Tanj's Tales: Turnabout

By Kittiara


Stardate 2399.40

He stood in the line at the check point, head and shoulders

above most of the other furrs… but his posture was

definitely non-threatening, his shoulders slumped, his head

down. Combined with the cheap, wrinkled business suit, he

looked like just another middle level type having a hard

day. Periodically the line would shuffle forward, and

eventually it was his turn. He handed over his papers, with

a soft smile, trying not to meet anyone's gaze……

Clinton looked at the disheveled Lion and smiled to himself.

Not too old. Big enough. Seemed to be in good health.

Papers say he's not married, and he's from out of town.

Looking over to Winston, he nodded slowly. "Pardon me, Sir,

we'd like you to come over here and look into the retinal


The Lion blinked and then nodded; "Of course, Officer." As

he shuffled over to the device, his brain whirled; "There's

no way they can know who I am…. And its not likely that they

have my retinal pattern on file… I've paid out a small

fortune to expunge those records. And even if they DID,

they'd never make the connection to the Brethren… Calm down,

you can bluff this out….."

Clinton barely gave the computer screen a glance, before

looking up at the Lion; "Yup, just what I though; boys, we

got ourselves an escaped slave here!" The Lion didn't

resist as two uniformed officers grabbed his arms from

either side. Had he wanted, he probably could have sent

them both flying… but that would have been out of character.

And probably futile; there were too many of them, and all of

them were armed…… "Officer, Please; I'm sure there's some

mistake…… I have all the correct documentation! My papers

are all in order. I can PROVE who I am!" Clinton padded

over to look into the face of the Lion. As he slowly tore

the Lion's documents in half, and then into quarters, he

growled; "And I say you're an escaped slave! What you say

doesn't matter! Put him in the truck with the others!"

As they hauled him off, the lion looked at the Ocelot on his

left; "I’m sure if I could just see a magistrate, I could

settle all this! Honest!" The Ocelot chuckled; "Oh, we

know how clever you escaped slaves can be; next thing you

know you'd be slipping a corrupt judge a bribe and then He'd

be yelling at US for arresting an innocent fur…. No, in

matters like this, we don't have to let you see a

magistrate. All it takes is our word. Now pipe down and

behave, or I'll give you a taste of my shock stick!"

The Lion's gaze swept around the check point, as if in a

panic. There was an officer with a nerve scrambler there,

and another one over there. And at every conceivable exit

there were at least three armed cops. There were just too

many to try and make a break for it here…… No matter, he

could wait, and plan his escape later. He knew how to do

it; hell, he'd TAUGHT the course on escape and evasion that

the Brethren required. He knew all the secret safe houses,

all the places where cash and resources were stashed…. All

the emergency phone numbers. All he had to do was be


The back of the hovertruck was a mesh cage, and it was half

full with an assortment of furrs. Most of them were male,

but there were some females too. Most of them looked like

"street people", the poor that'd never be missed, but there

were some notable exceptions. The Minotaur looked like he

worked out, and the Bear looked fairly strong too…….. Just

exactly the type crooked cops might pick up to sell as

slaves….. He watched, trying to stay calm, as a rather

pretty lady Otter pleaded with one of the guards through the

mesh. The guard just smirked back.

Tanj stormed into Ops, shoved someone out of her way and

pushed her muzzle right up into Ben's face to snarl "how in

the HELL could you let him DO THIS!" The Wolf backpedaled

for a moment and then stopped, to growl back; "In case you

hadn't noticed HE'S the BOSS! How in the HELL was I

SUPPOSED to stop him? Besides, he said this meeting with

Cromwell was sensitive, that it required his personal

attention. He insisted that he could slip in and out

without being noticed!" Tanj growled and shoved a

message flimsy at the Wolf; "Oh YEAH? I've got news for

you, Ben! Cromwell's been sending us messages asking why he

didn't show up at the rendezvous! The first I've heard that

he was even off the Station and the leader of the Blues is

telling ME he's missing!" Ben grabbed at the slip of paper

to scan it. Looking up at Tanj all he could say was


The Lion looked around the cell block. The concrete walls

were at least a foot thick, with a sharp metal grating

covering them, and the bars in the door that made up one

whole wall were too closely spaced to fit his paw through.

They'd backed the truck up to the entrance of this place,

and had herded the occupants into the building one at a

time. They'd been stripped, and shoved into a tank of some

sort of foul smelling liquid, undoubtedly to get rid of lice

and fleas and such. And then, dripping wet, they'd each had

that visible signal of slavery, a nose-ring installed. From

there, they'd been shoved into cells. This cell was about

one meter by one meter square, by about two and a half

meters tall, and it was obvious that not even the smallest

fur could lay down in it. For his part, the Lion found that

if he stood straight, his head bumped the ceiling. And

there just wasn't enough room to sit. "First step's got to

be sleep deprivation" he thought. "Keep 'em awake until

they can't see straight. And then the conditioning will

start……. Groaning to himself, he tried to find a

comfortable stance, thinking it was going to be a long

night. His nose throbbed painfully…….

"I'm telling you, Henley, it ain't right. I don't care WHAT

he says, its GOT to be lies." Vandrosky looked at the

Beaver and nodded; "Yeah, I know, I couldn't make anything

out of that Brou device either, but somehow the Boss

swallowed every word that Mouse fed him. He's got to be

fudging it, somehow." Henley looked back at the Marmoset

and nodded; "Got to be Smoke and Mirrors. NO ONE else in

Engineering was able to do a thing with the Boss's alien

toy. It just isn't right. That Mouse waltzes in here one

day, and the next thing you know, he's making us all look

bad, and taking over!" Vandrosky shrugged; "I agree; so

what do we do about it? The Mouse is JUST good enough to

complete all his tasks on time, and under budget. We can't

get rid of him on sheer incompetence. So what DO we do with

him?" Henley sighed and shrugged; "I don't know. But we

got to do something. You should be next in line for the

Chief Engineer's slot, and I should be next in line for the

Flight Line Maintenance Chief, but if we don't do something,

that dang Mouse is likely to screw one or BOTH of us over.

We simply have GOT to think of something!

Tanj looked at Cromwell's face on the monitor. A direct

video link was risky, but the signal was heavily scrambled,

and routed through a half dozen communications nodes and

satellites. "No, I'm afraid he didn't tell me his plans.

He probably KNEW I wouldn't let him go if I'd known what he

was up to. He's really supposed to know better than this."

The implication in Tanj's tone of voice was that Cromwell

should have known better too. Cromwell just shrugged;

"well, if you don't know what his route was, then its going

to be hard to try and find out what happened to him. You

know, as the rebellion gains momentum, certain places have

become more lawless… Its possible he simply got mugged.

We'll quietly check the hospitals and the medical services…

and the morgue. We've also got sympathizers with the police

and government. If he was picked up, because of who he is,

well, we'll find out soon enough. And in the meantime,

we're taking all necessary precautions. I would recommend

that you do likewise. IF they have him and IF he talks, you

could be in greater trouble than us.…." Tanj sighed and

nodded; "Please let me know if you find anything out, no

matter WHAT it is." Cromwell nodded and broke the

connection. Tanj stared at the blank screen for a while

and then shook herself. She had work to do. Her own

network of agents on Elysium needed to be alerted, both to

try and find out what'd happened to the head of the

Brethren, and to take precautions to safeguard themselves,

if he actually had been captured…. There was no question

that he'd talk; modern interrogation techniques were that

good. The only question would be how long it would take

them to break down his defenses……

The Lion moved carefully as he stepped up onto the platform.

He was dead tired, after a sleepless night on his feet, and

was yawning almost constantly. Today had been a day of

examinations; first a thorough physical, and then a series

of exercise tests. Now he was being photographed from all

angles. Any slight mis-step had earned him a jolt from a

cattle prod, and the prod had been liberally applied during

the exercise tests to make sure he'd given his utmost. It

was obvious that they were gathering data to use in an

auction, and that only reinforced the Lion's notion that the

cops hadn't been collecting certified runaway slaves. A

true runaway would have been returned to its owner. No,

they were merely using their position of authority to make

some cash on the side. "At least" he thought to himself,

"they don't know who I am….. That's got to help."

Ben chaired the meeting, and it was as somber as a wake.

"All right folks, we've got some damage control to do.

Until we know otherwise, we have to assume the boss has been

captured and that even as we speak they're pumping him for

information. Every operation that he was knowledgeable on

has to be rethought immediately. All the codes have to be

changed. And we're going to have to evacuate this station.

This'd be the FIRST place they'd come. Open your handouts

to page Three. The contingency plans for this were

formulated ages ago, and we need to review them, to bring

them up to speed, and in a way the Boss wouldn't expect.

First off, Logistics………"

Henley grinned, and motioned Vandrosky over towards one

corner of the Maintenance Shop; "I did some checking on our

little Mouse friend. It looks like somebody wanted to run

an extra background check on him, didn't find anything

unsusal for a couple of weeks, and then just forgot about

it. The file's still open. What say we think of some

interesting little tidbits to insert there; things that

might be brought to light as we go through the security

review that’s mandated by our current little "emergency"?"

The Marmoset grinned and nodded; "Oooooh, Character

assassination. I LIKE it. And I've got a good friend down

in Security; he owes me more than one favor… I'm sure we can

get him to help. Got any ideas?" The Beaver just grinned

back, showing his buck teeth, and nodded.

The Lion shivered as he stood hunched over in his cell.

Several hours ago, the cage's walls had become electrically

charged, and he found that he could no longer lean against

them. A while before that, one of the guards had come along

and stuck a squeeze bottle through the bars, to give him a

drink. He'd been thirsty and had gulped greedily, until

he'd discovered the fluid was salty. As he spluttered, the

guard had just laughed, and tried to squeeze more into his

mouth; the resulting mess as the Lion had tried to expel the

salty liquid might just have resulted in the electrified

walls, he mused. He could understand the guard's

vindictiveness, if the salty liquid was what he suspected it

was. He'd kinda sprayed it all over the guard…… And now he

was thirsty, the salty liquid actually pulling water from

his body by osmosis. Muscles trembling, he struggled to

stand without letting any portion of his anatomy touch


Tanj listened to them drone on about rally points,

suspended operations, and the cost of fuel, and groaned.

She didn't want to be here, she wanted to be "out there"

looking for her Master. She was sure they hadn't captured

him, at least not as the leader of the Brethren. There

would have been SOME sign, she was sure of it. And yet,

they wanted her in the meeting; she had intelligence assets

he knew about, folks that had to be "brought in" to keep

them safe, just in case he talked…..

The Lion hummed to himself, trying to drown out the words

coming from the speaker. With the latest batch of

"recruits" tired, and hungry, and dying of thirst, the

indoctrination had started. Lectures on what kind of

behavior was expected of them, repeated over and over…. And

occasionally ice-cold water would deluge down from a vent in

the ceiling, shocking everyone awake again. The water was

too salty to drink, and that fact meant that the water

carried the electricity from the charged walls and bars

quite nicely….. While the techniques were crude, and as old

as the hills, they DID work, if given enough time, all those

incarcerated here would be brainwashed to one extent or

another. And so the Lion hummed to himself, seeking to

drown out the words, to endure. He was sure the ones that

had grabbed him would want to reap their profits as soon as

possible, and thus would sell this lot before the

brainwashing had lasted long enough to be completely


Tanj rubbed her red eyes and tried to focus on the field

report. For the last three days, she'd been living on

coffee, spending every free moment going over field reports

or browbeating the cryptology folks, looking for ANY clue as

to where her master was. So far, all her agents, all the

Blue's sympathizers, had all turned up zilch. If the Lion

was a captive of the Elysium government, they had it so

tightly compartmentalized that even the assistant secretary

of planetary security didn't know about it. It was

beginning to look like something else had happened… but


Henley sat down next to Amanda Gabard, from Electronics. As

the Beaver started to eat his lunch, he looked over at her

conspiratorially and then whispered "you'll never guess what

I found out about Mark. You know, that white Mouse……."

Amanda, always one for gossip, put down her fork and leaned


The lectures droned on, but now something was happening. In

his limited field of view, the Lion watched two guards open

one of the cell doors. One of them, a rather ugly warthog,

was ordering the prisoner out… it turned out to be the lady

Otter who'd been in the hovertruck with him. She moved

tentatively, as if unsure of herself, and it was with

obvious reluctance that she kneeled in front of the guard.

The Lion couldn’t hear what was said, over the

indoctrination coming from the speakers, but it was obvious

that the warthog had just instructed her to do something of

a sexual nature. She'd made a face, and turned her head

away, and that had earned her a backhanded slap... and then

the two guards were tossing her back into her cell, the door

slamming closed, almost catching her tail. And then their

was an ear piercing shriek, overpowering even the words

coming from the loudspeaker, as the guards re-electrified

the walls of her cell.

"Come on, Tanj, its time to go." Tanj looked up into

the face of her boss and sighed, shaking her head from side

to side. "I know, I know," the old fox muttered; "but you

can search for him from the backup base as well as you can

from here. And I KNOW your ship has all the communications

equipment you need to keep in touch with your agent network.

Come on, you won't do anyone any good getting captured if

they raid this place." Tanj sighed and nodded in

agreement and turning, logged off of her terminal, and rose

to follow her boss out of the intelligence offices…..

Lucy Bishoff slid her desk chair over to the next file

cabinet and opened the appropriate drawer. All the records

were computerized, but as with most bureaucracies, a filed

hardcopy was also required. Although it was almost

guaranteed no one would ever look at them. As a file clerk

for the S'barro Province's Prefecture of Police Lucy was in

a good position to aid the Resistance, feeding them

information on police operations, something she'd been doing

since her Uncle was thrown in jail. They'd said he'd been

helping the Resistance, but she knew better. Anyone who'd

known him would have told you he was as apolitical as they

came. He'd just been tending his vehicular parts

dealership. How was HE to know that those customers were

with the resistance? But now most of her family WAS with

the resistance, driven into their arms by a progressively

more brutal and vindictive state. As she filed the police

reports, she kept her eye out for that one furr that was

missing. For an idle moment she wondered who he was, to

have generated such an urgent message from her cell leader…

but then she thought better of it. She didn't need to know,

and it probably wasn't safe to know. Looking at the police

report before she filed it, she scanned for anyone matching

his description.

Amanda looked up from the circuit board she was modifying

and grinned at Josie; "Dear, you wouldn't believe what I

heard at Lunch today! You know that white Mouse, Mark? The

one the Boss had working on that Alien device? Well it

seems his background check has turned up some VERY unusual

things!………… Frightening things!"

The Lion straightened as his left shoulder brushed against

the metal mesh lining the inside of his cell. He was so

tired that the jolt of electricity threw him into the

opposite wall, and it was several excruciating seconds

before he could stabilize himself in a position where no

portion of his anatomy was touching the metal. He no longer

had a clue as to how long he'd been standing there, how long

the indoctrination tapes had been droning in the background.

All he knew was that he was deathly tired…… As he wobbled,

he heard a noise, and then his cell door slid open. He

almost fell forward out of the cell, and as he staggered a

guard, a rather mangy looking wolverine wrapped one paw in

his mane, to drag him forward. Being made to kneel in the

middle of the cell block was a blessed relief. He missed

the guard's words the first time, a jolt with a cattle prod

bringing him back to his senses. "you heard me, Slave.

Show me how willing you are to Obey your Masters. Open that

mouth of yours and suck my cock!" The Lion blinked, his

mind suddenly whirling. Not exactly something he WANTED to

do, and for certain, the Wolverine surely needed a bath… but

if he refused, the indoctrination would continue, not only

for him, but for all the others as well. And besides, the

sooner they got out of there, the sooner he could work on

his escape. Trembling from exhaustion, he leaned forward a

bit, to nuzzle tentatively at the Guard's crotch.

Tanj blinked at Hinoki; "What do you mean, Mark's not

here? Where the Hell IS he? He's supposed to be assigned

to THIS ship!" The male Cheetah just spread his paws; "Hey,

it wasn't MY doing! I got a message from Engineering that

they needed him on the R3 communications relay station. It

had the Head of Engineering's chop on it, so I didn't

argue!" Tanj frowned; "R3? That’s nothing but an

asteroid with a small pressure dome on it. And I hadn't

heard that they were having trouble there….. Urrrr, shitty

place to be sent…. I wonder what's going on?" Looking up

Tanj sighed; "I'm sorry I snapped at you; I know its not

your fault, its just that, well, I'm worried about our

Master, and the lack of information's driving me crazy."

Hinoki smiled and stepped forward to give Tanj a quick

hug; "I understand. Believe me I do. Now we'd better get

this ship out of here before they start yelling at us

again." Tanj sighed and nodded, turning towards the

flight deck.

As the Cheetah Fem padded off, Zassa looked at Hinoki; "I

see you didn't tell her they'd sent Mala along with Mark as

"security." "No" the male Cheetah sighed; "I figured it

would just distract her from her hunt for the Boss.

Whatever's going on there, well, Mark and Mala can pretty

much take care of themselves, don't you think? And if not,

we can always sort it out later, after we rescue the boss.

Besides, " the Cheetah grinned; "She'll be distracted enough

when she finds out we've got Wanda and Kath on board."

Zassa just chuckled.

The Lion managed to hold his expression neutral until the

guards had shoved him back into his cell. With his face

turned towards the wall, he finally made a face and licked

at the back of his paw, trying to get rid of the taste in

his mouth. The Wolverine, he was sure, wasn't healthy; his

spunk had tasted disagreeably strange. And it hadn't done

much to ease his thirst, or hunger either. Turning

carefully, he watched through the small gap in the bars as

the guards selected another prisoner, a female this time, to

test their compliance……

Lucy nodded; it was the third from the last piece of paper

she'd had to file. A random check point had collared a

number of "runaway slaves," all of who's identity had been

curiously nebulous. The time was about right, and amongst

those listed, was a male Lion of about the right age and

coloration. She made a mental note, filed the paper and

wrapping up her work, headed back to her desk. She wouldn't

be able to report in to her cell leader until later that

night, and in the meantime she had to keep up a good


Tanj sighed and shook her head. She was starting to get

responses from her agents, and from the Blue's informers.

She even had some responses from other resistance groups.

The problem was, she now had several dozen "possibles," but

still no confirmed report. Turning to her communications

console she started to prepare messages, marshalling her

resources to start checking out the various leads. This was

not going to be easy…….

Trotskie frowned as he looked at the message flimsey; "The

Brethren are asking us to look for a large male Lion, middle

aged, with a light brown mane, who disappeared four days ago

while on a routine operation?" Looking up at his adjutant,

the leader of the resistance group known as the "Reds" shook

his head; "that sounds awfully stra…… wait a minute… Isn't

the HEAD of the Brethren a Lion?" Slowly the Bear's face

broke into a wide grin; "Oh, isn't Xylex just going to LOVE


It happened without preamble. They didn't even turn off the

indoctrination tapes. Cell by cell, the guards came by, to

extract the prisoners. Of all the furrs present, four

coffles, or groups of chained slaves were formed. It was

obvious that the shortest one was comprised of slaves that

had been sold individually. The other three, it was clear,

were of blocks of slaves that had been sold; sold as a unit.

The Lion found himself standing behind a rather lean lady

Antilope who had the look of a drug user about her. Behind

him was the Minotaur he'd seen earlier, and about three

behind him was the Bear. Mostly those in his coffle seemed

to be the "heavy labor" type, with a few less choice

specimens thrown in to round out the package. Chuckling to

himself, the Lion thought "My God, I've been wholesaled!"

As the last of the cells were emptied, the coffles were

moved out of the facility. The Lion's curiosity was aroused

when his coffle was loaded into what appeared to be a

standard shipping container. They were secured, still

chained together, to benches running down either side.

Locked straps at neck, waist and ankles. Then the heavy

doors were closed and he felt the container start to move.

It had to be fastened to the back of a truck, or some other

source of transportation…… "I wonder why they didn't just

put us in the back of a truck?" he wondered to himself…..

Clinton finished his beer as the Barman called time, and

thumping the glass down on the bar, threw a few coins down,

and turned, to head for the door. It was late, and the

streets were deserted. And while it was a rough

neighborhood, Clinton felt confident that none of the locals

would mess with him. He was an armed officer of the law,

and anyone who gave him grief would feel the full weight of

the Police come down on them, with both feet. As a result,

he never saw the shadow that detached itself from the

alleyway, to fall in behind him. The first indication he

had that his assumptions were wrong was when the shock

device was shoved into his side.

Smith smiled as the electrical discharge knocked the cop

sprawling on the pavement. Reaching down he pressed the

device to the back of his neck, just to make sure he was

unconscious. And then, reaching down, he grabbed the back

of the cop's collar, and unceremoniously dragged him back

into the alleyway. If anyone saw, and in a place like that,

there were always eyes watching, no one did anything to help

the stricken cop……

The Lion's head jerked up as the Container made a *bump* and

then a shudder. It was almost as if they were being moved

from, say, a flatbed truck to something else. They'd been

in there for several hours, he'd guessed, although most of

the "passengers" had used the time to catch some sleep. The

sitting position was a whole lot more restful than


Smith broke the ammonia inhaler under the cop's nose and

then grinned as his head jerked back… square into the brick

wall behind him. The cop was gagged, and bound, in a

sitting position. Looking around he realized that he was in

an alley, although he couldn’t be sure WHICH alley he was

in. Looking up at the nondescript furr in front of him, his

eyes fastened on the jet-black ceramic knife the furr was

slowly twirling between two fingers…… Smith smiled again,

fangs gleaming whitely in the dark; "Now, officer, I have a

missing persons problem.. and I think you might just know

something about it. As an "Officer of the Law" I'm sure

you're going to be more than willing to help a citizen…….

The Lion listened to the thrumming that pervaded the

container. It was obvious that they'd been loaded onto some

sort of aircraft. His breathing was a little rapid, which

suggested the thin air of high altitude, and the container

was getting just a little chilly. At first, some of the

prisoners had tried to talk to each other, but after a bit,

the conversations had died down. In silence, they waited to

see what their fate would be.

Smith thought about wiping the knife off on the cop's

uniform, but decided that there just wasn't a dry enough

patch left. It didn't matter; the ceramic knife was

inexpensive, and not uncommon. He'd just leave it. It

hadn't taken much time, or much work, to get the information

he was after out of the cop; but it HAD taken time, and some

effort to make sure the cop wasn't lying. "Well" smith

thought to himself, "the cop won't be doing any more lying,

or anymore kidnapping either." Rising, he moved off into

the dark of the deserted industrial area, leaving the body

behind him.

The Lion jerked awake as the container thumped heavily. It

was obvious the aircraft had just landed, and it hadn't been

a very smooth landing… or the landing pad wasn't very good…

Wherever their destination might be, he had the feeling they

were there.

Smith was no longer Smith. But then he'd never really been

Smith. Or the Jones that his I.D. and business card now

proclaimed him to be. He'd used so many names over the

course of his career, he almost couldn't remember the one

he'd been born with. No matter. Pushing open the door to

the office, he stepped inside and padded up to the

receptionist. "Good Morning, Ma'am. I'm in the market for

a few slaves…… and I've been told that you might be able to

help. Quietly, of course.

The Lion panted, as did everyone else in the container. It

was getting HOT. There had been a few more bumps and jolts,

but nothing that you wouldn't expect as the container was

shifted around some. And now they sat, in the growing heat.

And waited.

Jones (or Smith, if you prefer) smiled. It was really all

too easy. The computer terminal they'd shown him to listed

all their wares. The results of their physical, and of

their coordination and endurance testing, all "certified" by

an "independent rating service". And there, stamped across

a number of pages, were bright red "SOLD" banners. A tag

line at the bottom stated that if you saw something that you

liked, if it was no longer available, well, they MIGHT be

able to come up with an equivalent. Something specifically

selected to fill your special requirements. In other words

they'd go kidnap someone just for you. "In any event,"

Jones thought to himself; "it certainly makes my job

easier." There in the corner of lot 54 was the data on the

Lion. At least it certainly LOOKED like the Lion he was

after. It was no problem at all to download the data to a

memory crystal. Rising, he spent a few moments talking to

the sales rep, going over specifics, and generalities…. And

then with a "I'm still shopping around. I'll get back to

you" he padded from their offices, and walked calmly to the

nearest public transport station.

"EUREKA!" Tanj's cry raised heads all through the

crammed room. Desks, terminals, and other office type

equipment were jammed together in an almost impenetrable

maze in what passed for the intellegence (and communications

and logistics) office of the Brethren's backup facility.

Rising to her feet, the Cheetah looked around, momentarily

lost as to how to get out of the office and into the right

corridor that would take her to Ops.

"Dammit, Ben, the medical records match EXACTLY! LOOK at

the dental charts! Look at the scan of how his left tibia

had a greenstick fracture ages ago! Its HIM!" The Wolf

growled low and then shrugged; "it certainly APPEARS to be

him, but it IS possible the records were faked. If he WAS

picked up by the Elysium authorities, this is exactly the

kind of a trap they'd set for a rescue party! Next thing

you know, they'll show him transferred to some easily

accessible place, and when we go down to get him, its

curtains! I will NOT rush on this. Security for the

Brethren comes first. And you KNOW that’s the way he'd want

it. Now, I'll talk to Cromwell about having some of the

Blues check this place out. When they've cased the place

good and proper, then you can try and find out where he was

sold to, if that happened at all. If this IS what you think

it is, a few more days won't endanger him. If it ISN'T, we

need the time to make sure we don't make the situation

worse." Tanj stared at the Wolf for a long moment, and

then with a growl, turned and stalked from ops.

The Lion blinked as he moved into the bright sunlight, still

chained in the coffle. They'd been released from the oven

that was the shipping container by a few naked slaves, not

the guards he'd expected. As they stood in a line, in the

scorching sun, he blinked and tried to focus. There in

front of them was a rather large and muscular Bear, dressed

in shorts and a safari shirt, and carrying a bullwhip. The

Bear just stood there, glaring at them, as the local slaves

formed the coffle up into a line, turning them so that they

all faced the Bear. When the shuffling had stopped, the

Bear grunted; "My name is Brewster, but you will call me

SIR. I'm the overseer here, and have the power of life or

death over you. And no one will so much as blink if I

decide to kill a slave that displeases me. I know you've

all been "indoctrinated," but I don't trust that hogwash, so

in a moment you'll each be fitted with a new collar. A

SPECIAL collar. This collar has a thin-film battery built

into it, between the inner and outer layers of leather… and

its got a little radio receiver. I carry a remote, and when

I thumb the button you get a shock, to remind you of who's

boss. Now, just in case that isn't enough, the collar also

has a layer of a very special electrostrictive polymer.

This polymer changes length, depending on the current

applied….." As the Bear talked, he walked up and down the

line of chained slaves, staring at each of them in turn. As

he came to the Minotaur, he stopped, and speaking as if to

him alone, continued; "now normally the battery will keep

this polymer nice and loose. As long as the battery holds

its charge. Or as long as I keep my finger off the button

on the remote. Now if I so choose, I can turn down the

power in your collar, and that polymer, well, it'll

contract. It can contract to as little as one quarter of

its original length. Do You Know What This Means?" The

Bear looked into the Minotaur's eyes for a moment and then

turned suddenly, taking a half a pace to shove his face into

that of the Lion; "Well, DO YOU?" The Lion considered for a

moment and then answered in as reasonable a tone as he

could; "It means, sir, that you can choke us, or kill us,

with the push of a button. Probably from a considerable

distance away. And if we try and run, It would be my guess,

that after a day or so, the battery would loose its charge

and we'd be strangled, probably well before we could get to

anyplace where the collar might be removed." The Bear

stared at him for a long moment and then nodded; "A smart

one. See that you stay that way, hairball." Resuming his

pacing, the Bear growled; "Each of your beds has a

recharger, and as long as you lay just right, the contacts

at the back of your collars will mate with the recharger,

and all will be well. Sneak around after hours and…. Well,

you'll find out. NOW, as your new collars are installed,

Benny will issue you today's work assignments. You'll meet

the Mistress at Dinner." The Bear looked at them for a

moment and then chuckled; "I’m sure you'll hear all about

THAT from your new "associates". Turning to nod at an Otter

Morph, the Bear turned and stalked off.

The Lion waited patiently in the hot sun. One by one, the

slaves in the coffle were fitted with the new collars, and

then were unchained from the coffle, to be sent off in

different directions. When it came his turn, the Lion

watched the local slaves curiously. One was the Otter named

Benny. He limped rather badly; it was obvious that

somewhere in his past, he'd broken his leg, and it had never

been properly tended to. The other was a rather thin

coyote. "Boss this isn't going to work" the Coyote mumbled;

"he's just got too much HAIR." The Otter nodded; "OK, run

down to the tool shed and get the shears. We'll leave him

for last." Turning, the Otter moved to the Minotaur,

locking the thick collar around his neck, before unchaining

him……. As he waited the Lion stared out at the horizon.

Aside from the few buildings that were near, it was cropland

as far as he could see. And the land was flat. He could

see all the way to the horizon. As he looked about, he got

the sinking feeling that he was in the middle of nowhere,

and that escape was going to be harder than he'd thought……..

Grant peered through his binoculars, sizing up the building.

It certainly was nondescript from the outside. And quiet.

But that was to be expected at three in the morning. Waving

to his commando, the Badger moved out of the shadows, to

cross the street in a rush. His group was good, one of the

best that the Blues had. And for them, taking a place like

this should be child's play. The fact that they were

getting to take down an illegal slavery operation made it

all the sweeter. Grant watched as Benson moved the

ultrasound device along the wall, and then stopped. Marking

the place, he stepped back, and let Hedges step up to place

the ribbon charge. And then they were pressing themselves

flat against the wall as the explosive charge blew in the

wall, giving them an impromptu and unexpected entrance into

the facility.

The Lion was the last one standing amongst the now-empty

chains of the coffle when the coyote returned with a male

fox, each of them carrying what looked like metal-cutting

shears. "Sorry Boss" the Coyote yipped; "we had to sharpen

these things so they'd cut hair" The Otter scowled and

nodded; "Get on with it then, I don't have all day." The

Fox indicated that the Lion should kneel, and then he and

the Coyote went to work, hacking at his mane, until they'd

trimmed it close enough to his neck that they could get the

collar on. As it closed around his neck with a "snick" the

Lion raised one paw to examine it. It was about three

inches wide and a good half inch thick, and not very supple.

And it was heavier than it looked. In the front was the

obligatory D ring, and in the back were two metal studs that

had to be the contact points for recharging the battery.

The Otter unlocked him from the coffle chains and then

growled; "Qume, you take him down to field three. You can

still get in about two hours of hoeing before dark. Then

you can go take a look at the No.4 irrigation pump. I hear

the suction's clogged again." Qume nodded at the Otter;

"yes, Boss," and then looked up at the Lion; "Come one, we'd

better get going."

Grant set one of the office chairs upright and sat down in

it, propping his feet on the remnants of a desk. It hadn't

taken long to subdue guards armed with shock sticks and

whips. Not when you wore body armor and carried lasers and

flechette weapons. Now his computer experts were ripping

their way through the slaver's computer system, downloading

all the data for later analysis. And his troops were

freeing the slaves, moving them to the transports for

evacuation to one of the Blue's camps. "No better recruits

to the cause" he thought. As he watched his people work, he

looked at his watch. The silent alarm the place had should

bring the local police running… in perhaps another five

minutes or so. With a sigh he heaved himself out of the

chair and picked up his weapon, thinking it wouldn't hurt to

make sure the troops in ambush were ready…….

"Yeah, I hate to say it, but this is the end of the line for

all of us." The Fox was gradually filling in the Lion as

they walked, hoes over their shoulders, towards the field

that needed tending. "Mistress, she's double-dipping.

You'll see when we get there. The Corporation may or may

not know about it, and if they know, they sure don't care.

As long as we grow the quota of crops, they don't much care

what else goes on out here." The Lion blinked; "double-

dipping?" The Fox just grinned; "oh, you'll see. Its why

they have so many slaves here. Some crops can't be tended

by machines; some things have to be done by hand……. And of

course, when you consider how illegal the whole thing is,

even by Elysium standards, you can understand how slaves

past their usefulness just are never seen again. We all

KNOW too much….."

As they walked, the Lion looked around; "So there aren't any

guards? Just this "Mistress" and the Overseer?" Qume

nodded; "Believe me, with the way they've got the collars

rigged, a slave revolt isn't practical. They can kill us

all with the push of a button…….. No one's found a way to

escape yet…..

It was ingenious, the Lion had to admit. In amongst the

chinaberry crop, between the larger leafier plants, were

dreamweed plants. There'd be no way to get farm equipment

in here without destroying the second, hidden crop, and

thus, both the chinaberry plants and the dreamweed had to be

tended by hand. And that meant slaves, with hoes and

shovels, and when it came to the insects, the weevils and

the beetles, the bugs had to be picked off by hand. The

Lion watched as Qume showed him how to use the hoe to

extract weeds, and to loosen the soil. It was hot, tiring


Tanj looked at the sales records from the slavery

operation. The Blues had been their usual, efficient selves

in obtaining the data. And she'd heard that almost all of

the liberated furrs had elected to sign up with the rebels

too. It had been no trouble at all finding the records for

the lot of slaves that contained her Master… but the

corporation they'd been sold to…. didn't seem to exist. It

was a dummy, a shell, with no assets that she could find.

And while it wasn't exactly a dead end, it certainly DID

make her life more difficult…….

The Lion was panting and wet with sweat when Qume called a

halt. It was getting so dark they were risking damaging the

valuable dreamweed plants with their hoes. "Come on, lets

take a look at that irrigation pump, before it gets too

late. We do NOT want to miss dinner." The Lion just

nodded. As they walked down the dusty dirt road, the Fox

asked; "you got any experience with machinery?" The Lion

shrugged; "once upon a time, I was an engineer." After a

few moments the Fox asked "What kind?" The Lion chuckled,

his head tilting back to look up at the night sky;

"Starship." The Fox just chuckled in return; "Fat lot of

good that'll do you here."

Lord Xylex opened the envelope after the messenger had left.

He was still playing both parts, pretending to be a member

of Elysium's ruling elite while secretly working behind the

scenes to take over the Reds, and assume a position of

importance with the Rebels. Although it was fast becoming

clear that the point of no return was approaching. That

fool Trotskie needed to be replaced bad, before he ruined

the Reds… and it was obvious that the Elysium government was

going to loose in any event. As he looked down at the

message, a quick note scrawled in Trotskie's abysmal

penmanship, the Wolverine smiled; "but not quite yet. No,

there are still some uses left for the Elysium Government.

And finding this one is exactly the kind of thing they do

well." Putting down the note, he reached for his comm…….

The Lion sighed and jumped down into the dirty water. There

wasn't anything wrong with the pump, its suction was just

plugged with trash that had floated down the unlined

irrigation canal. Water Hyacinths were growing there, and

that could be a real danger. When they rotted, they

released sulfur dioxide, filling the air with the smell of

rotting eggs… and the concentrations of the gas could

approach lethal limits too. The Lion worked quickly,

throwing handful after handful of the rotting vegetation up

onto the bank. Finally he stepped back, and nodded up to

Qume; "Try it now." The fox, illuminated by the single bulb

by the motor starter panel, threw the breaker and hit the

button. The motor whirred to life and as the dark water

surged around the Lion's waist, the pump started pushing the

water over the dike and into the next field. The Lion

watched for a moment and then struggled up the mud bank;

"Next time YOU go down there." Qume looked at him for a

moment and then shrugged; "yeah, sure. Now turn around and

let me check you for leaches….."

By the time they'd gotten back, and showered off, "Dinner"

had started. Qume led the Lion to a low structure, more of

a shed than a building, as the walls were open. There, all

the slaves were gathered, kneeling before low tables. And

on a dias, resting on a crimson cushion, was a female

Kangaroo Rat, obviously the "mistress" he'd heard about.

She wore a red leather bikini bottom, and matching bikini

top, and in her right hand was a riding crop. The Bear

overseer was seated at his own table, to her right. As he

knelt at a vacant space at one of the Tables, the Lion

watched her from the corner of his eye. The Tables held

platters of food, with flies buzzing about, but no one was

making a move to help themselves to it. Obviously they were

waiting for her permission….. They waited there for perhaps

another dozen minutes or so, until finally two more slaves

arrived. These two, the Minotaur from the Lion's coffle,

and a female rabbit, were both still dirty; it was obvious

that they hadn't showered. After they knelt at the table,

the Kangaroo Rat rose and sauntered towards them, to stop

and stare down at them; "A bit late, are we?" The Rabbit

nodded her head; "Pardon, Mistress, but it took a long time

to bale the crop. I felt that we should take the time to do

it properly, rather than do a slipshod job………" The Kangaroo

Rat nodded; "of course…. But you should still have been done

on time. You've kept us all waiting. And you KNOW what the

punishment for THAT is!" The Rabbit nodded, head down.

Looking up at Benny, the Kangaroo Rat smiled wickedly; "put

them in the stocks, kneeling. I want her in a chastity

belt, but put a ring gag in her mouth. His too. Leave them

there all night." Benny nodded and rose to his feet;

limping towards the door, he motioned to the Rabbit, and the

Minotaur, who reluctantly rose to follow.

Qume leaned over and whispered, when he thought the Mistress

wasn't looking; "Anyone in the stocks is fair game. If

you've got the energy, you can go out there and use them

however you want. We think she watches…….

The Kangaroo Rat paced around the Tables, looking at the

gathered slaves as she waited for Benny's return. The room

was silent, and the Lion adopted the same kneeling pose as

all the others. Finally the Otter limped back into the room;

"Done, Mistress." The Kangaroo Rat nodded; "has anyone else

been bad today?" The Otter thought for a minute. "Harley

dropped a bag of fertilizer in the warehouse; it broke open

and it took time to clean up. The No.4 combine broke a

drive chain again, but I'm not sure if that’s Eddie's fault

or not…… That’s all I can think of, Mistress." The Kangaroo

Rat thought for a moment and then nodded; "Harley and Eddie

will both draw from the punishment jar. The No.4 combine

has just broken its drive chain a little too often for it to

be ALL happenstance. I suspect Incompetence on the part of

the mechanic. Brewster, do you have anything to report?"

The Overseer just waved a paw laconically; "No, Ms. Davies;

you KNOW they all behave themselves around me." The

Kangaroo Rat just smiled and thwacked her thigh with the

riding crop; "Oh, yes, I do know. All right. Harley,

Eddie, draw your punishment, and then we can get down to

dinner." Harley rose and padded up to a glass jar full of

tokens by the Mistress' dias. He reached into it, pawed

around for a moment and then extracted one, to hand it to

her, head bowed. The Kangaroo Rat took the token and looked

at it. A smile spread over her face; "Ah, Harley, you've

earned yourself your first piercing! Lucky you! Go and sit

down, and we'll attend to it later." As Harley sat down,

the Kangaroo Rat watched as Eddie, a gray squirrel, padded

up to the jar, shoved his paw deep into the tokens and

pulled one out. Handing it to the Kangaroo Rat, he stood

there meekly, head bowed.

The Kangaroo rat glanced at the token and then, in the

classic "double-take" took another look at it. "Oh, Eddie,

this really isn't your lucky day. Of all the tokens in the

jar, there's only two of these, and only one worse than

that, and you had to pick one of them." Looking up at the

squirrel, the Kangaroo Rat grinned; "It’s the Bullwhip,


The Lion watched, stunned. Would they really do that to a

productive slave on a whim? Because a combine broke its

drive chain? For someone as …. Frail as a squirrel, it

could be a death sentence! Trying hard not to move a

muscle, the Lion tried to watch Eddie, the Kangaroo Rat,

Benny and the Overseer all at the same time……

The Squirrel looked at the Kangaroo Rat for a moment,

frozen, and then he turned and bolted for the door. The

Kangaroo Rat sighed and lifted her riding crop, to study the

handle for a moment; then she pushed on it with three

fingers, in different places. As a blood curdling scream

was heard from the direction Eddie had run, the Lion thought

to himself "So that’s where her remote control is……." The

Kangaroo Rat grinned and turned to the Bear; "Brewster, if

you would be so kind, I think we need to do something…

special for Eddie. It was most rude of him to run out on us

like that, don't you think?"

The bowls of food were now mostly covered with flies.

Brewster had brought in the squirrel, slung over one

shoulder like a sack of grain. The Kangaroo rat had

retrieved a length of rope, which she'd tossed over a

rafter. One end was tied off to a convenient beam, the

other end formed into a simple noose. And then she'd gone

and fetched a length of shiny hair-thin wire. One end she

tied securely to a ring bolt in the floor, and the other end

she also formed into a noose. It took a while, but

eventually Eddie recovered from the shock his collar had

delivered, only to find himself back at his mistress' feet,

his paws bound to the back of his collar. Without a word,

the Kangaroo Rat bent, to slip the wire noose around his

testicles; and then the Bear was hauling him up to his feet,

the rope noose going around his neck. The Kangaroo Rat

adjusted the tension of the rope, leaving the squirrel in a

not-quite standing position. His plight was obvious. If he

rose to a full standing position, the wire would garrote his

balls, and it was probably thin enough to entirely

emasculate him. At which point he'd bleed to death. If he

stayed in his crouch however, eventually his muscles would

give out and he'd collapse, the rope noose strangling him.

As the Squirrel struggled to stay between the two extremes,

the Kangaroo Rat smiled and patted him on the head; "now

that that's done, lets eat! We'll attend to the rest after

dinner. After you've had a chance to appreciate how futile

running is."

The Lion went through the motions, but he certainly didn't

have any appetite. The food was bland, mostly boiled

potatoes, but with some carrots and an occasional piece of

mystery meat. The motions of the squirrel, shifting,

seeking an acceptable position between the two nooses, kept

drawing his attention. The tables the slaves sat at were in

a U shape, with the Mistress' dias in the open end, and the

dangling squirrel square in front of her. As he struggled,

she reclined on her cushion, occasionally fetching a morsel

of food from her plate. It was obvious she wasn't eating

the same fare as the slaves….. Brewster ate his meal with

gusto, and he glanced occasionally at the struggling

Squirrel, to chuckle darkly. As he watched the Squirrel

struggle, the Lion wondered if Eddie would be tomorrow's

mystery meat……

Tanj shook her head; she'd been unable to trace the

company that had purchased the slaves to anything useable.

However, the slaves had been moved; there had to be a record

of how they'd left the slaver's facility. Pouring herself

another cup of coffee, she turned back to the records the

Blues had sent her……..

Eddie was still struggling for his life when the meal ended.

The Kangaroo Rat rose and stretched, and then looked over

the slaves; "I'm feeling generous tonight. No restrictions

past the normal ones. Dismissed." The air was full of the

soft susurration of many bodies rising….. Most were heading

out the doors, but a few were clearing the tables. The Lion

was just turning to head towards the nearest exit when the

Kangaroo Rat called out; "You. Lion. Come Here." He

stopped and turned, and then with head bowed, padded back to

the Kangaroo Rat. Not knowing if it was required, or

desired, or even prudent, he knelt at her feet, to await her

pleasure. When the Kangaroo Rat literally purrred, he

guessed he'd read her correctly. One paw reached out to

fondle his left ear; "I've never owned a Lion before, but

I've heard stories…… is it true what they say about their….

"endurance?" Keeping his voice low, and watching the

overseer lay out his bullwhip from the corner of his eye,

the Lion murmured; "its generally true with respect to

Lionesses in estrus, Mistress, but I believe I can… hold my

own in other situations." The Kangaroo Rat smirked; "well,

we'll see. You can show me what you know, tonight. In

fact, you can show me right here. Lets see just what you

can do with that tongue of yours…….." Turning her head the

Kangaroo Rat smirked at the Bear; "you may begin now,

Brewster." "How many strokes, Ma'am?" the Bear replied with

a grin. "Oh, I'll let you know when I think he's had

enough" the Rat replied.

The Lion lifted his chin, tilting his head to one side, to

worry at the knot that held her bikini bottoms on with is

teeth. His paws remained on his thighs, and as he nibbled

and worried at the knot. Taking much longer than was

necessary, he interspersed his efforts with an occasional

lick, the odd nuzzle, the low purrrrr. By the time the knot

came undone, the Kangaroo Rat was panting lightly, both paws

gripping his ears tightly. Letting his tongue slither

between her thighs, he again glimpsed the Overseer, leaning

back to deliver the first stroke. The initial crack of the

whip, and Eddie's Scream made them all jump….. it wasn't

until the Bear's second measured stroke, that the Lion

realized that Eddie was behind him. Directly before the

Kangaroo Rat. As he licked, he wondered if she was getting

off on his tongue, or on the suffering of the poor Squirrel

behind him…….

Not knowing how this lady liked it, the Lion paced himself,

licking slowly at first, bringing her to the edge and then

backing off, to nibble lightly, to lick gently, letting her

cool down a little, and then his tongue would assault her

clitty again, until she was moaning. Finally she grabbed

both ears hard and growled "enough; finish it!" The Lion

fastened his lips around her clitty and sucked hard, drawing

her pearl into his mouth, his tongue stroking it furiously,

and in seconds the Kangaroo Rat's shrieks were filling the

air, competing with Eddie's. The Lion lapped softly at her

drenched sex, until her breathing had returned to near

normal…. Finally she patted him on the head and stepped

back; "That was very good. You stay there. RIGHT there. I

want to go get some toys, and then I'll be back for some

more. Brewster, why don't you take a break until I get

back." As she padded out, the Lion heard the Bear amble

over; "Its dangerous to draw too much of her attention,

Slave" he chuckled. And then he turned and headed for his

chair, pausing to swat the struggling Squirrel on the ass.

Eddie gurgled in distress as his body rocked forwards,

tension being applied to both his balls and his neck from

the force of the blow. It was obvious that every time the

whip had landed on him, he'd come close to both strangling

and emasculating himself. The Lion watched him struggle for

equilibrium, wondering how long it would be until the

Squirrel's legs gave out. Already his balls seemed to be

swelling from the sharp bite of the thin wire noose…..

Tanj stood with her tray in the overcrowded caffeteria,

and looked for a place to sit. After a moment she saw

Heloise, a Serval who worked in base Engineering waving to

her and she moved through the crowd to squeeze in next to

her. "Hey Tanj! Haven't seen you in a while!" Tanj

sighed; "I've been pretty immersed in trying to find the

Boss. It’s a bit of an obsession for me." "Yeah, I can

understand that" one of the other girls a the table

tittered, only to be shushed by a couple of her friends.

Tanj just chuckled and shrugged and sipped her coffee,

wincing at the acid taste. "Having any luck?" one of them,

a Marten, asked. Tanj shook her head; "ran into another

dead end. The company that transported the slaves, from the

facility loaded them into a shipping container. It was

trans-shipped at the local airport. I’m still trying to

track the container." Heads all around the table nodded

quietly. "Hey Tanj," Heloise said after a moment, "You

know Mark, in Engineering, Don't you?" Tanj nodded; "He

was part of my crew on the Lost Cause, remember?. I THOUGHT

he was assigned to my ship, until we pulled this evacuation.

Seems they needed him at some communications relay

station…." Heloise nodded; "we've been hearing the

strangest rumors about him. It seems someone's been working

on completing his background check… and they've been turning

up the strangest things." Tanj sipped her coffee, her

eyes narrowing; "you know he's saved my life on more than

one occasion. I trust him completely. Whatever you're

hearing, I suspect its false………

A jingling sound presaged the return of the now nude

Kangaroo Rat. She still carried her riding crop, but a few

other things filled her other hand. And she had straps

around her feet that held pieces of metal sticking out beind

them….. Following the Lion's gaze, she grinned; "Those are

called spurs. They're for use with riding beasts. You'll

see how they're used in a minute…." The Lion stared

curiously at them; each was Y shaped, with the top of the Y

more U shaped than V shaped…. And the point at the bottom

held a spiked wheel. The U portion fit against the back of

her foot, and was held in place with a series of straps…..

and as she walked the spiked wheels at the back jangled

musically. The Kangaroo rat padded around behind the Lion,

one paw on the back of his neck, pushing him over, until his

face was almost touching the floor. She held him there for

a moment, leaning over to whisper in his ear; "I like my

mounts spirited; and this should help…." And then he felt

the tip of something presented to his asshole, pressing hard

against it. He tried not to fight it, but it was

unlubricated, and he was unused to taking things there; the

Kangaroo Rat wound up grunting as she forced it in, until a

reduction in width at the base caught his anal ring, holding

it in place. The Lion remained still, as if frozen in place

as he got used to the sensation of something stuffed up his

ass, as the Kangaroo Rat paced around him. After a moment,

though, she chuckled and strode back to the cushion on the

Dias. It took a few moments, but slowly the invader in his

ass started to burn, and as the intensity of the pain rose,

the Lion found it increasingly hard to hold still. "Ah, I

can see the ginger plug has started to work. Good. You

just keep that there and I'm sure you'll be plenty active

for me. Now, crawl over here and fuck me. Fuck me HARD.

Show me what you can do with that meat between your legs."

The Lion leaned forward a bit more, and with all the grace

he could muster, crawled across the floor, towards the Dias.

As he approached her, she spread her legs wantonly, giving

him a good view of her sex. Pausing, the Lion ran his

tongue over her snatch once, twice, just enough to make sure

she was wet enough for him, and then he surged forward to

cover her body with his……

Just as he was shifting his hips, making sure he was

centered, twin jabs against his ass shocked him, and his

hips drove forwards instinctively, forcing his cock deep

into her pussy. The Kangaroo Rat Gasped and wrapped her

arms around his neck; "THAT is what spurs are for! Now

GIDDIYAP!" And again the spiked wheels came down on his ass

precipitating another hard thrust. The Lion grunted and

complied, fucking her without fineness, driving his hips

hard against her in response to the jabs against his ass.

As he moved, he heard the first of Eddie's hoarse screams as

the Bear resumed his whipping. By the time she was

screaming through her first climax, the Lion could feel

trickles of blood running down his ass, but still, she

wasn't satisfied. It seemed that no matter how he moved, no

matter how hard he fucked her she still wanted more, the

spurs driving down against his rear. Finally she arched her

back against him and commanded him to cum, something he was

more than ready to do, if for no other reason to escape her


Tanj stared open-mouthed at the girls at the table; "Mark

some sort of fundamentalist religious leader? Oh, PLEASE,

tell me you're kidding. After a moment, Tanj started to

chuckle, and then unable to hold it back, the laughter

escaped from her. She laughed until tears rolled down her

cheeks. Finally she was able to gain control of herself,

only to find all the ladies at the table just staring at

her, with serious expressions on their faces. "Oh, Please,

tell me you don't really BELIEVE that!"

In response to a push against his chest, from the Kangaroo

Rat, the Lion rocked back to a kneeling position. Something

told him that rolling over onto his back would NOT be a good

idea at this point…… The Kangaroo rat lifted herself a

little, to look past him at the Squirrel, and nodded. "he's

close. He won't last long. OK, Brewster, you can stop now.

The Bear nodded and gave a half bow to the Kangaroo Rat, and

coiling his whip, he sauntered out the door. The Rat turned

to sprinkle a white powder on the floor next to her cushion,

and then turned to grin at the Lion: "You, flat on your

back, right there, head towards the wall!" The Lion groaned

as he settled onto the floor next to the cushion. As he

settled his ass into the sprinkling of white powder he

shuddered at the stinging; "Salt. The Bitch is literally

rubbing salt in my wounds!". The Kangaroo Rat chuckled and

moved to straddle his hips, facing his feet, facing the

struggling Squirrel. In a few moments her paws had him hard

again and she moved to impale herself on his shaft. She

rode him at her own speed, both paws reaching down to toy

with his balls as she moved. "Tell you what, Lion; when I'm

done with you, when I'm satisfied, you can go cut down the

Squirrel. If he's still alive. How's that for an incentive

to please your Mistress?" As she expected, the burning from

the Ginger in his anus, and the salt under his bleeding rump

kept the Lion's hips moving and she seemed to delight in

that. The Lion watched her back, watched her watch Eddie as

the exhausted Squirrel struggled to keep from falling. To

keep from strangling himself. It was as Eddie was

struggling to rise, to loosen the ever-tightening noose

obviously at the end of his endurance, that the Lion felt

her encircle his sack with thumb and forefinger, to tug

painfully downward. And then the Kangaroo Rat shrieked

through what had to have been her most powerful climax of

the night.

Tanj smiled at them over the rim of her coffee cup; "Now

tell me, don't you think Mark's just a little… young to be

some sort of cult leader? And when have you EVER seen him

act like…. Whatever you'd expect a cult leader to act like?

The girls at the table exchanged nervous glances, and then

Pam spoke in a low voice; "well, to tell you the truth,

that's not quite what I'd heard…… the story I heard was….

Well……." Tanj nodded in what she hoped was a reassuring

manner; "Go on… Please." Pam bit her lip and then the words

tumbled out in a rush; "I heard that he was the result of

some successful experiment by a shady government agency, or

some biocorporation…. Something to enhance his brain, to

bring out the psi powers….. I heard it involved icky stuff

like brain tissue grafts taken from living "donors"….. I

heard that he's still working for this agency, or

corporation, or whatever……" Before Tanj could speak,

Marie shook her head; "That's not quite what I heard. I

heard he was on the run from them and that they were hunting

him…… " Lisa blinked; "Um, I'd heard that he was some

sort of an alien spy in a cloned, or a (shudder) "Borrowed"

body……" Pam scowled and shook her head; "Oh, that couldn't

be; he's had physicals…. He has to have had physicals…..

hasn't he?" Lisa just crossed her arms across her chest and

looked at the Coyote; "and how deep did those Medical types

REALLY go? Were they looking for something like that?

Maybe he's got a way to fool the scanners!"

Tanj blinked and shook her head as the conversation

spiraled further and further into the twilight zone. Could

they REALLY be thinking these things about MARK?

Urrrrrrrrr! But before she could say anything, her pager

went off, and sighing she rose to head back to work…….

The Lion was panting hard when she rose off his shaft, and

without another word, or backwards look padded out the door.

After a moment he rose, to padd over to the Squirrel, his

ass on fire from the Ginger buttplug. His claws shredded

the rope, and the Squirrel hit the floor with a choked

sound. It took a moment to get the rope from around his

neck, and then the wire from around his bleeding balls.

Tossing the limp but still breathing Squirrel over his

shoulder, he turned and headed for what he thought was the

Slaves' quarters, wondering if there was someone there who

could help the Squirrel. Wondering if there was someone

there who could tell him if he was permitted to remove the


Tanj shoved her dishes into the recycler and turned and

stalked down the rough-hewn corridor towards her ship. It

was obvious to her that the girls hadn't believed her

protestations. Everyone knew of Mark's telepathic link with

her, and it had been suggested politely that she was under

his power. As was that curious creature, Mala. And

telepathy suggested mind control…. As she walked down the

corridor, she scowled; "I need to get to the bottom of

this…. but I need to find my Master too. And there just

isn't time for both. I think I'd best find a moment to talk

to Mark……."

There were still a few slaves up when the Lion entered the

bunkhouse. The building was crude, with a dirt floor, and

walls up to about waist height, with screen the rest of the

way to the roof. But there were no doors, so the insects

circulated freely. Down each wall was a line of beds, with

simple straw-filled mattresses. The Lion looked around and

spotted Qume, the Fox, who had risen from his mattress to

look concernedly towards the Lion. "Put him over there" a

voice whispered, and the Lion turned to see Benny the Otter

pointing towards a bunk. The Lion moved over to it, and as

carefully as he could, he set the Squirrel down on his

stomach. His back was a bruised, bleeding mess from his

shoulders to his rump. "You got any antiseptic? Anything

to dress the wounds with?" Benny just chuckled; "are you

kidding? We don't got squat. He'll either live, or die on

his own. Better turn him over though." The Lion blinked;

"you want him to lie on his back?" The Otter just shrugged;

"gotta recharge his collar or he WILL die. Nuthin' I can do

about that." Qume sighed; "come on, I'll help."

After they'd gotten Eddie settled as comfortably as they

could, the Lion padded over to Benny; "I take it you're in

charge here?" The Otter nodded; "Yeah, I'm the Head Slave;

what's it to you?" The Lion just shrugged; "I was wondering

if I could get into the showers; seems my ass got turned to

hamburger by our Mistress and then she rubbed salt in it.

I'd like to wash it out." The Otter chuckled and shook his

head; "you know where the showers are; there might still be

some water in the pipes, but the pump was turned off at

dinner." The Lion just nodded slowly; "She also put some

sort of butt-plug up my rear, and its burning pretty bad.

Will she get mad if I take it out?" Benny just chuckled;

"Did she TELL you you could take it out? No? Then you damn

well better leave it in, or you'll wind up like Eddie over

there, or worse." The Lion just sighed and padded towards

the showers. There must have been about a pint and a half

of water in the pipes, and all it did was get his ass

stinging even worse. "At least the salt stopped the

bleeding" he mused as he settled himself on an empty bed,

squirming around until he felt the contacts at the back of

his collar connect with the recharger. The damn thing

hummed loudly, not that he thought he was going to get much

sleep anyways…..

Tanj looked at Mark's image on the monitor and frowned;

"Yeah, sounds like they've got you doing REAL important work

there. Listen, I think I know what's behind your assignment

there. There seems to be some sort of whisper campaign

going on, directed against you. I've NO idea WHY, 'cept

possibly that you're just a little different than everyone

else (like we've got a bunch of NORMAL folks here

anyways!)." Mark shrugged with a hint of a smile; "I can

think of worse things to happen to me than what's basically

a paid vacation…. As long as somebody makes ure I DO still

get paid, of course. If nothing else, I have more time to

meditate on finding the Boss… though so far I've only

puzzled out that he's alive, if uncomfortable, and still on

Elysium. Which at least fits with your theory, if that's

any help." Tanj nodded; "well, if you get any flashes,

Please let me know. And I'll see you when you get here."

As she reached up to break the connection, Mark held up a

paw. "Wait, aren't you going to tell me just WHAT they've

been swhispering behind my back? We're a bit short on

entertainment here, you know…" Tanj frowned, but after a

moment launched into a blow-by-blow description of the

various theories floating around. As she finished, Mark

chuckled softly. "Dear me. And those are people we

actually recruited to free Elysium? No, don't answer that;

its TOO embarrassing. Its good to hear that they're all way

off target and my REAL secret is still safe, though."

Tanj blinked; "And just what would THAT be?" mark put on

that innocent look she'd seen him use all too often. "Allow

me to introduce…", and with that he reached out of the

camera's angle to retrieve a pair of dark sunglasses he'd

gotten from who-knows-where, and placed them on his muzzle;

"…Agent M, Imperial ESP Command, department Six. And SHAME

on you for not figuring it out sooner, too!" He grinned as

Tanj's groan came over the comlink; "you just get your

ass in here, you…. You…."

The Lion groaned as Benny poked him; "Come on, you Lazy

Slave! It'll be sunup soon! There's work to be done!"

Then the Otter was off, limping down the row of bunks,

rousing the slaves. They had to carry Eddie to the table,

but the Squirrel was in no shape to eat…. And that worried

the Lion. Breakfast was stale bread and some sort of cold

porridge, and scarcely enough to fill his belly, the Lion

thought. As he licked his bowl clean, imitating the others,

he watched as Benny conferred with the Overseer. And then

Benny was moving among the tables, passing out work

assignments. Most of the slaves were split into three

groups, to work in the fields. One group would be under the

Overseer, one under Benny, and apparently the third would be

watched by the Mistress. The Lion knelt quietly, wondering

which group he'd be assigned… and then the Otter limped

over. "Qume tells me you've got some mechanical skills.

That’s good, as Eddie was the last slave that knew a damn

thing about machines. The No.4 combine still needs work,

and you're elected. Take Eddie down there to give you

advice; its obvious he isn't going to make it in the fields

today. When you're done there, check all the irrigation

pumps for pluggages. If there's any daylight left, come

find me. If you're still working at Dinner time, I'll find

you. Take off." The Lion nodded and turned to look at

Eddie; "you know the way; you strong enough to hang on to my

back, or should I use the fireman's carry?"

It turned out one of the buildings, a structure known as a

"pole barn", a roof supported by vertical uprights, with no

walls or floor, was the maintenance facility. In one

"corner" was a little shack, and there the Lion discovered a

short, slight male Tiger bent over a circuit board, his

soldering iron smoking. The Lion placed Eddie as carefully

as he could in one corner, the motion drawing the Tiger's

attention; "Hi, I’m CT. 'preciate what you did for Eddie

last night. Too many of the folks here wouldn't have gone

out of their way to bring him back." The Lion blinked;

"why? Is he disliked for some reason?" CT shook his head

no; "No, he's an OK guy; its just this place drains most of

the humanity from folks. They do only what they have to,

and only look out for No.1. Benny's the classic example."

The Lion nodded; "somehow I got the feeling a lame slave

wouldn't last long here; he sucks up to the overseer?" CT

nodded and turned back to his work; "yeah, a real brown-

noser. Watch out for him, he'll sell you out in an instant

for a crust of bread." The Lion nodded; "I'll remember

that. Right now, though, I'd better go get a look at the

No.4 combine……" CT waved and nodded; "Good luck; that

thing's a piece of junk; should have been retired ages ago."

The combine was an old Belisarius, and had actually survived

the company that had manufactured it. This was amazing as

that firm had been famous for producing the cheapest units…

and you got what you paid for. The electronics that guided

the thing had been reworked so many times as to no longer be

anything close to standard, and the drive….. the Fuel Cell

had so many warped plates the Lion couldn't figure out how

it functioned. The final drive was from an electric motor

to a sprocket on the front axle, connected by a chain. And

it didn't take but a second to understand why the chain kept

breaking. Somewhere in its past something had impacted the

combine and bent the frame just enough to throw things out

of alignment. And as the motor was behind and under the

grain bin, a rather hefty structure welded to the frame,

there was no room to realign the motor. The only choice was

to realign the front axle… but then the combine would be

crabbing forward, the tines not moving straight down the row

of crops. Sighing, the Lion sat down to study the problem.

The scream of the air impact wrench faded away, to be

replaced with Benny's howl of outrage; "….ucking SHIT!

You've got it in PIECES! Dammit, Mistress wanted this thing

running TOMORROW!" The Lion slid out from under the frame

and looked at the Otter; "Yeah, and if I just put on a new

drive chain I'd be in Eddie's condition in a few days. I

can patch the thing together, or I can FIX it. Now if she

needs it tomorrow, find a way to let me work all night…. I

might get it done." Benny shook his head; "but its in

pieces all over the place! WHAT are you trying to DO?" The

Lion put down the air impact wrench and picked up a sledge

hammer; "The frame's bent; the only way to solve the problem

is to straighten the frame. The ONLY way." "But,"

spluttered Benny; "We don't HAVE a way to straighten the

frame! We don't have any heavy equipment here!" The Lion

shrugged; "Just have to build something then. You want this

done, go away and let me work." The Otter scowled as the

Lion turned away from him, and he was just about to growl

that he was boss here and that no slave told HIM what to do…

but then he decided there were other ways to teach this

newcomer a lesson…….

"Hey, CT called; "its getting close to dinner time; you

coming?" The Lion shook his head; "No, not if I'm going to

get this thing running by morning. You and Eddie go on

without me. Tell that gimpy Otter I'm still working. Oh,

hey, you got a way to recharge my collar while I work?" CT

grinned; "only if you promise not to get caught with it."

The Tiger vanished into his shack and returned in a moment

with a breadboarded rig; after a moment he'd clamped it to

the back of the Lion's collar, its weight noticeable; "Give

it about two hours. And don't lay down on it; you might get

a nasty shock. Oh, by the way, your collar also has a

transponder; tells the combines and other farm equpment

where you are, so you don't get harvested, if you're working

in the fields. It also tells Mistress and the Overseer

where you are too." The Lion nodded; "I know about

Mistress' riding crop, but where does the overseer keep HIS

little transponder; wouldn't want him run over either, now

would we?" CT just chuckled; "you'd be surprised. He's got

a wristlet that is his remote control device, and also the

transponder for the farm equipment." The Lion just nodded

and turned back to his work.

The jig for straightening the frame was simple enough.

Cables anchored the front and rear of the combine to "dead

men" buried to one side. And a hand-crank come-along

anchored to the center of the frame stretched to another

"Dead-man" to the other side. Grunting, the Lion tugged on

the lever, the cables bowstring taut……

Benny nodded to the Kangaroo Rat; "Yes Mistress; we're one

short. That new Lion is still working on the No.4 Combine.

I think he's making a real mess of it, Ma'am…… I TOLD him it

was time for dinner, but he wouldn't come." The Kangaroo

Rat's eyes narrowed; "Oh he wouldn't, would he? Well, I

think maybe I'll take a little ride down there after dinner

and see……..

The approaching jingling was sufficient warning for the Lion

to unclip the recharger from his collar and stash it in the

guts of the combine. He'd just remounted the cutter head

and was torquing the bolts down when the strangest

apparition came into view……. A two wheeled cart, built of

tubing held the Kangaroo Rat, and between the traces was a

female equine…. A Clydesdale, or a Morgan, or one of the

larger breeds of that species. Wiping off his paws, he

knelt, head down. The Kangaroo Rat tugged on her reins,

directing the slave pulling the cart to pull up alongside

the open side of the maintenance shed. She sat there for a

moment, her eyes moving from the kneeling Lion to the

combine to all the parts and tools scattered about. Finally

she said, in a conversational voice; "you understand you

will have to be punished for not showing up for dinner,

don't you?" The Lion shrugged; "That, or be punished for

not having fixed the combine by dinner. Mistress, if I'm

going to be punished, I'd rather have the satisfaction of

having done good work. And Benny insisted you needed the

combine by morning……. The Kangaroo Rat nodded slowly; "I

suspect Benny was piqued at your…. Selection of which orders

to obey. He does like to think that he's the head slave. I

do think that I'm going to have to have a talk with him

about that. But in the future you will NOT miss dinner, no

matter what. Now, if you DO have the combine fixed by

morning, your punishment will merely be to draw from the

jar; but if after all this it still doesn't work, well,

then, I think I'll have to come up with something special…..

so you'd better get back to work, Slave." Turning to look

at the slave between the traces of her cart, she snapped the

reins, and then the Clydedale was stepping high, drawing the

cart into the night. The Lion watched for a moment and then

rose to turn back to the cutting head.

The job was completed a couple hours before dawn. All the

diagnostics ran correctly, and with the front axle jacked

up, the drive ran at top speed for a half hour without the

least sign of a problem. Setting the machine up for the

next day's tasks, according to the schedule he found on CT's

computer, the Lion paused to look around the ad-hoc

electronic's shop. After pawing through several drawers he

finally smiled. The mica film was commonly used when hand-

wiring coils. But cut and trimmed just so, it fit inside

his collar, covering the two electrodes there quite

nicely….. He just made it to Breakfast, and as he knelt at

the table he winked at Eddie, and nodded.

Benny caught the wink and the nod and scowled…. Could that

mangy cat have actually fixed that rambling wreck? If he

had… no, there was no way he could claim any part of that

success, not after what he'd said to the Mistress. Settling

back, the Otter wondered how he could take this Lion down a


The Lion was yawning widely when Benny limped by; "Field

team Three for you; nothing needs fixing today." The Lion

nodded and rose, thinking "no rest for me" as he turned to

join that group. Behind him, he heard Benny assign Eddie to

the same team, and the Lion turned to watch the Squirrel

struggle to his feet. Retracing his steps he felt the

squirrel's nose; it was hot and dry. Sighing the Lion

turned and hoisted Eddie onto his back and being careful to

duck low through the doorway, he hurried to catch up with

the others.

As they walked towards their assigned field, Qume looked up

at the Lion; "how in the HELL can you be so cheerful?

Especially so early in the morning?" The Lion chuckled and

shrugged a little, hoisting Eddie into a more comfortable

position; "Heck, I've been up all night, so "morning doesn't

have a whole lot of meaning for me at the moment. And its

not hard, if you try…. Besides, its pissing the HELL out of

our friend Benny." Qume stole a look back at the Otter

limping after them and chuckled; "you're right; he's

scowling like a volcano getting ready to blow." The Lion

nodded and tilted his head back to sing in a truly abysmal

voice "Over hilllll, over dale, we will hit the dusty


It was hard to keep going. He was falling asleep on his

feet, but if he didn't keep the hoe going, the wake up call

from the overseer's whip would bring him back to

wakefullness…. And the recharge from CT's device obviously

hadn't been quite enough; his collar was unusually tight……

As he tried to keep moving, the Lion watched the overseer

from the corner of his eye. He'd been pestering the

Minotaur for no apparent reason that the Lion could see,

other than that the Bull hated it. It was obvious to the

lion that the Minotaur was reaching the breaking point, and

that the Overseer was determined to push him past it,

probably just for the pleasure of punishing him for it.

Looking back down at what he was doing, the Lion moved

slightly, trying to keep himself between the Bear and Eddie.

The Squirrel wasn't moving very well……. And his back looked


Tanj shook her head; "AgriCorp Facility 223? What the

heck kind of destination is THAT for a bill of lading? With

a sigh she turned back to her database. At least now she

had a clue as to who'd bought her Master. All she had to do

was to figure out where their "Facility 223" was…….

The Break came when the Lion least expected it. The

Minotaur Bull turned and swung his hoe in a vicious ark. At

first the Lion thought he'd missed; the Bear saw it, and

leaned back, the business end of the hoe missing his head by

inches… but then it bit into his left forearm, and the Lion

knew the Bull had planned well. The Bear jumped back, more

stunned than hurt, and his paws came up as if he were about

to punch a button on the now-ruined mass of plastic and

electronics dangling from his left wrist. The Minotaur

wound up for another swing, as the Bear reached for the

coiled bullwhip on his hip……

The Lion glanced over the other slaves, and then just leaned

on the handle of his hoe. There really was little he could

do…… Even with the overseer dead, they couldn't escape;

their collars saw to that. It was just too far to the

nearest outpost of civilization. And the Minotaur had

forfeited his life with the first swing; there was no way

the owners would let him survive now…. And thus the Lion

watched, idly rooting for the Minotaur, but not willing to

come to his assistance. It just wasn't time yet….. He had

a lot more planning, a lot more preparation to do before

he'd be willing to take on the "establishment"……

The Bear's first two strikes with the whip drew blood, but

the Minotaur didn't seem to notice; the third strike was

caught, and the Bear jerked forward. The two grappled for a

moment, and then the Minotaur had the whip twisted around

the Bear's neck, and was pulling….. The Bear struggled for a

while, his motions becoming increasingly frantic, his eyes

bugging out, until finally he slumped. The Bull held the

whip tight for a good half dozen minutes before releasing

it. There was no chance the Bear wasn't dead. And then, as

he let the body slump to the ground, he looked around

helplessly as if to say "now what do I do?"

The Lion watched carefully. Somehow, he was certain that

the Bear's wristlet had reported its own demise, if not the

Bear's, and that whatever passed for the Cavalry was on its

way…… And then sure enough, everyone around him suddenly

jerked hard, convulsing with electric shock. The Lion only

felt a slight tingle, and was pleased to see that his little

strip of insulation was working; his own faked convulsions

were only a split second behind the others and he wondered

if anyone had noticed…. And then as furrs all around him

went limp, he noticed from the corner of his eye, the cart

pulled by the Clydesdale approaching……

The Kangaroo Rat tugged on the reins awkwardly, a laser

pistol in one paw and her "control" in her other. From the

way the twitching bodies were arranged, it was obvious that

the Minotaur was the one responsible. Punching in his access

code, she programmed her remote to give him periodic shocks,

insuring that he'd be unable to assault her as well. She

then turned off the current to the other slaves. As they

roused themselves she glared at them; "you should have

prevented your friend from doing this. Now I'm going to

have to find a new overseer, and I promise you, I will find

the meanest, nastiest one on the Planet! IN THE SECTOR!

Now you, you and you, pick up Brewster and carry him back to

the compound. You, you and you, tie up the Minotaur and

carry him back as well. MOVE IT!" Under the watchful eye

of the Kangaroo Rat the slaves obeyed, and soon a strange

procession was heading back along the dusty road…..

Dinner that night was quite strange. The Kangaroo Rat wore

almost normal clothes, slacks and a crop top. And she

carried a shotgun in addition to her whip. It was almost as

if she were suddenly nervous, afraid in the absence of the

Bear, that the slaves might turn on her as well. Twice

during the dinner she reminded the assembled group that if

she wasn't there every day to code in the proper sequence

into the compound's computer, their collars would all

automatically constrict. The Lion filed that little bit of

information away as well, thinking that it changed his plans

somewhat….. But just somewhat. After the meal was

finished, the Kangaroo Mouse rose; "you are all confined to

quarters until a new Overseer is brought in, and the Slave

that killed the old one can be properly executed. And I

don't want to hear a Peep out of any of you! DISMISSED!

Again, as the Lion rose, the Kangaroo Rat called out; "Lion!

I haven't forgotten about your punishment. When all this is

resolved, you WILL draw from the jar!" The Lion gave a

polite half-bow in her direction, and turned to follow the


"Its kind of a ritual" CT explained. "If things get too

bad, we draw straws. The one with the short straw has to

kill the overseer. Then, while they bring in a new one,

we're all confined to quarters. It’s a guaranteed minimum

of at least a day's rest." The Lion blinked; "you mean that

in order to get a days rest around here, it costs two

lives?" Qume shrugged; "Hey, we're all going to die here

anyways. No one ever leaves this place; they're too afraid

someone will learn about the dreamweed crop." The Lion

looked around and then shrugged; "just between you and me, I

do NOT plan on dying here. Qume looked across the room at

Benny and then leaned closer; "you got a plan?" The Lion

grinned; "Maybe. Tell me again what you know about the

sensors that keep the farm equipment from running over

folks, CT."

After they'd talked for a while, Qume stretched and grinned;

"its rare that we get left alone like this. Usually

Mistress has something or other to bedevil us… but tonight…

tonight I think I'm going to see if Sasha's got enough

energy left to be interested in a little loving….." The

Lion chuckled and nodded; "Good Luck, Qume." CT yawned and

stretched; "Well, I for one am going to use the opportunity

to catch up on my sleep." The Lion chuckled and nodded.

He'd been flat on his back on his bed for a bit, just

staring at the ceiling, thinking, when someone moved close.

Looking up, he saw the Clydesdale Mare looking down at him;

"Hi, just thought I'd wander over and welcome you to Hell.

My name's Dahlia."

Tanj now had a pretty good picture of what AgriCorp was.

They were a major conglomerate that produced food, from the

farm, to the grocery store. They were thoroughly vertically

integrated. And they had almost a thousand farms, plants,

factories and stores. She'd obtained a copy of their

prospectus, and their previous year's tax return, and had

even hacked into their mainframe, although for a simple food

supplier, it was curiously well "defended"…. And nowhere did

they list a "Facility 223." "Something HAS to be going on

here" the Cheetah mused to herself. This should NOT be that

difficult… They HAVE to be hiding something….." Reaching

for a message pad, she started to summarize her findings and

her thoughts as she prepared to request another "special


"No, its not a permanent job; generally the Mistress rotates

the job among the slaves. I think she prefers me though, as

I do a better job at it than most of the others; they're

just too small." The Lion nodded, as he lay on his bunk,

arms crossed behind his head, looking up at her. "I've

never seen anything like it before. She really is into

"Control," isn't she?" Dahlia cast a quick look at Benny

and then turned back to the Lion; "Yeah… but she seldom has

an interest in the meek ones. She likes the ones that

resist, that fight back, so she can punish them." The Lion

chuckled and nodded; "I kinda figured that out…. But it

also looks like it doesn't take much to earn a punishment,

either." Dahlia nodded; "True. Benny's real good at

complaining about your work, even when you've done a good

job. I think it makes him feel powerful, and of course the

Mistress loves the excuse to punish someone anyways." The

Lion nodded; "seems I've got a punishment coming up; going

to have to draw from the jar. What can I expect?" As she

sat on the edge of the Lion's bed, the Clydesdale moved a

paw over his chest, running his fingers through his mane;

"Oh, there are a LOT of different things that can happen to

you; some of them are sexual services for the Mistress, and

hence not too bad. I think you've had a taste of that…..

Some are sexual services for the Overseer and those are

generally less pleasant. Some are straight punishments,

some are pure torture, and there's even one token in there

labeled "Death." Personally, I think she has some way of

controlling what token you choose; after all; why should I

wind up drawing "ponygirl" so very often?"

The Lion smiled as she ran her fingers through his mane; it

made him think of Tanj, and he wondered how she was doing

at the moment. The Brethren had rules about how to handle

situations such as his disappearance, and he honestly

wondered if she was following them…. As the Clydedale's

hand slid down over his stomach, he glanced up at her to

find her smiling down at him; "you know, we generally don't

get folks of our size in here….. and its difficult to get

satisfaction from some of the smaller species, no matter how

…. Enthusiastic they might be……." The Lion just chuckled

and reached up to pull her down into a kiss.

The Lion kissed her softly, his tongue pushing past her

parted lips, to dance with hers, as his paws found her ample

breasts, to cup them, the middle finger of each paw finding

its way through her nipple rings. As he squeezed softly,

his tongue continued the dance of passion with hers. Dahlia

for her part shifted her position, moving to kneel astride

the lion as he reclined on his bunk. Softly her hips

rocked back and forth, her sex rubbing against his sheath……

Tanj poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down at one

of the tables in the mess. For a moment all fell silent,

the few furrs there looking at her curiously. Tanj

nibbled at her Danish and sipped her coffee, and grinned

back at them; "So tell me, what wild rumors are out there

now about Mark? What's the latest scuttlebutt?"

There had been three or four couples performing intimate

acts in the bunkhouse, but somehow, everyone turned to watch

as the Lion and Dahlia made love. Perhaps it was her high-

pitched whinneys every time she climaxed that drew their

attention, or the way they changed position from time to

time, moving from her sitting astride his hips, to him on

top of her, to a somewhat complex standing position, with

her hands braced on the wall and her legs locked around his

waist, to her on hands and knees beside the bed with him

taking her from behind….. It was in this latter position

that the Lion finally leaned forward, to take the back of

her neck in his jaws as his hips bucked wildly, his own

orgasm finally claiming him. After a moment, Dahlia sagged

forward, to lie on the floor on her tummy, the Lion still

crouched over her. It took another moment or two, before

the Lion could withdraw, to sit next to her, his chest

heaving. Dahlia rolled onto one side, propping her head up

with one arm; "That was probably the best I've had in a long

time; you're really quite good… but that teeth thing at the

end, that didn't cut it." The Lion raised one eyebrow and

smirked; "Really? Most ladies I know love that…. but

then….. I guess it’s a Feline thing." The Clydesdale

chuckled and reached out one paw to stroke the Lion's

crotch; "Ah, but I'm NOT Feline……"

The Kangaroo Rat watched. Of course there were monitors in

the Slave's bunkroom, both visual and audio. But they were

hidden, and only she knew they were there. As such, the

pickup wasn't as good as she'd liked. She couldn't pick up

every conversation, but she HAD watched the Lion's

performance with the Mare. And it had made her feel….

Envoius? Of a Slave? Sitting back, she watched the Mare

reach out to stroke him again, either teasing, or trying to

arouse him for a second go…. "Well, Missy" she growled to

herself, "you go ahead and have your fun while you can,

'cause its going to stop REAL soon……" Picking up a stylus

she started to make notes as to who had been having sex that


"They say that he's some sort of religious leader in a cult

that worships some ancient alien race. That this cult

trains its members in telepathy, and that they use that

talent to drain it from non-cult members around them.

Literally sucking a portion of your soul from you!" Tanj

sat back in her chair and stared at the Chipmunk. "and you

think, that because I've got some sort of telepathic link

with Mark that he's training me as one of his acolytes?

That I'm going to reach into your mind and take something

from you?" The Squirrel shifted uncomfortably; "Um, well,

yes, that IS one theory out there…. But its also possible

that every time he makes contact with you that he's feeding

off YOUR mind….. That might explain why a person of your ….

Talents still hasn't been able to find the Boss……"

Tanj's jaw dropped as she stared back at the Chipmunk,

and then at the others around the table….. After a couple

of false starts, Tanj finally managed to choke out; "Oh,

I'll find the Boss all right. Mark's not done anything to

my mind, I'm sure of that, and when I DO find him, I

guarantee you he'll put a stop to all this nonsense!"

As they watched Tanj stalk off, one of the girls sighed;

"Poor thing, she just doesn't SEE what he's doing to her!"

Heads nodded around the table and then conversation picked

up as they discussed if Tanj could be rescued before the

Mutant Mouse consumed her completely.

As she walked back to her ship, Tanj frowned. "It

shouldn't BE this difficult to find one slave on that

planet. All that stuff is well documented. Bureaucracies

are LIKE that; they keep records of EVERYTHING…… COULD it

be me?"

The next day was remarkably quiet. The few slaves that

normally handled meal preparation made quick trips to the

kitchen, to bring back cold snacks. Most everyone just laid

around, dozing, or just doing nothing. Some folks talked in

quiet little groups. The Lion made the rounds of those

groups, getting to know the other slaves, listening to what

they had to say, trying to get a feel for their

personalities. And their backgrounds. For his escape plan

to work, he was going to need help. Unfortunately, few of

them had any kind of technical background…….

It was after dinner when the aircar landed in the courtyard.

As most of the slaves watched curiously a single passenger

disembarked. He was a male Tiger, tall and heavily muscled.

He carried a riot gun, and a backpack, and little else. The

Kangaroo Rat came out to meet him, and as the Aircar lifted

off, she walked him towards the Overseer's quarters, the

pair talking animatedly. "Well, that tells us something

right there" the Lion muttered. Redflame, a squirrel,

looked over at the Lion; "Oh? What's that?" The Lion

chuckled; "That model of Aircar has an unrefueld range of

only about 200 kilometers. We can't be further than that

from civlization." Behind him, Benny gave the Lion a scowl;

what was he thinking things like THAT for… was he up to


Tanj looked at Mark's image on the monitor; "A robot

supply ship? You mean to tell me they've gotten so worked

up over you that they won't even let you come in for a DAY?"

Mark just shrugged; "seems that way. Hey, don't sweat it.

We're comfortable here, and when things get back to normal,

and the Boss is finally back, I’m sure we'll be able to

straighten it all out. Tanj sighed and shook her head; "I

don't know, its getting awful strange here. A messenger

bringing me some signal intercepts actually showed up

wearing a tin-foil skullcap. When I asked him about it he

said it was to foil telepathic attempts to control him. I

thought he was making a pun, just teasing me, but it turned

out he was dead serious. The guy was actually afraid of ME

because I know YOU!" Mark just shook his head; " Next time

you meet him, tell him telepathy's not based on

electromagnetism and so his silly cap wouldn't do him a bit

of good anyways. I'm starting to honestly wonder what's

wrong with those people. Think you could arrange for the

next supply run to fetch a large collection of supermarket

tabloids to distract them?" Tanj just sighed. Mark

tilted his head for a moment, and then nodded; "In any case,

the newsisn't all bad; I do believe I'm starting to home in

on the Boss. Should have a good fix on his location in

another couple of days at the most, if your investigations

don't turn up a lead before then. Of course, just how many

people would believe me at the moment is another question…"

Tanj nodded and straightened a bit; "Just see what you

can do."

Things were more subdued in the bunk house that night. It

was as if the prompt arrival of the new overseer had filled

them all with dread… But still, a few slaves found whatever

it took, to share the pleasures of the flesh with each

other…. And again, the Mare came to the Lion… and once

again, the Kangaroo Rat watched with growing annoyance……

The next morning the slaves lined up outside the bunk room,

prior to breakfast. The Minotaur had been placed on a

stool, underneath the gibbet, a simple noose around his

neck. The new Overseer looked up and down the line of

slaves and then stalked over to kick the stool out from

under the Minotaur's feet. Then, as the noose tightened,

strangling the Bull, the Tiger growled as he stalked up and

down the line of slaves; "My name's Bart, but YOU will call

me Sir. IS THAT UNDERSTOOD? Good. Now, I've got little

patience for lazy slaves, and even less for disobedient

ones. Anyone who displeases me WILL be punished, and

punished HARD!" To emphasize this point, the Tiger turned

and jabbed a shock stick between Nate's legs. The Rabbit

howled and jumped a good four feet straight up into the air,

to fall back with a thud. The Tiger watched him twitch for

a while, and then chuckled evilly; "Get my Point? Now get

off to breakfast, you lazy slobs, there's work to be done!"

As they all started to move, they all stole a glance at the

Bull slowly strangling to death…….

The Lion helped Qume drag Nate into the dining hall; the

Tiger's shock stick had caught him square in the balls and

it looked like he had a nasty burn. That and considerable

swelling…… Breakfast was a hurried affair, with Benny

handing out assignments before everyone had finished eating.

The Lion once again was assigned to field work, and soon

they were all trudging out along the dusty paths, to tend

the Dreamweed crop……

Brown (or Smith, or Jones) smiled and though this one was

going to be remarkably easy. His target liked to eat out,

and would frequently call for a cab to take him back to his

penthouse. The Cab was stolen, the driver peacefully

sleeping off the knockout drug in the trunk. And he'd

followed the Raccoon to a rather fashionable restaurant. It

was no trick at all to be there when he emerged…… The

Raccoon's eyes went wide when Brown turned the Cab into the

deserted loading dock area of a warehouse, closed for the

night. It was just as the Raccoon was starting to spout a

"What IS this?" that Brown turned, to show him the needler

he carried; "Good evening Mr. Lefkowitz. Just a small stop

on your way home. You see, a friend asked me to ask you

about the company you work for, this AgriCorp…. Specifically

about Facility 223….." The Raccoon's eyes went even wider

and he gasped "where did you hear about THAT?"

"I tell you, this one's worse than the last." Redflame was

panting hard, struggling to keep up as the group of slaves

trudged back towards the compound, under the watchful eye

and ever-ready shock stick of the Overseer. The Tiger had

been playing with the remote control the Kangaroo Rat had

given him and seemed to delight in giving random furrs

shocks. The Lion had slipped the strip of mica from under

his collar and not having a pocket to hide it in, was forced

to hold it in his mouth. This made conversation difficult.

In the course of the long day, the Tiger'd given him two

rather nasty shocks, but at least his secret was still

safe….. As soon as he could find some more adhesive tape,

he swore he'd stick the Mica strip inside the collar, not

quite over the contacts… maybe he could diminish the effect

of the shock…..

The body of the Minotaur was still hanging in the compound,

slowly twisting in the wind, when they got back.

Seven furrs were late for dinner, the tasks they'd been

assigned perhaps specifically underestimated by Benny. As a

result, when dinner was done, there were a LOT of furrs

waiting to draw their punishments from the jar… but before

they got to that, the Kangaroo Rat had words to say. "It is

my understanding that during the two nights when we were

without an overseer, that a number of you engaged in sex

acts without my permission. You KNOW that's against the

rules, and all those who were thus engaged will be punished.

Bart, do you have any suggestions as to what an appropriate

punishment might be?" The Tiger just chuckled darkly; "Oh,

I've got a very good way to see to it they don't to anything

like that again…. Without permission that is. Lets handle

the OTHER punishments first, though; what I've got in mind

might take a while….. And I'm sure you're going to love


The Lion winced when Eddie drew the Bastinado. The soles of

his feet were to be beaten. It was a very painful

punishment. That poor squirrel was certainly not getting

the breaks. The rest of the punishments were more mundane;

a day without food, having to stand all night instead of

sleeping. There were some minor whippings and paddlings

awarded. And when it came his turn, the Lion drew a token

that read simply; "pony." Whatever it meant, it seemed to

please Mistress… and curiously enough, Dahlia.

The eight furrs that had committed the "carnal sins" waited

in the dining hall. One by one they were being called into

a store room, for whatever their fate was….. Occasionally

the Lion heard a sharp yelp, or a whimper, but it certainly

didn't seem like anyone was being castrated….. Qume shook

his head as Dahlia was called forth… "This is complete

bullshit. There never was such a rule! There's never been

a problem with us making love before!" The Lion shrugged;

"they're the ones in charge. Do they really need a reason

to punish us?" The Fox just growled…….. "I bet it was that

damn Benny that ratted on us! You'll notice that no one

went to share HIS bed!" Before the Lion could respond,

Benny showed up to call him, and he rose to move down the

corridor, following the Otter. Dahlia was just emerging

from the store room, walking a little bowlegged, both hands

over her crotch. She looked a little wide-eyed, as if she

couldn't believe what'd been done to her, but otherwise

seemed all right. As they passed she muttered cryptically;

"I'm glad I don't have to pull Mistress tomorrow……"

Benny shoved the Lion back against a pillar, and the Tiger

rapidly tied his paws behind the post. As he moved back

around the bound Lion the Tiger chuckled; "tell me, have you

ever had any body piercings?" The Lion's eyes narrowed, and

he muttered; "aside from the nose ring? Woke up with a

nipple ring, once, a LONG time ago……" The Tiger just

chuckled; "Then you shouldn't be a stranger to this." So

saying he held up a piercing needle, and a captive bead

ring…… "The idea is to pierce the opening of your sheath"

the Tiger rumbled, "and then we give you a Prince Albert, a

piercing through the eye of your cock, with the ring

emerging out the bottom of the shaft just behind the head.

Then, we can put one of these small locks through both

rings. You get an erection, it gets VERY painful; so

painful you loose the erection. Or something rips. No sex

for you, buddy boy." The Lion looked over at the Kangaroo

Rat helplessly, but she just smirked, and twirled a small

keyring…… "Should be very effective. Oh, and your friend,

the Mare….. we pierced both her labia; she's now got a small

lock holding her labia together…….

As they untied him, he couldn't help but move a paw to cover

his crotch. The weight of the rings was negligible, but the

weight of the lock was quite noticeable, and he had to so

something to take the pressure off of his newly pierced

flesh. As he headed for the door, the Kangaroo Rat

chuckled; "You know, I bet that would be a dandy place to

attach a leash……"

When he got back to the bunk house, he glanced at Dahlia,

and raised an eyebrow; she just sighed and shrugged and laid

back on her bunk. It was a time where words, seemed out of

place, but he padded over to her anyways, and bent down to

whisper; "For this, they'll die." He then gave her left ear

a soft lick, and rising, walked carefully back to his bunk.

Eight pairs of eyes looked daggers at Benny when he returned

to the bunk house that night. And in the dark there were

muttered comments……

Tanj smiled as she read Brown's report. The Raccoon

who'd been the Comptroller for AgriCorp had not been the

type to resist physical pain. Oh, he'd tried, until Brown

had shot him in the knee, and then, as his blood had seeped

out between his fingers clutching at his shattered kneecap,

he'd become QUITE cooperative. Facility 223 was a farm, in

the Aramac province.. and it seems that they had a little

project going on the side…. Dreamweed. That explained the

great lengths they'd gone to, to keep everything quiet. It

also explained the need for a greater than usual number of

slaves. As she put down the report, the Cheetah wondered

what Brown had wound up doing with the Raccoon……… She was

certain he hadn't let him go……

The next morning, the Lion made his way to the dining area,

moving carefully. The somber attitude of the slaves was a

mirror for the gleeful attitude of Bart and the Kangaroo

Rat. They obviously had enjoyed themselves a great deal the

previous night. When Benny came around, the Lion was

somewhat surprised that he wasn't assigned to one of the

field crews. Instead, Benny told Dahlia to go get him

ready……. And the Lion started to get a glimmer of what the

"pony" token in the punishment jar had meant.

"Its really not that bad a job" Dahlia insisted as she

tightened the leather harness around the Lion. "Sometimes

she wants you to go fast, and that’s a pain, in the heat and

all, but most of the time you just stand there as she

watches the slaves work." The Lion grunted and shifted some

of the straps; it seems that bands of leather were

crisscrossing him almost everywhere…. "Yeah, well, it might

not be so bad for you, but you have to remember, Lions are

sprinters, not long distance runners. Still, if you say

some of the smaller species can handle it, I suppose I can

too….. Dahlia chuckled; "that's the spirit. Now, open up

for the bit." The Lion's eyes went wide as the Clydesdale

pushed a metal contraption into his mouth. A U shaped piece

of metal pressed against the roof of his mouth, and it was

obvious that when the leather reins were tugged, that the

bottom of the U would press painfully into tender flesh.

Then the blinders went on and he found his peripheral vision

limited to straight ahead….. He was standing there, wrists

chained to his waist, as Dahlia fastened the tongues of the

two-wheeled cart to his harness, when the Kangaroo Rat came

in. "Very Good, Dahlia" she purred, "But don't you think he

needs a bearing rein to keep his head up?" The Clydesdale

winced and muttered "Yes Ma'am," and turned back to the rack

where the tack was kept….. The Lion sighed as he watched

her lube up a rather long, thick dildo, with a ring at the

back end. As he feared, this was shortly nestling within

his ass, straps from the ring passing on either side of his

tail, to fasten to the back of the harness encasing his

head. He found himself looking almost straight up; if he

tried to lower his head, the tension on the straps drove the

invader in his ass painfully deeper…… In this position,

he'd have a hell of a time just seeing where he was going….

Then he felt the tongues of the cart shift as the Kangaroo

rat climbed onto the seat, and an instant later her whip

found his ass, and without preamble he broke into a trot,

hauling the cart from the shed.

Dahlia watched him go for a moment, and then turned and with

a sigh, trudged off to join the field crew she was supposed

to be working with today.

The Lion learned very quickly to obey the tugs on his reins.

As he ran, the bouncing lock made him incredibly aware of

his new piercings, and the dong wobbling in his ass proved

to be its own special nightmare. Before long he was panting

hard, covered in sweat, and still the Kangaroo Rat's whip

kissed his ass. Finally when she hauled back on both reins,

when he'd brought the cart to a halt, he found it almost

impossible not to collapse to his knees with exhaustion.

The Rat took the reins, and tossed them over his head, to

walk around and tie them to a nearby chinaberry tree. Then,

whistling jauntily, she walked off, leaving him.

Tanj looked at Ben and sighed; "And just how in the HELL

am I supposed to get PROOF that he's there? The place is

too remote! I can't very well send in some sort of spy;

they'd stand out like a sore thumb!" Ben shook his head;

"I will NOT sanction an operation until I know for sure that

he's there, and that its NOT a trap! Now if you think he's

at this farm, then I suggest you find a way to PROVE it!

And prove that there are no defenses, no Elysium forces

waiting in ambush!" Grumbling, Tanj turned and stalked

from Ops.

Sam watched the angry Cheetah go, and then turned to the

Wolf; "You know, Ben, She's building up to doing something

stupid….." Ben chuckled and nodded; "Know? I'm depending

on it. We've got our rules, and our procedures, and in my

position, I'm supposed to defend them, not break them. I

agree, in all likelihood that’s what happened to the Boss,

and that’s where he is. But I can't risk the whole

organization on that. It COULD be a trap. If the

opposition has any sense at all, it WILL be a trap. But

knowing that, we might just turn the tables. And that all

depends on our irascible friend being as impetuous as I

think she is." Sam chuckled; "I take it then, that you have

a plan?" The Wolf just grinned and nodded……

The Lion heard them coming; not that he could turn and look,

though. The bearing rein held his head back, but the reins

tied to the tree tugged his head down; it was Hobson's

choice between the pain of the bit in his mouth or the pain

of the dong in his ass. Crouching hadn't helped either; the

reins were tied too high in the tree for him to get any

relief that way. As they approached, the Tiger, Bart, was

saying; "Yes, I agree, he DOES look good… its just that I

think you can do better. For instance, if his nipples were

pierced, you could hang little jinglebells there; he'd make

music as he ran. Oh, and I'd hang a jinglebell from the

piercings in his sheath too." As he talked, the Tiger had

moved around in front of the Lion, one paw stroking over his

sheath as if to emphasize where the bell should go. "You

might also want to put a weighted strap around his balls; as

he runs, it would be most….. noticeable" Again the Tiger's

paw moved, thumb and forefinger encircling that space

between the Lion's testicles and his body; and when the

Tiger jerked downwards, stretching the Lion's balls, the

Lion's roar turned the heads of the distant field workers.

The Kangaroo Rat, however, just chuckled; "Quiet, You,"

Turning to the overseer she nodded; "I'll have to see what I

can do; he IS a pleasant change from my usual steed.

Untying the reins, taking her seat in the cart, she snapped

her whip, and as the Lion broke into a trot, she waved gaily

back at the Overseer.

The Overseer chuckled as he watched the Mistress depart, and

then turned to look over the slaves working the field.

Raising his remote, he gave the Fox another jolt through his

collar. They were SUCH lazy slaves…..

The Lion hauled the Rat from field to field, as she checked

on the progress of the work, and on the state of the crops.

Apparently she'd given him the major workout right at the

start, as these trips were comparatively short. Finally, as

the sun was growing low on the horizon, she turned him

towards the compound, her whip cracking at his ass. She

urged him from a trot to a run, driving him faster and

faster, until, as they reached the compound, she hauled

cruelly back on the reins, bringing them to a screeching

halt in a cloud of dust. Dismounting, she took the reins

and led him into the shed where the cart was kept.

Chuckling she tied off the reins to a rafter and then stood

back to regard her slave. "you know, I think those piercing

might be useful for something else" she grinned. With a

"Wait here, Now," she turned and headed for her quarters.

On her return, the Lion felt her fumble with the lock at the

tip of his sheath, listening to the 'snick' as it was

opened, feeling the reduction in weight as it was removed…

and then her paws were moving over him, stroking him,

caressing him, until, almost against his will, his shaft

stood rampant and proud. The Kangaroo rat purrred and

clipped something to the ring in the eye of his cock, and

again he felt weight. There were tugs at the ring at the

opening of his sheath, and then she was fumbling with the

head of his cock again… "There; that looks about right. I

know, you can't see, but I've strung a strand of my favorite

pearls from the ring in the head of your cock to the ring in

your sheath. I suspect they'll feel simply marvelous…… The

Lion then heard the sound of a zipper being pulled down, of

fabric rustling softly, and then the Kangaroo Rat was

climbing up his body, as he stood, harnessed between the

traces of the cart. She balanced herself, one foot on

either tongue of the cart, her arms around his neck, and

with a soft moan, sank down to impale herself on his hard

cock. The feel of the pearls pressing against the underside

of his shaft was almost painful, and as the Rat rose and

fell on his shaft, uttering little cries of joy, he found

the tugging of the strand of pearls against his piercings to

be most distracting. The Kangaroo Rat rode him hard, the

motions of her body becoming progressively wilder and

wilder, until at last she threw back her head and howled.

After a moment, shaking like a leaf, she rose off of him and

climbed down. "Yes, that was a good idea I had there" she

smirked. Wrapping a paw around the Lion's still hard cock,

she cooed; "Awww, didn't enjoy it enough to cum for me? I'm

so disappointed." Squeezing the pearls into the underside

of his shaft, she started to pump her fist up and down….

"cum for me, Slave, Cum for me now!" It took all the Lion's

concentration, her attentions more painful than erotic, but

somehow he managed, his cock spurting his jism over her paw,

splattering the ground in front of her. Smiling the

Kangaroo Rat undid the pearls, picked up her pants and

padded back towards her quarters; "Dahlia will be along to

unharness you in a bit. Make sure she locks you back up,


It was almost dinner time when the Clydesdale entered the

shed; "Well, it looks like YOU'VE had a day, now doesn't it.

Look at you, standing there, all helpless…… I can see the

Mistress took advantage of you…… Left you "unlocked" too…..

Hmmmmm." Looking around, the Clydesdale grinned, and then

kneeling before him, she ran her tongue over his sheath. As

his cock rose once more to the occasion, the Lion couldn't

help but think "we're going to get in Tanj!"

They were the last two to arrive, sneaking into the dining

hall under the glaring eye of Benny, instants before they

would have gotten in trouble for being late. The Lion was

still damp from a very hurried shower, and the Clydesdale

was trying hard not to smile. They ate their meal in

silence, and then watched as the day's punishments were

handed out. It seemed like there were more today, than

there were the day before……..

Redflame shook his head; "I tell you, we can't take this

much longer. That bastard shocked me four times today, for

no reason at all! Qume nodded slowly; "Yeah, poor Eddie's

not getting any better. If they'd just leave him alone,

he'd have a chance….. CT nodded; "I think we're going to

have to draw straws again. This one's GOT to go…… or he'll

kill us all.

The discussion seemed to spread like a chain reaction; small

knots of furrs would form, talk for a moment and then break

apart, only to reform with other members in other places.

In the bunkhouse, in the showers, on the way to the dining

hall….. The Lion watched, almost as a detached observer,

studying the effect…. And he watched Benny watch as well.

It was obvious that he knew something was up… but would he

tell his Mistress?

The end result was almost anticlimactic. Just before lights

out, Benny wandered amongst the slaves as if talking with

each of them. In his fist was a bunch of straws, and at

each stop, a furr surrepticiously selected one. The Lion

didn't have to be told what was going on, and when Benny

came by, to where he and Qume and Dahlia were standing. the

Otter just stood there, staring at them. First Dahlia took

a straw, and then the Fox. And then the Lion reached out

and tugged at one of the straws….. The Otter looked down and

nodded; "its you. You got the short straw. Start thinking

about how you're going to kill the Son of a Bitch….." As

the Otter limped off, the Lion scowled, wondering if there'd

been some way Benny had set him up…..

Benny chuckled and tossed the handfull of straws where

they'd be scattered by the wind. He'd palmed the real

bundle as everyone had looked to see what the Fox had drawn,

and he'd offered the Lion only short ones. It worked every


The Lion caught up with the limping Otter as they headed

towards the Dining Hall for Breakfast. "See to it that I'm

assigned to a field crew, somewhere near where one of the

automated pieces of farm equipment is working. Make sure

CT's there. I'll take care of our little problem when

that's arranged.

"I’m sorry, Mistress, but I need that Lion to look at one of

the irrigation pumps today." Benny was being his most

contrite, and the Kangaroo Rat was obviously displeased, but

she nodded her head; "Send the Mare to me then; we'll let

her carry me about." The Lion finished his breakfast and

nodded when Benny told him to go with a small group. The

pump was adjacent to where they'd be working……

CT caught up with the Lion as they trudged on down the dusty

path; "I take it you have a plan. No one's ever given Benny

requirements for this task before, and I think he's looking

forward to your demise." The Lion just chuckled; "I'm not

planning on being executed for this. How much do you know

about the remote control the overseer carries?" CT

shrugged; "not much; they don't let me handle those things."

The Lion chuckled; "and if you got your paws on one, do you

think you could figure it out? The Tiger smiled; "Oh yeah!"

The Lion nodded; "see if you can scare up some circuit

boards; something that LOOKS good. And a dead battery of

the type the remote uses. A very dead battery." CT nodded;

"I have things like that in my shack, but how am I supposed

to get there from the field?" The Lion chuckled; "got fuses

there for the pumps too, don't you? I'll just tell the

Overseer that one of the fuses is blown and ask if I can go

get a replacement. He's contrary enough not to let me go,

and will probably send you instead." CT smiled and nodded.

There wasn't anything wrong with the irrigation pump beyond

a plugged suction grating and the Lion spent as much time as

he could working on that, letting the field slaves slowly

work their way away from him. Finally he climbed out of the

pit and dripping, started fiddling with the motor starter.

The Overseer heard the pump start, stop, start and stop

again, and came over to investigate. "Blown fuse on one of

the three legs, Sir" the Lion muttered, head bowed. "I need

to get a new fuse from the electronics shack." The Overseer

frowned; "no, I don't think I'm going to let you take a

nice, leisurely stroll. YOU go pick up a hoe, and do some

REAL work." Striding over to the workers, the Overseer

looked around and then grabbed CT, who let out a surprised

yelp. "You, run back to that shack of yours and get a fuse

like this. Get back here within half an hour, or I'll whip

the meat from your bones!" CT nodded and dropped his hoe,

to sprint off in the direction of the compound. The Lion

watched, hoping, but the Overseer didn't step on the

upturned hoe. It would have been just too good….. The Lion

picked up the hoe and took up CT's place in the line of

workers slowly making their way across the field. As he

worked, he kept an eye on the robot tractor pulling the

cultivator in the next field. Timing would be everything

with this one……

Things were getting tight, and the Lion was getting worried

that the tractor would finish with the adjacent field and

move on, when CT came loping back up, the fuse in his hand

like a relay runner's baton. The Overseer turned to take it

from the Tiger, never seeing the Lion move up behind him.

Just about the time the Overseer's paw took the fuse, the

handle of the lion's hoe smacked him just below his left

ear. The Overseer dropped like a sack of potatoes. The

Lion nodded, and reached down to lift the Overseer, to drag

him into the adjacent field. "The trick" he explained to a

wide-eyed CT "is to not kill him. His remote would report

that immediately to the Mistress… but I don't think it'll

mention the fact that I just gave him a concussion." Now,

quick, give me that dead battery; I've got to get it changed

quickly…… By now the Overseer was starting to groan, as the

Lion fumbled with his wristlet. And then the Lion was

stepping back, out of the path of the robot tractor, to hold

the hoe like a golf club, ready to whack the Overseer again,

if need be. The Robot tractor was coming closer and

closer….. the Overseer shook his head and opened his eyes,

obviously warned by the fact that something was very wrong……

but before he could do more than turn his head and stare,

the tractor was upon him. The Lion winced as the three row

disc harrow bounced up and down, shredding the Tiger's body.

As the Tractor continued on its path, the Lion stepped into

the soft, turned soil, to look…. Again, he bent, to remove

the blood spattered wristlet. Opening the cover, he yanked

the circuit board out, and handed it to CT. The board CT

had brought wasn't a perfect fit, but the Lion placed it

between the halves of the case, strapped it back on what was

left of the Overseer's arm, and taking a step back, brought

his hoe down hard on it. The gouge in the wristlet was

deep, the circuit board obviously broken… but the dead

battery was intact… and it looked like something the disk

harrow might have done…. Stepping back carefully, the Lion

sighed; "OK folks, here's the story. The Overseer here had

shocked so many of us during the day, that the battery went

dead in his remote, and then he had the bad sense to step in

front of the tractor. He didn't know his battery was dead,

and as such, the tractor didn't know he was there. Horrible

tragedy. Any questions? No? Good, everyone back to work,

I'm sure the Mistress will be along shortly."

CT chuckled; "pretty good. Now, how am I to hide this

circuit board until we get back? The Lion chuckled; "why,

in your mouth, of course." The Tiger just sighed, and


It couldn't have been another five minutes before the

Mistress showed up, a frown on her face, and her "riding

crop" remote prominently held. Today, she'd fastened a

saddle-like device to Dahlia's back, and was making the mare

carry her directly. Dahlia, bent over, with her paws tied

behind the saddle, didn't look like she was enjoying the

day's travels much. And it looked like the Kangaroo Rat had

been using her spurs liberally too….. The Kangaroo Rat

dismounted, and looked around…. Not immediately discerning

what had happened. The first furr she saw was the Lion

working on the motor starter. "YOU! Lion! Where's Bart?

Where's the Overseer." The Lion looked up at the Rat and

shrugged; "Ma'am, the last I saw him, he was over towards

the edge of the next field." The Kangaroo Rat stared at the

Lion for a moment and then with a scowl, turned and headed

for the edge of the planted area. The Lion watched as she

disappeared amongst the plantings and then turned and nodded

to Dahlia. A moment later her scream was heard.

The Lion pushed the fuse into the holder, and then closed

the cover. Throwing the disconnect lever, he energized the

circuit, and then started the pump. He was bending over,

watching the pump suction when the panting Kangaroo Rat came

storming back. Her first action was to push the buttons on

her remote, activating the Lion's shock collar. With a howl

he convulsed and pitched forward into the water of the

irrigation canal. The Kangaroo Rat muttered a curse,

thumbed the remote off, and strode to the edge of the canal,

arriving just as the Lion floundered to the surface. "What

in the HELL did you DO to him?" She demanded. The lion

looked up at her and blinked; "Did to who? The Overseer?

Nothing! Why?" The Kangaroo Rat growled; "Get out of there

and come with me." Turning to Dahlia, she untied the reins

from the bush and growled; "Go find the field slaves. Bring

them to the next field. HURRY!"

The Lion smiled to himself as Qume made a point of throwing

up when he saw the remains of the Overseer. Even CT looked

a little green around the gills. The Kangaroo Rat glared at

them all, her fingers on her remote; "Anyone want to tell me

what happened here? Can anyone explain how this happened?"

CT bent over to poke at the remains of the Overseer's

wristlet… and then he too was turning, to throw up. The

Lion thought to himself that they were hamming it up perhaps

just a bit more than they should have… but then he'd been

living with the pirates so long, maybe he'd become…

desensitized. CT finally straightened, wiping his mouth

with the back of a paw…. "Um, Ma'am…. He was using the shock

function of his remote rather a lot today…. Rather a lot

since he got here…. The only thing I can think of, is that

the battery went dead. He knew the remote was supposed to

let the robot farm equipment know where he was… he probably

just didn't bother to get out of the way of the tractor,

figuring it'd go around him…… And if the battery was dead,

it wouldn't know he was there. All around CT, heads nodded

in agreement. The Kangaroo Rat scowled, and turned to look

at the mess in the dirt, now having attracted quite a number

of flies. "Get that remote off his wrist, and give it to

me. And get some canvas from the compound and …. Pick him

up. We can't leave him here like this….. I'm going to have

that remote checked out, and if what you've said isn't the

case, I'll make the lot of you wish you'd never been born!"

With that, she turned and stalked off towards the compound,

gathering Dahlia's reins as she swept past.

CT watched her until she was out of earshot and then growled

at the Lion; "Think they'll figure out the circuit board

wasn't the right one? The Lion chuckled; "No, they'll find

the dead battery and stop there. And even if they do want

to check further, the board's cracked; it'd be a real pain

to fix that just to try and diagnose what happened. No, I

think they may be suspicious, but without proof…… They'll

let it slide." CT nodded slowly; "They'd better; you're

betting all our lives on it."

Dinner that night was a cold meal, in the bunk house. The

Mistress seemed to be feeling more than a little threatened,

and was locked in her quarters. And Benny was in a foul

mood. Apparently no one had ever even considered killing

the overseer in a way that looked accidental. The Lion just


Tanj grinned; she'd had to call in a bunch of markers in

order to get this, but finally she had it, running and in

place. The spy satellite was the size of a basketball, and

was very stealthy. It was in a low, fast orbit around

Elysium, pretending to be just another piece of space junk.

And it passed over Facility 223 six times a day. The optics

in the little gizmo should be good enough to give her a GOOD

picture of her Master, good enough to convince Ben and the

rest of the Brethren that he was there….. And also good

enough to detect all but the most cleverly concealed of

traps. But it only downloaded its pictures once a day, in a

single compressed, directional bleep. Well, at least it was

a start……

The Lion sat down on the Edge of CT's bunk; "you still have

it? CT smiled and nodded; "its in a safe place." The Lion

nodded slowly; "now all we have to do is to contrive to get

you some time in that shack of yours, to work it over. If

we can find a way to disrupt the signal that causes all our

collars to constrict, we're on our way." CT sighed; "I

don't know…. Even if we get past the new Overseer, and the

Mistress, even if we get to civilization, what's to keep us

from just being rounded up again? The Lion smiled; "you

leave that to me. I have…. Resources. I just need to GET

to them." The Tiger nodded, but continued to look dubious.

Xylex sighed and put down the phone. His few resources in

the Blues continued to tell him that they had no idea where

the leader of the Brethren was. And the Elysium Government

didn't have him; he was sure of that. So where was the

bastard? Rising, he paced his office, being careful to stay

away from the window. The glass was armored, but there was

a nasty spiderweb pattern of fine cracks where a sniper's

bullet had hit it. There was no point in taking chances.

Finally he nodded to himself and returned to his computer.

Perhaps he wouldn't have to find the Lion. After all, his

loyal slave, that meddlesome Tanj, would be searching

just as hard. All he had to do was to watch for her

eventual rescue mission, and then follow her…….. Smiling he

started issuing orders….

The Lion watched Dahlia for a while and then padded over to

her; "you know, I've been thinking…… Mistress got real mad

at what we did the last time an Overseer was killed….. and

took steps to prevent us from doing it again. Now I admit,

the situation I'm in, I don't much see the possibility of

getting much relief, but I'm not sure that's completely true

for you….." The Clydesdale Mare grinned; "Oh? And what do

you have in mind? The Lion just grinned and slowly dropped

to his knees, to let his tongue stroke over her crotch,

making the little lock holding her labia together sway back

and forth; "I think I might just be able to get my tongue in

places you'd find interesting… Shall we find out?" Dahlia

just chuckled and nodded, one hand going to the back of the

Lion's head, pressing his muzzle to her crotch.

The Kangaroo Rat growled as she watched on her monitor; the

image wasn't good and the sound quality was terrible, but it

was all to obvious what that damn cat was doing. And the

Mare seemed to be enjoying it so. Grumbling to herself she

vowed she'd find something suitable to do to him…. Just as

soon as the new Overseer arrived.

The next day was a quiet one, with the slaves "confined" to

the Bunk House. Most slept, some talked, and some just kept

to themselves. The Lion spent a lot of time lying on his

bunk, staring at the ceiling, thinking his plans through,

looking for flaws, looking for problems, trying to plan for

contingencies. By the end of the day, no new overseer had

arrived and they spent their second night peacefully.

Tanj blinked at the first set of pictures from her spy

satellite….. the pictures showed the compound clearly, along

with the nearby fields…. And yet nothing seemed to be moving

except the robot equipment. Frowning, she rechecked the


The Kangaroo Rat scowled at the e-mail on her terminal. The

lab she'd sent the wristlet to had confirmed that the

battery was dead. They'd also said the unit was

irrepairable, and would be sending out a new unit with the

new Overseer. The new unit would have an audible low

battery alarm. And they were billing her corporate account

for the replacement device. Grumbling she sat back and

wondered if it could really be so? Had the Tiger really

been THAT stupid? He'd seemed like a fairly bright,

imaginative guy… but he'd also had an ego. Maybe he HAD

been supremely confident the tractor would go around him.

She'd have to make a point of warning his replacement.

It was just after noon the next day when the aircar touched

down in the compound. The creature that emerged drew gasps

from the slaves watching from the Bunkhouse. If the Bear,

and the Tiger had been big, this one was huge. He was a

"dragon," a bipedal lizard-like creature, with a long thick

tail, and he looked like he could rip the average slave in

half without breaking into a sweat. Muttering to Qume, the

Lion growled; "This…. is going to complicate factors

some….." Behind him, Benny turned his head and stared at the

Lion, wondering what that furball was up to. He was sure

though, that whatever it was, he wasn't going to like it…..

And then they were all being called from the Bunkhouse, to

"meet" the new Overseer, and to get a belated start on the

day's work.

The Lion found himself once again harnessed, bound between

the traces of the Rat's two-wheeled wagon, jogging down

dusty paths carrying her to this field and that….. She'd

added a few "improvements" to his harness however. Two

nipple clamps supported rather large jingle-bells that

danced and jingled and bounced most painfully as he ran.

The day'd at least had a late start, and he was only mildly

exhausted by dinner time. This time when the Rat left him

by the shed, for Dahlia to unharness, she stalked off

without so much as a backwards glance. The Lion smiled to

himself and wondered if this was better than the way she'd

handled him last time, or not…… Dahlia for her part seemed

genuinely disappointed to find the little lock still in

place through the rings at the tip of the Lion's sheath…..

The Lion watched as Eddie and Qume helped a male Wolf, who's

name was Todd, or something like that, to the table in the

Dining Hall. The Wolf looked to be in bad shape, but no one

was saying anything. None of the usual surreptitious

whispers by the gathered slaves. As usual after dinner, a

number of designated slaves had to pull tokens from the

punishment jar, for various infractions during the day. The

Mistress pouted when a female Jackal got the token labeled

"Pony"… and the Lion tried hard not to smile. Now, freed of

that duty, he could pursue his plans…… His head came up

however, when the Mistress chortled with glee. Daisy, a

comparatively young female rabbit, had drawn a token that

had her looking aghast. The Kangaroo Rat merely turned and

beamed at the Dragon; "Take her outside, if you would

please, Wilbur, and fasten her in a kneeling position in the

stocks. I'll get the keys." As The Overseer padded off one

way, the Rabbit in tow, and the Mistress headed out another

door, the Lion leaned over to ask CT; "what happened?" CT

sighed; "her token read "Gang Bang." She's got to stay in

the stocks out there until she's satisfied every male here."

The Lion's head rose and he looked around the dining hall…..

"twelve, thirteen…. Fifteen total. Yeah, she's going to

have a busy night…. But I doubt it'll be …. Fatal." CT just

shrugged; "I don't know; I don't like the look of that

Dragon; do you think she can handle HIM? The Lion just


They stood and watched, as the Dragon selected from the male

slaves, one to make use of Daisy's mouth, while another was

directed behind her, either to her ass or her pussy. The

Mistress sat on a chair brought out from her quarters, one

leg hooked over the chair's arm, and just watched, a smirk

on her face. Some of the males were tender and considerate

with her; Qume, for instance, held fairly still, one paw

caressing Daisy's head as the Rabbit sucked his cock.

Benny, however, was a little more aggressive, one paw

holding tight to her fluffy little tail, driving his hips

against her as hard and as fast as he could. CT was

particularly tentative with her, and drew the Overseer's

lash on his rear as an impetus to fuck her harder. The

Tiger complied, but certainly didn't look like he was

enjoying himself, something that seemed to delight the

Mistress no end. She called the Dragon over and whispered

to him; nodding he straightened and returned to the stocks,

where his lash started to lick out, driving the Tiger to an

increased tempo, making him fuck her harder until Daisy was

crying out with each thrust, her cries muffled by the cock

in her mouth…..

The Lion found himself to be the last one in line, and when

his turn came, the Dragon pointed at the Rabbit's ass, and

obediently, the Lion moved around behind her, to kneel

between her spread legs. It didn't take but a few moments

of rubbing his now-unlocked crotch against the bunny's sore

behind before his cock had grown from its sheath, to wag

before him with his motions, nestled in the crevice of her

ass. As he moved, rocking his hips back in preparation for

entering her, the Kangaroo Rat chuckled; "Oh, no, not

there." When the Lion looked up in confusion, the Rat

purrrred; "Take her in the ass. Take her hard. Make her

cry out for us…….." The Lion did his best to keep a neutral

expression on his face, and then he drove his cock hard into

her pussy. Both the Mistress and the Overseer stiffened,

but before they could respond, he pulled his tool from her

sex and positioned its head at her anus. With a sigh, he

pressed forward, firmly, until the head of his cock blipped

past her tight ring of muscle. As he sank his shaft into

her back passage, Daisy groaned around the cock currently in

her mouth……

The Dragon grinned and brought his whip down on the Lion's

ass, getting his attention; "move slowly until she's sucked

the Squirrel off; I want her mouth empty when you fuck her;

I want to hear what she has to say about it…… The Lion just

nodded and moved his hips slowly, doing what he could to let

her get used to him, to get used to the way her back passage

was so stretched……. After a while, the Squirrel shuddered,

pulling his cock from her mouth to splatter her with his

cum, proving to the Mistress that she had indeed brought him

off. As the Squirrel turned and padded towards the watching

furrs, the Overseer's whip came down again on the Lion's

ass; "All right, You; lets see you give her a rogering

she'll never forget. And don't you dare cum until you're

given permission……" The Lion started to move his hips a

little faster, working his shaft in and out of her ass with

increasing speed. But as he moved, he slipped both paws

from their position on her hips, around, over her tummy.

His left paw grasped at her dangling right breast, squeezing

softly, while his right paw slithered down over her belly to

stroke at her clitty. As he thrust at her harder and

harder, his fingers played with her, toyed with her, until

the Rabbit screamed in passion.

The Kangaroo Rat watched, a frown forming on her face; this

wasn't quite what she'd wanted. She wanted to hear the cunt

screaming in horror at her situation, to be yelping in pain

at the way her ass was so stretched…. And here she was

writhing through what had to be a massive climax…. And from

the Look on her face, the Lion was driving her headlong

towards a second one…… Frustrated she growled; "All Right,

you, I want to see you cum. Now!" The Lion nodded, and

took three more strokes, to pull his shaft out of the

Rabbit's ass. His right paw wrapped around his cock, and

pumped furiously for a second and then his jism was raining

down on the Rabbit's ass, splattering from where the stocks

held her neck to the base of her tail. Rising, the Lion

turned and padded towards the crowd of slaves…..

"Hey YOU! Where do you think YOU'RE going?" The Lion

turned and looked at the Kangaroo Rat, one eyebrow raised in

a silent question. She lifted the little lock with one

finger and beckoned. Sighing, he padded over to her, to

crouch while she fitted the lock through the rings in the

end of his cock, and the end of his sheath, snapping it shut

with a most annoying "click." Smirking the Rat waved him

away, and again he turned towards the crowd of slaves…..

The Dragon had padded around Daisy, looking at her; she was

a mess, her head and back covered in cum, her fur spiky with

sweat. The Dragon chuckled evilly, and looked up at the

Kangaroo Rat; "I don't think she's had enough yet. You mind

if I have a go at her?" The Rat looked the Dragon up and

down and nodded; "Oh, I insist!" Turning she glared at the

slaves; "Form a semi-circle and kneel. Watch and pray you

never do anything that might result in you drawing that

token!" Turning back, the Rat watched as the Dragon removed

his vest, and then undid his pants, setting them aside. He

had to spread his knees far apart, to bring his crotch down

to the level of the Rabbit's pussy. Hissing softly, he

rocked his hips forward and brought his erection up against

her belly; "Feel that, Bitch? Feel how big I am? In a

second that’s going to be inside you……. And I'm going to

fuck you until you bleed!"

From off to one side, the Lion frowned; the Dragon was well

hung, his cock more impressive for its length than its

girth…. Still, he wasn't THAT big…… Could he be long enough

to seriously hurt Daisy? Sitting back on his heels, he

watched, trying hard to stay calm.

The Dragon's first thrust was obviously as hard as he could

make it, and Daisy's shoulders thumped hard against the

stocks. For a second she was quiet and then she Screamed.

The Dragon just chuckled, and pulled back to slam into her

once again. There was no style, no finesse, the Dragon just

slammed it into her as hard as he could, until all Daisy

could do was whimper, each time the Dragon thrust forward.

After a couple dozen thrusts, marked by the Rabbit's cries,

and the sound of her body being pushed hard against the

Stocks, the Kangaroo Rat lifted her chin. She'd been

surreptitiously rubbing herself, and her voice was husky as

she spoke; "That’s enough there. Why don't you finish in

her ass." The Dragon never acknowledged that he heard her,

his body arching forward two or three times more, before he

pulled back, and positioned himself….. His next thrust

caused Daisy's head to snap up and her face to contort, but

obviously the pain was too great for her to even scream.

On the other side of the circle, a male Rabbit known as

Donatello rose from his kneeling position, to charge towards

the Dragon. He made it about three steps before the

Mistress found the right button on her remote and he dropped

to the dirt, convulsing as his collar shocked him. The

Dragon just looked over his shoulder, and twisting his body

to one side, an action that caused Daisy to finally find her

voice in a penetrating scream, he swung his tail, whapping

the twitching Rabbit almost all the way back to the line of

slaves. No one else attempted to stop the Dragon, and few

even watched. Most eyes were averted, looks of sympathetic

pain on the faces of the slaves….. It seemed to the Lion

like it'd taken half the night, but finally the Dragon

roared, pulling his cock from her ass to spray his seed over

her. Sitting back on his haunches for a moment, balanced on

feet and tail, the Dragon looked around, and then with a

chuckle, rose to collect his clothes. He nodded to the

Mistress and then turned and sauntered towards his quarters

without a backwards look. After a moment the Kangaroo Rat

rose and smirked "Dismissed," and flicking her riding crop

back and forth, made her way towards her own quarters.

The Lion watched as several furrs rose, to rush to the

stocks, to release Daisy. As gently as they could, they

carried her towards the showers…. Sighing, the Lion turned

and headed for the bunkhouse, angling to come up next to CT.

"We've got to find a way to get you into the electronics

shack soon. I need you to find out if there's a way to jam

the "strangulation" function. If we wind up in the fields

tomorrow, can I get you to cover for me while I try

something? CT looked up at the Lion and then looked back at

the now-empty stocks. After a moment he turned back and

nodded; "Yeah, sure. Anything."

Tanj fidgeted as the burst transmission from the

satellite decompressed itself. As the pictures formed on

her monitor, she blinked in amazement and then selected one,

expanding it, running it through the software that sharpened

it, that cleaned it up. There, on a dirt road, was a two

wheeled cart being pulled by a running figure that looked

for all the world like her Master… and riding in the cart

was some sort of rat, wielding a whip. She stared in

amazement at the picture and then shook her head; "Ain't no

way I can show THAT to anyone else……"

The Lion lifted his head as they carried Daisy into the

bunkhouse. Catching Redflame's eye, he raised an eyebrow.

The Red Squirrel frowned and shook his head negatively.

After they'd gotten Daisy settled, as a number of well-

wishers crowded around, the Squirrel ambled over; "it ain't

good. She's bleeding rectally. And there isn't a damn

thing we can do to help her. No medicines, no doctor." The

Lion nodded. "OK, we don't wait for consensus on this one.

We're going to take him out, and then we're going to make

our break for it." Redflame nodded; "I'm in; definitely in.

You should have seen what that bastard was doing in the

field today. He's got this move where he whips around and

slaps you with that big tail of his. I thought he'd broken

Todd's back with that last strike…. And all because we

weren't moving fast enough to suit him!" The Lion nodded;

"I'd wondered what'd happened….. Now this is what I need

from you…… " Nodding, the squirrel bent closer as the Lion


Benny watched Eddie and that Damn Lion whisper. They were

definitely up to something. And he was going to have to do

something to stop it. Things had run smoothly here for

years, until that Damn Lion'd shown up; now in the stretch

of a few weeks, they'd had no less than two overseers

killed, and Mistress was getting meaner than ever.

Grumbling to himself, the Otter wondered how he could

contrive to get the damn Lion killed, and out of the way?

Tanj looked at the second batch of pictures and frowned.

There was her Lion, kneeling in a semicircle of slaves…… and

bound in the center of the circle was a rabbit…she could

tell that by the long ears….. but not much else; she was in

the shadow of a rather huge Dragon who seemed to be fucking

her ass…… She remembered back to the Dragon she'd once met

at the Academy, and knew how large they could get….. But

this one didn't look like he was being anywhere near as

gentle as that one had been…. Shaking her head, she sat

back to think. It LOOKED like her master in the pictures

but there was no way to be sure it was him at this range.

Someone was just going to have to go in and look. And of

course it was a task she just wouldn't trust to anyone

else….. And Ben wasn't likely to approve. So Ben wouldn't

know. Sitting forward in her seat, she started to plan how

to go about it. In the morning or the evening would be the

best time, when all the slaves were gathered in one place.

The area between the buildings was large enough for her to

get her ship into, and would help separate the guards from

the slaves…. She'd need some troops, and while Ben'd never

authorize that either, she knew enough folks that owed her

favors….. Smiling she sat back again; "Yeah, I can do


After breakfast the next morning, as the Lion rose from the

table to join the field crew he'd been assigned to, the

Kangaroo Rat called out; "Hey, YOU! Lion! Come over here!

You too, Dahlia!" Turning, padding over, he stood before

her, head bowed; "Yes, Mistress?" The Kangaroo Rat turned

to the Clydesdale Mare; "you wait over there, I'll deal with

you in a minute" Turning back to the Lion she growled;

"I've been getting the feeling you've been getting rather…

"uppity" of late, and I believe you need a little reminder

of just who and what you are. Accordingly, I've got a

little present for you. Hands on the back of your head and

spread your legs!" The Lion shuffled, complying, and then

watched with as neutral an expression as he could manage as

the Kangaroo Rat knelt before him. Her paws went around his

sack, tugging lightly at his balls, stretching them

downwards….. and then she was fastening something around

them. As she stepped back, the Lion looked down, examining

himself; it looked like a miniature version of the collar

he wore around his neck; a thick wide leather band locked

around the base of his sack, stretching his balls away from

his body, drawing the skin around them tight, making them

seem to bulge. The Kangaroo Rat's smirk brought his head

up; "Yes, that’s right. This little collar is weighted, so

you'll always know its there. And yes, its got the same

electrostrictive ability, and the same shock ability as your

bigger collar. I suspect your sleeping position is going to

be a bit strained as you struggle to keep the second set of

recharge contacts on that one as well as the original set on

the one around your neck… but that’s your problem. Now,

lets see how well it works…….." the Lion's eyes went wide

as the Rat pushed a few buttons on the remote built into the

handle of her riding crop, and an invisible hand tightened

on his balls. He'd barely got a grunt out, before she

relaxed it…. And then a bolt of pure pain shot through his

testicles, making his legs collapse, leaving him sprawled on

the dirt floor. "Oh that does work nice" the Rat smirked.

Panting, trying hard to collect himself, to get back to his

feet, the Lion saw the Dragon walk over from the corner of

his eye; "you know, Mistress, it might be interesting if you

hit both shock buttons at the same time. Do you think you

could get a current from his balls to his neck?" The Rat

giggled; "I don't know…. Lets find out, shall we?" And then

the Lion's world exploded…..

The truly marvelous thing about an electric shock is that as

soon as the current stops flowing, the pain goes away.

Still, it took the Lion several dozen rather rapid, pounding

heartbeats for him to manage to focus his eyes. Again he

was flat on his back, in the dust, every muscle aching from

what must have been severe convulsions. As things started

to swim into focus, he heard, off in the distance, the

Dragon say; "enough laying about, you lazy slave; get off to

the fields!" As he tried to get to his feet, as he stumbled

for the door, the laughter of the Dragon and the Rat

followed him……..

Redflame blinked at the Lion; "geez, you look like Hell;

what happened?" The lion just shook his head; "Oh, Mistress

has a new toy. Just pray she doesn't bestow one on you."

The Squirrel looked at the Lion's crotch and nodded slowly;

"Uh, yeah. Well, if its any consolation, I used the time to

good advantage. While the Overseer and the Mistress were

busy with you, I did a little work on the No.7 pump station.

I think it'll screw up just like you wanted by the end of

the day." The Lion just nodded and patted Redflame on the

back; "thanks, that helps. Now, where's the nearest piece

of robot farm equipment?"

The nearest piece of farm equipment turned out to be the

No.3 harvester. The Lion spent a moment chasing it, and

then climbing up the back, getting showered with chaff from

the back end of the machine. As he expected, it too was a

worn out piece of junk, and it didn't take any time at all

to set up what he wanted….. and then he was dashing back to

where he was supposed to be.

The Dragon was still chuckling when he caught up with the

field crew….. The idea that Rat'd had for the Mare was

truly evil, and he loved it. Looking around, checking the

slaves he frowned; "Hey, where's that Lion?" Redflame

looked at Eddie and then back at the Overseer; "Um, Sir, he,

ah, was having stomach cramps. He went to take a dump….."

The Overseer frowned, but then remembered the shocks the

Lion had gotten; the thought that he might still be

suffering residual effects just made him grin wider. And

then, sure enough, the Lion returned a few moments, later,

panting, a strained look on his face. The Overseer just

growled and gestured to the weeds that needed hoeing….

They were taking their noon break when the Kangaroo Rat

arrived, riding in her cart, being pulled by Dahlia. The

Lion's eyes widened as he looked at the Mare; it seemed

there was now a small chain running down her middle from the

ring on her collar to her crotch, and he wondered what that

was all about. For her part, Dahlia just stood there,

panting hard, looking more exhausted than he would have

expected her to be. After talking for a moment, the pair

strode across the field, to approach CT. "Something's wrong

with the No.3 harvester. Its running in circles in field

47. Go catch it, shut it down, and fix it." CT nodded, and

rose to his feet, to trot off towards the adjacent field.

The Kangaroo rat talked with the Overseer for a moment more

and then climbed back into her two-wheeled cart. Snapping

her whip at the Mare's rump, she was off, heading back

towards the compound in a cloud of dust.

The sun was hot, and his mouth was as dry as the dirt he was

hoeing around the bases of the Dreamweed plants. And his

balls ached. The collar around them was too tight, the

weight of the device too heavy. He couldn't wait to sit

down and take the strain off….. He was trying to keep

moving, trying to keep from drawing the Overseer's

attention, for that Devil had been taking great delight in

zapping him whenever he slowed down. Some of the slaves got

the whip, some got thwacked with the Dragon's tail, sending

them sprawling, and some, like him, got shocked….. As he

moved, he heard the approaching hoofbeats, and the jingling

of the harness, as the Mistress, drawn by the Clydesdale

Mare, returned. He could hear the Overseer and the Mistress

talking, in the middle distance, but was too tired to

concentrate on their words….. the sting of the Overseer's

lash brought him out of his reverie however; "You, Lion; the

No.7 pump station seems to have had an electrical fire. Get

down there and see what the problem is. MOVE!" The Lion

dropped his hoe, and turned to trot in that direction, the

weighted collar around his balls bouncing painfully with

each step.

As soon as he was out of sight, the Lion slowed, first to a

jog, and then to a walk. It looked like Redflame had done

good work. Now, all he had to do was to set things up like

he wanted…..

CT stepped up next to the Lion in the showers; "Had an

interesting day today. Seems a cable bundle on the

harvester had come loose and fallen down to rub on a drive

chain. Shorted the thing out like nothing I've ever seen.

Got a lot of electronics to rebuild there. Figure it'll

take three, maybe four days." The Lion sighed; "we don't

have three or four days. The slaves are going to demand the

removal of that damn Dragon before that, and I want to use

that as the start of the escape." CT smiled and nodded;

"that’s why I spend the whole day working on that one

circuit board. I think I've got a way… the "relax" code is

universal for all collars. I can build a transmitter to

broadcast that, at a power level that will override any

"constrict" signal." The Lion nodded; "how sure are you

that it will work?" CT chuckled; "oh, it works; already

tried it on myself. The collar will twitch and get tight

for a moment, and then loosen, and then twitch again. It'll

keep us from getting strangled, but we'll still have to move

fast. I have NO idea how long my transmitter will last."

The Lion nodded; "Can you monitor the transmission from the

Overseer's remote, the one that shows him alive?" CT nodded

slowly; "Um, yeah, I can do that." The Lion nodded; "well,

keep an eye on it; as soon as it fails, turn on your

transmitter……" CT just gulped and nodded.

Kneeling at the dinner table was a blessed relief, and the

Lion savored the simple pleasure of just not moving. The

meal was the usual dreck, and he shoveled it in while trying

not to think too much about what it was, or might have been.

When the meal was over, and they were dismissed, he padded

over to find Benny; "I hate to say it, but the No.7 pump

station's a real mess. One of the phases in the pump

motor's burned out; I'm going to have to replace that. And

it looks like the lower bearing's gone on the pump too; that

also will have to be changed. And there's a short in the

motor starter. I've got it locked out for the moment." The

Otter made a face; "that pump feeds the irrigation canals

for a quarter of the plantation. Its got to be put back on

line." The Lion shrugged; "hey, I need to recharge these

damn collars; if I get strangled I can't fix the stuff. How

about getting me some help? Replacing that lower bearing's

going to be a bitch; its literally working underwater, right

in the suction of the pump." The Otter sighed; "I'll think

about it. But soon as breakfast is over, you get down there

and get going on it." The Lion nodded.

Zassa purrred and kissed the Mink again; "Aw come on, Sammy,

you can let us borrow it for a few days. Who's going to

miss it? Sammy looked at the Vixen and sighed; the jumpsuit

she was wearing looked like a second skin, and was unzipped

down the front to below her navel. The fabric was so tight,

he had no trouble at all seeing her nipples… and they looked

hard too…… And there was something about her scent that was

making it hard to think straight….. "Oh, All right, Zassa,

but if anyone finds out…. " Zassa purrred and softly pushed

the Mink down, between the stacks of boxes; "Oh, don't

worry, no one's going to find out……"

The Lion padded over to where Dahlia lay, and looked down at

her; the look she returned him was a curious blend of

horror, rage and frustration. Reaching down, the Lion

traced the thin chain…. There was an oversized ring at one

end, snug up against the smaller ring in the front of her

collar. The chain went through the collar's ring, and then

traveled down along her centerline, between her breasts,

across her stomach, to her crotch. There, the Lion found,

the Kangaroo Rat had pierced the Mare's clitty, with a

thick, small ring. The chain terminated there. Dahlia

sighed; "She said that since I seemed to like having my

clitty stroked so much, that she'd see to it that it got all

the attention I could stand." The Lion nodded and touched

her for a moment, more examining than sensual and then

sighed, shaking his head wordlessly. Dahlia nodded; "do you

have ANY idea what its like to have a leash clipped to the

ring on the end of that chain? And running, pulling that

damn cart of hers, the chain swings back and forth, even

with Nothing clipped to the ring. It both hurts like hell

and drives me wild. I must have had half a dozen climaxes

while running today!" The Lion just sighed and bend to kiss

her, and then, rising, he stalked back to his own bunk, to

try and figure out the now rather complex recharging

connections he had to lay across……

The Kangaroo Rat watched her monitor and smirked.

As expected, Benny had assigned him to the No.7 pump station

problem after breakfast. And also as expected, he'd not

come up with any other help…. Which suited the Lion just

fine. The first thing he tackled was the motor starter. It

had actually been fine, but that was no longer the case.

The trick was to make it LOOK right…… Smiling the Lion

slapped the lock-out lock on it, with its big red "DO NOT

OPERATE" tag, and turned to see what he could do about the

burned out pump motor. The lower pump bearing he'd save for


Hinoki looked up from the instruction manual at the freshly

uncrated "suit" of Imperial powered armor. He'd heard of

these things, and seen holos, but now Tanj wanted him to

RUN one? Sighing he put down the manual and stripped off

his shorts, to worm his way into the guts of the machine.

He adjusted the fit of the straps and sensors around his

legs and then his torso, and finally he slid his arms into

the "sleeves"…. With a sigh, he hit the chin switch that

would close the back of the suit, sealing him inside seven

tons of steel and machinery.

Tanj nodded to the image on her monitor; "Just a quick

supply run out to the No.3 Com Relay Station. Seems they

need some parts out there, along with their rations." The

Ermine just nodded; "Don't forget the security protocols; we

still don't know if we've been compromised." Tanj just

nodded and released the mooring clamps, carefully

maneuvering her ship away from the Brethren's backup base.

Reggie watched her from the copilot's seat and nodded

approvingly; "Tanj, Luv, you've been practicing, haven't


"Well, have you got it fixed yet?" The Otter was on the

bank, paws on hips, staring out at the Lion. The Lion,for

his part was perched on the motor on top of the irrigation

pump, trying to adjust the shaft seal. He'd carried the

motor over his head, wading out to the pump, but setting it

in place had been a real bitch. Getting it aligned was

proving to be worse…… "No, Benny, I do NOT have it fixed

yet. NO thanks to you, I've gotten the burned out motor

off, and I should have the replacement motor installed and

aligned by dinner. Tomorrow I'll get to the lower bearing

and THEN I'll start on the motor starter. This is NOT a

simple job, and its also not a job for a single furr!" The

Otter just growled; "Mind your lip, or I'll see you drawing

from the punishment jar." With that, the Otter turned and

limped off. The Lion watched him go, and smiled; he'd have

to find a way to bug the Otter tonight; he wanted him good

and mad by the next day……

Zassa stuck her head through the flight deck door; "what's

that pounding? Is something coming apart back in

engineering? Slasher looked up from his magazine, and

calmly shook his head no. Tanj chuckled; "No, Hinoki's

practicing with that suit you got for him. You think his

just walking around is bad, wait until he trips and falls!"

Zassa blinked and then giggled; "move over, I've GOT to get

the cargo bay monitor on the screen; this I've got to see!"

The Lion smiled as he knelt at the table for dinner. He'd

managed to get most of the grease out of his fur…. And the

motor was aligned correctly, with the shaft seal in place.

Of course if everything went the way he wanted it to, it

wouldn't make a damn bit of difference… but still, there was

a certain pride in doing a job right. As he knelt, he

watched Benny from the corner of his eye. He and the

Overseer were talking animatedly, glancing in his direction

from time to time…….

Tanj blinked as she opened the airlock door. They'd

docked with the communications relay station scant minutes

before, arriving unannounced, and yet there was Mark and

Mala, with Luggage, with a capital "L", all ready to go.

She shook her head; "Just what do you think you need all

THAT stuff for?" mark shrugged as best he could; "Tools,

medkit, high priest's regalia, three or four forged Ids, a

few tricks for emergencies…. It all adds up. And Mala's

carrying her guns and provisions, of course. Now, are we

going somewhere, or do we just stand here and talk all day?"

Tanj just blinked and nodded, turning to stab at the

airlock controls. As the Mouse marched off down the

corridor, Tanj muttered; "Thanks Mark, glad you could

join us…." Mala just grinned, shouldered her pack, and


Ben chuckled and shook his head; "You see? Eminently

predictable." Sam nodded and turned to Hans; "That's just

what I'm afraid of. If we have her pegged, might not others

also be anticipating her actions?" Hans just smiled and

shrugged; "well, if the Overlord can't convince them to

leave her alone, we've got the Intimidator and the Gladius

with us as well. Three Cruisers should be able to put a

dent in almost any trap the Elysium forces might be laying.

Hell, they'd put a dent in most Imperial plans! Of course,

we'll stay cloaked and well out of the way, should she

manage to pull this off without incident. But if they DO

react, we'll be there." Ben just chuckled.

The Lion yawned and shook his head. The tension as the

"point of no return" approached had kept him largely

sleepless. That and the hunched position he'd been forced

to adopt to keep the recharging contacts on both his collars

aligned with the studs on his bed….. Again he watched Benny

and the Overseer converse, watched them glance his way.

When he'd finished his gruel, the Otter waved at him,

signaling to leave, to get a start on the day's work, and

obediently, the Lion rose, to trot out towards the No.7 pump


"Elysium control, this is Megacorporation flight 571,

requesting permission to descend on vector 263 mark 317, for

Weipa." Tanj chewed on a clawtip until the voice floated

back over her headphones; "571, Karumba control, clear to

descend. Stick to your flight plan, the Militia's real

jumpy these days." Tanj acknowledged and slowly eased

the freighter down, muttering "Gee, I wonder why" Reggie in

the copilot's seat just chuckled.

Xylex looked over the shoulder of the Northern Hemisphere

Aerospace Defense coordinator and nodded; "that one could be

her too." The Fennec Fox turned and looked at the

Wolverine; "Sir, we do not have the resources to track the

roughly two dozen craft you've said "might be her." Unless

you can give me something more definite to go on, I'm afraid

there's nothing I can do." Xylex growled but finally

nodded; "I don't think you understand the importance of

this; we have the chance to decapitate the Brethren at one

stroke. FIND a way to track them all, to cover them all."

The water wasn't cold, but it was slimy and full of leaches

and the stench of decomposing water hyacinth…. And he had to

wait there, trying to look busy as he waited. It must have

been almost mid morning, with the air starting to get hot,

when Benny limped into view. He sat on the bank to one

side, offering no help, and making no conversation. The

Lion for his part, wrestled with the lower bearing,

obviously having difficulty in removing the race from within

the housing while it remained underwater, there being no way

to remove the pump from the water.

Benny watched the struggling Lion and tried not to smile.

He'd taken a look at the wiring last night, after lights

out, sneaking out of the bunkhouse with the Mistress'

permission. The starter was a mess, and it looked like if

the switch were thrown, it would throw at least one leg of

the 480 volts into the ground wire to the pump. And there

was that annoying Lion, clinging to the metal, more than

half his body submerged in water. Such a tragic accident it

was going to be…… Catching a glimpse of movement from the

corner of his eye, he turned fractionally and saw the

Overseer slip into the little three sided shed that held the

switchgear. The Dragon lifted a pair of bolt cutters, and a

moment later the Lion's lock was dangling. The Dragon

contemptuously removed the lock and looking over his

shoulder, with a grin, he threw the lever.

The Lion had heard the snick of the bolt cutters and for a

moment had almost instinctively moved back from the pump.

But then he steadied himself; either his handiwork was

correct, or it wasn't.

Reggie nodded; "we're below their radar horizon; you're

clear to maneuver. But we're running late. Local time is

mid-day." Tanj chuckled and nodded, her fingers tapping

across her control console. "we're just going to have to

deal with it, Reggie, no way to reschedule the raid now."

The Freighter turned, barely 200 meters above the ground,

and accelerated smoothly. Moments later a sonic boom

cracked across the farmland.

In the Northern Hemisphere Aerospace Defense center, a

technician noted 571 had dropped off the scope to the

Southeast of Weipia. Frowning he ran a quick diagnostic of

his sensors. The transponder of that ship should have been

showing its position even on the ground…..

Benny rose to his feet in horror; the Overseer had thrown

the lever on the disconnect, but before he could hit the

start button, there'd been a loud bang and a bright flash,

and the Dragon had been thrown clear out of the shed. As he

hurried over to look down at the Dragon, he groaned; the

corpse was horribly burned, and obviously not alive…..

The Lion chuckled and moved up behind the Otter; "Yup.

Looks like you've lost another one. You know, that thing

WAS locked out for a reason." Chuckling, the Lion turned

and started jogging towards the compound, leaving a very

confused Benny in his wake.

CT saw the light wink out on his test panel and sighed.

Thinking "well, this is it," he reached out and flipped the

switch for his breadboarded transmitter.

The Kangaroo Rat hurried over to her console. The sensors

were telling her that the Dragon's remote was no longer

responding. She'd cautioned him about dead batteries….. and

there weren't any pieces of automatic machinery in that

area….. just that Lion. Growling, she grabbed her riding

crop and her pistol and headed for the door.

Reggie nodded; "Yeah, that looks like it." The Satellite

photos had made the place look better than it was. Up

close, what little paint was left was peeling, and the

buildings looked old. And then Tanj was too busy trying

to land the ship in what she thought was a good imitation of

an assault transport, to look at the scenery.

The Kangaroo Rat heard a noise and frowned; it wasn't the

right day for their weekly supply drop; what ELSE could be

going wrong. Jerking open her door, she stepped outside,

pistol at the ready.

Slasher growled; "I've got MOVEMENT" from the weapons

console, and bent over his controls.

The Kangaroo Rat stared in wide-eyed wonder as the starship

seemed to materialize in ftont of her, arriving several

seconds before the sonic boom. And then the starboard

turret was turning, twisting, until one of the twin laser

emitters seemed to be looking straight at her……. Taking a

step back she dropped her laser pistol… but as she did so,

she brought her riding crop up behind her back, and gripped

the handle in a certain way.

The Lion had been running, head down, and had missed the

flash of black that was Tanj's ship dropping into the

compound. But the sonic boom was unmistakable. And the

sudden constriction/release/constriction/release of his

collar confirmed that this was not the rat's friends come to

visit. Not sure if the Elysium authorities had finally

figured out where he was, or if the Brethren had come to

rescue him, he ran towards his fate as fast as he could.

Hinoki clomped down the cargo ramp in the powered armor, his

weapons charged. He'd never felt so alive, never felt so

scared. After a second he looked around, and wondered;

"Gee, where are all the guards?"

Mala gripped her assault weapon in both paws and danced from

side to side. Hinoki, in his massive powered armor was

blocking the damn hatch. Growling, she shouted; "MOVE IT,


The Kangaroo Rat saw the furr in powered armor come around

the aft end of the starship and she groaned; "Oh, Crap,

Imperials. They must know about the Dreamweed……"

Qume looked up as the sonic boom washed over them; he hadn't

seen the Overseer, or Benny for quite some time, something

for which he was quite thankful. Looking up at the sky, as

if checking for clouds that might suggest thunder, he

wondered if the two events were related. Had the Lion's

plan actually worked? As his collar suddenly constricted,

eliciting a chorus of gasps from all the slaves, and then as

it just as quickly relaxed, he grinned. Flashing a thumbs

up at Eddie and Redflame he growled; "Come on, Everyone, I

think our ride outta here's just arrived.

Mala did a quick sweep of the buildings, leaving the one

local furr to Hinoki. Aside from a few frightened "kitchen

staff" type furrs, the place was deserted. Shaking her

head, she strode back towards the ship. This operation was

going WAY too easily to be real. "Either they're trying to

smuggle something aboard with a slave like they did last

time, or there'll be a surprise on the way back home…." She

grumbled under her breath.

Tanj knew it was stupid to leave the helm, but she just

had to attend to this herself. Aside from a few slaves that

Mala had rounded up, the only one in the compound was the

Kangaroo Rat, currently being watched by Hinoki. Drawing

her dagger, thinking it was silly to threaten her with

something less than the awesome firepower Hinoki had at his

command, she stalked towards her, growling; "The Lion; WHERE


He was panting hard, the run from the pumping station having

been a long one. Coming up behind Tanj, jogging around

Hinoki, and past a mildly amused Mala the Lion growled;

"Right here." Pausing to brush his lips across the top of

her head, the Lion surprised everyone by turning and

slamming his fist into the Kangaroo Rat in a massive

roundhouse. As she fell to the floor, he bent to retrieve

the riding crop. "Dammit, she must have locked in a code on

this thing; I don't know how to shut it off!" he growled.

Not knowing quite what was going on, Hinoki growled over his

suit's external speaker; "you want that off, I can "turn it

off" for you; toss it out behind the ship!" The Lion

blinked and looked at the suit of powered armor as if he'd

never seen one before and then nodded, throwing the riding

crop overhand. It hadn't even hit the ground when pulses of

cyan energy flew from the suit's right "hand," gouging a

furrow a hundred meters long in the field beyond. And

instantly all the slaves relaxed as their collars stopped


CT watched his instrument and smiled. Picking up his

breadboarded rig, leaving the "relax" transmitter on, just

in case, he rose and trotted towards where the starship


It took MUCH longer than she was happy with for all the

slaves in the outlying fields to filter in, but there was no

question of leaving them behind. One of the last to arrive

was a limping Otter, and Tanj's jaw dropped as she caught

sight of him; "BENNY?" The Lion turned to look up from

where Wanda was attending to Daisy and growled; "you KNOW

him?" Tanj's head snapped back and forth between the

Otter and her Master; "Um, yeah, we were shipmates once…….

Before I was enslaved." The Lion just scowled; "well, your

ex-shipmate did his level best to have me murdered earlier

today. And I suspect that wasn't the first time he'd

attempted that, either. THAT one STAYS!" Turning, the Lion

reached down to help Redflame and Donatello carry Daisy into

the ship.

Tanj just stared at Benny for a moment. As she looked at

him, she saw……. only anger. No regret, no contrition…..

shaking her head, she took one last look around, and padded

up the cargo bay ramp, the ramp starting to rise even as she

moved across it.

As the ship rose in a howl of repulsors, Benny looked from

the Kangaroo Rat, to the compound, to the departing ship.

Finally with a sigh, he just sat down, to await whatever

came next.

Tanj tried to keep her voice steady; "Camooweal control,

this is AgriCorp transport 3321; request vector to departure


Xylex smiled; the database had said that no ship had landed

recently at that location; the fact that one was now lifting

off from there was VERY suspect. Grinning he turned to grab

the duty officer.

Tanj frowned as the local traffic controller asked her to

hold position, until traffic moved out of her area…. There

was something about his voice, a tremolo that bothered her.

He sounded nervous…. After a moment she looked over at

Reggie; "I think they're on to us; plot me a vector that

avoids as many known targets as you can; we're outta here!"

Behind her, the Lion just nodded in approval from the

offensive weapons console.

In the hold of the ship, Hinoki struggled to get out of his

powered armor. All the various sensor contact points on the

inside of the suit meant that you had to "wear" it naked,

and for a brief moment he was inexplicably shy about

climbing out of it, amongst a hold full of rescued slaves…

but then he dismissed that as stupid. He was used to going

nude, wasn't he? And besides, they were just as nude as he

was…. The response he got, as he opened the clamshell back

of the suit and started to extricate himself was not quite

what he expected. A fox rose from where he was sitting on

the floor to look at him in confusion; "Hey, buddy, how come

you're wearing a collar too? What's going on here? Just

exactly WHO'S running this outfit?

Tanj had the ship pointed almost straight up, and had it

moving a good bit faster than any normal freighter should be

moving. It obviously wasn't enough though; Slasher,

covering for Hinoki, who still hadn't made it up from the

Cargo Bay yet, called out from the sensor console;

"Company's coming. I've got a Wellington class Destroyer

moving to intercept, from 023 mark 18, another one at 339

mark 358, and a Blucher class Destroyer Leader coming in

from 030 mark 351. Tanj nodded; "We have to get out of

the atmosphere before the cloaking device is effective.

Lets pick the one at 339 mark 358 and try and blow by them.

If we can get past them, we should be able to lose the

others." Behind her, the Lion called up the torpedo

display, and started arming the birds, giving them their

first look at their target.

Commander Beru shook his head; he had NO idea what was so

important about this freighter. It wasn't even a very big

freighter, but the way it moved made him think "smugglers."

So what was there about this ship that made them pull his

Destroyer squadron in from their patrol? And why was he

ordered to try and take prisoners, if at all possible?

Shrugging, figuring he'd NEVER figure out his superiors, he

turned to his weapons officer…..

Tanj shook her head; they were almost out of the

atmosphere and closing on the Destroyer fast. But the other

two were moving in just as quickly. One destroyer, she was

confident she could handle, but three? For a moment she

considered diving back towards the planet's surface, to try

and climb to orbit somewhere where these three were not…..

but it would be easy to track a maneuver like that, now that

they were alerted. "No, better to just make a run for it

now" she decided. As the distance shrank, she reached over

to bring the shields up to full strength.

On the bridge of the Destroyer Squadron's flagship, a sensor

tech turned to call for his section officer, drawing the

Commander's attention. Wandering over, he looked over the

tech's shoulder and frowned. The strength of the

freighter's shields had just increased by two orders of

magnitude. If anything, they were now stronger than the

shields of is own ship! Turning, he growled; "Weapons

officer! Target two torpedoes on that ship, and as soon as

they're in range, hit them with everything you have! The

Hell with taking prisoners!"

Tanj's thumb flipped over a button on the joystick,

launching a trio of decoys. They'd be in weapons range in a

few seconds and she wanted to make it as difficult as

possible for the enemy….

"Now that's something you don't see as standard equipment on

most freighters," Beru commented laconically to his Exec.

"Maybe there IS something to this ship. Relay our findings

to Aerospace Defense Command, and tell them we're engaging."

Turning, the Stoat growled; "Weapons Officer, you may fire

when ready."

Kath went from slave to slave with the jug of lemonade.

They'd only had a dozen or so cups in the galley, and she

was filling them, going back to make another pitcher, and

then going and redistributing the cups to the next dozen

slaves. It wasn't very sanitary, but none of them looked

like they were about to complain. In fact they seemed to be

treating it as if it were the very nectar of the gods. They

ALL looked like they were in pretty grim shape,

malnourished, and abused, covered in bruises, sores, and

whip marks. As she moved among them, she found herself

wondering how ANYONE could treat their property like this.

After all, slaves were an investment; properly cared for

they would repay that investment many times over, even given

the expenses….. but if there were those that treated them

like THIS…… maybe it wasn't such a ….. "logical" system

after all…..

Hinoki still hadn't made it out of the Cargo Bay; first he

had to answer questions as to how they came to be there, and

then he had to answer questions about the Brethren… and the

state of the revolution on Elysium…. It seemed the more

questions he answered the more they asked, all crowding

around him, blocking off any exit route from the Cargo Bay.

And this last question, what in the heck were they talking

about? A system to recharge there collars? Why would a

collar need recharging?"

The Lion growled; "Tanj, ventral and dorsal turrets are

locked forward, focal point of 50,000 kilometers, slaved to

your command. The Ion Cannon's charged and ready, also at

your command. Point defense system is on line and

responding correctly to computer control. We are ten

seconds from torpedo launch. Five. Four. Three. Two.

One…. MARK!

Mark felt the ship shudder as all four torpedo tubes ripple

fired. To think that SOME people had done their best to

dissuade Tanj from flying her own ship into battle….. He

smiled and turned back to the Engineering console to do his

own part. The phasing of the shields could be tuned a little

better, and he'd better have a little chat with the main

matter/antimatter reactor about putting out, say, some 3%

more power…. You never knew when it might come in handy.

"Wha……? INCOMING FIRE! Torpedoes at 001 mark 359. I count

three… four! Four incoming torpedoes!" Beru blinked and

jerked his head around to look at the tactical display. The

Edmons and the Sakko were still out of weapons range, but

closing fast. Twisting back, he growled; "All weapons,

defensive fire! NOW!"

The Lion grinned humorlessly, his fangs bared as he fired

the freighter's last four torpedoes. With luck, he'd catch

the enemy with all their defensive weapons targeted on the

first salvo…..

Xylex watched the monitors, reviewing the data transmitted

from the Destroyers. "That HAS to be them. Who else would

arm a Freighter like that? Order the Cruiser Im'Hatep to

respond as well! The Duty officer turned, his face

incredulous; "Sir, do you really think three destroyers

can't handle a freighter, no matter how well armed?" Xylex

just growled; "Do it! This group is as slippery as eels! I

will NOT loose them again!"

Tanj yelped in surprise as the Freighter jumped; those

shots had come from behind! Her freighter was fast, but it

wasn't as fast as a destroyer, and now it looked like the

other two were closing the distance to weapons range. And

she couldn't drop the shields to cloak if they were under


The Lion was hammering at the destroyers aft of them with

the port and starboard turrets, as well as their aft

"stinger", a rather hefty mass driver firing antimatter

pellets. The first wave of torpedoes had lost two of their

members getting past the Destroyer's outer defenses, the

remaining two had both died in blazes of glory as the close

in weapons systems had chewed at them. Of the second

quartet, one was already down… but there was a delay in the

Destroyer's guns shifting from one set of targets to the

next… there WAS hope that one would get through… and one

would be all they needed.

Tanj pulled back on the stick, bringing the Freighter's

bow through an intersecting line with the Destroyer before

them. The dorsal and ventral turrets were on automatic,

pounding away at the warship, but as things lined up, she

pulled the trigger, the Ion cannon firing with a wheeeeeeee-

BANG sound that made the ship ring like a bell. At the

moment, her best hope was that one of the torpedoes would

get through; then she could pull around the hulk of the

destroyer before them, and in its shadow, drop the shields

and cloak. She should THEN be able to slip off undetected……

But if SHE were the commanders of either of the other two

ships she'd just bathe the wreck in fire and hope for a

random hit as the cloaked freighter departed….

Mark looked up from his console and smiled; this was going

to get good in a few more moments, and there wasn't much the

Elysium forces could really do anymore in that time….

Although they didn't know that, of course. Glancing over

his panel, and finding everything as it should be, he

quietly went back to his three dimensional crossword puzzle.

That wasn't much of a challenge either, even if it was in a

language that had been "dead" for four thousand years.

Tanj could feel Slasher stiffen behind her on the bridge;

somehow she just KNEW, before he called out; "Complications.

Incoming cruiser at 041 mark 017. Tanj just groaned;

there went any hope of her plan working. Desperately she

struggled to come up with some OTHER way to save their

collective asses.

The Lion grinned as first one, and then a second torpedo

slipped past the destroyer's defenses, the first battering

down the remains of its shields, and the second one striking

amidships, all but blowing the ship in two. Shifting his

attention, he started locking dogfighting missiles on the

approaching cruiser. They weren't much, but they still had

a pretty good number of them. If nothing else it would

confuse the Cruiser's targeting computers…. Some.

Xylex's eyes widened as the tactical displays showed

distortions in the wake of the Im'Hatep. First one, then a

second, and then a THIRD Cruiser decloaked behind the

Elysium Cruiser as it dealt with a swarm of smaller missiles

from the freighter. The new ships showed the design

influences of the Corrillian Sector, almost on the far side

of the Empire.. but although the designs showed some

similarities, they weren't Imperial Cruisers……

Tanj gasped as suddenly, there before her, the Elysium

Cruiser staggered, and then disintegrated in a massive

blossom of flame and debris! She'd barely gotten a "Wha?"

out of her mouth when the Lion started laughing. Reaching

across the Freighter's flight deck, he flipped a few

switches on the communications console. "BEN! Its about

time you showed up! Welcome to the party!" The image of

the smiling Wolf formed on the display; "Couldn't let you

have all the fun. We're at the backup site. No, not that

one, the other one. You're probably out of missiles; go

ahead and cloak and we'll meet you there after we 'tidy up'

some out here." The Lion just chuckled and nodded, and

broke the connection.

As they dropped shields and cloaked, Tanj watched her

sensor display. The three Brethren Cruisers were shifting

targets to the two remaining Elysium destroyers. Those

ships were obviously trying to turn, to flee, but physics

were against them….. and they weren't going to make it.

The head of Elysium Planetary Defenses glowered at Lord

Xylex; "your demands, sir, have cost us, and cost us dearly!

We can ill afford the loss of a Cruiser and three Destroyers

at a time like this! Sir, I will ask you kindly never to

trouble us again, no matter WHO you think is trying to leave

the planet! Its OBVIOUS to me that this was all a subtle

trap, designed to sucker our forces into the kill sack, and

you, Sir, played RIGHT into their hands! Now begone, and

let me salvage what I can from this debacle!"

Xylex growled as he was "escorted" from Planetary Defense

Headquarters. Standing by his aircar, looking back at the

entrance to the underground building he growled; "its plain

to me, that these Clowns are incapable of winning the war

against the Rebels. I DO believe its time to change…

tactics." Growling he thumbed the lock open and climbed in,

to head home. There were things to do.

Mark put down the scanner and shook his head; "interesting

problem. Whoever built these things designed them to be

one-use devices. When the collar was snapped closed, it

fused. There IS no way to "unfasten" it. And the way its

wired, well….. if we just try and cut it off, the current to

the electrostrictive polymer will be broken before we finish

cutting. And you know what THAT means. He paused for a

moment, watching his "patient's" expression, before he

continued. I've thought of trying a molecular monofiliment

to cut the collar, but that stuff is always at best tricky

to handle, and one slip would be disasterous.". The Lion

just nodded; "but there are places in the collar where you

can create an opening to the polymer without cutting any of

the circuitry?" The Mouse hmmm'ed thoughtfully for a moment

and thennodded. "I see what you're getting at. OK, you

stay here and try to relax while I get what I'll need.

Tanj watched with no small trepidation. She hadn't gone

to all this effort to rescue her master only to have him

killed as they tried to get the collar off. The Lion was

stretched out horizontally, his head hanging over the end of

the workbench in Engineering, as a good number of furrs

watched. Mark, working from below, carefully ran a small

drill into the collar by his throat, making a number of

small holes in the leather covering. As he moved, the Mouse

paid more attention to the hand-held scanner than actually

LOOKING at what he was doing, and that made Tanj uneasy.

But when the mouse filled the syringe with a powerful acid,

her nervousness increased even further. Carefully, the

Mouse injected the acid through the holes and into the

polymer. And then they all sat back to wait.

Mark sat cross-legged on the floor, back a bit from the

Lion, should any of the acid drip from his collar. He

looked at the scanner, from time to time, but mostly he just

listened to the Lion as he related the story of his

adventure to Tanj.

Tanj shook her head; "I can't believe Benny would DO

something like that. He used to be the sweetest guy….."

The Lion just chuckled; "our experiences in life change us

all. You're not the person you were back then, either. No

question he had a rough time, and it soured him. And that's

a shame. But I still don't regret leaving him there. He

made his bed; now he's going to have to lie in it." As the

Lion finished talking, Mark picked up a pair of shears and

slid one of the blades under the collar near where the acid

had been injected. Without waiting for comment, his muscles

tensed, the shears cutting through the collar slowly. The

Lion's eyes went wide as the electrical circuit was broken

and the polymer started to constrict… and then

disintegrated. He sighed in relief as the collar finally

came off. And then, grinning, he looked down at the Mouse;

"OK, it works, we can start on the others……. Oh, and I've

got that "other" collar to get off, too……" Tanj

chuckled; "Yeah, I've been meaning to ask you about that……"

The trip back to the Brethren's backup base was quiet, Mark

and Hinoki and the Lion working at getting the collars off

the slaves, Wanda attending to their medical needs, and Kath

busy trying to come up with a way to feed everyone. They

were about two hours out, when Kath slipped through the door

to the flight deck, and plopped down in the Copilot's seat.

Tanj glanced over at her, a little surprised, and a bit

miffed. As Kath was an ex-Imperial agent, not exactly there

by choice, and in theory a dangerous individual, they'd been

doing their best to keep her out of any sensitive area, like

engineering, or the flight deck. And she "knew" it was off

limits….. The Cheetah was just about to say something when

the Mink growled; "They tell me the whole reason for the

slaves at that farm was that they were growing Dreamweed in

amongst the regular crops. I hate that stuff; I've seen it

destroy too many lives. We've got to find a way to make

sure the Empire knows about what was going on there."

Tanj's mouth opened and then closed, as, surprised, she

tried to wrap her mind around what the Mink had said…… And

then she smiled; "You know, a message from an Imperial Agent

should get the wheels turning. Even from one who may have

been…. "compromised."…. If you'd like, I think I could find

a way to forward a message from you, in a nice anonymous

fashion…" Kath nodded, and heaved herself out of the

copilot's seat; "Yeah, I'll get you a data crystal with the

message, and a few addresses. God, I hate that stuff!" And

then she was gone, the door hissing closed behind her.

Tanj turned and stared at the forward viewscreen, not

really seeing it; if she did it right, just exactly what had

happened to Kath would be muddied further. They might even

think that SHE was among the slaves at that farm…… "Yes,"

Tanj thought to herself, "That might work out quite

nicely, in all regards."

Docking at the base was routine, although there were quite a

few on-lookers as they opened the personnel lock. Tanj

was somewhat surprised to see four armed guards among the

crowd though, and more than a little incensed when they

announced they'd come for the Boss. Tanj growled, but

the Lion put a paw on her shoulder; "its OK; its all part of

the procedure. They have to make sure that no one

interrogated me, and that I'm not an imposter. A few hours

under hypnosis should convince them that we're safe."

Tanj blinked, turning to look at him; "But you were

conditioned against interrogation! They can't ….

Interrogate you without ripping your mind to shreds!" The

Lion just laughed; "Oh, I think the ones that put the blocks

together can take them apart for a bit. Besides, if I know

THAT group, they left themselves a "back door," just in

case…. But before I go, I Do want to thank you for rescuing

me, for rescuing us all….." Sweeping the cheetah up in his

arms, the Lion gave her a long, and passionate kiss.

When he released her, trouble grinned a little lopsidedly;

"Mmmmmmm, yesssss, missed that… but there is one thing that

we need to get absolutely clear before you go; YOUR ASS IS


The lion blinked and then nodded; "Ah, you're upset with me

for sneaking off in the first place. Well there were

reasons for tha……"

Tanj shook her head; "no, no, no, not that… well, yes, I

AM mad about that, but that isn't what I’m talking about!

Its in the manual; if you're captured, and the Brethren

manage to rescue you, you have to pay for the cost of the

operation. However, if immediate rescue isn't possible (as

you have to admit, was the case here), then you're written

off. Your shares in the Brethren return to the corporation

as do all your personal possessions on the base. The odds

are too great you're either dead, or the rescue would prove

to be too dangerous (as this one almost was!). According to

the manual, if you turn up later, you're considered booty

like anyone else taken in the raid. And as I led the

"raid," YOU'RE MINE!

The Lion looked at her blankly for a moment and then started

to chuckle. Like a steadily increasing downpour his

laughter increased until tears were running from his eyes.

Behind her, Mark stepped up to tap her on the shoulder.

Softly the Mouse chided; "You never REALLY did read the

manual all the way through, did you?" Tanj blinked; "Of

course I read the manual!…… why?" Her head snapped from

looking at the Lion to the amused faces in the crowd, to the

embarrassed looks on Zassa and Hinoki's faces… and back to

Mark; "Uh….. what'd I miss?……." Mark sighed; "There's a

footnote. For command staff, and stockholders over a

certain level, there is no time limit. Remember all the

efforts that went into finding YOU when you were missing?"

Tanj just shook her head in disbelief, and groaned.

The Lion, still panting, still with a smile on his face,

chuckled and shook his head; "tell you what; since that

seems to be your heart's desire, and since you DID go to so

much trouble on my behalf, I'll not only overlook your

……."behavior" on this subject, you uppity slave, but as a

reward, I'll agree to play your slave for a day….."

Tanj's eyes widened, and her jaw dropped, a shocked

expression on her face; "A day? A DAY? All that trouble,

all that scheming and plotting, and SEARCHING, and WORRYING,

for a DAY? Hell, if it wasn't for me, Mister, you'd STILL

be in that Hell-Hole!" The Lion blinked; "Still be there?

We were on our way out when you showed up; the escape plan

was in motion! Hey, I appreciate the ride, but we would

have made it out on our own…. In a while…." Tanj just

harrumphed; "Yeah. Right. You want to do that for me,

mister, it'll be a MONTH and nothing less!" The Lion

brought his face down, almost nose to nose with the

Cheetah's; "Three days, and not a second more!" Tanj

growled back; "A Week is the LEAST I'll accept!" The Lion

pulled his head back, eyes narrowing; he was obviously

thinking it over. After a moment he nodded; "I guess if

they've gotten along without me this long, another week

won't matter. Give me three days to get through the

interrogation, and make sure things are functioning

correctly, get everyone moved back to the prime base of

operations, and it’s a deal!" Tanj grinned and grabbed

him by both ears, to kiss him hard; "Good; now go and get

all that out of the way. I'm eager to get started!" The

lion just chuckled as he padded off with the guards.

Xylex looked around his house and sighed. He'd miss this

place. There were so many memories, good and bad, associated

with it. But now it was time to leave. Perhaps, after the

Revolution, he'd be able to return, to get it back. In the

meantime, the Government was sure to seize it, for they'd

undoubtedly realize that he was shifting his alliances to

the Reds…. Or at least OPENLY shifting his alliances.

Things there had gone almost exactly as he'd planned. The

tip he'd fed the security forces had resulted in Trotskie

and a select number of his senior officers being ambushed.

It'd been quite a shoot-out, one that had kept the news

services going for almost two days. The Bear and his top

henchmen were dead, "Martyrs to the Cause," and the Reds,

leaderless, were floundering. Time for him to step in. The

remaining senior member of the Reds, Quistling, knew of

Xylex's work with the Reds, and was eminently malleable.

Moreso, even, than Trotskie had been. Soon, he'd have the

Reds under his complete control. As he locked the door,

more by rote than by logical thought, Xylex chuckled; "First

Secretary to the Chairman…. Yes, that sounds like a suitable

title….." Whistling, he walked off down the dark street,

and into a whole new life…. Sort of.

Benny shook his head, still dazed. Things had happened

soooo fast. First the farm had been raided by…. Someone.

And instead of taking the bales of dreamweed, they'd made

off with the Slaves. And what had Tanj been doing there?

Then the Mistress had gone 'round the bend, ordering the

automated farm equipment to plow under the crop. Maybe

she'd been trying to conceal her illicit activities,

thinking she might still salvage something… but within a

day, Imperial forces were landing, trailed closely by their

Elysium counterparts…. And only a fraction of the crop had

been destroyed. Now Mistress was under arrest, and he

himself was in a cell. Of course, you couldn't charge a

slave for his Mistress' offenses… but that didn't mean they

had to ignore him, either….. The Otter sighed and stared at

the walls, and wondered what would become of him…..

Tanj grinned at the crowd of slaves; "Normally, in a

"raid," anybody swept up in it winds up as "booty." But

after what I've seen of what you've been through, I just

couldn't bear to do that to you. I've got some friends down

in Forgery, and we'll set you up with some fairly good

documents. I can also give each of you a small grubstake,

to get you going, but I want it clearly understood that when

you get on your feet, that I expect you to pay me back.

WITH INTEREST! Oh, and if you feel like striking a blow

against the system that allowed you to be treated so poorly,

we have a representative of the Blues Rebel coalition you

can talk to. Now if you'll form a line, our talented folks

will get started putting together new identities for you…."

Most of the slaves moved towards the table where Zassa sat,

ready to funnel them towards the folks in Forgery, but a

couple walked over from the crowd. The first, a rather

scrawny male tiger looked at her shyly for a second and then

managed to stammer out; "Um, ah, I was wondering if there

might be any, ah, openings with the Brethren that I might

fill….." Tanj looked at him for a moment, torn between

laughing and frowning… "Uh, ah, perhaps I phrased that

poorly; I meant to inquire after any positions you might…..

Ah, oh hell….. are the Brethren hiring?" Tanj closed her

eyes and shook her head; "if they are, they ask you, not the

other way around. Security considerations. We have to be

very careful who we accept into the organization. BELIEVE

me, we do." The Tiger nodded and turned to walk away, only

to look over his shoulder and nod as Tanj growled; "But

I'll pass along your… "interest."

The next was a rather large Clydesdale mare; "So you're his

girlfriend, eh?" she nickered. Just wanted to thank you for

saving him, and us. And I thought I'd ask if there'd be any

way I might see him before we left?" For a moment, Tanj

had an insane flash of jealousy, picturing the Clydesdale in

her Lion's arms…. But then she shook it off; besides, he'd

be all hers for a whole week, and she had NO doubt she'd be

able to make him forget any horsie… "I don't know how busy

he's going to be when they manage to satisfy themselves that

he didn't reveal any secrets; I suspect it'll take a while

to put everything back together…. But on the other hand, I

don't know how long it'll take to get all you folks to

somewhere safe, either. I suppose it could happen. I'll be

sure to tell him you were asking after him when I see him

though." The Mare just smiled and nodded and turned to head

for the line.

Hinoki came over to hug Tanj from behind; "I'm glad

that's over. But do you think anything changed?" Tanj

shrugged, settling back into him; "A few things. The

Imperials got rid of a major drug dealer. Elysium suffered

a not-insignificant defeat I think the Boss learned not to

go off on his own…… I learned its harder to fool Ben than I

thought. And I think I've learned that no matter how

pervasive it is in Imperial society, I just can't go along

with Slavery anymore. The thought of what those poor furrs

were going through, what my Master was going through, just

tears me apart. I may not be able to change anyone else's

mind, but there are things I CAN do. I'm going to free you

and Zassa." Hinoki was silent for a moment and then

squeezed Tanj gently; "I appreciate that, but I don't

expect it'll change anything. I'm not going anywhere, and I

doubt Zassa is either. But I suppose it’s a start."

Tanj just purrred, and turned to give the Cheetah a long,

loving kiss. "you're right. It’s a start."

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 as Jollimon on FurryMuck). Mark and Mala

are copyright Ann'katar's player, who also can be found on

FurryMuck. Copyright 1999. Comments, suggestions, or flames

can be directed to ha_seng@hotmail.com.