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Lost and Found

Page history last edited by Anima 16 years ago

Lost & Found

 

(A Furry fantasy: vore and food-fetish/fattening themes.)

by Anima

 

 

 

     Frederic Bennings relaxed on his front porch, camera case beside his creaky lawn chair. A brilliant sun set over the forest, setting the tops of the evergreens afire as the man watched. Stretching his short legs out in front of him, Frederic slipped off his shoes and wriggled his wool-sheathed toes in the chill autumn air. A raindrop spatted against the window pane beside him, followed by a companion that hit Fred's nose.

 

 

      "Isn't that a shame, third day in a row I've missed sunset. Suppose I should be glad it kept off till now..." Fred spoke aloud, suspecting the raccoon nearby was listening. A chitter confirmed that suspicion, and the furry bundle streaked out from under the porch and into the woods.

     'Family man, I guess.' He sighed, idly observing the coon's retreat. As small puddles formed on the wooden porch and streaks ran down his glasses, the short, somewhat portly man groaned and entered his cabin. Grunting in annoyance, he ventured out once more to collect his forgotten camera equipment.

 

      The raccoon raced through the woods, darting around tree stumps, anxious to return to his burrow and mate. Chittering in shock and dismay, the coon skidded to a halt on the damp pine needles in front of a steaming crater. Glistening mutely in the failing orange light, the huge egg, (If egg it was) radiated heat. The thousand-odd raindrops that struck it every minute evaporated instantly, shrouding details in steam. An odd smell rose off the thing, and that more than anything else sent him scampering around the earth-gash to his home. Behind him, a whining sound added more wind to his sails as he raced off.

 

     Out of the animal's vision, the 'egg' cracked open with a hiss and a form staggered out into the pouring rain. Moving with painful slowness, the thing limped through the woods in a pre-decided direction. The moon hid behind sodden clouds, providing no light to guide the forlorn silhouette as it now raced through the trees, desperate to get out of the invisible crashing sheets of water. The glow ahead in a clearing marked the heat she had detected earlier, and raced toward it. Her heart beating quickly, she crouched down in the lee of the wooden structure, shivering as water sluiced off the roof to splash an already soaked and matted coat. Glinting eyes lidded against the onslaught, she curled into a ball of misery. The alien didn't even notice when the downpour halted a few hours before sunup, she simply shivered and fell into an uneasy sleep.

 

 

      Frederic stepped outside the cabin the next morning to check for damage. He'd heard a thump during the night, and worried a tree had blown over onto the roof. Fred paced the structure, slippers slowly soaking up moisture the rain had deposited the previous night. Paying more attention to the siding and eaves than his steps, the barely dressed man nearly tripped over a sodden fur coat spread over something horse-size. Stumbling to a sudden halt, he surveyed this odd thing and pondered its possible origin. Fred stroked his stubble as he stared, then prodded the mass experimentally with a slippered toe. It heaved, and stood up!      Fred backpedaled as the soaked yellow thing rose onto four legs, attaining a height of about six feet at the head...yes, it was a head. Vaguely feline in cast, it possessed a muzzle, large vertically pupiled eyes, a black nosepad and whiskers. A large, red jewel-like structure adorned its forehead, faintly reflecting the dew misted morning light. The eyes focused on him, and the body began to move. Fred looked down, the torso of the thing melted into a barrel like body, with legs sprouting from underneath. He recalled images of centaurs, deciding this life form was similar in concept. It was like someone had grafted a furred human torso onto an overgrown leopard's head and body. Snapping out of his forensic observation, he realized the cat-centaur thing was advancing on him.

     Mystified, the photographer watched as two more limbs rose from it's sides and extended toward him pads-up. Long ebony claws were evident on the pawlike hands, and Fred lost it. He swung around, and ran. His bathrobe whipped in the breeze as he sprinted, clearing the cabin's clearing and diving into the woods recklessly. His heart was beating a staccato on his Adam's apple as he sprinted, thinking the thing hadn't looked very fast. Two blows to his back knocked the thirty-four year old man to the wet earth, and he felt dampness soaking into his clothes.

 

     'Blood,' was his first thought, but he felt no pain. Just that firm pressure on each shoulder blade. He turned his head to get more information, and beheld the creature pinning him to the earth with her forepaws. He knew now that it was female, something in her eyes gave it away. Those eyes bored into his, gauging him in every respect. Shadows moved within the red jewel as well, and Fred could see his distorted, frightened reflection back at him. The eyes were sun-limned clouds reflected in spheres of water, golden and sparkling. Fred prided himself on being a man of detail, observing and cataloging everything. Thus his new fearful reaction was delayed, but it came suddenly now! A scream tore from his dirt smeared lips, narrowing the eyes slightly in a wince. She spoke now, low growling that seemed musical in structure and formed a language as unknown to him as the alien. Yet, oddly, he understood it well enough to grasp the concepts being conveyed.

      "Do not do that. You will come to no harm if I have my way. You will enter your dwelling." The words were like thunder drifting over a sun-warmed prairie, comprehensible and bass. 

     Frederic didn't argue. He stood when she let him, slowly moved toward his cabin with the alien close behind, and entered. The feline-taur gestured him to sit, and pinned his shoulders against the back of the armchair he chose. She had a firm grip, but the terrified man suspected he hadn't seen her true strength yet.

      "I am stranded. I come from a far distant planet, unreachable and undiscovered by your rather primitive race. The ship I was traveling on was attacked by a religious movement's fleet, and I was forced to jettison myself in a lifepod. Stray weapons fire damaged the navigation system just as the pod's engines caught, and I entered orbit above your planet two weeks later. My craft landed automatically, but the damage was more extensive than I had thought. The landing was rough," she indicated a large gash on her flank. It oozed a pinkish watery fluid that Fred took to be blood, and the frightened human stared in horror. The alien then continued her story.

     "I found your dwelling by sensor readings from the pod, I figured it was the best bet for shelter. The pod's hull leaked, and life support was down. Finding your home, I sheltered by a wall. I did not know of your race, or your treatment of visitors. I suspect you have never received any..." She paused and Fred numbly nodded his head, jaw slightly slack as he listened. The warmth of the room was starting to dry them both, and steam rose off the 'taur's pelt.

      "I am called..." she uttered something deep and throaty, nothing a human tongue could repeat. It dipped into the subsonic, and shook Fred's teeth slightly.

     "I'm sorry, I can't enunciate that. I am referred to those who know me as Frederic, of the 'human' race. I suppose you'll have to have me call you something else." the man said shakily, trying to smile at his shortcoming. Gravely she regarded him, and raised a dark yellow eyebrow.

      "What would you call me?" She inquired. Very concerned he might offend her, Fred regarded his captor's pelt more closely. Gold, banded with red tiger stripes and cheetah markings, orange splashes interrupting the patterns at random intervals swam before his eyes. Light reflected off the fur in an odd way, softening the gold and highlighting the red and orange. He thought of the sunset, and found an equivalent in the exquisitely beautiful pelt.

      "Solorna...for your coloring reminds me of our sun's setting." He cringed slightly as a look of surprise crossed the ET's features, then one of satisfaction.

      "I believe I like that name, you may call me that." Solorna intoned softly as she released Frederic's arms and carefully lowered herself to the floor. This was an interesting maneuver, very similar to how a horse kneels, then drops to the ground. The upper half of the torso remained upright, and she folded her arms across her chest. Firelight flickered in the dark room, clouds still obscuring the sun outside.

      "Thank you, Solorna. Is there anything I can do to help? I don't believe you're a threat to this planet or its inhabitants, and just want to return to your people. Am I correct?" Fred rose up in his chair to ask this, muddy pawprints still visible on his stained nightshirt. 

      "I intend no harm to your people; and yes, I would like to return home. Have you anything to eat? The lifepod's rations were not adequate for one of my mass I'm afraid, and I need energy." Solorna asked in a somewhat embarrassed tone. 

      "I don't have much, and will have to purchase more soon if I estimate your needs correctly. Is there anything you can't eat safely?" the greatly relaxed Fred asked.

     "Bring me what you have, and I'll determine that." she said tiredly, wishing to lie down and rest. She couldn't do that in the presence of this alien though, trusting him to a very limited extent. The pinkish biped tottered on his two stocky legs to another room in the structure, muttering something about lactose intolerant. The words meant nothing to her in the sense he meant it, but the phrase triggered a humorous reaction in her. Snickering softly to herself, she again considered her situation. Here on this beautiful but backwards planetoid, she could trust no one. Her distress beacon had been activated as soon as the pod touched earth, but who was to say if even that still worked? At least she had little to fear from her new companion. He seemed intelligent enough, and was obviously no threat to her with his small rotund frame, and thinly muscled limbs. Not a hunting species, obviously. Solorna watched with interest as...Frederic, he called himself?...returned with several plates and bowls of various foodstuffs, as well as a first aid kit.

 

          "Thank you, I will indicate anything unsafe for me." the hungry cattaur stated as she began sampling the food. Fred opened the kit, and removed a needle and thread. Solorna nodded, and let him approach her wounded flank. Several painful minutes later, the wound was sealed well and bandaged. Frederic repacked the kit, and she turned her attention back to judging the food. A bowl of leftover mashed potatoes passed, though she made a face. So did corn on the cob, green beans, cold cuts, and macaroni salad. Bread was rejected, as well as most of the rolls and grain-group things. It was obvious to Fred as she fell to, that his new charge had a liking for meat as she devoured an entire package of smoked ham. He returned to the kitchen to pile some sausages and raw hamburger onto a plate and placed it before the Cattaur.

      "Oh, thank you. My race is primarily carnivorous, and we enjoy meat to no end." the alien sighed, almost purring as she fell to. The meat products vanished into her belly quickly, in three minutes she had consumed everything he'd offered. Sated for the moment, she leaned her upright form against her now dry back, and sighed.

 

 

      "I must go out to acquire supplies, I'll be back in two hours." the human said as he emerged from yet another room, wearing more and thicker clothing than earlier.

      'These humans certainly like boxing themselves in' " she thought as she looked down a hall to two more doorways. She stopped Frederic with a paw to his chest. She kept her claws sheathed, but the implied threat was enough.

      "I can't let you go off alone, you could bring others of your kind to capture or kill me. You'll have to find a way to get supplies delivered here." she said firmly. Solorna was caught off guard by the hurt look that flickered across his naked face, and puzzled.

      "I assure you I won't betray your presence. I've read a lot of stories in which a normal guy like me has adventures with aliens, and had dreamed of being one of those men. I lost that hope long ago, thinking it a unrealizable fantasy, and just recovered it today. Understand, please, that I wouldn't want to share this with anyone if only out of my selfish nature." Frederic paused after his speech, hoping the alien's language skills would make sense of the terms he'd used. She stared into his eyes for the third time that morning, and nodded decisively.

      "You may go. You cannot lie to me, I'm trained to detect spies. You, my fine human, are far from being such a skilled liar." She smiled as she said this, an upward twisting of her muzzle-line to bear her gleaming teeth and translucent honey colored gums. Frederic's gaze fixed on the maw for a moment, before he smiled uncertainly and ducked out the doorway to his beat-up truck.

 

II

 

      Solorna watched the red pickup pull away down a sun dappled track through the woods, feeling an odd pang of loneliness. She shrugged it off, she'd been alone for weeks after a trauma and her need for social contact was not surprising. The lonely felinetaur padded over to the fireplace, and stretched out on her side in front of it. 

      'I'll hear that noisy thing before he gets within forty yards of this place, I can get some sleep without worrying.' she thought and her eyes closed halfway, then all the way. A rumbling snore from somewhere deep inside her body's long taur portion vibrated the still air in the warm cabin as she slept. 

 

      Driving down the road toward the small town nearest the Washington foothills where he bachelored, Fred considered his recent experiences.

      'This is the best thing that ever happened to me. If I can get photos of this...hmphh...nobody will trust them and my reputation will be ruined.' He sighed at this revelation, but still reveled in the fact that his old fantasy had come true.

'An alien! In my house! And not an ugly, bug eyed creep either. In fact, she's beautiful...in a aesthetic sense of course.'

     Fred pulled into the parking lot of the Mom & Pop grocery, still pondering this point. Hopping out, he strolled in and with an air of nonchalance, bought enough meats to last for months. The Mom and Pop behind the counter tried very hard to keep straight faces, but Fred could tell they were suspicious. One man alone in the woods didn't eat this much... It took another hour just to load the stuff into his truck, he had to buy a tarp to cover the small mountain of food in the pickup bed. Sighing heavily, as he still hadn't found an reason or solution to the problem of finding Solorna desirable, he clambered into the truck's cab and started back to the cabin. Another hour of uneventful driving brought him home. The portly photographer huffed as he carried the first load of groceries into the house; but quieted politely when he saw the felinetaur curled up in front of the fireplace, emitting what he guessed as a snore. It took only half an hour to put away the food, mostly because he realized he didn't have room for the bulk of it and left it in the truck.

 

      It was about 7:00 P.M. when Solorna awoke, she started and jerked her head around frantically. Her gaze darted to the startled man sitting on a stool in the kitchen, cooking dinner.

      "Oh, thank the Maker! You're still here..." she said in a rush, words sounding small as if over a dry plain, hanging in the warm, still air. 

      "This comes as a surprise to you? Even when you found I wasn't lying about betraying you?" Fred questioned, and again that odd look of injury darkened his soft features. Solorna remained quiet, regaining control after her initial outburst of relief. 

     'I was more exhausted than I thought, he could have done anything to me he pleased! Put me in a cage and sold me to his government...though he didn't. He won't get a greater opportunity to deal with me, I must be inclined to trust him.' these thoughts flitted through the alien's mind as she regarded the human making their meal. Surveying the food cooking, a slight frown crossed her face. 

      'He underestimates my needs, this greater gravity is taxing. I shall have to hunt.' Solorna licked her lips with a long, narrow red tongue as she caught the wonderful scents drifting off the pots on the stove. It couldn't compare to fresh, blood-welling meat, but it was better than lifepod rations! 

      "I hope you're hungry, Solorna. I made a lot, heavy on the meat." Frederic announced as he balanced several serving bowls and bounced into the den. Laying them out before the reclining taur with a flourish, he returned to the kitchen for drinks. Solorna surveyed the dishes, saddened to find no raw meat at all. Spices did make the cooked variety more appealing though, and she attacked a heaping bowl of beef stroganoff. The alien set to, dishing up the food with a large spoon. Soon all the dishes were bare, licked clean by the cat-tongue. Solorna leaned back and feigned satiation, her belly rumbling not from satisfaction, but blood lust. 

 

     Frederic leaned back as well, absently holding his full stomach and making small talk.

"Would you tell me about your world? Is it forest, how many continents does it have? What do you do for fun? Where do you work?" he asked, voice eager with curiosity. Solorna smiled tolerantly, and replied. 

 

      "No, it's not a forest world. At least, not anymore. It's all valleys and mountains, lots of open country covered with low shrubs. Trees are rare, and revered. We have only one continent, which is the status quo. Your world is an exception actually, having a fractured landmass. For fun, we have races across the plains, swimming in placid lakes, and crawling through the brush playing prey and predator." Solorna paused, remembering the last time she'd done any of those things. 'Almost ten years now...I really should have used some of my leave time last refitting.' 

      "I am employed, or rather was employed, on the star liner that was destroyed. I was head of the engineering department, and respected by the entire crew. Having no respect for the sentient responsible for the engines and life support isn't usually wise." both smiled slightly at this, strengthening the growing bond between the two. 

      "What are your customs pertaining to physical contact?" Solorna queried lightly, dreading the answer secretly. 

      "You mean tactile contact? We find it pleasant, humans often engaging in it to show affection. If your non sentient counterparts on this world are any indication, would you enjoy...petting?" Fred replied haltingly, somewhat embarrassed. She gleaned the meaning from the primitive language as furstroking, but he made it seem sexual the way he blushed at its mention. She rose a bit heavily and padded over to his perch on the sofa arm. Solorna stretched out her bulk under a hand, murrrring as his fingers tentatively sifted her banded coat. 

      "My race is quite social and physically inclined. We stroke each other in this fashion for many reasons, one of which being to strengthen trust." she explained as Frederic nervously caressed her pelt. 

      "I think I like this custom, but I hope I'm doing it right..." murmured the human as he slid his naked hand along her spine, enjoying the touch of soft fur. Solorna's half closed eyes and sonic-purr were enough to convince him he was. Fred let his hand rove over her muscled back and flanks, finally pausing when his hand reached her upright portion. When the felineoid stopped purring and turned her head to look questioningly at Fred, he smiled uncertainly and ran his hand up her vertical back. The fur wasn't quite as soft here, but much fuller. Hands sank into the sunset coat, and the purring resumed... Frederic stroked the felineoid for an hour, enjoying the experience almost as much as she did. 

      "Are you hungry?" he asked later when both were just lying about, thinking their private thoughts. 

      "No, dinner was enough. I'd like to get some sleep now, if you'll extinguish the lights." she purred and returned to her spot before the fireplace. The embers that remained were dying, so the human stoked it up and added more wood.     

     "Goodnight then. Just call if you need anything, and be loud! I sleep heavily." Fred grinned, as he stumbled to bed, though it was only 9:00.

 

     An hour later when Solorna heard the human's snores, she lithely rose to her paws and stole out the cabin's door. The chill air bit at her nose and eyes, the rest protected by thick fur. The huntress extended her senses, looking for small mammals to sate her burning hunger that did not warm. 

 

      Skittering through the woods, the raccoon headed for his human friend's house. A strange scent had lingered in the area during the day, too similar to the terrifying cold egg's smell for his liking. With the cool wind though, came new scents. The alien traces had been blown away. Firelight flickering in the window beckoned the 'coon forward, and he jumped up on the window sill, putting his pawhands up on the glass. Would the human let him in? Maybe give him... FOOD?! The thought made the masked animal squeak with excitement, but then a somewhat familiar scent drifted past his twitching nose. It was the odd, scary smell again! Forgetting food for the moment, (something quite difficult for the woodland creature to do), he dashed for the safety of the woods. 

 

      Solorna was almost embarrassed at the ease with which she stalked prey on this planet, her senses and hunting skill far surpassed any predators' native to this planet, and the prey population was caught unawares. She was further surprised when a suitable animal actually walked into her field of vision, and hopped up on the cabin's windowsill. The audacity! She prowled silently around to get a nice angle, then cursed mentally as the wind shifted. Her scent petrified the animal, and it bolted. Right into her well-muscled, waiting arms. The creature was soon devoured, and the small bones buried in an unobtrusive part of the clearing. Licking her lips delightedly, she entered the woods in search of other prey.

 

III

 

      "Good morning, Solorna. Did you sleep well? The floor is a bit hard, I'd happily give up my bed..." Frederic's cheerful speech trailed off as he rounded the corner into the den. The felinetaur was stretched out on her side, still fast asleep. Quietly, he stole over to the couch and flopped down to watch his guest snooze. Mentally he set up the scene for a photo shoot, considering what lighting effects would work best. He'd ask her before taking pictures though. Before Solorna could wake up, he tiptoed back to the kitchen to make breakfast. Frederic pulled a couple boxes of oatmeal mix out of the pantry, and set out mixing bowls, water, cinnamon and honey. Five packages of bacon came out of the fridge to sit on the stove, soon sizzling merrily in a black iron skillet. He mixed oatmeal for ten minutes, filling a huge bowl with the lumpy mass, then honeying and spicing it to perfection. In the den, Solorna stretched languidly, and awoke. 

 

      Stretching herself out on the rug, Solorna was conscious of the satisfied feeling in her middle. She'd eaten well of the small animal population, consuming two raccoons and three rabbits. Her digestive tract worked overtime on the midnight feast, churring and gurgling happily to itself. Then she scented the food cooking in the kitchen, and felt her slowly-emptying stomach grumble. 

 

      "Smells wonderful, Frederic. Is it nearly ready?" she queried, rolling carefully to her paws. Fred smiled cheerily as he handed her a half-dozen stacked plates of bacon and a big bowl of oatmeal. He followed the swaying felineoid into the den, carrying two eight-packs of English muffins. She sighed as her taxed form hit the rug, and opened her maw for Fred to feed her. This unsettled him a bit, but he compiled some bacon-muffins, and spooned up some oatmeal. He laid the muffin on her rough tongue, he blinked and it was gone. He filled her jaws with oatmeal, and she bleahed mentally. 

 

      'Uphh, what IS this gunk?! *Smack glump* Actually, it's not that bad. *Slurp gwunph* Acquired taste, I guess.' Solorna's expression softened with each additional spoonful, until she was obviously enjoying the porridge. Another eleven muffins followed the path of the first into the insatiable belly, and several jugs of OJ were drained. He looked up, grinning at her closed eyes and rumbling purr. Frederic collected the dishes and took refuge in the kitchen, to consider matters.  Solorna watched him go through slitted eyes, wondering what he could be up to. 

 

     'Why me, I mean, what'll my family think? Hmph, what family...friends? They're all colleagues. Loved ones? Girlfriends that dumped me years ago. I enjoy her company, and am pleased to help. If I end up getting taken to an alien planet because of what I know...well...that's a bonus. ' Fred smiled at the thought. 

 

      'Well, that's my end. Now, what about her? She's really friendly, letting me pet her like that. She already has my help and loyalty, she's much stronger than I am. ...' Sighing, he concluded he couldn't carry this line of reasoning any further tonight, so he padded in stocking feet back to the den. Stretching out on the rug next to Solorna, he took a risk and laid his back against her yielding side. She broke off her purring to glance at the human, then laid a paw over his shoulders and resumed her sound of content. Both content before the crackling fire, Fred drifted off to sleep. 

 

      'Now what?' Solorna thought as her now-empty stomach complained to her loudly. Fred was lying against her side, and she couldn't get up without waking him...then she felt a twinge in her gut and got an idea. Her bloated intestines shifted inside her, eager to empty themselves. Solorna shook the human gently, and he woke quickly. 

     

     "What is it? Is something the matter?" he asked sleepily, rubbing grit from his eyes. 

 

      "I feel silly about this, but I have to...eliminate. I didn't want to worry you if you woke up and found me missing." she said, probably blushing under her fur. Fred smiled and helped her up, opening the door for her. She padded out, then turned to face him, and spoke haltingly.

      "My species takes a long time to complete this, you might as well go back to bed." she murrrred and hurried off behind the cabin. Fred closed the door behind her, yawned and stumbled to his bed.

 

      Behind the cabin, Solorna completed her business shortly. Quietly, she stole back around the house and into the woods. Following a scent she had caught the last hunting trip, she soon found a grazing spot. Tracks glowed faintly with lingering heat, the animal had been here mere hours ago... Spurred by the realization, Solorna leaped up into the trees to track her prey. Bunching muscles, leaping, feeling the branches sway beneath her considerable weight. The moon lit her path as she tracked...a larger animal. Abruptly the trees end at a clearing, where a small cave nestles in the brush. Smiling, Solorna leaps down, and circles the cave. Confirming her quarry is inside and asleep, she leaps down into the dark hole. Muffled cries, and wet slurping sounds filter out of the cave, and eventually the 'taur emerged. Her gut bulged slightly with the big meal, and she padded back to the cabin. Solorna paused, horrified at a realization.

 

     'I can't let Fred see me like this, he'll ask questions... I'll have to sleep outside for a few days.' she thinks in alarm, and returns to the forest. Slowly and heavily, the taur ascends a tree to sleep, not in fear of predators but to remain hidden from her human host.

     "Solorna? Where are you?" Frederic's voice was tinged with worry as he dashed through the cabin, searching for the alien. When he confirmed she wasn't in the small dwelling, he dashed outside into the chill dawn. A sleepy voice assailed him from a tree. 

 

      "I'm right here, Fred, everything's fine. I just wanted some fresh air...it was getting stuffy inside." this was a complete fabrication, Solorna enjoyed the fire's warmth, and the human's company. Only her face showed through the sparse foliage, her suspiciously swollen body hidden from view.

      "Oh, alright. I'll go get breakfast ready...do you want to eat out here?" he asked hesitantly 

'It was all fine and dandy for her, having a fur coat, but I'm going to freeze...' he thought.

 

      "If you wouldn't mind, it would be a nice change of scene anyway. Don't you think?" she called from the tree. Fred nodded quickly, and returned to the cabin. Moving as quickly as she could, Solorna pulled her meat-laden form down the tree and into some concealing bushes. Squirming halfway out kept her huge stomach from view, but revealed her upright form and two front paws. Another half-hour went by before Fred emerged, wheeling a red kid's wagon out full of food. The pancakes steamed in the chill air, coated with rapidly congealing butter and syrup. A keg of cocoa accompanied the platters of golden discs, jiggling as the wagon bounced on the uneven ground. Solorna ate all that came within reach that resembled food, warming herself with the breakfast. 

     

     "Slow down, what's the hurry?" Fred laughed. She looked up from her pancakes, a few drops of syrup glistening on her lips. 

 

     "I, um, need to go check on my life-pod. Yes, repairs are in order. I may need to spend the night..." she said, hesitantly at first as the lie coalesced, then with growing confidence as she fortified the fabrication.

      "Oh, well, I'll make you some food before we go." Frederic said over his shoulder as he hurried to the cabin. 

      "No! Um, it's too far for you. I can reach it sooner if I go alone..." Solorna shouted at the retreating figure. The human made a sign of acknowledgment, shouting back he'd just fetch food. Stomach protesting with the amount of food it was forced to digest, she groaned, and waited for the saddlebag-like arrangement he brought to her. He laid it down, waved and retreated from the biting cold into his cabin.

 

IV

      Alone in the cabin, Fred couldn't relax. It had been nearly a whole day since Solorna had set out with a pack of supplies, and the man was lonely.

      'I can't understand it, I've been alone for the past six months barring Solorna's arrival, and was fine. Now she's gone for a day, and I'm sweating and brooding!' Fred thought on this, and realized what else was missing.

      'My animals! I haven't done any work since She arrived. They kept me company... I'll renew my relationships with them.' Fred's thoughts formed a resolve. He ran to his closet to retrieve his camera gear, wrote a note for his companion if she returned, and bounced out the door. It took an hour to get settled in one of his haunts, up a tree near a clearing containing a stream. Critters came to drink here on a regular basis, particularly his coon friend. Lazily the sun traced a path through the sky, then dipped below the horizon. Finally, Fred got to see the sunset! Then as he returned his attention to the clearing, he finally allowed his shock to surface.

      'I saw three subjects. Two bucks, and a squirrel. This is wrong, at least twenty animals visit this brook every day! And half that at night...where did the neighborhood get to?' Disturbed, Fred descended the tree and made for the cabin.

 

      'Perhaps a new predator in the area, that would clear a lot of the residents out in a hurry. But to have an effect like that, it would have to be large. Mountain lion, perhaps...' Fred suddenly giggled at a possibility. Solorna? Yeah, right. His sweet, comforting felineoid decimating and frightening an entire five mile radius's worth of animals? Pah! Yet, the thought niggled at him as he neared the comforting light of his cabin, reminding him of Solorna's carnivorous nature. 

 

      'But I stuff her all day! There's no way she could still be hungry. Is there? What about the fact that she's gotten a bit rounder then what I've been feeding her could account for?'

 

Fred pondered, and entered his house. He called out for Solorna, but she obviously wasn't home yet. Relaxing in his favorite chair, he hypothesized. 

 

     'If, just if, she is hunting these forest grounds clean, what would I do? I can't let her kill my friends... Maybe I should try to stay awake when she's home, to determine if she goes out at night...' Satisfied with his plans, Fred drifted off to sleep. 

     

      Sunshine filtered through Frederic's eyelids, turning them pink before his awaking senses. Opening them slowly, he made out the beloved form of Solorna stretched out on the carpet fast asleep. Almost squeaking in joy and relief, he fell out of the chair, and curled up against her side. Solorna opened a golden eye to peer at the affectionate man, and smiled too. 

      "I missed you as well, Frederic." she said sleepily, and patted his head before drifting off once more. Fred caressed her silky belly before he too, was claimed by dreams. 

 

      The pair awoke together at noon, the late hour sending Fred scrambling to the kitchen to prepare food for his friend's complaining tummy. Stretching carefully, the felineoid took a Sphinx posture to receive whatever meal her 'prey' had devised for her today. Fifteen minutes later, she was devouring a large bowl of oatmeal and cinnamon. A heaping plate of croissants steamed nearby, and a couple pitchers of whole milk. Another five minutes, and the dishes' contents had shifted a couple feet into her belly. Solorna pushed back the brunch-ware and sighed in content, but her ears twitched atop her skull, almost impatiently. Fred anticipated her need, and settled next to her for a cuddle. Solorna gathered him to her, embracing his flannel-sheathed body with her arms. He snuggled into her, and rubbed his cheek against hers. 

 

      'If I could purr, now would be the perfect opportunity to do so...' he thought as his head nestled in the hollow of Solorna's neck.

 

      When the pair awoke, Fred resumed his soothing strokes. Tummy-rubbing continued for half an hour before Solorna's purring was matched by her growling stomach. As he rose to prepare food, the alien caught his ankle gently. 

     "I don't mean to be fussy, but I really...abhor cooked meat. Could you leave that raw, in the dishes that call for it?" she asked, a hungry spark in her golden specked eyes. Fred nodded. 

     "Of course, just tell me. I could serve you all meat if you like..." and paused when she shook her head.

     "No, variety is nice. You can't get all the nutrients you need from just meat anyway. Besides, I really like some of these human dishes!" Solorna said, licking lips with that long tongue of hers. Fred smiled, and rushed around the kitchen to prepare. It didn't take so long without having to cook meat, and the Hungry One was chowing down in twenty minutes. He fed her a large amount of macaroni and cheese, still marveling at the amount she assimilated daily.. When Solorna expressed an interest in his banana, (Namely snatching it out of his hand, and playfully making off with it), he got the rest of the bunch and fed them to her.

      "We don't have any fruit on our world bigger than berries, this is amazing!" she said, gulping down the fifth and final banana. The human sat against her flank, petting the silky gold fur, feeling her purring low under the caress. Nearly asleep, her head jerked upright when Frederic left her side.

      "I need to do some work. A man has make a living..." he said a bit sadly, hoisting his camera case.

     "I never asked, what is it you do?" queried the reclining 'taur, genuinely interested.

     "Well, we use chemically treated paper and high speed mechanical shutters to take visual records of things we see. Specifically, I make records of wildlife. Part of the reason I can live here is that the local members of the World Wildlife Federation asked me to do some pictures for a calendar." trying to make the primitive equipment clear to his new friend, Fred broke out his gear, and explained each piece. Though Solorna had already guessed correctly the basic principles, she listened and watched intently. After answering some questions about how he found and approached subjects, the photographer departed.

 

      Tramping through the woods to a secondary site, (Another creek, on the other side of a slight ridge dividing the woods in two), he set up his blind and sipped cocoa from a Thermos. The rest of the day slipped by, and Fred was pleased with the results. A normal number of critters came to drink, including several he recognized. Not his raccoon friend though... It was 9:00 P.M. when Fred tromped through the door, several used rolls of film bouncing in his pocket. Solorna looked up from a book she was trying to read, and smiled.

 

 

      "These literary works are fascinating, I can understand some of the social differences now caused by such a diverse people." she purrred, closing the World Almanac. 

 

      "Hmm, we are a strange lot, aren't we? I've got to develop this film, but I'll start dinner first. Did you get some lunch?" the cattaur nodded, eyes shifting toward the kitchen quickly and back again. Fred's eyes shifted with hers, and his mouth dropped open. The kitchen, was bare. Cupboards stood open, the pantry closet was littered with empty cans, bottles and boxes.

 

     'Sheesh, I didn't think she had eaten THAT much in these few days...' Fred mumbled to himself. 

 

      "Well, do you still want dinner then?" he laughed. His grin widened when she nodded, and the pair went outside for supplies to reload the kitchen. The chill wind bit at them, and the warm cabin was a relief. 

 

      "This is also new to me, sudden shifts in temperature don't occur on my world." Solorna said, fangs chattering while she carried the last crate of snack foods into the pantry.

 

 

      "This is the late portion of our third of four seasons. The seasons correspond with the sun's position relative to our planet. It's going to get a lot colder..." an also-chilled human explained. He prepared supper while his 'taur warmed by the fire, asking more questions about his job. 

 

      "What organisms are in this part of the world? What's their behavior like?" Fred answered her questions as well as he could, not seeing the hungry look fill her eyes as he described a particularly plump specimen of raccoon he had befriended. Her predatory look fled when she realized he had perfectly described the first live meal she'd had on this planet... Fred noticed the fleeting look of regret on the cat-like face, and took it for home-sickness. 

 

      "Why don't you tell me more of your planet, Solorna?" he asked gently, emerging from the kitchen with several platters and bowls. He'd taken to using the wagon inside the house now, saving trips from the kitchen. Steaming peas still in the pods, a heaping bowl of Caesar salad, and seven raw, t-bone steaks. Looking suspiciously at the salad, she split her attention between describing her world to her human companion, and the food. 

 

      "My world. Well, I'd compare it to yours as a graceful wood sculpture to an exotic bird. Mine is smooth, refined, and is built to please the eye. Yours isn't perfect, it's unprocessed, having small flaws that simply add to it's beauty." Fred listened, and replied with a regretful tone. 

 

      "I'm sorry to say that my world isn't all like what you saw. These woods are sadly, one of few undeveloped places on the planet. The heavily inhabited regions are crowded, polluted and extremely ugly..." he stopped to see Solorna nod, understanding all of this. 

 

      "Those books described all this, and had pictures. I stick with my comparison, for my planet is similarly developed, just in a different way. Every 'inconvenient' element was smoothed away, an 'inconvenient' lake or mountain was filled in or demolished. My world is like an adult whose behavior has been modified by electric shock therapy, and body reconstructed through plastic surgery. Yours is more like a young one, scarred, but still retentive of unblemished and untouched skin." surprising herself with her own insight, Solorna forgot about the food for a moment. Frederic had listened to all, and found a new hope for his home. Shaking his head, he dismissed these deep thoughts and fed his friend. One by one, the big steaks vanished inside the exotic alien. Surprisingly, (to both), she enjoyed the salad. After dinner, the two enjoyed another cuddle session before bed. Fred gave up his bed for her, and slept on the couch in spite of her polite protests. It was a strong bed frame, and held beneath her burgeoning weight. Fred realized he hadn't developed his film yet, but he didn't want to keep his guest awake puttering in the darkroom. Propping himself up on the couch with pillows, the sleepy little man was soon dozing. He kept a semblance of sleep when he head muffled footfalls.

 

 

 

V 

 

 

 

     'Or pawfalls?' he thought, as the sounds moved to the door and slipped out. Gusting a bit, wind ruffled his hair when the heavy wood door closed once more. He slipped out from under his quilt, already fully dressed, and opened the door after a calculated pause.

 

 

      Solorna had picked up on the scent of another deer. She smiled when she recalled Fred's profile of it, a hooved herbivore that startled easily. Working partially on his account of the feeding patterns of the animals, she tracked this particular individual to the brook that Fred had visited earlier that day. Following the tracks was easy enough, but slow going on the ground. Trees in this area were young, and couldn't bear her increased weight. No clearing was evident this time around, just a large shrub that the poor skinny thing was taking refuge behind. 

 

 

     'Poor thing, you'll be much warmer soon...' the pred purred to herself as she circled behind it. Sleeping fitfully, the doe, (For it had no antlers, she recalled from Fred's lesson), shifted constantly. Padding closer through dry leaves that would've crackled under a rougher paw, Solorna was soon within striking distance. Moving with reflexes trained in cub-hood and refined with constant use, she clasped her paws around the animal's belly, and snapped out her black shining claws. The doe had time for a single panicked bleat before dying.

 

 

      From up in a tree, Fred's legs almost gave way watching this spectacle. His emotions froze within him as the chilled deer was shredded before his eyes. Shaking his head in sorrow and disbelief, he literally fell out of the tree to land loudly with zero disgrace in a pile of leaves. Solorna jerked her head toward him, crimson venison dripping from her jaws. He watched with growing horror, (Not at the deer's fate, but with what the 'taur was going to do with him), as the predator licked her lips and gazed upon him. Solorna's gaze was unreadable as she padded over to the shivering human. She lay down, her paws resting on his stomach, her stomach resting on his legs. A moment of silence ensued, until Fred cleared his throat somewhat squeakily. 

 

 

      "Now what do you think of me? Am I a monster? Do you still wish to help me? This is what I am, a predator. All my people are, it's as much a part of them as cooking and spicing your food is part of yours." the felineoid shed grey tears as she spoke, eyes downcast and body shuddering. Chill breezes caressed the two, quickly drying the moisture on Solorna's cheek fur. Fred could feel the animal's masticated remains being digested, and he felt sick. Fred sat up, shivering himself, and grasped his friend's torso to his chest. 

 

      "No, you're not a monster. I just...can't see how anyone as intelligent as you are could do that to a living creature. I, I can't accept you as you are. Yet. Please give me some time..." Solorna's crying ceased slowly, and it was her turn to look into the human's eyes. 

 

     'Green, much like the moss in this area. No pupillary reaction...' she shook her head, trust her heart, not her brain. 

 

      "Of course. I'm sure this is quite a shock to you...having me destroy the lives of your little friends night after night. You do care for me, I realize now. I so desperately want you to like me, nobody else does." a few more silvery tears ran down her soft cheeks, disappearing into the neck-fur. Fred shifted under her, raising his face to hers. They nuzzled for a number of minutes, one telling the other some of the many reasons why those who didn't care for her were fools. Both began shivering suddenly, the chill night wind penetrating Solorna's thick fur. She staggered to her paws, groaning a bit at the new weight she'd forgotten. Fred supported her as they returned to the cabin. It took an hour, and both were so happy to feel the warm cabin's interior, they took a short nap. Upon awaking, the two smiled at each other from the spots on the rug where they'd collapsed. After he prepared food for half an hour, Fred helped her eat. Tacos this afternoon, about ten pounds of them, joined the dissolving doe in Solorna's belly. She rolled over after brunch, offering a warm spot to Fred. He curled up on a furred stomach, and listened to her purr of contentment 

 

 

 

VI 

 

 

 

      Ranger Marlei checked the cargo net's straps one last time before giving the chopper pilot a hand signal. Stirring up a cloud of dust, leaves and pine needles, the helicopter returned to the ranger station with a tarnished metallic ovoid. The ranger clucked his tongue at the long furrow carved into the forest floor, and clambered into his Humvee. 

 

      'Darndest alloy I ever saw, probably some government experiment gone bad. Aww, I'll have to contact that idiot, Wellington!' he mentally grumbled, setting out for the Bennings place. 

 

      "Alright Joey, I'm gonna head over to that photographer's pad and ask about weird lights and sounds. Maybe we can pin down the exact date and time the thing arrived." he crackled into his radio. A brief acknowledgment came, and the ranger accelerated back onto the road.

 

 

 

      "Umm, Fred? I hear someone coming..." Solorna whispered nervously to the human snoring on the couch. He snorted and bolted upright, then hurried to dress. 

 

      "Stay in here, I'll get rid of whoever it is and we can sleep a while longer." Fred yawned, and stumbled to the door. He opened the heavy door just as Marlei was about to knock. The chill air bit at his bare legs, and Fred noticed a layer of frost on the ground. 

 

      'What happened? Did someone report my purchases in town? Did someone see Solorna!?' These questions chilled him more deeply than the winter air that bathed his barely-clothed body. 

 

      "Ah, yes. Ahem, Mr. Bennings? Just a few questions. We discovered an odd object in the woods about eight miles from here, and wanted to know of any unusual events in your area." Fred barely concealed his terror at the discovery of Solorna's lifepod, but managed to reply calmly. 

 

      "Why, not really officer. Did you want me to document it? Where are you keeping it?" he yawned, and stroked his stubble. 

 

      "Well, it's back at the station, but we don't need a professional. I'll probably end up doing that job too..." the green-clad human grinned, and then turned his head back to the idling Humvee. A voice could just be made out above the roar of the engine. 

 

      "Hold on a sec, someone at HQ is trying to reach me..." Marlei muttered and snatched up the mike. 

 

      *Buzx* "Marlei, Karl here wants you to ask that shutterbug about the animals in his area. He's been missing critters in his counts, and thinks a rabid mountain lion might have had descended to our neck of the woods. Over." *Buzz* HQ cut off, and the perplexed ranger turned back to the half-dressed man watching from his doorway nervously. 

 

      "Hear that, Mr. Bennings?" a nod. "Have anything to report? Heh, seen any big cats?" 

 

      "Sorry Officer, I haven't seen anything like that. Um, are you sure you don't need me at the station...?" Fred said quickly. 

 

      "No, really, it's alright. You mind if I look around? Maybe you missed some tracks, or something." 

 

      "Um sure, I'll walk with you. A mountain lion would be a great subject!" Fred laughed hollowly, tailing the ranger. Marlei walked around the back of the cabin, then noticed an object in the grass. He prodded the greyish lump with a boot-toe. It cracked in half, revealing a collection of small bones embedded in the material, and emitting a sickly sweet odor. 

 

      "What's this? Like a huge owl pellet..." he asked, looking quizzically at Frederic. Fred gulped, and replied in a high voice. 

 

      "No, no idea. Probably a big owl. Umm, I'd really like to go back to bed if you don't mind."

 

      "Actually I'd like to take a look around inside. You're a bit jumpy you know." the ranger said, eying Fred harshly. Suddenly a flash of gold shot out the cabin's door and into the woods, whipping Marlei around with revolver in hand!

 

      "What the hell? Get down!" he yelled, snapping off a round at a still-rustling bush. 

 

 

      Solorna heard the projectile weapon's discharge, and raced back. The strange human WOULD NOT hurt her host! From the ground she leaped to the roof heavily, and dropped on top of the green clad man. He collapsed under her weight, several bones snapping audibly. He screamed, and then again when Fred snatched his gun. The shaking photographer leveled the gun at the ranger, not at all certain how to use it. 

 

      "What are you doing!? Shoot the beast!" Marlei screamed, a trickle of blood escaping his lips. 

 

      "I can't do that! She's not a beast. If you don't mention this to anyone, we'll let you...Solorna! What are you doing?" Fred cried, now definitely panicked. The gold furred alien had hauled the crippled ranger to his feet, and sliced his neck from his shoulders. Fred caught her head in his hands, screaming in horror! 

 

      "Why! Why!? That was a HUMAN! He wouldn't have hurt me, and now he's DEAD! I can't believe... He didn't have to die, you just committed murder!" Solorna nodded sadly, trying to soothe her companion. He resisted her efforts, still screaming, eyes red with crying. 

 

      "He might have had a family, he did have friends, and now those people will be looking for him!" He sobbed, beating ineffectively at her sturdy frame in his agony. The cattaur cried as well, as much at being yelled at by her friend as for the unfortunate loss of a sentient. 

 

      "I couldn't let him hurt you, and he had already seen me. He would have brought others if he got away." Frederic slumped to his knees, sobbing. Solorna scooped him into her arms and carried him into the house. Gently she deposited him on the bed, a fetal ball of misery, and left the cabin for the woods. Trotting sadly deep into the growth, Solorna returned to the cave where she took her first doe. Curling up inside, she cried herself to sleep in a bed of leaves and small branches. 

 

 

 

      "Has anyone heard from Marlei? He was due back this morning." one ranger said to another as the pair loaded a metal pod into a wood crate. It was tough, but incredibly light and gave two men no problem carrying it. 

 

      "No, he most likely skipped out for beer. Ever since his family kicked him out, he's just soaked in the local dives. Want me to go to his place and rouse 'im?" the other asked, arching an eyebrow. 

 

      "No, let's give him a few days off. He can come in next week. Meanwhile, call that jerk at the base and tell him to get his butt over here to retrieve their egg." Nailing the crate shut, the lights were switched off behind the retreating men. A shadowy figure strolled over to the crate and opened it with a few strategic claw strokes. The egg rolled out silently into strong arms, and the laden alien stole out of the basement, out the unattended back entrance, and into the woods. Solorna huffed when she reached the cave, sliding the egg into the widened cave-mouth. A few hours later the cave was heated, cloaked from visual recognition, and equipped with motion and heat sensors around the clearing. Several pieces of hull were buried a mile away, like discarded shell fragments. 

 

 

      'I hope the survivor-seekers get here soon, I can't bear to be alone right now.' she thought, sobbing mentally, not comforted a bit by the more comfortable conditions.

 

 

     Fred found her the next day, following her tracks to the cave and setting off the sensors. Solorna was too despondent to care, and hardly responded when Fred curled up in her embrace.

 

      "I, I don't know what to do. I can't and won't leave you, but what you did..." his voice faded, and he buried his face in her chest.

 

 

      "I know, and nothing I can do can make it better. I can't live without you any longer, and I know it's just my selfishness, but please stay with me. They'll come to your house, they said so. You've got three more days before they begin a search." she murred sadly, feeling her pelt dampen against his face. They nodded off, and Solorna awoke to find her human host gone. Terrified, she almost failed to notice the message typed into the computer terminal she had cannibalized from the pod.

 

 

[Dear Solorna, I've gone to the cabin to cart the food here and other necessities. Be back at noon. Love, Fred]

 

She sighed, and dropped back to sleep. Fred woke her at 2:00, to feed her. She barely tasted the stew he fed her, and slept again as soon as the kettle was drained. He watched her sleep fitfully, shakily eating his own small bowl of stew. The rest of the week passed like this, the two cuddling numbly, both perplexed with what to do with themselves.

 

 

 

      "Nobody's answering the phone at that photographer's place, I'm going to check it out." Ranger Williams said over his shoulder as he swung open the door to the station. A hour and a half later, the puzzled man sifted through empty food packages in the cabin's kitchen, and pondered the signs of struggle he found near the house. Small scraps of fabric, a few of them bloody, and tamped earth indicated something was amiss. After some hard shovel work, he produced the decapitated corpse. He also had found the 'owl pellet' under a foot of snow and dismissed it. 

 

      'Looks like a gang was holed up here from the horde of food, and the body I found is Marlei. Was this Bennings a hostage, or an accomplice?' these questions and facts swirled in his skull, unanswered and producing a sick feeling in his stomach. Williams reported back to HQ, requesting a fugitive search. 

 

 

VII 

 

 

 

      "Solorna? Do you want anything?" Fred asked sleepily, bumbling around the small, rocky chamber in search of something to do. Her glowing pupils followed his progress, and she began to giggle. Fred stared at her in surprise, seeing nothing funny about their situation. 

 

      "Sorry, you just remind me of my grandfather when my mother was pregnant." she said, still giggling quietly. 

 

      "He puttered around, trying to do something for her every minute. He refused to believe she felt fine, let alone good." Fred sat down in the corner and chuckled softly. 

 

      "When are you returning? Are your rescuers coming?" he queried, fiddling with a stick. She nodded, eyes on the floor. 

 

      "I'm sure you'll be glad to get rid of me..." she murmured. The human slowly shook his head, denying that statement. 

 

      "I still like you, no matter what you've done..." he crawled across the chamber to her, and rested against her upright portion softly. They comforted each other in the near dark of the cozy cave. 

 

 

 

      Teams of dogs sniffed around the deserted cabin, three helicopters overflew two mile sections of forest, and teams of rangers and police officers combed the woods for the two missing men. 

 

      "We can cover this entire area, a twenty mile wide circle with the cabin being it's epicenter, in two weeks. If they're further than that, we drop it. Remember, one of our own may be out there, and the other guy is makin' us a nice calendar. Alright, everyone get to work." the Sheriff rasped, at the head of a pack of baying blood hounds. A freezing wind sent slivers of ice into the rescuer's cheeks, making the operation even more uncomfortable. The search had begun.

 

 

 

      Inside the warm cavern, a quiet two-tone sound woke Solorna. She blinked blearily at a readout, and shook Fred awake. He sat up, and stretched. She spoke urgently, indicating the computer screen. 

 

      "More humans, they're here. They'll miss the cave, it's shielded and camouflaged from anything they might use. But I'm reading animal life signs as well. Those could be trouble..." she paused as Fred got up, and a small rabbit that had taken shelter in the bushes above sprinted into the woods. Sighing in relief, Fred sat down again next to Solorna. 

 

      "Not a problem. I know the sheriff's dogs, they're way too dumb to catch that hare. Go back to sleep, love." his calming words reassured her, and Solorna dropped back to sleep a few minutes later under the soft stroking of her fur. 

 

 

 

      "Did you check that cave? You know, that one Betsy lives in? Or maybe, lived, since I haven't seen her in the counts." Ranger Karl Cig suggested. 

 

      "I didn't see any cave, you check it out Cig." his companion muttered, examining an animal trail. Cig nodded absently and backtracked to the clearing. Standing there, he blinked and looked at the surrounding trees to get his bearings. Though the snow made features difficult to pick out, it wasn't nearly deep enough to cover the cave. 

 

      'This can't be the right place, there's no cave! Just a clump of bushes...but the clearing is right! Weird.' Karl sidled over to the bushes, and got down on his knees. His nylon pants kept out the chilly powder as he investigated. It was dark underneath, so he leaned forward to look closer, and lost his footing. He fell into the forest floor, and blinked. He was in a cave. Suddenly a large gold furred body stirred and attracted his attention. 

 

      'A mountain lion. Great.' He whipped out his revolver and discharged a round into the beast. As he was squeezing the trigger, he realized what he was doing. 

 

      'I vowed to protect these animals, and here I am shooting at one!?' he deflected the barrel toward the floor just before it fired, and the ricochet bounced around. Ducking, the man saw the bullet impact a pinkish mass lying against the animal. 

 

      'Probably it's most recent kill!' Cursing he scrambled out, terrified the big cat would follow. But it didn't, and he stumbled back to his partner a few minutes away, determined not to reveal the location of the beast. 

 

      "What happened to you Cig? Your pants are wet..." he said, then doubled over laughing.

 

 

 

      "Fred? Fred!" Solorna cried, shaking the human. A red stain pooled on the floor, matting her coat as she clutched him to her. 

 

      "It's...bad, friend. Punctured a lung, maybe... grazed my... heart. I don't have long." he whispered, blood running out of his mouth freely. Solorna sobbed, and cleaned the blood off him with her tongue. 

 

      "I won't let you go, no human will cause your death just because I killed another of them..."

 

 

VIII

 

     "Looks like he's coming along fine. Your human will be in a coma for another week or so while the nanites repair the internal damage." The felineoid glanced at the captain. "Think you can find quarters for him?" The medical officer queried, twitching his tail happily. The captain nodded, and checked a data pad, his sparkling blue eyes reviewing the data. Turning his rotund tentacled form toward the door, he assured the doc that he'd find something adequate. Frederic lay on a steel examining table, several instruments in contact with his skin. A couple monitors in the background hummed reassuringly, displaying green readouts.

 

      "Well, Engineer Solorna, we'll return you to the home world as soon as possible, but would you mind helping us out in the meantime? We're short of engineering staff..." the med-officer pleaded, checking Fred's status.

 

 

      "Of course. Which way is the mess hall? I haven't eaten in days..." Solorna purrred, scruffling the male 'taur's ears in thanks for his work. Smiling, he led her to the hall while an attendant checked on Fred. Removing the stasis field around the human set the nanites to work, repairing tissue and cleansing infection. Suddenly fur began to sprout from the naked body, as well as another set of limbs. Terrified, the nurse checked the computer printout of the procedure being used, and groaned. They hadn't fed the microscopic surgeons the correct reconstruction data...they would turn Fred into a cattaur...

 

 

 

 

      'Wonder if he'll like that...' The frightened male wondered in shock, paging the two felineoids in the mess hall.

 

 

 

 

 

THE END

 

Jump to the next Cattaur tale, Pilgrimage 1

 

 

 

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