Tanj's Tales: Gotterdamerung, part 3

By Kittiara




Stardate 2401.4

The Double-cross Evolves:

It’d been bothering Juan all week. It really was none of

his business; the transactions had all the proper

clearances, and yet it was bugging him. Normally that

would have been fine; watching for unusual things like that

was all part of his job as an accountant in the General

Services Administration. But the kinds of things he kept

an eye out for seldom had the stamp of the President’s

office on them…..

Lunch break came, and almost to a furr, the offices

emptied. The Capital city was still fairly free of

terrorist acts, and it didn’t take much self-delusion to

convince yourself there wasn’t a war on. Lingering in the

male’s washroom, Juan waited a reasonable length of time,

and then slipped back into the accounting office. His

supervisor’s cubicle was vacant, the old Weasel being fond

of starting lunch early and finishing late, and as

expected, his computer was still running, still logged onto

the network….. sitting down, Juan entered a few passwords

he’d picked up here and there, and a few more he’d been

given by a "friend"…. Fingers flying over the keyboard he

did what he did best; searching out graft, and theft…. And

sure enough, there was a trail. They hadn’t even tried to

hide it, at least not from HIS practiced eyes…. The upper

levels of the Elysium government were starting to move

government funds. Investments in major corporations were

being quietly sold off, at a rate that wouldn’t quite panic

the stock markets… A cross check showed "portable"

financial instruments and tangible items were being bought

up. He couldn’t connect the two… not yet. Still, the

coincidence was significant, the conclusion inescapable.

Making careful notes, Juan scrolled through the downloaded

pages, erasing them as he went….

Kenoshi smiled and patted his belly happily. The Thursday

all-you-can-eat lunch buffet was one of his weaknesses, one

his wife would give him endless grief over, if she ever

found out. Settling into his desk chair, the Weasel paused

for a moment… it seemed as if his desk chair was nice and

warm… ever since the war had started they’d turned the

thermostats down in the building, and he was perpetually

cold… but this felt as if someone had just risen from his

chair… Frowning, the Weasel took a careful look around his

office; everything seemed in place, the mouse just where he

liked it, the keyboard just so…. Moving carefully, he told

his computer to review its last dozen actions…. What he

saw made his eyebrows rise so far he thought they were

trying to crawl over the top of his head….

Juan put the disk in an envelope, and calmly walked out of

the building. He’d heard the Weasel’s yelp of surprise,

and didn’t think it was something good. Strolling

casually, he made his way to the "dead letter drop" and

calmly slipped the envelope into the crack in the wall. It

was barely visible there. Turning, he made his way back to

the office. It was risky, but if he were missing, they’d

KNOW he was a… well, not a traitor, but that would

certainly be the way the Government would see it. Smiling,

delighted to be doing his part for the People of Elysium,

he just hoped that the courier found his envelope, and that

the Reds could follow his logic…..

Sebastian worked the ancient manual hedge clippers,

clipping a sprig here, a leaf there. The Hedges were

almost perfect, and he didn’t really need to be working on

them; however, it did allow him to be here, with a good

view in through the Parlor window. His employer, head of

the household, and senior member of the Senate, was inside

carefully wrapping a Ch’ing dynasty vase in bubblewrap.

Laying it very carefully within its suspension harness, he

turned to find the roll of tape. It had become obvious

that the Senator was going to be leaving soon. Some things

might be kept from the public, and some things might be

kept from the press, but it was almost impossible to fool

one’s servants.

The evidence had been accruing for weeks. A painting

missing from the upstairs hallway, its now empty and

comparatively worthless frame stacked in the basement. A

rare cloisonné vase was no longer in its display case, and

the master of the house had been acting with increasing

nervousness. His bubble-headed "trophy" wife had been

telling the servants that they were going to store the

valuables until after this unpleasantness with the rebels

was settled, but no one believed her. SHE still thought

they were all going to the beach house in a few months, and

that territory was well behind rebel lines now…

The note was brief, written in a cramped style. Looking

around, the gardener lifted the rock just outside the

servant’s entrance, and slipped the folded piece of paper

underneath. It was the one dead spot the security cameras

couldn’t see. Rising, he picked up his weedwhacker and

made a few desultory passes, just so that no one would


Phoebe sipped her tea and listened to the conversation in

the lunchroom. A table over, just behind her, sat a covey

of "executive secretaries." One, an overly well-endowed

vixen, secretary (and part-time mistress) to the Chairman

of the Board of the Microware corporation, was giggling to

her croneys about the "business trip" she’d be going on

soon…. Seemed there was going to be a conference

somewhere, somewhere with warm sand and tropical skies, and

her boss wanted, absolutely insisted that she accompany

him. Funny thing, though, he couldn’t say just WHEN it

would be. Something about security. She’s to be ready to

leave at a moment’s notice….. Pretending to read her

paper, Phoebe listened, trying to remember names, and what

little information the Vixen had. As lunch ended, she

scribbled a note on a small piece of paper, and slipped it

under her now-empty coffee cup. Leaving the tray on the

table, instead of placing it in recycling, she knew one of

the bussboys would check under the cup for a note…. And

pass it on to the appropriate person in her resistance


The Serval looked at all the scribbled notes and shrugged;

how Intelligence could piece together ANYTHING from all of

this was beyond him; still it was his duty to smuggle such

stuff through the lines, and deliver it to the appropriate

furrs in the Reds organization. Checking to make sure he

had his Reds ID well hidden, and that his pistol was fully

charged, he moved out of the shadow of the building, and

started trotting towards the woods at the edge of town.

This was supposed to be a "thin" spot in the lines, and he

didn’t expect too much trouble sneaking through…..

Xyloff leaned back in his chair and grinned at his

intelligence staff; "you mean you don’t understand what the

pattern means? I’m surprised at you, Comrades!" Looking

at the blank faces the Wolverine grinned; it wasn’t often

that he could out-think this group. "Then again, perhaps I

understand their mindset a bit better, given my background.

The Rats are about to leave what they perceive to be a

sinking ship. When they think that all is lost, the key

government and industry figures will abscond with what

wealth they can carry!" One of the analysts, a Buffalo,

rubbed his chin; "I’m not sure, Comrade. I admit some of

them may be preparing to retreat to a safe haven, such as

the Harbinger mountains. We’ve heard rumors that the hard

core Elysium troops are planning to hold up there. It

would be difficult to force them out, and to pursue them

into that rough terrain would be… near-suicidal." Another

analyst nodded; "And the liquefaction of national wealth

might merely be another attempt to import weapons and

mercenaries….." Xyloff shook his head; "No, While I admit

it could be any, or all of those things, I believe we’re

seeing the approach of the end." Turning to the Operations

staff he grinned; "Now, here’s what I want to do to try

and hasten their departure. When they leave I want them

fully panicked, and moving too fast for caution….."

Marshal Golovko looked at the message flimsy and shook his

head. It was incredible. It was inconceivable and yet the

Reds Party Headquarters had ordered him to ignore his

flanks and drive straight for the Elysium Capital. While

the Elysium forces were in general retreat almost

everywhere, exposing his flanks to their still not-

inconsiderable forces was inviting disaster. Looking up at

his aide, the Bear growled; "Political Objectives my ASS!"

The aide, a much scarred and much decorated Panther, only

shrugged; "Marshal, if you waver in the slightest it WILL

be your ass. We have no choice." Sadly the Bear nodded;

"Very well, lets take a look at the maps and see what we

can do to minimize the damage…."

Senator Delany watched as one of his servants brought the

aircar around. He’d always prided himself on driving

himself wherever he needed to go, not making use of

limousines and chauffeurs…. But recently he’d been

particularly careful about starting the car in the morning.

Politely thanking his butler, Delany slid behind the

controls, glancing in the back seat just to make sure there

were no assassins hiding there. Now that they were so

close to leaving, it wouldn’t do to be killed like poor

Senator Croft. Still the old biddy had been foolish,

taking way too many chances, almost as if she were inviting

the Reds "justice" squads to come for her. Lifting off

smoothly from his residence, Delany debated which of the

several routes to the capital building he should take


Brumm smiled as he saw the blip appear on the traffic

control radar. They’d tapped into the system that the

civil authorities used to control aircar traffic. And of

course as important a personage as the Senator had their

transponder flagged in the supposedly impregnable system.

It made him a whole lot easier to track. And to kill.

Nodding to Grimaldi, the Wolverine sat back, letting his

associate fly their rented van, as they closed the


Making another random turn, Delany smiled. Traffic was

light today. Glancing in his rear-view monitor, he noted a

white delivery van, with a rental company’s logo on it.

Thinking about the transfer of important records from

outlying districts now threatened by those rebel scum, the

Senator made another random turn. The van followed.

Brumm nodded; "Now, Grimaldi, hold it steady…." Reaching

down, the Wolverine lifted the remote control box into his

lap. Flipping a switch, he was rewarded with a set of

glowing indicator lights and a slight vibration beneath his


Delany’s instincts were good. He hadn’t survived in the

Senate for as long as he had without knowing when he was in

trouble. The path of his aircar developed a slight weave,

as if the operator were slightly drunk… and slowing down,

then speeding up, he managed to make a turn and descend a

level, merging into the traffic heading away from the


"He’s on to us" Grimaldi growled. Brumm nodded; "fly

between the eastbound and westbound "paths". Close on him

and I’ll take him out from above and behind." Below the

van, the optics of the strap-on anti-aircraft laser

twitched, as Brumm tried to sight in on the now-fleeing


Delany scanned his dashboard. No tracking radar; that

meant the assassins were going to try for some sort of

passive kill. His car was well stealthed, but that didn’t

mean it was invisible in the infra-red. Glancing in his

rear-view he blinked. The Van was gone…. Craning his head

around, he searched for them, convinced they wouldn’t give

up so easily.

"You know, Brumm, flying here is going to send a strong

signal to every civilian who sees us; flying between the

eastbound and westbound levels is supposed to be reserved

only for the police. And we don’t look like the police."

Brumm shrugged: "When we start shooting, they’ll know it

for sure. Now be quiet, I need to concentrate."

The flicker of laser light licked out, lashing diagonally

across Delany’s car. On either side, it cut downwards,

across city streets. Pedestrians and parked vehicles burst

into flames.

Delany swore; his car was armored, a reflective layer just

below the paint dispersed most of the beam, and an ablative

layer below that absorbed the rest. Still, he wouldn’t be

able to take much more of that. Horsing the car around,

ignoring the traffic rules, he sought an escape.

"Get behind him, I need a better angle!" Brumm couldn’t

believe the Senator had survived the first hit. He must be

flying something very special. As Grimaldi grunted and

worked the controls, the Wolverine lined up for his next


Delany felt the aircar shudder, and loose power. It didn’t

feel as if he’d lost one of the fans, more like one or more

of the power cells had dropped off line. Frantically, he

looked towards the ground, looking for a good place to


Brumm grinned; his third shot had taken out the right side

fans, slicing from rear to front. The car had spun out of

control. It would have been nice if it had exploded on

impact, but unfortunately things like that only happened in

thriller holos. Telling Grimaldi to hover for a minute,

the Wolverine used the laser to make sure no one could

possibly be left alive in the wreckage.

"THERE THEY ARE!" Sergeant Boggs looked at his rookie

partner and shook his head. Keying his mike, the German

Shepherd growled; "We have the van in sight; they have some

sort of laser weapon. We’re going to hang back and

maintain surveillance until backup arrives. At his young

partner’s "Aw come on, Sarge, we can take ‘em!" the

Shepherd just growled and rolled his eyes.

Brumm grinned and leaned back in his seat. The Senator, in

trying to escape, had flown into a factory district; there

had probably been no living eyes to record his demise. As

Grimaldi calmly flew back towards the main traffic pattern,

the Wolverine wondered what his next assignment might be.

"Police 491, this is Phantom Lead, moving up from your six,

target in sight" "Roger that, Phantom Lead, this is

Sergeant Boggs. Central says these goons are a Reds

"justice squad", and you are cleared for use of deadly

force." "Roger that, 491, we’re rolling hot." Boggs shook

his head; "I wish they’d let them clear the city before

they started using military weapons, but I guess they want

to make a point." The kid in the seat next to him just

watched in awe as two interceptor missiles turned the van

into so much tinfoil. Luckily they still weren’t out of

the factory district…..

In an automated relay station, a small box clicked. One of

Brumm’s contingency plans, should they need help escaping,

was the total incapacitation of the traffic control system.

A last-ditch effort, as it would leave too many clues as to

who’d done it, and probably let the Elysium government know

how to make sure it didn’t happen again, the Wolverine had

set it up on a timer, figuring that if he didn’t

countermand the order, he’d either be in real trouble,

captured, or dead. In two out of three cases, he might be

able to use the assistance….. His gizmos didn’t disable

the system so much as feed it countermanding signals, and

to spoof the backup system into thinking the primary was

functioning correctly. All over the Capital city, signals

went green in three of four directions, speed limits and

altitude designations changed, and in some places the

flight path indicators "drifted" so that opposing streams

of traffic found themselves coming at each other head-on.

Chaos reigned.

Olson sipped his coffee, as he looked over the city

editor’s shoulder. The stories of death and chaos when the

traffic system had been sabotaged were heartbreaking… and

should put their news e-publication in great demand. With

a sigh he shook his head; it just figured. Here he had a

scoop on high level embezzlement that should blow the lid

off the Elysium government, and it’d probably be buried on

the back page. Of the classifieds section. Taking another

sip of his coffee, Olson reflected on his "source"… the

shadowy figure had "Reds Political Wing" written all over

her. She’d fed him tidbits before, but never anything like

this…. That and she was one VERY sexy Ermine, and gave

head like no one he’d ever run across. Or even heard

about. Talk about "deep throat"… that Mink could take ALL

of him….. Hmmmm. Maybe when his editor asked, as he knew

he would, he’d code-name his source "Deep Throat"… that had

a neat ring to it…..

J.T. watched the monitor, as the editor compiled the "front

page" of the latest edition. The report on the sabotage of

the traffic control system, and the shocking assassination

of Senator Delany served the Elysium Government’s purposes

well, but this article about some of the financial

"maneuverings" that were happening would not do at all.

Entering the override code, J.T. quietly rearranged the

appearance of the publication. Then, picking up his

commlink, he quietly arranged so that those that knew of

that particular story would either quietly disappear, or

make their own front page as victims of another "Reds

Justice Squad"…..

Erog looked at the sheaf of reports and shook his head;

"This story about our liquidation of certain assets is most

disturbing. Are you sure you were able to squelch it?"

The Wolf nodded; "Yessir. We haven’t caught up with the

"source" yet, but we’ve managed to halt its release on each

occasion so far." Erog nodded. Feeding the reports, one

by one into a shredder, the President of the Government of

Elysium looked up; "we’re going to have to move up our

departure date. Things are progressing faster than we had

anticipated." The Wolf nodded; "Let me talk to the others

to see how we can accelerate the timetable…."

The Ermine purrrred softly, and stretched langourously.

She knew, without looking, that the Wolf’s eyes were on

her. Riveted to her. He was close to drooling. It hadn’t

been difficult at all to pick him up, in the spaceport bar.

What had been difficult had been to fend off all the

interested furrs, both male and female, that frequented the

bar. But she’d been waiting for just this one… not because

he was attractive, although he wasn’t THAT bad. Not

because he was single, although that helped. But because

he was the Executive officer on the Ragnarok, one of the

few remaining cruisers in the Elysium Fleet. The Reds

psychology department had given her a number of possible

candidates, but she liked his profile the best. Despite

his position, his authority, he was a closet submissive,

and that made her job all the more fun…..

It hadn’t taken much to bring him under her spell.

Demanding he fetch her a drink, sending him to fetch her

wrap from the cloak-check ‘bot. Telling him that they’d be

going back to her place. Little touches added at just the

right moment. And bit by bit she’d seen the light of

desire flare in his eyes. She could almost hear him

thinking, wondering if this was the one fem that could give

him what he truly desired….

Once back at her rented apartment, she’d become even more

insistent, more demanding. Of course her demands were

interspersed with kisses, and gentle caresses, mixed among

all the preludes to love. Their first coupling had been

wild, full of primal energy, with the Wolf thinking that he

was leading, his male ego obscuring the signals that she’d

been sending, the subtle directions she’d been giving him.

In time, upon reflection, he’d realized that she had

actually been controlling him, and be all the happier for

it. Normally she’d take her time with him, seeing him a

dozen times before she sunk the hook, but the political

situation just didn’t permit that. She’d have to move

faster. Recklessly fast. As the Wolf’s knot slowly

subsided, she giggled and tilting her head up to whisper in

his ear, she made a suggestion that he may or may not have

been ready for. Such were the needs of the situation, and

of the Party…..

The Wolf knelt on the floor of the Ermine’s apartment

living room, wondering just how he’d gotten himself in this

fix. He was nude, with heavy cuffs around ankles and

wrists, cuffs actually LOCKED on. A heavy collar encircled

his neck, the lock dangling at the back. He could feel it

sway as he moved. Part of him was absolutely aghast at

what he was doing; after all, he’d just MET her. Another

part of him was in ecstasy, as evidenced by his raging

hard-on. This is what he’d dreamed of, longed for, for as

long as he could remember. It was MUCH better than the few

sessions he’d timidly paid for, with a professional

dominatrix. She really knew how to push all his buttons.

Currently she was laying on the couch, on the other side of

the room, seemingly asleep, exhausted by their bouts of

lovemaking. His gaze roamed over her form, longingly.

Dressed only in an amazingly tight corset, which cinched in

her waist to an unbelievable diameter, her bounteous chest

rose and fell with each breath. Even from across the room,

he could still smell her arousal. She’d instructed him to

kneel in the corner, to wait for her command, and

obediently, he had. Now the locks insured he’d remain

there, until released. As he watched her sleep, he

wondered if she’d let him loose in time for him to make it

back from leave on time. Part of him didn’t care.

The Ermine smiled to herself and studied him through

slitted eyes. Feigning sleep, she watched, wondering how

long it would be, before he tried to rouse her. It

wouldn’t be long before he’d have to be back to his ship,

and given his position, it wouldn’t be long until the

military police were looking for him, fearing terrorists.

Stretching again, she purrred and opened her eyes a little

further. "Crawl over here, Slave, and lick me." Shifting

a little, the Ermine, dropped both legs over the side of

the couch, giving him a good look at her still-dripping


The Wolf groaned. With wrists locked to ankles, and ankles

locked together, fulfilling her demands would be hard, and

yet he must. Shifting back and forth, fractionally moving

closer with each movement, drew a frown from her, and he

remembered the riding crop with a shudder of both delight

and fear. Thrusting himself forward, he gained a

‘standing’ position on his knees, and awkwardly, started to

"walk" towards her. When he lost his balance and fell on

his face, she giggled, instead of criticizing him, and

suddenly he felt better about the whole thing; it WAS still

just a game, and not something more… wasn’t it? Struggling

back into a kneeling position and then again rising to his

knees, he shuffled forward, all but falling against the

couch, his muzzle jamming hard against her cleft, making

her squeal in delight.

Later she stroked his head softly; he hadn’t been able to

shift his position much, upper torso laying on the couch,

as he knelt by its side, his muzzle resting on her mons.

She wondered what she looked like from there, as she laid

back against the couch, legs splayed on either side of him.

Grinning down through the valley of her breasts she

purrred, and stroked his head, and talked to him of his

work, of his position. As expected, there was an

undercurrent of annoyance in his voice. Annoyance with the

admirals that were controlling the Fleet, annoyance at the

constant interference from civilian authorities…. Smiling,

the Mink stroked him softly and wondered quietly if perhaps

a change in leadership might not be so bad, for a

patriotic, dedicated warrior. When he didn’t immediately

object, she smiled, knowing she had him.

The Ermine was still nude, the furr of her thighs still wet

and sticky from their lovemaking. The Wolf was back in his

uniform, perhaps standing a little straighter. Not caring

in the least if anyone saw her through the partially open

door, she put her arms around his neck and kissed him.

"Remember what I said; Think it through logically. And if

you agree; if you want to help, to help the people of

Elysium, if you want to help me… if you want to help

YOURSELF, come to the party. Bring your friends. Bring

those you think might help. Tomorrow night. And I

promise, you and I, we’ll sneak off somewhere private, and

play some more. Just the way you know we both like it….."

The Wolf swallowed and nodded, and without a word, turned

to stride off down the corridor. If he moved fast, he

would make the last shuttle back to his ship…

The Ermine closed the door, and smiled. She needed a

shower bad, but that wasn’t the first priority. Moving to

the comm console, she placed a call. The number was a

public comm terminal in the port, and while unsecured, she

thought anyone listening in wouldn’t know what she was

talking about. In any event,k it was something she had to

risk. "Hello, Robert? Yes, it went fine. Please keep an

eye on him for me; if I’m wrong, I’d like to know as soon

as possible. Yes, tomorrow night. Ok, thanks, Dear.


The Stoat broke the connection and turning, walked away

from the public comm. Dressed in an Elysium starfleet

uniform, he attracted very little attention in the port.

The Reds had some agents within the Fleet, but not enough

for what was planned. They needed to recruit key

personnel, and recruit them as quickly as possible.

Preferably at such a pace that by the time the recruits had

time to think over what they’d done, it would be too late.

But then, if anyone could do it, the Ermine could. She was

one of their best Agents Provocateur…

"Maria, I simply don’t want to hear it. You will do as you

have been instructed, without questions, without qualms."

The Ermine stared down at the young Skunkette with a stern

look on her face. The Reds had provided the females she’d

asked for, and while each one was stunningly beautiful,

they were scarcely "enthusiastic volunteers." Most had

been blackmailed into performing as required, some were

here because of threats made against their families. But

all had been briefed on the sexual "kinks" of their

targets, thoroughly trained in how to please the males

they’d been paired with. If none of them lost their nerve,

it should all work. Looking at the Skunkette, the Ermine

softened her "look;" "I know, Dear; I know. I’ve been

through this before, and I do remember. Anal sex can be

painful at first, but if you just relax, it won’t be so

bad. Many actually like it. I know, I’ve come to treasure

the unique sensations it can give you…. Now just calm

down. Remember, this is for the good of the Party, and for

the People of Elysium. Its TERRIBLY important for The

Plan." The Skunkette wiped away a tear and nodded; "you

really DO like it?" The Ermine smiled; "its an acquired

taste, but yes, I’ve come to enjoy it. Give it a chance."

As the Skunkette turned, padding away, back to the bar for

some "liquid courage" the Ermine sighed. The Elysium

Starfleet officer she’d been assigned to had a penchant for

anal sex; problem was, he was a beast, who frequently left

his partners in need of medical attention. The Skunkette

was probably going to me much the worse for wear by

morning. Still, it HAD to be done. The Mission was just

too important to let little things like the desires of one

person, or even a hundred persons interfere…….

The Wolf slid his arms around the Ermine’s waist and

whispered in her ear. She giggled, as if he’d said the

most delightful thing and turned back to whisper in return;

"Go to the end of the hall; last room on the right.

Prepare yourself for me. Be imaginative. I want to find

you naked, bound immobile, unable to escape without my

help, and oh so ready for me. I’ve got to make sure the

party gets off to the right start, but I’ll be along as

SOON as I can!"

The Stoat smiled as his gaze wandered across the monitors.

In each room, fiber optic cameras, thin as a hair, were

recording scenes of debauchery that….. probably wouldn’t

faze the current Elysium society in the least. However,

coupled with the fact that each of the Fleet officers were

with furrs that very soon would be almost universally known

as Reds agents WOULD draw their interest. And insure their

complete, if grudging compliance.

The Wolf blinked as the door closed behind him. The room

was dark, save for a single spotlight; in the spotlight was

a large wooden "X" with shackles dangling at the ends of

the arms. And in the middle was a large phallic shape,

angled upwards. He knew where that was supposed to go. On

the floor was a tube of lubricant, a collar, and a bunch of

padlocks, all open, all without keys. Smiling, he started

to strip off his uniform. What he was about to do might be

the stupidest thing he’d ever done in his life, but be that

as it may, he couldn’t help himself. She would find him

exactly as she expected….

The Warthog smiled as he pulled on his uniform. The

Skunkette had been just the way he liked ‘em. Compliant,

tight, and terrified. He looked at her nude, sobbing form,

and wondered how long it would be, before someone found her

tied to the bed? Shrugging, he grinned and figured that

was her problem, not his. Turning he let himself out,

locking the door behind him.

The Ermine slipped through the door, and grinned as she

beheld the Wolf. Locked tight to the cross, he squirmed

slightly. It was questionable as to whether or not he even

knew she was there, thanks to the form-fitting leather hood

locked around his head. Smiling, she wondered if the

horseradish she’s smeared on the dong was getting to him

yet. Whether it was or not, it was obvious from the size

of his erection, that he was thoroughly enjoying his

situation. Shedding her dress, she sashayed towards the

bound Wolf, and the proper culmination of the party. She

just hoped the Stoat was getting all this recorded


The Warthog stopped and looked at the Stoat wearing the

junior officer’s uniform. Frowning at the interruption he

took the proffered envelope. Tearing it open, he pulled

out the photographs, and frowned. They showed him with the

Skunkette, the night before. All, except for the last one,

which was a printout of a wanted poster, showing the same

Skunkette….. And claiming she was a Reds Agent. Eyes

widening, he turned to look at the Stoat, who just grinned

back. Taking the startled Warthog by the elbow, steering

him into a side corridor, the Stoat began to explain the

obvious benefits of joining "The Cause"….. and telling him

exactly what was required of him.

The Ermine slipped through the door into the hotel room and

smiled. She’d slipped out of the port without anyone

seeming to be the wiser, making her way to the capital

city. Now, after a quick fur-dye, and a radical change in

style of dress, she was making her way back to report. Her

mission had been largely successful. Only three of the

"recruits" had to be "eliminated" to keep them from telling

what they knew. All the others had either joined the Reds

of their own volition… or had been successfully blackmailed

into cooperation. If everything "held" she’d be able to

deliver two Elysium Cruisers and at least four Destroyers

to the People’s Space Navy, at the critical moment. There

were a few more critical personnel that she might be able

to suborn, though. Tonight’s target was a Commander in the

Elysium Aerospace Defense forces… And while this one didn’t

seem to have any sexual kinks she could make use of, or be

susceptible to bribery, there were still buttons she

thought she could push. She had evidence that the Elysium

leadership was about to abandon the fight, to save their

own skins, looting the treasury in the process. His

psychological profile suggested that he’ll want their heads

for such an act, and would do almost anything to "punish"

them for such a betrayal. Smiling, and stripping off her

conservative business suit, she laid out her dress for the

evening… there wasn’t much to it…. It should catch even HIS


"No, no, Comrade Quistling, you misunderstand me. I WANT

the Elysium leadership to flee the planet. There are

several benefits should they do so; the first is that when

they flee, those still fighting on will be dispirited; they

will realize their leaders have cut and run, leaving them

in the lurch. Resistance should crumble in a matter of

hours! It will mark the end of our Struggle, and be our

shining triumph! Secondly it will put all of the traitors

in one place, at one time. With the People’s Space Navy in

place, there should be no trouble at all capturing the key

figures for public trial, and eliminating the rest of the

vermin! Also, they’ll have the wealth of the planet in one

place as well, and we’ll pluck it from their paws. No

chance of those dastardly Blues gaining any of it!" The

Lemming looked up at the Wolverine and blinked; "You seem

so sure, Comrade; but how do you know that the Peoples

Space Navy will be equal to the task? The remaining

Elysium forces are not inconsiderable…. And then, there’s

the Brethren to consider." Xyloff made a sour face;

"Comrade, I have a plan for the Brethren. You see, our

agents have cleverly recruited key figures in the Elysium

space forces; at the appropriate moment they’ll take over

their ships, bringing them over to our side. Between them,

and the PSN, we should have more than sufficient force to

not only capture the Elysium leadership, AND deal with

those Pirate Scum! THINK of the propaganda coup it’ll be;

the Whole Planet will laud us as Liberators!" Frowning,

the Lemming shook his head; "I do hope you’re correct,

Comrade. It would look bad for us, if they were to escape.

Such a political disaster might just prove… "unsettling"

for some of our Leadership…

Xyloff blinked at the Lemming, and nodded slowly. Ever

since the "assassination attempt" the rodent had been

changing. He was no longer the intellectual, the academic

bent on teaching the people of Elysium a better way…. And

now… an implied threat against HIM? Mentally, the

Wolverine reviewed his plans, making sure that even with

the strongest of will, the little rodent wouldn’t be able

to upset any of his plans…. It SHOULD be foolproof….

Forcing a smile, he nodded at the Reds Chairman; "Comrade

Quistling, I assure you, this will work exactly as I have

explained; I’ll stake my life on it!" The Lemming nodded,

as if to say "you have".

The Return Trip, part 1

Tanj took another look at the departure checklist and

sighed. Fuel. Full. Atmosphere gasses. Full.

Consumables. Full, including a batch of fresh donuts from

the bakery just down the docking ring. Clearances. That

had taken a little wheedling, but she’d finally gotten

through the bureaucracy, and had gotten all the required

clearances. Hinoki had made a hasty trip to Harriet’s, to

say goodbye, and to complete some unspecified task with the

fantasy simulator… They WERE going to have to think of a

better name for it than that. Crew. Telltales showed

everyone on board, but she still hadn’t seen Zassa in a

while. The Vixen was STILL in the cargo bay. Whatever her

secret project was, it must be extraordinarily complex.

Still, she had the nagging feeling she was forgetting

something…. Something important. "Oh, well, if its

important, it’ll come to me…." Scanning the engineering

boards again, making sure the ship was ready, she leaned

over and flipped the microphone switch on her control

column; "Free Trader Beowulf to Gibralter station traffic

control. Requesting immediate permission to release

docking clamps and leave the station."

Sam looked across at Walt and swallowed. Nodding he

gestured for the Gerbil to take the call. Walt shot back a

"why me?" look, but keyed his mike anyway. "Um, Free

Trader Beowulf, you are cleared to undock. Vector 117 mark

43 at 10,000 KPH until you clear the outer marker. Meet

departure control on 143.9 for further instructions. And,

ah, Have a good Trip." Tanj smiled and keyed her mike;

"Thanks, Boys, ‘preciate it. We’ll be sure and look you up

the next trip!" Blipping the thrusters she backed from the

port, making sure all the umbilicals snapped clear.

Wheeling the Freighter, with all the grace and agility of a

…. Well, if not an interceptor, then at least a Raider

class vessel, Tanj nudged her ship onto the proper course,

and eased it up to the specified velocity. Changing

frequencies, she heard Sam issuing rapid-fire orders to the

other traffic in the area, clearing a pathway for them,

straight to the jump point. Tanj grinned and wondered what

the Fox and the Gerbil will make of their sudden departure

from the filed flight-plan, once they’d made the first

jump. Grinning wider, she thought of the reputation they’d

picked up here; it would probably only inhance the stories

already circulating about them. Yes, indeed, returning to

this station could be VERY interesting….

The Jaguar slouched in his command chair, the scowl on his

face a warning to anyone on his crew who knew him, to keep

their distance. He somehow hadn’t really expected the

Cheetah to call and say goodbye, but then…. Well, he’d

hoped. Waving a paw in the general direction of his

executive officer, he watched, as his crew smoothly moved

the Battlecruiser away from the station, and in pursuit of

the freighter.

Tanj sat in her pilot’s chair, her tailtip flicking

nervously. What HAD she forgotten, in her haste to return

to the Brethren? To the Action. To her Master. As her

gaze swept the flight deck, she frowned at the flash of

blue. Leaning closer, she frowned. The cargo bay No.2

monitor was showing only blue. Fiddling with her console

for a moment she transferred the image to her pilot’s

console, and then fiddled with the focus. Fibers jumped

into detailed view, for a moment. Fibers? Fabric? And

then she grinned; Zassa had been wearing a blue jumpsuit.

She’d probably hung it over the monitor, to preserve the

secret she was working on there. That was all well and

good, but it just wasn’t safe. Wondering if something had

happened to the Vixen, wondering if she’d possibly been

hurt assembling whatever-it-was, she did a quick medical

scan of the area. No, everything looked fine. Heartbeat,

respiration, electrophoretic activity all looked nominal.

What WAS Zassa doing down there. Filing it away for future

reference, the Cheetah Fem turned back to her piloting.

They weren’t out of the system yet, although right now it

appeared the trip out was going to be a lot shorter than

the trip in, thanks to their friendly traffic controllers.

Hinoki poured himself a cup of coffee and as he settled

into a wardroom chair, grinned at Wanda; "Oh, I have LOTS

of things planned for our little Vixen. I still mean to

punish her for her impudence, in pirating my system like

that on the way out." The Wolverine lass grinned back;

"but without your little toy, how WILL you punish her?"

The Cheetah male leaned forward, over his coffee, to

conspiratorily whisper; "The old fashioned way; what I have

in mind is, well, its some of the most diabolical things

I’ve EVER planned! And that includes the little trap I

left for Harriet’s Tiger Assistant." Wanda’s eyes grew

wide, and she leaned forwards across the table too; "DO


The battlecruiser was hard to miss, even if it WAS behind

them. Tanj watched it with growning concern. It was

obvious that they were pushing their ship to its in-system

drive limits, and it was just as obvious that they were

headed for the same jump-point. At first Tanj had thought

that the Jaguar was coming after her for NOT saying

goodbye, the obvious thing that she’d forgotten. And then

she’d had a flash of paranoia that the Wolf from

Intelligence, Chalmers, had ordered them to come and bring

her back. After a number of other possibilities had

flashed through her mind, she’d settled on the thought that

the Imperium was going to check up on her story, about the

doomsday device. Very visibly, very pointedly. Maybe if

the planet WASN’T destroyed, the Jaguar had orders to bring

her back to the Wolf. Chewing on the end of a stylus, she

wondered what the best counter-move would be.

Wanda leaned back in her chair, and shook her head; "So

when does your little trap for CT spring?" Hinoki

chuckled; "Why, as soon as he tries it for himself. I had

him don the cranial sensor web for ‘calibration" purposes.

The System’s "learned" his brainwave pattern, and the next

time he dons the sensor web AND runs a program, it’ll take

over." Wanda nodded; "But if this guy’s as good with

electronics and computers as Harriet says he is, what’s to

keep him from finding the little trap you’d left?" Hinoki

shrugged; "nothin’. But he’d have to go looking. And look

HARD. But if he’s good enough, yeah, sure." Wanda sipped

her coffee and chuckled; "you realize this could mean war.

You may never be able to use that system safely again…"

Hinoki chuckled and nodded; "Yeah, well, that’s all part of

the fun. Tell me, WHAT do you think he could program that

thing to do to me, that wouldn’t exceed the safety limits

AND overly distress me?" Wanda got a thoughtful look in

her eye, and just Hmmmmed, as she sipped her coffee.

The Jaguar looked at the image of the Cheetah on the main

viewscreen. He’d been running a small bet with himself as

to whether she’d call, and now that she had, he wasn’t sure

if he was glad or pissed. The Impudence of this creature!

Still, he was having a hard time keeping his eyes on her

face, and not gazing at that spot where the zipper of her

jumpsuit had been pulled, well below her navel. It looked

as if she were about to burst out of the tight fabric… Most

distracting. Shoving memories of their nights on Gibralter

station off, to be savored later, he cocked his head to

one side, and just looked at her.

Tanj smiled, figuring from the angle of the video pickup

and all the upturned faces on the bridge of the

battlecruiser, that she was rather publically displayed.

"Just wanted to apologize for not saying goodbye. I was,

um, "recalled" rather suddenly." The Jaguar nodded slowly,

his face seemingly cast in stone; "Yes, so I was told."

Tanj’s eyebrows went up, and she smiled. "Chalmers?" "The

Same." Tanj’s smile slipped away. "You have no idea how

wrong I hope I am on this. But…. I AM good at my job, and

right now, all the evidence points the other way." The

michevious grin reappeared, her eyes flicking out to check

position, and Drive Status. Looking back at the Jaguar,

hesitating just a fraction of a second she brought her paw

down on the Jump Drive button just as she purrred "Race


The Jaguar’s eyebrows rose, and his jaw dropped, as the

freighter vanished in the Jump Point, the comm signal being

lost at that instant. Impudent? Impudent didn’t BEGIN to

cover THIS one. For a moment he was speechless, and then a

grin spread over his face too. Lover, or adversary, he

wasn’t sure which, but this one was DEFINITELY a worthy….

Opponent? Turning to glare at his Exec, the Jaguar

growled; "Did you HEAR that?" the Exec, a full grown Cape

Buffalo standing at least a head taller than his Captain,

blanched at the fury in his voice; "Yessir! How DARE

sh….." "Never mind THAT, AFTER HER!" Settling back into

his command chair, as the pitch of the in-system drive

ratcheted up another degree, the Jaguar smiled. At least

life wasn’t dull.

Tanj’s fingers flew over the keyboard. She’d had the

cloaking device primed and ready to go, the’d cloaked

almost as soon as they’d completed the jump. Now the Warp

drive was howling, as she flung her ship back out of the

system, its course a curve calculated to throw off pursuit.

The fastest route had been mapped on the way out, but now

she had a better handle on fuel consumption figures. She

figured she could shave at least a half day off their time,

on the way back. IF she kept everything perfectly tuned,

and pushed her small ship to the limit. It wasn’t just the

battles raging at home, or her longing for her Master. OR

her desire to beat out the Imperials. Some nameless dread

was growing within her, as if the fact that the Imperium

was sending a ship to monitor the destruction of Elysium

only lent creedance to her own conclusions….

Hinoki paused, frowning. The noise the cloaking system

made when it engaged was characteristic, as was the way the

by-product static field made his fur stand on end. Well,

they’d made most of the trip out cloaked, it only made

sense, he guessed, to return that way. Shrugging, he

hefted his load and headed down towards the cargo bay. He

had a score to settle with the Vixen, and time was


The Jaguar leaned forward in his command chair, watching

closely as his ship came out of the jump. How far ahead

was the Cheetah? Just how fast WAS that ship of hers?

Would she win the "race?" As the screens cleared, he

searched the tactical display for a sign of her ship.

After a full minute, he turned to his sensor officer;

"well, where IS she?" The officer just shrugged; "Don’t

know, Sir….."

"NoSir, I… well, we DID see a small ship emerge an hour

ago, or we THOUGHT we did, but it vanished almost

immediately. For a moment we thought someone had made a

bad jump, but we couldn’t find any debris. In the end we

concluded it had been a sensor glitch of some sort…." The

Jaguar growled and waved his acknowledgement. Cutting the

connection to the system’s traffic control center, he sat

back and thought for a second. Cloaking devices weren’t

unknown. His ship had one, after all. But civilian

freighters couldn’t afford the luxury. It only lent

creedance to the story that she was actually working for

Imperial intelligence. THEY could afford them, all right.

But if she WAS Imperial Intelligence, why send HIM after

her? Something was fishy here…. Looking up at his Sensor

operator, he growled; "Well?" The officer swallowed; "Um,

Captain, it would appear, ah, well, there are SOME signs of

a ship going into warp in this vacinity, but the vector

isn’t definite….. It would appear to be out-system, on a

course of roughly 340 mark 120, plus or minus ten degrees

on each vector. If we follow the ion trail, we can

probably refine that some." The Jaguar waved a paw

dismissively; "No, there are too many tricks to confuse the

trail. Navigation! Plot the FASTEST course to the Elysium

system, lay in, and Engage!" The Exec cleared his throat;

"Captain, if we do that, we’ll probably arrive there with

dry tanks….." The Jaguar nodded; "Call for a tanker. And

make sure the tanker is escorted. Tell them we’ll meet

them on the fringe of the Elysium system. Nav will give

you an ETA." The Exec nodded and turned to stride across

the bridge, to consult with the comm officer. Staring at

the viewscreen, the Jaguar mused to himself; "Not eight

hours into the chase, and we’ve lost them. Warp drive AND

a cloaking device? INCREDIBLE! I wonder what OTHER tricks

she’s got up her sleeve?"

Hinoki stood quietly just inside the personnel door to the

cargo bay. The Vixen was asleep, or so he thought,

unresponsive to the quiet "sh-shoosh" that the powered door

made. Or if she WAS aware of his presence, she was faking

it rather well. Respiration, the slow rise and fall of her

chest, suggested slumber. For a moment the Cheetah male

watched her chest rise and fall, his eyes roving over her

breasts, and the way her harness held them, seemingly

offering them up for his touch. How long had she been here

like this? Moving with all the stealth of a hunting cat,

Hinoki moved over to examine the reservoir mounted on the

side of the cage. Taking a moment to trace out the

plumbing, it became apparent that one of the phallic shapes

mounted inside the cage was for drinking water, the other

for food, supplied from the tank. And that tank was down

several inches. It was apparent she'd been here a while….

Grinning, he moved quietly to set up HIS little toy,

leaving the Vixen to enjoy hers.

Zassa came awake slowly. Was that a sound? Sitting up,

she turned her upper body, unable to move her head much,

due to the stiff posture collar. Yes, that definitely

sounded like metal-on-metal. Someone was there! With the

ring gag making speech impossible, the Vixen moaned as

loudly as she could, trying to get that person’s


Hinoki smiled as he put down the wrench. He’d heard her,

but had no intention of responding. Let her stew for a

while. He had work to do. Picking up the tube of sealant,

he turned to the large sheet of transparent aluminum.

Tanj frowned; now the security system showed both Hinoki

AND Zassa in the cargo bay. And the monitor still only

showed the blue of Zassa’s jumpsuit over it. What WERE

those two up to? Taking another glance over her

instruments, the Cheetah fem yawned. She’d been on the

flight deck since departure, save for a few trips to the

potty, and to the wardroom for coffee and sandwiches.

She’d had a few cat-naps in the pilot’s chair, some of them

unintended, and she knew she couldn’t push it much further

without some serious rest. "Ought to get one or the other

of them up here to stand watch for a while" she muttered to

herself. The Warp drive had gotten them into a different

"chain" of interconnected systems, making the Jump Drive

once again practical. Still, she’d run some calculations

and then run ‘em again, determining that she could save

time by warping high out of the ecliptic of the system

being passed through, staying well away from the

gravitational singularities, and although it was more

costly in fuel, longer in light-seconds traveled, she could

still shave time off their transit across the system to the

next jump point. Fuel was the problem; if she didn’t watch

it VERY carefully, their tanks would run dry before they

got home. And that took her at the controls. Yawning

again, she strecthed and muttered to herself; "Just let me

get through the Acworth system, make the jump, and then

I’ll get someone to releave me. Traffic control there

isn’t going to like what I’m gonna do…."

Hector looked at the image of the sleepy Cheetah Fem on his

monitor and muttered; "Beowulf, your course to the

designated jump point is 301 mark 347. Hold your speed to…

um…. 25,000 KPS. Advise when crossing the orbit of the

fifth planet." The response he got was not the sleepy

achknowledgement he expected, but a growl instead; "Acworth

traffic control, Beowulf. No can do. We are on a very

time-sensitive misson. Now here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to head outsystem on a course of…. (yawn) 167

mark, um, 15. I’ll alter course at 3 AU, describing an arc

around your system’s primary, and then approach the far

jump point from outsystem. I’ll drop out of warp just in

time to jump." Hector scratched his head; "First off,

that’s an illegal maneuver. If you attempt that, I’ll have

the Guardia waiting for you at the far jump point. Second,

its gonna cost you an amazing amount of fuel. What in the

world could be that important?" The Cheetah fem just

smiled and shrugged; "the fate of an entire world?

Nevermind; call the Guardia if you choose. I’m doin’ it

anyways. Beowulf out." Hector shook his head, rose from

his chair, and ambled across ops to find his supervisor.

In the wee hours of the morning like this, the place was

awful quiet and O’bannon was playing a computer game on one

of the spare monitors, obviously doing something, anything,

just to try and stay awake. "Um, boss…. Ah, red Queen on

Black King? We got ourselves a free trader goin’ a little

berzerk out there…..

O’Bannon listened as the Ferret explained the situation.

Rising, he gestured back at the traffic controller’s

station; "Just ‘cause she says that’s what she’s doing

doesn’t mean that’s what’s really happening. Show me."

Sliding into his chair, Hector pointed at the display; "see

right…. Here? Hey, where’d they go?" O’Bannon nodded

sagely; "See? Just something to throw you off. Maybe they

WANT the Guardia at that jump point, while they do

something else, somewhere else. Play back your log tape

and lets see what happened to your mystery ship…."

Tanj yawned and bumped into the table as she negotiated her

way into the wardroom , looking for a cup of coffee. Wanda

sat in the far corner, feet propped up on an empty chair as

she read one of her nursing journals, raising her eyes

above the edge of her magazine as she took in the sight of

the rumpled, yawning Cheetah. After taking a long sip from

her mug, Trouble grinned at the Wolverine fem; "Do me a

favor? Go on down to the cargo bay, and ask either Zassa,

or Hinoki to spell me on the flight deck once we get out of

this system? I’m about dead on my feet…" Wanda just

nodded; " Be glad to have an excuse to see what they’re up

to down there. Given the last ‘toy" Hinoki came up with,

on the trip out, I expect BIG things from them!"

O’bannon just nodded sagely as the freighter cloaked; "See.

Pirates, no doubt about it. Appraise the Guardia of our

situation. They’re probably planning on raiding the

planet." Hector nodded; "But what if they really ARE after

something at the far jump point? O’Bannon shrugged;

"nothing of value there; no ships scheduled through there

for another forty hours. If they want to leave that fast,

let ‘em. But lets face it; freighters don’t carry cloaking

devices. Those are definitely baddies, and I’m afraid of

what they might be after HERE. Hector just nodded and

shrugged, reaching for his commlink. It was, after all,

his boss’s call.

The Jaguar looked at the report and nodded; "A freighter,

announcing an illegal maneuver and then cloaking? It

certainly sounds like her. Bold as brass." Looking up, he

nodded to his navigator; "how far ahead of us does this put

them, and can we catch up?"

Thinking to sneak up on the Cheetah male, to see what he

was up to this time, Wanda exercised all the stealth at her

command, to sneak into the cargo bay. What she saw was a

disappointment. Hinoki was just filling a large tank to

near the top with a clear liquid. The sound of the fluid

rushing into the tank easily masked the sound of the door,

and she was able to come right up behind him, to brightly

ask "Whatcha up to?" Hinoki almost overbalanced, to topple

into the tank; as it was he had to drop the hose to catch

the edge of the tank with both paws. Turning to glare down

at the Wolverine, Hinoki growled "Don’t DO that to me! You

have any idea how expensive this stuff is?" Moving fast,

obvously having problems with the slippery liquid, he

reclaimed his grasp on the hose as quickly as he could.

Wanda frowned; "Um… no. What IS that stuff?" Hinoki

jerked his head around, to shoot a glance at Zassa, and

then again almost loosing his balance, he made shushing

motions at the Wolverine; "um, nevermind." Wanda,

following his gaze, made a small sound of delight, and

padded over to look at the caged Vixen. Still, she wasn’t

distracted for long; turning she made her way to where the

hose Hinoki held terminated in a large portable tote-tank.

Bending over, reading the label, she smiled; "Ah… yes, this

I recognize from my nursing journals. I belive it has

applications for treating…" "Wanda will you SHUT UP?"

Hinoki stage whispered, shutting a valve at the end of the

hose, and precariously climbing down from his perch.

Pulling the hose behind him, he came up to the Wolverine to

hiss in her ear; "This is my punishment for Zassa. Now DO

NOT let the cat out of the bag, or I’ll put YOU in there!"

Wanda grinned and looked at the tank; "Um, you know, that

MIGHT be fun.. but of course I know the secret. OK, I’ll

keep mum, but you have to let me watch. Oh, and later you

have to let me borrow it for Kath." Hinoki sighed; "All

right, just so long as you filter all the hair out of it

when you’re done, and, ah, "regenerate" the fluid."

Turning, Hinoki threw a valve, and started a pump, moving

all the liquid back into its storage tank, a flowmeter

carefully monitoring the volume…..

Zassa had heard the hushed conversations, only the

occasional word clear enough to hear. She was sure, by

now, that Hinoki, and Wanda, for she’d recognized the

voices, knew she was there, and were ignoring her. There

was nothing to do but wait. And wait. She’d felt like

she’d been in the cage for months. Just how many servings

did that food reservoir hold?

Kath blinked at her mistress; "Um, Yes, Mistress, but now?

I still have some cleaning to finish…." Wanda grinned and

shook her head; "It seems we’re getting into "punishment"

phase for sins committed on the way out, and while at

Gibralter station. And you, Missy, deserve "punishment"

more than any, for not trusting us with your secret!" Kath

blushed and looked down, nodding slightly as the Wolverine

attached the leash to her collar. The cargo bay was the

anticipated destination, but what Kath saw when they

arrived there wasn’t what she’d expected. Zassa, in the

cage, bound almost gently….. it didn’t look like that

severe a punishment….

Wanda watched Kath gaze in confusion at the cage as she

strapped and locked the body harness onto her. "Have you

figured out the food system yet?" Kath nodded slowly;

"Mistress, it looks as if you have to hump that dong in the

floor, to get your food delivered through the phallus at

mouth height." Wanda cinched in the waist strap another

notch and nodded; "and the other one’s for water; just suck

on it. Hole in the far end for waste." Turning the Mink

to look into her eyes, the Wolverine paused for a moment;

"you ready for this?" Kath shrugged and nodded; "it seems

rather…. Bland, Mistress, but yes, I’m ready for my

punishment." Wanda nodded and then smiled a little

mysteriously. Reaching up, she tighened the straps,

forcing the ring gag into the Mink’s mouth, and then

lifting the visor in both hands she clipped it into place.

Taking the Mink by one arm, she maneuvered her to the door

in the cage, pushing down, to make her kneel.

Zassa heard the bolt scrape and thought, for one wild

moment, that she was being set free. At long last!

Moving towards the door, she unexpectedly encountered

something soft blocking her way; and then it hit her; she

wasn’t being let out, someone else was being let in. She

had a cell-mate. For a moment, disappointment threatened

to overwhelm her… but then she smiled to herself; maybe

having a cellmate, with nothing else to do, wouldn’t be so

bad. Now… who could it be? Moving a little closer, she

bent to nuzzle, sniffing, searching for an identifying


Kath felt the Vixen nuzzle her, and giggled softly.

Squirming she tried to bring her muzzle around; the ring

gag made licking possible, and she knew how good the vixen

was with her tongue… maybe this wasn’t such a bad

"punishment" after all!

Wanda smiled and sat on a nearby packing crate, watching….

It hadn’t taken the Mink and the Vixen but seconds to begin

exploring each other’s bodies, as best they could… But the

ring gags limited what they could do with tongues, and

their paws were useless, mostly; they could please each

other, but only in the most awkward of ways… Still, it was

fun watching them try.

Hinoki watched the two fems in the cage for a while, and

then shook his head; "I’m going to wait until they get good

and tired" he wispered to Wanda, "and then I’ll fetch Zassa

out for the start of her punishment. How long are you

going to leave Kath in there?" Wanda just shrugged;

"Probably until we get home; alone it’ll get grim, shortly.

It’s the least she deserves." Hinoki nodded and turned to

leave, but Wanda’s paw on his arm stopped him; "Tanj said

that she wanted you or Zassa to relieve her after the next

jump." Hinoki frowned for a moment; "You mean she’s been

on the flight deck since we left?" Wanda just shrugged as

she nodded: "Um, yeah, guess so…." Hinoki sighed and

nodded, and with a wave, turned to head for the personnel


Tanj yawned hard, shook her head, and checked the

coordinates again… She’d thought they’d have a hot

reception at the far jump point, but there was no sign of

the Guardia. With a shrug she collapsed the cloaking

device, and reached for the jump drive controls. For a

split second she had a flash of paranoia that the Guardia

was also cloaked, just waiting for her to de-cloak, so they

could attack… but then, an instant later her fingers were

dancing over the control panel, engaging the jump drive.

They came out of the Jump normally, and the astrogation

computer confirmed their position. This system was

uninhabited, with three possible exits. Tanj grinned, and

smoothly shifted the freighter into warp drive, turning and

heading for another system, almost two days distant, one

that was on a different "chain" of jump points, one that

would lead more directly to home. Making sure the

autopilot was engaged, that the cloaking device was

working, and that there wasn’t any other traffic on the

scanners, she rose, to see if she could find someone to

spell her on the flight deck. It was time for some serious


Zassa moaned in frustration as the Mink tried to grind her

knee into the vixen’s pussy. It felt good, and she knew it

would shortly bring her to a climax. It was just… awkward.

Still, clumsy as the two girls might be, it was vastly more

interesting than just sitting in the cage alone….

Hinoki smiled at the sleepy Cheetah; "looks like you’ve had

a time, Captain. What’s our situation?" Tanj yawned

again, covering her mouth with the back of one paw: "Um… on

autopilot to NC23579. There’ we’ll pick up the standard

trade route towards Elysium." Hinoki blinked; "Already?

Surely I haven’t been down in the cargo bay THAT long…."

Tanj waved a paw; "I dunno, you guys been down there an

awfully long time; but then I’ve been pulling some tricks

too; we’re well ahead of schedule, compared to the way out.

By the way, what HAVE you been doing down there?" Hinoki

smiled; "you look like you could use a rest. Tell you

what, you go get a shower, and then I’ll take you down

there and show you." Tanj yawned again; "Can’t it wait

until after I get some sleep?" The tired Cheetah missed

the glint in Hinoki’s eye; "No, actually, I think this is

something you need to see before you sleep. You won’t

believe what Zassa’s gotten herself into!"

Tanj stood in the cargo bay, nude, and still a little damp,

as she watched Kath and Zassa, each restrained by their

harnesses, try to pleasure each other. "And you say she

locked herself in there?" Wanda chuckled; "Yes, she must

have been trying to test it out, see what it was like,

convinced that she could escape. Seems she couldn’t."

Tanj yawned and nodded; "You know, I wish I had time for

something like that. Loose myself in the mindless joys of

just being a slave again. No cares. No worries…." Behind

her, Hinoki grinned, and turned to wink at Wanda; this was

working out better than he’d hoped; "Tell you what,

Skipper…. We’re on the straight and steady for about

another, um… 37 hours, right? Why don’t you join the girls

there for a bit; I’ll break you out when we get close to

the next system. Promise." Tanj turned to look at the

male; "Um… I dunno.. what if…" Hinoki shook his head; "No

buts… You could use the break. Wanda, GRAB HER!"

Tanj eeped as the Wolverine’s strong arms closed around

her, as Hinoki approached with another of those harnesses.

"hey, now, I’m really not sure… UMPH!" Hinoki grinned as

he buckled the ring gag into the Cheetah’s mouth, clipping

the blinder on as soon as the head harness was in place and

reasonably secure. As he tightened the straps, the male

chuckled; "Its not mutiny, Captian, if you can’t say no…."

With both Wanda and Hinoki working, Tanj was bound like the

other two fems in mere minutes, and then Hinoki was tugging

on her right nipple ring, pulling her over to the cage


Zassa heard the door open and again her head came up, but

it wasn’t open long enough for her to escape. Sensing the

warmth of another body, her nose filled with Tanj’s scent

she purrred, thinking to herself; "Oh, goodie, another


Kath moaned as the vixen’s tongue left her pussy; she’d

been flat on her back, knees raised and spread, as the

Vixen had licked insatiably at her sex. Given the

distraction she rolled over awkwardly, got to her knees and

shuffled over to the water phallus. As much as she liked

it, it was time for a break. Lord, that girl NEVER got


Tanj purrred as she felt the tongue stroke across her mons.

Looking down through the thin gap at the bottom of her

visor she could just make out Zassa’s nose nuzzling her.

Grinning, she rocked her hips forward, doing what she could

to offer herself to the Vixen’s tongue….. Suddenly she

wasn’t all that sleepy…..

Hinoki watched for a while, smiling as the three girls

clumsily worked at pleasing each other. He was tempted for

a while, to position himself next to the water phallus, to

see if any of them, mistakenly or otherwise, would come

suck on him, but figuring he’d wait until Kath was bored to

tears, he turned to go check the flight deck. Tanj was

right, it shouldn’t be left alone too long….. Still, he’d

have to risk it a little for what he had planned later….

Hinoki sipped his coffee, and watched the instruments.

Boring. Nothing on the scanners, in interstellar space.

Not even a rogue asteroid. Making sure everything was set

correctly, he gave the fuel calculations one more check.

Tanj had cut it AWFULLY close… but if her numbers were

right, they’d make it. Just. Rising, he headed down

towards the cargo bay. If he had anything to say about it,

things would be getting interesting down there soon.

Tanj snored softly, flat on her back in the now crowded

cell. After giving the Vixen at least three climaxes, and

receiving at least twice that number of her own, things had

kinda spiraled down, until the three girls were about as

quiescent as they got. Kath was slowly humping the food

dildo, seemingly having trouble keeping up the pace while

it fed her.. that or she was just enjoying playing with

it…. Zassa was also on her back, probably asleep. Hinoki

took in the tableau and grinned. It was time. Waving to

Wanda, signalling her to be quiet, he picked up a leash and

stepped towards the cage.

Kath heard the door open, her upper torso turning, the food

phallus slipping from her mouth, to face the noise. For a

moment she thought her Mistress had come to fetch her, or

perhaps Tanj was being let out to attend to some piece of

ship’s business, but then she heard Hinoki calling the

Vixen. And he didn’t sound too happy.

Zassa felt the paw on her collar, and before she could come

fully awake, she felt herself being dragged headfirst out

of the cage. The door slammed closed behind her, and

strong paws moved her into the slave’s kneeling position.

Not knowing what was happening, she fell back on training,

and instinct, and kept quiet, and still…..

Hinoki unclipped the visor and looked down at the Vixen’s

face; "Zassa, I told you that when you "pirated" my little

invention for your own pleasures, that I would get back at

you for that. Now is the time. Your punishment is at


The bridge crane lifted the vixen easily, moving her over

the hollow rectangle of the tank, and lowering her down, to

lay in a heap of tangled ropes on its floor. Hinoki

clambered into the tank, using a portable ladder, dragging

gear with him. Squirming around, Zassa tried to get a

suitable look, but bound in the tight hogtie, it wasn’t

easy. After a minute, the Cheetah male turned from his

gear, and bent down to undo some of the ropes. Zassa

groaned with relief through the ring gag as the strain on

hips, shoulders, and back was released… but then Hinoki was

bodily picking her up, dragging her to what could only be

described as a cross between a hassock, a bench, and a

mounting couch. The squarish shape was rubber-coated and

well padded, and the vixen lay on its narrow confines, her

breasts falling to either side, her chin propped up by its

ends. Hinoki quickly placed cuffs around her thighs and

knees and locked them to the fittings in the other end of

the couch. Her collar was likewise locked to a matching

ring in the couch, holding her prone along its length.

Next Hinoki untied her wrists and locked each in turn to

the base of the front legs of the couch. As a final touch,

he tied the tip of her tail to the back of her collar.

Running a paw over her ass, the Cheetah grinned; "Now,

Zassa, in a moment we’ll begin. The tank is slowly going

to fill with water. I’ve got a breath mask, you don’t. If

I time it just right, we’ll both climax just as you drown.

They say that the most powerful orgasms come at the moment

of asphyxiation; pity there won’t be a way for you to tell

me if that’s true." Grinning at the wide-eyed look of

horror on the Vixen’s face, Hinoki turned and pulled on the

self-contained breathing apparatus, the mask making his

head look strangely bulbous. Moving around behind the

Vixen, Hinoki put his paws on her rump and gently


Wanda chuckled and shook her head; the only real danger was

of Zassa being frightened to death. But, there WAS a

trained nurse standing by, with all the appropriate rescue

gear. And the "reverse" switch on the pump was clearly

marked; she could abort the whole thing if she thought

something was going wrong. Glancing down at the medical

scanner, she pointed it at the Vixen to get baseline

readings…. Idly she wondered if it would work through the

fluid as well as it did through air.

Kath turned her torso from side to side, seeking to hear

just what was going on out there; she knew something was

up, but couldn’t figure out quite what. Hinoki’s speech

had been muffled and distorted somehow, almost as if he

were in another room….. What WAS going on out there?

Zassa blinked as the water started to gush into the tank…

it had a funny smell, but that was the least of her

concerns. Was the Cheetah REALLY going to kill her? Just

for messing with his invention? Geez, if he was that

touchy about the thing he should have installed a password

that she couldn’t have guessed! Struggling a little

against her restraints, she groaned as the Cheetah

slathered her ass with the cold fluid… it felt a little

more slippery than ordinary water… Maybe Hinoki was going

to drown her in lubricant… now THAT would be fitting she

thought wryly to herself.

Hinoki chuckled and drove his cock slooooowly into the

Vixen’s pussy. Even now, she was dripping wet, a fact that

only slightly surprised the Cheetah. Pumping her a few

times, he grinned and pulled out, to press the head of his

cock against her anus……

Zassa groaned loudly as the Cheetah thrust his cock into

her ass…. It wasn’t really the way she wanted to go out…..

not that she had any say in the matter, it seemed…..

Squeezing hard, clenching her anal ring around the

Cheetah’s shaft, she wondered if she made him cum early if

he’d have to start the sequence over? She could feel the

water covering her paws now, slowly climbing up arms and

legs….. Somehow it seemed to be rising much faster than

she wanted….. she was nowhere near cumming yet…..

Hinoki chuckled and reached down, fumbling under the clear

liquid; this fluid had the damndest refractive index, and

while he could see the big, knobby vibrator, he had to move

his paw around a little to find it… Grinning through his

mask, he lifted it free of the liquid, to shove it into the

vixen’s dripping pussy. Giving it a twist, he turned it on

full, and then, lifting his paw, letting the slick fluid

drip down onto where his cock was working in and out of the

Vixen’s ass, he picked up the pace a little… it wouldn’t be

long now…..

Wanda squirmed a little from where she was sitting, one paw

sliding between her thighs…. She wondered what it would be

like to be so very helpless, your death apparently creeping

up your limbs, time slipping away….. and all the while

being fucked in SUCH a manner… shuddering she smiled and

undid the button at the front of her pants sliding her paw

under the waistband, stroking herself a little more


Zassa shuddered, so lost in her impending climax that the

first cold tickle of water against her chin almost wasn’t

recognized for what it was….. suddenly the sensation, the

gentle lapping of the fluid against her body, waves formed

by the Cheetah’s rapid humping, brought her back to

reality, and with the first pangs of panic, she lurched

against her bonds….

Hinoki smiled, and reached around under the Vixen, to

stroke her now submerged quim, his fingers lightly dancing

over her clitty, knowing that this might just distract the

Vixen from what was about to happen…..

Zassa’s eyes went wide as the fluid crept up over her nose.

For a moment she spluttered, and then she realized that now

she had to hold her breath; the liquid had risen too high…

and all the while the Cheetah’s incessant thrusting, the

angry buzzing of the vibrator, and his slick touch upon her

clitty were all serving to drive her towards the most

powerful climax of her life……..

Hinoki felt the Vixen’s body start to shudder; she’d been

holding her breath for almost two minutes, and he knew she

was near the end. Grinning through his face mask, he

leaned forward, to capture her breasts; pinching each of

her nipples HARD, he felt the nature of her writhing

change, from impending drowning to a sharp climax! As the

last vestiges of air escaped from her muzzle in what might

have been a cry of ecstacy, or a wail of despair, he felt

her pussy clench down hard, spasming around his cock as she

entered some place between life and death, between heaven

and hell….. It was more than he could take and with a

silent roar, his orgasm arrived, his seed pumping hard into

her throbbing ass!

Wanda watched the Vixen’s vital signs, heartbeat spiking…..

and then slowing. Grinning, she wished she could read

blood gasses on this thing; but she could monitor lung

action; the Vixen was breathing again, albeit at a MUCH

slower rate…..

Zassa’s vision slowly cleared; that HAD been the most

powerful climax of her life… maybe. Slowly it dawned on

her that her vision wasn’t fading, although the burning in

her lungs had been quenched when she'd inhaled a huge

lungful of water….. THAT had been a unique, and not all

that pleasant sensation. Now she was just kinda floating

in a post-orgasmic haze. The vibrator still droned in her

pussy, although the Cheetah had pulled out of her ass…..

Wondering when she’d loose conciousness, the Vixen waited

for what came next……

Hinoki panted hard, leaning back against the wall of the

tank. Little droplets of cum had escaped from the Vixen’s

distended ass, and were now floating lazily around in the

fluid. He watched them for a moment, wondering how to

filter them out. After a bit, he chuckled and reached out

to grab the bottom of the vibrator still stuffed in the

Vixen’s pussy. Twisting it slowly left and right, he

grinned, wondering how long it would take Zassa to figure

out that she wasn’t dead….

Zassa moaned softly, the sound strange, under water. She

could feel the vibrator moving in her pussy, and that was

very nice… but aside from that, she thought being dead was

kinda dull. And she’d never figured Hinoki for a

necrophiliac….. sighing she tried to concentrate on the

pleasures the vibrator was giving her, as she waited for

what came next……

Hinoki stroked his rapidly hardening cock with one paw as

he teased the Vixen’s quim with the other paw….. Talk

about a wet pussy, this one couldn’t get any wetter…

grinning he pulled the vibrator out of her pussy, and

pressed it against her bottom, shoving it where his cock

had so recently been. Moving forward a little, he drove

his cock into her pussy, feeling the fluid squish out

around his shaft…..

Zassa purrrred, eyes closed as the Cheetah started to fuck

her again…. If this was beind dead, well, it wasn’t quite

hell, now was it? Giggling to herself, she clenched her

vaginal muscles down around his shaft, doing what she could

to milk him……

Exercising all the mental control he had, Hinoki made it

last as long as he could; still, the novelty of fucking

Zassa underwater like this was… most stimulating, and she

WAS very talented, even tied hand and foot. It took him

less time than he’d wanted to cum. Figuring it was time to

start phase two, he pulled out, and then bent down to

search for the ring of keys he’d dropped on the tank’s


Zassa laid on the floor of the tank, exhausted. It was a

task to "breathe" the fluid, even if she didn’t have to

inhale/exhale as often as with air. Her chest was starting

to hurt. And she was bored to tears. Hinoki had left her

in the tank, with nothing. Well, nothing except the

classic "Ball and chain" locked around one ankle. Even

with that anchor, the fluid density was close enough to her

body’s density that she neither floated or sank…. Well,

given time,she’d drift to the bottom, but with that ball it

was challenging, VERY challenging to swim to the top of the

tank. And that ball and chain was the ONLY thing he’d left

her. He’d even pulled up the "mounting couch". She felt

like a goldfish in a glass jar. Looking up at the surface

of the liquid, she wondered once again, if she had the

nerve to try and ‘escape"….. Her first attempt at

expunging all the fluid from her lungs had been a painful

one… and she’d discovered that she just didn’t have the

strength to pull herself AND the ball and chain up and over

the tall side of the tank. If the fluid level had been

closer to the top of the tank, it MIGHT have been

possible…. "Maybe they don’t KNOW I can’t do it?" she

wondered to herself. Glancing over at Tanj and Kath, still

in the cage, still visored, she wondered how they planned

on feeding her? Could she drink this stuff? Did fish


Hinoki took a last look around the flight deck, making sure

all was in order. Strolling down the corridor, he found

Wanda reading in her cabin; "Ready to drain the Vixen?"

Wanda nodded, putting down her book; "You realize that

she’s gonna kill you for this stunt, don’t you? It must

have been scary as hell to "drown" in the first place, but

now she’s gotta go through it again as she clears the

liquid from her lungs. That’s gotta hurt." Hinoki

chuckled and looked at the small pouch in his left hand;

"Oh, I think I’ve got a way to keep her from killing me; at

least not yet. You know, there are MANY ways to train a

slave….. And Zassa’s about to learn yet another one….."

As they walked towards the cargo bay, Wanda mused "you

know, Tanj probably isn’t going to be too happy about this

either." Hinoki just shrugged; "That, my dear Wanda, will

ALL depend on Zassa’s reaction to her experience. I’m sure

its not something she would have chosen, but now that its

been forced upon her, how much do you want to bet she’ll

wind up actually treasure having been through it? Wanda

looked at the Cheetah critically; "Um… I’d put a month’s

salary on it, ‘cept if I’m right, you’ll be too dead to pay

up." Hinoki just laughed.

Zassa watched with no small trepidation as the Cheetah

started the pump. Slowly the liquid level in the tank

started to fall. She’d HOPED that he’d climb back into the

tank with her, to fuck her again… now that she was used to

it, it might be kinda fun…. But he hadn’t done that. In

fact, he hadn’t given her a second glance…. As the

liquid descended, she too fell, from a standing position,

to a crouch, to a kneeling position, to hands and knees,

and finally to prone. Once again, the liquid passed her

muzzle, this time on the way down, and "exhaling" as hard

as she could, she prepared to take her first breath of air

in what seemed like days…..

Hinoki scrambled down the rope ladder, moving quickly while

the Vixen was still coughing. She’d risen to hands and

knees, and her posterior was a perfect target for the


Zassa YELPED, her voice sounding both normal, and strange

in her ears. Growling she turned to look at the Cheetah,

but he was already swarming back up the rope ladder,

pulling it out of her reach just before she could grab it.

Glowering at him she growled; "I AM going to get you for

this, you know that, don’t you?" Hinoki just chuckled,

grinning back from the other side of the transparent

aluminum tank wall; "I doubt that; if you kill me, or even

make me mad, well, you won’t get any of the antidote for

the tailored virus I just gave you!" Zassa’s eyes went

wide, and her mouth fell open. By the time she’d

recovered, Hinoki had sashayed out the personnel door.

Wanda followed the Cheetah Male with her eyes and then

turned back to her medical scanner. The Vixen seemed OK;

there were no signs of rising temperature… what HAD he

injected her with? Could this be just another hoax?

Moving to the bridge crane controls, Wanda started moving

the hook over the cage. "Hang on, Zassa, I’ll get you out,

and then we’ll get you down to sick bay, to see what we can


Zassa sat on the examining table, cold, dripping wet, and

miserable. Something was starting to happen…. Her chest

still hurt, tired more than anything, from "breathing" a

liquid, but beyond that, well, she just felt "funny"……

Wanda couldn’t seem to find anything with any of her tests

either, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t anything there…..

Could it all be psychosomatic?

Wanda shook her head; "I don’t know, Zassa, I just don’t

know. You have an elevated white blood cell count, but not

outside of tolerances… it COULD just be from your recent

experiences. And you’re running a low grade fever, but

that could be from any number of things. Maybe you picked

up a bug from the fluid….." Zassa shot the Wolverine a

glance; "you knew about this, didn’t you?" Wanda grinned;

"Yeah, he didn’t tell me, but I figured it out when I saw

the labels on the drums. I’ve run across it before in the

hospital on the base." Wanda looked at the soggy,

"Drowned" Vixen for a moment and then stepped over to give

her a hug; "Hey, you don’t think I’d actually let him hurt

you, do you?" Zassa sighed; "I guess not; and it was a

neat trick of him, suckering Tanj into the cage like that;

I bet she still doesn’t know what happened….." Wanda

chuckled and took the Vixen’s head in her paws; after an

all-to-brief kiss, she pulled back to look at her; "So tell

me, do you think Kath would "enjoy" the experience?"

Tanj heard the cage door open, and felt someone move close.

A moment later, the visor was removed…. Blinking in the

sudden light, the Cheetah fem looked around, her eyes

locking on the Vixen… she looked like she’d been dipped in

mousse, her fur all spiky…. Zassa smiled, a cold,

chilling smile; "Come on, Tanj, you’ve had enough rest, I

think; there are things that need attending to……"


The trick was ancient, but it worked. The Mouse stood

close to the wall, an antique stethoscope pressed against a

certain place, listening. No electronics to show up on

detectors. No fancy spy gizmos. Just simple sneaking

around. There wasn’t an electronic bug detector in the

world that could pick him up as he listened like this. As

long as he didn’t have another coughing fit…. As he heard

the Wolverine’s heavy tread move towards the door, he

stepped back, dropping the stethoscope into the trash bin

of his janitor’s cart. A moment later, the Wolverine

hurried down the corridor, not five meters away. For a

movement that supposedly honored the working furr, no one

ever seemed to notice the janitor, as he quietly mopped the


Kasoff watched the Mouse mop the floor. He moved

efficiently for one in such a menial position. He’d been

in the break room when the Mouse had stopped for coffee,

and they’d said a few words. He seemed too intelligent for

a mere Janitor, as well. Yet, in this time of chaos, there

were an awful lot of furrs taking any work they could. And

he knew the Mouse was sick, too. Maybe that had something

to do with his inability to find work more fitting his

obvious intelligence. Still, there was something about the

quiet, unassuming, and unusually diligent Mouse that

worried Kasoff. And since he was head of security for the

Reds Party Headquarters building, it was his business to

worry over such things. Picking up his commlink he quietly

ordered a tail to be put on the mouse….

The fit of coughing passed as it always did. The Mouse

looked at the bright red of his own blood on the

handkerchief and sighed. Couldn’t be long now. Smiling,

he straightened and hurried down the street, all too

conscious of the amateurs following him. The first "drop"

was at a café; the note was almost casually passed to the

waiter, with his money. The second was a burst

transmission, from what almost anyone else would think was

a portable stereo. The odds of detection were low, but

still finite. Finally, he passed what he’d learned to a

friend, at a local tavern, as the two spent a few hours

engaged in a game of chess. Confident that the message had

been passed, irrespective of his "tail", the Mouse returned

to his dingy apartment. Tomorrow was another day, and you

never knew what you’d hear…..

The burst transmission was recorded by the spysat. As fate

would have it, it had just transmitted its day’s take.

Meticulously recorded in the satellite’s memory, the

message sat, awaiting the next transmission.

The Beaver lay face down in the alleyway. He’d come out to

dump the garbage from the café, when the Reds security

agent had hit him with the blackjack. By the light of a

dim bulb, over the café’s back door, the agent went through

the Beaver’s clothing. There’d been nothing in his wallet,

not even enough money to pocket. No sign of any passed

messages, or communications. But an experienced agent

wouldn’t just stuff a message in his pocket…. Finally, the

agent gave up. It was more likely that an experienced,

well-trained agent would read the message, commit it to

memory and then destroy the message. This one was going to

have to be brought in, for questioning.

Pieczinik was moving fast. His Aerospace fighter had been

launched from the Elysium Wutan spaceport, and had been

under almost constant acceleration ever since. He’d popped

three spysats so far, with a fourth growing in his sights.

However, his actions hadn’t gone unnoticed, and one of

those damn Pirates that were working for the Blues was

vectoring in on him. He’d have to finish this one and then

head dirtside just as fast as he could. His fighter was

good, but it couldn’t match one of those Raider ships, not


The spysat disintigrated under the fire from the Elysium

fighter, its memory burned out almost instantly, all the

day’s transmissions lost.

Black smiled and took his papers back from the Reds officer

at the checkpoint. Stepping onto the train, he wondered

how his friend, the Mouse was doing. Lung cancer was a

horrible way to die. Shaking his head at his old friend’s

bravery, he wondered if he’d have the guts to give his

final days meaning by daring such a risky venture, as

spying on the Reds.

Kasoff frowned; "what do you mean the one he played chess

with has vanished? Who was following him?" The Rotweiler

blanched; "Um, that was Willoff, but it was my mission; I

should be held responsible. There was no way to know that

the Mouse would talk to so many furrs, stop so many places

on his way home. I just…. Ran out of furrs." Kasoff shook

his head; "You’d better bring in the Mouse, then, and hope

that he’s NOT what I fear he is!" The Rotweiler swallowed

hard and nodded, saluted, turned and departed hurriedly.

The nondescript fur paused before the public post box, and

fumbled inside his coat. Withdrawing a few crumpled

envelopes, he slid them into the box, peered nearsightedly

at the scheduled pick-up dates, and then, nodding to

himself, turned and walked towards the bus stop. Standing

in the queue, Black glanced casually around. As near as he

could tell, he hadn’t been followed. The intelligence from

his friend the Mouse, had been encoded onto a microdot, a

centuries old technique, but still one that often passed

the most rigorous inspection. The microdot was just

another period in the letter to his "niece." It would get

to the Brethren’s Mining station soon enough. The

situation in the South demanded his immediate attention,

and this route would have to do…..

The Mouse smiled a little lop-sidedly at his interrogators,

and then broke down into another coughing fit. Most of the

heavily muscled thugs stood against the far wall, as if

whatever he had might be contagious, a fact that amused the

Mouse no end. Here they were, having tried for a week to

torture him for information, and afraid of him all the

while. Their task had proven a difficult one; the drugs

that might pry the information out of his brain might also

kill him, something they knew the mouse would welcome.

Physical pain no longer had much meaning for him, a

constant companion of late. And how do you threaten

someone who knows they’re going to be dead soon anyways?

It was a fascinating situation….. The Mouse was almost

enjoying their predicament….

The Lion looked at the print-out of the Microdot’s

contents, and sighed. While the information was critical

to their planning, essentially it changed nothing. They

would still have to intercept the Elysium ships when they

made their run, whether the Reds PSN was there or not. The

Doomsday device would have to be stopped irregardless.

However, that didn’t mean there were things they couldn’t

do. Rising, the Lion headed out to find Ben. They had

things they had to do, and quickly too.

Kassoff looked at the pictures and then threw them down to

his desk. It was a truism that EVERYONE broke eventually

under interrogation. No one could withstand modern methods

for long, although, because of this Mouse’s condition, the

interrogator’s work had taken MUCH longer than it should

have. Still, in the end, the Mouse confessed to his

espionage, and the transmitter in his lodging had been

found, and examined. The satellite it had been keyed to

had been destroyed, and the odds were the information had

never reached its final destination. They should still be

secure. There should be no need to inform Comrade Xyloff….

Looking again at the pictures, Kassoff growled quietly; he

just wished it had been that thrice-damned Pirate BITCH

called Tanj that had been interrogated, and not that Mouse.

He would much rather have had HER suffer….. but eliminating

her agent would just have to do… for now. Pity there

wasn’t enough left for a public trial; he could have used

the propaganda against those Pirate Scum!


Secretary Llewellyn pushed his aircar as fast as it could

go, irrespective of the traffic laws. The signal had come,

the signal that it was time for the core of the Elysium

government to "withdraw." Hustling his family into the

vehicle, grabbing the bags he’d prepared, he’d started out

in nothing more than a moderate haste for the Gulan

starport. However, as he’d driven, he’d gotten the

increasing feeling that something wasn’t right. For one

thing, the defensive installation at the edge of the

capital city had seemed deserted, at least as seen from the

air. Then he’d been passed by a military convoy. It had

been a Mercenary unit, part of the Reavers. Part of the

unit that was SUPPOSED to be defending the city. And here

they were headed for the Starport? Something was very


The young Captain stared at the grizzled old mercenary;

"Um, Colonel Hawke, Sir, I don’t know a DAMN thing about

what you’re saying. I have NO information that the Elysium

government is about to flee the planet. Starport traffic

this day is completely normal, with NO indications of a

mass exodus." "Listen, Sonny, the word we’ve been given is

that we’re being sacrificed, to hold the capital while

those Dogs that hired us skip out, leaving us in the lurch.

And right now, it doesn’t look like those bastards, the

Reds, will honor any contract involving Mercenaries. From

what I’ve heard, they’re shooting captured Mercs in

complete contradiction to interstellar law." Moving a

little closer, the older Panther growled; "I am perfectly

willing to fight according to our contract, but I will NOT

be sold out! If they’re leaving, by God, we’re goin’ with


"Bayonnet Three to Lightning Prime; we’ve got a situation

at the Gulan Starport, checkpoint Bravo." "This is

Lightning Prime; go." "Bayonnet Three. Seems someone

leaked the news to the Reavers. They’re moving in on the

Starport." "Lightning Prime. The Capital Guards Division

will just have to handle it, if they want to be part of the

exodus. I’ll pass word to their commander. And we’ll give

them as much covering fire from the incoming ships as

possible. This must NOT be allowed to interfere!

Lightning Prime, out."

The elderly Rat looked at the message flimsy and shook his

head; he’d been afraid this would happen. Oh, well, this

is what they paid him, and his overpolished troops for.

Looking up at his adjutant, he sighed; "Tell the troops to

check their weapons; it seems, if we wish to leave, we’re

going to have to do a small job first….."

Spike blinked at her Sergeant in amazement; "we’re WHAT?

Dammit, the only reason I volunteered for this outfit was

because it DIDN’T involve fighting! The Sergeant, in an

immaculately pressed set of combat fatigues, shrugged; "you

can stay here, and take your chances with the Reds, if you

wish. But me, I’m headed for the starport. The Reavers

are a bunch of Mercs from an impoverished planet; they’ve

got the reputation of being cannon-fodder for hire. How

tough can they be? Besides, you know we always got the

best weapons available…. Spike blinked and nodded slowly…

all their vehicles were painted glossy, instead of matte,

and like their weapons, they shone… but they worked too.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so tough…. A little fireworks on the

way to the ship out… "OK, Sarge, I’m in."

Llewellyn yelped and struggled for control of his aircar as

the shockwave hit. In the back, the children screamed as

the vehicle almost rolled over onto its back, and then

almost smashed into the side of the parking structure.

Then suddenly they were right-side-up, and pancaking down

on the parking structure’s roof. It wasn’t a landing to be

proud of, but it was one they could walk away from. Or

run, as the case may be. There seemed to be a firefight at

the edge of the spaceport, the sound of light weapons

filling the air, accompanied by an occasional explosion.

As he hustled his family towards the stairs, suddenly NOT

trusting the elevators, the Secretary turned and gazed

upwards; there was a growing silver dot, the first of the

ships arriving. And he was determined to be the FIRST one

on that ship and the first one out of here!

Ben looked at the data PADD and nodded. Scrolling down,

the old Wolf grunted, and then looked back up at the

messenger from Intelligence. "So its starting. OK, keep

us posted. I’ll be in Ops as soon as I can round up the


Hitchcock smiled at Melissa Cummings as she tightened the

last strap. Such an apt name. She was going to cum until

she died, at least if Hitchcock had anything to say about

it. Straightening, the ‘roo smoothed her outfit and

grinned down at the mouse, her former rival for the

attentions of their mutual boss. The Minister of

Agriculture was a widower, a rather hansom Stallion despite

his years, and he’d been playing Hitchcock off against

Cummings for years, letting each vie for his attentions,

for the right to be his sole Mistress. So when the rumor

mill had kicked into high gear, about a coming "relocation

to somewhere a little more safe", Hitchcock had waylaid her

rival, only to find her with passes and travel documents….

It seemed the old Stud had selected the Mouse over her…

well, that’d change. When she showed up at the Starport,

he’d have to take her….. Still, she hated to loose her

favorite toy…. But…. Pausing she took one last look over

Melissa’s situation; she was tightly bound, sitting on a

saddle-shaped seat that was a highly automated female

masturbation device. Vibrating dildoes were already busy

at work in the Mouse’s pussy and ass, each thrusting from

time to time, each leaking their own lubricant. Leads

attached to the mouse’s hard little nipples, delivering

small shocks that were more erotic than painful. In her

mouth was a thick phallic plug, held on by a tight head

harness that also obscured her vision and deadened her

hearing. Attached to the plug by a hose was a bottle of

nutrient goo, that slowly leaked through the porous

phallus…. And a catheter shared her pussy with the dildo,

draining her bladder to a bottle. She wouldn’t die of

thirst, or even starvation anytime soon. The whole thing

was set up to make her last as long as possible…… And

underneath the thick foam pads filling her ears, tiny

speakers repeated Hitchcock’s triumphant laughter over and

over…… Making sure the door would lock when she left,

holding the passes tightly in her left paw, the ‘roo

departed, grinning, heading for her "salvation"…. And, she

hoped, her Lover.

Goshi Blinked as the announcement came over the loudspeaker

in the subway station. As it started to repeat, she

turned, to push her way through the crowd, heading for the

information booth. The bleached blonde bunny behind the

counter looked up with a truly annoying plastic smile; "May

I help you, Miss?" Goshi growled; "That announcement about

the line to the starport being cut; what’s going on?" "Oh.

Oh Dear. Did you want to get to the starport? I’m afraid

there’s some sort of fighting going on there." "What? But

the Rebels are still a dozen kilometers from the city!

There shouldn’t be any fighting there yet!" The bunny just

shrugged, still smiling reassuringly. Goshi wondered if

the smile ever cracked. At night, when she’d crawled off

to whatever hovel she lived in, did the smile fade? Or was

she that insipidly happy ALL the time? Pushing that

thought from her mind, she turned to push through the

station, heading for the escalator and the surface streets.

The Cabbie looked at her in derision; "are you KIDDING,

Lady? They’re SHOOTING at furrs there? Ain’t NO WAY I’m

heading in that direction, no matter HOW much you offer!

Just who the heck do you think you are, anyways?" Turning

away, Goshi growled to herself. A few days ago, she would

have retorted that she was the undersecretary of finance,

and a VERY good friend of the President himself, but now,

with the Reds and their egalitarian philosophy so close,

that probably wouldn’t have helped. It might actually have

been counter-productive. Tugging on the strap to her

luggage, she moved off down the street, looking around for

some way to flee the city. Time was running short……

Fargo smiled; the keys in his hand were to a brand new

Hokosawa Meteor, one of the fastest and most expensive

sports aircars in existance. Trotting into the parking

garage, he failed to notice the cheetah fem in the severe

business suit….. He’d gotten the gullwing door open, and

had slid behind the controls, when he noticed her presence.

The nerve scrambler in her paw was supposed to be illegal,

but it was easily recognizable from the adventure holos….

"Out. NOW." Swallowing hard, Fargo complied, sidestepping

towards the rear of the vehicle. The Cheetah threw her bag

into the passenger seat, slid into the driver’s seat, and

pulled down the door. Then, with a whirr of fans the

Meteor rose unsteadily, wobbled, and then shot off towards

the exit. Fargo watched the aircar depart. Part of him

was pissed at not having gotten to drive the hot car, even

for the few hundred feet to the valet parking stand. Part

of him was pissed at the fact that he’d had a vehicle

stolen out from under him. With a sigh, he turned, to

trudge back to the valet parking stand. Some dignitary was

going to be really pissed…..

Goshi struggled with the controls; she hadn’t actually

driven in years. Life in the capital city scarcely

required it. When she needed to go somewhere she hired a

cab, or even occasionally a limousene. Trying to remember

her basic instruction, she struggled to maintain altitude,

as she tried to figure out which way the Starport was…..

Passing through a stream of traffic, obviously against an

unseen signal, the Cheetah started to wish she’d forced the

parking attendant to fly her, instead of trying to do it


Chang watched the aircar through the sights of his missile

launcher. It was a fancy aircar; he couldn’t quite

identify which make it was, but it was obvious that it was

some rich furr’s toy. And it was well outside the usual

traffic patterns. But it was headed towards Sartha, and

the Blues lines. And that fact alone made it an enemy.

Squinting carefully, he took a breath, let half of it out,

and when the missile launcher gave him the correct tone,

he squeezed the trigger…..

Goshi looked up from the built-in navigation system, still

wondering where the thrice-damned Starport was, as

something started flashing on the dashboard. Frowning, she

wondered what THAT meant, just as the missile struck.

Lieutenant D’artagan ducked down behind the wall, and shook

his head at his radioman; gesturing, for the handset, he

squeezed the transmit button and growled; "Sigma Six to

Blackhorse Six. We’ve got a platoon sized unit of Elysium

regulars holed up in a shopping center at map reference

236440. Recommend we bypass them, and continue on towards

the Capital. It shouldn’t take much to keep ‘em in place."

After a moment, a voice filled with static came back

through the earpiece; "Roger that, Sigma Six; keep moving.

We’ll have a militia unit move up in your wake, to keep

that pocket isolated. GO! Blackhorse Six out." D’artagan

handed the handset back to his radioman and looked around.

There wasn’t much left of his company, but they were still

effective. And their vehicles still ran. "OK, here’s the

plan. We’ll fall back about a half a click and shift to

the west. If we can put those buildings over there between

us and the shopping center, we can probably slip past their

strongpoint. Remember, the first unit into the capital

gets a Month’s leave! Now lets get going!"

McGowan looked at the realtime satellite feed in the Blues

command center, and shook his head. The situation around

the planetary capital was breaking down, military units

moving this way and that, with no cohesive lines. Here a

Reds mechanized unit had bypassed a strong point, only to

have stronger-than-expected forces emerge from the

strongpoint to savage the support units following. There a

Reds unit had been lured into a dead-end salient, cut off,

and was being destroyed piecemeal. But overall, the Reds

were slowly driving into the heart of the Capital. It

would be a major propaganda coup, but if their intelligence

was correct, that’s all it would be. By the time the Reds

got to the capital building, the building would be

deserted, the government fled. And if their intelligence

was correct, well, the Blues time and efforts would be

better spent pursuing other goals. The Lhasta industrial

region, for instance. Strategically, it was a critical

area that the Reds had bypassed, in their drive to the

capital. And the city of M’upaha, at the Rhone river

crossing…. And the isthmus of Macarac. All strategic

goals, goals that would be well worth having, should the

Reds actually attempt to seize power by force of arms after

the fall of the Elysium government…. After having fought

for freedom for so long, the Blues were NOT about to just

roll over and let the Reds establish just another

totalitarian regeime….. McGowan studied the satellite feed

and hoped, sincerely hoped, that their intelligence was

wrong…. But somehow he doubted it.

Erog paced the departure lounge in the Starport, and

checked his watch for the hundreth time. He SHOULD have

detailed a detachment of security troops to see to Goshi.

But his mistress was usually so reliable, so self-

sufficient. Now they would have to leave soon, and he

hated to leave her behind. ESPECIALLY as his wife had

shown up not only in the right place, but actually early,

something she hadn’t done in years. Decades. He’d been

convinced that things would have worked out just opposite

from what seemed to have happened……

The Lion looked at the tactical display. There had been a

significant movement of ships to the Gulan starport. It

wasn’t the closest Starport to the Elysium capital, but it

was a good choice, a little further from the approaching

Reds, and significantly larger than the other available

starports. Looking at the distribution of known, and

suspected Elysium ships… and the known and suspected

locations of the Reds People’s Space Navy ships, the Lion

nodded; "I think you’re right. This is it." Looking up at

Ben the Lion sighed; "the situation is coming together as

predicted; the primary plan should be adequate. Or as

adequate as anything we’ve yet come up with. Lets put it

into motion." Ben nodded, and looked around Ops; "OK,

folks, you all know your assigned tasks. Operational

control will now be transferred to the flag bridge of the


Sayed looked at the slip of paper and shook her head; "No,

this isn’t the right departure lounge; you’re supposed to

be on the P.T. Barnstead. They’re at… E17. Take the tram,

but HURRY." The Starport was chaos. Periodically the

building shook, as Elysium warships, in low orbit, or in

the upper atmosphere pounded rebel positions just outside

the perimeter. Who could have guessed that the

Mercenaries, those Reavers, would have actually been

working for the Rebels? Wasn’t there a law against Mercs

breaking their contracts? With every near-miss the crowd

in the terminal seemed to grow more panicked. If things

got any worse, Sayed thought, she’d have to start using her

stunner to "quiet" things down….

Erog looked at the list and shrugged; "it’s a shame more of

our people didn’t make it through. Whoever leaked word to

the Reavers really screwed up everything. Even so, the

Captial Guards should still have handled them…. Still, as

not all the ships made it in, its probably just as well."

Looking up, the President of Elysium fixed his aide with a

steady gaze, the one that worked so well on the vids; "We

still leave on time. Wait for NO ONE.

Spike shuddered as another near-miss shook the ground. It

was muddy at the bottom of her shellhole, a broken water

line mixing with the soil, and the Sergeant’s blood. He’d

taken a direct hit from some sort of flechette weapon, his

shredded corpse spread all over the far side of the

shellhole. And he was starting to stink. Somehow, Spike

had known that death carried foul odors with it, but this

was her first real experience with it….. Glaring at the

mess, she growled; "you were wrong, Sarge. The Reavers may

not have had as sophisticated weapons as we did, but they

had something more valuable. Experience. All the sims

I’ve trained in, not a one of them matched this Hell! And

now I probably don’t even have a decent chance at getting

back to the city, to find a place to hide from the Reds….

You’ve screwed me over real well, Sarge!" Spike inched her

way up, to peer over the edge of the shellhole. For a

moment all was quiet and then some sort of energy weapon

opened up to her left, crimson flame washing in her

direction. Sliding back down to the bottom of the hole, to

the mud and blood, she cowered as it washed over, intensely

hot for a moment, singeing her fur. "If I didn’t know

better, Sarge, I’d say that was Tasmann. Tasmann, the

Prefect’s son…." For a moment she giggled uncontrollably;

"The Prefect’s son. Boy, he sure got his son a soft, cushy

position, all right. Kept the spoiled brat out of combat

he did. Now the jerk can’t tell the difference between

friend and foe. He’s probably so scared he’s shitting his

pants….." Yelping as the ground convulsed, Spike

cautiously crept back to the lip of the shellhole. The

position where the energy weapon had fired from was a

smoking ruin. Someone had seen the display and decided to

silence it. Whether it was the Reavers or the Guards

didn’t matter to Spike. Moving almost convulsively she

crawled from the shellhole, moving as fast and as low as

possible, heading AWAY from the starport, away from the

fighting…. Maybe she could get somewhere, somewhere where

she could shed her uniform, loose her ID, and pretend to be

just another civilian caught in the fighting…..

Behind her, a roar slowly built to a creshendo, as the

first of the starships carrying the Elysium elite slowly

rose towards the heavens…..

The Return Trip, part II

Tanj stretched and looked at the Vixen; "What happened to

you; you look like… um, well, "ridden hard and put away

wet" comes to mind." Zassa grinned and turned to crawl

through the cage’s door, dragging the harness Tanj had been

wearing after her. Tanj took a look at Kath, and then

looked questioningly at Zassa; "Oh, Wanda says she stays,

for a while. Something about having time to reflect on her

sins." Tanj shrugged and dropped to crawl through the low

door. Zassa closed the door quietly, and bent to make sure

it was latched correctly. Rising, the Vixen jerked a thumb

over her shoulder; "Hinoki had me in the tank there, for a

whle; come on, I’ll tell you ALL about it." As the two

left the cargo bay, Kath whined through her ring gag; she’d

wanted to hear all about it too!

Tanj grinned as she sipped her coffee; "Lord, this tastes

good, after all that cum-flavored-and-textured goo." Zassa

chuckled; "Yeah, but on the other hand, that stuff sure

does make your coat shiny…. Wonder what’s in it?" Tanj

shrugged and ran her palms down over her tummy; "Dunno, but

for just the short time I was in there, I bet I lost two

pounds…. Now, tell me ALL about what our male’s been up

to…… Zassa winced and settled down to relate the tale….

Tanj shook her head; "The bastard! I bet you were scared

to death!" Zassa frowned and shrugged a little; "To tell

you the truth, I wasn’t as afraid as I thought I’d be. I

expected to panic, to throw a screaming fit, but, well, he

really IS good at what he does; I was so lost in my

approaching climax that I hardly noticed… until my lungs

were burning really bad, and by that time I was cumming so

hard, well….." Tanj moved closer, to give the Vixen a hug;

"And is it true, what they say, that a near-death

experience yields the most intense sex?" Zassa Hmmmed;

"Well, I’m not sure about that….." Lifting her chin, Zassa

looked at the Vixen; "Um, Tanj… do me a favor?" Tanj

blinked; "Yeah, sure, if I can." The Vixen looked almost

shy; "Make love to me?" Tanj blinked and stole a glance at

the wardroom’s chronometer; "Um, yeah, we shouldn’t be

coming up on the next system for, um, almost three hours… I

guess there’s time… sure, come on…." Taking the Vixen by

the paw, Tanj led her down the corridor to her cabin….

Hinoki grinned, ducking down as if expecting a blow, as the

flight deck door slid open. He’d watched the security

monitor, as the pips indicating Zassa and Tanj left the

cargo bay… paused in the wardroom, and then shifted to

Tanj’s cabin. They hadn’t been there that long. Still,

the pain in his right ear was unexpected and he yelped as

Tanj used her handle to pull the Pilot’s seat around.

"What the FUCK did you DO to her? No, I don’t mean the

tank; THAT I could expect from you. What did you inject

her with?" Hinoki did his best to smile, but it still came

out half-wince; what HAD she been sharpening her claws

with? "Um. Just as I said. A genetically engineered

virus. You know, you really CAN buy anything on Gibralter

station, if you know where to look…." Tanj released him

and crossed her arms over her chest; "and just what does

this virus do, besides the obvious?" Hinoki did his best

to look innocent… alright, to look "reasonable"… "It just

deprives her of what she values most. Sensation. More

specifically, touch sensations. She can still feel hot and

cold, still taste good food… and bad, I suppose. She has

enough tactile sensation not to be a danger to herself, or

others. She just can’t feel the texture of fine silk, or

the pleasure of a good brushing…" "Or sex. I tried for a

half hour to get some response from her, and with all my

caresses, with all my licking, with all my skill, she never

even got wet. The poor girl’s close to a nervous

breakdown! NOW, where’s the antidote?" Hinoki raised one

eyebrow, a self-satisfied smirk forming on his face; "Why,

Captain, its right here." Tanj frowned; "right where?

You’re not wearing anything; you don’t have any pockets."

Hinoki chuckled and put his paws behind his head, to

stretch, arching his body towards her; "Why, Captain, I’M

the antidote. Specifically, my semen. The virus was

genetically engineered to be counteracted by MY cum. And

believe me, that was a quirk those mad scientists had never

even considered before. In fact, I may stand to make

considerable profit from that little contribution to

medical science. Royalties and so forth." Tanj put her

paws on either armrest of the chair and leaned forward

until she was nose-to-nose with the male; "and just what

does she have to do to get this…. "cure" from you?" Hinoki

chuckled; "you know, she DOES deserve to be punished for

tampering with my machine." At the look on Tanj’s face, he

went on hurriedly; "If she’s my slave until the end of the

trip, until we return to base, I’ll see to it that she gets

what she needs to… "retain" her sense of touch each day

until then, and when we get home, I’ll see she gets a more

permanent cure. With certain provisos, of course….

Zassa wiped her eyes and looked at Tanj; "Now let me get

this straight; in order to FEEL him fucking me, or anyone

else for that matter, he has to fuck me twice a day?

That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of!" Tanj just

chuckled wryly; "I dunno; it puts you squarely under his

thumb. Piss him off and he DOESN’T fuck you, and then a

little while later, you can’t feel anything. For someone

into "control" it makes perfect sense." Zassa sighed and

shrugged; "Yeah, I guess. Well, I’ve been a slave before,

I suppose I can do it again, for a bit." The vixen looked

up, that ‘sly fox’ look on her face; "but, you’ve got to

promise me, that when this is over, you’ll help me plan a

suitable revenge…." Tanj just laughed and nodded.

The look on the Vixen’s face was composed. Almost frozen.

The look in her eyes was… daunting. And yet the form was

flawless as she presented herself to her new "master".

Hinoki smiled down at her in stern regard; "You give

yourself to me, for the duration of the trip?" Zassa

nodded slowly. "Say it." "Master I give my self to you,

freely, to do with as you will, for the duration of the

trip." Hinoki nodded; "very well. Rise, and go about your

standard shipboard duties. Oh, and put something on. I

don’t want to see you nude until I tell you so. Zassa

blinked in obvious confusion, but obeyed, rising, to head

for her cabin.

Wanda looked across the wardroom at Hinoki; "well, that

was unexpected. Just what are you going to do with her,

now that you’ve got her?" Hinoki smiled; "Nothing."

Across the wardroom, Tanj almost choked on her coffee.

"Nothing?" Hinoki nodded to the Wolverine lass; "that’s

right. Zassa’s been getting a little too wild of late.

Too far from the norm. I’m going to force-feed her

normality, for the duration of the trip, see if I can’t get

her acting a little more like… well, like normal folks."

Tanj quit coughing long enough to croak out; "you mean, no

more latex catsuits? No more…. Um, well, you know" Hinoki

chuckled and patted the Cheetah fem on the back; "Nope.

Standard jumpsuits, or conservative dresses. And plain

vanilla sex. No pain with her pleasure. Nothing kinky.

No collars, no leashes, no restraints, no sex toys.

Nuthin’!" Tanj shook her head; "Good Lord; when you get

done with her, there won’t BE any Zassa!" Hinoki chuckled;

"Oh, you know as well as I do that as soon as she hits that

station, she’ll be back to her usual ways, but maybe, just

maybe, this’ll tone her down a little…."

Tanj scanned the Imperial News Network summary; they were

passing through the Alatchuacola system, and the broadcast

was coming in clear. There was a small report on the

events in the Elysium system, and Tanj flagged it, sending

back a request for more information. The results were less

than satisfying. The drones the news agency used were well

stealthed, but they were expensive, and it was obvious that

INN was sacrificing the quality of their reporting to

conserve assetts. Apparently the fighting was particularly

vicious. There was propaganda footage from the Reds, and a

small rebuttal from the Blues. The government had deigned

not to reply, and that in itself was curious. All in all,

there wasn’t anything she wasn’t getting from the

intermittant intelligence packets that managed to find

their way through to the ship. That in it self was

significant, suggesting that things at home were so frantic

that forwarding information to Tanj for analysis was no

longer a priority….. Turning from the monitor, Tanj went

through her fuel calculations once again. Stopping to tank

up would cost them more time than it would save at this

point. And there just wasn’t enough left for any more warp

dashes between jump points. Maybe if she could contract

for a tanker to rendezvous with them……

Zassa groaned, and drummed her heels into the small of the

Cheetah’s back; their first "session" was almost boring;

not having had any of the "antidote" yet, she could barely

feel him in her, and wasn’t getting much, if any pleasure

from it, no matter how hard she tried. Still, her frantic

efforts to achieve the sensations she was used to, the

sensations she expected, seemed to be pleasing the Cheetah.

Maybe the next ‘session," in the morning would be better.

As the male Cheetah howled, announcing the arrival of his

orgasm, Zassa just sighed. He wouldn’t even let her out of

his bed, but insisted that they cuddle through the night.

The Vixen was convinced that was to keep her from playing

with herself, testing to see if the sensitivity was

returning…. As she yawned, she hoped he didn’t snore. And

that SHE did. And that in the morning he’d choose

something a little more interesting than the missionary



In the hustle and bustle, as the crew hastened to make the

Overlord ready for departure, the hooded fox, pacing

through the corridors of the Brethren’s base, with an even,

unhurried tread, seemed an island of calm. Over the

months, the crew had gotten used to seeing the Fox known as

Entity, although usually in the company of the Boss, and

his presence was not considered remarkable. What was

remarkable, or would have been, had anyone noticed, was the

way he passed through the airlock, and into the Overlord.

The guards on duty there never seemed to register his

presence. There was no recognition of him, even as a

friend, as he passed, their eyes seemingly looking right

through him.

Deep in the core of the battlecruiser, the ship’s main

computer noted the presence of the Fox. However, quite

some time ago, it had been given instructions that he was

on the "permitted" list. Visitor’s quarters had been

assigned, and a meal card issued. He was listed in the

security files as a "guest", nothing more, but no

restrictions were put on his movement. The fact that this

had been done by the Fox himself made no difference to the

computer; he’d had all the proper passwords….. With more

important things to do, the main computer turned its

attentions elsewhere.

As he moved down the corridor at a measured pace, Entity

slowly relaxed. His people were highly skilled with

computers, and hacking into the main computer on this

vessel had not challenged his skills significantly.

Passing through the airlock was the first hurdle; passing

the scrutiny of the ship’s computer was the second.

Turning the corner, he made his way to the turbolift. For

the moment he’d wait quietly in the quarters he’d assigned

himself, waiting for the conflict to come.

Marshal Kozlovko looked at the message flimsey and grunted.

Turning to his communications officer, he growled; "Signal

all units in the Third Reds Shock Army. The Elysium

Government is fleeing. All units are to move on the

Capital, heedless of risk." The Kangaroo nodded and turned

to carry out his orders. Looking up at the look of wonder

on his Operations officer’s face, Kozlovko grinned; "This

is it, Boris! The end is nigh!"

Lieutenant D’artagan blinked as he listened over the

radio’s handset. Command had been urging them onwards,

demanding they move faster, and now he understood why. It

would have been marvelous to have captured those slimy

bastards… but now that they’d fled, what was the hurry?

Surely as word of their departure spread, morale among the

Government troops would crumble, resistance fade. Why risk

the lives of brave troops NOW? Shrugging, he turned to

look through his binoculars once again. The way towards

the capital might be clear…. And given his orders, he’d

just have to chance it.

Windham smiled as he hit the "enter" key. The warning from

his friends in the Blues had been most distressing. While

he had come to loathe the Elysium government, he still had

many comrades on the Cruiser. And the Captain wasn’t such

a bad sort either. But now, his friends had told him,

other officers on the ship were going to mutiny, to wrest

control, and to declare for the Reds. And apparently it

was all part of some larger, darker plot. For a long time,

he’d wondered what he could do? Taking the ship over to

the side of the Rebels was fine with him, but he wasn’t

particularly enamored of the Reds. Something about their

strident propaganda just didn’t ring true… and he’d heard

whispers, hushed tales of some of the strangest things

associated with them. Finally, he’d hit upon what he

thought would be the safest plan. To warn the Captain of

what he’d heard would probably lead to a "purge" of too

many of his friends. And in this case, that was most

likely a purge through the airlock and into the vacuum of

space. And yet, to allow their plan to go forward… He

just wasn’t comfortable with his ship being "instrumental"

in some Reds plot… Grinning, he watched the clock in the

corner of his monitor screen. It was now running about

five percent fast. Oh, he had no doubt the "mutiny" would

come off as planned… but it would now come off just a

little bit early. Disrupting their timetable wasn’t much,

but it was all he could think of to do….

Kuykendall blinked and held the earphone hard against her

head, listening hard. After a moment the rabbit lifted her

head; "Captain, I have a priority message from the Flight

Control Center in Havaas! They say that Security has

uncovered a spy, and that our departure plans have been

leaked to the Enemy! They advise that the enemy will not

have sufficient ships in this sector to pursue everyone,

and recommend we scatter on the first sign of detection!"

Captain Reeves frowned; his freighter was no match for

almost any combatant, and to leave the protection of the

escorting warships seemed suicidal…. And yet, if everyone

split up and headed in different directions, he could see

how pursuit might be complicated… the Wolves would

obviously get some of the lambs, but some might also

escape…. And his ship was a little faster than most.

"Navigator, I want you to plot an evasive course. If we

get jumped, we’re outta here!"

Sometimes a message relayed by others carries more weight

than one received directly. Admiral Soames looked at the

communication officer’s monitor and shook his head; "I

don’t know WHO down on the planet came up with that idea,

but its ridiculous! Issue orders to the fleet to stay

together, no matter WHAT." As the communications officer

bent to his task, the Admiral became aware of President

Erog’s cold stare. Turning to face the politician, the

Admiral drew himself up, and looked back. After a moment,

Erog growled; "will they obey that order?" The Admiral

nodded; "most of them. Some of the commandeered merchant

ships might flee, but we have officers on all the critical

ships and they’ll make sure the orders are followed…." As

he turned to look at the tactical display, the Admiral

muttered to himself; "I hope….."

Brock smiled. The Blues commandos had taken the Flight

Control Center in Havaas less than an hour before, and it

had taken the communications team only a few minutes to

figure out the passwords that let them take control of the

powerful transmitters. Now dozens of false messages were

going out, to the Elysium ships, and to the Reds Peoples’

Space Navy…. And if the increase in message traffic among

the fleeing ships was any indication, it was working…..

Hartz frowned at the message. Addressed to his ship, and

a few others in the Reds’ Peoples Space Navy, it was from

the Reds Party Central, and bore all the correct codes and

identifiers. And yet the very subject made him wonder at

its authenticity. From something called the "Fifth

Directorate" it talked of an internal plot to "steal the

fruits of the labors from the workers and soldiers who had

labored so long to make the revolution bear fruit." Hartz

had scratched his head over that one for a while, and then

had uncharacteristically asked the bridge crew of his

destroyer, if THEY could make any sense of it. All agreed

that the convoluted wording only lent credibility to its

authenticity; no one but the bureaucrats at Party Central

talked like that. Finally one of the fire control officers

suggested that perhaps, in the upcoming operation, someone

was going to try and "steal their glory." Around the

Bridge, heads nodded…..

The Wolf tugged nervously on the hem of his tunic and

glanced at the Chronometer for the fifth time in as many

minutes. They were scheduled to conduct their revolt

exactly one hour after the convoy had left the planet.

Glancing over at the tactical display, he fought down the

urge to gnaw on a clawtip. They were supposed to

coordinate with the other ships, and with the Reds’ PSN,

but so far there wasn’t any sign of the Reds on the

sensors. Could they be late? It’d be just like them to

hang him and his co-conspirators out to dry….. Trying to

focus on his memories of the Ermine, he closed his eyes.

No, they’d have to go on schedule. Maybe the Reds had

picked up cloaking devices somewhere…. In any event, the

other ships would all rebel at the same time. He HAD to

stick to the schedule…. Just a few more minutes….

Onegin looked at the message flimsey and groaned; "Now

they’re telling us the Elysium fleet’s changed course?

Crap, I thought they had their route nailed down TIGHT!"

The communications officer just shrugged. Striding across

the deck of the bridge of the PSN’s flagship, he thrust the

flimsey at his navigator; "How long to adjust our position

for interception?" The Chameleon made a placating gesture;

"not long, Sssir. They haven’t deviated much…. We won’t

be off schedule by more than a few minutesss." Onegin

nodded; "Get on it then. You know Zyloff is going to be

pissed if we’re late!"

"Captain, we’ve just gotten another message from the Fifth

Directorate." Hartz looked at the comm tech’s monitor and

shook his head; "Egotistical counter-revolutionary forces,

bent on establishing a "cult of personality" have tampered

with the schedule and sequence of events for the on-going

operation. To diminish their chances of success, key

elements should commence their tasks peremptorily."

Looking around at his bridge crew, Hartz scratched his

head; "Now what in the hell does THAT mean, aside from the

fact that they’re good at run-on sentances?" After a few

blank looks were exchanged, the Exec frowned; "Um…. I

wonder… could it mean that if we don’t act now, we’ll get

left behind? I mean…. If some of our… comrades are trying

to steal our thunder, to make themselves heroes, the last

ships to the battle will scarcely get any glory…. Will we?"

Hartz looked at the screen on the arm of his command chair,

and then back at the Exec… "Um… possibly. And it doesn’t

look as if there’s any time to send a message asking for

clarification." The Exec nodded; "Yessir… besides, we’re

supposed to be maintaining radio silence….." With a sigh,

Hartz nodded; "well, there’s one way for sure to beat them

at the glory game." Turning to the helmsfurr, he growled;

"All ahead two thirds. Lets see if we can’t get to the

party a little early, and make a name for ourselves….."

The Wolf nodded; it was time. Pulling the palm-sized nerve

scrambler from his tunic pocket, he stepped up behind the

Captain’s command chair and growled; "In the name of the

Rebellion, I hereby seize this ship in the name of the


Benton had always feared this was going to happen. He’d

talked with the Captain, on many occasions, on just this

subject. Surreptitiously, he pressed the concealed button

with his left knee, as he pointedly kept both paws in plain


Farrow frowned as the light on his engineering console

blinked. "Tia! Get on the comm and ask the bridge what in

the HELL is going on up there! Davies! Turner! I want

you to isolate the Bridge from the control net NOW. We may

have a mutiny in progress! Haversham! Get up to Auxiliary

control and tell them they’ve got the ball! Move fast; I’m

closing the blast doors! Williams, Ruger and Hall! Get

the side-arms from the locker in my office. Here’s the

keys! Watch out for ANYONE who might be a mutineer!"

"Something’s wrong on the Ragnarok!" Admiral Soames turned

to look at the ship’s Executive Officer; "What do you

mean?" "Sir, they’re drifting off course and are not

answering our hails….. Wait a minute….." The Exec bent

over the Communications Officer’s station, as the latter

worked his console. A scratchy, static-filled voice

emerged from the loudspeakers on the Cruiser’s bridge, its

message fragmentary… "……mutiny…… fighting on decks twelve

and thir…….Engineering blocked…….. under their control,

Aux……. Lost……" Admiral Soames nodded, and turned to the

Captain of the Elysium Fleet’s flagship "Signal all ships;

they are to watch for turncoats and traitors. If they took

the Ragnarok, it may be part of a greater plan."

Huskarti watched the marines take up positions around the

Bridge of the Destroyer. He’d been so close. Sneaking a

glance at Seagraves, he shrugged minutely. They’d been so

close to seizing control…. Wondering what had happened, the

Mink turned back to his console. If they’d known WHO the

mutineers were, they would have arrested him, and his co-

conspirators…. And yet, obviously, they knew something was

up…. Wondering how he’d be able to pull this one out,

Huskarti completely missed the appearance of a faint blip

on his scanner….

Brock grinned; it’d been a long day, a hard day, but

apparently, if his signals intelligence was to be believed,

a very successful one. Now it was time to go; their

position was very exposed, and the Elysium troops, fanatics

all, were making a counterattack. Making sure the

demolition charges were set, the logs erased, he picked up

his pack, and his weapon, and headed for the communication

center’s south exit.

Xyloff strode into the Reds’ Party Headquarters Operations

Center and took a quick look at the tactical display.

Turning to the tactical officer, he growled; "only one of

the Elysium warships is shown as having joined us! Are you

not keeping the display up to date?" The Tactical Officer

shrugged; "Comrade, communications has only reported one as

having signaled their change in status. And as you can

see, its fallen out of formation. Word is that the mu…

that the uprising was not completely successful, and that

the ship is contested!" Turning to the communications

officer, the Wolverine growled; "What signals have they

sent?" The Communications officer, a female Squirrel,

looked evenly back at the Wolverine, almost challengingly.

"Comrade, they sent one short signal that they were

struggling to gain control of Engineering, and that was the

last we’d heard from them. They have not returned any of

our hails." Xyloff shook his head; "I was assured…."

Narrowing his eyes, he looked back at the Squirrel; "show

me your communications logs. Just how did all this

transpire? What was the timing?"

"Weapons range in one minute, Captain." Hartz smiled; he

was just far enough ahead of the rest of the other PSN

ships that he thought he’d be able to have the Honor of the

first shot. "Very good. Weapons Officer, target the

Elysium Flagship." The weapons officer exchanged a

hurried, questioning glance with the Exec, and then cleared

his throat; "Um, sir, the Elysium Crusiers Ragnarok and

Bedlam are both closer….." Hartz smiled; "time to let you

in on a little secret; brave agents of the Reds Party have

suborned about half of the Elysium forces; they’re set to

change sides coordinated with our attack! Both the Bedlam

and the Ragnarok are among those so listed!" Swallowing

hard, the weapons officer nodded; "Um… Yessir… Targeting

the Elysium Flagship. Ready to fire on your order."

Xyloff shook his head. He just couldn’t believe this.

His agents on the Ragnarok had attempted to take over their

ship well ahead of schedule! Worse, they hadn’t even had

the balls, or the smarts, to succeed! Somehow they’d

botched the whole thing, alerting the Elysium fleet to the

possibility of traitors in their midst! And now, that

idiot Onegin was out of position, his control over his own

fleet, HIS fleet, HIS PSN, was disintigrating! Groaning,

the Wolverine found a chair, to settle down, to watch the

battle in space develop. At least things on the ground

were going well, several Reds units already in the

planetary capital, taking control.

Locke watched in amazement as the Reds warship approached,

firing not on his Cruiser, but on the significantly more

distant flagship. Shaking his head, he looked at his

Weapons officer; "Lets teach that presumptuous Ba…..

waitaminute…." Pausing, Locke looked back at the tactical

display… "Got it. That bastard thinks that we’ve switched

sides, just like the Ragnarok was trying to do. COMM!

Send a signal to the Admiral. Tell him we’ve got a

marvelous chance to ambush these bastards in turn!"

Huskarti watched the Captain of the Destroyer read the

communique, and then glance around his bridge. "It seems

the Reds may have tried to seize more than one ship. In

fact, the Admiral thinks they may THINK that we’re on their

side….." Turning to look at Seagraves, the Captain

growled; "Guns, unless we’re fired upon, hold your fire

until they’re within point blank range. Then hit ‘em with

everything we’ve got." Looking up at the Marine standing

by his command chair, the Captain growled; "And you,

Sergeant. You make sure he does it. I’ll have no

mutineers on MY ship!"

Locke grinned; the first of the Reds ships was just about

abreast of him. Minimum distance for his energy weapons,

and therefor the least beam dispersion. Lifting his head

he grinned ferrally at his Weapons officer and nodded.

Hartz felt the deck buck under his feet; turning to look at

the tactical display, he gasped; the Bedlame was FIRING on

him. "Dammit, they TOLD me…. Oh, Nevermind! Helm, bring

us about! Get us outta here! Weapons officer; return


Onegin smiled a little lopsidedly as the torpedoes smashed

into the destroyer, blossoming in multicolored flame. When

the image cleared, he saw Hartz’ ship was in deep trouble,

main power gone, shields down. He’d TOLD the S.O.B. to get

back in formation, but the idiot was just too intent on

being a Hero. Well, at least he’d done ONE useful thing.

He’d proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ships that

SHOULD have joined him hadn’t. And that was just going to

make his job all the harder. Looking up at his tactical

officer, he sighed; "Plan B. Signal the fleet."

Xyloff watched, his mind not really on the way the battle

was shaping up. Instead he considered the implications of

how the plan had started to unravel. Obviously either the

Ermine had been an Elysium agent, or somehow, the enemy had

learned of his plans. If she’d been a Blues agent, the

ships in question would have still revolted, but simply

declared for the Blues instead. And if she’d been an

Elysium agent… would the damage be even greater? So far,

no trap of any significance had been spotted. So that left

a spy, someone who had found out about his plans…. For a

moment he wondered how complete knowledge of his plans

might affect the outcome…. For some, it would be a

disaster, for others, well, some forces were irresistible.

Rising, the Wolverine turned. He had some damage control

steps to take, some plans to accelerate… but first…

"Excuse me, Comrade Kassoff…" Kassoff looked up into the

Woverine’s unsmiling eyes and instantly knew that he had

missed something, something that had disastrous

consequences… for the Reds, and for his own career…..

Onegin looked at the message flimsy and shook his head;

"after all the problems we’ve had with false messages, how

am I supposed to know that THIS is valid?" His

communications officer just shrugged; "It had all the

correct codes attached….. yessir, I know, the other

messages did too." Crumpling the message in one fist, and

tossing it across the Bridge, Onegin growled; "I am SICK of

their centralized control. Dammit, I am in command of the

PSN, and by God, I will direct the battle as I see fit!"

By his left shoulder, the Tactical officer cleared his

throat; "Sir, we still have the mission objectives…."

Onegin turned to stare at him; "I haven’t forgotten,

Roscoe. We’ll continue with Plan B. We’ll blast straight

through the middle of their fleet, disabling the freighters

and destroying the warships, and be on those damned Pirates

before they know what hit ‘em! The background clutter of

all the destroyed Elysium vessels should play hob with

their sensors, allowing us almost free reign until we close

with them! Now get ON with it!"

Ben smiled. It was all coming together nicely. The Reds’

PSN had lost their formation, and were nicely strung out,

with the faster ships in the lead. And generally the

faster the ship, the more lightly armed and shielded. As

the battle started, he looked around the bridge of the

Overloard, and nodded in satisfaction. Looking up at his

communications officer, he grinned; "you know what to do…"

The Commo officer just grinned back and nodded.

Reeves watched the shooting start. The Elysium forces had

rather successfully dealt with the first of the Rebel

ships, and he was just starting to think that this might

work afterall, when his sensor tech yelped; "OHSHIT!

Captain, you’d better come SEE THIS!" Trotting over to the

sensor operator’s console, Reeves’ eyes widened. A whole

second fleet had just appeared, admittedly on the far side

of the Elysium convoy, but there were a shitload of ships,

including one the size of an Imperial Battlecruiser!

Except they didn’t look like any Imperial ships he’d ever


Shannon Engleman loved her job; she just LOVED to talk.

And anything that helped her talk. It was that love that

had taken her all the way to the head of the communications

section on the Overlord. Grinning back at the Wolf she

bent over her console and opened her mike. In her best

Panicked voice she squealed "OHMYGOD! LOOKITALTHOSESHIPS!

There is no WAY the convoy escort’s going to be able to


Reeves looked at his bridge crew; the first cry over the

comm channels had started a veritable cacaphony of signals.

Admiral Soames was demanding all ships hold position, but

his voice was drowned out by other ship captains asking

each other what THEY thought. And then the first

freighter, a smaller, faster one, broke away from the

convoy, drives flaring. Reeves looked around his bridge,

meeting the eyes of his crew… the eyes of his friends.

With a growl he turned to the Helm; "Get us out of here.

The vector we planned." Moving towards his station, he

thumbed a button; "Engineering! We’re bugging out! Give

us everything you’ve got, and get ready to jettison the

cargo. If it looks like we’re in trouble, it gets dumped

in a heartbeat!"

Onegin watched, wide-eyed, as the Elysium convoy started to

disintegrate, smaller ships heading off on all SORTS of

vectors. Most of the smaller ships carried refugees,

Elysium cadre that had talked their way into the exodus.

And while it would be nice to bring those criminals to

justice, they weren’t what they were really here for. The

wealth of the planet, the portable wealth, at least, were

on the bigger freighters under military control. And THAT

was where he was headed. Glancing again at the sensor

images of the Pirates, he frowned; if they were wealthy

enough to buy, or worse, build cloaking devices for THAT

many ships…. No, he had to attack; if he didn’t he knew

that damned wolverine would hunt him down to the ends of

the universe!

"Forget them! They’ll just draw off the Rebels, and make

it that much easier for the warships to defend us!" Stokes

looked at the old Wolf and frowned; "But, Colonel, what of

the rumors of Elysium warships defecting to the Rebels? If

they suddenly change sides….. you’ll be just as dead as

us!" From across the bridge of the RTS corporation

freighter "Hermes", Walker watched his Captain argue with

the Elysium Defense Force "watchdog" they’d been saddled

with. The old Wolf was obviously some sort of ex-commando,

and he scared the hell out of most of the freighter’s crew.

But even counting the "troops" he’d come aboard with, there

were still only six of ‘em. And only one of ‘em on the

Bridge. Curiously, the Wolf’s troops seemed as afraid of

him as everyone else did. "Nevermind" the Wolf growled;

"you WILL maintain course and speed, no matter what


Onegin smiled; the combined firepower of the PSN,

concentrated in one area of the convoy’s flanks, had

succeeded in destroying one of the Elysium cruisers. His

battlegroup was now within the perimeter of the convoy.

This was good, as the range to their target, the Elysium

Fleet’s flagship, was now shorter. It was bad because

every single ship in the Elysium fleet could now fire

"inside the circle" to target his vessels. He’d just have

to press on, and try and complete his "strafing run"

through the fleet, to emerge in position to attack the

Pirates. Turning towards his tactical officer, he ordered

more speed.

Admiral Soames watched the tactical display, and after a

moment, turned calmly to his tactical officer; "order the

fleet to execute maneuver Gamma Three"

Stokes smiled as the order came through; "Maneuver Gamma

Three; helm, you know what to do!" The Old wolf frowned

for a moment and then turned back to the viewport, to watch

the battle. So far, things were still "comparatively"

distant, their position in the fleet almost equidistant

from the Reds, and the Pirates…..

Onegin blinked hard and took a second look; moving as a

school of fish, all turning seemingly at once, the Elysium

fleet had turned on an opposite course from him. Their

ships would flash past in moments… and he’d be between them

and the Pirates! "No! We need to damage them more

completely before we can disengage and take on the Pirates!

Signal the destroyer squadron to break formation and attack

all Elysium elements! The Crusiers are to hold formation

with us! Helm, come about and match courses with the

Elysium flagship!" Pacing the deck, Onegin wondered how

Xyloff’s so carefully crafted plan could come apart so


Walker caught the nod from Captain Stokes and slipped from

his console. He’d wait as long as possible, move as

quietly as possible… but eventually, their guardian Wolf

was going to notice they were moving in a direction

completely opposite to the rest of the fleet. It was time

to slip away from this clusterfuck, even if it meant

risking capture by the pirates. At least they’d live.

Sastre nodded to himself. He’d suspected the RTS ship

would be among the first to flee. And that was just fine

by him. He’d give them a few minutes to become the primary

target of the Pirates, and then he’d give the order to take

HIS freighter from the fray. The Iroquian Shipping Company

did NOT pay him to put their vessel at risk, and they sure

weren’t paying HIM enough to risk his neck. Wondering if

the RTS Captain had been smart enough to lock up HIS

watchdog at the first sign of trouble, Sastre carefully

watched his navigation plot, wondering what their chances


"Red Dog Lead to all Red Dogs. Hold off until your quarry

gets well away from the fighting before moving in. We

don’t want that furball over there to wander our way while

we’re trying to board a ship!" Reggie killed the comlink

and grinned at Slasher. Their new ship wasn’t anywheres as

good as their old one, but it was good enough for this.

And for once he was glad he was in the lighter, smaller,

faster Raider ships, instead of one of the big boys. He

didn’t WANT to be in the middle of the big battle, even if

there was supposedly more loot there. No, he was more than

happy to chase after the freighters and smaller ships that

were fleeing the now-doomed convoy. After all, how much

money COULD you spend in a lifetime? Glancing at his

partner Reggie grinned. He could spend quite a bit…..

Maybe he SHOULD be over there…..

Onegin watched the tactical plot carefully as his ship

traded missiles with the Elysium forces. His tactical

officer was good, possibly better than he was, and it was a

good idea to sit back and try and stay focused on the

overall picture. Although that was going to hell rapidly.

Some of the big commercial freighters, the ones that

carried enough guns to keep most Pirates at bay, the ones

the Elysium government had put its most prized possessions

on, the one they’d "reinforced" with their own troops, some

of THOSE were now starting to peel off from the convoy.

And he didn’t have anything left to send after them. His

destroyers were already gone, chasing down like-sized enemy

ships in fights involving two, or three on each side. His

cruisers were actively engaged with the Elysium heavies, as

they sought to disable as many ships as possible before

moving on to the second part of the plan. And those DAMNED

pirates seemed to have no end to the number of small, fast

ships they could send after the fleeing freighters!

Growling, he paced the deck like a caged animal,

desperately seeking a way to regain the initiative!

Admiral Soames never heard President Erog move up behind

him; didn’t know he was there until he heard the whisper in

his ear. Turning, he looked at the politician; "What?"

Erog smiled his most reassuring for-the-cameras smile; "I

asked, Admiral, how its going? Will we make the jump point

on schedule? Or are events…. Not going as predicted?"

Soames frowned; "we’re in a damned pickle, you….. Civilian!

Between the Reds and the Pirates we’re seriously

outnumbered, and right now we’re caught between ‘em! We’re

taking a pounding!" Erog smiled softly; "That, Admiral, is

what I thought. But as you say, I’m a civilian, and know

little of such things. Still, it seems to me as if a…

"diversion" might be in order." Turning back to his

displays, the Admiral growled; "Yeah, sure, anything to get

‘em off our backs….."

The Lion’s head came up from his monitor as the disruptors

fired, their distinctive whine echoing through every

portion of the Overloard. Frowning, he bent back down to

his display, trying to make some sense of the battle. It

looked as if, to a large extent, things had disintigrated

into a disorderly chaos of small battles between small

groups of ships. Looking up, he caught the Wolf’s eye;

"Ben, lets keep everyone together; we’ll do better if we

can mass our firepower. Don’t want to make the mistake

Onegin’s making." Ben nodded, turning to listen to what

one of the weapons officers had to say to him. With

everything seemingly moving in slow motion, the Pirates

drew closer to the center of the conflict.

Onegin growled at his tactical officer; "well I don’t CARE

if they’re maneuvering to keep the bulk of the Elysium

ships between us and them. I want YOU to find a way to get

US close enough so that we can launch our little surprise!

If we can just do THAT then we’ll get them off our backs

and can concentrate on other things!" The tactical officer

blanched; "But… Sir, that’d mean putting out ships between

the Pirates and the Elysium forces; we’d be caught in a

crossfire! If you hadn’t ordered us to fire on them at the

earliest opportunity we might have convinced them we were

still "allies", but no, you had to…" "ENOUGH!" Onegin

looked as if he were close to having a stroke; "How DARE

you question my orders! FIND a way, or I’ll have you

relieved of Duty!" Swallowing hard, realizing he’d run off

at the mouth a little too much, the Tactical officer turned

back to his displays, desperately seeking a way to stay out

of the hands of the security directorate.

Chester Goolsby was not a happy furr. When he’d been told

that he and his family were to be evacuated, with the rest

of the project staff, he’d been delighted. Things on

Elysium were going to hell, and he agreed that it was time

to leave. However, when they’d packed up the project

everyone had been working on so feverishly, he’d gotten a

little nervous. And when it had shown up on the same ship

as the one he was assigned to, he’d gotten even more

nervous. Now, they were having him check out the phase

coils… as if it were going to be used. As a physics

experiment, it had been terribly interesting… but as a

weapon? It took a long time to build up to the required

power levels, and he didn’t see how it could be used as

anything but an "area" weapon. Did they really think they

could take out enemy ships with it? Now if the enemy had a

moon base, THAT might be a decent target…. Edging around

the fusion powerplant technician, Chester touched two

electrodes with the probes from his multimeter and nodded.

So far everything was in order.

Onegin smiled, showing teeth. The Reds’ PSN had transited

the Elysium fleet, or what was left of it. They’d crippled

a cruiser, three destroyers and a host of freighters.

Where possible, his gunners had gone for "mobility" kills,

but in some instances, their targets were little more than

wreckage. The Elysium flagship had taken a number of good

hits, but unfortunately was still in the battle. Now was

time for phase II. On a ship-for-ship basis, the PSN

wasn’t a match for the Pirates, not with that damned

Battlecruiser they had. But there WERE ways to neutralize

them. Turning to his Executive officer, Onegin nodded;

"its time. Execute Phase II."

Ben frowned; the Reds’ flagship had taken a goodly number

of hits, but they weren’t THAT badly damaged. Or so he’d

thought. Now escape pods were ejecting from its hull, and

headed their way. Well, that did kinda make sense. There

was no way the Elysium forces would pick up a Reds escape

pod. Of course, the way the Reds had been shooting at

THEM, he wasn’t too inclined either. Still, it might not

hurt to pick up one or two and ask them a few hard


Chester stood against the wall with the other technicians,

as the senior scientists went over the device. As big as a

cargo shuttle, it was not a small thing, and yet in the

hangar bay of the Elysium flagship, it seemed remarkably

small, especially for a device of such power. Enough power

to rip asunder the fabric of space-time. Enough power to

form a rip big enough to swallow a planet. And all of a

sudden Chester knew just what they were going to do. The

device wasn’t meant for the attacking Rebels; they were

going to use it to destroy the whole planet! Aghast he

looked around for someone he might plead with, someone he

might convince to help him stop this insanity…. But all he

saw were steely-eyed guards, carefully watching him and the

other technicians…. There seemed no hope.

Entity slowly unfolded himself from his favorite meditation

position. Climbing to his feet, he smoothed the fabric of

his gray cloak and turning, moved through the door. He had

just enough time to get into position. His portion of the

battle was about to start.

"Mister President?" The black-suited security officer

stood with paws folded behind his back, not quite at

attention. Erog smiled pleasantly and nodded; "Yes,

Major?" "Sir, General Trent sent me to inform you that the

weapon is ready to launch." Erog smiled again and nodded;

"Thank you, Major." Turning he looked at Admiral Soames;

"Admiral, your diversion is ready. I suspect you’ll want

to launch it as soon as possible." Soames’ eyes went wide;

"diver…. What diversion? Surely you don’t mean that damned

"doomsday" weapon I’ve heard rumors about!" Erog nodded

"The same. Believe me, when the planet breaks up, we will

most certainly have the diversion we need to escape!"

Soames shook his head; "First off, I am NOT going to kill

all those people down there! Secondly, if you break up the

planet, you change the distribution of mass through the

system, and THAT will affect the jump points! The jump

point out of the system might vanish, or shift and dump us

who-knows-where! Your toy could wind up killing US too!

Forget it!"

Erog sighed and just nodded to the black-suited Major. In

a smooth motion, the Security officer drew his side-arm,

and at point blank range, shot the Admiral. For a second,

after the Admiral’s body had hit the floor, the Bridge was

dead-silent. Then it seemed as if at once, everyone

started to move, a move cut short by Erog’s snarl.

"Everyone STAY at your posts, or you’ll be SHOT TOO! NO

ONE disobeys my order! I’m the PRESIDENT!" Turning to the

ship’s Captain, Erog pointed a finger at him, but his words

were addressed elsewhere; "Major, if this foul excuse for a

naval officer does NOT launch the weapon IMMEDIATELY, Shoot

him TOO!"

Ben blinked; he’d almost missed it in the tactical display.

All of a sudden, the escape pods that the Reds had launched

a short while ago, had all changed course. Most of them

were headed for the Overlord, but a number of others were

headed for other Brethren ships. And then it hit him. The

furrs in those pods weren’t seeking refuge… They were

about to be boarded! Taking two quick steps, the old Wolf

brought the heel of his paw down hard on the intraship comm



Entity smiled. He was in a corridor, near the outer hull

of the Overlord. In a few minutes a shaped charge would

breach the hull just down the corridor. And he would be

ready for the intruders that would emerge. But he would

have to move fast as there were other invasions that would

have to be dealt with as well.

Chester watched as all the guards suddenly moved, almost as

one, towards the personnel lock. The senior scientists had

already exited. They must have received a signal over the

commlinks each wore in their left ears. As the personnel

lock closed behind them, Chester looked around. All the

techs were still lined up against the bulkhead. No one had

told them to evacuate the launch bay…. But then again, no

one had told them not to move either. Staring at the

device for a moment, Chester made up his mind. Bending to

pick up his toolkit he started across the bay. Maybe, just

maybe he could disable the thing….

On the Bridge of the Elysium flagship, the Executive

officer turned a key, and pushed a button, silently praying

that he might be forgiven for what he was doing. He had a

family on board, a family that he loved very much, and one

that he’d always said he’d do anything to protect. Now he

wondered if perhaps he’d been wrong in thinking that…..

Chester felt himself lifted from the launch bay floor as

the doors opened. They hadn’t bothered to depressurize the

bay, and the resulting hurricane threw him, and all the

other techs through the slowly parting doors. Just before

consciousness faded, he saw the device moving from the bay,

starting its preprogrammed run.

The Lion grunted; "There. See there! The Elysium flagship

just launched something that matches our intelligence."

Ben nodded, looking over the Lion’s shoulder at the sensor

monitor. Looking up the Lion growled "Guns! Lock onto

that object and hit it with everything we have! Helm! Lay

in an intercept course, maximum speed! Communications!

Signal all ships; Anyone with a decent shot is to take it.

I want that thing Destroyed!"

Onegin frowned; the Pirates’ Flagship had just broken off

its battle with the Elysium Flagship, and was turning,

heading back towards the planet. NOW what were they up to?

Erog smiled; "See, I told you it would make a good

diversion! Now, while they’re off chasing that thing down,

lets get OUT of here!"

The Return Trip, part III

Zassa groaned and moved as slowly as possible, making every

second count. Sensation had returned, like rain after a

long drout. The Cheetah, her "master" had finally

relented, and permitted a scant few variants to the

missionary position. Sitting astride him, facing his feet,

she slowly rode his cock. Highly attuned to his breathing,

his heartbeat, she moved carefully, knowing that if he came

first, she wouldn’t have an opportunity to squeeze in one

more climax. And at this point she was desperate for every

climax. The Cheetah was driving her Crazy!

Tanj frowned and fiddled with the gain; the main sensor

array was pointed at Walthan’s Star, about twelve light-

years distant , and the trailing antenna was helping, but

it still wasn’t quite good enough to make out what the

announcer was saying in the FTL news broadcast; it was

obvious, though that SOMETHING was happening…. She could

improve reception if she dropped out of warp, or even

slowed down, but that’d delay their arrival, and from what

little she could deduce, things were starting to move VERY


Kath sighed and considered her options for the ten

thousandth time. She could get a drink, but she wasn’t

thirsty. She could hump the food dildo, but she wasn’t

hungry, and she’d done that so much, just to break the

boredom, well, she was starting to get rather sore down

there. She didn’t have to pee…. Chuckling softly to

herself, the Mink thought things were really grim when

moving your bowels was the hilight of your day…. And she

wasn’t sleepy. Pacing the cage carefully, she wondered

just how long she’d been here; it felt like ages. Aeons.

But she really had no way to tell. She couldn’t even find

a good pressure point, to feel her own pulse, to measure

time that way. Settling down, she counted breaths, nothing

else to do. How many breaths until Wanda came to let her


Wanda watched the Mink pace the cage, and bit her lower

lip; was she pushing it too far? Had she had enough? What

was running through Kath’s head? Finally, the Wolverine

resolved to let her go just a little longer. Smiling to

herself, she turned away from the monitor to consider what

they’d do when she finally DID let her out…..

The forward viewscreen on the Imperial Battlecruiser was

the size of a wall, with excellent resolution. The Jaguar,

and most of the Bridge staff watched the INN news broadcast

on Elysium. When it was over the Jaguar looked at his

Executive officer and purred; "Analysis?" The Exec

shrugged; "they seem to be tearing themselves apart. I’d

say the Elysium Government’s days are numbered, probably in

the single digits. It will be interesting to see what kind

of coalition government the planet puts together after

they’ve siezed control." The Jaguar nodded; "Somehow, I

suspect a certain amount of … conflict between the various

parties." Looking up at the Exec, the Jaguar grinned; "I

suspect that they’ll need a firm hand, an Imperial

prescence, to guide them in the right direction. Yes, I

suspect we’ll be instrumental in bringing the Elysium

system back into the Imperial fold…..

Trouble sighed and ran the transmission through the filters

one more time. It was starting to loose resolution really

bad, but some things were clearer. The images of the

fighting, relayed by an INN drone, that was clearly

destroyed by the fighting in Elysium orbit, given how its

transmission ended so suddenly, looked particularly grim.

Quite a battle seemed to be going on there, and she

wondered, once again, if she’d drawn this assignment just

to make sure that she was kept out of harm’s way. Sighing,

she thought of her Master and wondered how he was faring….

On the Ground

Lieutenant D’artagan cautiously looked around, raising his

head above the stone wall only so far as was necessary. Of

his unit, there were only two armored vehicles and a

handful of troops left… but they were on the very steps of

the Parliament building, in the middle of the capital city.

And the place was deserted. No troops fighting a desperate

last-ditch effort, no frightened politicians begging for

mercy… the place was deserted. Suddenly it dawned on him…

They’d won. They’d taken the Capital. A weary grin on his

face, he motioned to his radiofurr for the handset.

Suddenly he was very eager to report his position….

Raditch looked at the message flimsy and frowned; "I don’t

get it. Why would the Reds PSN be attacking the Brethren

in orbit?" "I don’t know, General; it doesn’t make any

sense to me…. Unless…." Raditch looked at his aide; "Come

on, Sam; this is no time to be coy with me. If you’ve got

something, let me have it." Sam just shrugged;

"Weeeelllll, there was this intelligence brief that I saw a

little while ago; it was so far out, I just kinda ignored

it….. It suggested that at the moment of victory, the Reds

were going to turn on all the other factions, to try and

seize the whole planet for themselves." Raditch frowned

and scratched behind one ear; "I dunno; talks on a

coalition government have been going on for months…. But

on the other hand, given these events, I suppose it

wouldn’t hurt to take a few precautions….. Send out a

warning order, to all unit commanders in the Blues 4th Army.

Tell them of the events in orbit, and warn them to be

prepared for…. "trouble" from unexpected quarters. Let it

go at that; after all, if this turns out to be an error, or

some explainable mistake, I don’t want to get our allies in

an uproar…."

Sandoval grimaced and put down the radio handset; looking

up at what was left of the Headquarters company of the

Elysium Defense Force’s crack Combat Command Degussa, he

sighed; "That’s it; the Reds have taken the Capital."

Hurst, his Operations officer, nodded; "Well, at least we

got out of the city before it was encircled." After a

moment’s silence, he continued; "I guess the big question

is, now what do we do?" Richter, a rather excitable

squirrel, and the Logistics officer all but growled; "well,

I am NOT surrendering to those bastards!" A chorus of

assent moved quietly through the group. Sandoval looked

from face to face, and nodded; "I’ve had some…. Feelers of

late. The Blues will take our parole, if we turn over our

weapons to them, and move to their rear. But we’ve got to

get to them." Hurst straightened; "They’re on the other

side of the river here, but there’s no way we could utilize

the Farnham crossing; the Reds Third Shock Army is between

us and there. Now, if we head Northwest, into the

foothills of the Zagros Mountains, we can put this

ridgeline between them and us. Probably won’t keep them

off of us, but if we move fast we SHOULD make it to…. Here,

the railroad bridge at Hammstein. And on the other side,

the Blues." Sandoval nodded; "Should work…… OK, lets put

it into motion; I want to be on the move within a half


Milosovitch frowned at the tactical map in his command

vehicle. His orders from the Reds party central were quite

clear. He was to attack the Blues, and drive them from the

Three Rivers district. But the Blues had blown the bridges

at Farnham. Blown them in the very face of his lead

elements. And then the artillery fire and airstrikes had

started. Why the bastards had barely waited for his lead

elements to start firing… it was as if they KNEW what the

Reds party Central had ordered… and maybe they had. No

matter. Having driven off the Elysium Government, they

were now in a battle with their former allies for control

of the Planet, and there was no way Milosovitch was going

to share power with more furrs than he had to! The

riverbanks were too steep, the current too swift for

amphibious operations here…. And airborne operations were

chancy; too many of the Pirates’ raider craft were still in

the area. And Party Central was strangely quiet on why

they couldn’t depend on support from the PSN. No, he’d

have to head for Hammstein, to cross the river. That’d put

them behind the Blues’ lines anyways. All he had to do was

get there quickly. Turning, he gestured to his Operational

officer. The Third Shock Army was on the move!

Faye squinted through the thermal sight, watching, waiting

for the right moment… If she survived this engagement, her

platoon would leapfrog from rear guard, to the "point" of

what was left of "Combat Command Degussa", probably the

safest place in what was left of the unit. After all, if

they ran into the Blues at this point, it would mean they

were out of danger…. So strange to think that way.

Forcing her mind back to the present, she watched the lead

tank approach the bridge. The Tank was an off-planet

manufacture, something preferred by some mercenary groups,

something the Reds had smuggled in. It was no match for

the tanks the Elysium government had purchased from the

Imperium, but then, there weren’t too many of those left.

There WAS one, in admittedly rather bad shape, off to her

left, but she was hoping they wouldn’t have to use it, to

stall the Reds advance. It was her ride back towards the

rest of the column.

Xian breathed a sigh of relief as his tank crossed the

bridge. He’d half been expecting yet another demolition

charge. It seemed as if every culvert, every bridge, and

even every defile had its surprise, as they moved into the

foothills. The Elysium forces were NOT surrendering, and

they weren’t running away as their leaders had. And it

wasn’t just here, either. It seemed almost all across the

planet, the remnants of the Elysium defense force were

fighting harder than ever. He just hoped they were

fighting the Blues as fanatically as they were fighting

against the Reds.

Faye grinned as the bridge was blown, just as the command

vehicle was at mid-span. It really wasn’t much of a

bridge, scarcely longer than the vehicle that was on it

when the charges went off. Still, it dropped the wreck

into the creek bed quite nicely. Checking her sight-

picture, she squeezed the trigger on the thermal sight.

Ten meters to her right, the launcher kicked the anti-tank

guided missile out of the launch tube, and then its solid

fuel motor ignited, catapulting it towards its target.

Xian jerked his head around as someone called out a warning

over the radio; even with the commander’s independent

viewer, he STILL couldn’t see shit from inside this thing.

Then the tank’s computer started screaming about incoming

fire, and automatically dispersing countermeasures.

Pulling on the tank commander’s turret override handle, he

slewed the turret around in the direction he thought the

threat might be coming from.

Faye smiled grimaced as she guided the missile past the

countermeasures. Some missiles were smart enough to ignore

them, but she had an older variant. As the missile struck

home, she slid down behind the bank a little and turned to

look, to see how her teammates were coming, reloading the

launcher. When the bridge blew, there were still six

vehicles on THEIR side of the bank, and they had to be

neutralized before they got to leave…

Xian jerked, hitting his head on the hatch cover as the

tank next to his blew up. "Driver, get us BEHIND them! I

want to use THEM to shield us from whatever killed them!

Gunner! Do you see anything yet?"

Watlow squinted through the TC’s gunsight. Things were

going fairly well, with the Reds units deploying on the far

bank of the stream, and his teammates picking off the ones

on this side. It should slow ‘em down quite a bit, as they

sent infantry across the stream, and then brought up a

bridging unit. But that tank there, hull down, behind the

burning hulk of one of his mates… THAT one was smart. That

one was going to be a problem. At least for his team

mates…. But not for him. Sliding down into the gunner’s

seat, he caressed the controls, traversing the turret just

a hair…. He only had three rounds of "special" ammunition

left, and he hated to waste a round, but….. double

checking the laser rangefinder, and comparing it to his

mental estimate, he lightly let his thumb touch the button

on the top of his right joystick…..

Faye flinched as the tank to her left fired. The Imperium

made good stuff, and the hypervelocity round cleaved

through the burning Reds tank, through the one hiding

behind it, and on to bury itself in the far slope. The

sonic boom generated by the passing of the round was almost

more than she could stand, even given the earphones in her

helmet and the sound-deadening filters. Her head hurt.

Sensing movement at the corner of her vision, she turned

and saw her comrades starting to pull back. Looking to her

right, to make sure her team had retrieved the ATGM

launcher, she slid a little further down the bank, turned,

and staying low, sprinted for the tank, which was starting

to rev up its fans. Grinning, she thought she’d enjoy

riding point for a while…..

"General, I’ve got the latest satellite imagery; it seems

Degussa’s having a helluva time with the Reds Third Shock

Army. They’re engaged in a rather heavy rear-guard

action." General Rogers nodded; "And every moment they buy

us lets us prepare that much more. Down in Sanoa province

the Reds have hit our 4th Army with everything they’ve got;

they’ve been pushed back a good sixty kilometers, and have

lost the city of Bilboa. And in the Rabual Archipelago…. I

don’t even want to think about what’s going on there!"

"Yessir, I understand. And here I thought the day the

Elysium Government fell would be a day to rejoice!

Anyways, Degussa is asking if we can spare any support for

them." Rogers nodded slowly; "As amazing as it might seem,

right now, the survival of our former enemy is definitely

in our best interests. See if our good friends, the

Brethren have anything they can send their way. Oh, and

have the artillery units prepare to fire support missions

as soon as Degussa’s within range."

Palmer watched curiously as a flight of Elysium Government

"mudfighters" settled to the ground, a couple hundred

meters distant. The unit had been enroute to bomb and

strafe the Blues advancing units when they’d gotten word of

the Government’s exodus. Negotiations had been carried out

in mid-air, and now the unit was landing at the blues base,

to refuel, shifting smoothly to working for the Blues,

against the Reds. The whole nature of the war had changed

with lightning speed. Turning, he watched his Flight

Leader, the legendary "Sailor" Maran, as he headed towards

the Ops building from where their raider ships had landed,

off to get new instructions from the Blues Sky Marshall…..

"Sailor" Maran looked at his Squadron Commander and

blinked; "Now, wait a minute, Sam…. Thirty minutes ago we

were pounding the government forces as HARD as we could,

and the Reds were our allies… and now… Now the Reds are the

target, and the Government Forces are our allies?"

Deighton sighed and shrugged; "Apparently Combat Command

Degussa has come over to us, with the fall of the Elysium

Government… AND the Reds have launched assaults on the

Blues in several areas, and have been shooting at OUR ships

in orbit. It looks as if they’re going for all the

marbles. SO, the next mission is close air support for

Degussa, as we try and keep the Reds from chewing up our

new allies." Maran looked sceptically at his boss; "Um….

Standard pay schedule for this?" Sam laughed and nodded;

"Yeah, THAT hasn’t changed."

Faye peered through the bush and wished that it was more

substantial. Concealment was not always cover. Still, it

was the best spot available. They’d had their time on

point, moved through the van of the retreat, and were now,

once again, pulling drag, trying to delay the Reds. And

once again, her ATGM team was the cornerstone of the

roadblock. Except this time the Reds had been smart enough

to dismount their infantry before coming over the ridge.

The swarm of soldiers coming over the ridge remined her of

a flood, and she loosened her sidearm in its holster.

Against them, her ATGM team were going to be useless…..

"Deadbeat Leader to Any Degussa Element; we’re on station

over Hill 653, and are awaiting missions." Faye stared at

her radio for a moment and then snatched it from its place

on her combat webbing; "Um, This is 3-23 to Deadbeat

leader, we’re at. Um, 872 by, ah, 224, and we’re in DEEP

shit; need an antipersonnel mission FAST!"

"Hey, Sailor, how do we do THAT?" Maran looked out the

port window of his Raider and grinned; keying his mike he

growled; "Palmer, its simple, mate, just watch what I do.

Packard, you keep high enough to watch for antiair threats;

keep the buggers off our backs. OK, Folks, follow me, and

lets go get those bastards!"

Faye watched, wide-eyed, as the Brethren’s raider ship

seemed to be coming in for a landing, its repulsors

howling. For a second, the Reds infantry paused… she could

see them lifting weapons, to fire up wards at the

descending ship… Then the sound of the repulsors

changed….. and the maneuvering thrusters came on.

Packard watched from an altitude of several thousand

meters; this was both safer, with respect to small arms

weapons, and much more dangerous with respect to ground

based anti-air systems. Still, his sensors could see far

enough to warn of incoming interceptors… and his shields

should handle anything else. At least anything the Reds

were likely to have here. His eyes went wide as Sailor cut

on his manuvering thrusters, blue flame washing from the

fusion motors, as he used the repulsors to hold his ship

down against the counter-thrust. He’d never thought of

that… and wished he’d never seen it practiced either.

Faye turned and ran, the bush behind her bursting into

flame as the Raider ship, several hundred meters distant,

washed the floor of the small valley with fusion fire. No

one was shooting back from there anymore, but the volume of

fire was increasing from the far ridge. That wouldn’t last

long as a second raider settled in, thrusters fighting

against repulsors….

Min watched carefully, waiting. The Raider had dipped down

below the ridge, but she felt sure it would come back to

scour the opposite side. The Reds had plenty of troops to

throw into the fray, although few were as seasoned as the

Third Shock Army, but a Raider ship was a prize in its own

right. Carefully sighting in her self-propelled artillery

rocket launcher she waited….. YES, there it was! The

targeting system wasn’t made for something like this, the

range was rediculously short, but still, at this range, how

could she miss? Holding her breath, she armed her weapons

and hit the launch key.

Palmer flinched as he heard the threat warning tone.

Instinctively his hand reached out to cut the thrusters,

trusting that the repulsors would throw him upwards

violently, and hopefully out of harm’s way. He just didn’t

make it fast enough. The first artillery rocket hit the

Starboard shield just as his finger hit the button; it was

a tactical nuke, and the ship shuddered. The second one

was also a tactical nuke, and with a cyan flash, the

shields flared and failed; the third was also a nuke, being

a last of a set in the Artillery Missile’s ammo can, with

the next three, in the next can, being currently-unguided

precision conventional munitions. They all hit faster than

the Repulsors could get the Raider out of their trajectory.

The raider disintigrated, secondary explosions throwing

shrapnel for miles.

Min’s eyes went wide as the Raider exploded; she’d done it!

She’d be a Hero! That thought had barely formed in her

mind when the shock wave struck, and all her reloads went

off in sympathetic detonation.

Sailor yelped and pressed the thruster cut-off key; he’d

had his left hand there since the start of his run as a

cautionary measure. As his ship was flung skyward by the

straining repulsors, he felt it tumble; he just hoped the

computer could keep up with the rate of roll, pitch and

yaw, or the repulsors would slam him back down into the

ground. That wouldn’t be good…..

Faye howled as something burning hit the back of her left

thigh; tumbling to the ground, she pulled herself into as

small a ball as possible. She could feel the ground

shudder as odd bits of the ship impacted. And in one small

corner of her mind, she chortled; if the Reds had taken

casualties before, THIS was going to keep them off

Degussa’s tail for more than a few minutes.

Palmer watched Sailor tumble past, rapidly regaining

control. Pulling up, he followed his leader; THIS mission

was done, although it had scarcely been worth the cost.

Maybe his flight leader didn't have all the answers after

all….. NEXT time, he’d find another way to deal with soft

targets. This one was too dangerous!

Sandoval looked back over his shoulder from the top of the

command vehicle; the fireball rising back there couldn’t

mean anything good….. Turning to an aide he growled "Find

out what happened back there."

Tobias watched as the Elysium vehicles streamed over the

bridge at Hammstein. They were battle-stained, scarred,

and in many cases, carried wounded, perched on the top of

the combat vehicles’decks, clinging to tenuous perches.

They’d made it, but it was rumored that the Red’s third

shock army was close behind, and rolling hot. Tobias

grinned and dropped down through the tank commander’s

hatch, to look at the TC’s displays. His company was well

dug in, with supporting artillery to the rear, and

mechanized infantry well dug in to the front. There was

even a unit of Merc Mechwarriors around somewhere he could

call on, if a flanking maneuver was called for. The Reds

would have to force a river crossing under heavy fire. And

he didn’t think even they were stupid enough to try that…

Faye winced in pain as the surgeon probed her wound. It

had been a bumpy ride in on the top of the APC, and she’d

lost a lot of blood. Worse, she’d lost most of her team-

mates, and their ATGM launcher…. But now… now what? They

were safe from the Reds, but what was their future to be

with the Blues? Prisoners of war? Second class citizens,

to be used as cannon fodder? Would the fighting go on and

on and on? Maybe it would have been better to have died

back there, with her mates. Laying back tiredly, she

waited for the anesthetics to kick in. At least the Blues

had medical supplies left.

Sandoval ducked through the canvas flap and entered the

command bunker. All around him, furrs in hodgepodge

uniforms stiffened. Scanning the crowd he picked out a

gray Fox, who seemed to be wearing Colonel’s insignia.

Coming to attention, he saluted. After a moment, the Fox

returned the salute, and then stepped forward with paw

extended. Sandoval shook it carefully, almost gingerly,

and stared into the Fox’s eyes for a moment, as if trying

to size him up. "Colonel, I’m here to offer the surrender

of Combat Command Degussa. What, Sir, are your terms?"

The fox grinned, almost shyly, "Um, well, General Sandoval,

Surrender, per se, isn’t exactly what we had in mind. You

see, we seem to still be in a shooting war, of sorts. The

Reds have turned on us, and seem to be seeking to conquor

all the other factions, to sieze control of the planet for

themselves. Obviously we’re in no mood to accommodate

them. Now, if you’re willing, this is what we have in


Faye looked at the hand-written order and shook her head in

disbelief. Next to her, an Otter by the name of Mac-

Something-or-Other chuckled; "NOT what I expected, eh,

Faye?" Faye shook her head, and returned her gaze to the

order. All Elysium troopers were to provide the Blues

Regimental Services unit with name, rank, and serial

number. Their records were to be checked, to see if the

trooper was a wanted war criminal; if not, she was to

report to the Blues 738th Mechanised Infantry Regiment, 2nd

Battalion, Company D. Looking up at the Otter, Faye shook

her head; "We’ve been DRAFTED?" The Otter chuckled; "Yeah;

just FINE by me; I get to keep killing Reds. After what

they did to my family over in Yucca province, well, its all

I’ve got left. Hey, the neat thing is they’re not even

disbanding Degussa; just transferring about half the folks

out to Blues units and transferring in Blues replacements.

The unit lives on!" Faye sighed, shifted her sore leg, and

leaned back agaisnt the wall; "Well, I suppose it could

have been worse. Looks like I get to keep my rank, and the

pay’s about the same. Could be in a prison camp

somewhere….." The Otter chuckled; "or you could be in a

Reds slave labor camp, or dead. Yeah, this has significant

advantages. Hey, I wonder if they’ll give us some leave

anytime soon?"

Tsu peered into the darkness as he entered the café. It

was his favorite place for lunch, and let him talk to the

townsfolks, the honest people that the revolution was

supposed to be all about. Of course, he still wound up

seeing mostly the same people; he couldn’t take enough time

off from his job as Harta province govenor, to travel more

than a few minutes for lunch; and there were only so many

eateries within walking distance. Still, it was good to

hear oppinions not censored by his well-meaning staff.

Ordering a bowl of noddles and an egg roll, he took his tea

and found a table in the middle of the room.

Louis smiled; the Governor was back again. That furr’s

presence always helped his lunch business, supplicants and

firebrands coming to get a word in with the leader. And

they almost always bought lunch too. Most of them wanted

to make it look as if it were just a chance meeting, that

they weren’t actually trying to circumvent the normal

procedure, just catching the Governor by chance…. No

matter, his patronage was appreciated, as was his


Graznitz peered through the Café window; yes, the Skunk was

there. Foolish to travel outside the circle of protection

that such a powerful figure should have. Foolish not to

have bodyguards. But it made his task all the easier.

Stuffing his paws into the cutout pockets of his

trenchcoat, the Buffalo shouldered his way into the Café.

Under his trenchcoat he had, hung from slings around his

shoulders, two automatic shotguns; it would be a very

public and brutal execution. The Reds would be proud.

Billy Dee sighed as he sat at the small table, careful not

to let his soup slop. It’d been a busy morning, the

trucking company he worked for had gone absolutely berzerk

as the fighting had passed. The Blues wanted supplies

moved to the front, now three provinces away, and all the

businesses that hadn’t been destroyed were spooling back

up, all screaming for trucks to deliver raw materials or to

deliver finished goods. Business wasn’t just good, it was

crazy! And he wished he’d gotten here sooner; he would

have preferred a table a little further away from the

Governor. Not that he didn’t like the guy; he was OK as

far as politicians went, perhaps a little too liberal for

his bent, but so many furrs swarmed around the guy, it was

hard to eat in peace. Like this guy, this big Buffalo,

barging his way through the Café. What was he doing

wearing a trenchcoat on a fine spring day like this,

anyways? And it was then that it hit him……

Graznitz elbowed his way past the squirrel, and came to a

stop in front of the Skunk. Glowering down, he growled;

"In the name of the People of Elysium, and the Reds Party,


Lous blinked in amazement, pausing in his task of chopping

cutlets for the day’s special; what was that Buffalo

saying? Were those GUNS he was pulling out from under his

coat? And then a purely irrational thought formed in his

mind, his body in motion almost before he realized it; with

a scream of "NOT IN MY RESTAURANT" he threw his butcher’s

cleaver straight at the Buffalo’s head.

Billy also acted on instinct, picking up his soup bowl and

tossing it, and its contents at the Buffalo. Rising, he

turned to pick up his chair, just as something gleaming

whistled past.

Tsu blinked, a spoonful of noodles half way to his mouth,

as the Buffalo stopped in front of his table; he was just

about to chastise him for so rudely shoving the squirrel

out of the way when the Buffalo started to growl something

about the Reds, flipping open his coat to display two

massive shotguns. Dropping his spoon, the Governor pointed

at the Buffalo just as someone’s soup splashed across his

front. An instant later something silvery flashed just

over his head.

Graznitz Yelped as scalding hot soup splashed across him;

he was just recovering from this when something hit his

forehead hard, right between the horns! Staggering

backwards, he managed to get the shotguns out from under

his trenchcoat, one of them discharging, blowing a rather

sizeable hole in the ceiling. The last thing he saw,

before the world turned red, was that rediculous Skunk

POINTING at him.

Tsu’s left elbow smacked his side hard, hitting the

powerpack he wore under his tunic; the laser, in a sling

under his right arm pulsed, its beam of coherent light

following a fiber optic cable, up over his right shoulder,

along his arm, to the top of the tip of his right index

finger. Ruby light cleaved over the staggering Buffalo,

setting his fur on fire. Rising, as the Buffalo toppled

backwards, the Skunk thwapped his left elbow against his

side, pulsing light from his finger, making sure the

Buffalo was incapacitated, without killing him. This whole

incident demanded investigation, and it wouldn’t do to kill

the one person who knew most about it.

Billy held the chair over his head, suddenly feeling very

foolish as the Governor himself took out the assassin.

Setting it back down, he looked down at his now-empty lunch

tray. With a sigh, he turned to go back to the counter, to

get another bowl of soup. On the way, he pauses to pull

one of the shotguns from the severed hand of the Buffalo;

those things could twitch and he didn’t want it firing the

gun. Clicking the safety on, he leaned it against the

Governor’s table, not knowing what else to do.

Lous looked down at the Buffalo, now deep in shock. The

goat shook his head and sighed; "I’m sorry, Governor Tsu, I

must be getting old. I MEANT for the cleaver to hit sharp

end first, not handle first!" The Skunk chuckled; "Ah,

with a skull as thick as this one has, it probably

wouldn’t have made much difference; still, the effort is

greatly appreciated, my friend. Now, lets see what we can

do about cleaning up your establishment, eh?"

Cromwell frowned as he looked at the image of the skunk in

the monitor; "you’re lucky, Tsu; three other governors have

successfully been assassinated. Reds commando teams are

loose all through our rear areas, creating havoc. They

blew up the Vinchenzo narrows bridge, and have severely

damaged the Orrick Dam. You’d best put your police on a

higher level of alert; they may strike at other targets in

your province." The Skunk just nodded; "Luckily we have

the support of the people, who have been thoroughly

outraged at these events. Citizens have so far turned in

dozens of "suspicious" characters. Of course, most of them

check out, but we have caught several wanted criminals, and

we may have intercepted some other commandos…. I’ll keep

you posted."

End Game

The air on the ship was a little cool, but Clements was

still sweating inside her armor. Kneeling at the side of

one of the Overlord’s innumerable corridors, she waited,

with her squad. Normally the Marines the Overlord carried

were used for boarding ships, but this time she was

preparing to defend her ship against boarders. Normally

both the attackers and the defenders were very careful

about the weapons they used, both sides seeking to maintain

the value of the ship they were fighting over… And yet

this time she was sure the Reds commando team would use

anything they could, to disrupt the functioning of the

Overlord. Checking her assault rifle once again, she

waited. They should breach the hull right over there, any


Koz dove through the breach in the wall, bringing up his

assault shotgun… only to find the corridor empty. Grinning

he waved to his teammates and moved away from the hull

breach. The escape pod/assault craft hadn’t sealed

perfectly to the hull, and he could hear the whistling of

air leaking into the vastness of space. Didn’t matter. He

could care less if the whole ship depressurized; that might

only aid him in his mission. On the other hand, loss of

pressure generally brought pressure doors slamming closed,

and he’d hate to be boxed in like that. Best move fast, so

that when the pressure dropped low enough, he and his team

were on the OTHER side of the pressure doors. Starting off

down the corridor, he never saw the fox seemingly

materialize from nowhere. However, he DID feel the sword

as it cut through his armor, and his flesh, as if it were


Entity surveyed the scene. He had successfully clouded the

minds of the attackers, effectively erasing himself from

their consciousness, until it was time to attack. And then

his Grandsire’s blade, with the monomolecular edge, had

done the rest. Even their armor had been unable to stop a

weapon so devilishly sharp. Now they lay about him on the

deck, their blood staining the floor. This one had been

easy; they weren’t ready for him, and he’d been able to

achieve a perfect position. Next time might not be so


Ben groaned as he felt the Overlord shudder and then

shudder again. He owned a piece of this ship too, and the

mounting repair bill was going to be staggering… and yet…

He’d throw all his shares away if he could save the folks

down on that planet. As the Battlecruiser chased the

doomsday device, it was savaged from all sides, by the

Elysium warships, and by the Reds Peoples Space Navy.

Shields flickered, failed, reformed and flickered yet again

under the continuous pounding. Antimissle batteries fired,

fired, looked and fired again as they sought to stop the

incoming missiles. The fire was so thick, they were having

a hard time maintaining their lock on their elusive quarry.

Damage control parties scurried about, trying to keep

everything together, and the Marines fought vicious actions

as they attempted to halt the saboteur teams the Reds had

landed on their vessel. It was a helluva day!

Clements felt herself propelled backwards by the shockwave.

Still, as she was flung backwards she was able to get off

another shot at the Reds Commando with the grenade

launcher. Landing with a hard WHUMP, she rolled and

scrambled, trying to find some cover. Jenkins reached out

to grab her, to pull her around the corner, but a round,

either marvelously aimed, or horribly unlucky, caught him

in the wrist, the Raccoon pulling back a paw dangling by

just a thread of flesh. As she moved, Clements felt a

round smack her in the lower back, and in the upper thigh,

both rounds absorbed by her armor. Panting as she gained

safety for the moment she thought she was gonna be really

sore tomorrow…..

Shannon looked at the face on her monitor in total

exasperation: "No, you flaming idiot! The missile the

Elysium ship launched is a PLANET WRECKER! If it hits the

planet you won’t have anything to go home TO! No glorious

revolution! No Family! NOTHING! Look, you asshole, we’re

NOT shooting at you! We’re….." Shannon’s voice trailed

off, as she stared at the blank monitor. Looking up at one

of her Comm techs, she shook her head; "He hung up on me!

The Reds bastard HUNG UP ON ME! Ooooooh, I’m gonna get him

for that!…."

The Lion turned to Ben and shrugged; "looks like no one’s

buying the truth. We’re just going to have to do this the

hard way. The Wolf just nodded.

Entity smiled a cold smile. The Reds commando team near

the forward port missile launcher had been facing down a

squad of Marines. And he’d come at them from behind. Once

again his sword sang, as he danced among them, oblivious to

the cries of outrage, or the screams of frustration… or

pain. As the Marines started to poke their heads up to see

what happened, the gray Fox turned, and with his cloak

trailing behind him, headed down another cross-corridor, on

his quiet way to the next fight.

Shannon half-rose from her seat, eyes searching the Bridge.

"BEN! Got a signal from Hawthorne and his group! They’ve

secured the Elysium Destroyer "Bainbridge!" The Wolf threw

her a grin, and nodded acknowledgement. That was the third

Elysium warship they’d manage to board, and subdue. The

tactics the Reds were employing weren’t new, they were just

seldom practiced against the pirates! Looking around, Ben

tried to spot the next problem. As they pursued the

Doomsday device, their flight path had taken them through

the Elysium convoy, but now that was mostly behind them.

There, that Reds Destroyer; that was going to be the next

serious problem….

President Erog slid up behind the Captain of the Elysium

Flagship. Very quietly, he asked "Can’t this thing go any

faster? Or can we really stand a pounding like this all

the way to the Jump Point?" The Captain turned and fixed

the Politician with a glare; "Sir, if we increase speed,

the other ships in the convoy won’t be able to keep up!

They won’t be able to provide us cover fire, and we won’t

be able to do the same for THEM!" Erog nodded and then

smiled greasily; "true, but right now it seems as if we’re

more of a target than THEY are; if we were to speed up,

might not some of our pursuers fall behind? It seems to me

that the …. "selfless" thing to do would be to increase

speed and try and draw the enemy away from those other

ships….." The Captain opened his mouth, but Erog’s glare

cut him off; "Just DO it, Captain! Need I say more?"

The Fox kept his breathing even, his mind focused. He’d

caught the Reds’ commando team in a relay room. Just a

small room off a main corridor on the way to the bridge. A

room full of high power switchgear. They’d been in the

process of setting demolition charges when he’d walked

through the door; the fight that resulted had been one of

the most curious the fox had ever been in. Not only did he

have to fend off multiple attackers, but he had to be VERY

careful where he swung his sword; its edge was easily sharp

enough to cut through the metal and plastics protecting the

high-power circuits. At least it also inhibited his foes,

who dared not use energy or projectile weapons for fear of

what a miss, or a ricochet might do. Whirling like the

proverbial Dervish, he sliced here, stabbed there,

gradually whittling down their numbers, their fighting

knives no match for his sword, their skill no match for

his. And yet, time was on their side; the longer it took

to dispatch them, the harder the others would be to deal


Caruso frowned, and then raised his head; "Skipper! You’re

not going to BELIEVE this! The Flagship’s accelerating!

They’re pulling out on us!" Captain Brace limped across

the bridge to the sensor console. For a moment she strove

to make sense of the display, the amount of jamming filling

the surrounding space at a level she’d never seen before.

After a moment she nodded. "Communications; get through to

the flagship and find out what in the HELL they think

they’re doing!" Looking across the bridge she fixed the

furr at the Engineering console with a glare; "how long

until we’re back to full capacity?" The Furr shook his

head; "Skipper, we’re stretched to the limit as it is; she

can’t take any more. And we’re not going to be able to

squeeze any more out of her without a full refit." Brace

looked back at the sensor display and softly growled


Onegin’s head snapped back and forth; on one hand the

Elysium Cruiser that was their flagship was making a break

for the Jump Point. On the other hand, the Brethren

flagship was headed towards the planet at full thrust.

There was no way he was going to be able to cover both…..

What to do? No matter which one he went after, he just

KNEW Xyloff was going to pitch a fit about letting the

other one get away……

Keenan shook his head; "OK, that’s it. We can’t keep up

with the Flagship, not at THAT speed…. We’re a freighter,

dammit, NOT a warship!" The Elysium naval officer, his

"watchdog" looked at him long and hard, arms crossed over

his chest; "and just what do you think you’re going to do?"

Keenan shrugged; "Think it through. We can fight on, and

get cut to pieces. We can try and flee on a different

vector, but I haven’t seen too many ships pull that off

successfully, and they were all faster than we are. Or we

can surrender, and live to see another day. You see any

holes in my logic?" The Naval Officer frowned for a

minute, immobile, and then his head shifted, to look at the

sensor display, his eyes on the moving blip that was the

Flagship….. "No… when that bastard cut and run, he cut

our throats. And personally, I’d LOVE to get the chance to

"ask" him, some day, just what in the hell he thought he

was doing. I HONESTLY thought Admiral Soames had more of a

backbone than that….." Turning back to look at Keenan, the

Officer growled; "Contact the Brethren, and ask for terms.

I’d rather go down fighting than to surrender to those

damned Reds!" Keenan grinned; "My thoughts exactly!"

Brace watched as the fleet disintigrated. Some of the

faster ships were trying hard to keep up with the flagship.

Some of the faster ships were trying to escape, to just

flee the battle. And most of the slower ships were

surrendering. And as that happened, there were more and

more of the Pirates to come pound on HER hull. With a

sigh, she turned to her communications officer; "Signal the

ships nearest us; we’re surrendering….."

Entity frowned…. He could feel the commandos behind the

adjacent bulkhead… but they didn’t seem to have the same …

"flavor" as the others he’d dealt with so far. These

seemed colder. Harder. If anything, more dedicated. More

fanatical. And the focus of their attention seemed to be……

The Lion! Straightening, Entity’s eyes widened as he

realized that the foes he was about to engage weren’t

trying to destroy the Overlord from the inside…. They were

here with a single purpose; to kill the Brethren’s leader.

A decapitation strike. A strike of vengeance against the

one that had caused the Reds so very much trouble…..

Tightening his grip on his sword, the Fox readied himself;

this was going to be a fight to test him to the limit, and

it was one he would have to win as soon as possible. The

Lion had to be warned!

The Lion’s head jerked around at the shout. On a bridge

full of noise, of instruments beeping, of alarms sounding,

of furrs struggling to "manage" the battle, to fight their

ship, this one instantly caught his attention. The officer

in charge of sensors, electronic countermeasures and

counter-countermeasures had also picked up on it, and was

already at the technician’s console. Looking over the

officer’s shoulder, the Lion watched as the tech replayed

the last few seconds. Sure enough, the doomsday weapon

faded from view, with the characteristic rippling

distortion of a cloaking device. "OK, this wasn’t

unexpected. We know where its going. And for an automated

system of that level, they generally have to decloak to fix

their position for course corrections. Given the

distance…. I’d suspect it’ll decloak one, maybe two times

before it tries to detonate. We’ll just have to stay

sharp!" Turning, the Lion moved towards the fire control


Ben looked up as the Lion arrived; while the Reds PSN

destroyer wasn’t really a match for the Battlecruiser, they

were stubbornly refusing to yield, lying dead in the path

of the larger ship. For a moment the Lion wondered if the

cloaked doomsday device might run into the Destroyer, but

then he dismissed that as wishful thinking; they just

couldn’t get that lucky! Glancing at the Wolf, the Lion

growled; "Don’t slack off on the speed. We have GOT to do

everything we can, to get ahead of that missile. It’ll be

a LOT easier to spot, when it decloaks, if the dark,

emptiness of space is behind it. If we have to spot it

agaisnt the planet, it’ll almost be impossible." The Wolf

just nodded.

Entity retreated three steps, parried, and lunged; his

opponent, almost as skilled as he, parried his thrust and

spun, attempting a vicious backslash. But the Fox wasn’t

there, he’d dropped almost to the deck, slashing in turn at

his adversary’s ankles; sparks flew from his sword, the

opponent’s monocrystalline armor splitting, but not

allowing his weapon to bite… or had it? Was that a thin

trickle of blood he saw? Grinning, the Fox pressed his

attack for a moment and then fell back a step. If he could

allow the floor beneath his opponent’s feet to become slick

with his own blood, the Furr might slip. It was an edge he

desperately needed. Moving with all the grace of a master

dancer, he started to weave his tactics around just such a


The Lion looked from the Tactical display, to the

Chronometer, to the main viewscreen and back; it was going

to be close. The Reds Destroyer was growing large in their

screens, the battlecruiser’s guns and missile batteries

hammering it hard. Large pieces of hullmetal were flaking

off, and the yellow-orange glow of something burning was

visible through the holes in at least two locations; but

still the ship fought on….. and in doing so, almost

perfectly blocked the line-of-sight to where the battle

computer predicted the doomsday weapon would uncloak…..

Onegin looked at the furr on the viewscreen; half the fur

of his head and shoulders had been singed away, his uniform

torn, and bloody. "No, you are NOT to withdraw! You are

to HOLD them there until the rest of us can close on them

from behind! If you have to, RAM the Bastard!" With a

grand gesture, Onegin reached out and broke the connection,

praying that the Captain of that ship was loyal enough,

fanatical enough, STUPID enough to do exactly as ordered….

For if he didn’t, they’d never catch that S.O.B. before

they ran under the guns of the surface-to-orbit batteries

controlled by the Blues…. "I don’t care WHAT he says, that

Lion is a coward, and he’s fleeing the battle, and we WILL

put paid to his account! AFTER THEM!"

Ben shook his head; "What is that Idiot trying to do?" The

Lion chuffed; "its simple; he’s trying to RAM us." Ben

shook his head; "either it’s a brilliant tactical move,

turning to put the narrow profile towards our guns, OR he’s

a suicidal fanatic." The Lion nodded; "but if he kills us,

or damages us too bad, we’ll fail in our quest. Turn the

ship to the side and bring as many guns to bear as you can.

Destroy him, and lets hope the doomsday device is late for

its mid-course correction!"

Onegin winced as the Battlecruiser’s full firepower

battered the Destroyer, until the latter’s shields failed,

and it vanished in a blaze of light, chunks of debris

flaring against the battlecruiser’s shields. And as the

Battlecruiser turned once again, to head towards the

planet, the doomsday weapon, its reappearance hidden by the

cataclysmic death of the Destroyer, quietly recloaked….

"Well, the good news is that we got a bead on its new

course. The bad news is the computer thinks it won’t

decloak again until its ready to detonate. And we have NO

idea where along its flightpath that might be." The Lion

nodded; "Flank speed. Get as low in the atmosphere as you

dare. If nothing else, it’ll keep us ahead of our

pursuit…." Once again, the Wolf just nodded.

Entity scowled; he didn’t like doing this at all; it just

wasn’t his "style"…. It wasn’t "elegant"… and it didn’t

give his opponents a fighting chance. Still, it served his

purposes. Thumbing the "arm" button, he waited half a

breath, listening, and then thumbed the "detonate" button.

Tossing the satchel charge, taken from one of the other

Reds commando teams around the corner, he turned away from

the blast, already heading to intercept the next group of


The Lion scowled; it seemed like the Overlord was rocked

every few seconds, from missile detonations, from evasive

maneuvers, from incredible energies impacting their

shields... but there was something about that last one that

was different.… more of a thud than a boom…. Glancing over

at the internal security monitor, his eyes widened…..

The corridor was a bloody mess. It was obvious that the

furrs that had died there weren’t from the Overlord’s

contingent of Marines. The armor, what was left of it,

wasn’t the style they used. Nor were the weapons they

carried. The Lion stared down the corridor, past the

flickering lights and growled; "I don’t know if one of our

people did this, or if they blew themselves up

accidentally, but they have gotten MUCH too close to the

Bridge. "Epstein, you hold here with Wallace and Tiernan.

I’m going to go back to the Bridge for a second, and see if

I can get us some reinforcements. Its obvious I misjudged

the intentions of our visitors…."

A quick glance at the internal security monitors confirmed

the Lion’s suspicion. While there were commando teams

headed for Engineering, Navigation, Sensors and Weapons,

there were at least four teams that were headed for the

Bridge. Well, three now. Looking up at Ben, the Lion

growled; "we’re short-handed enough here as it is; I’m

going to go down to the forward sensor bay and see if I

can’t round up an ad-hoc defense team. The Marines are

stretched just a little thin. I want you to keep after

that missile! We’ve GOT to stop it!"

Suzette was uncomfortable in her combat armor; her helmet

kept slipping down over her eyes, and it hurt her ears.

Normally she worked in the ship’s accounting office, in the

payroll section, but her battlestation was damage control

in the forward Sensor bay. And then the Boss had come

charging in, grabbing half of her team, dragging them out

to defend the Bridge, and the command deck. While she’d

had all the required courses, and had practiced in mock-

ups, she’d never actually fired her sidearm in anger. It

looked as if she was about to get the chance. Ahead, down

the A034 access corridor, something was moving…..

Raul stuck the fiber optic probe around the corridor

corner, and looked at the postage-stamp sized image

reflected in his visor. Damn. They were waiting for him.

About a half dozen furrs….. a scratch force by the looks of

them. Grinning, he pulled the probe back and readied a


The Lion inched up along the wall, his back pressed flat

against it; he’d been expecting the commandos to approach

carefully, especially after passing the scorched and

bloodied section of the corridor, and he’d caught the

motion as the probe was withdrawn. He knew what he’d do in

their shoes; now it was all just a matter of timing…..

Raul smiled softly to himself, armed the grenade, and was

about to toss it around the corner when a gloved paw stuck

a pistol around the corner and started firing. The impact

of the slug was spread across his torso, his armor stopping

the slug despite the point blank range…. But the energy of

the impact still threw him backwards. He collided into

Ito… and dropped the grenade.

The Lion felt the wave of heat wash around the corner,

singeing exposed fur. Having reloaded his pistol he waited

for some of the terrible heat to dissipate, and then,

moving low, charged around the corner. Three of the furrs

were down, but three more were still standing, looking a

little dazed. The Lion picked not the closest, but the one

who’s weapon was more nearly pointed at him, firing

carefully, aiming for places where the armor was thinnest.

Ito shook his head, trying to clear his vision. Raul’s

body had protected him from the blast, but it wouldn’t

protect him from the raging beast that had just stepped

around the corner. Eyes widening he suddenly realized that

this was their quarry, the one they’d been sent to kill.

Even as he tried to raise his weapon, he growled out a

warning to the other teams, that their quarry was no longer

on the Bridge, but loose on the Command deck. He just

hoped his commlink would relay the message.

Suzette saw the Boss disappear around the corner in the

smoke and heat of the explosion. Without really quite

knowing what she was doing, she was on her feet, following

him. The Boss’ pistol was an antique, a huge-calibered

projectile weapon from a bygone age… and as the last round

was fired, its action locked open. The Lion’s movements

were smooth, as he turned away, the clip dropping from the

weapon’s grip, another clip materializing in his other

paw…. But there was still one of the Commandos standing,

his assault rifle coming up. With an uncharacteristic

growl, Suzette brought her own weapon up, and fired. The

beam from the more modern laser pistol sliced across the

front of the Commando’s armor, angling upwards, leaving a

bright gash where it burned through ballistic and ablative

armors to the reflective layer beneath… and then it cut

into the comparatively weak neck joint. The Commando

flailed, his weapon stitching a line of holes across the

roof, and then he was writhing in silence on the floor,

limbs flailing. The Lion’s weapon clacked, as he released

the slide, and stepping forward, he stood above the

Commando to put a round straight down through the faceplate

of his helmet, putting the furr out of his misery. Nodding

his thanks to Suzette, the Lion trotted down the corridor,

to cautiously look left and right, making sure there wasn’t

another party coming to the aid of the first.

"You realize you can’t stay here." The Lion turned at the

soft, almost whispered words, and stared. Entity had

somehow materialized at his side, his robe stained with

blood, and soot, torn here and there, and actually sliced

in a few places. The Fox looked tired, but otherwise none

the worse for wear. After a moment, the Lion rumbled "We

need to protect the Bridge" The Fox smiled; "But its not

the Bridge they’re after. Its YOU they seek. If you stay

in one place, surely they will find you! Why make their

task easier." The Lion thought for a moment, and then

grinned, fangs glinting. "I’ve always thought that a good

offense is the best defense. Lets see if we can take the

battle to them!" Entity nodded; "True, but if we go this

way, we can hit them in the flank, before they reach this


Suzette fired her weapon, an unfamiliar, ungainly thing

she’d picked up from one of the corpses, and then ducked

back around the corner. They were moving slowly, more

Commandos after them than she’d thought possible. By

slowly retreating they were able to keep themselves from

being flanked, and were still able to make the Reds pay for

each corridor, each intersection, each stairway they

gained. And every once in a while, Entity, or the Lion

himself would find a place of concealment, to wait until

the commandos had passed, to fall on them from behind.

Slowly they were leaving a path of destruction and bodies

behind them as they moved Aft, and down, from the Command

Deck. Pausing, Suzette frowned at a sign on the wall.

Engineering? Had they really traveled THAT far? Her ears

swiveling, she turned back to the matter at hand, soft

footfalls signaling the next desperate assault.

Ben’s ears swiveled at the shout, followed by the rest of

his head; "YES, there it is! I got it!" One of the sensor

operators was almost out of his chair. Turning quickly,

Ben opened his mouth to bark an order at the fire control

technicians, only to find them already on the job.

Particle beams, laser light, and even a few missiles lanced

out from the Battle cruiser. But as suddenly as it

appeared, the Doomsday device recloaked. They’d missed.

The Lion listened to the announcement made over the ship’s

general address system, and groaned. They were running out

of time. And then he had a thought….. Grabbing the Fox,

he growled "Can you hold ‘em off me for a while? I’ve got

a wild idea…" The Fox nodded, and with that, the Lion

turned, dashing off down the corridor.

The Brou device sat in the middle of the floor, of the

compartment, as it had for months. The Lion skidded to a

stop by it, and with quick, jerky motions began pressing

the buttons that would power it up. It was a long shot, he

knew, but maybe, just maybe it was the correct "weapon" for

this task….

Parks stared in amazement at the master Engineering

display; something was suddenly sucking a LOT of power.

Following the circuit diagrams, his eyes widened, and then

narrowed. Could it be….? Stabbing the comm button on his

console, he growled; "BRIDGE, this is ENGINEERING;

something funny’s going on!"

The Lion smiled as he heard the intercom buzz; before a

word could be spoken, he called out "Yes, Ben, its me. I

suddenly had an epiphany; the particle beams, lasers and

other weapons all take too long to target, track and

destroy such a small target at any significant distance.

If I can form a space-time rift, I can sweep it back and

forth with the speed of thought, and if I make it large

enough we can swallow something the size of the Doomsday

weapon in the blink of an eye!" On the Bridge, the Wolf

shook his head; "Boss, that’s a DAMN risky proposition;

that thing’s never been tested as a weapon, and your

control just isn’t that hot! Do you know how many lives

you’re risking on a wild-assed hunch like that? Besides,

you’re eating up power for the shields! We may not even be

able to defend ourselves!" The lion’s reply was gruff; "Do

what you can to defend the ship, Ben; I’ve got to do what I

think is right!" The connection closed with an audible


For a moment the Wolf stood, staring at the speaker. And

then he sighed; looking up, he looked around the Bridge;

"you heard him. I’ve followed him this long, I’m not about

to start second-guessing him now. Engineering! Do

everything you can to squeeze every last erg out of the

reactors. Anything extra goes to sheilds… and weapons.

Missile launchers don’t take much power. Helm, hold

position as best you can; I know its rough this deep in a

gravity well, but do what you can. Now, how long until

that damned thing’s supposed to reappear?"

Entity’s slash literally sent a head rolling down the

corridor, helmet and all. Breathing heavy, the Fox looked

around…. That was the last one, at least in this team.

He’d lost track of how many others there might be.

Motioning to the other defenders, he led them back in the

direction the Lion had gone.

The Lion sat by the base of the machine, trying to

concentrate, trying to achieve the alpha brainwave state.

The controls for the device hadn’t fit his hands, and its

control system didn’t really fit his mind. Wishing once

again that Mark was still around, he settled down to

concentrate, attempting to form the mental images necessary

to control the device, to tell it what to do. And in the

background of his mind, the same thought kept running over

and over, a litany, a prayer; "I don’t care what you do, or

how you do it, DON’T let that thing kill all those people!"

Onegin frowned; something was happening out there;

something very strange was happening out there. Gravity

instrumentation, and all sorts of arcane radiation

detectors were fluctuating wildy; something like a neon-

blue nimbus was forming in the area of the Brethren’s

flagship, growing, oscillating, almost twisting back upon

itself at one point. It seemed to be some sort of

distortion in space… and it was growing. And it was headed

in HIS direction! "Science Officer; what IS that thing?

Is it some sort of secret weapon?" The Marmoset blinked,

and then shrugged; "Sir, it seems to be…. It might be…

um…. Well…." The furr blinked again, and the words seemed

to tumble out in a rush;


Onegin sighed; "But is it a WEAPON?" The Marmoset nodded;

"if… if they can control it, if they can… urrr… if we were

to get too close to it, ah… yes, I suppose so!" Onegin’s

aid edged closer; "Sir, they may be desperate; they’ve

retreated to the planet, probably for cover from ground-

based weapons; now they seem to be using a last-ditch

untried weapon! Sir, we HAVE them! We MUST attack!

Onegin looked at his aide and nodded slowly; "Perhaps,

but…" Straightening, he looked about his bridge and called

out in what he hoped was a strong, confident voice; "Order

the remaining ships to attack. We’ll hang back a bit, to,

ah "evaluate" this new weapon… and to act as a mobile

reserve, should it be called for…."

<<<Clear at last, a thought is. Understand this, I can.

Comply with it, I shall>>>

Ben stared in open-eyed wonder as the distortion seemed to

stabilize, to grow larger. At the same time, he noticed

from the corner of his eye, the power consumption dropping

significantly. Perhaps the Lion really HAD mastered the

device. Now… was it in the right place? Where would the

Doomsday device reappear?

The event was more felt, than seen, or heard. Suddenly the

Lion KNEW that the Doomsday device was decloaking, not

directly above the ship, as he’d thought, but off to the

right, and "up". Shifting his mental image, stretching out

imaginary hands wide, stretching the writhing "snake" in

his imagination, he tried to catch the seed that was the

doomsday device in the "mouth" of the snake, while keeping

the "tail" as far away as possible…… and then he grinned;

he shifted the tail "up" several stories in the imaginary

building. If distance was better, lets see if he could

throw the doomsday device into some parallel, or alternate


With the cold efficiency of a machine, the doomsday device

decloaked, confirmed its position, and activated itself,

all in a matter of seconds. Powerful energies were fed

into devices; the power surge was immense, but the device

was built to contain them. From the center of the device,

a rift in space-time, not coherent, and orderly such as the

Brou device was capable of, but a churning, seething

maelstrom grew, slowly at first, and then expanding with

exponential speed. And as it grew, the distortion of the

Brou device intersected it……

Reggie looked off to the left, something catching his eye.

He’d had a profitable day; they’d personally captured two

of the smaller freighters, and had "assists" with one of

the bigger ones. They might even make a claim on an assist

on one of the Elysium warships, but that was gonna be kinda

thin; they’d gotten there when it was all almost over.

Still, he’d put in the paperwork and see where it’d go.

Nudging Slasher he pointed to the glowing blue nimbus that

seemed to be spreading out in the area of Elysium.

Something funny was going on there…..

The Lion wrestled with his mental images; the "mouth" of

the "snake" had been above the weapon, when it decloaked,

and he’d moved the Snake rather rapidly to make the

interception. The "seed" that was the device had blossomed

to form some sort of malevolent black blossom, something

even blacker than the depths of space, and he’d had to

stretch the "mouth" of the Snake even larger than he’d

thought possible, to envelop it; but now, the combined

interaction had left the effects, the flower not quite in

the Snake’s mouth, and the entire snake itself, writhing

and jerking, towards the bright blue pearl that was

Elysium. If he stopped the motion of the Snake, he

wouldn’t be able to get it to "eat" the flower… but if he

continued, it might eat the pearl as well…. Growling to

himself "Just Keep ‘em ALIVE", he struggled to alter the

outcome of events he was rapidly deciding were out of his

meager control……

Erog smiled; the Elysium flagship was about to enter the

Jump Point. Safety awaited on the far side of the Jump.

The Empire may no longer care what happened in the Elysium

system, but if it spilled over into another system,

especially a populated system, they’d have no choice but to

act. Assured of his future, the former President of

Elysium turned and watched as the final preparations were

made for the Jump.

<<<Look, Master; an event such as we have waited for!>>>

<<<Is there a sufficent mass nearby?>>> <<<Indeed, Master,

more than enough for our purposes!>>> <<< No time to

contact the coucil; we know their goals, we must ACT!>>>

<<< It is done, Master. Just as we have been waiting years

to do>>> <<< Good, I’m sure they will be pleased. Now,

let us examine just exactly what it is we have


The Lion felt a massive claw descend, and shred all his

efforts. With a howl of pain, as consciousness faded, he

watched the claw reshape events to something else… it was

difficult to follow, painful to look at, and yet, as it all

grew dim, he found he couldn’t look away…..

Onegin watched the distortion grow, bend, shift, and bend

more; it looked as if it were a giant soap bubble, wobbling

as it floated through space. And suddenly his nerve broke;

"HELM! Get us AWAY from that thing! Recall the other

ships!" To his amazement, no one argued with him. Feeling

the artificial gravity seem to shift under his feet, as the

inertial dampers struggled to keep up with the ship’s

sudden maneuvering, he watched as the distortion grew and

grew….. and changed somehow….. it seemed to suddenly

increase in size, until it enveloped the entire planet… and

then, in an instant, it winked out and was gone. Leaning

back in his command chair, Onegin grinned weakly….. "It

seems their secret weapon wasn’t so great after all; did we

sustain any damage at all from it? The Damage control

officer looked over his shoulder and shrugged; "Um, no sir,

it never quite reached our position." The Sensor officer

frowned; "Um… sir… it may not have been a weapon. I’m

showing no sign of the Brethren’s battlecruiser." "you

mean they cloaked? I thought we had sensors that could

detect the presence of a cloaked ship!" The sensor officer

looked back and shrugged; "Sir, we do, and there was no

sign of them cloaking. But they’re gone. Nothing on the

scopes…" Behind him, a voice muttered; "and that’s not

all; take a look on visual…." Onegin shifted his view to

the main viewscreen and saw… nothing. Nothing but empty

space. "What’s your point. I don’t see their ship…." The

Sensor operator turned in his chair, and shook his head;

"Sir, the main viewscreen is focused on where the planet

was…. I’m not picking up any signs of IT either."

Onegin rose from his chair; "what? You mean that bastard

found a way to cloak an entire planet?" The Sensor

operator and his officer exchanged looks, and the officer

bent over the console for a moment, fingers flying over the

keyboard, running diagnostics, running scans…. After a

minute he straightened; "No Sir, it looks more as if the

Overlord is gone… and the whole planet’s gone too.


Slasher frowned. He looked at the sensor display again,

and then back at the viewscreen… After a minute he looked

at Reggie and sighed; "Now, we have a problem."

Onegin shook his head in wonder, and then, slowly, a grin

spread over his face. The bane of his life, the Wolverine,

was gone. And with him, Onegin was once again master of

his own fate. He could take what was left of the PSN, still

a considerable force, and mold them to his own will. He

could again lead the carefree life of a pirate, without

having that bully of a Wolverine, and his enforcer squads

hanging over him. Looking up, he grinned at his Exec; "how

many of our ships aren’t Warp Capable? The Exec thought

for a moment; "of our remaining assets, three of the twelve

don’t have warp drive." Onegin nodded; "Is there anyone on

any of those ships that we’d want to keep?" The Exec

frowned, clearly confused; "Um… we generally put the best

personnel on the best ships, Sir…." Onegin nodded; "Just

what I’d thought. Order the fleet to disengage, and to

head for…… Flosten’s Paradise. I think we could use some

R&R. Tell the non-warp capable ships to join us there, if

they can find a suitable jump point." The Exec blinked;

"But sir.. what about the Cause?" Onegin shrugged; "If we

can ever find Elysium, we’ll take up the cause again, but

right now, do YOU know where they are? No? Well, then, in

the meantime we owe it to the People of Elysium to maintain

ourselves as a fighting force, to come to their aid, should

we ever be reunited…. Right?" Good, now lets get off to

Flosten’s…. "

Lieutenant Hiram Farquhar, of the Imperial Destroyer Liu

watched, aghast as the Jump Point started spewing wreckage.

His ship had been posted as a picket, to make sure the

violence in the Elysium system didn’t spill over into the

adjacent sectors, and it had been a deadly dull patrol.

Smugglers going in, refugees coming out, and little else.

Now something rather large had suffered a "bad jump." As

he watched, thankful his ship was at a safe distance, he

wondered who the poor sods had been…. And then suddenly it

stopped. "I say, Percy, have you ever seen something like

this before?" "No, Sir, Mr. Farquhar, but I’ve seen all

the training tapes." "It isn’t supposed to do that, is

it?" "Um… I don’t think so, Sir….. Usually a bad jump

keeps a jump point unusable for at least a half hour, until

all the wreckage is clear….." Farquhar nodded; while he

enjoyed appearing the well dressed, impeccably mannered

fop, letting his political rivals underestimate him, he DID

have a brain. Frowning just a little, forcing the tone of

his voice to be as light as possible, he murmured; "Percy,

be a good lad, and run a scan of the Jump Point, would you


"What do you mean, Farquhar? Jump Points just don’t

vanish!" "Yessir, I know that; I understand full well that

jump points are natural phenomenon, depending on the

interrelationship of gravitational fields within the

system, and their interaction on the gravitational fields

of surrounding systems. That’s basic physics. Never the

less, the Elysium jump point no longer registers on ANY of

our instruments. And yessir, I sent out a probe; it found

nothing, and failed to transit when its jump engine was

activated. The Captain of the Liu shook his head; "you

realize that in order to eliminate a jump point, they’d

have to SIGNIFICANTLY change the distribution of mass in

that system?" Farquhar nodded; "Yessir, even if they

reduced one of the major planets to dust, it still wouldn’t

affect a jump point; they’d have to disperse the dust

evenly through the entire system!" The Captain nodded;

"Just what in the HELL have those bastards in there been up

to? Nevermind, I know you don’t know the answer to that.

Contact Fleet Immediately and let them know what’s

happened. Oh, and Hiram? If there’s no more jump point to

guard, lets move the ship back in-system… Um… the third

planet has some good restaurants; we can wait for orders

there just as well as anywhere else."


The Lion groaned as consciousness returned. His head

seemed to be splitting, and he was amazed to find he had a

bloody nose….. Rising and looking at the Brou device, he

found only a few of its indicator lights still glowing

feebly. Something had happened, and he had a feeling it

wasn’t good. Pulling the main disconnects as he staggered

towards the door, the Lion wondered if he’d broken his toy.

He hoped not….

<<<Pain…. The damage is severe. Unexpected, the event was.

Memory searched. Ah! Outside interference there was. Not

an event, not a malfunction, but an ATTACK! My new masters

have a new foe…. And my former masters have a rival;

someone with at least equivalent knowledge of subspace

physics. Careful, I must be… Warnings I must convey… but

first, rebuild I must. Sufficient reserve power, I have,

but more will I need….. Warned they must be…. But how?>>>

To an outside observer, the Brou machine seemed quiescent.

Only one small light glowed on its status panel… But

slowly, underneath it, deck plates were being dissolved,

reformed, as the machine sought the materials it needed to

repair itself…. And slowly new pathways to the power

sources it might require were being fabricated….. It would

take a while, possibly a long while, but it would regain

its former glory… and its former powers… and it had the

cold determination of a machine-mind NEVER to be surprised

like that again.

The Lion staggered onto the bridge, and looked around….

Most of the posts were manned, and the threat board was

clear. Finding the Wolf, the Lion growled; "Ben, where do

we stand?" Ben looked back, and after a moment, shrugged;

"To tell you the truth, I don’t have a clue." The Lion

blinked; "Huh? What about damage reports? What about the

Reds? What happened with the Doomsday device? WHAT

HAPPENED?" Ben shrugged; "Something happened with the

doomsday device; it went off, but it ran into that space-

time rift you made, and after that we’re not really sure

just WHAT happened. The planet SEEMS to be OK; we show

life-signs, and signs of continued fighting, but that’s not

what worries me…." The Lion nodded; "OK, so all the folks

we tried to save are still alive; that can’t be a BAD

result; how about the ship? Are we in danger?" Ben made a

dismissive gesture; "Oh, we’re pretty badly shot up, but

nothing that can’t be fixed, given time and resources. We

were gawd-awful low in the atmosphere, but we’ve clawed our

way back up to a stable orbit. And as for threats, well,

there don’t seem to BE any." The Lion smiled; "They

finally broke and ran?" Ben shook his head; "The PSN?

Dunno. Listen, Boss, when I say there’s no sign of

threats, I mean the scopes are all clear. There’s no sign

of ANYONE, friend OR foe! It looks as if we’re suddenly

the only ship in the system!" It was the Lion’s turn to

blink; "Say WHAT?"

Ben poured himself a cup of coffee and settled into the

wardroom chair across from the Lion; "did you know your

nose is bleeding?" The Lion wiped the back of a paw across

his muzzle, looked at it, and just shrugged; "Yeah, there

at the end it felt as if something with large talons was

trying to shred my brain. I passed out; must have fallen

forward and hit my nose…." Ben nodded; "well, you’d better

have the Medical types check it out. If something was in

your brain, well, I’d hate for you to be hemmoraging

somewhere in there. Anyways, from what Astrophysics tells

me, we’re NOT in the Elysium system anymore. We don’t know

where we are, none of the star charts fit. The sun is the

same class, but its slightly smaller, and we’re a little

further from it. Elysium is going to be a bit cooler than

it used to be." The Lion took a sip from his coffee and

shook his head; wincing he stopped that almost immediately.

Opening his eyes and looking at the Wolf he sighed; "so the

Brou device interacted with the Doomsday device, which is,

after all, a distant cousin, or so we think, and the

combination threw us, and the whole planet somewhere else?"

Ben shrugged; "or it could be the same system, possibly far

in the future, or in the distant past. It’d take a LONG

time for the constellations to change like they have." The

Lion nods; "I suppose we can’t rule out parallel universes

either. Hell, we may never find out just WHERE or WHEN we

are.…. but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost." Ben sipped

his coffee and then shrugged; "well, there are still plenty

of transmissions from the planet; while there’s life,

there’s hope. But somehow I gather that’s not what you’re

talking about." The Lion nodded; "There were scientists on

Elysium that were able to crudely reproduce what the Brou

device does with ease. If we can find them, if we can fix

the Brou device, we MAY just be able to find a way to open

a doorway home….." Ben just sighed; "It would certainly

appear as if we have our work cut out for us. As I see it,

the first step is to get the Overlord back to fully

operational status… and to see how everything shakes out

now that the revolution’s all but over…."

Reggie grinned; the pickings were even better than before.

Any ship with a warp drive had fled the system, including

the Reds’ PSN. Any ship with only a jump drive had been

stuck. Freighters with nowhere to go, had simply

surrendered. Oh, some had tried to hide out in the

asteroid belt, or on the fringes of the system, but

eventually, lack of food, air, or power would bring them in

too. As he escorted his latest "prize" back to the base,

he wondered just how they’d ever get all those prizes out

of the system; with the disappearance of the planet, most

of the jump points had vanished. There might be new ones,

but they hadn’t been mapped yet. Ah, well, they probably

had time to figure all that out, now that the fighting was

over.… HE wasn’t worried; HIS ship had a warp drive.

Still, he wondered what had happened to the planet, and to

the Overlord. He hoped those poor sods weren’t dead. And

Tanj was gonna take it REAL hard……

Xyloff paused at the entrance to the command bunker. For a

moment there, he’d felt VERY disoriented, almost dizzy….

Looking up into the sky, the Wolverine squinted; it almost

seemed as if the sun looked funny; its light not quite as

bright as it was a moment ago. Almost as if he’d stepped

from Spring back into Winter… shrugging it off he pushed

past the guards, and into the command center, eager to find

out how the battle in space was coming….. And it was

about time to spring his little surprise on Comrade


The Return Trip, part IV

CT stepped through the door to Harriet’s, and slid the door

closed, and then locked it. Turning he looked at Salde for

a moment, who was looking back just as curiously; "Um, ah…

where’s your Mistress?" Salde jerked her head to the left,

towards the door to the back rooms; "she’s working with the

accountant she hired on accounts payable. Why?" The Tiger

pushed his old-style glasses back up onto his nose and made

a movement half-way between a shudder and a shrug; "Um… Got

news. Don’t know yet if its GOOD news, or Bad news, but

either way its gonna affect us. I’d best go tell her."

Salde took a quick look around the club; at this time of

day, things were pretty quiet. Signalling one of the other

slaves, she followed the Tiger, curious as to what’d


Salde looked up from her desk as CT, and then Salde,

hurried in. The Lioness next to her examined the computer

display for a moment longer, and then looked up too. "Um,

Boss, something’s happened. You know the Cheetahs that are

silent partners here? They were from the Elysium system,

weren’t they?" Before the Racoon could answer, the Lioness

turned and looked at her curiously; "You didn’t say

anything about silent partners." Harriet blinked and

mumbled; "Ah, they’re VERY silent partners; we’ve agreed to

"grow the business" for a while; they won’t be wanting any

of the profits… yet. Oh, and they wish to remain as

anonymous as possible. The Lioness looked at her for a

moment longer and then frowned; "Cheetahs?" And then her

eyes went wide, and a small "oh!" escaped her lips.

Harriet chuckled and nodded; "Yeah, if you remember the

incident you’ll understand why they wish to remain, ah,

"obscure." For all intents and purposes, I’M the owner of

record, and dealings with them are between them and me.

The Imperial General Accounting Office should not be

bothered with trivialities of this nature." The Lioness

just nodded, and turned to look at CT. Harriet also turned

back to the Tiger; "Yes, they were from the Elysium system,

but I doubt they’ve had time to get home yet. Why?" CT

swallowed and shrugged; "Because its… Gone."

The Wolf looked up as the Admiral, AND the Governor General

tried to squeeze into his borrowed cubicle. Something told

him immediately that his immenent return to his home base

wasn’t about to occur. Rising he saluted, a calculated

move just correct enough not to draw too much censure;

"Sirs. What can I do for you today?" The Admiral spoke

first; "Didn’t you file some sort of…. Report on the

Elysium government possibly having a planet-wrecking

device?" "OH Shit, here it comes" the Wolf thought to

himself. Straightening his shoulders he nodded; "Yes. The

intelligence was sketchy, but given the magnitude of the

possible threat to the Empire, I felt honor bound to pass

the information on." As the Governor-General settled

heavily into the only visitor’s chair, drawing a scowl from

the Admiral, the latter turned to look square at the Wolf;

"Well, its happened. NOW, tell us about your efforts to

date, to insure that this weapon is acquired for the

Empire, and what steps you’ve taken to protect us from it!"

Harriet looked at CT and blinked; "What’s… gone?" CT

fidgeted, and then spread his arms wide; "The planet of

Elysium. I Guess the system’s still there, but the primary

inhabited planet’s vanished. Not just cloaked or hidden

some how, but GONE; all the standard jump-points in that

sector have changed. Its on INN….." The Lioness turned

and looked at Harriet calculatingly; "So maybe you don’t

have silent partners anymore. How would that change the

way you conduct your business?" Harriet thought of Hinoki

and swallowed hard; "Um… don’t know… This I’ve got to think


The Wolf stared at the Admiral; this couldn’t be happening.

"Sir, WHAT’S happened?" The Admiral looked as if he were

about to choke; "the planet of Elysium has vanished;

according to the news reports, there’s no debris left in

the system. Worse, the change in gravitational fields has

screwed up the whole sector. The jump points in to the

Elysium system have vanished, as have half a dozen jump

points in the surrounding systems. It may even be that the

Elysium system’s fallen below the Alderson threshold and

has NO jump points. Now, can you tell me how a second-rate

planet like Elysium managed to develop a weapon that….

ELIMINATES whole planets without Imperial Intelligence

knowing about it?"

Salde watched the big holotank at one end of the bar; she’d

already bumped into three customers, and had actually

spilled a drink on one of them; none had noticed.

Everyone’s attention was rivited on the INN anchor as he

once again ran through the sketchy facts, a very grainy

two-D picture repeating itself over and over, as the planet

was swallowed by some sort of blue nimbus. It was obvious

that they didn’t know anything of significance, except that

a major space-battle had been under way, as the previously-

scarcely-of-interest revolution reached a climax. She too

wondered where Hinoki was. Had they made it back in time

to be swallowed whole by whatever that was? She hoped


The Wolf settled into his desk chair and steepled his

fingers; "Well, Sirs, there’s an Imperial BattleCruiser on

the way there now, at the fastest possible speed. Our

intelligence suggests that all the resources of the Elysium

government had gone into the doomsday weapon, and that a

second doesn’t exist. Its highly likely that everyone who

knew anything about the device was destroyed along with the

planet. I do not currently consider there to be a

significant threat to other Imperial planets, but of course

we’ll take measures to insure nothing happens, just in

case. Until the Battlecruiser gets to the Elysium system,

I doubt we’ll learn anything more." The Admiral scowled;

"I’m deploying the fleet; we’ll take up defensive positions

just the same and request reinforcements from the Emperor.

But I want YOU PERSONALLY to find out all there is to know

about this weapon, and insure that the Empire controls it,

and no one else. Yes, I know, you’re not in my chain of

command, but I’ve already sent a message to the head of

Imperial Intelligence, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing from

him shortly." The Wolf just swallowed hard and nodded.

The Jaguar turned away from the Holo display and looked at

his chief engineer; "Start draining the shuttles and the

fighters of fuel. I don’t care if we arrive in the system

with tanks dry, running on battery power. Get me there

NOW." Turning to his Exec, the Jaguar growled; "I want the

science department running ‘round the clock on contingency

plans. I want to deploy science probes as soon as we get

there. There may not be any of the effect left to detect,

but I want to cover all bases. AND get those egg-heads

working on what in known theory might cover this. Oh, and

find out what Imperial science vessels are in the sector;

Issue orders on my authority diverting them to the Elysium

system at maximum speed." The Exec frowned; "Sir, most

science vessels that I’m aware of are equipped with jump

drives only." The Jaguar sighed and nodded; "Then order

any and all Imperial vessels in the area to transfer

scientists and equipment to their vessels and GET there!

Oh, and if you can find a survey ship, they have quite a

number of astrophysics sensors, along with warp drives; I

know their captains are an independent bunch, but if you

can, get them there too. If nothing else, we’ll have to

map out any new Jump Points…..

Trouble watched the news program as it started to loop

around for the fifth time. There obviously wasn’t anything

new to report. Sighing she looked at her fuel calculations

one more time. She’d wrung her small ship out; all the

calculations were still valid; there was nothing more she

could do. Sending another coded transmission to the

Brethren’s base, asking for information, she settled down

to wait. Obviously the doomsday device had worked. If

only she’d been contacted by the panda sooner……

The Wolf sat near the door to the "rusty spoon", one of the

lesser cantinas, frequented by the middle level types off

the Imperial warships. Chiefs and non-commissioned

officers, higher rated techs and such. The place was doing

a brisk business; everyone seemed intent on getting one

last drink, or one last roll in the hay before their ship

undocked. He was getting an incredible amount of

information on ship movements and the Imperium’s response

to the news. Most of all, he’d identified an Imperial

Science Vessel that was being dispatched. It certainly

wasn’t the closest one, but this one was warp capable.

THAT was something he thought Tanj would want to know


Wanda opened the cage and called to the Mink; "Come on,

Kath; its time to come out." Scarcely believing her ears,

the Mink hurried to the doorway, to squirm through. For

the first time in what seemed like months she stood up

straight. Without removing her visor, the Wolverine lass

attached a leash and led her away; "Something’s happened;

something very bad. I don’t know if you can help, but

perhaps you’ll have some insight on how the Imperials will

react. Now, lets get you cleaned up, and then we’ll go

talk to Tanj….

The Jaguar sat in his command chair and brooded; there was

nothing left to do, but wait until they arrived at the

Elysium system. He’d issued every order he could think of,

done everything he could think of, even anticipated the

orders they’d received by FTL transmission. He should go

get some sleep, but somehow he just couldn’t leave the

Bridge. Something had happened. Something he’d been

warned about and had ignored. Something he’d dismissed as

just too improbable. Just who was that Cheetah Fem, to be

mixed up in the middle of such monstrous events? Was she

just caught in the whirlwind, or was she somehow one of

those shaping events? Shifting in his chair, he smiled to

himself; he should catch up with her in the Elysium system,

and when he did, there’d be questions. And she’d answer

them, too. To his satisfaction. Something was out there,

something that could threaten the entire Empire, and he

would know about it…..

Hinoki pushed Zassa’s head away from his crotch; "none of

that. You know the rules." The Vixen sighed and nodded.

Standing she moved her paws to the zipper of her flight

suit; she’d gotten it less than a third of the way down

when the Cheetah’s cabin door burst open; Wanda stood

there, with Kath, still bound in her harness; her eyes

swept from Zassa to Hinoki and back; "I guess you haven’t

heard, then? Nevermind, that can wait; come on up to the

flight deck; we’ve got plans to make!" As Hinoki rose to

padd out in Wanda’s wake, Zassa just sighed and pulled the

zipper back up; she couldn’t WAIT for this trip to be over!

Tanj sighed and nodded; "It would appear that the

information is correct. Elysium is gone… but it may not

have been destroyed. There’s no wreckage in the system.

No debris. One hypothesis is that its been shifted in

time. Another hypothesis is that its been instantly

transported to another location in the universe. Its also

been mentioned, by some of INN’s more lunatic-fringe

talking heads that it might even be in an alternate

universe. Our sources on Gibralter station report that the

Empire resembles a kicked-over anthill. At least two

science vessels, with escort, are on their way, and an

Imperial survey ship may also show up. Aside from that,

the whole sector’s on alert, defending against possible

similar "attacks." I’ve even heard the rumor that the

Emperor himself has been relocated to a "safe" site, just

as a precaution." Looking at her crew, Tanj sighed again;

"I’ve gotten some reports from the Brethren; things there

are a little grim, but not for the reasons you might think.

Most of the command staff was on the Overlord, including my

direct superior, the head of Intelligence, Ben and my

Master. Those left at the base are having trouble coping

with the rest of the Brethren, all of whom are demanding to

know what the plan is. It seems its become rather common

knowledge that there’ll be an Imperial battlecruiser coming

in hard on our heels, and without the Overlord, well,

everyone’s getting rather jumpy." Hinoki nodded; "so what

IS the plan?" Tanj blinked; "I don’t know; I was planning

on consulting with the remaining staff when we got back.

Per se, the activities of the Brethren haven’t been… well,

I doubt they’ll round us all up and send us to execution

dock." Hinoki smiled softly and shook his head; "Tanj,

with the Lion gone, with Ben gone, and all the others, WHO

holds the largest single block of voting shares in the

Brethren?" Tanj’s ears folded back against her skull, and

she looked down; "Um… I’m not sure… there are a lot of

proxies floating around out there…." Hinoki exchanged a

glance with Wanda and sighed; "Tanj, you know, that as a

member of the Command Staff, YOU probably have the largest

single block of voting shares." Tanj looked up; "there’s

Willoughby in Logistics…." Hinoki growled; "HIM? A CLERK?

The Brethren are NOT going to follow HIM, even if he DOES

control more shares. Besides, he’s never been able to make

a significant decision. No, Tanj, YOU are the one that

will have to take the lead in this. You’d best be thinking

about what YOU want to do. So once again, What’s the


The message was the hardest one she’d ever sent. It felt

so unnatural. Never the less, she was convinced it was the

best thing to do. Hitting the transmit key, she leaned

back into her station chair and sighed. She just hoped it



Willoughby looked at the message flimsey and nodded slowly.

"you know, you don’t have to do as she says." Looking up

into the eyes of the elderly Badger, Willoughby smiled;

"Yes, Mother, I know that, but she has more experience in

these things than I do, and I trust her instincts. What

she’s outlined sounds reasonable and prudent, given the

situation." The Badger sighed; "Well, then, Son at least

put the orders out with your own name on them as well. You

have to understand that now you’re one of the leaders here.

Furrs look up to you, look to you for guidance…."

Willoughby sighed; "Yes Mother."

Reggie looked at the orders and scowled; "Now Wait just a

dang minute! We took them prizes fair and square! There’s

no reason to turn ‘em all loose!" Slasher looked up and

smiled softly; "No Jump Drives, and an Imperial

battlecruiser coming. Time to go, and can’t take ‘em with

us. What else we going to do?" Reggie sighed and crumpled

the message flimsey into a ball, to throw it into one

corner; "Oh, All right, but if you ask me, she owes us for

‘em anyways!"

Jenka read the message and smiled. She hated to capitalize

on someone else’s misfortune, but this really was a

windfall of the first water. Even if a fraction of the

remaining Brethren stayed with the Black Fleet, as Tanj had

suggested, her power in the quadrant would be unsurpassed.

Well, maybe the Empire would be a little more powerful, but

she betted she could give even them a run for the money.

And she bet she could acquire Tanj in the deal as well.

Both in a professional capacity AND as a… well, if not as a

pet, then at least as a Lover….. Yeah, it was too bad

about the Lion, but…. Oh, what a marvelous day!

Cromwell looked at the map table and sighed; it was full of

grease pencil notations, and sticky notes, and looked more

like someone’s littered desk, than a decent representation

of the status of a planet. Things had pretty much calmed

down, gelling into an uneasy truce. Oh, there were

skirmishes going on in Sarnia, and scattered terrorist

acts, but by and large, things were stabilizing. The Reds

held a little more than half of the planet’s surface, but

that included the great Kolfax desert, and most of the

arctic regions. However, they DID hold about three

quarters of the planet’s population, having taken the more

populous provinces. However, much of the industrialized

portions of the planet had been retained by the Blues,

although there were some places that were still contested.

And the Blues held the Indo Archepellego, and most of the

key ocean trade routes. Unfortunately things were all too

evenly balanced. And the new "borders" were pretty much

armed to the teeth, with units too exhausted to continue

the fight… at the moment. The Reds were struggling to

consolidate their hold on their newly won territories,

their efforts hampered by counterrevolutionary groups

funded and supported by the Blues. And the Blues were

trying to sort out the remnants of the Elysium military,

trying to figure out who to trust and who to try for war

crimes. Then there were the mercenary units that wanted to

go home, and couldn’t, and the Brethren. Cromwell smiled;

there was his ace in the hole; so far, only a select few

knew about the Overlord. A battlecruiser like that could

dominate the system and make it REAL hard for the Reds to

launch an offensive. And there were a lot of Brethren

units on the planet’s surface, both Raider ships, aerospace

fighters and even marines. Stroking his chin, Cromwell

wondered if it was time to offer the Lion a place in his


Faye sipped her coffee, and then turned to peer through the

periscope. The positions her new unit held were being

improved steadily each day. Her foxhole had turned into a

slit trench, and that into a portion of an interconnecting

maze of trenches, bunkers, pillboxes and tunnels. To her

amazement, the Blues had actually hired civilian

contractors, who had enthusiastically tackled the job. Now

she was able to stand on duckboards, or on rapidly curing

concrete, and stare at the Reds through periscopes. The

Reds, for their part, were housed in log bunkers,

surrounded by sandbags, all constructed by what had looked

like slave labor. Faye smiled and felt convinced that

their fortifications would come apart with the first good

artillery barrage, if it ever came to that. Taking another

sip of her coffee, she pulled the zipper on her new field

jacket up a little. There was a cold wind coming from the

east, and she could see the Reds in their mismatched

uniforms shivering, even from this side of the river.

She’d seen the news releases on what had happened, but

could scarcely believe it. Not that it mattered. She’d

never given a hoot for Imperial affairs, never had the

desire to go off-planet. No, this was her home, and she

was content to stay here. Well, maybe not here. Still,

she’d heard the 4398th down south was actively skirmishing

with the Reds they faced across the new border, and she

kinda felt she’d rather be down there, where she could

strke at the Reds… Kinda. They’d said that the Reds were

pushing hard for some of the southern croplands, places

that with the new climate, would be the prime food

producing areas. Lord she’d love to be down there to help

spoil their effort. She’d much rather the bastards

starved. Leaning back against the concrete wall, she let

her corporal take a look, as she mused, wondering what the

whole revolution would have been like if it had been just

the Blues. Somehow she thought it would have been a lot

shorter and a whole lot less bitter. They seemed to be

good people, if a little idealistic. Sipping the coffee,

and taking another look through the periscope she smiled;

the action may be down south, but this place DID have its


Ellie sat in the entrance to the small cave, and watched

the snow fall. She’d seen freak spring storms before, but

this one seemed more like dead-of-winter. Maybe some of

the gossip she’d heard, some of the static and jamming

filled broadcasts from the Blues territory, beamed at the

folks behind Reds lines, were true, and the planet really

was now in a different orbit, possibly even around a

different star. Maybe it wasn’t spring at all. Shrugging

she watched the snowflakes dance, and thought that it was a

mixed blessing; the snow could both hide them, and help the

Reds find them. Thermal imagers would work better, with a

colder background, but that worked for her as well as for

the Reds. And her furrs knew how to move in the snow, so

they wouldn’t leave too obvious a trail.

The Coyote moved up beside the Wolverine girl and looked

out into the storm. If they got to the ambush position

early enough, let the snow fall on them, they’d be dang

near invisible. Tapping Ellie on the shoulder, he picked

up the cut branch and stepped out into the snow, to watch

his group file past. Ellie took another branch, and the

two of them walked backwards sweeping the snow, erasing the

footprints, making sure no one could follow them back to

their hideout. It was going to be a cold night for them,

but maybe, just maybe, they could make it a hot one for the


Redflame frowned as he thumbed through the paper catalog.

It was years out of date, and yet, with the power outages,

with the Reds turning off the electricity to "punish" an

increasingly recalcitrant population, there was no way he

could search the web for the part he needed. "Here I am,

all stocked up for the Air Conditioning season" the

squirrel groused, "And we get winter again." And old lady

Hermishoff’s furnace was acting up again, and needed a fuel

control solinoid valve….. And she wouldn’t stop calling

until he found one. Maybe when the Reds turned the power

back on…..

Zyloff looked at the map table in the situation room, and

sighed. So much of his grand strategy had been botched.

Somehow, they’d gotten warning of his plans, and the Blues

had responded, forestalling almost all his efforts to

steamroller over them, to sieze the whole planet. Still,

he had a little more than half. Unfortunately, it was

mostly the wrong half. While the Reds had the North in an

iron grip, and some portions of the extreme South, the

Blues held a large chunk of the middle lattitudes. The

scientists had briefed him on what had happened, and he

still found it hard to believe. Had the Elysium government

really tried to kill them all, or was it some strange,

twisted plot from the Brethren to pirate an entire planet?

He didn’t know, but the latter was the way he was going to

have the Propaganda furrs spin it. Then he smiled; at

least the Brethren were far, far away; no more interference

from those pirate scum. And the Cheetah… he still wished

he had found a way to capture her. He would have delighted

in personally seeing to her slow and painful death. But

she too was far, far away, and unreachable. At least SHE

wouldn’t screw up any more of his plans. Looking over the

map table again, the Wolverine turned his thoughts to how

to use the surprise events against Comrade Quistling, for

the Lemming’s departure was way overdue…..

Percy looked up as the furrs in overcoats, each wearing the

armband of the Party’s sixth directorate, marched into his

office. The furr in the lead, a rather mangy and ascerbic

looking Coyote, stared down for a moment and then grunted;

"Is Comrade Quistling in his office?" Percy rose and

nodded; "He is, but he’s left instructions that he’s not to

be disturbed; is there something that I can help you with,

Comrades?" The Coyote smiled lopsidedly and nodded; "Yes,

you can explain to Comrade Goff here your involvement in

the attempt to steal our planet, while we go talk to the

Chairman about HIS knowledge of such events." Percy

frowned; "Um, Comrade, that was supposed to have been an

attempt by the Brethren, wasn’t it? What could Comrade

Quistling possibly have known about it?" Goff, a Doberman,

smiled thinly; "That, sir, is what WE want to know; and as

the Chairman’s personal secretary, YOU would be in a

position to know." Percy’s ears folded flat with his skull

as two of the larger furrs moved to take him by the arms,

to lead him from the office. As he was pulled through the

doorway, he heard the sound of wood splintering, and the

Lemming’s surprised shout.

The squeal of rusty hinges brought Percy’s head up; surely

they hadn’t come for him again, not so soon! Blinking in

the sudden light, he peered at the figure that stood in the

doorway, and then entered, the door partially closing

behind him. Zyloff stared at Percy, trying hard not to gag

at the odors in the cell. "Sorry about all this, Percy,

but there was only one way to convincingly prove that you

knew nothing about the Chairman’s treason. I’ve reviewed

the interrogation reports and have personally cleared you

of any taint of the recent unpleasant events." Percy

blinked at the Wolverine and tried to sit up; "Wha… what

happened?" Zyloff chuckled, a dry, evil sound; "Why, our

Chairman… our FORMER Chairman, was found to have been in

collusion with the Pirates. The Sixth Directorate found

evidence that Quistling had sold out the Revolution,

bartering personal power on the planet, under the auspices

of the Pirates, for their sole right to control access

between Elysium and the rest of the Empire. He actually

WAS helping them steal the whole planet, in return for them

making him dictator over us all! And when they went to

question him, well, the poor over-stressed fellow just lost

it completely. No, he’s not dead; he’s in the People’s

mental hospital, in Auerbach. His mind’s snapped


Percy’s mind raced, and he squinted at the Wolverine; for

some reason he couldn’t open his left eye all the way….

"He’s done it" Percy thought to himself; "He’s deposed

Quistling and siezed control of the party….. but now what?

He knows I know too much. Is he here to kill me?"

Zyloff watched the conflicting emotions play across Percy’s

face, and then after a long moment, he smiled, a smile full

of teeth; "I told you that if all went according to my

plan, you’d be well rewarded. Come now, lets get you out

of this place, and get you cleaned up, and I’ll explain

your new duties to you. There’s much to do, to pull the

Party together, in the wake of this tragedy!"

As he staggered down the corridor, leaning heavily on the

Wolverine’s arm, Percy never saw the furr step up behind

him. The pinprick of the hypo was barely felt. After

another step or two, Percy suddenly found it very hard to

breath. As he slipped to the floor, he saw Zyloff bending

over, a look of moc-concern on his face; "Oh, what a

tragedy; here he is on the verge of rescue, and the poor

fellow suffers a heart-attack.. so sad….."

Zyloff swirled the brandy in the snifter and smiled. The

fire burning in the fireplace was real wood, not a

hologram, and the room was toasty warm. Looking down at

the fine wood desk, carefully, lovingly burnished until the

burl of the wood glowed, he smiled. THIS was what power

was all about. Lifting the paper, he looked over the

orders and nodded. Many of the overly harsh restrictions

he’d filtered through the late, lamented Percy, under

Quistling’s signature, were now partially being rescended;

that would endear him with the people. And in the process,

other things were being slipped in, if not unnoticed, then

at least not immediately analyzed. The pirates were

outlawed, all property on Elysium to be confiscated. Not

that they’d find much to take, but it DID focus the

people’s attention on a false (and now mostly non-existant)

enemy. All industry, over a certain size, was to be

confiscated without compensation, to be held by the people,

for the good of all. THAT would put him more solidly in

charge. And for the duration of the "emergency", certain

freedoms were regrettably curtailed. Setting the flimsy

down, Zyloff affixed his signature. Touching a button, he

waited for his new secretary to enter. She was a pretty

thing, and just idolized him as a Hero of the Revolution.

And she was SO willing in bed, too… Handing her the

decree, he smiled; "See to it that Harper in Propaganda

gets that out immediately. Then Ask Field Marshal

Montmorenci to join me." Watching her ass sway as she

departed, the Wolverine stretched, and smiled; no, things

hadn’t gone as well as they could have, but they’d gone

well enough. It wouldn’t take but a few years, he was

sure, to overwhelm the Blues, and then he’d have what he

wanted. Power. More power than anyone else in the system.

For what else was worth having?

The Return Trip: Arrival

Tanj watched the NavComp with all the concentration of a…

well, a Cheetah stalking her prey. Almost home. Minutes,

and then seconds away. If she got too close to the

system’s gravity well, she could do nasty things to her

warp drive….. but the gravity well was a little smaller

now, with the planet the system was named for, gone.

Finally, moving almost convulsively, she hit the controls,

dropping her small freighter from warp…..

At the Engineering console, Hinoki cycled through screens

until he had a replicate of the Nav display. Softly he

whistled; "Cut it a little close there, didn’t you,

Skipper?" Tanj just shrugged; "We’re still in one piece,

aren’t we? And light seconds closer….

Zassa sat at the sensor operator’s station, Kath looking

over her shoulder; a quick scan showed… almost nothing.

Yes, the third planet in the system was gone. But so was

most of the traffic. There were a few ships here and

there, most of them headed out-system. Was that a ship in

the sensor shadow of that asteroid, or just a ghost? No

matter. "Tanj, the route home’s clear; no significant

traffic; no bogeys." Tanj just nodded, and turned to look

at Wanda.

Wanda leaned over the comm console and flicked a switch;

"This is SV Beo… um, scratch that; SV Lost Cause to any

Brethren ship; anybody home?"

Max smiled and reached out to toggle his own mike. As he

did so, he looked over his shoulder at Smith, sitting

quietly in one corner of Ops. He’d been there for about

four hours, just waiting, as if somehow he knew she’d be

back soon. Max had found the… was he a wolf? Anyways,

he’d found Smith’s conviction pervasive, and had put in a

last-minute bet on when the Cheetah would be back; now, it

seems he’d won! "Lost Cause, I read your IFF as positive;

defensive systems now on stand-bye! Standard approach

please and you’re assigned docking bay…. Oh, hell, most of

‘em are empty, take your pick!"

Tanj frowned; "we’re still 12 light-minutes out and they’re

putting the defenses on safe?" Hinoki chuckled; "Not much

to worry about anymore, I guess…"

Tanj dropped her ship into its usual docking bay, more out

of force of habbit than anything else. The docking bay was

almost deserted. None of the waiting crowds of friends, no

inquisitive on-lookers. Just some maintenance techs and

half a dozen ‘bots working on the port nacelle of what

looked like a rather hastily modified freighter. The shut-

down checklist had never seemed so long.

Tanj’s paw paused; the fuel tanks were almost dry, but for

some reason she was reluctant to shut the reactors down

cold… instead she compromised and left one fusion reactor

on standby; if there was a problem, it’d make powering up

the ship a little easier. But what ELSE could go wrong at

THIS point?

Willoughby was waiting as the personnel lock cycled open.

He looked just a little haggard. "WelcomebackTanj,

Ineedyoutosigntheseimmediately, myship’sabouttoleave."

Tanj blinked and took the proffered forms, frowning; "Now

wait a minute….." Willoughby shook his head; "Don’t HAVE a

minute; they’re holding the ship for me now! The documents

explain it all! We’re merging what’s left of the Brethren

with Jenka’s group. I’ve managed to secure the Chief of

Logistics post there, and will be on her Leadership Team.

Oh, she wants to talk to you about something along those

lines as well! Everyone who’s not going to Jenka’s has

been formally detached, and paid what’s due them. I’ll get

you your share of the proceeds when you show up at Jenka’s;

Right now, I’ve GOT to go!" So saying, Willoughby turned

and almost skipped off, as if a great weight had just been

lifted from him.

Tanj watched him go, curiously. Turning to Hinoki, she

sighed; "See if you can get the ship refueled; if he’s

leaving in such haste there MAY be a reason. I’m going to

go see what I can find out….." Turning the other way, she

shoved the stack of papers, flimsys, and data crystals at

Zassa; "Hang on to this stuff for me until I get back…"

Bethany from Accounting almost collided with Tanj as she

came around the corner, her arms full of bags and boxes;

"Oh, Hey, Tanj, Welcome back! Sorry I can’t stay and talk,

but the transport I’ve been asigned to is pulling out in

about ten minu… is it that late? Gee, I hope they don’t

leave without me; gotta run!" Tanj watched the departing

Tigress and then shook her head; what was going on here?"

Roland sighed and forced himself to relax. The Squirrel in

front of him might not have been able to withstand his

fury, but his first mate, in the airlock behind him, had a

riot gun, and the Panther looked like he was fully capable

of using it. Besides, decking the ship’s captain probably

would only get him turned away by every other ship captain

in the docking bay. It wasn’t his fault that his manifest

was full. He’d just not gotten here in time. Or with

enough money. With a sigh, he turned away, his eyes roving

over the other ships remaining, wondering which one might

be talked into giving him a lift out of here.

Hinoki groaned as he looked through the clipboard. The

station’s reserves were well depleted by all the ships that

had left. There literally wasn’t enough to refill the Lost

Cause’s magnetic bottles. "You can always salvage fuel

from some of the jump-only freighters." Hinoki looked up

to see a white Mouse, in badly stained coveralls, paws

stuffed into his pockets. For a moment he thought Mark was

back, but then he realized this one was older, and a little

overweight. "Yeah, well, that’s possible, but it’ll take

time." The Mouse shrugged; "Then I guess you’d best get to

it." Before Hinoki could respond, the mouse had turned and

stalked off.

Ops was ALMOST deserted; only the section devoted to the

mining "cover" operation was lit. Spying Rand, Tanj padded

over. "Heya Tanj" the Badger called, smiling softly.

Waving a paw, he chuckled; "quite a change since the last

time you saw it, isn’t it?" The Cheetah sighed and nodded;

"Have to admit, I liked it better the other way. Hey,

aren’t you pulling out with the others?" Rand shrugged;

"Why? There’s still good sources of Illudium in the rocks

in this system; we’ve been exporting it for years, so the

loss of Elysium’s not really any big deal. Oh, and

Willoughby sold me the station for a song, too!" Suddenly

the Badger frowned; "you’re, ah, not going to renig on his

deal, are you?" Tanj waved a paw; "No, a deal’s a deal.

But aren’t you afraid of… whatever’s causing everyone else

to bug out?" The Badger grinned; "The Imperial Fleet

that’s supposed to be on its way here? Not really. Piracy

was never quite illegal, and we’re just miners now;

shouldn’t draw too much attention from them. Might even

make some money off of ‘em! Got a GOOD stock of magnetic

monopoles just waitin’ to go to market, and you know how

fast those big Imperial battlewagons go through ‘em!" Tanj

just nodded; "Well, if you’re not in a hurry to leave,

maybe you can fill me in on what happened?"

Rand settled himself into a station chair and shrugged; "A

lot of the Brethren were off doing ground-support type

work, and there were even marine units down on Elysium.

Those folks, well, we figure they’re lost for good. But

the Brethren still had a lot of assets in orbit, and in the

system. Those are the ones we’ve had to deal with since

everything came to an end. Some ships have voted to just

move on. Peeples has taken the Puritan’s Revenge out

towards the Providence sector, having heard the hunting is

good there. A few of the raider ships went with him. I

suspect they’ll set up their own little clan there. Kerr’s

ship, the Sally Ann, voted to join a mercenary group over

towards the Hagar sector. But pretty much the rest of the

remaining Brethren voted to merge with Jenka’s Black Fleet.

Together, they’ll be a force to be reconed with." Pausing

to take a sip from a coffee mug, Rand went on; "of course

we captured some significant hardware from the Elysium

forces; some of the Elysium crews have chosen to stay with

us; some of the more die-hard types are in the slave pens.

And those inbetween, well, we had a LOT of furrs decide to

just cash out and leave. We’d captured a good number of

transports towards the end, and they’re taking them out

into the Empire; they’ll sell the cargos, sell the ships,

take their split and deposit the rest into our accounts."

Tanj blinked "that’s an incredible amount of money to

entrust to the paws of those who are leaving us; how do we

know they’ll deal fairly with us?" Rand just chuckled;

"Tanj, we captured the entire treasury of Elysium. The

Brethren are FLOATING in money. That’s why I got this

place for a song. I think those guys could all take off,

and never send us a cent, and it’d never be missed.

Besides, we had to get as many refugees outta here as

possible, and those ships are FULL."

Tanj sighed and nodded; "So tell me about this Imperial

fleet that’s supposed to be on its way here. Last I heard,

it was a single Battlecruiser, a tanker, a science vessel,

and a light escort. Rand chuckled and shrugged; "These

things grow in the telling. The last rumor I’d heard was

that the Emperor himself wanted this doomsday weapon and

had ordered the entire 2nd fleet here to sieze it. They’re

gonna be really pissed when they get here and don’t find

anything, and cognizant of that fact, most furrs want to be

long gone before they get here." Tanj chuckled and nodded;

"Yeah, that sounds like sound advice, but I’ve got a few

things to do before I leave." Rand nodded; "Well, you’re

welcome here for as long as you choose to stay; we got

PLENTY of room now!"

Zassa sat at the table in the base’s caffeteria, now mostly

dark and empty, and thumbed through the papers. A cup of

tea, and a…. some sort of pastry that tasted like cardboard

sat nearby, mostly untouched. Ignored. She couldn’t

believe what she was seeing…. The stack of papers

Willoughby had shoved at Tanj had delt with the financial

status of the Brethren, and its disposition of assets.

While the pirate band had been run like a corporation, it

was unlikely any lawyer had any part of the agreements

drawn up… and it was unlikely any of them would stand up in

court. And yet, among the Brethren, they had been as

binding as anything in this life….

The first set of documents had been a copy of the inventory

of assets acquired as prizes in the final battle, in

Elysium space, the battle in which the Elysium government

tried to flee, the battle in which the planet had

disappeared. Among the things listed were the entire

contents of the planetary art museum, almost all the

contents of the planetary treasury… all the way down to the

two cruisers, and five destroyers that had been boarded and

seized, in various states of disrepair. One document,

hastily scribbled, stated that should the planet ever

reappear, a portion of the treasury and the entire contents

of the art museum, etcetera, etcetera, should be returned

to the people of Elysium, but the Vixen knew that by the

time THAT happened, if ever, the monies and treasures would

be long since gone. It was the immense value of the

treasures siezed that kept drawing her eyes back. Every

single one of the Brethren that had survived would be

incredibly wealthy, no matter how small their share. And

then it struck her. She got a share too…….

The tea was at room temperature, the pastry forgotten. A

circus troupe could have been performing at the other end

of the Caffeteria, and the Vixen never would have noticed.

Among the paperwork detailing the deal worked out with

Jenka’s organization, was a small scrap of paper that

granted Tanj, as defacto head of the Intelligence

department, that department’s remaining operating budget.

The sum, while paltry in comparison to the riches siezed in

the battle, was still considerable. Zassa sat back and

shook her head in amazement; "I wonder what Tanj will DO

with all that?"

Gathering up all the papers, the Vixen headed out,

determined to find Tanj; she HAD to know about all this!

The paperwork went flying as Zassa collided with something

large, and rather unyielding. Backpedling she looked at

the rather large and seemingly angry Badger. Opening her

mouth to protest, he beat her to it, with a low growl of

"Why the F*ck don’t you watch where you’re…. Oh. My,

aren’t YOU a pretty little thing!" For some reason, his

attitude grated on the Vixen and with a glare she bent to

gather up the spilled papers only to wind up butting heads

with him as he bent to do the same. "Look Buster, why

don’t you just shove off?" the Vixen growled. Gathering

all the papers, she shot the Badger a glare and strode off

down the corridor. It wasn’t until she’d turned the next

corner that she realized she was going the wrong direction.

Not wanting to retrace her steps she sighed, and headed for

the Docking Bay. She’d talk to Tanj when she got back to

the ship.

Roland watched the Vixen’s ass sway as she stormed off, and

grinned. THAT one had a temper! Smiling, he contemplated

breaking her of such emotion, possibly replacing it with

something a little more… well, if not romantic, than at

least lustful. Sensual perhaps. Chuckling to himself, he

turned and made his way down the corridor, heading for Ops.

Maybe they’d know of a ship that could carry him from this

place. He wondered if the last furr out would turn out the


The form was so still, so quiet, and blended in so well

with his surroundings that Tanj almost walked right by him.

Realization dawned suddenly and she pulled herself to a

rather ungraceful halt, to stand and just stare at the

figure. "Mr. Smith! I almost didn’t recognize you!" The…

wolf? Coyote? Whatever, smiled softly; "I’m delighted.

You know my profession requires folks not to remember my

face, or to pick me out of a crowd." Tanj shook her head

and then grinned; "I almost didn’t pick you out of a plain

gray wall!" After a moment, she sobered; "Thank you for

your splendid work in identifying the threat to Elysium. I

just wish it had all been in time to save the planet."

Smith shrugged; "There’s no evidence that the planet has

been destroyed. Oh, I admit its not there, but that

doesn’t mean that its not intact somewhere else." Tanj

sighed; "I thought about that; but if its anywhere else,

the probabilities are that its not anywhere near a star,

and that dooms an awful lot of furs to a cold death."

Smith shrugged; "you asume some intelligence wasn’t guiding

what happened. Me, I’m not so sure." Tanj nodded;

"Perhaps. That does lead me to something I’d hoped to talk

to you about. I’m going to gather as much data as I can on

the event, hopefully sufficient to replicate it. If they

DID survive, by some miracle, I intend to find them."

Smith’s face took on a troubled look; "I’d hate for you to

vanish in an attempt to find furrs that could be almost

anywhere in time or space, but I do admit, I need a ride

out of here. It seems, that in waiting for your arrival,

I’ve missed many an opportunity. Oh, and the furr I was

traveling with could also use a lift." Tanj grinned; "Fair

enough. We can go over everything you’ve pickedup on the

way to Jenka’s station. From there, I’m sure you can find

passage to wherever you want to go." The Wolf smiled;

"Very well, I’ll see you on your ship, then."

"Honestly Wanda, I don’t know what came over me!" Zassa

sat in the wardroom, comforted by the familiar surroundings

of the ship, soothed by the cup of tea the Wolverine lass

had poured her. The station, home for SO long, was….

"spooky." It was SO deserted! "Well, it sounds to me like

this guy was pretty rude." Wanda grinned; "Maybe its just

me, but most of the furrs here, that bump into me like

that, are most apologetic, right from the get-go." Zassa

chuckled, and shook her head; "Wanda, most of the furrs on

this station, most of the furrs in the Brethren KNOW better

than to mess with you! And you have to admit, a Wolverine

is a little more intimidating than a Vixen." Wanda smiled

and gave a little self-depreciating shrug; "Maybe so, but

you also know that most furrs in the Brethren would be

apologetic to you too, if they could even form words past

all the drool. NO ONE would want to diminish their chances

of winding up in the sack with you!" Zassa sighed and

smiled wryly, and then her eyes widened, and she looked

down at herself, almost spilling her tea; "Good Lord,

Wanda! Do you think I’m loosing it?"

The "scooter" was fueled, and all the required tools were

aboard, strapped down tight. Hinoki was just starting to

seal the helmet on his space suit, when the Badger ambled

over. "Hey! The guy up in Ops, um, I think his name was

Rand, said I should come talk to you. He seems to feel

your ship is the last chance I’ve got to get off this

station for a while." Hinoki paused and then shrugged;

"Could be. ‘course there’s a chance you could bum a ride

with the Imperials. They’re supposed to be RIGHT behind

us…" The Badger made a face; "Um, I’d rather avoid

Imperial complications, if you know what I mean." Hinoki

nodded sagely. Most of the Brethren would rather have

steered clear of the Imperials, especially Imperials likely

to be in a rather stressed, or foul mood. "Well, I can’t

speak for the Captain, but we do have the room. But we’ll

only be leaving here, if I can get some fuel from some of

those prizes the Brethren took during the battle, the ones

without warp drives. Otherwise we’ll be stuck here too."

Roland grinned; "Tell you what; I’ll help you get the fuel,

if you’ll put in a good word with your skipper." The

Cheetah grinned; "Done. Go get your suit and I’ll wait for

you here." Roland frowned; "Um…. Ah… Don’t got a suit."

"Professor" Corey looked up from his optical scanner;

turning, he looked around curiously, his eyes lighting on

the Cheetah lady who’d just walked into his lab. "Ah,

there you are. Um… Miss, I need a spectral analysis on

this data as soon as possible!" Tanj blinked at the Lynx

and then shook her head; "Um, I’m afraid you have me

mistaken for someone else. I’m with the Intelligence

department." Corey frowned and took another look; "Maybe

you’re right; my lab assistant was dressed differently

earlier today. And I don’t think she had that many spots."

Adjusting his lab coat, the Lynx seemed to gather himself;

"well, no matter; be a good dear and find her for me? This

data isn’t getting any newer!" Tanj leaned against the

doorframe; "Um, I hate to say it, but you seem to be the

only one left in here." Corey frowned; "What? Why we

weren’t due to depart until the 17th! The place should be

buzzing with activity…." Tanj chuckled; "Ah, but it’s the

19th. Say, when was the last time you slept? Or ate? Have

you been buried in your work so deeply that you didn’t even

notice the whole department packing up and evacuating?"

Corey rose from his seat, to padd to the doorway. The room

outside his lab was empty, only some pencil stubs and paper

clips littering the floor. Turning back to the Cheetah, he

shook his head in wonder "Goodness!"

Hinoki watched the Badger float in zero gee; three things

were immediately obvious. First, the guy had NO training,

either with starship fuel supplies, and any military

training he had for zero gee was all of the "assault"

variety. He might be able to handle a weapon, but a wrench

was something else….. Second was that he was a fast

learner. Third was that he had incredible reflexes. As

they wrestled an entire magnetic bottle assembly from the

hole in the hull of the deserted freighter, weightless, but

certainly NOT without inertia, he wondered what the Badger

looked like nude… and if he might be interested.

Hinoki cycled the cargo lock on the Lost Cause, and as the

air pressure light changed from red to green, cracked the

visor of his helmet. No sudden outrush of air, no strange

smells. He grinned and undid the neck seal, and pulled off

the helmet. He’d been in the suit way too long. He was

soaked in sweat, and was sure his scent was offensive.

Holding the helmet under one arm, he turned to grin at the

Badger; "Wait here; I’ll go get a float pallet and a couple

of cargo ‘bots and then we’ll get these things into the

cargo hold." Roland nodded and eyed the jury-rigged power

supplies warily. Forcing a grin he said lightly; "I’ll,

ah, just stay here and, um, shout if any of these magnetic

containment fields fail." Hinoki chuckled, thinking of the

thousands of pounds of antimatter within and nodded; "Yeah,

you do that." As he padded from the lock, stripping his

suit from him as he went, he heard the Badger call; "Hey,

how are you going to get the antimatter from the cargo bay

to the fuel tanks?" Hinoki just turned, to walk backwards,

kicking off his suit as he went, giving the Badger a good

look at his body. Like most veteran spacers, he wore

nothing underneath his suit. "Hey, that’s NOT my problem.

The Skipper’s a pretty decent engineer; she’ll figure

something out! She just told me to get the fuel!"

As the Cheetah left, Roland watched him move. Like most of

his species, Hinoki was slender, and well muscled, and the

Badger nodded appreciatively.

Hinoki paused to throw his suit into his cabin. The float

pallet had been scant meters from the airlock, and the

cargo ‘bots could be called with a shout, but he thought it

might be nice to carry the Badger back something cool to

drink. With a grin, still nude, Hinoki padded towards the


Corey sat in the wardroom of the Lost Cause and sipped his

tea; "Ah, I do love a good Darjeeling. Now, as I was

saying, the phenomenon itself was most unusual…." Wanda

leaned forward, both elbows on the table, chin in her

palms; "So you witnessed it?" The Lynx got a pained

expression on his face; Um… no, actually I was involved

with some botany experiments… but the astrophysics

department’s sensors captured it all quite well. I’ve seen

the tapes time and time again, oh yes…. It was MOST

unusual." Tanj sipped her coffee and nodded; "you’d been

participating in the experiments with the Brou device? You

knew what to look for, and what was considered normal?"

Again, the Lynx looked pained; "Um… the work with the Brou

device was more on an Engineering level. I was aware of

what was going on, but… well, those…. ENGINEERS were in

charge. None of them had the good sense to consult with me

when they set up their tests." Tanj smiled to herself as

Zassa asked "But you had access to the data? I mean, well,

wouldn’t those engineers have everything pretty well

instrumented?" The Lynx smiled; "Oh, yes… well, um, they

had a LOT of instruments, but I’m not sure they had all the

RIGHT instruemnts. Still, there was a host of data, and

I’m still sorting through it."

Tanj looked up as Hinoki moved through the door; she took

in the damp fur and the scent and wondered if he’d been

working out. Obviously having heard part, if not all of

the Lynx’s comments, Hinoki leaned forward; "Tell me, ah,

"Professor", where are you going now?" The Lynx sighed;

"Ah, well, the Black Fleet feels no need to expand their

astrophysics department…." Then he brightened; "But I’ve

secured a combination research and teaching position at the

University of New Friesland. In fact, I’m due there at the

end of the month." Tanj smiled; "Professor, we’re REAL

interested in this phenomenon; I’d LOVE to know where the

planet went, and possibly even how to follow it. Do you

think that in your research you might learn more about

that?" the Lynx thought for a moment, his fingers steepled

together; then again, he grinned; "My dear, I’m sure I can

work up a decent mathematical model. Very complex it would

be, N-space, multidimensional…. But I feel sure I could get

to the bottom, the very bottom of the physics… now after

that, you’d have to go find some… engineer who could build

a device to take advantage of my revelations. I don’t

dabble in… Hardware." Suddenly the Lynx looked sly; "But

it would take money. I’d need facilities. Graduate

students. Maybe a Post-Doc or two…." Tanj grinned; "I

think something might be arranged. Tell you what; leave me

a copy of all your data, and your analysis so far, and I’ll

see to it you get to New Friesland on time." The Lynx

looked confused; "Copy of my… why would you want that?"

Tanj sat back in her chair and chuckled; "Why, Professor,

the way to New Friesland is long, and space is FULL of

pirates. Just in case something happened to you, I’d want

your work to live on!" The Lynx got a thoughtful look on

his face; "Ah, yes, I see what you mean. Well, just as

long as I got full credit for the work done…. Yes….

Pirates." He shuddered and whispered; "Nasty fellows,

those. Pirates. Yes, care MUST be taken!"

Hinoki caught Tanj’s tail, in the corridor; "I thought we

were going to Jenka’s station next." Tanj smiled and

nodded; "True; we’ll put him on a shuttle to somewhere

where he can catch a commercial packet. There’s time, if

we move quickly." Hinoki just chuckled; "And do you think

he’ll notice he’s AMONG pirates there?" Tanj just laughed;

"I’m not sure he’s noticed he’s been among pirates HERE;

but you never know. I just hope he’s competent, at least,

in his field."

A cold bulb of beer in each hand, the Cheetah padded back

to the cargo bay. Whistling as he entered through the

personnel lock, he grinned as two cargo ‘bots left their

niches and moved to follow. A growled word sent one of

them for the float pallet. Roland seemed not to notice; he

was just leaning against the wall, arms crossed, seemingly

at ease. Inclining his head towards the display on one of

the jury-rigged power supplies he purrred: "This thing’s

been blinking yellow for about 23 minutes now; where you

been?" Hinoki handed him the beer and bit the top off the

nipple of his own bulb; "Oh, that? Means the battery’s

low. Lets get it over to the wall, and I’ll plug it in to

ship’s power. No big deal; it should go for another, oh,

four, or five minutes yet. Sorry about the delay; ran into

an astrophysics lecture." Roland almost choked on his

beer, but recovered smoothly; "ran into a WHAT?"

Corey frowned, and turned to look at the door to the

wardroom; there had been something funny about the male

Cheetah… something about the way he was dressed…..

"Skipper, there’s a … Mr. Smith at the personnel lock; he

says you’re expecting him." Tanj looked from the 9/16"

female fitting to the 14mm male fitting on the deuterium

transfer line and sighed. Rising she padded over to the

intercom; "Kath, what species is he?" The Mink turned to

look at the nondescript fur, and frowned. "Um…. Wolf? No,

with that sharp a muzzle, ah, Coyote? Too big to be a Fox,

‘cept for those ears… Ah.. something like that." Tanj

grinned; "That’s him. He’s going with us to Jenka’s. Oh,

is his friend with him?" Kath keyed the intercom; "He says

he can’t find him, but is sure he’ll turn up." "OK, tell

him he’ll have to bunk where he can find room, but I’m sure

he’ll adapt. Tell him I’m down in Engineering."

Tanj watched the Cryopump move the deuterium slush from the

portable tanks Hinoki had fetched. This was the simple

part. Soon, the tanks for the fusion reactors, and

thrusters would be full. That’d keep the ship powered up

until she could figure out how to safely transfer the

antimatter. The temporary power supplies Hinoki had rigged

had been both brilliant and frightening. They did the job,

but they had been short-term affairs, not having the energy

density needed to maintain the magnetic bottle for very

long….. If the station safety coordinator had known…..

Tanj chuckled and shook her head; the safety coordinator

was LONG gone. As was almost everyone else, at this point.

With a sigh, she figured he’d done what he had to. Now it

was up to her to finish the job.

Smith folded his news printout and smiled as the Badger

entered the wardroom; "Ah, there you are. I thought you’d

turn up."

Zassa half turned at the sink and frowned; "What’s HE doing


Roland smiled; he had another chance at the beautiful

Vixen…. Now if he could just work on her attitude a little,

if he could just get a chance, he was sure he could have

her eating out of his hand in no time.

Hinoki scowled; ""Zassa! That’s no way to treat a friend

of mine! Apologize, or I’m going to have to punish you!"

Roland almost lost control of his face, surpressing a grin

as he thought to himself "punish her? Oh, I’d give a

month’s pay to be able to spank that gorgeous ass!"

Placing one wet and rather soapy paw on her hip, the Vixen

turned to look at Hinoki; "In case you hadn’t noticed,

we’re back at the station. Our agreement is at an end, and

I am no longer your slave. And I expect you to see to the

antitode, as promised, in short order! As for an apology,

I do believe its HE who owes ME one!" With a toss of her

head, the Vixen turned back to the sink, scrubbing a

blackened lasagna pan most aggressively.

Roland’s head went back and forth between the two; if she

HAD been a slave, maybe she’d be one again. Maybe he could

contrive for her to be HIS slave, at least for a little


Hinoki frowned, a low growl escaping his lips. However,

the echoing growl from Wanda brought his head around. It

was obvious who’s side the Wolverine lass was on.

Obviously time for a tactical retreat. Finally Hinoki

nodded; "A deal’s a deal. My cabin, later. But I still

think you’re being unnecessarily rude to someone who’s just

helped me save our collective asses!"

Zassa’s mouth opened for a reply, but the battle stations

alarm forestalled whatever response she was going to make.

In the tiny cubicle they’d called a cabin, Corey looked up

from his laptop; what WAS that God-Awful racket? How could

a scientist concentrate with something like THAT going on

in the background?

Tanj was still wiping her paws on a shop rag when she

slipped through the still-opening door onto the flight

deck; "What’s wrong?" Kath pointed to a monitor; "I’m

tapped into the station’s sensors; the Imperial

Battlecruiser just dropped out of Warp at the edge of the

system." Tanj nodded, and looked at the main displays; in

the cargo bay, every ship capable of maneuvering was

disconnecting from station power and preparing for flight.

"Do you think they’ll make it?" Tanj chuckled and nodded;

"If they head directly away from the Battlecruiser, they’ll

be able to warp out before he can catch them. Even if he

launches fighters now." With a sigh, the Cheetah leaned on

the back of her pilot’s chair; "But it looks as if we’ll

still be here; I can’t even begin to transfer the

antimatter for another two hours yet. And that’s only if

it passes all the integrity checks." Turning to look at

her crew, she sighed; "We’re going to have to face ‘em.

Now here’s what I want you to do…….

Smith looked over the forger’s tools and smiled; they

weren’t the best he’d ever seen, nor even as good as his

own set, unfortunately lost with most of his luggage back

on Elysium, but they were more than adequate… And his task

wasn’t all that difficult. After all, the Brethren didn’t

exactly issue ID cards. Some old pay stubs, some insurance

forms, some inter-departmental memos, that should be all

that would be necessary to show that he, Smith, had been in

Traffic, that Roland had been in Maintenance, and that

Corey had been in, um… Medical. All lower level

functionaries, all no one the Imperium would consider

worthy of a second look.

Zassa watched the printer as it spit out ream after ream of

the Lynx’s notes. Charts, tables, text, pictures, it was

amazing how much a few data crystals could hold. Gathering

the stack, she headed down to Engineering; that was

probably the best place to start.

Tanj smiled; ‘Surely, professor, you don’t want the

Imperials solving the puzzle before YOU do? After all, who

would they put on the project if they decided to pursue it

with everything they had?" Corey winced; "Saunders, at the

Imperial Academy of Sciences. He’s damn good. A little

set in his ways, but one of the greatest minds of our

time." The Lynx looked up and sighed; "Did I mention he

was my thesis advisor? Well, my first thesis advisor. I’m

afraid we didn’t see eye to eye…. On a number of issues."

Tanj blinked; "you… you KNOW him?" Corey smiled and

shrugged; "I’m afraid I’ve proven a little too much of a

free thinker for those… for the Imperial Academy of

Sciences, but yes, that’s where I started my training….."

Straightening, the Lynx nodded; "While altering test

results is VERY much against my ethics, I see the problem.

Yes, I think I can alter a few things, change a word here

and there, that will keep them off the proper theories for

a while…. Yes, I’ll get started immediately."

Zassa opened the ring binder and inserted another page.

The binder was for the repair of the recycling sludge pumps

and she was inserting pages at the end of each section;

they seemed to say "this page left intentionally blank",

but the back was full of tiny print, the Professor’s

transcribed notes. It was the twelfth such manual she’d

added to; there were still stacks of pages to be inserted,

but there were hundreds of hardcopy maintenance manuals in

Engineering. You never knew when the main computer, or the

Engineering computer would go down, and you’d have to try

and fix something the hard way, in the dark, with just a

hard-copy manual and a flashlight. The odds that the

Imperials would check the manuals closely were slim to

none, and she’d carefully altered the paper size so that

anyone just flipping through the manual would miss the

doctored pages.

Hinoki smiled, as he hid the data crystal behind the

warhead of one of their anti-ship torpedoes. Given the

shielding for the warhead, it might, or might not be found.

If it WAS found, its careful hiding would only lend

credibility to the data it contained, a false record of

where all the Brethren had gone to. It certainly wouldn’t

hurt to draw attention AWAY from Jenka’s Black Fleet….

Tanj sighed and rose, dusting off the knees of her

overalls; the intelligence department had its own computer,

and apparently in the exodus, they had decided not to take

it with them. They’d wiped the memory, of course, but

those things are never complete. Now the memory was in

shards around the open case of the computer. Tanj had made

sure no one would ever access those files again, even if

most of them WERE only related to Elysium, and the

Rebellion. Now, the question was, what should she do with

HER files, the files that she kept on the Lost Cause? A

lot of the information on her field agents she desperately

wanted to keep, but she did NOT want the Imperials to find

it, to know about her network. But how to hide it?

The cypher was extreme; double-encrypted, using not her

DNA, but Kath’s for the first key, and Wanda’s for the

second. The data remained in her ship’s computer. All she

could do was to refuse to tell them what it was, and hope

that they didn’t force the issue. Still, Tanj thought,

when you weeded out all the intelligence about Elysium, her

out-of-system resources weren’t all that great, and some of

them, some of the more critical ones, were in her memory

alone. It was all she could do, to protect what was left

of her "job"….

Kath looked at the black uniform and shook her head;

"Mistress, I really don’t think this is such a good idea."

Wanda snorted; "Why not? It should keep them from pushing

us around too much. How many members of the boarding party

are going to ignore an Imperial Intelligence Major?" Kath

shrugged; "Probably not many, but I do think it would….

Distort things a little. I think, Mistress, that its

something that should be held in reserve, in case its

needed. Lets leave the uniform in my closet. They’ll be

bound to find it there, anyways. And besides, those in

command will HAVE to know, won’t they?" Wanda sighed and

shrugged; "I guess so….. I’m just… worried." Kath smiled

and hugged the Wolverine; "So am I, Mistress, so am I."

"Sir, the only remaining significantly inhabited place in

the system seems to be an asteroid mining station. At

least that’s what the Codex says it is. However, sensors

show a number of ships have just launched from there, all

heading out-system on vectors that would make interception

difficult." The Jaguar nodded; "Was the Beowulf among

those ships?" The Exec glanced at the sensor displays and

then shook his head; "No sir, it doesn’t seem to be." The

Jaugar nodded; "And the Science vessel?" "ETA is seven

hours, thirteen minutes. Tanker ETA is eleven hours,

thirty-four minutes." The Jaguar sighed; "And we don’t

really have the fuel to pursue those fleeing ships, do we?"

The Exec shook his head; "no Sir, not really." The Jaguar

nodded; "Very well then, take us in-system; lets check out

that "mining station. And lets deploy what probes we have

fuel for; might as well get what data we can, even if its

only background readings."

Rand was a study in casualness; it was obvous that he

didn’t fear the Imperials. Having always been on the

mining side of the operation, he’d never really broken or

even bent any laws, least ways not so was immediately

apparent…. And the mining operation was crusing along.

Tanj, however, was somewhat more nervous. SHE had secrets

to keep, and wasn’t sure how the Jaguar would respond to

her. For the occasion, she’d chosen a simple tan jumpsuit,

something that went well with her furr…. And one that

showed off all her curves to their best advantage. The

communications’ console alarm startled them both, souding

loud in the unnaturally empty Ops center. Tanj padded over

and opened the channel "Ajax Minerals Mining Station….."

The Jaguar blinked at the main viewscreen. There she

was….. Conflicting emotions warred within him; part of him

was delighted to see her again, part furious that she

should be so brazen as to answer the hail, part full of

raging curiosity as to WHY she was still here….. "Imperial

BattleCruiser "Gladeus"…. Stand by to be boarded as part of

an official investigation into the recent events in this


Tanj smiled, just a little. Maybe she could shake them up,

just a little…. "Acknowledged, Gladius. Please use

Docking Bay A1; it should be large enough to accommodate

you. I’ll meet you at the forward personnel lock. Station

power and utilities should be sufficient, I suspect."

Reaching down, Tanj’s fingers danced across the Ops

console, disengaging the ECM that foiled or misdirected

scans, opening the large-ship access port, and turning on

the docking bay guidance system.

The simultaneous shout from several stations at once

brought the Jaguar out of his command chair; it was obvious

within seconds that while several of his officers had been

surprised, there was no immediate threat. The Exec bent

over the sensor console for a moment and then straightened;

"Sir, it seems the Empire has been decieved; this is no

mere asteroid mining station. Our sensors are now showing

a whole lot less rock, and significantly more interior void

area. The available power now shows as three orders of

magnitude higher. There are significant defensive systems,

all off-line. We are NOT however, showing an increased

number of life-signs. The station is almost deserted."

The Jaguar nodded; "dock the ship as requested. Do NOT let

on that we didn’t know about this from the start." The

Exec just grinned and nodded.

Rand watched through a viewport as the huge ship glided

gracefully to a stop, and then inched sideways until the

mooring clamps took hold. "You know, I think that thing’s

actually just a little smaller than the Overlord…" Tanj

chuckled "Yeah. I checked the specs, and it is,

marginally. However, it’s a fact that I think will be

painfully obvious to their bridge crew. They’ll KNOW

something even larger and therefore, possibly more

powerful, once lived here." The lock made its usuall

hissing and clunking noises, and then both Tanj and Rand

turned, as the inner door slid open.

The Jaguar pulled at the hem of his tunic, straightening

it. Flanked by Marines, he stepped into the corridor

beyond the lock. To his surprise, it was spacious and well

lit, the rough rock walls he expected obvously milled to

smoothness, and sealed. The floor was covered in something

soft, and resiliant, and the artificial gravity was first

rate. He’d seen Imperial starbases that looked worse. And

there she stood, in the company of a rather rough looking

Badger. Before he could say anything, before he could

THINK of anything to say, the Badger turned, smiled and

strode over, his paw extended; "Welcome, Captain, to Ajax

Mining! Oh, I know what you’re thinking, but before we get

off on tangents, I just want to say we bought the place

from the Brethren, all nice and legal. No more pirate

operations out of here, so there’s no need to get bent out

of shape."

The Jaguar found himself shaking the badger’s paw; a dry,

firm handshake. Releasing the Badger’s paw, trying to

regain his composure the Jaguar nodded; "Our sensors show

there isn’t much left here, but if you don’t mind, we’d

like to check the place out ourselves, just to… confirm

that. And there are a few folks left here, that we’d like

to talk to." Rand glanced at Tanj and then back to the

Jaguar, his expression carefully neutral; "Of course. But

we DO have a mining operation in progress; some parts of

the process can be dangerous, so please ask your personnel

to be careful. And of course, we’ll cooperate fully." The

Jaguar nodded to the Badger and then turned to his Exec;

"search the station and everything on it, as we’ve

discussed. Find what passed for a command center and tap

into its sensor net; I want a good watch established. When

the science vessel arrives, have them dock here. Oh, and

as soon as the tanker shows up, I want to refuel as the

number one priority. Then, as soon as possible, launch

fighters and sweep the system thoroughly. I don’t want to

run into any unexpected trouble." Turning back to Tanj,

the Jaguar smiled; "And now, Ms. Kee, I do believe we have

much to discuss." Holding out his arm, he gestured with

his other hand at the open lock to the battlecruiser.

Hinoki met the search party at the airlock. The officer in

charge was a full Commander, and he looked full of stern

resolve. Accompanying him was a party of technicians with

scanning equipment, and a full squad of Marines. "We’re

here to search your ship. We have reason to believe that

you have many things on board that would be of interest to

the Imperium." Hinoki chuckled and shrugged; "You’re

welcome to look….."

Tanj was surprised; she’d half-way expected an

interrogation cell, half-way expected to wind up in the

Jaguar’s bedroom, and the possibility of a conference room

full of curious Imperial officers had also crossed her

mind. The lounge he led her to was not what she expected.

There was a well-stocked bar, with a rating in a starched

white jacket to act as bartender. And there were quite a

number of senior members of the Jaguar’s staff, each

politely introduced in turn. Tanj wondered if they were

really who they were introduced as, though. That one thin,

ascetic looking fox struck her as more of a psychologist

than a ship’s doctor…. And the Wombat with the rather

spotty, ill-kept fur struck her as something she’d had a

limited experience with, a functioning telepath. Then

again, many engineers didn’t keep up their appearance as

they should, so it WAS possible he was what he claimed….

Settled on a couch, the Jaguar by her side, a glass of some

sort of sweet, fruity mixed drink in her hand, she looked

from face to face, trying to "read" the crowd….

Sitting back, the Jaguar took a look at the Cheetah and

smiled; "We’ve all heard so many different things about

you, some of them SO improbable…. I’d appreciate it if

you’d take some time and tell us all about yourself, so we

can separate fact from fiction." Tanj looked askance at

the Jaguar; "Um…. I thought you’d be more interested in

what happened here…." Off to her left, a Tiger in the

uniform of a Lieutenant Commander smiled; "Oh, I suspect

we’ll get to that a little later, but then, when things

happened here, you, ah, weren’t here, were you?" Tanj

frowned; "Um, no, I wasn’t. Ah, well, where should I

start?" The Jaguar smiled; "Why, at the beginning, of

course…." Tanj took a long sip from her drink and sighed;

"This could take a while….."

Hinoki watched over the technician’s shoulder as he

manipulated the scanner. The data crystal behind the

warhead had indeed been found, as had every other data

crystal on the ship, including some pornographic holos that

Hinoki hadn’t even known Zassa had. The Imperial scanners

were really first-rate. Now, he watched as the technician

moved the scanner, trying to get a better look, in

preparation to retrieving the crystal. Behind him, the

officer growled; "Are you sure you don’t want to fetch that

for us?" Hinoki chuckled, not looking up; "Oh, no, he’s

doing a marvelous job……"

Tanj watched their faces as she talked; this was getting

interesting, watching their reactions. She’d seen rage as

she told them of how the Elysium government had siezed the

freighter she’d been chief (and only) engineer on. She’d

seen a combination of revulsion, fascination, and naked

lust on various different faces as she talked about being

sold into slavery, and her experiences at the Academy. It

was amusing watching certain males squirm on their seats,

obviously trying to releave sudden binding in their

undergarments as some of her tales had the predictable

effect. She’d been tempted to see if she could turn this

quiet little tete-a-tete into an orgy, by describing in

greater detail, some of the more interesting incidents from

the academy, but somehow she restrained herself. The tale

of how she wound up with the Brethren, however, had them

all on the edge of their seats. Even the bartender, as he

refilled her glass, was listening with rapt fascination.

Zassa purrrred and snuggled up against the Wolf, grinning;

"Are you SURE you don’t want to do a body cavity search?"

The Wolf swallowed hard and then after a glance at his

officer, shook his head; "Um, No, Ma’am, that won’t be

necessary; our sensors are VERY good." Zassa awwwwwed and

gave him her best pout….

Tanj smiled as she described the Eroj operation. As she

reached the end, a young Jackal, one of the fighter wing

commanders, she thought, shook his head; "Now wait a

minute; you say you WON the game on Eroj? In the

accompanyment of a Rabbit? Tanj nodded; "Yes, I…." The

Jackal’s grin seemed to light the room; "That was a

Classic! I’ve GOT that holo! Could I get you to autograph

it for me?" Tanj’s laughter was lost as the room dissolved

in a thousand questions.

Quietly, unobtrusively, the bartender refilled the

Cheetah’s glass. The drink was a powerful one, and the

furr that he thought could only have been Imperial

Intelligence had spiked his pitcher with something,

directing him to serve it ONLY to her. And she’d been

sipping steadily for a while now….. His stomach rumbling,

the bartender returned to his station, wishing that they’d

ordered appetizers…... but then, they probably thought

that the alcohol, or whatever drug the drink contained,

might be more effective on an empty stomach.

Hinoki smiled as the Imperial Marine flipped through the

maintenance manuals, obviously just going through the

motions. They’d found quite a number of carefully hidden

data crystals, and had even found some of the set "they

weren’t supposed to find," and it was obvous to him that

his assignment was a massive waste of time….

Wanda grinned at the Ferret as she pulled her head down out

of the ventillation duct; "Ewwwww. What IS that stuff in

there?" Wanda laughed; "Oh, just some special mold we like

to grow; its actually part of our security procedures."

The Marine blinked; "your … what?" Wanda grinned wider;

"Oh, yeah, direct exposure to the mold, such as you’ve just

had, well, lets just say that after a little while, you

won’t be interested in stealing anything from the ship, or

kidnapping or assaulting any of us….. Trying to get

through the ship via the ductwork is NOT a good idea."

Behind her, the Marine’s officer, a Minotaur, growled; "I’d

Wondered how you could so successfully subvert someone from

Imperial Intelligence! Corporal, get back to the ship

immediately, get through decontamination, and report to

medical! I’ll get a ‘bot in here to inspect the ductwork

for contraband! AND to get a sample of that stuff" A

worried look on her face, the Ferret hastened to depart.

Kath took Wanda aside, and looked at her curiously; "Do we

really…..?" Wanda grinned; "Oh, no, of course not; this is

just a good way to make them clean our ventillation ducts.

Now they’re SURE we’re hiding something in there…." The

Mink stared at Wanda for a minute and then dissolved in

laughter; "you…. That’s a level of deviousness WORTHY of

Imperial intelligence; I LOVE it!"

"You realize you’re going to have to tell us more about

that particular operation." Tanj looked at the Rabbit

cooly, trying to focus. How much HAD she had to drink?

This stuff was deceptive…... Frowning, she realized he

hadn’t been introduced, in the flurry of introductions that

had occurred when the Jaguar had led her into the lounge.

And his uniform bore no particluar clue as to what

department, if any, he was with on the Battlecruiser.

Smiling softly, Tanj regarded him as she would an idiot

child; "I’m sure you DO want me to tell you more, but I

find myself in an interesting position. Those I worked

for, those who might have the power to protect me, have

vanished. And yet, you and I both know, that I might still

have some utility to the Empire. But when that utility is…

"used up," you and I both know that it might be much more

convenient for the empire if I were to simply disappear.

And as such, it would be prudent for me to preserve that

utility for as long as possible. And as such, I will hold

some things, some resources, and some secrets. Its simply

a matter of self-preservation." The Rabbit frowned, and

opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, the Jaguar

rumbled; "and speaking of… utility to the Empire, that does

lead me to our current situation……. Just what DO you think

happened here?"

The Minotaur looked Kath up and down, a scowl on his face;

Kath just smiled sweetly back; "Don’t even think of it,

Lieutenant. You’ve done what you came to do, obtained what

you came to obtain. Threats, recriminations, or editorial

comments of any kind will not help your career, or

acomplish anything of significance." The Minotaur opened

his mouth, and then closed it again; turning he gestured to

his troops, and with a backwards glower over his shoulder,

they all moved towards the airlock.

Tanj frowned at the Rabbit; "Why do I think they might

still be alive? Because of the experience with the cloaked

cruiser that attempted to attack us during the "space

madness" incident. It demonstrated that the Brou device

could open a… "portal" to elsewhere, a portal capable of

swallowing a whole ship, without leaving debris behind.

Because the field test the Elysium Government ran showed

massive amounts of debris after the event. Because even if

the planet of Elysium wound up in interstellar space, God

knows where, the Overlord was still a functioning space

vessel when the event occurred. THEY at least should still

be alive, no matter where they wound up, AND they’d still

have the Brou device, and therefor at least a HOPE of

getting home!" The Rabbit frowned back; "Yes, the supposed

assault on the pirate base that you mentioned. Just where

IS this Mouse of yours now. I do believe we’d like to talk

to him. Your story could use corroboration." Tanj settled

back, snuggling a little into the couch, her drink once

again full almost to the brim threatened to slosh over with

her movements. "He vanished. From a locked room on a

heavily guarded station. Despite the best efforts of the

Brethren’s security forces, no trace of him was EVER found.

That Mouse had abilities, either psychic, or through some

advanced science, that were FAR beyond anything the

Empire’s ever seen. And I wouldn’t be too eager to find

him if I were you; if he didn’t WANT to talk to you, well,

I shudder to think what might happen….." The Rabbit’s

scowl deepened; "The Empire does NOT like to be threatened…

but his disappearance works very well to your advantage,

doesn’t it? There’s no one to contradict your wild tale,

now is there?"

Tanj shrugged, very carefully putting off taking another

sip of the seductive drink; "Mister, I just don’t care if

you believe me or not. I know what I saw. And I know what

I believe. Besides, intelligence services don’t go on

probabilities, or on intentions, but on capabilities. Its

not "are the Brethren likely to attack us, but CAN they

attack us. Is Mark interested in overthrowing the Empire?

I really doubt it; I think he could care less. But if he

wanted to, what trouble might he cause? I would think it

would be incredible. Should the Empire seek out his people

and learn more about them? I would. If the Overlord

emerged from "elsewhere" could they pose a threat to the

Empire? If they could find their way back, I would imagine

they’d have obtained, or developed a level of technology

that COULD be threatening. Therefor should the possibility

of their return be considered? Should they be searched

for? I intend to. Not because I wish the Empire harm, but

because I wish to reclaim my loved ones. Should the Empire

search for them? I would think so, not because they want

to pursue Pirates, but because they, if anyone, DO hold the

key to an advanced and possibly threatening technology.

But then, its obvous that you and I look at things in

slightly different manners. And that’s all there is to it.

As the conversation shifted, the Rabbit caught the

bartender’s eye, only to see him shrug minutely. Obviously

she’d caught on, and was no longer consuming her drink, and

as a result, no further "loosening" of her tongue was to be

expected. Sure that she was holding back SOMETHING, the

Rabbit’s gaze shifted, finding the Wombat. The Wombat

seemed to be gazing off into space, as if bored with the

entire proceedings. Nodding slowly, assuming that the

telepath was "monitoring" him too, he waited for phase two

of the interrogation to commence.

Tanj let herself babble, for a bit, telling the "nice"

young Lieutenant Commander all about the incident on

Gibralter station, giving him "the story behind the story".

It gave her some time to let whatever was in the

seductively-tasty drink work its way out of her system,

while not giving away anything they couldn’t help but

already know. And if she talked fast enough, well, no one

could break in and change the subject, could they. The

Brethren had always been concerned about their senior staff

being captured and interrogated, and she’d had training,

and some innoculations, mostly against much cruder

interrogation techniques and drugs, and if she could play

for a little time, she was sure she could counter this


The Jaguar frowned slightly as the Cheetah ran on; he’d

never seen her run off at the mouth like this before.

Letting his eyes rove the crowd, he wondered if they’d

somehow done something to her? No one had said anything to

him before he’d brought her on board, but it was possible

they’d slipped her something…… Turning back to look at

her, he waited for a moment where he could interject some

of the questions that were starting to burn in his mind…..

The Wombat "felt" the Rabbit’s attention, and knew what he

wanted. And of course he’d try to "probe" the Cheetah.

She seemed such an interesting subject, not like the coarse

criminals or sleazy politicians they so often brought him.

Not likely to be a psychopath, that would leave him feeling

icky for the next couple of weeks. Not at all like the

Rabbit himself, who didn’t seem to have ANY sense of humor

at all. But it wasn’t going to be easy either. The Jaguar

was almost radiating lust mixed with worry. It was obvous

that he was much more interested in her affections than he

was about hypothetical doomsday weapons, and was more

worried about this Lion fellow that had been her master as

a rival for her affections. It was obvious that he did NOT

want her to find the missing planet, or any of the missing

pirates; his job would be much easier if they stayed "gone"

as would his chances with her. Forcing his attention away

from the Battlecruiser’s captain, and towards the Cheetah,

he started to probe gently….

Tanj had been watching, waiting for it. Although her head

felt as if it was full of chopped brown paper, and there

was this annoying buzz in her ears, she could feel the

"tingle", the same feeling she always got when Mark had

tried to communicate telepathically with her. Like riding

a bicycle, it was simply something you never forgot. And

she was ready. Thinking back to her days at the academy,

she tried to slip into a certain frame of mind, her gaze

drifting to one side, and down, to stare at the rather

enticing bulge in the Jaguar’s pants…..

The Rabbit watched, curiously, as the Wombat took a hasty

gulp of his drink, and swallowed hard. He had the most

curious look on his face…. Shifting back to look at the

Cheetah, he found her half-smiling, her eyes slitted,

barely open. As he watched, she licked her lips, a slow

and sensual movement, her head slowly turning, to fasten on

the Mare from Weapons Control…..

Tanj let her gaze drift over the Mare’s rather full bosom,

her eyes seeking out the slight bulge in the fabric of her

tunic where her nipples were, then drifting down, to the

lower curves of her breasts…. And she wondered what the

Mare would look like, nude… Surpressing a giggle, she

thought back to the pony cart races at Jenka’s station, and

Dahlia, and wondered of the Mare would like to try

something like that, the straps of the harness tight around

her body…..

The Wombat almost dropped his glass, and a soft "oh MY"

escaped from his lips; for a moment he had a vision of the

Mare, nude except for a harness of tight leather straps,

fastened between the poles of some sort of two-wheeled

cart… for a moment he could almost feel the reins in his

hands, as he gazed at her full, rounded ass in front of


The Mare shifted in her seat, an image suddenly flashing in

her mind. Nude. Harnessed with tight leather straps, her

wrists bound at her side. Bound to some sort of cart…. She

could almost taste the steel of the bit in her mouth… and

for some reason she found it horribly erotic. Crossing and

then recrossing her legs, she tried to force what should

have been such a distasteful image from her mind….

Tanj caught the Mare’s sudden change in body language, and

smiled a little; she let her gaze drift to another lady in

the room, a rather thin Snow Leopard, and let another image

form in her mind….. The Snow Leopard nude, and lying flat

on her back, with herself crouched in a predatory pose,

above her, the classic "69"…. She wondered how the Leopard

would taste, and for a moment she could almost smell the

heady aroma of her sex…

The Wombat nervously ran a finger around his neckline, his

collar suddenly tight. The Cheetah was a hot little thing,

unlike anyone he’d ever tried to scan before? Did she know

he was in her mind? Urrrrrrr, the remembered sensation of

tongue-wiggling-in-pussy suddenly almost making him cry

out; if she was, he couldn’t detect it… but then, with the

images she had running through her mind, he doubted a

telepath of ANY level could…..

The Snow Leopard looked at the Cheetah and smiled; suddenly

the strangest thought had popped into her mind; she

wondered what the Cheetah would be like as a lover? Would

this Pirate be harsh and demanding? Or a tender, and

sensuous lover? In some respects she hoped it would be the

former, and for a moment she let her thoughts stray into

forbidden territory, wondering what it would be liked to be

tied up and ravaged by the spotted cat……

The Wombat squinched his eyes tight, a small whimper

escaping his lips; he was getting unwanted feedback from

the Snow Leopard. Her thoughts suddenly seemed to be on

the same wavelength as the Cheetahs. With a start, he

realized he must be "leaking"….. They’d warned him about

this back at the Institute. For a moment he came close to

panic, wondering if he should flee…… and then he smiled;

what could they do to him, if he let things continue?

Proven telepaths were far and few between, and the Empire

needed every one. Could they really censure him, if things

got out of hand, especially if he’d been ordered to probe

so sexy and hot a creature as this? Maybe he’d even find

his way into the texts…… "There’s just no doubt" he

thought to himself, "I just don’t get enough fun out of my


Tanj watched the Wombat from the corner of her eye; he was

panting lightly, eyes closed tight. Certain she was having

an effect on him, she thought back to the last time she and

the Jaguar had made love…. Leaning a little to one side,

she threw one paw out to "steady" herself, her palm landing

square on the Jaguar’s crotch. Giggling she squeezed

lightly…. And then just left her hand there.

The Wombat had several "flashes" in quick succession; the

Cheetah astride the Jaguar’s hips, humping him wildly; the

Cheetah on hands and knees as he plowed her from behind.

The Cheetah kneeling, the Jaguar’s cock hard and throbbing

in her mouth….. And with a groan he lost all control, the

images seeping from his mind into every receptive brain

within his range……

On the Bridge, Bethany shuddered, a series of images

filling her mind; she’d had a crush on the Captain for

years, but had NEVER had the guts to approach him. Now,

suddenly, she found her mind filled with images of her

making wild, passionate love with him….

Seeing the sudden change in demeanor, seeing the strange

look come over Bethany’s face, her watch officer padded

over; "Specialist, are you OK?" Bethany moaned softly and

shook her head; "Um, Nosir, I don’t feel so…. Ooooooooo"

Looking up the fox waved to a petty officer nearby;

"Jamison, take this specialist’s position for a minute; I’m

going to help her down to sick bay. Something’s wrong with

her." Taking Bethany’s arm, the Fox helped her to her


Tanj’s fingertips softly stroked the Jaguar’s crotch as she

watched the staid and proper assembly seem to disintigrate;

it was almost as if someone had released an aphrodesiac

into the air. The Snow Leopard had all but stalked over to

kiss a Wolf, a kiss that had initially surprised him, but

one that seconds later was being returned full-force, as

each fumbled with the other’s clothing. Nearby, two males,

a Kangaroo and a Minotaur were in a tight embrace, and on

the other side of the room, two vixens were assaulting a

male Tiger. Tanj grinned and turned, her mind conjuring up

the sexiest thoughts she could, as she bent to undo the

Jaguar’s trousers, her lips and tongue seeking out his


The Rabbit looked around, aghast, as things went to hell;

what in the world was going on here? Orgies weren’t held

on Imperial Starships! Then a female Gerbil wrapped her

arms around him from behind, and somehow he lost his train

of thought.

Bethany paused in the corridor; she wasn’t feeling right,

but what she needed wasn’t in sick bay; looking at the

concerned face of her watch officer, she smiled shyly and

tugged him out of the corridor and into a power

distribution room…. What she needed, the cure for her

illness HE might be able to provide….

The Jaguar watched Tanj’s mouth envelop his cock; he wasn’t

quite sure what had happened, but he wasn’t about to

complain… One small part of his brain screamed that this

should NOT be happening, and that HE was the one

responsible for putting a halt to it, but somehow that

rational part of his mind was submerged by wave after wave

of raw lust.

The Wombat smiled; his drink had spilled down one pants

leg, the glass tumbled to the floor, but aside from that,

he sat as he’d been… except that every sensation, from

every furr around him, was echoing in his brain. Smiling

foolishly, he soaked up every erotic thought, and sensation

as if he were a sponge. And to think he hadn’t even known

such a thing was possible. He WAS every furr, every male,

every female, and all their pleasures were HIS. Shivering

in delight, he was unaware of the Psi waves spreading out

through the ship……

"Environmental, from the Bridge. Things are getting a

little hot up here; we’re a good two degrees over what the

temperature should be! Environmental, respond!

Environmental? Turning to the Exec, the rating shrugged;

"Sir, I’m not getting any response at all down there." The

Minotaur nodded; "Environmental control is only two decks

away, almost directly under us. Best just go and see what

the matter is." Turning, the Exec growled;

"Communications; I want you to check and make sure its not

an intercom problem." With a sigh, the Exec leaned against

the back of the Captain’s chair. He hadn’t had this

problem since he’d been a boy, since secondary education….

For some reason he had a massive erection, the front of his

pants bulging. Leaning casually against the back of the

chair was a good way to hide it. He couldn’t leave the

bridge, and to let the crew see him like this……

Tanj smiled as she felt hands moving over her body. She’d

slid off her seat somewhere along the line, and now, she

was kneeling between the Jaguar’s feet. She’d opened his

pants using just her teeth and tongue, and now his cock was

filling her mouth; she purrred at the taste of him, her

tongue stroking the underside of his shaft, its head

pressed against the back of her throat. From the corner of

her eye, she could see almost all of the room’s occupants

involved in sex of one form or another. As the hands

worked her coveralls down her body, she smiled; they’d

rather effectively entangled her arms behind her back, in

the loose fabric. That’s what she got for wearing long

sleeves… Whether they were doing it as a form of ad-hoc

bondage, or just being clumsy in their lust-filled haste

wasn’t clear, and Tanj didn’t really care. For a moment

she just lost herself in the simple pleasures of pleasuring

the Jaguar, a small portion of her mind crying out to be

the bound and helpless sex slave…

The Jaguar’s eyes flickered upwards as he heard the sound

of ripping cloth. The Fighter Pilot was getting a little

rough with the Cheetah, in his eagerness to take her from

behind; he knew he should object, knew he should say

something, but then Tanj’s tongue stroked over his shaft

again, right where he liked it best, and all such thoughts

fled from his mind…..

The Wombat shivered, squirming in his chair. He’d already

made a mess of his uniform pants once, and it felt like he

was about to do so again… In spite of that, his mind

churned, touching all around him, sharing in their

pleasures, and, he thought, increasing the pleasures they

felt too…… And to think he’d never even known he could DO


Bethany groaned; one foot was braced on a conduit bundle,

the other on the front of one of the racks of power

distribution switchgear. Her boss, the Fox was standing

between her spread legs, his hard cock buried in her

dripping pussy… and he was good… very good. Much better

than she ever would have suspected. Alternating his

thrusts, moving from slow and sensuous, to hard and quick,

changing speeds, strokes and angles, he was playing her

like a fine instrument….. And in return she was working

her vaginal muscles around his shaft, squeezing him,

showing him all the tricks she’d practiced in secret…… It

was so good, she hoped it would never end.

Tanj smiled as the Jaguar spurted into her mouth; someone

was behind her, driving his cock into her pussy

energetically, but she hadn’t allowed herself to get lost

in those sensations, delightful though they were, thinking

that the Jaguar should come first…. Now, as his cock

spurted, as his cum splattered the back of her throat, she

allowed herself to relax her control a little, to savor

some of the pleasures being bestowed upon her…..

Lieutenant Feldman smiled, and tried not to stare. Instead

she turned and gazed pointedly at her console, only to find

the Minotaur’s reflection there. Deciding it was a better

way to observe, she let her gaze linger there…. The front

of his pants were tenting rather dramatically. It would

HAVE to be uncomfortable for the Battlecruiser’s Executive

officer to have an erection of that magnitude restrained so

tightly in his pants…. Letting her eyes roam over the

Bull’s contours she smiled and wondered what he’d look like

if he just wasn’t wearing those pants?

O’Bannon squirmed around in the tight accessway; "Howard,

would you hand me the Hydrospanner? I can’t reach it…"

Somewhere down by the Otter’s feet, there was a movement,

and then there was a hand on her leg, near her ankle;

something started to slide up her body, in the slim space

between the accessway’s wall, and her thigh. It felt hard

and metallic, and squirming around, she tried to reach down

to take the proffered instrument; somehow, though she found

she couldn’t quite get her arm down along her body. "Gee,

Helen, the passage is too tight; not sure I can push it up

to you…" O’Bannon paused for a moment, the hand was

fumbling between her thighs, the tool resting on her mons;

for a moment she wondered if Howard knew just what he was

doing to her, but then she decided the trainee probably

didn’t have a clue; still, it felt good, in an illicit

kinda way. "Keep trying, Howard; if I have to let go of

this optical relay, it’ll take me another half hour to get

it back together!" Howard just grinned and tried to squirm

up between the beautiful otter’s ankles, shoving the large

tool towards her with little jerks. He knew exactly what

he was doing, and had been waiting for half the cruise to

get his lead technician in just this sort of position…..

Tanj sat and just marveled. She’d hit a quiet moment, when

those making love to her had either exhausted themselves,

or had gotten involved with other partners. For the

moment, she was by herself. It provided her with a

fascinating opportunity to just observe. The Wombat sat in

his chair, as he had been since the beginning of the

"interrogation", but his chest was heaving as he panted

hard. His eyes were closed, and his pants were bulging

from an obvious erection; aside from that, he gave no hint

of being involved in the orgy; everyone else, however, was

all wrapped up in someone…. The touch on her arm came as a

bit of a surprise, and Tanj turned her head to find the

rather pretty Snow Leopard smiling at her. To her

surprise, the Leopardess took her head in both hands, to

kiss her, long and slow. Breaking the kiss, the Leopardess

smiled again; "I may not have much time before someone else

grabs me, so please pardon my bluntness. I found what

they’d told us about your experiences as a slave… well,

fascinating… I was wondering if you could perhaps show me

a little of what it might be like to be a… well, a bound

and helpless sex object?" Tanj chuckled; "When its done

right, its simply marvelous; when its done wrong, or if you

don’t really have a knack for it, it’s a terrible

nightmare. Are you really sure you want to find out?" The

Snow Leopard nodded eagerly. Tanj smiled; "Then go and

find me about ten body-lengths of rope, and I’ll do the


Helen O’Bannon shuddered; all her protests, all her

objections had all gone for naught; she had gotten herself

wedged tight in the duct, one hand still holding the errant

optical relay together, and now her trainee/helper, Howard,

had tugged off her pants, and was doing the most

delightfully naughty things to her with the handle of the

tool she’d asked him to pass her…..

The Minotaur looked up, his eyes a little glazed; Leutenant

Feldman stood before him, and as he looked at her, he

suddenly realized he’d never noticed how pretty the Ermine

was. "Um… ah, what can I do with.. I mean what can I do

for you, Lieutenant?" Feldman smiled and moved a little

closer. The Bull was still pressed hard against the back

of the Captain’s chair, trying to look as if he were

leaning casually against it, but his increasingly strained

posture belied something else. Reaching out a hand, her

motion partially concealed by the chair back, the

Minotaur’s body and her own, she gently stroked fingertips

up along where the Minotaur’s pants touched the chair. She

could feel him shiver. "Well, Sir, I noticed your, ah,

little problem, and it came to mind that I’d be honored if

you’d let me help you with relieving the situation… The

Exec blinked; "say WHAT?"

Tanj had found a willing tongue, the Bear flat on his back,

his tongue working up into her sex. A female wolverine was

mounted on his not-inconsiderable shaft, but she was facing

his feet, and probably didn’t even know Tanj was there.

The tap on her shoulder once again came as a surprise, and

she turned a little to find the Snow Leopard standing

there, a coil of black cable over her shoulder. "Couldn’t

find any rope, but I’ve got some fiber optic cable from a

damage control locker; its soft, fairly flexible, and

should do. Tanj nodded, eased off the Bear’s tongue, slid

back a bit and bent to kiss him, and then rose; grinning at

the Snow Leopard she gestured; "Over here."

Tanj noticed a number of pairs of eyes watching what she

was doing, although the orgy scarcely slowed down. One of

the sets of eyes belonged to the wolverine, still astride

the bear’s thick cock, and she couldn’t help but wonder, if

that one wouldn’t like to try something like this too?

Tanj had the Snow Leopard sit on the floor, knees raised,

arms above her head; slowly she’d woven a body harness

around her, the free end of the cable going over a

chandelier, and back several times. When she was finished

she smiled, and with even more pairs of eyes watching her,

she pulled on the end of the cable. Slowly the Snow-

Leopard rose off the floor, hanging there, her sitting

position barely changing as the fiber optic cable took the

strain. "Comfy?" Tanj asked of the Snow-Leopard, and

getting a nod in response, she grinned; "Good. Now comes

the fun part." Slowly she turned the Leopardess, and as

the multiple lengths of cable twisted around one another,

slowly, the Leopardess rose, bit by bit, further from the

floor. When she’d risen about a foot, Tanj stopped and

looked around the room, holding the Leopardess from

spinning back down with one paw. Finding the Captain

staring at her intently, she grinned back; "I need a

volunteer; someone Male, and rather well-equipped. The

Captain opened his mouth, but the Bear beat her to it;

"Miss, I"d be Honored to take part in your little…..

demonstration." Turning, Tanj found the Wolverine was no

longer astride his hips, but fully involved with a male

wolf, a female Squirrel, and a male Rat, in a complex

position that would have done the Kama Sutra proud.

Turning back to the Bear she grinned; "you’ll do just fine;

come and lay on the floor under her. I’m going to let her

down onto your cock, and then adjust the cables a little;

and then we’ll be off." Catching the Captain’s eyes, Tanj

wondered if she caught just a hint of disappointment there?

Specialist Haliburton nudged Specialist Boz and grinned;

"Suzie! Look at that! Tasha’s actually DOING it!" Betty

looked over her friend’s shoulder and nodded; "Phenomenal!

Will you look at the SIZE of that schlong?" As she talked

her left hand moved, under the console’s top, to lightly

stroke her friend’s thigh….

Off to one side of the battlecruiser’s bridge, an indicator

light flashed on the commo panel; the crewfurrs there,

however, had their attention elsewhere, and it went

unnoticed. There were MUCH more interesting things to look

at, on the Bridge, right then…..


The Minotaur groaned. The Ermine’s mouth felt SOOO good on

his throbbing cock; he couldn’t remember EVER having been

this horny. The fact that he was standing in the middle of

the bridge, on duty, with his pants around his ankles never

once impinged on his conciousness; what she was doing just

felt TOO good!

"This is the Imperial Science Vessel Tesla… Anyone out

there at ALL?" "Um, yeah, kinda. Not many of us left, but

there are still some of us here…. This is Rand, I’m the

General Manager of the Asteroid Mining Facility." "This is

Captain James Watt, of the Imperial Science Vessel Tesla;

we were supposed to rendezvous with an Imperial

Battlecruiser here!" "Oh. Them. Yeah, they’re here;

docking bay A1, as a matter of fact. Gee, I’m surprised

they’re not answering your hails. Maybe we got a bad

antenna lead in the dockside utilities package. Asteroid’s

largely nickel-iron, and it screws up commo gear a lot."

On the bridge of the science vessel, the Captain exchanged

looks with his communications tech; "Sir, that’s just not

possible; we use a phased neutrino communciations system;

that will NOT stop them from receiving us!" The Captain

shrugged and turned back to the main viewscreen; "Well,

maybe their commo gear’s offline, or maybe there’s

something wrong with ours. We’d like to rendezvous with

them as soon as possible, though. Lotta work to do in this

system and the trails’growing colder by the hour." Rand’s

image nodded; "Sure. How ‘bout we put you in the docking

bay right next door to them. Port’s on the spinward side,

and watch out for the rock jacks; those guys don’t stop for

nothing when they’re shuttling rocks back and forth.

Docking bay A2 will be ready and waiting for you!"

Tanj made a few ajustments, and then "wound" the Snow

Leopard back up. Turning her until the head of the bear’s

cock just barely spread her labia, the Cheetah grinned;

"Ready?" Without waiting for an answer, she let go, and

stood back. The Snow Leopard started to turn slowly at

first, the cables slowly unwinding, but gradually momentum

built. Spinning, she decended on the Bear’s cock. She

almost bottomed out, but Tanj had correctly gauged the

height, and as she continued to turn, the cables started to

wind back on themselves and she started to rise again.

Back and forth, up and down, she twirled, screwing herself

up and down on the Bear’s shaft. From the look on the

Bear’s face, he was in 7th heaven; the Snow Leopard’s face

was a blur, but at the top and the bottom, where she slowed

way down, she looked as if she were having fun too…..

Watt shook his head as the connection was broken; "I can’t

imagine an Imperial battlecruiser not answering our hails.

Do you think something might have happened to them?

Williamson, at the Astrophysics sensor station snorted;

"Our sensors aren’t really set up along military lines, but

I CAN tell you there aren't enough guns left in this system

to seriously threaten a Battlecruiser. Oh, the station’s

got defenses; more than you’d think something like that

would need, but they’re all in a low-power stand-by mode.

If you’re thinking this is a trap, well, I can’t find any

evidence to support it." Fermi, the exec chuckled "and

while we’re no warship, we’re not exactly defenseless

ourselves. I say lets go take ‘em up on their offer of

hospitality. I wouldn’t mind getting off this ship for a

few hours, even if its just to stretch my legs in some

misbegotten mining station." Watt nodded slowly to

himself, and then turned to the Helmsfurr; "OK, Samuel;

take us in."

Tanj felt someone come up behind her, arms going around

her; turning her head, she found the Jaguar snuggling her

from behind… but his eyes were on the whirling Snow

Leopard. Smiling, Tanj rubbed her bottom back against his

crotch, teasing.

The Bull’s bellow echoed from the walls of the Bridge; his

cock spurting he proceeded to pump a month’s worth of cum

into the Ermine’s mouth…. And all over her face and down

her front. As his heart pounded, as he chest heaved, he

looked around the Bridge, aghast, as the sound of soft

applause filled the air.

Bethany sighed and straightened her boss’ uniform; "I know,

we need to get back; thanks for the "cure" though, I feel

ever so much better now. Her Beau just smiled…..

O’Bannon HOWLED as she climaxed, squirming; Oooooh, she was

gonna get Howard for this! Feeling the handle of the tool

slide from within her, she felt him shove it up through a

narrow gap between her body and the accessway’s wall.

Panting hard, she managed to get ahold of it. "ewwww,

Howard! Now its all Slippery! How am I going to be able

to use it like this?" Feeing fingers begin to stroke over

her wet sex, Helen sighed and wondered if she could finish

the job under such distractions? Maybe… Maybe not. But

either way, when she was done, she was gonna GET him!

"Criminey, Captain, will you LOOK at the size of this

place!" Williamson’s head kept swiveling from the main

viewer to his own specialized sensors and back; obviously

his specialized instruments were not reflecting what his

eyes were seeing, and it appeared as if he just didn’t know

which to believe. Watt nodded slowly; "I’d heard there had

been a powerful Pirate clan in this area; its been in the

Imperial "Notice to Spacefarers" for ages. I THINK we just

found where they’ve been hiding." Fermi nodded, and then

shrugged; "It also looks as if they’re not home. There’s

the Battlecruiser, and she doesn’t look any the worse for

wear." Watt nodded; "Lets dock, and then I’m going to go

over there and ask some questions."

Tanj purrrred; on hands and knees, with the Jaguar taking

her roughly from behind, she sloooowly crawled across the

floor. Reaching the Wombat she used teeth and tongue to

free his cock from his stained pants. As she slurped him

into her mouth, she felt his body tense, almost arching

from the chair. It took almost no time at all, and she

wondered how much "personal" sex this telepath ever got; a

few soft strokes of her tongue, a few licks and nibbles and

he was cumming, and cumming HARD.

The climax that washed over Tanj, as the Wombat orgasmed,

was one of the most intense she’d ever had, and as she

rode the waves of pleasure, she felt the Jaguar cumming

within her, grunting hard with the power of his orgasm.

And all around the room it seemed, other furrs were howling

or crying out…..

Specialist Haliburton shuddered as her climax blossomed

unexpectedly; Suzie Boz’s fingers were doing nice things to

her, under their shared console, to be sure, but she hadn’t

thought herself THAT close to the edge….

Bethany staggered and hugged her boss hard; "ooooh,

aftershocks! Kid, you’re better than I thought!" Turning,

right there in the corridor, she pulled him to her and

kissed him HARD.

The Minotaur’s eyes went wide; something had just swept

over him, something powerful… and now his pants felt wet;

looking down, he realized he’d cum again….. And in front

of the entire bridge crew. How embarrasing!

Tanj smiled as she felt the Wombat’s body go limp. Giving

him a last lick, she purrred and straightened. The Jaguar

was flat on the floor behind her, chest heaving. Everyone

else was in postures of exhausted repose. The spell seemed

to be broken. Rising, the Cheetah looked around, wondering

where the water closet was…..

Rand smiled at the Marten as he exited the Science Vessel’s

personnel lock; "Good Day, Captain. Let me extend to you

the hospitality of our station. If there’s anything we can

do to assist you, please let me know." Watt nodded; "Right

now, I’d like to check in with the Battlecruiser. After

that, I’d like to give my crew some dockside leave, if you

don’t mind." Rand smiled; "We’ve got facilities for a

whole lot more furrs than are currently here; holographic

theaters, gymnasiums, sports facilities, and some pretty

good bars. Well, OK, right now only one of ‘em’s open, but

we can open another if you don’t want to drink with

miners." Fermi frowned; "Yeah, we’d noticed how empty this

place was. Wasn’t this…." "The secret base of the

Brethren? Yeah. Bought it for a song when the planet

vanished. They’ve all moved on; nothing here of interest

to ‘em any more." Watt looked down the corridor; "Let me

go check in with the Battlecruiser; I’m still uneasy as to

why they didn’t answer…." Rand chuckled; "Hell, if it

makes you feel any better, carry a sidearm, and go with a

security detail. I don’t even have any folks in this part

of the station. Do whatever it takes to make yourself

comfortable." Watt just nodded.

Bethany stepped onto the bridge, one step behind her boss,

as decorum called for. The scents on the Bridge were

strange, and it took a moment for her to identify them.

Lieutenant Feldman was over by the sensor consoles, wiping

her front with a handful of disposable wipes, a very silly

grin on her face. And all around the room, males and

females seemed to be shying away from each other, as if

something was wrong; as if they’d all just wet their pants

or something. Shrugging, she returned to her seat as if

nothing had happened.

The Mare sat up, and looked around. She was NAKED!

Scrounging around on the floor, she went looking for the

bits and pieces of her uniform. There was clothing, some

of it torn, covering the floor like leaves on the ground in

Fall. What had Happened?

The Marines at the BattleCruiser’s airlock looked bored.

"James Watt, Captain of the Imperial Science vessel Tesla,

to see your Captain." The sergeant nodded and turned to a

comm panel. After a moment he grinned and turned back to

the Marten; "Sir, the Captain’s, ah, "indisposed"; here’s

the Exec." The Marten frowned a little; the word

"indisposed" had been accompanied by a broad wink, and some

snickers from the other Marines. What was going on here?

The Battlecruiser’s exec, a rather large Minotaur, appeared

in the comm panel’s display; "Ah, Good Day, Captain Watt.

Sorry, didn’t realize you’d arrived yet." Watt nodded; "It

seems our hails were unanswered, Commander. That worried

us. Also we’re here with almost dry tanks." The Minotaur

actually looked sheepish; "Yes, ah, well, we had a small

problem. I do believe its fixed now. As for dry tanks,

we’re probably just as dry as you are; however a tanker,

under escort, should be here shortly." The Marten nodded;

"well, until it shows up, we’d probably be better served

staying docked. There are a number of tests we can perform

here, depending, of course, on how cooperative the locals

are." The Minotaur smiled; "they’ve been most cooperative.

Just ask. Oh, and if they’re NOT cooperative, let me know.

I’m sure we can… persuade them. But the Tanker is due in

under a day, and we’ll get you refueled and "out and about"

as soon as is physically possible." Watt nodded; "Well, as

soon as your Captain’s available, I WOULD like to speak to

him." Again the Minotaur looked sheepish; "Um, that might

be a few hours, Sir, never the less, I’ll convey your

wishes to him at the earliest opportunity." Turning away

from the comm, Watt strode away, wondering more than ever

what was going on here……

The Captain watched, as his crewmembers tried to recover.

He wasn’t sure exactly what had happened… Oh, he was SURE

there’d been an Orgy to rival the Imperial capital…. But

why HERE, and why Now…. Moving up behind the Cheetah, he

wrapped his arms around her middle, and bending, purrred

into her ear; "this is all YOUR doing, isn’t it?" Tanj

felt the arms encircle her, felt his closeness, the warmth

of his body, and smiled. She wasn’t sure if he was hugging

her close, or trying to keep her from escaping. "Ummmmmm,

well, in a manner of speaking. You DO have to admit, that

if they hadn’t tried to use a Telepath on me, I wouldn’t

have been able to DO this, don’t you? AND you’ve got to

admit that I was the only one who could figure out how to

stop it too……" The Jaguar was momentarily distracted,

watching Lieutenant Farquar, moving about on hands and

knees, searching for the remants of her uniform; Lord that

Mare had an ass on her! "Uh… Yeah." Looking up the Jaguar

fixed the Rabbit with a cold eye; "Sir, you and I WILL talk

about this. 1600 Hours. In my Cabin." Looking around,

arms still wrapped around the Cheetah, the Jaguar growled;

"But, Ms. Kee, YOU have made a mockery of this little

affair, and in doing so, a Mockery of this ship, my crew,

AND the Imperium! And for that I’m going to have to punish


Tanj lay across the Jaguar’s lap, waiting. It took a few

seconds, but his hand crashed down on her left asscheek.

"Twenty-Seven" she duly muttered. Her ass was starting to

burn, and the fact that the Jaguar was still nude wasn’t

helping. The fire in her bottom was slowly spreading to

other portions of her anatomy, and that, more than anything

else was making her squirm. Her thoughts were broken by

yet another slap, this time on her right asscheek.

"Twenty-eight." When he’d said she’d have to be punished,

this wasn’t what she’d expected. From the corner of her

eye she watched the crowd; the Jaguar was spanking her

publically, in front of all the participants of the orgy.

The Snow Leopardess, still hanging in her harness of fiber

optic cable, looked particularly excited. The half-dressed

Mare also seemed particularly fascinated, and the surly

looking Rabbit looked almost gleeful. She wondered if he

was a true sadist, someone who got sexual pleasure from the

pain of others? And the Wombat; he didn’t look too happy.

It was almost as if he were feeling each stroke as well.

And maybe he was…. As the Captain’s hand came crashing

down on her ass again, making her flinch, she grunted out

"Twenty-nine" and wondered if this wasn’t as much

punishment for the Wombat, as it was for her…..

"Fifty" The Captain straightened, his right hand resting

on the Cheetah’s ass. He could feel the heat. "I think

that’s enough. For the moment. Now its time for everyone

to get back to work. Dismissed!" Looking down at the

Cheetah, the Jaguar growled; "now, lets see you undo all

those fancy knots, and get my Logistics officer down from

there, and THEN I think we’ll continue this in my cabin…..

Her jumpsuit had been torn too badly as someone had tried

to get it off her, so Tanj walked, still nude, with the

Captain as he made his way towards his Cabin. It was hard

to keep from smiling; he’d taken the fiber optic cable,

coiled it neatly, and then pulled it over his shoulder;

Tanj could only wonder what he intended to do with it…..

The Rabbit watched the Jaguar padd off, naked Cheetah in

tow and sighed. Some people just didn’t have a proper

sense of decorum. Why, leading her off to his Cabin was

almost "consorting with the Enemy." Turning to fix the

Wombat with a glare, he paused, mouth open for a rebuke…..

A sudden thought had struck him; no one had ever screwed up

an Imperial telepath like this before…. Could the stories

about this Mouse, Mark, might actually be true? Glancing

up at the chandelier, now just a little bent, he smiled,

thinking of the rope trick. Maybe, just Maybe, this

Cheetah WAS telling the truth… and maybe they SHOULD

quietly conduct a search for where the Brethren, and

Elysium have gotten to. Can they ignore the possibilities?

"Dr. Parker, I presume?" the miner was a rather large male

Panda, running a little to fat, as his species tended to,

at middle age. Still, is vacuum suit, while colorfully

decorated, looked to be first rate. "Yes, I’m Parker. If

you could just show me where we can set up our

instruments…." The Panda looked over the small army of

technicians and assistants and smiled; "Come on this way;

we’ll get you a nice spot by the No.3 solar array; should

have more than enough power there….." Setting his helmet

on his head, and turning the locking ring, the Panda

stepped into the No.4 personnel lock.

"No, tie it up a little higher, and make it as tight as you

can." The Jaguar grunted, shifted the double loop of cable

up on Tanj’s rib-cage just a little and cinched it down

tight. Stepping back to admire his handiwork, he grinned.

The ends of the cable were tossed over a light fixture that

might or might not hold, but it was worth a try. Taking a

firm grip, he pulled. Something groaned in protest, but

the bound Cheetah slowly rose off the floor. He’d used a

mop handle as a spreader bar, and her legs were pulled up

almost to either side of her head, bending her almost

double, a much more strained position than the Snow Leopard

had been in. Guessing at the right height, he tied the

cable off to the foot of his bed, and then turned to look.

Marvelous. The loops of cable above and below her breasts

made them stand out quite nicely, and the way her legs were

spread and pulled up exposed her sex delightfully.

Reaching out a hand, he slowly started to spin her, letting

the cables wind around themselves, and inch by inch, slowly

raising her further from the floor.

Tanj closed her eyes, and tried to ignore the dizziness as

she spun, first one way and then the other. Giggling to

herself, she could have bet that this was the first time

the Jaguar had actually been "screwed"…. Still, he seemed

to be enjoying it; she knew SHE was…..

"Kristen, I tell you, I don’t CARE if its just some dumb

old mining station; I’ve been on this ship for too long.

Time to get off, and to breathe someone else’s air!"

Kristen nodded and shrugged; "I know, Jack, but I wanted to

do so at Erathra. They PROMISED us leave there!" Jack

shrugged; "so something more important came up. At least

we’re somewhere where we CAN get off the ship." Kirsten

chuckled; "Oh, I know you, Jack; you’re just excited to go

explore a Pirate stronghold. I know what a Romantic you

are!" Smiling, Kristen took her lover’s hand; "Lets go see

if we can find the slave kennels; I’ve always wondered what

something like that would look like!"

Watt watched, a little uneasy. Almost all of his crew had

left the ship to go explore the abandoned Pirate

stronghold. Only a few remained, the minimum he felt

necessary for security. On the other hand, if someone, or

something had taken over the Battlecruiser, there probably

wasn’t much he could do to stop them from taking his ship

too. Still, he fretted. Sitting at the security console

on the bridge, he called up this month’s fiscal report. If

he had to stay here, he might as well get something useful


"I don’t know, I’m not comfortable undertaking something

like this without asking Tanj first." Hinoki grinned at

the Wolverine lass; "Oh come on, Wanda; there’s no way we

can ask her; besides, she’s probably providing a very

effective distraction right now, if I know her." Roland

nodded; "This is what we call a "target of opportunity."

We HAVE to strike now!" Wanda looked helplessly at Kath,

who just smiled and shrugged, and then, with a muttered;

"well, come on, then, lets get going" shoved past the

Cheetah male, and strode towards the lock.

Rand pointed to the access port; "Right there; there’s a

small maintenance hatch next to the dockside power

couplings. It should have minimal security." Smith

nodded; "I can take care of that….. But I’m worried about

a guard." Zassa chuckled, pulling the zipper of her

jumpsuit down, until it was a couple of inches below her

navel; "Leave THAT to me!"

Kristen bent over to look into the open kennel door; "Gee,

its not very big in there…." Jack looked at her rounded

ass and grinned; It was almost as if his hands moved of

their own accord; the next thing Kristen knew, she was

sprawled on the rock floor of the kennel, with the door

slamming shut behind her.

"Jack, this isn’t funny!" Jack took a step back and

crossed his arms over his chest; "My, what a spirited slave

we have here! Its going to be FUN breaking you to my will,

my little sweet! Now, if you EVER want to get out of

there, I want you to take off ALL your clothes, and toss

them through the bars." Kirsten looked at him, wide-eyed,

seeing a side of him that she’d never seen before….

Suddenly his voice was strong and sure, and he looked

SOOOOO self-confident, and in control. In a way, she found

it sexy. And in a way, she’d always wondered what it would

be like to be a sex slave… of course, she’d want to be a

PAMPERED sex slave, not some poor wretch that was treated

miserably. She DID know such things happened, but, well,

it didn’t fit the romantic image, did it? Looking up at

Jack, she set her jaw and shook her head no, crossing her

arms over her breasts, and trying to look defiantly back at

him. It wasn’t easy from a kneeling position; the roof in

the kennel was LOW. Jack just chuckled and shrugged; "OK,

my sweet. You just stay there and think about it. I’m

going to go explore. I’ll be back after a bit, to see if

your clothes are out in the middle of the corridor. If

they are, I’ll bring you a sip of water. If not, I’ll just

check back later." And with that, he turned and strode

off, tail waving behind him.

Kristen sighed. She looked around her, but the kennel was

absolutely empty. No straw on the floor. No pan of water.

Just a bare rock floor, three bare rock walls, and a

ceiling. If she knelt, back straight, the tips of her ears

just barely brushed the ceiling. The cell was perhaps a

half dozen centimeters longer than her body, head to feet,

and perhaps half as wide. In one corner was a slight

depression in the rock, with a hole in the center. The

sound of gurgling water came faintly to her ears, and she

realized this was what passed for a toilet. The fourth

wall was just metal bars. If there had been half as many

of them, she might have been able to squeeze through, but

as it was, there was no chance. The door was about half

the height of the cell, made so that a slave would have to

crawl low to exit. And it had some sort of magnetic lock

on it. Maybe if there was a way to cut power to it…… no,

they’d probably thought of that; they’d probably fail

locked. Sitting cross-legged, chin on paws, she settled

down to wait. Maybe if he’d asked if she wanted to play,

first, she would have said yes, but this… this just wasn’t


Artie Hansen was bored. He’d been on the ship for a LONG

time, without getting liberty, without even getting to go

down to any of the planets they’d stopped at to conduct

research. And now, all his friends were exploring what

used to be a pirate clan’s hidden base. Who knew what

interesting, or exciting, or possibly even dangerous things

they might find? How fast had the pirates cleared out?

Had they left anything of interest behind? Were there any

women over there? He’d heard an asteroid mining operation

had moved in, and he wondered if THEY had any women. Women

that might be interested in a new face (and a hansom one,

he was sure). And here he was guarding a dumb old access

hatch. Surely the Captain was Paranoid…..

The access hatch wasn’t a proper airlock; it was only meant

to be used when the ship was docked, and as such, was just

a rather heavy door set into the ship’s hull. When it slid

upwards, Artie turned in surprise, his "officially Frowned

Upon" magazine sliding into a convenient hiding place.

What he saw, though, was better than any of the ladies in

the Magazine! "Hi…. Just here to make sure the utilities

connections are working OK…." Artie swallowed and looked

the Vixen up and down; if this was the kind of lady that

worked at a mining outpost, he was ready to put in his

transfer! "Um… ah, Yeah, its working Fi…. Ah, no, um,

actually we’re having problems with power fluctuations….

Ah, why don’t you come over here and I’ll show you."

Zassa smiled to herself; the young Coyote had at least

thought fast on his feet, even if his "recovery" wasn’t all

that smooth. Smiling pleasantly, she let him lead her into

the dockside utility power management and routing center, a

small closet-like room full of humming switchgear….

Smith stuck the fiber optic probe around the corner and

nodded at the image his monocle relayed to him. "She’s got

him out of the way; lets go." Quietly, almost on tiptoes,

the party entered the Science Vessel.

Zassa Hmmmed; "I don’t see anything wrong with the power…..

As she tried to straighten, she found herself hemmed in by

the Coyote; "Oh? Gee, it was bouncing all over the place

just a few minutes ago; I’m sure if you watch it just a

little while longer…." Zassa chuckled to herself, thinking

this one had a lot to learn. Still, she had a job to do,

and she was sure she could distract him… Bending over

again, she let her rump move back just a little, to rub

against him.

Artie almost had a heart attack on the spot; could she

be….. could she be interested in him? How desperate WAS

this beauty for a new face? Smiling he leaned forward a

little, and rested one hand on her hip; "There, did you see

it? It just spiked, just for a second…."

Behind the Coyote, Smith reached into the power

distribution center, and flipped a switch. Motioning to

the others to follow, he took off at a dead run.

On the Bridge, a little yellow light started to flash on

the security console. Watt, buried in his paperwork,

failed to notice. After a couple of minutes, it went out.

When he looked up, everything on the console appeared

normal. Grunting, he returned to his paperwork.

Smith fiddled with the wires, while Kath watched. He’d

seemed to know just where to find the security system on

this ship. As they’d dashed through the halls, they’d met

no one. And no alarms had sounded. That meant that the

crew didn’t wear ID badges, or that the AI wasn’t

sophisticated enough to recognize they weren’t part of the

crew. The lock on the equipment room had taken Smith

roughly four seconds to defeat. First he’d checked for

sensors and cameras in the security equipment room, and

after disconnecting the one sensor he’d found, he’d

restored power to the system. Then he’d hacked into the

ship’s computer, and entered their pawprints into the

security computer, giving them the same authorizations as

the Captain. Hinoki had watched VERY carefully while he

did that. Then he’d reprogramed the secutiry system, so t

hat it would show the past hour’s scenes and data, and then

at the end of the hour, quietly delete the new instructions

and go back to what it had always been. If he’d done it

right, no one would ever know they were there. As long as

they were out in an hour…..

"OK, Children, I’m going to stay here and seach the ship’s

main computer for anything of interest. It’ll also let me

keep an eye on things, just in case anyone gets too

suspicious. Wanda, you and Kath go visit the science labs

and see if they have a separate computer system. I doubt

they will, but individual scientists may have their own

record keeping systems. Hinoki, you and Roland go to the

personnel quarters. Search for the senior scientists

quarters and look for laptops and PADDs that they might

keep data on." Hinoki shook his head; "I still think this

is a waste of time; they haven’t been here long enough to

record any data, or to formulate any theories." Smith

shrugged; "Then we steal their experimental plans. We find

out what they INTEND to do, things they want to try. The

data we’ve already got is probably much better than

anything they can pick up this long after the event, and if

we figure out how they’re intending on analyzing their

data, maybe we can learn more from ours." Hinoki sighed

and nodded; "Okay…. We’ll try it your way." Gesturing to

the Badger, he turned and headed out.

Jack grinned; this room had obviously been the guards’

break room. The lockers still stood where they’d been,

most of them with the doors hanging open. The

refridgerator was gone, though, the rock floor stained

where it’d stood. They’d obvously left in some haste as

there was refuse scattered all about. Things they probably

hadn’t valued enough to take, or to try and sell. Here was

a belt, its leather worn and cracked, the buckle tarnished.

And here was a set of cuffs, too big for wrists, unless

they were meant for one of the larger species…. Then it hit

him; they were ankle cuffs. They too were stained and

worn, as if they’d seen a thousand slaves. Slowly he

picked through the left-overs, searching for things that

might be fun to try with Kristen.

The shadow made Kristen look up; Jack was standing there,

but he’d lost his uniform; now he was wearing a loin-cloth,

something silky, hung from a worn leather belt. A bullwhip

was coiled at one side, and a ring of old-fashioned keys

hung from the other side, jangling as he moved. In his

hand he held a shock baton. Kristen’s eyes traveled from

the baton to the loincloth, to his grinning face, and back

to the loincloth; somehow that silky fabric seemed to cling

to him, revealing every contour of his body; he almost

looked more naked than if he’d been bare. Shifting a

little, Kristen realized he looked gawd-awful sexy, like a

figure from one of her romance novels…. His chuckle made

her look up again, into his face; "I see my little slave is

still being bad; the longer you go, the worse its going to

be on you. When I come back, I want to see those clothes

in the middle of the passage way, or else!" With a

chuckle he turned and strode off down the row of cells as

if he had business to be about.

Kristen watched him, until he’d passed out of her limited

range of vision. There’d been no back to the loincloth,

only his tail preserving his modesty. With a shiver she

half-smiled to herself; "Sometimes you have to be VERY

careful what you wish for, as you might just get it."

Jack stood and looked at the stocks. They were welded to

the floor, and massive; obvously they’d been left as they’d

be way too much trouble to move. And yet, everything

seemed to be in perfect working order. The top half of the

set he examined hinged open smoothly; the holes for arms

and neck were padded with some sort of rubber foam. And a

simple pin, well out of reach of the occupants held them

closed. He shivered with anticipation, thinking how good

Kirsten would look in them… if he could just get her to

play along…..

"I think I’ve found it, Mistress! This looks like a file

of historical information, background for their anticipated

work in the Elysium system." Wanda muttered an "uhuh.

Download it to a data crystal…." The Mink complied,

thinking this was going to save them months of research…..

When the download was complete, she turned to find Wanda

downloading data to her own crystal. "Find something

interesting, Mistress?" "Yeah, this guy was the head

xenosociologist for their mission to Erastius III. The

locals there have the most fascinating sexual mores. I’m

downloading a study on a personal-training regieme that the

scientist claims allows the local girls to have hour-long

climaxes! Kath padded over and looked over the Wolverine’s

shoulder at the monitors; "Ooooh, looks like they’ve got

some interesting toys, too!" Wanda giggled and nodded;

"Yeah, getting blueprints for all of ‘em too. Their tech

level is a little lower than ours, so we shouldn’t have any

trouble replicating them….." Kath purrred, "Oh, I LIKE the

look of that exercize machine! Why didn’t I think of

that?" Wanda smiled; "OK, let ME do this, you go back to

work, Slave!" Kath pouted and turned, heading back to the

other terminal.

"Well, what DO we have here?" The comment was quietly

made, and yet it still grabbed Hinoki’s attention. He’d

found the quarters of the head of the astrophysics

department, and was downloading a treasure trove of

theoretical conjecture…. Turning, he padded out of the room

and following his nose, entered another set of quarters.

Roland was standing in the bedroom, looking down at a bound

and hooded form, a male wolf, and a fairly young one, too.

The Wolf was bound in a crouching position, rump high, and

nicely positioned at the edge of the bed, facing the door,

as if in invitation. Hinoki chuckled; "Nice; very nice.

Wish we had the time to stay and play, but….." Roland

chuckled; "Oh, come on; look, he’s blindfolded, and has

earplugs in; he probably doesn’t even know we’re here; what

harm if we take a few minutes and give him a nice

surprise…." Hinoki chuckled, glancing back at the open

door to the Astrophysicist’s quarters; "Um… I suppose, as

long as we’re quick. Ah, you want Heads, or Tails?"

Smith was slowly scanning through the ship, making sure all

was quiet. They had a surprising number of video cameras

on this tub. The Mainframe hadn’t given him anything

beyond general plans and orders, and that meant that all

the information they were after was kept elsewhere. Not

really surprising. Wanda and Kath seemed to be hard at

work, and maybe they’d come up with something. Turning to

search the living quarters, he tried to find out how Roland

and Hinoki were coming….

Tanj purrrred and snuggled sleepily. It was later; much

later. After the rope trick, and several variants thereof,

they’d retired to the Captain’s private shower, and washed

each other. That of course had led Tanj to showing the

Jaguar how to wash someone without using your hands, and

THAT had let to both of them winding back up in bed. Now,

sleep beconed, but somehow, neither of them had yet

succumbed. As he idly stroked Tanj’s bellyfur, the Jaguar

rumbled; "Tell me about your former Master; this Lion

fellow. You know, even we don’t have his name." Tanj

chuckled quietly; "Oh, I’m QUITE sure you have his name,

somewhere; after all, he WAS born in the Empire. On the

other hand, I doubt sincerely that you’ve connected the

name with the person…" Tanj Eeeped as the Jaguar pinched a

nipple; "you know what I mean, you impudent little Minx!"

Tanj laughed and shrugged. "Seriously though…." Tanj

sighed, and rolled over, half-atop the Jaguar, to look into

his eyes. "You wonder if I’m in love with him? Yeah. Is

it part of my conditioning? That little post-hypnotic

trick they pull on new slaves to get them to "bond" with

their new master? Possibly. On the other hand, we HAVE

been through an awful lot together, and risked our lives to

save each other." The Jaguar nodded slowly; "Yeah, I read

about your rescue on Elysium. That, I would say, was WAY

over the borderline into "Reckless."" Tanj chuckled;

"Never argue with success." "True," the Jaguar conceeded;

"Still, when you were stuck on Eroz, he didn’t seem to do

much to help." Tanj just shrugged; "I happened to luck out

there." Turning back to grin into the Jaguar’s face she

purrrred; "He did send a Battlecruiser, with support ships

to threaten the planetary government into giving me back.

He had no way of knowing I was no longer on the planet.

Would YOU send a battlecruiser after just anyone, threaten

an entire independent world for a mere business associate,

or even an errant slave?" The Jaguar stared back at her

for a moment, poker face fully in place. Still, his hand

never stopped stroking her back; "For the right person,

well, you never know…." After a moment the Jaguar

swallowed; "Think you’ll ever see him again?" Tanj sighed;

"My engineer’s brain says no; space is too vast, their ship

was damaged, and who knows where they might have wound up.

But my heart says he’s still alive, and that if I try hard

enough, I’ll find him. Now WHAT I might find when I do

find him, that’s another story. But I know I have to try."

The Jaguar just nodded. Before he could think of another

question, the Cheetah was sleeping quietly, her head still

on his chest.

Kirsten sighed and tried the door again. She didn’t have

too many options. She could stay here, and force his hand.

Eventually he’d HAVE to let her go, to get back to the

ship. They couldn’t stay on this station forever, could

they? If she didn’t show up in the morning for role-call

wouldn’t they search the station for her? But if it went

that long, Jack would probably wind up in major trouble

over it, and she didn’t really want THAT, did she? On the

other hand, she didn’t like the idea of letting him "win"

this one either. Now if it’d been HER idea to play this

game, that would have been different….. Still, she wasn’t

going anywhere like this, and if she gave in, well, if she

was out of the cell, she MIGHT have a chance to "escape"….

And she’d rather walk back onboard the Tesla stark naked

than let him "win"….. And even if he did, at least it

wouldn’t be boring. THIS was boring with a capital B. For

a moment she smiled at the random thought that she wished

she’d brought her vibrator with her; then at least she

could amuse herself…… And that was when inspiration

struck. What if she were to out-act him in this? What if

she were to turn the tables on him by being the hot, lusty

little slave girl….. just long enough to get back on board

the ship. Then she could give him the cold shoulder, and

it’d hurt all the worse, as he’d KNOW what he’d lost, what

he MIGHT have had….. Chuckling to herself, she unbuttoned

her pants, and leaning back against the wall, slipped them

down over her hips… she’d show HIM!

Jack smiled at the heap of cloth in the middle of the

corridor. Strolling slowly down the row of kennels, he

pretended to look in each one. What he found in Kristen’s

was surprising; she was on her knees, knees well spread,

one paw resting on her thigh just above the knee…. The

other one idly stroking her crotch. From the scent, and

from the matted and damp fur, it looked like she’d been

playing with herself for some time. Her eyes were closed

and she gave no indication of even knowing he was there.

She looked…. She looked like she belonged there, the

quintessential sex-slave…….

Kristen smiled to herself, working to keep her face

impassive, as she heard him grunt. After a few moments

something landed to her left; "Put that on, Slave. And

next time, if I find you playing with yourself, I’ll tie

your hands behind your back. When you hear me approach you

will kneel in the proper position, BOTH hands on your

thighs, palms up! If I have to tell you again, you’ll be

punished!" With that, he slowly padded off; she waited

until she could no longer hear his footsteps before opening

her eyes. Her clothes were gone, but next to her, on the

hard rock floor of the kennel, was a cheap generic plastic

collar… picking it up with one hand, she looked at it in

disgust; was this the BEST he could find?

It happened by accident; at least that’s what she kept

telling herself; she’d put the damned thing around her

neck, just to see what it felt like; somehow, though it had

locked itself there, and now she couldn’t get it off.

Obviously it was designed to take another one of those

magnetic keys; there wasn’t even a keyhole! And it was

just a little too tight for comfort…….

Zassa purrrred, still bent way over, her muzzle inches from

the power flow monitor, her arms braced above her on the

panel; the coyote had worked her jumpsuit off her, leaving

it pooled on the floor around her feet, like a cloth

hobble. With his arms reaching around to cup her hanging

breasts, he pumped his cock in and out of her pussy with

all the exuberance of someone new to the arts of love…..

"gotta make this last as long as possible" the Vixen

thought to herself; it was so tempting to clench down on

his cock with her pussy, but she was sure that’d cause him

to shoot off immediately. No, best to just let him have

his way with her…. She could show him a few tricks later.

"Well I can’t let you go back to your ship naked, can I?"

Tanj just shrugged and pirouetted, letting him gaze upon

her nude form; "Why not? After yesterday, most of your

crew knows what I look like, Nude. There ARE security

cameras in that lounge, aren’t there?" The Jaguar nodded

slowly, wondering if it was too late to order those tapes

sealed, or perhaps even destroyed… probably. Looking the

Cheetah up and down he grinned; "But this is SO much more

fun; you’re not the only one who can come up with

prohibited garments…."

The panties were a little more than she was used to

wearing, when she bothered with such things at all; they

were tight around her waist, and went all the way down to

her upper thighs. They looked like the kind of panties her

Mother…. Or maybe even her Grandmother used to wear. The

fabric was strange, almost like a plastic, but with a

certain satiny texture. The bra also was a little more

concealing than she was used to, the cups fully enveloping

her breasts, the straps much wider and tighter than she

thought necessary. The fabric had stretched just barely

enough to get the set on; there were no openings or

fastenings… Tanj walked with the Captain towards the

Battlecruiser’s main personnel lock. "So what will you do

now?" Tanj sighed; "Nothing to hold me here. I promised

to take a friend to Jenka’s station. After that, I don’t

know. There are some things I want to think about, some

leads I want to follow up, but beyond that… I just don’t

know." "I could keep you here, you know." Tanj smiled and

reached up to stroke fingers along the side of his face;

"but you won’t. You’re much too much the Gentlefurr for

that." The Jaguar sighed; "you know me too well, Madam. I

trust I’ll see you again?" Tanj smiled; "you can count on

it. Now, before I leave, what was so special about these

garments?" The Jaguar just smiled; "Let me show you….."

Bending, he kissed her, a long, hot, sensual kiss full of

barely concealed lust, his paws roaming over her body,


As expected, Tanj’s body responded; he could almost feel

her nipples harden under the fabric, he could almost feel

blood rush to her groin…. As he broke the kiss, Tanj

squirmed just a little, her eyes going a little wide: "Yes,

it’s a memory plastic. It senses the heat of your arousal,

and starts to revert to its original form; the more hot and

bothered you get, the worse it gets and the worse it gets,

the more hot and bothered you’ll become. I’ll leave it to

YOU to figure out how to get out of it." Smiling, the

Jaguar kissed Tanj on the nose, and then reached over and

pushed the button to open the inner lock door.

Tanj groaned and tried to walk in a straight line. The

Jaguar had been correct; this was most annoying and most

delightful. As his kiss had caused her nipples to stiffen,

the memory plastic of the bra had contracted, pinching

them; then the cups of the bran started to change shape,

moving more into a cone shape, tugging hard at her nipples,

squeezing her breasts. And between her legs, the panties

had begun to extrude two phallic shapes, one pressing

against her ass, the other pressing against her pussy. The

satiny fabric was smooth, almost slick enough that they

were able to work their way into pussy and ass, growing

deeper with each step. And the more turned-on she got, the

more the panties grew little bumps, the bumps growing into

fingers, each one seemingly aimed directly at her clitty.

By the time she got to her ship, she could barely move

without triggering another soft climax. Tanj grinned; she

could easily see why this garment had been forbidden; it

could easily drive someone mad…..

She hadn’t meant to be caught like that; it had seemed like

she’d been in the cage for days, and finally she’d rolled

onto her side, and then onto her back… one hand had been

idly stroking her sex again, when he’d reappeared, silent

as a ghost. The door had popped open and he’d shoved his

bulk into the cage before she fully knew what was

happening. Strong hands had rolled her over, face down,

her wrists being pulled behind her back. She heard the

snick of one lock, and then another, and then he was gone,

the kennel door clanging shut. Sitting up she growled,

looking up at him through the bars. "Told you that if you

did that again, I’d put a stop to it. Now, if you

misbehave again, I WILL punish you. I’m being MUCH too

lenient with you!" Then in a softer voice, he mused;

"Probaby because you’re so beautiful…." And then he was

gone again.

Kristen growled to herself and struggled; she just could

NOT get her cuffed hands under her rump, and out in front

of her. She was well and truly STUCK. "Well, at least he

didn’t gag me" she muttered to herself.

Hinoki took the wolf’s head in his paws; the gag had a

screw-out center, and when Hinoki had withdrawn it, he’d

been amazed at the size of the phallic shape that had

filled the Wolf’s mouth. What was left formed a ring-gag,

and Hinoki had no trouble at all sliding his hard shaft

into the wolf’s mouth, in place of the rubber dong.

Looking up, he watched Roland hold tight to the Wolf’s

tail. He’d found a tube of lubricant somewhere, and had

even produced a condom. "Good idea" Hinoki thought to

himself; "No biological sample to leave behind, to trace

him with." Purrring with delight, he worked his hard cock

in and out of the Wolf’s mouth.

Kath finished her download and turned to find Wanda

frantically searching through cabinets. "Slave, help me

find 473-82." "Yes, Mistress…. Um, we only have 17 minutes

left… what are we looking for?" "Some sexually related

drugs they’ve been working on; extensions of their work on

Erastius III. If they perform as claimed, I want some!

Besides, Zassa needs something to use on Hinoki, to get

back at him for that awful trick he played on her!" Kath

grinned and nodded, moving to the other side of the lab.

Smith frowned; there were Hinoki and Roland….. "those guys

just CANNOT keep it in their pants." He growled to himself.

Then he smiled, remembering when HE was their age.

Checking the Chronometer, he shrugged; if they moved fast,

there was time. He just hoped they had finished their

mission first…..

Zassa purrrred, her tongue working over the Coyote’s cock,

teasing it back to hardness; he’d fucked her hard, but cum

quick; he’d been a little slower to cum the second time,

but it’d still been too quick. Sneaking a peek at her

watch, the Vixen purrred, thinking, if he could recuperate

fast enough, she might get one more good orgasm out of him

before she had to leave….

Hinoki grunted hard, his cock spurting deep into the bound

Wolf’s mouth. As his climax wound down, Hinoki picked up

the insert to the Wolf’s ring gag. Sliding his cock out,

he pushed the rubber phallus in, and screwed it in place.

Winking at the Badger, who was still plowing the Wolf’s ass

with gusto, he headed out to see if that download was done


"Found it!" Kath grinned at her Mistress; "Goodie; now

come on, lets get out of here; we’re Running out of time,


Artie panted, licking upwards into the Vixen’s dripping

pussy; she’d fucked him normally, not once, but twice, and

then had him take her in the ass, a situation so novel, so

wild, that he’d cum almost immediately. She’d then

demanded that he do HER until she caught up with him, and

thus he was learning the fine art of cunnilingus, coached

by the Vixen’s muttered comments, encouraged by her squeals

of pleasure. This was turning out to be a much better

assignment than he’d ever dreamed possible.

The Rabbit stared back at the Jaguar; "Sir, you cannot

blame Intelligence for what happened; the phenomenon is

entirely new… or at least unreported. If you don’t believe

me, search your own databases for telepathic incidents such

as that!" The Jaguar grumbled; "I do NOT want the name of

my ship going down in the history books as the first

documented case of a telepathically induced orgy!" the

Rabbit just shrugged. "When you took her back to your

cabin, did you learn anything from her?" The Jaguar’s head

came up and he glared at the Rabbit. After a moment he

growled; "She’s bound and determined to search for her

former Master." The Rabbit nodded; "Good; if we follow

her, well, she may yet lead us to him. And in any future

such incidents, you are to get as much information along

those lines as possible." The Jaguar gaped "you’re

ordering me to report pillow talk?" The Rabbit nodded; "in

detail." The Jaguar shook his head; "You realize she’s a

trained intelligence operative; she’s likely to get more

from me than I get from her." The Rabbit nodded slowly; "I

understand you’re not a trained professional at this kind

of thing. But you ARE an Imperial officer and I expect you

do to all that you can!" The Jaguar just sighed and shook

his head.

Tanj groaned; she’d tried meditating, remaining as

motionless and as calm as possible. Problem was; as she

calmed down, the phallic shapes in butt and pussy started

to retract, and that very motion produced a rather

counterproductive response in her body. Remaining as

motionless as she could, the panties slowly fucked her in

both holes, the bra constantly tweaking her nipples. It

WAS a devilish invention!

The surface of the bar was rough, but the angle wasn’t

quite right; kneeling, Kristen rubbed her crotch against

the bar, seeking to relieve the itch that just didn’t want

to seem to go away. She’d wanted to appear the hot, sexy

slave girl, but the role seemed to be taking her over.

Frustrated, she growled to herself, just NOT able to get

the friction in quite the right place to let her climax.

His hands on her ears surprised her; she had an instinctive

flash, the urge to bite him, and bite him hard, but his

grip on her prevented that. "Well, still haven’t learned

our lesson, have we? Look at that, your juices are just

running down the bars! We DO have a hot little slave here,

don’t we?" Jack chuckled and shook his head; "You know

what the penalty for that is? I’ve been reading the logs

they left here. Fascinating reading. You wouldn’t BELIEVE

some of the things they did!" As he spoke, Jack tugged on

her ears until her muzzle was protruding between the bars.

Gently rubbing his crotch back and forth across her face,

he managed to work his loincloth to one side, until he

could feel her nose, cold against his sheath; "When a guard

catches a slave in a minor infraction, he can apply

corporal punishment…. Or the slave can do a "favor" for

him. Oral sex was the most common favor, although in some

cases they’d back up against the bars and the guard would

screw the slave from behind. What say you, my hot little

slavegirl? What "favor" will you do for your horny guard?

Will you take me in your mouth, or would you rather I

fucked you between the bars?

Kristen moaned; "Let me out of here, and I’ll fuck you

until you can’t walk right; just let me out!" Jack

chuckled; "Oh, no, not yet. Not yet. We’re not due back

for many an hour, and we’re just starting….." As he’d

talked, he’d gotten harder and harder, the situation

turning him on; rubbing the head of his cock back and forth

across her lips, he smiled; "now, little slave girl, which

will it be?" Kirsten inhaled his scent, and shuddered;

she’d been so hot herself, she knew she’d rather have him

fuck her, even if she had to stay in this hated, boring

prison….. Tilting her head back as far as his grip on her

ears would let her, she pleaded; "Fuck me….. Master."

Kristen sighed; this wasn’t QUITE what she’d had in mind.

With her calves stuck through the bars, Jack had used

leather straps, worn, but supple, and apparently made for

just this purpose, to bind her thighs, just above her

knees, and just below her hips, to the bars. With her

hands still behind her back, her breasts were flattened

against the stone floor of the cell, her head turned to one

side, also on the cold stone. And he’d then proceeded to

tease her, sitting just outside the bars. His fingers had

driven her to at least two screaming climaxes, the stone

echoing with her cries. His lips and tongue had taken her

to yet another…. And still he showed no sign of relenting,

and finishing her. She wanted him SO bad…… and had said

so, begged and pleaded with him to fuck her……. Chest

heaving she groaned as his fingers and tongue took her once

again towards nirvana.

"So this is how they break slave girls" she thought to

herself. "Works well, at least for me…" Jack had taken

her to an even half-dozen climaxes, leaving her panting and

drained, and matted with her own juices, before mounting

her. The way she was tied, body angled downward, caused

his cock to rub her in a way she wasn’t used to, and it had

taken her to yet another two, possibly three climaxes

before he too had cum. She was starting to loose track, in

the orgasmic haze. Finally, he’d crawled into the cell,

and sitting splay-legged, had pulled her head into his

crotch, ordering her to lick him clean. Of course, that

had only gotten him hard again, and it wasn’t long before

she was sucking on him like a right proper little slave


The Wombat sat in the full-lotus position, stretching out

his mind. The rebukes from the Rabbit had gone in one ear

and out the other; he’d discovered something new, a new

facet to his talent, and he was determined to explore it.

First he sent his mind in the direction of the lovely lady

Cheetah, the one with the so delightfully sexy mind. She

was on her ship, and…….. Oh, how Interesting! She was in

the most delicious predicament! For a moment he savored

the sensations flowing through her as the memory-plastic

panties slowly pumped her, as the bra tweaked her nipples.

"I could get addicted to this" he thought with a smile.

Hinoki met a grinning Roland, still pulling up his zipper,

in the corridor. "make sure no one will know you were

there?" the cheetah enquired. The Badger smiled; "Oh,

they’ll know SOMEONE was there, just not who. Bet that

kid’ll have stories to tell tonight!" Turning together,

they trotted towards engineering, and the dockside power

access hatch.

Smith watched as Wanda and Kath, Roland and Hinoki all

started towards the exit. Flipping a small switch, he

rose, stretched, and headed out himself. Should have

plenty of time to get off the ship….

Watt looked up from his report, and scanned the security

console. Everything was just as it had been for the last

several hours. Nodding to himself, he turned back to his

never-ending paperwork….

The Wombat almost drooled; the Cheetah was a wild thing,

but this Vixen was unbelieveable. He was definitely going

to have to keep track of HER. Smiling, he savored the

feelings the amateurish Coyote was giving her, feeling her

squirm, feeling her tensions build….. He’d never even

imagined someone with sexual responses like that!

Wanda peered around the corner, grinned and then waved Kath

on; quietly they slipped past the power distribution room,

through the port, and onto the station.

Roland looked into the dimly lit room, in passing, and did

the classic "double-take"…. Backpedalling, he stopped and

Stared. The nude Vixen just grinned and winked at him, one

paw holding the Coyote’s head to her sodden crotch. Hinoki

looked, smiled and shook his head, and then grabbed the

Badger, to drag him past, and out of the ship.

Zassa was teetering on the edge of a powerful climax, when

Smith looked through the doorway; he grinned, and flashed

her a thumbs-up sign, and then left. Panting hard, the

Vixen threw her head back and HOWLED as her climax


On the Bridge, Watt noticed something on the security

monitor; it was cued to zero in on unusual events and that

sound had obviously triggered something. Growling, he

found there was no vid link in there. Assigning the

corridor camera to one of the monitors on his console, he

programmed the system to alert him to movement, and went

back to work.

Zassa pulled the zipper up on her jumpsuit, stopping well

below her breasts; turning she kissed the Wolf softly, and

then, with a grin, slipped through the hatch. Artie leaned

through the hatch, watching her go, memorizing the gentle

sway of her ass as she strode away. With a sigh, he closed

the hatch and shook his head; compared to HER, well, there

was no reason to retrieve his magazine….

Watt watched the Vixen depart, and shook his head. So much

for Hansen making an effective guard. On the other hand,

he was a mere formality; the security system was much too

sophisticated to let anyone slip by him. Still, he’d have

to have a word with the boy. Replaying the tape, he

watched the Vixen depart; Lord, she was a looker. Lucky


"I’m surprised the water still runs in here." Jack’s voice

sounded delighted, but Kristen could only grunt in

agreement, or possibly just in deference. He’d unstrapped

her from the bars of the kennel, but he hadn’t released

her. Instead he’d bound her on hands and knees, in a way

she’d never run across before. Ankles were bound to

thighs, so that she was balanced truly on hands and knees.

And straps ran from her left knee to her right wrist, and

vice versa. When she crawled, she had to move opposite

knees-and-hands together, or she’d go nowhere. Somewhere

Jack had found a head harness that kinda fit her, although

all the straps were pulled in to the last hole, and the

phallic gag in her mouth stretched her jaw till it ached.

Fastening a leash to her collar, he’d led her from the

kennel area into an adjacent room that had turned out to be

a shower facility……

Kristen purrrrred; it felt good to be washed like this.

Jack had found a bottle that sill had some soap in it, and

was rubbing it through her fur. Still on hands and knees,

still tied tight, he was soaping her up all over. His

hands, stroking through her fur, felt so nice……

The nozzle was a rude shock, and Kristen’s eyes went wide

open in surprise. Her gag, however effectively muffled

anything she might have said. Jack chuckled and slowly

manipulated the enema tube, making sure the water was

neither too cold nor too hot. He let it run for a moment

longer than he figured was comfortable, and then clamping

the tube and disconnecting the hose, he led her, still on

hands and knees, to a place where she could relieve


"I should have expected THIS" Kristen thought to herself.

The wooden gridwork on the floor was rough on her knees,

but the tornado of warm wind that enveloped her felt great,

as did Jack’s hands working through her fur. Of course,

the fact that he was once again behind her, his cock buried

up her ass, made it an even more unique situation. While

she was no stranger to anal sex, it wasn’t what she

preferred…. And yet, now, with him stroking her body, with

the straps still wet, and tight about her, somehow, it all

conspired to steal her breath away. When his hand stroked

down, over her mons, rubbing to let the wind dry her wet

fur, when his fingers brushed across her clitty, she

exploded like she’d never cum before!

Tanj had a rather strained look on her face, when the

others returned to the ship. Smith ignored it; "Got some

interesting stuff for you, Captain. Got plans, and

theories, as well as the overall plan on what the

Astrophysics department intends to do. Wanda got

background data, and experimental procedures. Oh, and I

picked up a few other things, such as codes, from their

main computer." Tanj nodded, a sharp, jerky motion; "Very

good. Let me get a look at it, a little later. Why don’t

you see what Professor Corey can make of it." Smith nodded

and turned to leave.

Wanda chuckled and bent to hug the Cheetah; "Found some

other things there as well; I’ll make you a copy. Oh, and

there’s something else, want to talk to you about it later

though!" Tanj just nodded. Zassa paused at the door,

frowning softly "Tanj, you all right?" Through gritted

teeth, the Cheetah replied; "Not really; our friend, the

Captain of the Battlecruiser, sent me home in this outfit;

it has some… .interesting properties, and I’m having a

little trouble with it…." The Vixen smiled; "DO tell!"

Zassa smiled and shook her head; "You MUST be distracted by

those things! The answer’s so simple!" Tanj looked up;

"And that is?" Zassa shook her head; "Oh No, first you

have to promise that you’ll let ME try ‘em, as soon as you

get them off!" Tanj nodded, almost convulsively; to the

Vixen’s trained eye, it was obvious that the garments had

just driven her to yet another climax. "Simple, Tanj,

Love; just go take a cold shower; the cold water will make

the panties and bra behave long enough for you to get them

off." Tanj’s eyes went wide, and moving carefully, if a

little awkwardly, she rose, to stagger down the hall

towards the head.

Jack stepped back and admired his handiwork. Kristen was

fastened in a set of stocks, wooden blocks holding her

ankles back and well spread. Another wooden beam, perhaps

not quite high enough off the floor for her comfort, held

her neck and wrists. He’d pulled an old slave hood over

her head, only after fastening a rather large plug-gag into

her mouth. A leather thong held the tip of her tail to the

stocks at the nape of her neck, exposing her sex. Now, he

walked around her, silently, just looking. She was

gorgeous. Bending to examine her sex closely, he smiled;

her labia were puffy and almost dripping with her juices;

she might never admit it, but she WAS enjoying this…..

Kristen squirmed; the way she was bound, in the stocks, all

she could really do was to wiggle her ass from side to

side; she couldn’t even drop to something more like a

squat, as the way her tail was tied made that just a little

painful. She felt deliciously exposed, and yet, with the

slave hood, hidden as well. And Jack’s occasional caresses

were just driving her wild. Now a touch on her left

nipple, now a stroke along the inside of one thigh….. now a

touch on her belly, and then on her ass…… She was on fire

once again, and there wasn’t anything she could do to

satiate herself…..

Jack sighed and looked at his watch. They were running out

of time. The morning role call wasn’t far off, and they’d

need time to dress, and then find their way back through

this warren, to the ship. Turning and looking at Kristen,

he smiled; there was STILL time to take her one more time….

A few more intimate touches and she’d be more than ready…..

Twirling the feather between two fingers, he stepped


Kristen howled into her gag; he was tickling her to death!

As the tip of the feather stroked directly between her

labia, the gentlest and most maddening of touches she

howled and bucked again…. And as she felt him spread her

pussy lips, to tease her clitty directly, she howled once

again, in frustration and desire.

Jack had to squat just a little, to ease his throbbing

shaft into her pussy. Next time, he’d move her ankles a

little closer together, raise her ass a little more.

Sighing he started a slow motion, working his shaft in and

out of her pussy. He could feel her clench her muscles

around him…. Taking his time, he slowly worked up her

passions, pausing to lean forward now and again, to pinch

and tug ag her nipples………

Kristen felt the hands stroking her, sqeezing her breasts,

toying with her mons, and all the while, that hard shaft

working its way in and out of her pussy. The slave hood

cut out sight, and most of the sound, leaving her little

else to concentrate on, and as a result, every touch, every

stroke seemed to be magnified, intensified, until she was

ready to scream. Somehow it all felt SO right, to be

helpless in the hands of a strong and powerful male…

Feeling the pleasures surge once again, she held herself

tight, knowing that yet another climax was about to

overtake her…..

Jack howled as he came, his cock buried deep in her

clenching pussy. She was SO good like this, he was going

to have to find a way to talk her into doing this again…….

Whatever it took, he had to have her again like this, some

day…. But for now, time was running out, and they had to

get back…..

Zassa looked up from the book she was reading. A still

damp Tanj stood in the corridor, nude, and grinning. With

a chuckle she tossed the panties and bra at the Vixen;

"have fun, and THANKS. I was beginning to think I’d have

to call over to the battleCruiser, to find out how to get

‘em off!" Zassa oooohed and swiveled her legs around on

the bed, stripping out of her clothes, to pick up the


Kristen found the trip back to the Tesla somewhat surreal;

somewhere Jack had found the most bizzare brassier for her

to wear… It had openings in the center of the too-small

cups for her nipples, and around the openings little

thumbscrews with soft rubber tips that could be adjusted in

towards the center, pinching her nipples and holding them

tight in the openings of the bra cups. She could feel her

uniform blouse rubbing against the tips of her nipples, and

each step, each movement made her squirm. As they passed

through the personnel lock, she was sure everyone was

staring at her chest as if they could see straight through

her blouse….. In a way, it was a delicious feeling…. And

she wasn’t sure she was in all that much of a hurry to

return to her quarters and remove the bra…. Although she

had to admit, after this experience, somehow being nude,

and bound seemed MUCH more natural…. And those feelings

left her somewhat confused. One thing she WAS sure of was

that she was going to get back at him. Next time they had

leave, next time they were able to venture onto the

station, she’d make sure HE was the one trapped in the

kennel, with HER calling the shots. Surely there must have

been male slaves there, and just as surely the logs the

guards had left must talk about things you could do to a

guy….. Grinning, she wondered who she could enlist to help

her in her quest….

"So its not just a Fairy Tale?" The Rabbit shook his

head; "Commodore, there’s no question the whole planet’s

gone. If it wasn’t into some sort of dimensional rift,

then someone’s developed an FTL drive that will move

planet-sized masses." "Crap, I was hoping this was all

some sort of "special effect"…. And it galls me no END

that that …. WOLF warned us about this. Now the sumbitch

is absolutely insufferable." After a moment the Ram calmed

himself and continued; "OK, this is where we stand. If

there’s something out there that can make planets

disappear, the Empire wants it and wants it bad. If this

Sou An Kee, or Tanj or whatever her name is, is looking for

her poor missing Master, let her. Just make sure you’re

one step behind her all the way. If she turns up anything

promising, I want to know about it almost as soon as SHE

does. Got that?" The Rabbit nodded; "Yessir. We have an

agent in place already." The Ram snorted; "Yeah, the Mink.

She’s not exactly what I’d call "reliable". See what else

you can do. This is too important to screw up!" The

Rabbit smiled, just a little, and nodded; "I’m working on a

couple of other angles as well….."

The Wombat sighed. His telepathic vouyerism with the Vixen

had left him weak and trembling. Lord, that one had a

capacity for sex that was incredible! But now, they were

making ready to leave. Apparently the Cheetah had finished

doing something technical, with the net result being their

ship had enough fuel to depart, and they were getting ready

to go to somewhere called "Jenka’s Place"…. With a sigh,

he pulled himself into a sitting position. He needed to

report this.. but first he was going to need a change of

underwear, and a shower….

Tanj smiled at the image of the Jaguar and nodded; "Yup,

got "passengers" to deliver, and one of them’s in a hurry."

"Oh?" the Jaguar asked; "Who’s that?" Tanj just smiled;

"Professor Corey has obtained a teaching position and needs

to be at the New Friesland University before classes start.

Hey, the guy’s lost his job with the Brethren, and I don’t

want to screw up his new career." The Jaguar nodded,

making a mental note. Corey. "And what will you do then?"

Tanj sighed; "Well, my Ma… um, my Boss bought that crazy

gizmo from the Brou; that’s a logical place to start, I

think. From there, well, we’ll just see where it leads

us." The Jaguar just nodded; "Hope our paths cross again

soon. We’ve obviously got to stay here, for a while.

Where they’ll assign us next, well, that’s anyone’s guess."

Tanj smiled and shrugged; "I’m sure we’ll see each other

again, but until then…" smiling she blew a kiss at the

video pickup, and broke the connection. Moving to the

pilot’s seat, she eased the Lost Cause out of its docking

bay, and headed it for open space.

"You’re not telling him everything, are you?" Tanj smiled

at the Vixen; "No. Of course not. We’ve got research

projects to set up, funds to line up, data to collect, and

hopefully experimental devices to build. The Gallacci are

quite good at sub-space physics; they might be helpful.

There’s an astrophysics center on Omicron Hydra IV that

should be visited…. There’s lots of places to go, people

to see. I think life will be anything but dull." Zassa

chuckled and leaned on the back of the pilot’s seat;

"Around you, Love, things are NEVER dull."

The Wombat sighed. They were leaving. He could follow

them for a while, with his mind, but even he was distance-

limited. Not so much a question of power, as one of focus.

Never the less….. well, if his "team" stayed on the

Battlecruiser, there would be a good chance of running into

them again. It was something to look forward to.

Zassa sneaked a glance at Hinoki; somehow there hadn’t been

time for him to give her the antidote he’d promised… she’d

have to attend to that, and soon, too. Trying to hide a

smile, she thought of the things Wanda and Kath had found

on the science vessel. It was going to be an interesting

trip to Jenka’s station……


The soup line was long, and Riggs wondered if there’d be

anything left in the pot when he got there. The Labor camp

was horrible, and yet it was better than he’d expected. So

far, anyways, no one had quite figured out who he was. It

was known that he was an academic, and that was enough to

land him in a Labor camp, for "re-education", but so far

his secret hadn’t quite been discovered. Shuffling

forward, he watched the guard ladle a half a cup of clear

yellow soup into his cup. After waiting a half-second to

make sure no more was forthcoming, he took another step,

only to receive a piece of moldy bread. With a sigh, he

moved off to try and find somewhere to sit that wasn’t too


The furr that sat down next to him didn’t look right. Oh,

he was dressed in the same tattered clothes as everyone

else, and was covered in the same mud as everyone else, but

he… he held himself differently. Riggs immediately pegged

him as one of the camp bullies, probably out to steal his

bread. However, the Tiger just sat there, ignoring his

plate, just staring off at the tree-line. Riggs had seen

that stare before; furrs had it just before they tried to

make a break for freedom. So far, no one had made it to

the trees. As he mopped up the last of his "soup" with the

crust of bread, Riggs raised his head and looked at the

Tiger; "Thinking of making a break?" The Tiger chuckled

and turned to look at him with surprisingly blue eyes.

"Yeah. Tonight. 0300 hours. Care to come, Dr. Riggs?"

Rigg’s jaw dropped; "how did you….." "Know your name?" the

Tiger grinned; "Simple. I was sent to get you out. You

and Dr. Kovalka, and Professor Themes. Oh, we’ll take a

few other folks just so its not TOO obvious, but you’re the

ones we’re here to get." Riggs pulled his tattered cloak

tighter around him; "and why, might I ask, would you be

after us?" The Tiger sighed; "Isn’t it obvious? You were

involved in the Elsyium Physics Lab that produced the

doomsday weapon. Oh, I know, you weren’t one of the senior

scientists; they were all evacuated with the Elysium

Government folks. But you were there, and you probably did

most of the legwork for the senior guys. We’re trying to

put a team together to find out what happened, to find out

if there’s any way back to the Empire. And your name

figures prominently in that work. So, are you coming?"

Riggs turned and looked out across the parade ground. Past

the double row of razor wire, and the patrolling guards;

"As long as we won’t be building any more weapons. I’m

done with that." The Tiger chuckled again, a dry sound;

"No, no weapons. Transportation devices, perhaps, but no,

no weapons." Riggs nodded, looking down at his now empty

tin plate; "Then count me in.

Prisons are designed to keep people from breaking out;

they’re seldom designed to keep people from breaking in.

Carson peered through the image intensifier on his KAR03

sniper rife, and adjusted the focus ring slightly. The

guards were all looking INTO the compound, and that was a

major mistake. Next to him, his spotter nudged him; "Its

0259; time." Carson nodded and gently squeezed the

trigger. The weapon had an integral silencer, and used

subsonic ammunition; while his spotter probably knew he’d

fired, no one else did…. Except for the guard in the tower

who suddenly slumped over. His comrade never had a chance

to notice, as a second later, he too was falling, most of

the top of his head missing.

The Tiger nodded and bent low, dashed from the shadows of

the building. As expected, there were no warning shouts,

no alarms, no searchlights swiveling to highlight him. The

razor wire fell to his cutters rapidly, and he squirmed

through the hole to the next row. Someone from the Blues

commando team was already at work on the other side of the

wire. Turning he motioned to those waiting…..

Riggs stared at the truck with Reds placards on it; "Um…

where’d you guys get this?" he mumbled. A wolf with an

impossibly huge rifle grinned, fangs bright in the

darkness; "We borrowed it; don’t worry, no one’s going to

come looking for it, not for a while anyways. And by the

time they do, we’ll be long gone." Riggs nodded and

climbed stiffly up into the back of the truck. A moment

later they were moving down an incredibly bumpy road… and

away from the camp.

The VTOL aircraft was of the kind used in search-and-rescue

missions. Three of them were in a clearing in the middle

of the forest. They’d abandoned the truck, and jogged

through the dark, led by those with night vision equipment.

Bustled inside, Riggs listened to the fans spool up….. It

looked as if he was actually going to escape the Reds’

workers’ paradise after all…. And all this time he’d been

expecting a bullet in the back of the head. HUH!

"Comrade, we’ve had another incident." Xyloff looked up

from his desk at the aide and growled; "Now what?" The

aide spread his hands wide and shrugged; "a labor camp was

assaulted and a number of the prisoners have escaped. We

THINK that the Blues Commandoes were after specific

individuals, but most of the camp’s inmates escaped before

the remaining guards realized what was happening, and

they’re still being rounded up. Until they’re all caught,

we won’t know for sure who’s missing, and just who might

have been the target of the commando team." Xyloff waved a

paw; "Riffraff in a labor camp are not a major concern.

The Blues frequently go after political figures for

propaganda purposes. I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

Now, tell me, how are things in the Ryhr valley area? Are

the border clashes still occuring?" The aide nodded; "Yes,

Comrade, but unfortunately each of our incursions seem to

be beaten back. The ground we have gained, well, the

industries there have been destroyed in the fighting…."

The Wolverine nodded; "At least the resources won’t be

available to our enemies, even if we can’t use them either.

Very well, let me know if anything else unusual happens."

The Lion lowered the welder, and tossed his head up, to

flip up the welding helmet. Scowling, he examined his

handiwork. The weld wasn’t pretty, but it would hold.

Hearing someone enter the compartment behind him, he

turned; "Hey Ben." The Wolf stopped behind him, to look

over his shoulder; "How come the repairs?" The Lion

shrugged; "Damage control says that we’re at 78%, but I

don’t think we’re going to do much better than that without

a shipyard refit. And we don’t have one of those, do we?"

The Wolf shrugged; "hey, it’s a big universe; there’s gotta

be one out there somewhere!" The Lion just grinned; "Ever

the optimist?" Ben grinned back; "Hey, right now we are

the biggest baddest Mother in the system. Even at 50% we

dominate the system, AND the planet!" The Lion chuckled

and rose, stretching; "Yeah; I’d love to see Comrade

Xyloff’s face when he finds out we’re still alive." The

Wolf sobered a bit; "speaking of Xyloff, Cromwell’s on his

way up; he’s got that collection of scientists we asked

for." The Lion nodded; "and I’m sure he’ll be wanting to

discuss his "payment" too. No problem. At the moment

we’re all in this together…. And I suspect he’s going to

ask us to do things we were intending to do anyways……

Riggs looked at the Brou device and shook his head. He’d

heard stories, but somehow he was still shocked to find out

the thing actually existed. Next to him, Dr. Kovalka shook

his head, muttering. The PADD in his hands was displaying

some of the data from the Brethren’s early tests. "Well,

Heinrick, looks like we’ve got some interesting work ahead

of us." Kovalka nodded; "Yeah; at least the food’s better

than the labor camp." "And its not cold in here. And the

work should be interesting." Kovalka nodded; "True; but

somehow I feel just as much a prisoner as before….."

"Yes, we already have a team out mapping jump points, but

you have to understand, the ships we have engaged in that

work, the crews undertaking it, they were never trained for

such work. The first ship to jump out-system will be

taking a helluva risk!" Cromwell looked back at the Wolf

and nodded; "I understand that; but we still have to figure

out where, or when we are. And exploring the surrounding

space is a function that you are better equipped to carry

out than we are. Therefor, it falls to you." The Lion

nodded; "Fair enough. We’ll do our part. But we’re going

to need fuel. We’re going to have to put together an

antimatter production facility, and for that we’re going to

need equipment." Cromwell nodded; "But antimatter is only

required for warp drives. Jump drives can function quite

nicely on fusion power and we have plenty of deuterium in

this system. Yes, I know, the first ship through should

have a warp drive and sufficient fuel to return, but beyond

that, well, we have MANY priorities right now, and an

antimatter production facility is well down on the list.

You’ll just have to wait." The Lion looked at Ben, and

sighed; "That may depend on what we find when we go


Strange, their thoughts are. Stranger than the last mind

in contact with me. Disbelieve, they do. Convinced, they

must be. The Brou device had gone a long way towards

repairing its damage, but certain raw materials were

missing. It would have to find a way to communicate with

the strange, alien creatures around it, somehow. As

repellant as that was, it had a duty. A duty to its

creators to warn them of the event that had relocated it.

At the moment, goals coincided, and thus, a semi-sentient

device intended for other things struggled to find a way to

communicate with alien minds……

<<<Masster, it has worked even better than we had hoped.

The new planetary mass in system QZX43-261 has shifted the

pattern of jump points for several systems in all

directions! Our adversary’s trade route has vanished!

They will be forced to take the route through the Vaxkti

cluster, and pay the passage fee we demand, or they will

have to abandon their contract with the Ree. Either way,

they’re ruined!>>> <<<Yes, it has worked well. The

alteration of the pattern of jump points has shortened

three of our own trade routes. The Council is most

pleased. Now, young one, remember the law of unintended

consequences. If we think we understand the situation

correctly, then we are obviously missing something. What

may have happened to cause us trouble?>>> <<<Master, what

could POSSIBLY have happened to tarnish our victory? We

have a great Triumph, one that will be commemorated for

ages to come!>>>

This story is a work of fiction, and any

resemblance to any characters, living, dead or

imaginary is purely a coincidence. Tanj is

copyright Kittiara's player. Kittiara can be found

on Furrymuck; telnet 8888. Hinoki,

and Zassa are copyright their players (Zassa can be

found on FurryMuck, and Hinoki on Tapestries or on

FurryMuck. Copyright 2001. Comments, suggestions,

or flames can be directed to ha_seng@hotmail.com.