock to keep that from happening, but he hasn't got it ready yet. In the meantime, Zassa's decided to let ‘bina play with it anyways. Don't know what she did to make her mad, but...."

Sabina was just letting the handlebar move back up, but holding it close to her, as she pushed on the pedals. The combination was just right for the tip of the probe in her ass, and the squirming tip of the dong in her pussy, to "pinch" together, deep within her. As her feet and paws continued to move, it felt as if the machine was trying to pull her insides down and back. With a squall, she released the handlebar, letting it snap back to its start position. For a moment she just sat there and panted, wondering just exactly what had just happened. Then, realizing that her climax was slowly slipping away, she started moving again, being very VERY careful to try and not repeat that combination..... As she worked, she grumbled at her Mistress. Zassa would be just the fur to find the sudden pinch a desirable feature...

Roland looked up from his work, at the strange noise from the white Kitten. For a moment he studied the workings of the machine, and then shaking his head, turned back to his work. What some people would do for exercise.....

Sabina's climax, when it finally arrived, was everything she'd hoped it would be, everything she'd "worked for". Squalling loudly she shuddered as the vibrating dongs took her to ecstacy. Shuddering, she lost her coordination, and was brought up short as the dongs once again pinched her, deep within. Her moans of ecstasy turned to something else. Frustration mingled with pain......

"Dammit, its Jammed!" "I can see that, "bina, now be quiet while I try and figure out how to un-jam it!" The Kitten held VERY still, panting from her exertions and her sharply suspended climax, as Kath and Sashi examined the workings of the machine. "Here it is" Sashi muttered; "See, this cable jumped the track and got wedged between the pulley and the frame." Kath frowned; "Going to take tools to get that out, I think." Sashi just smiled and hooked a clawtip under the offending wire; "Naw, I can get it." With a grunt the Chocolate pantheress tugged the wire up, and back over the pully. Sabina let out a grunt as things moved, and then with obvious relief pushed the handlebar away from her. Kath rose and started undoing the restraints that held the Kitten in place; "Come on, lets get you out of that. I think you've had enough exercise for the day. Besides, I want to try it....."

Sabina stood, and watched the Badger. Kath was working the handlebars and foot pedals furiously, with a sinuous ease and grace that she envied. The Mink hadn't once "pinched" herself. Not yet anyways. Watching her had become boring. Watching the Badger wasn't much better. What WAS it with him anyways? Sex was in the air, the scent of her juices matting her thighs strong enough to tickle her own nostrils, surely the Badger fellow could smell it. So what was he doing up there, fiddling with wires and stuff, when he could be down here, SHOULD be down here, fucking her silly. That first climax had barely wet her appetite.....

Kath watched Sashi take her place on the exercise machine's seat; "Are you sure this is going to work?" Sashi just grinned and shrugged; "The panties that Master Hinoki has provided are marvelously elastic; they stretch terrifically. I should be able to take both dongs, without fear of ah...." She smiled mischeviously; "Containment breach". Sabina giggled; "Oh, I wouldn't mind. I've HEARD about your pheromones, but have yet to experience them....." Kath chuckled; "Maybe if you're very good, or possibly VERY bad, Mistress Zassa will lock you in a sealed room with our Pantheress."

Sabina watched as Sashi slowly worked the handles and foot pedals, making the effort look rediculously easy. So easy in fact she had to look again at the weight setting. It was easily three times what the Kitten had used. The look on the Pantheress' face was controlled, and serene, her motions smooth, the only sounds that of the exercise machine and the noises latex makes as it stretches. After a while, though she got bored again and turned to watch the Badger. He was half in, half out of an access port on his suit, his fatigues stretched tight across his rump. Smiling, she couldn't help but wonder what he had between his legs....

Sashi shuddered slightly, as her third climax washed through her. The machine really was quite nice. Not very challenging, but quite nice.... Figuring she'd had her daily quota of climaxes, she let the machine return to its rest position and reluctantly rose off of the vaginal dong. Grinning at Kath and nudging ‘Bina she gestured to the cargo bay door; "Shall we head for the shower?" Sabina giggled; "Only if we get to scrub each others' backs!"

Roland looked up, and then looked around. It seemed as if suddenly the cargo bay had gone quiet. They were gone. Grunting to himself, he looked back at the diagnostic display. Just as well, he had a lot of work to do, and didn't need the distraction. He'd only gotten a scant six percent of the circuits tuned correctly. A LOT of work to do if he was going to be at his best when he hit dirtside....

Tanj yawned, and scanned the flight instruments again. Space travel, for the most part, was a rather boring endeavor, as long as the ship functioned correctly and they weren't overhauled by pirates. Or in their case, the authorities. Right now there wasn't another ship on the sensors, and everything was working just fine. She'd gotten caught up with her logs, and her e-mail, and had even gotten Ralph started cross-training on the ship's sensors, with which he was pretty much up to speed on, and on Engineering, which he was at least interested enough in. With Hinoki shifting over to weapons, Zassa on cargo, and Wanda on Medical and Environmental, her crew was rounding out nicely. Staring at the starscape, the Cheetah pondered Kath, Sashi and now Sabina. Should she start a training program for them, with respect to the ship? It might not hurt..... at least with respect to the basics.

Ralph yawned and tried to focus on the circuit diagram. Between sex with Tanj, his "slave training", and the normal "household" duties, preparing food, keeping the living quarters clean, and keeping after the laundry, he was pretty well tired. And now his Mistress had given him all this studying on top of all that. No pleasure cruise this trip. Scowling he tried to reconcile the freighter's power plant with that of the drones he was much more familiar with. Somehow it just seemed SO much cruder, and less sophisticated....

Sabina kept her eyes downcast as she knelt before the Vixen; her tone of voice however conveyed anything but the proper tone for a slave; "And then it PINCHED me. Hard! Mistress, I really don't think exercise of that sort is a good idea until Master Hinoki gets the machine fixed!" Zassa chuckled; "On your back, Slave. Pull your knees up and spread your legs. I want to see this "terrible damage" for myself!" Sabina complied, holding one ankle in each paw, pulling her legs up, spreading herself wide. Zassa knelt, and examined the Kitten's pudendum carefully, slowly working a finger into her still-wet snatch. Then two, then a third. In short order, Sabina was mewling and gasping, as Zassa proceeded to slowly work her whole fist into her sex. And just when she thought she had been stretched to the utmost, filled beyond capacity, the Vixen worked a finger into her bottom too! "Does it hurt here? How about here? Or Here?" Sabina could feel the Vixen's finger pressing against her paw through the thin membranes within her, but all she could do was howl in delight as the Vixen fisted her. After a while, Zassa smiled and shook her head; "Well... judging from the look on your face, it couldn't have been TOO bad....."

Wanda looked at the ad-hoc samples from the Kitten; "No, don't see any blood on either of the tissues. I don't think anything was torn. But she's right, it might be prudent to find other exercises for her until Hinoki makes some adjustments." Zassa finished washing her paws, and grabbed a disposable towel to dry them; "Yeah, but I don't want the little slacker thinking she can quit exercising just because there's a problem there." At the look on the Wolverine's face, Zassa grinned; "No, I know she's in good shape; it's a... discipline, and a dominance issue. Making her exercise reminds her who's boss." Wanda laughed and nodded and the Vixen smiled; "Besides, I think I'm going to have to examine this machine myself, just to see how grim it is..." The Vixen grinned wickedly; "And maybe I can make a few recommendations to Hinoki myself."


Roland scowled. Feedback in the left leg circuit still wasn't right. The right leg was working fine, better than it ever had, but the left leg seemed to be lagging. Pulling up the schematic again, he ran through the circuit diagram. There, that amplifier module. Maybe its response wasn't what it should be. Grabbing his diagnostic tool he started tracing wires, looking for the offending module....

Tanj sipped her coffee, and watched the timer count down. She didn't want to cut it too close, but then again, they were on a schedule. A few seconds shy of the mark she cut the warp drive. A quick look at the Nav display showed them roughly eight light minutes above the ecliptic of the Parveo system. Pointing the ship at the second planet, she engaged the sublight drive, and ran it up to the optimum cruise speed. Then, turning to the comm display she selected the frequency supplied by the nav beacon and hit the transmit button; "This is the Free Trader Beowulf, to Parveo control. Request approach vector for the Hansa trading station....."

Roland felt the vibrations change, and frowned. No, it wasn't his suit... after a moment it hit him; they'd dropped out of warp. Already? Looking at his chronograph he realized it'd been three days! They were making their first stop. "Dang, I'm behind schedule" he grumbled to himself. And then he grinned; "But..... they might have replacement amplifier modules..." Shoving all his tools aside, he rose, and stretched. He had to talk to Tanj. And then maybe he should get something to eat....

Tanj felt the ship shudder as the mooring clamps engaged. As the telltales all turned green, she shut down the drive, and the thrusters and cycled the power plant down to standby. This just wasn't the kind of place where you shut it down... Confirming that the connection to the station's comm system had been made, she dialed the number for the Black Fleet's "agent". Not unexpectedly, she got a recording. Leaving a message, bland in its content, but containing a few key words, she broke the connection.

Roland pushed through the door to the flight deck as it was still opening. "Hey, Tanj... ah, good, we're docked. I'd like to go over to the... say, where are we anyways? No matter, I need to find some parts for my suit. Is there any way I could skip out for a few hours?"

Tanj turned in her pilot's couch to look at the Badger. "I don't know how long we're going to be here, and we DO have a schedule to keep. But I suppose you've got a few hours. Why don't you use the comm to see if you could find someone who's got what you're looking for, first, though. This place is a little rough and there's no need to go out if you don't need to. Oh, and if you do, I certainly wouldn't go alone."

Roland nodded; "Yeah. The Comm. Good idea. Turning, he headed for the comm station, only to pause; "rough, you say? Where ARE we?"

Tanj shrugged; "only Parveo. Not too far from home." Roland grinned; "Oh, yeah. No problem."

The camera showed a middle-aged beaver that was almost as round as he was tall. Chubby little fellow. The two Dobermans behind him, though, lent him a sinister air. Tanj nodded to Hinoki, who hit the airlock door release, and then stepped back, one paw on the remote. Neither Cheetah appeared armed. They didn't have to be. The airlock and the adjoining corridor had plenty of built-in defenses. The Beaver stepped through the airlock, and smiled when he saw Tanj; "Ah, Captain Ky, how delightful to meet you at last! I've received your message, and I do so hope Jenka has sent us some decent, ah, "goods" this time!" Tanj smiled cooly; "Lets go down to the Docking Bay, and I can show you what we've got."

Roland scowled and broke the connection. The AM4J modules weren't that uncommon, and normally weren't that expensive either, but the pirates here wanted what had to be ten times the normal price. If he bought them, then he wouldn't have enough to live on during the convention! The modules were more reasonable down on the planet, but delivery was three days! Growling, he paced the flight deck.... He really wanted to replace them, but he'd be danged if he'd pay these prices. Piracy! Finally he forced himself to calm down. He hadn't finished his system recalibration yet. There might be more modules that needed replacing. There might even be more pressing things that needed replacing. And there were supposed to be other stops as well, before he got to the Shirow system. Patience. He should be patient. Growling he turned and stalked back towards the Cargo bay.

The Beaver sighed and shook his head; "Oh, My. I just don't think they're worth that much." Tanj shrugged; "I'm not here to negotiate. The Black fleet has valued these items at this price. If you can't, or won't handle them, I'll just have to take them to another of our agents. Failing that, I'll take them all the way back to the Black Fleet." The Beaver waved a paw; "Oh, all right, I'll take them, but only as a favor to Jenka. I'll probably take another loss, though!" Nodding to the Dobermans, the Beaver turned and held out his paw for the paperwork.

Hinoki watched the float pallets disappear through the cargo airlock. Suuuure the Beaver was going to take a loss. "I'm obviously in the wrong business" he thought to himself. "I could fence that stuff, pay them twice what they'll get from him, and make one hell of a profit." Shaking his head, he waited for the Dobermans to bring the empty float pallets back. He'd be danged if they got those as part of the bargain as well.

The Beaver Turned to Tanj and smiled again; "Always a pleasure doing business with the Black Fleet. Say, is that a Lightning you have back there? You know, I might be able to get you a VERY good price for that...."

Roland had entered the cargo bay just in time to catch the latter part of the Beaver's statement. Wordlessly he growled, glaring at the Beaver. Tanj looked over her shoulder at the Badger and then turned back; "I'm afraid its not for sale." The Beaver swallowed and nodded; "Yes. Quite. Well, if you'll excuse me, I'll be going." As the Beaver turned to head for the airlock he almost collided with the Dobermans returning with the now-empty float pallets. After they'd sorted themselves out, they cycled through the airlock. Hinoki locked the system down, and then relaxed visibly. Tanj chuckled; "And just think; he's one of the nicer ones. Ah, well, on to Bahrain..."

As she passed by, Roland growled; "you will NOT sell my Lightning...." Tanj just chuckled; "No, I won't. But don't forget, you still owe us for that suit of Imperial combat armor."

Roland watched the personnel lock close behind the Cheetah pair. The threat hadn't really been a threat, but.... she was right. He did owe them. Ah, well, if everything went according to plan, he'd be able to pay them off. But for that he'd need those amplifier modules... With a sigh, he went back to work.

Tanj smiled as the ship slid smoothly into Warp. She could have used a number of jump points to reach their next destination, but the cost of fuel wasn't a major consideration for her. The pirates generally captured more antimatter than they used. And besides they were getting out of the Black Fleet's normal operating area. It would be embarrassing to be picked up by one of their competitors. Probably expensive too. More than that, it would throw off her timetable. They'd be difficult to catch in Warp. Taking one last look at the instruments, she rose, stretched, and headed towards the Wardroom. Time for something to eat.

"I tell you, its NOT normal. Maybe he's Gay, or something."

Zassa scowled down at the Kitten kneeling by her feet and thwapped her soundly on her head; "you keep a civil tongue in your head, Slave. Or ELSE!" Zassa then examined the ice cream bar she'd struck her insubordinate slave with, and sighed. It had hair all over it. Holding it down at the level of Sabina's muzzle, the Vixen sighed; "Here, lick it clean for me. Just don't cough up a hairball." Sabina chuckled and started licking avidly.

Kath, kneeling by Wanda, shrugged; "Well, I know Master Roland isn't disinterested in females, despite his occasional dalliance with Master Hinoki...."

At this most eyes in the room turned towards the Cheetah male, who just smiled broadly.

"But you have to admit, his current.... Preoccupation IS somewhat unusual."

Tanj nodded; "True. Don't think we've seen him at a meal here yet. When a guy starts skipping both food AND sex, there's definitely something up."

Wanda nodded; "Must have something to do with that brochure he was looking at so avidly when we launched."

Hinoki nodded; "Something about a powered armor convention, wasn't it?"

Tanj nodded, and then held out her fork to Ralph. When he'd taken the morsel from it, she paused to make a show of counting her fingers. Apparently the Tiger was hungry. "He sent the completed form off by e-mail. Ralph, after dinner, why don't you see if you can't retrieve that from the ship's computer; we ought to take a closer look at just what he's getting into...."

Zassa chuckled; "But don't think that lets you off your turn at doing the dishes!"

Tanj yawned and took another sip of her coffee. The e-mail seemed to go on forever. Mostly work, intelligence reports, political briefs, requests for funding, and that sort of thing. Occasionally there was an advertisement for something she didn't want, and not infrequently a crude joke of some sort. She was just reaching for her cup of coffee when she froze, paw hanging in mid-air over the mug. There was a ring distorting the surface of the coffee. She watched as it dissipated. A moment later there was another. And then a third. Turning, her paws flew over the console, closing the comm window and opening up the Engineering displays, her eyes scanning quickly over the read-outs.

In space, what you don't understand can kill you, and quickly, too. Something was causing vibrations that the instruments in her ship were not reporting. That meant that something unusual, or unexpected was happening. The Antimatter power plant was functioning smoothly, with no alarms, and nothing showing in the red. The fusion plant was also all in the green. There were some interesting harmonics in the warp drive, but it wasn't clear if the pulsations in the plasma flow were the cause of the vibrations, or the result. Sensors, and weapons also showed green. Environmental showed similar pulsations in air flow, with a smaller response in fluid flows, but again, it wasn't clear if they were the cause or the result. Frowning, Tanj slapped the key that would drop the ship out of warp.

Roland felt the vibration change, and paused. They'd dropped out of warp. That meant something was wrong. Worried, the Badger climbed out of the cockpit of his Mech, and headed for the flight deck. Surely it couldn't be pirates, could it? If it was, though, he might be needed.

Tanj shook her head; the mysterious vibrations had stopped as soon as she'd dropped out of warp. Her fingers flying over the keyboard, she ordered a level one diagnostic of the entire warp and power systems.

Hinoki slipped through the door to the flight deck before it was fully open; "What's wrong?" Tanj shrugged from the pilot's couch; "Dunno. We seem to have picked up some weird vibration. Its stopped now that we dropped out of warp. Its not showing up on any of the instruments, though. No alarms, no error messages, no nothing!" Hinoki slipped into the chair at the ops station; "Have you checked out the plasma modulation valve on the A4 header? You know that actuator was starting to cycle a bit." Tanj sighed; "Yeah, it was. But I changed the positioner before we left. It was working fine when I ran a test on it, but I suppose something could be sticking.... But how would that cause a periodic, high intensity vibration? Its almost like ....."

Ralph pushed hard against the door as it opened, shoving his way onto the flight deck; metal screeched and the servo whined. "We've dropped out of warp; what's wrong?" Both Hinoki and Tanj turned; "Periodic, high modulation vibration." "Stopped as soon as we dropped out of warp." The Tiger nodded; "I wonder... I had a drone once that got itself into a standing wave pattern in the plasma flow between the reactor and the nacelle. Tore itself apart." Tanj sighed and gestured at the display; "The vibration is periodic, and almost random. Look at the pressure waves in the plasma flow; If we had a standing wave, we'd either see a high pressure or a low pressure, but not a variation, depending on where the sensor was. No, I don't think its that..." Hinoki grunted; "Hope its not that; you say the probe disintigrated?" Tanj sighed and shook her head; "no, Its almost like something was...."

Zassa slid through the door as it opened; "What's up? We can't be to New Dacoita yet..." Three heads turned to look at her; "Periodic vibration." "High Amplitude; no perceivable pattern." "Ended as soon as we dropped out of warp." Zassa frowned; "couldn't be cargo shifting; that's all locked down tight, and we haven't been... have you looked at the inertial damping fields? Could we be picking up a fluctuation there? Intermittent short or something?" Four heads turned to look at the displays as Tanj's fingers flew over the keys; "Um... no, that looks rather.... Normal. If there's anything there, its not being picked up by the instruments..... I don't think that's it, it doesn't feel right. Its almost as if something was jumping...."

Kath shoved through the door, flowing around its edge as only a Mink in a hurry could do; "What's the problem?" Four voices started to talk at once, and Kath waved a paw; "not all at once, please!" Tanj sighed and explained. When she was done, Kath frowned; "how about outside influences. Were we passing through any strange magnetic fields? Could unknown forces have been trying to lock on a tractor beam? Some strange alien weapon? Spatial distortion?" Again, everyone turned to look at the displays as Tanj played back the sensor logs. "We're not a survey ship, and therefor we're not as fully instrumented as they would be, but we're probably in better shape than your average freighter. Still, I don't SEE anything. That doesn't rule out weird spatial effects though. As for alien weapons, if someone was after us, why haven't they shown up? We're sitting ducks at the moment. No, I don't buy that. It was really more like something very large and heavy jumping up and down."

Roland came through the door at a run, and skidded to a stop. Everyone on the flight deck was staring at him, and he didn't like the looks on their faces. For a moment the temptation to turn and flee was overpowering, but he fought it back. Looking from face to face, he turned his palms upwards, shrugged, and muttered; "What?"

"Dammit, Tanj there's no way to check the calibration on those circuits without moving! I need the feedback to complete the tuning!"


The Badger shrugged; "No one ever complained on the Station."

Tanj's reply was an inarticulate growl.

Hinoki laughed; "Oh, come on, Tanj, we've got a structural integrity field pirated from a Light Cruiser. He couldn't have hurt anything."

Ralph shook his head; "I dunno about that. But even so, he shouldn't have done something like that without ASKING first."

Kath nodded sagely in agreement; "Roland, I think you owe the Captain an apology."

Roland sighed and nodded; "You're right. I should have asked first. I guess I just got wrapped up in my work, and forgot where I was." He smiled and gave the Cheetah a half-bow; "I apologize". Tanj opened her mouth, but whatever reply she was going to make was cut short; "Oh, and by the way, as long as we're not in warp, could I go outside and test the calibration on some of the weapons circuits?"

Roland leaned against the far wall of the corridor. The door had closed quickly; no problem with the calibration of any of ITS circuits. He hadn't known that a Cheetah could move that fast, either Tanj launching herself at him, or Hinoki intercepting her. And those claws looked sharp too. Shaking his head and sighing, he turned to head back down towards the Cargo Bay; "Guess the live fire exercise will have to wait."

"All right. ALL RIGHT, I'll let him live, but ONLY if he doesn't pull another stunt like that again. Now will you Please get OFF of me?"

Hinoki looked at Ralph, and then at Zassa, and Kath; "Um.... No. I don't think that you're sufficiently calmed down yet. But I think I know how to make you forget our errant Badger." Purring softly, Hinoki bent to give Tanj a gentle lick across her left nipple. Zassa laughed and nodded, bending to attend to Tanj's other breast. Ralph watched for a moment and then grinned widely, moving to kneel between the Cheetah's legs, bending to drag his broad rough tongue over her sex. Kath watched for a moment, wondering where she might insert herself, but then after a moment, just grinned, and settled down to watch; she was sure there'd be an opportunity in a minute or three....

Sashi heard the intercom bleep. Tapping the button she purred; "Laundry Master Control Room. Senior Laundry Technician Sashi here." The giggle that came over the intercom sounded for all the world like someone being tickled. Then Kath's voice came on the line; "Sashi, why don't you find Sabina and bring her up to the flight deck. Oh, you might want to bring some lube, and a few toys. Seems we're having an impromptu Badger-defense Orgy." The connection broke with a click. Sashi stared at the speaker and frowned. "That doesn't make a whole lot of sense...." Then she grinned; "But it doesn't have to. Now, where did Zassa leave ‘bina tied up? And what to bring.....?"

Sabina laid her head on her Mistress' tummy and watched the Cheetah squirm. Tanj was wearing a bondage helmet with a thick plug gag. Her arms were encased in a sleeve behind her back, and a spreader bar held her ankles far apart. Another bar ran from the Cheetah's collar to the center of her spreader bar, holding her bent almost double. As she was on her back at the moment, this delightfully exposed her sex. A rather large vibrator was buried in her quim, and one of Hinoki's articulated butt plugs was moving within her back passage. Little vibrating balls were clamped to both nipples and her clitty. Periodically the Cheetah would shiver all over, as yet another climax washed over her. It looked like a thoroughly delightful situation to the Kitten, but she couldn't help but wonder if Tanj was being punished for something. Or possibly rewarded for something. It was hard to tell.

Hinoki drew a finger across Wanda's stomach and chuckled; "Well, if she's still unreasonable when we let her loose, I thought I'd raid Zassa's stash of the living dress creatures and just turn them loose on her. Eventually, she'll be too worn out to have it out with the Badger."

Wanda nodded and then oooooohed as the Cheetah's finger traversed her sex; "Um... you know they'll have to have it out eventually."

Hinoki shrugged; "Yeah, but you know Tanj. The longer we delay it, the milder it'll be. She can't stay mad forever, and Roland has saved our collective asses from time to time. Besides, its SO much fun to do things like this to her."

Wanda stole a look at the quivering Cheetah fem, and nodded, chuckling; "So it is. But how much longer can you keep her like that? We DO have a schedule." Hinoki sighed; "The level one diagnostics she ordered should be done soon; I suppose I'll have to let her loose then."

Sabina looked at Sashi and shook her head; "It just proves my point. That Badger is wound WAY too tight. He NEEDS some distraction, some R&R."

Sashi just shrugged; "And you're just the Kitten to do it?"

Sabina grinned wickedly; "if not me, then who?"

Sashi shook her head; "I dunno, I think you're gonna get yourself in TROUBLE!"

Sabina just grinned.

Establishing a cover

Tanj looked at the image of Vehnice on the viewscreen. It seemed such a peaceful world, from orbit. And yet her agents told her otherwise. One faction was angling against another faction, and the Black Fleet was selling weapons, and information to both sides. It wasn't quite a civil war; not yet. And while it wasn't the same level as two major corporations in heated competition, nor was it quite the same as two local gangs vying for turf. It was a chaotic, fluid, and rather dangerous situation. And it was their next stop.

"Roger that, approach control, Landing Bay 23. Thanks for the expedite!" Tanj looked at the smiling face on her screen and wondered which faction the traffic controller was in the pay of. Didn't matter, really. Tanj had never made any secret that what they had for sale would go to the highest bidder. That they weren't playing favorites. And that was just fine, with the Capulats. The Montegnus seemed to be able to live with it as well. The trick was not getting burned, if they thought your usefulness was at an end, and they decided to make you part of one of their intrigues. As the ship descended, Tanj noted the two different fire control radars that tracked her down, the two different flights of fighters patrolling in the vicinity of the city. Each faction didn't seem to have any integral territory; they seemed to be interspersed across the planet. How they kept track of who was who was beyond her....

The jumpsuit was one of Jenka's synthetic blends; it looked like something between latex and leather, but was as tough as nails. And it hugged every curve she had. With the zipper pulled down to her navel, Tanj, clipboard in hand, strode down the ramp to meet the port official. To her surprise, the Chipmunk wore a bright white top-hat. He took the proffered clipboard, and studied it wordlessly. After a while he initialed it, took the bottom copy and handed it back; "Have a nice stay on Vehnice. I've copied your ship's computer with the local laws, along with a tourism guide.... And some friendly suggestions on getting along with the natives. If you'll just transfer the import credits to the Port Authority computer, we'll let you get on about your business."

Tanj blinked and nodded. In all the planetfalls she'd ever made, she'd never had it so easy. Something must be wrong. VERY wrong.

As the Chipmonk left, a Mouse in a red beret slipped through the personnel door, and into the Landing Bay. Smiling, she waved as if they were old friends; "Hi, I'm Rommie Capulat. My father, the Duc, sent me to see if you've got the stuff we requested?"

Tanj looked around for the security that usually accompanied the daughter of a powerful leader, and finding none, smiled; "Yes, I have two gross pulse rifles, Hammerbein manufacture, still in the original vacuum packing, with seals attached. And to go with that, I've got 800 crates of the caseless ammunition, half armor piercing, a quarter incendiary and a quarter explosive rounds. I also have six dozen of their automatic grenade launchers, if you're interested." The Mouse absolutely beamed; "Oh, YES, Dad's going to be..... Gawd, Who is THAT?"

Tanj turned, following the Mouse's line of vision; smiling she turned back and shrugged; "Just my loadmaster. Rommie, meet Zassa."

Zassa grinned at the young Mouse. She was used to both males and females drooling over her, but there was something strange in the Mouse's look. It was more than just lust...

Rommie pulled her beret off, and held it in both hands in front of her; "Most pleased to make your acquaintance, Zassa. My, but you're a vision!" Turning back to Tanj she smiled; "You and your crew have ABSOLUTELY got to join me at the club tonight! As my guests, of course!"

Zassa watched as the Mouse searched her pockets, almost juggling the beret, until she came up with a pawful of glossy tickets. "The Expectations Club is the trendiest place on the planet! Everyone who's anyone can be found there! Oh, and I suppose I should mention that its neutral ground; as such, one of the safest places on the planet, at the moment! Oh, I DO hope you'll be my guests tonight!"

Tanj took the tickets and smiled; "Thanks, I do believe we could use a night out. Now, let me go pay the port fees, so we can complete our transaction. Zassa, why don't you take Rommie to inspect the cargo?"

Zassa bent way over, knowing that her tight shorts would all but disappear into the crack of her ass as she did so. As she opened the crate, she wondered if the Mouse would even notice what she was doing......

Rommie admired the shapely ass, and smiled from ear to ear. Oh, yes, she was just perfect. Perfect. With her as bait, Julian would have to make an appearance. And the hardest part in any assassination was knowing the location of your target...... But, she'd have to be careful. It had to be done just right. Arranged just so. Just so that this lovely Vixen, and her associates took the blame for the death. Slipping a paw into one pocket, she extracted a pencil-camera; "Um.... Would you mind if I took a few pictures as we examine the merchandise. Procedure I'm afraid, to prove that they've made it through shipment undamaged....

Zassa looked at the Mouse; there was something akin to anticipation on her face.... After a moment she shrugged; "Yeah, I guess that'd be OK...."

Rommie positively beamed, and stepping back, began photographing the crates and their contents, doing everything in her power to make sure Zassa was caught in each frame.

Tanj logged the credit transfer, and then opened a window to her database. Quickly she read what was known about Rommie Capulat. There was quite a bit, most of it relating how absolutely ruthless she was. It didn't seem to jive with the charismatic exterior, but that wasn't all that unusual. Frowning, the Cheetah dashed off a couple of quick e-mails to her agents on the planet, asking for any current data. On Rommie. And on the Expectations club.

When she entered the cargo bay, Zassa was sitting on a crate, talking to the Mouse. As she approached they both looked up. "OK, paperwork's out of the way. Have you decided if you want the grenade launchers?" Rommie smiled; "Yes, I'd like to take them, if they're not too expensive. I believe we can offer you two hundred credits apiece." Tanj laughed; "Oh, please, they cost MUCH more than that! Why, even with all the correct end-user licenses, they'd be at least eight hundred apiece!" The Mouse smiled; "Ah, but I happen to know you didn't come by them legally, NOR did you pay that much.... But I might see my way clear to go as high as 250 apiece...."

Zassa watched the two argue, and dicker. Some how the Mouse seemed more... "genuine" as she negotiated the best possible price. There was just something about her.....

"Okay, 527 credits apiece for the grenade launchers, and we throw in the basic load of ammunition." Rommie beamed; "Done! I'll have the credits transferred immediately!" Tanj nodded and held out her padd; "Just give me your thumbprint and you can start moving them." Rommie pressed her thumb to the padd with a flourish; "We've got some very automated robotic cargo handling systems here; the ‘bots should be along in just a second!" Fitting her beret carefully back onto her head, she smiled; "Hope to see you all at the club tonight!" And then, waving jauntily, she turned and headed for the landing bay personnel door.

She'd almost made it to the door when it slid open, three furrs wearing blue bowlers entering. For a moment they all froze, staring at each other, and then the leader of the newcomers hissed; "Well, if it isn't the Duc's daughter... and by herself! Oh, what a marvelous opportunity!"

Zassa leaned against the edge of the cargo lock. It was a casual pose, but her right hand, behind the wall, was tapping on the comm panel....

Tanj sat up on the bridge, at the tapping. Listening for a moment, her brain deciphering the code, Three quick taps, three slow taps, followed by three quick taps. The sequence then repeated itself... She turned and activated one of the screens, setting it to the No.4 cargo bay camera. She could just see out the open hatch.... See the Mouse with the red beret being circled by a Wolf, Elk, and Muskrat, all wearing blue bowlers. And for reasons she couldn't immediately explain, her paws were suddenly dancing over the ship's weapons console....

Zassa heard the whine above her, and smiled. The antipersonnel weapons designed to defend the cargo bay had just come on line..... At least SOMEONE else was watching.....

Rommie smiled; the smile was without humor, and for a moment she resembled a Rat more than a Mouse. "Ah, well, if it isn't Julian's favorite trio of stooges. I can only imagine what you're here for!" The Wolf smiled; "How do you know, Milady, that we're not here for YOU?" The Mouse smiled again, this time showing teeth; "Because it would take more than the three of YOU to worry me. But if you think you can, then come on....."

Zassa watched as the Wolf snatched something from his belt; it looked as if it were a metal tube, but as his paw wrapped around it, its tip flared to incandescence, a bright spear too intense to look at extending half a body's length. The Mouse however, produced a more slender cylinder from her pocket, not much larger than a pen; stepping back, she leveled it at the Wolf, a glowing red speck shooting out from its tip, to hold position off the end of the tube at about a body-length. To the Vixen's surprise, the Elk and Muskrat backed off, to let the Mouse and Wolf fight.

The Wolf waved his wand back and forth, as he circled the Mouse, the projected forcefield making a hissing noise as it moved. The Mouse for his part held remarkably still, the "pen" held over her head, the bright red spark dancing in front of her. Her head was down a little, eyes almost closed, but her ears were tracking the wolf, and his hissing sword. Suddenly the Wolf sprang into action, coming at the Mouse from her left rear quarter. Bright as the sun, his weapon blazed in an arc, slashing back and forth. The Mouse leapt, twirled, and slashed once with her own weapon; the bright red spark passed behind the Wolf, and then the Mouse was dancing back, almost colliding with the elk as he backpedaled, her weapon still held out in front of her.

The Wolf looked down as if he were suddenly afraid to move. Across his middle, from just under his left arm, to his right waist, a crimson line had appeared. As Zassa watched, the line seemed to grow, blood seeping into the wolf's clothes. Then, with a gurgling, slurping sound, the wolf fell apart, his upper torso falling one way, legs and lower torso the other.

Tanj gaped at the monitor. And then her paw came down hard on the battlestations alarm.

Zassa couldn't tear her eyes from the form of the Wolf. His mouth was moving as if he were trying to say something. Several feet away, his legs were moving, heels drumming on the deck as if that portion of him were trying to flee. His weapon hissed evilly as it lay on the landing bay floor, just beyond the Wolf's outstretched paw.

The Elk and Muskrat ignored the Mouse, and ran to their fallen comrade. Sliced in two there seemed to be no hope, but the Muskrat scooped up the Wolf's weapon and holding it carefully, he bent to take a swipe at his friend. For a moment Zassa thought the Muskrat was trying to mutilate him, or possibly to kill him quickly, but then she realized that the Muskrat had taken another slice, millimeters away from the initial cut, and in the process had cauterized the "wound".....

Roland pushed onto the flight deck, took one look at the monitor, and dashed out again, almost colliding with Ralph. Ralph took one look at the monitor, looked around the flight deck, and with one paw over his mouth, eyes bulging, turned and fled. Moments later, Tanj heard the sound of retching from down the corridor. Coupled with the image on the monitor, it almost made her follow suit.

Rommie looked at the Wolf, sighed, shrugged, and flipped her thumb; the bright red spark shot towards her "pen", and vanished into the end. Tucking it back into her pocket, she turned and departed, as if nothing untoward had happened.

The Ambulance crew all wore white top hats. As did the lone constable that came. The latter sighed, shook his head, took pictures, and departed without questioning anyone. It'd probably all been caught on the security cameras anyways....

Wanda sipped her coffee and then shrugged; "I don't know; after trauma like that, I'd be surprised if he survived, but I suppose its possible. Smart move on his friend's part though." Zassa shuddered, and shook her head; "I...." Her voice just trailed off; the Vixen looked shaken, and withdrawn. After a moment, she muttered; "After seeing that, I'm not really in the mood to go out on the town. Not here."

Tanj nodded, and then sighed; "Neither am I, but unfortunately, I have an agent or three that I need to talk to. And this furr has said that the club is the best place to meet. Apparently she thinks its something rather urgent. But I'll understand if you want to bow out."

Kath winced and then shot Wanda a look; "Um... Tanj, I don't think we should let you go alone. Not here. Not after that." Wanda nodded slowly in agreement. Hinoki chuckled; "I'll be happy to escort her..."

Zassa shook her head; "No, I think it would be better if we all went. It'd look funny if just one or two went. They might come to the conclusion that her trip out wasn't just for a night of relaxation." Straightening, the Vixen smiled weakly; "Besides, we're representatives of the Black Fleet. Surely a little gore doesn't bother US..... right?" Ralph just groaned.

Tanj looked over the files again. The Wolf had apparently had a weapon called a "lightsabre", a focused projected forcefield that could cut through almost anything. The Mouse had used something similar, a variant on the same theme; the weapon was called a "variable sword"; a spool in the handle unreeled a single-molecule wide strand, stiffened with a force field, and it too would cut through almost anything. The red spark at the end had been merely a visual cue to show the wielder where the end of the strand was. And it seemed that duels like that were quite common here. More than that, duels between the officers of the two factions were almost a daily affair, although apparently seldom fatal. And for the rank and file, assassinations were carried out almost as routinely, and much more deadly. Her researches had shown that there were indeed "safe zones", and the club was one of them. But just outside, anything would go. Sitting back in her station chair, Tanj stared at the display, trying to think. It looked as if it would be prudent, very prudent, to make sure they could arrive and depart without getting caught in the crossfire.....

Hinoki blinked; "You want WHAT?" Tanj smiled; "Oh, come on, I know you held back on the catalyst. I bet I could even lay my hands on it, within about fifteen minutes, if you make me. Listen, I need the money. WE need the money. I've got a bad feeling about this "club" thing tonight; there are just too many factors drawing us that way. Its starting to feel like a set-up. Now, the club itself is neutral ground. I'm not worried about something happening there. However, getting in, and out, that's what's bothering me. I think we need to invest in our own ground transportation. Something...." Hinoki grinned; "Something hot? Fast? REAL fast?" Tanj chuckled; "I'd prefer something that could meet us in orbit, but I'm not sure the catalyst is worth THAT much. I'll settle for something that could outrun the average police cruiser, and has at least a minimum of armor. I'm not sure that weapons would be a good idea; if found, they MIGHT just get us into trouble." Hinoki nodded, deep in thought; "Well, if we had to go looking for a "special", this planet is probably one of the best places, considering the local "tensions" and all..." Tanj smiled; "We can put it in your name, if you like....."

Zassa looked up as the Cheetah stuck her head through the door; "Feel like doing a little shopping before we go to the club?" Zassa chuckled; "I'm always up for shopping, but I had a dress I was planning on wearing...." The Vixen blinked and took another look at the Cheetah; "You're up to something, aren't you?" Tanj just laughed.

Ralph paused and looked at the vendor's cart. "Hey Tanj... wait up a minute." Turning to the Squirrel sitting next to the cart, he growled; "Hey, lady, what's with the white hats?" The Squirrel smiled; "you must be new to Vehnice. But that's why I'm here. The white hat identifies you as a neutral in the current disputes. Red is for the Capulat faction, blue is for the Montegnus... and I'm afraid that if you wear no hat at all, they'll each decide you're with the other side." Ralph grimaced; "Yeah, I guess we need ‘em. But why did it have to be White? It makes me look so... washed out."

Zassa sighed looking upwards at the brim of the white floppy hat; "I guess I'm going to need a new dress after all; I don't have ANYTHING that goes with white!"

Tanj listened to the salesman recount the features of the vehicle. The limousine was luxurious and armored, but underpowered. Worse, it was just plain "stock". Anyone who saw it would know its capabilities. With a sigh, Tanj rose; "I've got to use the ladies room; Hinoki, carry on, I'll be back in a minute."

The mechanics looked at her curiously. She let her gaze wander over them as she talked, dangling the credit stick from her left paw. Half of them had their eyes locked on her bosom, the other half on the credit stick. "So that's what I'm after, gentlefurrs; any ideas where I might find it? Today?" Three quarters of them shook their heads no, while the rest looked at a young Otter. Tanj gave him her best lopsided grin as she looked at him. He was young; couldn't have been more than two years out of tech school, but his grease-stained paws suggested he knew vehicles. And the collection of patches on his overalls suggested he was into racing, probably street racing. After a moment, he grinned and shrugged; "Well.... My cousin Vinnie's got a garage. He does... custom jobs. Usually they're to order, but... he does take trade-ins. He MIGHT have something on his lot."

Tanj felt someone come up behind her, and looked over her shoulder; Ralph, his face as impassive as if it were chiseled from granite, murmured; "Mistress, Master Hinoki has failed to come to terms with the establishment; he suggests we look elsewhere." Tanj grinned and looked back at the otter; "So where do I find your cousin Vinnie?"

The garage was in a seedy part of town. Fortunately the cab was a robocab, without a living driver to object to the neighborhood. The cab's AI however was smart enough to demand a hazard bonus. Ralph got out first, scanning the street; however before he could move towards the door, a large sliding door to his left started to squeek and scrape open.

The Otter it revealed was a little older than the mechanic, and a little more scarred. His eyes held a cold, calculating look, as if he were evaluating the trouble these newcomers might bring. But after a moment, greed won out and he waved them inside.

Hinoki grinned, padding over towards one of the aircars; "is that a Renegade? Ooooo, and its got the Comanco powerpack! Surely that's not one of the fifty or so "stock" models the factory turned out, is it?" The Otter stared at Hinoki for a moment and then shrugged; "Dunno. It was a wreck when I got it; serial numbers had been burned off. It might be, might not be. No way to tell. At least not for sure."

Hinoki chuckled, stripped off his jacket, opened the door, and laid down on the floorboards, peering up under the dash. After a moment he grunted, and squirmed back out again. Grinning at the Otter, he raised an eyebrow; "how much you want for it?"

The Otter's face showed his puzzlement, and Tanj could almost read the "What does he know that I don't" running through his mind. Clearing her throat, she chided; "Hinoki, you know that's not what we're here for. Maybe if we have some money left over, but right now we need something else." Turning to the Otter, Tanj smiled; "We're looking for a Limousine that can carry eight people, including the driver. It has to be fast, and it has to be armored, but it shouldn't look like either. It wouldn't hurt if it was lightly armed." The Cheetah paused and then grinned; "And I don't care if anyone else knows if we have it. It can be completely legal, registered, and taxed. By the time the paperwork goes through, with luck, we'll be off-planet. Oh, yes, I need it by tonight."

The Otter boggled; "Legal? You don't CARE if its LEGAL?" He looked at her as if she'd just grown a second head. Then he laughed; "Sorry, I just don't get too many customers like that. Um, lets go out back; I've got a few things that might fit the bill, if your requirements aren't TOO tight.

The one they finally settled for was a stretched, customized utility vehicle. Someone had obviously wanted it for its rugged look, and then found out that it wasn't all that maneuverable. Vinnie had modified that, a little. It still handled like the truck it was, but it was a FAST truck. And it had all sorts of extras. The sensor suite for instance, could tell you the location of the nearest police cruiser. It could also tell you if the vehicle following you was armed. The body could be charged, to repel folks trying to force their way inside, and possibly to deflect a particle beam weapon. Depending on the charge of the particles. Its armor was worse than some, but better than most, and its communications suite could probably reach the next star system. When Ralph and Hinoki had finished the test drive, and their examination of the systems, Tanj got down to haggling with the Otter. As Tanj feigned horror at the initial price quoted, Zassa's voice floated out of the back; "Oh, Tanj, we have GOT to buy this one! The Seats VIBRATE!

"We got took!" "Oh, be quiet, Ralph, it wasn't YOUR money!" "Yeah, but Hinoki's happy. Who's idea was it to try and work a package deal for the limo and the sportscar too?" "This thing handles like a Truck!" "Yeah, but it's the fastest truck on the planet!" "Man, there ain't gonna be NO room left in the cargo bay, THIS trip." "Oh, who cares? My problem anyways; I'm the loadmaster... Man, I can't wait to get back to the ship and find my ben-wa balls! Oh, think of how delightful a long trip would be with these vibrating seats and THOSE little darlings?"

Tanj grinned at the Tiger's confused look as they pulled into the courier service's parking lot. Rommie had been most generous with the tickets and as near as she'd been able to tell, they were generic, and untraceable. She had agents to meet, and this was as good an opportunity as any. The courier service would get the tickets to the drop points, no questions asked. And for the modest price of only two of the tickets too. Why, she'd even have a few left over, when all their needs were met. And at the going rate, they might just be able to recoup some of their traveling expenses....

Tanj sighed; the white dress with the sequins was TIGHT across her ass. Too tight. Not sexy-tight, but "this dress is too small" tight. Pulling it off, and tossing it at her bed she examined herself in the cabin's mirror. If she turned, pirouetted, she might get a glimpse of her whole self. Was she getting fat? Did she need to work out more? Count calories a little better? Or was it the inevitable middle-aged spread. With a sigh she went fishing in her closet for something suitable. What went with a white hat?

Zassa frowned at the display; THAT was what went for evening clothes here? NO WAY. With a sigh she closed the display and leaned back in the chair, tilting it back until it was in danger of spilling her onto the deck. There had to be something.... Slowly a smile came over her face... yeah, that might work; it just might work.... The only question was, would Wanda have a large enough supply? And where was the tube of superglue? Who'd borrowed her scissors?

Tanj smiled and shook her head. It was much too risque for this planet, and it probably wasn't a good idea to annoy the locals, and yet.... It DID go with a white hat...

Hinoki looked at himself in the mirror and tried hard not to giggle. Talk about a retro look. Smiling, he adjusted his lapels and stepped out into the corridor. It was almost time to leave.

Ralph looked like a cartoon; a huge Tiger, in a black suit, with a white top-hat, leaning against the wall in a nonchalant pose. All he needed was a white walking stick, and spats. As Hinoki approached, the Tiger reached up and slid his sunglasses down just a bit, to stare. Hinoki twirled, and then did a few soft-shoe steps, winding up grinning at the Tiger, paws widespread. "Man, I thought Disco was DEAD. Dead, like, two centuries ago. Wherever did you FIND those duds?" Hinoki chuckled and straightened the maroon lapels of his shirt over the white tuxedo jacket. The shirt was open to his waist, his chest fur fluffed out in a ruff. The pants were bell-bottoms, and the belt buckle was large and garish. "Got ‘em for a costume party, years ago, believe it or not. I thought it fit....." Ralph sighed and shook his head; "The things folks will do for fashion."

"What won't they do for fashion?" Ralph and Hinoki both turned to look at Tanj, Ralph letting out a long whistle. "You're not actually..... I mean, is that.... Legal?" Tanj laughed and shrugged; "I know its not street-legal, but I've got a cape. Once we're in the club, well, I'd be surprised if they threw me out." Ralph looked the translucent-white latex hobble dress up and down and then shook his head; "But... I can see all your spots. ALL your spots... and other things besides!" Tanj smiled; "So? You've seen ‘em before." Hinoki frowned; "How... If things drop in the pot, how are you going to be able to run in that dress?" Tanj extended the claws of her right paw and made a swiping gesture down her front. Hinoki just went "oh....."

"Ooooh, LIKE your dress! Why didn't I think of that!" Ralph, Hinoki, and Tanj turned to look at the Vixen. She was dressed in.... what appeared to be a dozen white gauze straps. They surrounded her, wrapped her, like a designer mummy. Nothing was showing.. not QUITE, and yet it looked as if one deep breath would break all the straps, leaving her nude. Or a good exhale would allow them to fall from her body. Zassa laughed, and reached over to place a finger under the Tiger's jaw, pushing it back up into place. "Think I'll make an impression?"

"Are we ready to go?" Everyone turned to look at Wanda; the Wolverine lass was wearing what had to be a modified nurses' uniform... it might not have been haute couture, but it DID match the required headgear. And somehow she looked remarkably sexy in the tight white outfit. "Um.. where's Kath?" Wanda smiled; "She volunteered to stay with Bruno." Shifting her gaze to Hinoki, Wanda smiled; "you're leaving Sashi behind?" Hinoki looked a little uneasy; "Um, Sashi and Sabina seem to have something planned; they, ah, begged off. Besides, I thought it might be better to leave a few folks on the ship, just in case." Tanj frowned; "I thought Roland was staying; he didn't seem interested in going to a nightclub." Hinoki nodded; "Yeah, well, he's still looking for those parts for his suit. Said he might run into town. Even asked for the keys to the Renegade." Tanj sighed and shrugged; "Well, I'm not wild about him going into town alone, but I suppose he can handle himself....

Tanj tried to get into the front passenger seat as Hinoki slipped behind the wheel, only to be blocked by Ralph; "Sorry, Mistress. I'm riding shotgun." Tanj almost asked where the shotgun was, but thought better of it; with a sigh she climbed into the back with Zassa and Wanda. The Vixen was bent WAY over, her head almost stuck into the on-board refridgerator; "Hey, look at this; Vinnie even stocked it for us. Cheap brands, though..." Tanj chuckled and sprawled on a side seat, where she could look forward and back just by turning her head. Wanda took a seat next to the Vixen and wordlessly accepted the proffered drink. Settling back, pushing the "massage" button on the armrest, Zassa grinned; "Wanda you have got to try this...."

The Wolverine lass' squeal of delight was drowned out by the roar of the engine as the car accelerated from the landing bay.

Sashi watched the car depart on the monitor, and smiled. Turning she pushed the switch that would close the cargo bay door. Turning to the Kitten she grinned; "you ready?"

Hinoki brought the car to a smooth stop in front of the building. The on-board navcomp said this was the right address. The building was featureless, with only a single door in the middle of its otherwise unbroken wall. Ralph looked at the Cheetah, and then opened his door, standing, to scan the street in both directions. Finding nothing moving,