Tanj's Tale: Beginnings

By  Kittiara

Stardate 2398.00:

Tanj sat up and Streeeettttccccchhheed as only a feline can.  She had spent the night, sleeping on a pallet at the foot of the Lion's bed.  It  _looked_ like just a thin pad, but Tanj had found it surprisingly
comfortable.  She was chained to a brass ring at the foot of his bed by  a remarkably long, thin gold chain, the other end fastened to the ring  piercing her left labia ring with a tiny lock.  She had more than enough
chain to reach the Lion, snoring softly on the bed, or even the adjacent  bathroom.  As she finished her luxurious stretch, she found the Lion  watching her, his head propped up with one hand.  Tanj smiled, and  slowly crawled up over the end of the bed; with a mock growl she pounced  her Master!

They rolled and wrassled around the bed a little, both of them being careful of her chain.  They ended up with Tanj crouched  "triumphantly" over him, licking softly at his sheath, and his balls, as
he in turn nuzzled under her tail.  The mock-wrestling turned into some  gentle loving, and before long they were both gasping at the sensations  of tongues artfully applied to sensitive surfaces.  To Tanj's immense  surprise, the Lion won the undeclared contest, driving her to a climax  before she could make him spurt, but make him spurt like a geyser she  did, shortly thereafter.

After she'd licked him clean, and vice versa, he produced, as if by  magic, the key to the tiny lock; with a swat on her bottom, he sent her  off to the bathroom, to make herself presentable.

As Tanj emerged from the bathroom, tying her hair back with a  ribbon, into a ponytail, the Lion threw her a piece of cloth.  Tanj caught it with one paw, and then held it up to look at it.  It shone like liquid metal, reflecting golden light.  It seemed tissue paper thin, but very strong....  After a moment, she determined that it was a _very_ skimpy dress.... She looked at him inquisitively, and he grinned  back; "you'd better put it on" he rumbled; "walking around here in just  your fur, you'd probably start a riot".  She slipped the halter top over her head and flipped her hair up from underneath the strap, and then
wrapped the lower portion around her waist, tying it on her left hip.  Turning to look at herself in the mirror, she shook her head; "Somehow I think I'm more likely to start a riot wearing this.... its scandalous!  Why, if I were to bend over......."  She grinned at the Lion and shrugged;  "still, after having worn nothing for so long,  it feels..... strange.  The Lion just leaned against the wall and grinned at her;
'you're right; on you, it proves the maxim that sometimes wearing just a little something _IS_ sexier than nude....  Still, we'll just have to  make do....."

They left the Lion's quarters, and traveled through corridors  reminiscent of a space station's, although more spacious.  The Lion explained that they were on an asteroid mining station.  "Its built into  a hollowed out asteroid, which explains why we've got plenty of room.  Also, having several hundred meters of nickel-iron asteroid between you and the outside makes for fairly decent armor.  Unbeknownst to the
Imperials, I've also managed to add a layer of neutronium armor, almost 40 angstroms thick.  As we routinely deal with blowing up other  asteroids, to expose the minerals inside, we have some rather powerful shield generators, to, ah, "protect us from the flying debris".  And of  course, as the whole thing has to be relocated occasionally, to access new ore bodies, we do have a limited maneuver capability.  As we have to search the skies for distant asteroids that might contain valuable ore,  our sensor suite is first class.  In fact, we've got some stuff that really is military grade.  Now, as we do have plenty of room, we've
managed to hide a small but rather efficient base for our pirate operations within the station.  As you can imagine, our surveillance countermeasures suite is imported, bought from a renegade Kilrathi, and  is the state of  the art for their military.  And you know how good Kilrathi cloaking devices are.... (I'm convinced the Romulans stole the technology from them...) If we have to, we can cloak the entire station,
but it only works for short periods of time as the heat buildup is tremendous"  He rambled on as they made their way towards the station's communal dining facility, acting as if he was giving a guided tour to a
prospective client.  Tanj found it all amazing, and a little hard to  believe.

On arrival at the mess hall, The Lion made introductions all around (at least as far as for those who were present.  Tanj smiled as she was introduced to Reggie, who she was surprised to discover, was a
rather large Lepine (rabbit-morph).  His partner "Slasher" (no, he was actually the group's part-time accountant, and got the nickname from the annual budget battles), was a rather quiet Ferret.  "Odd team"  Tanj thought to herself.  There seem to be about twice as many males as females, but Tanj was still surprised that there are that many females there.  As the introductions rapidly overwhelmed her, exceeding her capability to remember names, and faces and titles, her mind started to wander a bit.  Her overall impression was that they were a hard group, but fairly tight knit.....  Tanj was a mite surprised when as the Lion concluded the introductions, he turned to addresses the group; "as you know, Tanj here's from the "academy" on Elysium.  Someone as highly trained as her should not let her skills atrophy, and its my intention to see that she gets adequate practice".  The crowd responded  with snickers and a few hoots, not all of them coming from the males.  "Nighttime (or what passes for it on the station), she's mine, unless I'm elsewhere.  During the day, I've got an ambitious training schedule  for her, but if she's not actively engaged in some task, you may make use of her as you will".  Tanj listened, trying to keep her eyes from going wide, from showing her surprise, as her gaze traveling over the rough group....." _BUT_", he roared out, "She is NOT to be hurt".  He grinned; "you can make her uncomfortable, but punishments for misbehavior will have to be creative, as I don't want her marked.  Not  yet, anyway!"  The crowd just grinned and hooted, and Tanj did her best to look back with confidence, as if she felt she could take on the whole crew and still be the last one standing...

The Lion sent her to get them both something to eat, and after guessing what he'd want from the selection, returned, carrying the tray.  She was tempted to try and balance it on her head, as a proper serving slave, but being afraid she'd drop something in front of everyone, decided just to carry it in her paws.  Setting it down on the table, she emptied the tray, placing what she thought the Lion would like in front of him, with her food opposite him, on the other side of the table.  Still not quite believing he was going to let her sit down like a normal person, and not kneel at his feet, she watched his face carefully;  however, he seemed much more interested in his cup of coffee than in "proper protocol".......  As they ate, several of the other furrs in the room stopped by, to discuss operations, schedules, or finance, maintenance, or wild ideas.  Tanj found the food surprisingly good, and she listened,  wondering if the Lion's day was always like this, even breakfast turned into a rolling conference...  As they finished, and Tanj started
putting the dishes back on the tray to carry to the recycler, the Lion looked at her and grinned; "Like breakfast?"  Tanj nodded.  "Good, I'm glad our cooking meets your standards, but I'll warn you; I want you to maintain your figure; start gaining weight in the wrong places, and we'll have to cut back on your caloric intake.  Get you on a strict exercise regime too."  Tanj just nodded.

After breakfast, the Lion led her down to a gymnasium, where they met a rather elderly male Wolf-morph.  "This is Ben; he's on the Pirate side of the operation here, and specializes in taking large ships by storm.   However, as far as you're concerned, he's going to teach you some unarmed fighting techniques.  I want you to work with him, show him what you know, and then learn from him.  It very well could save your life  sometime in the near future".  And with that, the Lion nodded at Ben and departed.  Tanj's gaze shifted from the departing Lion to the Wolf, and just shrugged; "do you have _ANY_ idea what he's talking about?"  The Wolf just nodded; "Yes, and I can't say as I agree with it.  Its very risky, but if it works, well, it could cut our timetable significantly.  I won't tell you more, thats _his_ job.  But I agree, if
you're to survive, you may have to be _very_ good at unarmed combat."  Tanj's ears folded back as this all frightened her a bit, but she nodded.  "So what do we do?"

The Wolf had Tanj describe what little experience she had in fighting; unfortunately that was mostly wrestling with her brothers when they were cubs.  The Wolf sighed; "O.K., we start from the beginning.
If you can, this is the best way to stand..............  The session continued, as the Wolf described stances, and basic moves, Tanj trying to follow his motions.  After a few hours, she was exhausted, and
the Wolf called a halt.  "We'll continue this tomorrow, after breakfast.  My instructions were to take you down to Engineering, when you'd had enough.

The Wolf led her through another maze of corridors, until they finally entered, not a large, cavernous room full of machines, as Tanj expected, but to a small block of offices.  After passing by a
rather harried looking lady Coyote, Tanj was led into what she took to be the Chief Engineer's office.  Again, she found it not what she expected.  Yes, there was a small desk, overflowing with paper hardcopies over in one corner, and there were the usual file cabinets, and blueprint racks; the centerpiece however, was a state of the art holographic CAD/CAM station.  In the middle of it, literally walking through a three dimensional drawing, was a rather large male Badger.  The Badger waved a paw impatiently at Tanj and her escort, as he grumbled to himself, making small tic marks with a light pen.  After a few minutes of literally examining the problem from every conceivable  angle (including getting up on a small set of portable steps), the Badger turned to the console, and hit a few keys.  The drawing vanished in a flash of light, and as Tanj blinked her eyes, she found him  looking at her appraisingly.  "the Boss tells me that you've got your Second Engineer's Ticket" he growled.  Tanj straightened and nodded; "I was the only engineer on the freighter "Lost Cause"......  The badger  nodded and turned back to the console, apparently able to call up information on registered ships.  He nodded at what he saw and looked up at Tanj; "not much of a ship".  Tanj nodded carefully, her eyes hardening as she looked at him; "it may not have been much, a constant struggle to keep it running, but it was _HOME_, and if you can believe it, I miss her.  The Badger just nodded.  "If its all the same to you, I too wish you were there.  The last thing I need is a scantily clad sexpot distracting my folks from their work.  We too find it a challenge at times to keep everything running correctly, and I demand precise, careful, CORRECT work!  However, as you're here, I suppose I should find  something useful for you to do."  With that, he turned back to his console and opened a comlink channel; "Mark?  Get down to my office; got someone to help you with that job I just gave you".  Peremptorily, he  cut the link before any reply was heard.

The Wolf took his leave, and Tanj stood by the door, quietly, watching as the Badger grumbled about his office, being interrupted every few minutes by another comm call.  After a while, the door chime
sounded and a white mouse walked in.  As he walked over to the Badger,  he turned his head to give Tanj a quick look, although how he knew  Tanj was over against the wall, she didn't know.  As the mouse walked over to the Chief Engineer, Tanj took the moment to study him from behind; at least a head shorter than Tanj, he wore fraying jeans shorts, and a rather dirty tee shirt.  In fact, he was a mess; it looked like he'd been rolling in the dirt.  The Badger looked up at the Mouse,  and then at Tanj, looking over the Mouse's shoulder.  "Mark, Tanj; Tanj, Mark.  Tanj, you are to go with him and help him in his assigned tasks; consider yourself his assistant until further notice".  With that, the Badger waved a paw in dismissal, and Tanj silently followed Mark out the door.

As they walked, Mark nodded to Tanj with a slight smile.  "Looks like I'm no longer on the bottom of the totem-pole around here.  Welcome aboard, by the way."  Tanj just shrugged and grinned ruefully; "can't get much lower'n me at the moment, but thanks; so, what we workin' on today?  Powerplants?  Warp Drives?  Weapons systems?"  Mark coughed softly.  "I'm afraid you'll have to settle for environmental.  Seems someone over in the residential section  has been complaining about a funny odor  in the air system, and _we_ get  to clean the ductwork."  Tanj's wail was heard all the way back to  the Chief Engineer's office; "Nooooooooooo!  Thats what they ALWAYS made  me do back home!  Just because I was the smallest, and therefor could  fit in the ducts better.... ITS NOT FAIR!  _YEARS_ in engineering school, _MORE_YEARS_ of experience, and I'm _BACK_TO_CLEANING_DUCTS_?" This was followed by every curse that Tanj had ever learned in her years in  space.  Mark just listened with something like amused sympathy as he lead her down the corridors towards Environmental.

By the end of the day, they were both filthy.  Mark was a little surprised when Tanj had stripped off her dress, not wanting to get it dirty, and certainly not minding being seen in just her fur.  His eyes
narrowed as he took in all her piercings, but he kept quiet and Tanj found it impossible to tell as they worked whether he disliked what he saw or just thought it impractical to work without the protection of clothing.  It hadn't taken Mark long at all to find the source of the foul odor, a particularly gross pool of slime at  the bottom of a duct, but they still had to spend the rest of the shift cleaning it up, along with the surrounding ductwork.  By the end of  their shift, they were both filthy.

As Mark was leading Tanj back towards the Lion's quarters, they ran into Reggie and Slasher.  Reggie smiled and said hello, and Slasher, characteristically quiet, just nodded; "Mark, would you mind if we
borrowed Tanj for a little bit; the Boss is kinda tied up with the scheduling team, and we thought, well, ah, Tanj kind of made an impression on us when we picked 'er up from Elysium, and, ah, we'd like
to get to know her a little better.  Slasher just nodnoded repeatedly.  Mark looked from Reggie to Slasher and back, and then nodded solemnly.  "Of course, wouldn't want to let her, ah, valuable skills go unappreciated..... and besides, practice makes perfect.  Take her away, guys."  He emphasized those last few words with an impish grin and a grand dismissive gesture, drawing a chuckle from Reggie and a wide grin from Slasher.  Tanj blinked at the "practice makes perfect" comment, but then turned to give Mark a quick kiss on the cheek;  "I'm sure the Boss would agree.  I'll see you tomorrow!"  Reggie smiled and held out a crooked arm; Tanj smiled back and linked arms with Reggie, and then with Slasher, and as they walked off, she looked  back over her shoulder at Mark with a 'you just _wait_' grin on her face.

"Guys, you know, I really am rather a mess...." Tanj started....  Reggie just grinned; "'s Allright, Luv, got just the place picked out for you to clean up some.  Somehow I doubt you've gotten a good tour of
the place yet; let us show you one of its premier attractions, the zero gravity pool!  Reggie led the way through a series of corridors (getting Tanj completely lost), and then through a series of airlocks.  As
they walked between the last set, the gravity lessened noticeably, until  Tanj was having difficulty keeping her feet on the deck.  Cycling through the last lock, they passed into true zero gravity, and into a
large spherical cavern.  Floating in the middle of this chamber was a huge ball of shimmering blue water.  What trick of surface tension kept it in place, Tanj had no idea, but it was very pretty.  Reggie  released Tanj's arms and bent to remove his clothes; twisting, Tanj saw that Slasher was also stripping.  Leaving his clothes floating near the lock, Reggie kicked off from the wall and dove  headfirst into the sphere of water.  Ripples rebounded all around its  surface, and after a few seconds, his head emerged about a quarter of  the way around from where he'd entered.  Grinning, he waved Tanj  onwards.

Tanj just shrugged and shed her dress.  Twisting, she too kicked  off from the wall, although not as powerfully as Reggie had; turning in  mid air, she managed to enter the water feet first, and a strong kick
propelled her back to the surface.  As her head broke the surface of the  water, she saw Slasher arrow into the water a few feet away.  Tanj found that she could move easily through the water, and when she tried  to swim straight through the center, she found the center was hollow!  There, in the middle, hanging over her head, in the void, was an autobar!  Talk about all the luxuries!  Trying to find out the system's limits, she'd just ordered a Baraxian sunrise, when Reggie surfaced next  to her.  "This place is great!  I've never heard of ANYTHING like it" Tanj purrrred.  "who designed it?"  Reggie grinned; "The Boss got the Technology from some old friend of his; don't know more than that."  As  he talked, Reggie moved a little closer, until his body made contact with Tanj's; she purrrred, knowing exactly what he was after, and  turned her head to kiss him softly.  As she did so, she felt someone  move up behind her.  Giggling, she turned her head and kissed Slasher too.  The three of them hung there, at the interface of air and water, and slowly made love; Reggie sliding his cock into Tanj's pussy,  while Slasher, moving gently from behind, filled her ass.  Tanj just  hung onto the overhead bar with one paw, stroking the two males with her other paw, and her tail, twitching vaginal muscles, her "inner hand", to  stroke Reggie's cock, and tightening her anal ring around Slasher's shaft.  The water was warm, the motions slow, sedate, and dreamy.  Tanj purrred as she felt Slasher loose his load first, his cock
throbbing in her ass; his motions seemed to directly affect Reggie, as it was only moments later that the big Lepine's cock also exploded, throbbing, filling Tanj's pussy with his seed.  As he came, Reggie's
paw moved down to rub hard on Tanj's clitty, and gasping, she climaxed from the direct pressure, so strange with the warm currents of water surging around her fur.

There was a dryer in the airlock, but as Reggie and Slasher led her back to the Lion's quarters, she still wasn't quite dry.  She wasn't quite clean either and her fur had that "spiky" look.  Tanj giggled as she thought to herself; "I wonder if I left a ring around the sphere?  I've left rings around the bathtub, and cleaned enough of them off, but I wonder how the pool is kept clean?  Oh well, not my job (yet)."  She found the  Lion at the desk in his quarters, shuffling papers.  He'd eaten, but had  a covered tray waiting for her.  Tanj ate quietly, letting him work, and after disposing of the dishes, and taking a nice hot shower, she finally curled up on her pallet.  She was sound asleep when she felt his
tongue licking her softly; opening her eyes, she put her arms around his neck and kissed him.  "Hard day, eh?" he smiled.  Tanj just nodded,  and then Ooooooohed as she felt him start licking down her body.  His  tongue on her breasts, his teeth toying with her nipple rings soon had her panting, and when he moved down to her sex, she moaned in pleasure.  His tongue delved deep within her, a few times, as if gathering information as to what she'd been up to, and then withdrew.  Tanj stretched out flat, and he moved forward, to cover her, his cock driving hard into her wetness.  Their lovemaking was fast, and hard, with Tanj screaming out her pleasure long before he let loose a roar, his cock filling her with his cum.  Tanj slept that night in his bed, in his arms, but still chained to the footboard.

Things gradually fell into something of a routine.  Tanj would have breakfast with the Lion, and as she did so, she found that she was taking greater and greater part in the conversations of those who came
by to consult with him, or to seek decisions.  She'd practice her martial arts, either with the Wolf, or with others that had special skills to teach, and then midmorning, she'd link up with Mark, to assist  him on whatever projects they'd been assigned.  Sometimes she'd be a bit late, if one of her special instructors wanted a little at the end of their session, and Tanj came to enjoy teasing Mark on those
occasions, grinning and licking her lips as she apologized for being tardy. It almost seemed as if he knew exactly what she'd been up to, and whether the interlude was their idea (justifiable tardiness), or  hers......  Sometimes she'd have Dinner with the Lion, sometimes she'd be led off by others for their enjoyment.  Sometimes the Lion would be too tired in the evenings, but if that was the case, the sex in the  morning would be fast and furious!

It had been a little over a week when Mark and Tanj were assigned a new project.  Tanj was delighted; this was the first _serious_ engineering project the pair had been given, although Tanj got the  distinct impression that it was not because they'd won the Badger's respect as engineers, but that he simply didn't have anyone else to put  on it.  One of the Raider ships had a glitch in its control system
causing the helm controls to "wander" seemingly at the worst occasions.  It had impacted the side of the asteroid base as it had tried to enter  the docking bay, and the pilot insisted it wasn't his fault.  Diagnostics on the system had shown nothing, but then as they'd tried to  move the ship from the repair bay back to the hangar, it did it again, causing a small wreck.  Mark and Tanj pulled the drawings on the  control system, and related subsystems, and spent a day going over the logs and records.  "It's got to be in the joystick calibration routine," Mark insisted.  "The values are drifting for some reason, and that's  leading to the difficulty in control."  Tanj shook her head; "no, I'd think the pilot could compensate for that, unless they drifted damn fast; I think its in the linkages to the control thrusters.  The control system is sending the correct signals, they're just not being interpreted by the thrustor subprocessors correctly."  Mark shook his head doubtfully.  "I've never heard of a problem with a distributed
control system like that before."  "Maybe its a virus; something new.  You _know_ binary viruses are a standard combat weapon these days.  Infect your enemy's ship with a virus that cripples him and while he's trying to fix that, move in for the kill!"  After considering for a  moment, Mark shook his head again.  "A serious combat virus would have to do more than just cause an occasional malfunction, and in only one
system at that.  Not to mention that it couldn't work very well without sabotaging parts of the control software, and nobody's found a trace of that so far.  I'd say the calibration routines are still our best
bet."  Tanj shrugged; "OK, tell you what; you work on that, and I'll head back to the engine spaces and work on the linkages.  Bet you I'm right!"  Mark chuckled and raised an eyebrow.  "Bet me what,exactly?"   Tanj grinned back; "If you're right, I'll bet you a night of pleasure to exceed your wildest imaginings, not that you stand a chance of winning."  "And if _YOU_ win?"  Tanj grinned again; "A favor to be  named at a later date; nothing too big, just a favor you owe me."  Mark tilted his head for a moment with exaggerated seriousness, then nodded. "Can do."

Mark worked solidly on the software that allowed the flight controls to direct the ship where the pilot wanted to go.  On breaks from her work, Tanj would bring him cups of coffee, only to find them later, a  few sips gone, stone cold.  Pursuing her theory, Tanj checked out the code for the subprocessors that controlled the actual thruster motors.  In order to resist as much damage as possible and still function, the
Raider had a distributed control system, which meant a whole bunch of little computers spread all over the place.  Finding what she thought were changes in the code that might have been caused by a virus, Tanj wiped all the memory, and painstakingly reloaded the programs.  Three days later they were both done; Mark thought that he had found some  obscure changes in the code, something that might be attributed to standard "read/write" errors that might have been the problem, but  Tanj wasn't convinced.

The Badger reviewed their work, and shook his head; "To tell you the  truth, I don't see where the change in code that you found, Mark,  could  cause the problem as described, but I'm willing to let you take the ship  out, and see if its fixed.  Just don't ram the station, PLEASE?"   Tanj and Mark grinned at each other as they headed for the hangar bay.  "Wow, got a chance to actually fly one of those things!" Tanj
purrrrred.  Mark ahemed and looked down when Tanj turned to stare at him; "Ah, are you checked out on that particular ship?" he asked softly.  Tanj shook her head no, a little jerky motion as if she didn't really want to concede the information.  Mark nodded.  "Better leave the flying
to me until we're sure we've really nailed the problem, then...but if you'd like, I can give you a few pointers afterwards."  Tanj snorted, as if she didn't think there was anything that he could teach her, but secretly looked forward to getting her hands on the controls, no matter what the "restrictions"......

As Mark piloted the ship out of the Hangar bay, all hands taking cover in case the problem _wasn't_ fixed, Tanj headed back to the engine spaces to see how her end was holding up.  Sure enough, they'd  made it clear of the station, and as they headed for the asteroid field  (and some cover for checking out maneuvering), Tanj's checks repeatedly came up clean.  Arriving in the designated practice area,  Mark proceeded to put the ship through some gut-wrenching maneuvers, and  Tanj found herself slung about some, despite the sophisticated inertial dampening field....  It was in just one such maneuver that
Tanj heard Mark shout; "LOOK OUT!  Get DOWN!".  Moving instinctively,  Tanj ducked behind the bulk of the mass converter, just as the aft inertial damper exploded.  Picking herself up from the deck, Tanj  grabbed a fire extinguisher, and managed to put out the sputtering  electrical fire.  She was just setting down the empty fire extinguisher, looking at the mess when Mark came running back from the flight deck.  Tanj looked up at him; 'thanks for the warning, but how'd you know?"   Mark blinked at her through the remaining smoke, then at the mess that  had been the inertial damper, and then back at Tanj; "Know what?"  Tanj turned to look at him more closely; "the warning you gave over  the intercom; it was very timely, I just wonder how you knew that was going to happen....."  Mark frowned and held up a paw.  "How many  fingers do you see?"  Now it was Tanj's turn to be confused.  "Two,
why?"  "Just making sure...I did get a bunch of red lights just a moment before the explosion, yes, but remember how there _is_ no intercom between the flight deck and here?  Not that I'm complaining that you're all right, mind."  Tanj took a step back, thinking to herself; "he's right; this place is normally unmanned during a flight; the only reason its got life support at all is for maintenance and repairs......"  "But I _heard_ you say clearly..... Oh, nevermind, help me get this mess  cleaned up...."
A detailed examination showed that shrapnel from the intertial damper had shredded not only the maneuvering thruster subprocessor, but also the network connections feeding it as well as part of the thruster fuel supply system.  The sub-sub processors were all O.K., there was just no way to get the control signals to them.

Tanj looked up from the computer display; 'Yup, just as I feared; the Warp drive will take us anywhere we want to go just fine.  But the insystem drive will only take us in a straight line.  I can't think of  any way to pass the control signals to the sub-sub-processors, even if we had enough spare cable to physically reach them all.  Even if we could fix the fuel system.  Mark just sighed and nodded; "I guess we're  going to have to call for a tow."  He reached over and keyed the tightbeam com.  After a minute, he found the base's carrier, and opened a channel.  "Uh, Chief, we, ah, solved the problem with the control system" he began.....  But we've had another problem crop up; we've had a catastrophic failure of the aft intertial damper, and its taken out the manuvering thrustor subprocessor.  We can't maneuver."  The Badger  just shook his head; "I don't have anyone to send after you; there's  been a fairly large engagement out near Cissata, and everything we've got headed out there about an hour ago.  You'll just have to wait.  Your  life support stable?"  Tanj nodded; "everything's fine, except for  the attitude thrusters"  The Badger nodded; "you may wish it wasn't, when you get back, but we'll talk about it then"  And with that, he cut  the connection.

Tanj did a quick inventory of the ship's stores; they were good for at least a week.  Emergency rations weren't that bad.......  She did what she could to make the little ship's rest area comfy, and then just  sat down to wait.  Mark puttered for a while, but eventually, he too wound up in the "rest" area.  The place was just too small; it was meant for a "fourth" crewman, a relief pilot, or whatever, that would allow  the others to get some sleep on a long mission.  Mark was small, and Tanj wasn't exactly huge, but even so, it was a bit cramped.  Still, the big padded area that passed for a multi-species bed was softer and
more comfortable than one of the acceleration couches on the flight deck.  At first, when he laid down, he and trouble were well separated,  but as they both slept, things being what they are, they wound up together.....

Tanj purrrrred softly and cuddled; as she awoke, she couldn't remember the dream, but she'd been with someone she'd liked and had been holding them tight.  As she opened her eyes, however, all she saw was
white fur; slowly it came back to her; the ship, the accident, _Mark!_  As Tanj softly tried to disengage herself, she found herself "trapped" between him and the wall; no way she could get up without  waking him.  He'd worked hard, and she knew he was tired, and decided to just lay there, and let him sleep.  Wasn't as if there was anything that she needed to do.....  As she laid there, watching him sleep, she
thought of all the ways that she might find a way to steer the ship without the thrusters.  Every method she thought of, she couldn't implement with what they had on board, though.  Finally, out of ideas,  she took to softly tracing patterns in the fur of Mark's back, with one clawtip, almost using him as if he were a drawing board.  At first, her motions were subtle enough to go unfelt, but after a while, as her  boredom steadily increased, Mark started stirring uneasily in his sleep.

Tanj felt that she now had a dilemma; she could try and remain immobile, or she could wake him through her teasing.  She knew she should let him sleep, but that just wasn't in her nature..... and once
again, the boredom of the situation brought out her devilish side.  Idly tracing a finger along his ribs, she watched, grinning as he squirmed a little; he positively shivered when her finger traced across  his stomach, and as she ran its tip lightly along the waistband of his  pants, she could almost hear him gasp.

Mark awoke suddenly, remembering exactly where he'd been when he fell asleep, but still taking a moment or two, to connect that thought with the situation he now found himself in; he seemed to have backed Tanj against the wall, and she had an arm around him, lightly carressing his tummy.  He'd picked up some of the stories and comments made by others on the Station, of course, and the situation _was_ kind of obvious...  "Well", he reminded himself, "you knew something like this was bound to happen eventually, and now is definitely better than some other times.  Might as well get ready to meet the real thing behind all those tall tales".  Squirming around, he turned to face Tanj, to find her grinning at him, in a sleepy fashion....

As Mark squirmed around to face Tanj, she leaned forward just a little to kiss him.  What started out as a tentative kiss soon became a passionate one as their tongues danced.  Tanj purrrrred softly, and with an arm still around Mark, slowly rolled onto her back, pulling him on top of her.  As they kissed again, Tanj spread her legs, letting his feet fall between her knees.  As her paw stroked down, carressing
his back, she realized that his shorts had vanished; running her paw teasingly down over his bottom, tickling the base of his tail, she wondered how he'd managed to do that.......  It wasn't long before  Mark's arousal was apparent, and with a grin, he kissed her on the nose and shimmied down Tanj's body until the head of his cock slipped down to tease the entrance to her pussy.  Tanj purrrrred sleepily and
raised her knees slightly, and then moaned softly as Mark slowly slid his cock into her.  "He's bigger'n I would have thought" Tanj thought to herself as Mark slowly started moving his hips, sliding his shaft in and out of Tanj's sex.  Being somewhat shorter than Tanj, Mark's head was now well positioned to nuzzle at Tanj's breasts and she moaned softly as a tongue started teasing her left nipple.  Their
lovemaking was slow, and unhurried, each enjoying the other's body.....  Tanj caressed Mark's back and his bottom, her fingers gliding here and there as Mark's tongue teased her nipples, nibbling at the lower curves of her breasts, his hard cock moving back and forth with measured strokes.  Tanj felt as if she was floating away on a cloud of pure pleasure, almost lost in it all when she felt Mark's thrusts start to
speed up; with a wicked grin, she concentrated, rippling her vaginal muscles around his cock, milking him.  Mark gasped and moments later he was in the throes of an orgasm, slamming his cock into her as hard as he could.  The feel of his spurting cock deep within her, the feel of his  balls slapping at her ass, was just what Tanj needed, and she slipped  over the edge into the arms of a warm and lovely climax.  Panting, the  two held each other tight, as they slowly regained their breath.

As they cuddled, enjoying the afterglow, they started to talk again.  Mark got Tanj to tell him her story, of how she came to be in such a predicament, and when she'd finished, Tanj asked him how he came to
work with the Pirates.  "I was on the station at Pletirat, looking for work.  One of the Pirate raiders had been damaged in a raid and had made its way to the station.  Of course, they were posing as a mining ship,  and couldn't let the extent of their damage be known, or uncomfortable  questions might be asked.  I'd heard rumors, though, about them needing engineering help, and just walked up to the airlock,  and told them I'd  like to apply for the job.  They needed help, and here I am".

A while later, Tanj was half dozing, when she felt Mark shift  some, moments later, she felt his tongue slowly lapping at her pussy.  His measured strokes seemed attuned to her nervous system, each stroke  perfectly timed to slowly increase her passion.  When she tried to move,  to shift to a position where she could return the favor, Mark just  pushed her down again; "You lie still, this is for you; just lie back
and enjoy....."  Tanj settled back with a purrrrrrrr.  His technique was amazing; it was as if he knew just what to do, just how to do it, just when to do it, to maximize Tanj's pleasure; it wasn't but  minutes before she was panting hard, almost screaming, teetering on the very edge of a massive climax; and then he backed off, as if knowing just how close she was, as if he could read her passion like an open  book, to keep her at the very brink without pushing her over, playing her as if she were a fine instrument.  Tanj gasped and moaned, and before long was begging him to let her cum, to let her have her climax,  but he just kept licking, teasing, nibbling and sucking until she was a writhing mess, almost out of her mind.  Then he paused for an instant and touched her clitty with the tip of his tongue, just flicking it  softly, as if knowing that was exactly what it would take, no more, no less, to drive her into the arms of her climax.  Tanj shuddered and yowled, her climax seeming to vibrate through her for hours.  Finally,  when she could open her eyes, she found him watching her, a soft smile on his face.  "Where did you EVER learn to do _THAT_" she mumbled softly.  Mark purred softly, almost sounding like a feline himself in
the dim light of the room.  "A bit of experience, an active imagination, and a few good teachers...better than yours, perhaps, in that _they_ didn't need to resort to 'discipline' to keep their students properly
enthusiastic..."  His voice faded slowly into silence.

After a while, Tanj found herself stroking the fur of his tummy again, almost instinctively teasing; "you know, I learned a trick a while back, you might appreciate; you up for another round?"  Mark
looked at her for a moment, but then he nodded gamely.  Tanj rose and made her way over to the environmental controls; after a minute, the gravity in the small craft slowly decreased, until they were floating freely.  Tanj grinned and kicked off the wall to tackle the floating Mark, driving him softly back into the far wall; "for this to work, you have to hold onto something with hands and feet...."  Mark found suitable handholds and managed to wedge his feet under the edge of a  storage cabinet.  Tanj maneuvered herself down, until she was floating with her head near his crotch, and using her tongue she brought him back to full hardness.  With his cock once again standing proud, she twisted and holding it with both hands, brought its head to her pussy.  Eyes closed she writhed in midair, stroking herself against his cock, and then, hooking her feet around his waist, she slowly drew herself  "down" onto his cock.  She surged back and forth for a moment, her hair floating in a cloud around her head, and then looking at Mark's face she grinned; tightening her vaginal muscles, she held his cock, holding  herself to him by that grip, as she slowly brought her legs up, until  she could grasp an ankle in each paw.  "Now, Mark, I want you to let go with one paw, and reach down, and slowly spin me around on your cock!"  Mark noddeded and complied, reaching down to place a hand under her  thigh; pushing slowly, he found that he could indeed revolve her around on his cock, the sensations of her slick folds on his shaft  indescribable.  Tanj purrrrred and wriggled slightly and then with an  eep released one ankle to reach down and pull her self back onto his shaft, as she threatened to float free.  As she tried to spin herself in the other direction, and still not loose contact, Mark accidentally let his other paw slip, and in a moment, they were a tumbling mess in the middle of the compartment.  Tanj giggled and locked her legs around his waist again, and pulled him to her, and they wound up writhing against each other, slowly rebounding from wall to floor to ceiling to wall.  Tanj found the situation very novel, if a little difficult,  but had no difficulty driving herself to several climaxes before Mark once again filled her with his jism!

They were still clinging to each other, spinning slowly in the middle of the compartment when it hit Tanj square between the eyes!  She knew how to regain attitude control!  "MARK!  I got it!  I know how  we can get home!"  Mark blinked at her, a little dazed by her sudden revitalization; "How?"  Tanj grinned, a smile full of sharp teeth; "we build a gyroscope in here, using the gravity fields to spin and orient it.  If we can find enough magnetic metal, I bet we can magnetically stabilize it too!  Mark nodded slowly: "I think I see where you're coming from..... But are you sure you want to do that?  It can't
be THAT long until they come after us......"  "I'd rather not give them the satisfaction, Mark.  _I_ want to get us home under our own power!"  Mark chuckled and shrugged in mock resignation.

It took about 16 hours of work, but in the end Tanj had remounted a half dozen gravity generators on the walls of the compartment, and powered them up.  She'd taken the remenants from the failed inertial
damper, and all the internal parts from the thruster system that she could safely dismount and welded them together to form as balanced a mass as she could manage.  What wiring she could strip from the less
essential systems provided field coils for the stabilization scheme.  Meanwhile, Mark worked at a control program that the ship's computer could handle.  The initial test went well; the ship's nose slowly  turning against the starfield.  Moving out at half power, they headed  home.

They had to go slowly, making many "course corrections" in the old fashioned manner, but they made it back to the station just as their rescue mission was being launched.  Tanj was immensely proud that
they made it close enough to the station to be tractored directly into the hangar bay.  As the mooring clamps rang against the hull, Tanj suddenly realized that she was still nude; "OHMYGOD, where's my dress!  Lookat all those furrs outside to welcome us back.... ARG, my HAIR!"  Mark just smiled.  Funny thing; he'd found his pants right away, while Tanj had to search for a good five minutes to find her dress.........

There was a lot of good natured back slapping when they exited the ship;  Most of the ribbing however was directed at Mark, with unsubtle comments about surviving three days locked in a ship with Tanj.  The Chief Engineer was also present, and he admitted to being very impressed with the system they'd devised to get the ship home, but he also let them know in no uncertain terms that he was furious with them for the damage they'd done to the ship in order to make their way home!  "Its going to take forever to put all those thrusters back together, IF we've got that many spares, and with what you did, we'll NEVER find out why the inertial damper failed!" he roared.

That night, Tanj was again chained to the foot of the Lion's bed.  It felt good to be "home".....  After some particularly wild and rough sex, they cuddled and she related the whole story.  "You know", he rumbled softly when she'd finished, "that isn't _quite_ the version of how Mark came to work with us that
I'm familiar with".  "Oh?"  Tanj purrred.  "No.  He's right about the raider; it was hit with a leach type weapon, took out all the main power systems, and in the process fried the ship's flight engineer.  The crew
managed to limp into Pletirat, but the ship was still a mess.  Of course, as thats Elysium territory, they couldn't very well admit to their problems; it'd cause way too many repercussions.  They were about
to head out, to try and find what parts they could obtain quietly, when Mark walks up, says he wants to apply for the Engineer's job.  They thought he must have been some sort of a spy, as they hadn't told ANYONE the real reason as to why they were there.  He said later he had mistakenly turned up at the wrong docking port, and while there _was_ a ship on the station looking for an engineer, it was on the other side of the station.  I suppose it could have been an honest mistake on his part; I certainly can't prove otherwise, but you have to admit, its a HELL of a coincidence.....  At any rate, the crew dragged him on board, afraid to let him go, already thinking he might know too much.  He did good work patching them up to get back here, and he's been with us ever since.  Still, we keep him on a short leash, as we have doubts about his explanation, and if he _wasn't_ lost, we don't know HOW he knew they needed an engineer.  Some think he might just be a telepath, but those are so rare, I don't give that much credance."  Tanj's eyes widened at this; "you know, just before the damper blew, I heard him, clear as day, tell me to duck.  At least I thought I heard him.....  Later, he denied it, and he was right, there was no intercom between the flight deck and the engine spaces...... maybe he _IS_ a telepath!  The Lion just shrugged; "well, we'll see about that.  I'm very pleased at the way you brought that ship back; you showed great resourcefulness, and I value that.  But you really blew your initial analysis.  Mark was right, and you were way wrong.  And for that" he said with a grin, "you're going to have to be punished........."

The next night, Tanj was led into the mess hall by a chain on her collar.  She was naked, her arms tightly bound behind her, a gag filling her mouth, and a blindfold over her eyes.  The Lion made a great show of reading "charges" and announcing "punishment", much to the crowd's  amusement.  Tanj's blindfold was then removed and she was led to a set of stocks.  Reggie opened the top, and the Lion unbound her paws and pushed her down, bending her over until her neck and wrists were in  place.  Reggie then lowered the upper half, imprisoning her.  The Lion  proceeded to lock the stocks closed, and made a show of pocketing the key.  He then took a rather long spreader bar and forced her feet well
apart; this left her body horizontal, from neck to hips.  A leather strap went around the end of her tail and this was then tied to a ring in the stocks, fully exposing her sex to view.  The Lion came around into her now rather limited field of view; "I thought long and hard about paddling you, but I think this will be sufficient.  You'll stand here for the amusement of whomever decides to avail themselves of you,  until morning.  He grinned and kissed her on the nose, and padded off.  Tanj heard Reggies voice saying; "got the sign-up sheet right here; that way there'll be no confusion as to who gets her when......  Oh  yeah, the boss says to replace her gag when you're done....." Tanj found it to be a long night, but not without its delights.  There were a number of guys that just took her from behind, and a few  that made use of her mouth, but there were also two ladies, the coyote from the Chief Engineer's office, and a mink friend of hers that took great delight in teasing her to distraction, bringing her to the very edge of a climax, and then  stopping.......  Mark even stopped by in the middle of the night to give her something to drink, and she was very thankful for that too.  In the end, it was the two ladies that released her, just after breakfast, and took her to get cleaned up.  Seems they had the day off, and all three wound up sleeping in the Lion's bed.  What happened when he found them there, later in the day, is another story.