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Virtual Friendship CH 02 (adult) 2020-06-21T15:00:07+00:00
Omar stepped out of the game lobby and Trevor dismissed his personal one, with barely a glance at the recreation of a nineteenth-century office to jump out of his chair and run across the room.

“Dad wants—” Tucker began.

“Later.” He entered the bathroom and relieved himself. That dungeon had taken longer than he’d counted on. There was a lot implants did, canceling bodily functions was not one of them. Maybe he should keep his belt on anytime he played, and not only when he did marathon runs.

He called a projection of his body and looked it over for marks wear from prolonged use of a belt. He was certain he could see it, where the fur hadn’t grown back to its proper length. He ran a hand over his fur. He’d keep the belt for when he had to. He stepped in the shower to rinse off, then out into the room to get back in his chair. He wanted to go over the station’s network, he had a handful of cases that traced back to Titan and since he was here, he should—

“Trevor,” a tiger said, standing next to his chair. Eric was currently neon green, with blood-red stripes designed as arrows pointing to his ass and crotch. Trevor could see the telltale of orange, black, and white underneath that told him his father was getting tired of his current coloring.

“Dad,” Trevor answered, stepping around him, only for Eric to grab his arm. Trevor knew what was coming even before Eric handed him the belt.

“You need to come out of this room, Trevor. Mingle with the guests, most of them travel on the Mercury for a chance of meeting us. Of having sex with us.”

Trevor rolled his eyes. “Doesn’t Tucker fuck enough of them for all of us?”

“Tucker only fucks enough for Tucker. We each have to play our part.”

“Dad, I’m no one here. I don’t run anything, or throw myself down from orbit to kick ass, and fuck them. I’m just me and I have work to do.” Trevor sighed as his father narrowed his eyes. That was the wrong thing to say.

Eric took Trevor by the shoulder. “Son, this is a vacation, you are supposed to relax and not think about work, and you are someone. You are an Orr. You are the corporation. I let you use a different name when you work because you do great work for the public and that would impede it, but you have to remember who you really are. You’re Trevor Orr, and people want to spend time in your company.”

Trevor didn’t roll his eyes, but it was close. His father was too much about ‘who they were’. Trevor didn’t care about his name, he just wanted to be like everyone else, with a job and his hobbies.

Eric offered him the belt again. “Two hours, Trevor. Spend two hours out of this room and with the guests. You’re going to enjoy it, you’ll see. Then you can spend the next two days before we leave lost in your head.”

“I’m not in my head dad, I’m in the system, making sure no one takes advantage of the loophole.”

“Titan isn’t your jurisdiction, Trevor.”

Trevor took the belt. There was no winning this. His father’s dampened emotion gave him near-infinite patience, and Trevor was already fidgeting, fighting not to look at his notifications. “Two hours,” he said, putting the belt on and extending a pair of cargo pants from it.

“Two hours in the company of guests, that means talking and fucking, Trevor; not finding a corner to hide in,” Eric said, heading out of the room wearing only his belt. “And no splitting your attention. I want all of it on the here and now, Trevor.”

Grumbling under his breath about how unfair his father was, Trevor followed him. He could survive two hours without running traces. He set a timer to count down the time left until he regained his freedom.

* * * * *

Melor Bareback went over the game’s option, before walking out of the Lands of Farr lobby. It was his end of game ritual, looking over the game’s notifications, upcoming events, and planned changes. He then went over his personal settings, ensuring they hadn’t changed while he played; they hadn’t. They never did.

In the forty years since he’d first played the Lands, he couldn’t point to one time when he’d found an alteration. The admins were experts at not having changes to the game affect player settings. But he still did this every time, looking for any excuse not to return to his personal lobby, where his employer would be notified he was officially available.

When he’d taken the job of personal assistant to Senior Corporate head Louis Ruslonav, forty years ago, it had been with pride that he’d done so. He’d been handpicked by the gorilla, and he’d expected that after a decade or two learning what it took to keep the entire eastern district of the Vanguard continent under control he’d move on to head one of the smaller industries as he made his own progress toward becoming Senior head himself.

“Poor deluded fool you are, David,” he told the imaged of Melor as he stored the unchanged settings. “You’re nothing but a glorified sex toy.”

He didn’t mind the sex, he was a full-blooded Vanguard man, and sex was definitely a thing men did. But Ruslonav had picked him especially because of how well hung David was and had caged his cock within seconds of David agreeing to work for the gorilla. Louis Ruslonav had a small cock that he was unnaturally proud of, fully natural, no alterations, Ruslonav was entirely natural, which he considered the best way to be. And as such, he believed himself to be an amazing lover, and it was David’s job to make sure that illusion was never broken.

Outside of the game, David hadn’t had one orgasm in forty years. If his boss knew the Lands of Farr had adult zones, David was certain he’d forbid him from playing, David didn’t need anyone other than Louis to reach orgasm.

No wonder the gorilla had insisted on a lifetime contract. David would have walked out after a year of this kind of treatment. He’d even considered trying to have the contract annulled, but how would that have looked, a lowly assistant dragging a Senior Corporate Head into court over what was, in the end, sexual dissatisfaction. He couldn’t claim Louis didn’t do his part, since the contract didn’t indicate the gorilla had to teach David anything; David had just thought…

“Ten years, David. One decade and then you can officially walk away under the retirement clause. You got him to respect your game time, so you can survive this.”

Survive. He hadn’t looked into why Louis had needed a new assistant. Back then he’d figured he had just moved on. Now he didn’t want to know.

Out of excuses to stay in the game’s lobby and dismissed it and was in a representation of his office, with screens keeping track of everything his boss needed to do his job. Louis might not have taught him anything, but David had had to learn regardless, and he was confident that once he was out of the contract he’d be able to hold a company under proper control.

“David,” Louis’ voice resounded through his personal lobby. “I need you to assist me.”

“Yes, sir,” David replied, dismissing the lobby and finding himself in a closet of a room, lying on the bed. He relieved himself, brought up a projection of himself, and looked at the brown bear. Louis didn’t care how disheveled he was, so long as he was lubed, but David still had some pride in his appearance. He’d shower after this.

He stepped into the luxurious room, where the overweight gorilla stood next to the bed, his small erection barely visible. He didn’t have to say or do anything else, David was well trained at this point. He placed himself over the edge of the bed and got ready to put on a show that would win him awards if it ever made it to the public forums.

* * * * *

Paul Longpine gave a quick glance at the upcoming events, highlighting the ones he might have time to participate in, depending on how quickly he could resolve this fucking court case, and find work to cover the cost of flying here.

He let out a breath. “Don’t get pissy Bobby, there’s no one here to appreciate it.” He dismissed the game’s lobby directly to him opening his eyes. He had nothing in his personal lobby that needed to be dealt with right now.

The ceiling was above him. Bobby knew that because he hadn’t moved from his bed. All he saw was the gray of it without details, and the form of the handle floating in the air. He reached to his left and took the visor. Once it was on, his vision came into something resembling focus.

Implant Dissociative Connectivity, the experts called his condition. The only recorded case of it. His implant worked fine, as far as scans showed, it just didn’t seem to connect properly with the organic part of his brain, or at least, it had to be that, since the implant did work fine, according to the scans. They’d decided it was because he’d been implanted at four, instead of the legal age of eight. If his father had been available by the time Bobby had been diagnosed at sixteen, he would have been under a metric ton of legal trouble, but his old man had vanished by then, leaving Bobby to deal with his troubles alone, not that he’d been much help when he was around.

Bobby grabbed the handle and pulled himself to a seated position. He could have gotten a room with a more advanced bed that would change its configuration to let him get out of it easier, but his finances were already stretched to none existence.

He massaged his legs before pulling them to the edge and then over it so he sat on the edge of the bed. He took the braces and put them around each leg. They came online, and he raised each one. The braces worked well. They were basic models, but at least he hadn’t had to pay for them. The medical company had been overjoyed at the challenge of building them. In a society where just about anything could be treated by lying on a medical table, challenges didn’t come often for people in the medical field.

At least his legs were the only part of him that had motor function problems. Bobby didn’t want to think how he’d have functioned if his arms, or even just his hands, had to same lack of coordination and sensory input as his legs.

He stood, and the walls came into sight, a mesh at the edge of his vision. Anything beyond four meters only registered as the mesh, gaining details as they came closer, at around one meter they even gained color.

He took care of business, then got dressed and headed out of his small room. He kept an eye on any entopic work that needed to be done, and bid on those he saw would be quick enough to finish before the ship flew back to Earth.

He did two by the time his turn came to sit before the judge with his accuser at his side

“Mister Power, how to do plead to the accusation of not honoring the contract with McGoffrey Mining?”

“The same as I did when I responded to the summons, your Honor, with this report dated twenty years ago showing that the ID tag I was assigned at birth was stolen by an unknown party and that I was assigned a new tag. My lawyer made that report available to the representative of McGoffrey Mining when they demanded I show up in person.”

The weasel at the other table stood. “Your Honor, this is clearly an attempt by the defendant to use that report to foster his crime onto some other party. It is clear his tag that was used and as such my client demands full payment for the shipment they delivered.”

“What am I going to do with three tons of platinum?” Bobby demanded of the weasel. “I do entopic design, not manufacturing. And with what money do you expect me to pay? Haven’t you looked at my account?” He glared. “Don’t answer that, I know you did. Because my previous tag was copied, I’ve put security on all my accounts and I’m informed anytime someone looks at them.”

“Mister Power,” the judge said before the weasel replied. “Why did you travel here if you have all this evidence invalidating the claim?”

“Because, your Honor,” Bobby said, eyes fixed on the weasel, “as per SolGov Judicial ruling 432-65-3-1, if a defendant does not answer a summons in a timely manner, they automatically forfeit the case. I had to come and show you what my lawyer showed him because I can’t afford the amount they’re asking in reparation, and under Orr Corp Law, I’d be handed over to the SolGov Judicial system for punishment for that kind of amount.”

“He never—” the weasel started.

“I see the communication logs right here,” the judge cut him off. “If you, specifically didn’t get informed, look within your company. This is definitely looking like an abuse of legal authority. I judge in favor of the defendant.”

“Sir?” Bobby asked, and the judge nodded. “I had to pay to come here for something that could have been resolved without requiring it. I’d like to ask that my expenses be moved over to McGoffrey Mining’s lawyer as a way of discouraging them from making this a habit with other cases.”

“Your Honor, that’s unreasonable,” the weasel said. “I’m only exercising my right to protect my client.”

“You could have done that without forcing Mister Power to travel here. I judge that Mister Power’s expenses for his flight here and back to Earth be transferred to Armilave Law, effective immediately.”

Bobby got a notification of the transfer into his account and he breathed a little easier. He didn’t press for his lodging, that expense was minor compared to the flight. “Thank you, your Honor.”

“This case is closed.”

Bobby headed to his room to see how many other contracts he could fill in the eighteen hours he had left before flying home.

* * * * *

Marc Bonesword opened the exclusive access window and looked through the messages there. Nothing important, a notice from The Count that the Gaia Server would be getting an update within the year to bring it more in line with its counterpart on the Colonies. Good to know, but not something that would affect him, he hadn’t played the Colony version of that world since he’d been deployed. He closed it and exited the game.

After taking care of business he printed himself a meal and ate as he went over the new submission from his clients and the embedded messages giving him an idea that something was happening back home. There had been a volley of communication over the last decade from the overseer he only knew as Anderson that led him to believe they might be moving on, and not willingly.

Horace didn’t take part in the spy business, his job was to monetize the AI’s hobbies by distributing their books, songs, movies, sculptures, paintings; he particularly enjoyed the visual mediums. He missed Cassius’ movies, that Beta knew how to film a hot sex scene. Now he had to wait for them to be released through Orr Corp, like everyone else.

Horace didn’t know what that was about. Normally, when he was instructed to drop a client, it meant hat agent and their Beta were being ‘retired’; which usually meant they’d died in the field. Cassius’s retirement had been followed by a black market release of three new movies. Out of curiosity, Horace had watched them, expected them to be forgeries, but he was familiar with Cassius’ style they had been originals. That told him that agent hadn’t died, but had been cut off. Then the contract had been picked up by Orr Corp and the flurry of messages from Anderson had started.

Horace was happy not to be caught in the center of whatever was going on.

He put on Mirabel’s newest musical piece and bobbed his head to it as he contacted the people who were the best match to put his charge’s product’s onto the market.

* * * * *

Nori considered another character, Volir could do with fine-tuning, his cloak wasn’t the right color.

‘Did you lose track of time, again?’ a message popped up. A private one, not a game one. He looked at the time. He had. Volir would have to wait. He clapped his hands twice, and the visuals of the game lobby dissolved into darkness.

He reached behind his head and found the mask’s seam by touch. He tapped the unlock code and the pressure on his head relaxed. He pulled the mask off and blinked at the light. Hadn’t he turned that down? He brought up his arm, but the interface was on the dresser.

“There you are,” a woman said. “You do know we’re here for work, right?”

“Yes Nishida, I know. Sorry, I was doing character management.”

She rolled her eyes. “Wearing that monstrosity, you were doing a lot more than that.”

Nori looked down at himself. “This isn’t a monstrosity, it’s a fully immersive sensory suit.” He placed his hand in the sensor space before him and did the gesture that instructed the suspension array to bring him to the floor. When he had enough money, he’d invest in a gravity controlled environment, it should be more responsive.

“You encase yourself into that bondage thing and let it shove stuff into your orifices, it’s a monstrosity. You want sex, there’s a station full of guys who’d be better than that.”

“I can’t play Lands of Farr while I’m in them.” He disconnected the cables. “Sex is incidental to me playing the game.”

“Right,” she drolled. “What’s the name of that guild you’re part of again? The big cocks?”

“The Cocky Bastards, stop screwing it up on purpose. I didn’t come up with it. It was Trevor’s idea. He formed it. And we spend most of our time doing quests, the sex is our celebration.”

“I don’t get why you associate with those corporate people, Nor.”

Nori sighed. “In the game, we’re not Independents or Corporates, we’re players. We’re guild brothers. It’s the one place where I don’t get looked down upon for who I am.”

“So your friends know your Independent?”

Nori didn’t answer, focusing on taking off the skin-tight suit. The next model he got had to come with scent cancellation tech, he stank.

“That’s what I thought,” she said. “It’s not equality if you lie—”

“I’m not lying! They never asked. It’s not something we ask in the game. Maybe they’re all Independents, I don’t know, and I don’t care. It’s in the game, not out here.” He sighed. Way to go, Nori; now she’s going to know it means more to you than that. He’d really hoped they could have met up. He wanted to know who his guildmates were, and yes they were probably corporate, but that didn’t matter to him, and he knew it wouldn’t matter to them that he was Independent. A lack of an implant didn’t make him less of a person.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to diminish the game, I just think you need to realize the world in there isn’t out here. We’re not equal out here.”

“I know. I guess it’s why I like it so much there. I can be me, instead of Nori Taklashi, Independent.”

She smiled, “speaking of being a Taklashi, get cleaned up, we need to go negotiate a contract for the ores the rest of our family’s mining.”

“I’ll be ready in five,” he said, reaching for his interface.

She snorted. “We don’t have five hours.”

“But I have one. That’s plenty. Stop bothering me to I can get out of the suit and get cleaned up.” He read the suit’s information. It was due to have the waste system cycled, that meant half a day without playing. That would make his sister happy. He set the array on standby and walked out of it, heading for the bathroom. He might as well take the suit off in the shower, the inside did need a wash too.

* * * * *

Trevor lied in bed, arms over his chest, bodies pressed against him. Someone was licking his balls. Trevor was going over the station’s news feed, there had been an extortion case he could investigate, he’d drop the information he found in the local investigator’s report anonymously. Format it as an automated return on a query the investigator had filed. The woman wasn’t exactly at the top of her game. He’d already given her enough information to close three other cased during the Mercury’s stay at Titan. That would let her close a fourth—

Someone shook him.

He blinked and dismissed his lobby to look in Tucker’s eyes.

“If Dad knew you’d been out there, while in here with guest, he’d be pissed.”

“I wasn’t—”

“Save it, Trev. You had a girl sucking you off. If you’d known she was in here, she wouldn’t have made it that close to your cock. I know you.”

That had been a girl? Trevor shrugged. “I have nothing against girls.”

Tucker rolled his eyes. “And neither do I. Doesn’t mean I’m interested in having one in my bed.” He offered Trevor his hand. “Time to get up, we’re leaving the station in twenty, so we have door duty.”

Trevor groaned. “Come on. I did my two hours of community service, fuck, I’ve been in this bed for half a day I’m entitled to not be out there wishing everyone boarding a good trip and thanking everyone leaving for traveling with us.” He took his brother’s hand.

“Poor little martyr. So miserable because he’s rich and wealthy. Suck it up, buttercup. Family comes with duty.”

“If I suck you off, will you tell dad you couldn’t find me?”

Tucker rolled his eyes. “You aren’t that good. Come on. Once we’re disconnected from the station, you know dad’s going to relax and you can spend most to the trip back inside the system.”

“He’s going to relax because he knows I know the Mercury’s system so intimately I can give it an orgasm. There’s not a lot to do once we’re away from everything. I’m going to have to wait until my Mars stop for entertainment.”

“Can you really give the ship an orgasm?” Tucker asked. Putting the belt on Trevor.

“Of course not, it’s a ship. I can’t even give one to Uncle unless he allows it to happen.”

“Where is Uncle, anyway?”

Trevor shrugged. “He said something about a meeting, I’m guessing it’s about that secret project of his.”

“So you don’t know about it either?”

Trevor shook his head. “No, where ever he’s storing that information he’s pulled out all the tricks to keep me from finding it.”

Tucker pulled his brother to the door. “There you go, you’ll have something to do once we’re off. You can also interrogate Uncle, he won’t be able to run away from you either.”

Trevor snorted. Tucker had no concept of how vast the informational space was within the Mercury’s system. There was enough to explore for years, which he had done during his first enforced vacation. After that, it took him a few days to find up what had changed, and then it was just the boring same thing.

Once Uncle began traveling on the Mercury, the game in cat and mouse they played was entertaining, but now that secret project meant Uncle wasn’t playing around anymore and was demonstrating to Trevor the difference between an AI and a living person when it came to manipulating informational space.

“You really going to do door duty naked?” Tucker asked as they walked along the corridors. “This close to SolGov space that’s pretty bold of you.”

“You’re telling me to put pants on? Mister holds the record for the number of indecent exposure infraction within SolGov territory?”

“No, I’m pointing out you’re not me.” Tucker grinned. “I mean I’m not afraid of the competition if that’s what you’re going for, but I don’t know that Dad is going to let you walk around the station naked this close to departure.”

Trevor rolled his eyes and gave himself tight leather pants that showed everything he was offering. That would show Tucker. After half a dozen steps he made them looser, and then canvas. The tight stuff was way more uncomfortable than he expected.

Tucker smirked at him.


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A Wasterful Death CH 18 2020-06-25T13:00:08+00:00
The gym Marlot and Trembor frequented was located a few blocks from their office, on the ground floor of an old housing building that had been converted into offices. They tried to squeeze in three sessions a week.

Marlot checked the clipboard by the door. It was where ring reservations were marked down. Trembor’s name wasn’t on it, which meant he wasn’t here yet. Whoever arrived first reserved the ring.

He surveyed the room. Two of the eight rings were occupied, one by a pair of tigers wrestling and another by a lone dingo, shadow boxing.

The gym only had fighting rings. Grebor, the old badger who owned it, never bothered bringing in the strength-building machines since he catered only to those who preferred staying in shape the old fashion way, by fighting each other. The patrons were all predators. Not even the largest and strongest prey dared set foot here.

“Anyone has ring two on hold for the next hour and a half?” Marlot asked.

Grebor looked up from behind the counter, checked the list he kept there. “Nope. feel free to use it.”

“Okay.” Marlot wrote his name in the time block for that ring and put the clipboard back. “Does it look like it’s going to be busy?”

“Nah. gonna be quiet till later.” The badger got off his stool, his head just only peeking above the counter, and he walked around it. “That rabbit came back yesterday,” he said taking towels out from a closet and lining them on the shelves next to the counter.

Marlot stared at him. “He came back? You mean he survived?” The gray hare had entered the gym just as he and Trembor were leaving. His clothing was tattered at the edges, and he had multiple scars. Marlot had been surprised but had written him off as someone looking to die.

“Yah. He stepped in a ring and glared at everyone here. We had a good laugh and Rieley, the cougar, she goes in the ring. I figure I’ll have to get a new mat for that one, cause she’s gonna gut him and blood won’t come out. He wiped the floor with her. After that, Moros’er and Farnigar tried to beat him. They failed. Then he left.”

“And yesterday?” Marlot had trouble believing the badger. He didn’t remember the hare being that built, and he’d been small, and he was prey. Prey didn’t look to fight predators.

“Those who’d been there the other day wouldn’t fight him, but there were a few who hadn’t seen him fight, and they got their tails handed to them. He fought four of them before leaving.”

“Who is he?”

The badger shrugged

“Hasn’t he paid?”

He shook his head. “Didn’t think he’d live that first time. Didn’t seem right to take a dead male’s money. And I was just too surprised to see him again to ask for it yesterday.”

Marlot shook his head in amazement. If the hare came in while Marlot was there he was going to have to fight him and see just how good he actually was. he turned and headed to the changing room.

A female wolf stepped out, and he stepped aside, watching her. She had brown, gray, and blond marbled fur, defined muscles, and walked like she owned the gym. Marlot loved Trembor with all his heart, but he wasn’t immune to the beauty of a confident huntress.

He was almost done changing with the lion walked in. Trembor bent down and licked the wolf’s ear. “Good morning.”

Marlot stared at the lion for a moment and then put his fighting gloved over his hardening groin. “Please don’t do that,” he growled and then took a moment to think of something other than his lion licking him elsewhere.

Trembor chuckled and undressed.

The wolf knew they were alone, but that didn’t help. And he’d known Trembor would do something like that. It was his way of trying to get him to relax about demonstrating their involvement in public.

Marlot watched his lion pull down his pants, wriggling his ass seductively. “You’re doing that to torture me, aren’t you?” he groaned. It was a good thing his gloves were already over his groin.

Trembor smirked and turned, putting himself on display for his lover. “It’s only torture because you’re not willing to do anything about it.”

Marlot rolled his eyes. “Oh, Grebor would just *love* the idea of us going at it in the changing room.” He gulped as the image of him lying back on the bench, Trembor over him, moving back and forth slowly, formed in his mind.

The lion sniffed the air around the wolf and grinned.

“Thanks a lot.” Marlot’s tone was bitter.

“That old badger wouldn’t give a damn,” Trembor took out his shorts from the small bag and put them on. “He might actually enjoy the show. You’ve heard the stories about what fighters like him used to do when they weren’t fighting in the ring.”

Grebor had been a professional fighter when he was younger, and those stories went that part of the way they made money was to sell their services as studs for females who wanted stronger genetic stock for their offspring, as well as being paid by other males who wanted to be dominated.

Trembor put his gloves on. “Come on, let’s go fight so we can cover up that lust with some good old fashion exhaustion.”

“I’ll be there in a moment.” Marlot moved his gloves to show the tent in his training shorts.

The lion chuckled. “If someone comments, just tell them you’re really looking forward to fighting me.”

Marlot threw him a dirty look.

“Fine, I’ll be in the ring, but don’t take too long or I’ll find myself another partner. Those tigers look like they could … get the job done.” He grins and quickly left the room.

Marlot sat in silence for a moment. It didn’t matter how much he loved him, something the lion could get on his nerves.

He focused on putting his gloves on. They were made of padded leather and covered the top of his hands and claws. Straps around his fingers and wrists ensured they stayed in place. Grebor required them to prevent anyone from clawing their opponents. He already had on slippers on his feet that served the same function. His fighting style didn’t make use of his feet, that was Trembor’s thing, but Grebor didn’t allow any exceptions.

After that he was satisfied he no longer showed any visual signs of his lust, Unfortunately, he’d need a shower to get rid of the scent that clung to him.

He left the locker room, and there were a few more predators in the gym. Two other rings were occupied. A lot of people came already dressed to fight. There wasn’t anyone standing around at this time. that was the advantage of coming first thing in the morning, the gawkers were still sleeping.

He took a few steps toward the ring and then faltered. Trembor was punching and kicking the air. He swallowed and felt his erection reawaken as he watched the lion’s muscles ripple under the short golden fur, at how his mane flowed over his shoulder and down his chest, narrowing as it moved down and disappeared into his shorts.

He hurried to the ring and climbed in before anyone could notice. He avoided looking at the lion while he stretched. He knew that he gave himself away to anyone who bothered watching him anytime he looked at Trembor, and as much as the thought frightened him, he hoped he would never *not* be turned on by the sight of his lover’s majestic body.

They went directly from warming up to fighting, exchanging a few light blows at first. Trembor tended to stay still while Marlot moved around him. The lion’s advantage was strength while the wolf had agility.

“I think we might be looking at Aiden’s case wrong.” Trembor threw a punch in the wolf’s direction.

Marlot moved under the punch, put a leg behind the lion’s, and pushed him back with an arm across the chest. “Okay.”

Trembor fell back, but Marlot barely moved in time to avoid the foot that swung at his head during the fall. Marlot knew from experience that his head would ring for a while if the foot connected.

Trembor let the momentum roll him on his back and then to a crouch. He looked up at the wolf. “What if we have the importance of the attack backward?” He launched himself at him.

Marlot threw himself to the floor to avoid being bowled over by the lion’s superior mass and quickly jumped to his feet in time to block a kick. “You think rape is the motivation?” He aimed his next punch at the lion’s throat, but that was swiped aside with a hand. Marlot reeled back against the ropes from the strength behind the fist that punched him in the chest.

Trembor stayed back, giving Marlot time to catch his breath. “Those who don’t kill for food usually do it out of anger, passion. Rape is about power and control. All the perpetrator really needs, in that case, is an opportunity.”

“Why would she let him in?” Marlot charged the lion, dodging the punch that came. He placed his foot behind Trembor’s leg again, but this time the lion turned. Marlot had a quick smile as Trembor moved as he’d planned. His back was exposed, and he elbowed him hard in the kidneys.

Trembor cursed as he pitched forward. he kicked Marlot in the chest as the wolf tried to press his advantage and sent him to the floor.

The lion leaned against the rope while the pain subsided. “Someone knocks at your door offering to show you a selection of, oh, I don’t know. In your case, let’s say computers. What do you do?”

Marlot didn’t bother getting him. His head rang from hitting the mat. “I let him in. I’m a well-trained predator, what do I have to fear?” The ringing pass and he stood. “But I wouldn’t let in someone who looked powerful enough to overpower me. I’m not stupid.”

Trembor smiled at him. It was a caring smile. “No, you’re not. But think about Aiden. She’s the vice president of one of the largest pharma out there. Could someone in her position even afford to think there might be someone out there who’s more powerful than her?”

“Overconfidence.” Marlot nodded.

“Yeah.” Trembor spun and his foot flew at the wolf, only to end up on his back as Marlot threw himself under it, slid forward, and elbowed the lion in the back of the knees as he passed by.

“You were implying?” Marlot asked, grinning as he stood. he offered his hand to the lion.

“The wrong thing.” Trembor took the hand and stood. “obviously.”

“that still leaves the question of why he didn’t bring the body back with him.” Marlot went to a corner, indicating he needed a break.

Trembor went to the opposite one. “maybe he didn’t realize she was dying. He might have thought she’d finally submitted to him.”

“But why Aiden? You said a rapist needs an opportunity. I don’t see that here.”

Trembor leaned his head back. “I don’t know. The little I remember from rape crimes dates back to my days at the academy, and I wasn’t exactly paying attention. I already knew I wasn’t going to specialize in that. maybe it’s a status thing?”

Marlot nodded, thoughtful. “I know someone in the vice division. maybe we should pay her a visit before we get back to the office.”

Trembor nodded before stepping away from the corner. Marlot grins and launched himself at him.

* * * * *

Trembor ran his fingers through his wolf’s lustrous fur, wondering how it was that his lover, who cringed every time he touched him in public, became comfortable with it in a public shower. Was it simply that everyone else was going the same? The lion smiled as he continued to lather Marlot’s back. The wolf moaned as he dug his fingers in the sore muscles and massaged them.

Unlike him, Marlot’s muscles were lean and dense. You could barely see them through his black fur. They didn’t bulge like his, they were always solid, ready to strike, ready to defend him. He loved to touch them, to feel them under his hands, knowing that when they were alone, he got to feel that strength in a different way.

The effect his lover had on him didn’t show as he washed his back, letting his mind wander. The advantage of being a few years older, he guessed. Then he wondered if eight years qualified as just a ‘few’. He did have to resist the temptation to bury his muzzle in the wolf’s rinse neck and inhale his scent.

They used the dryer together. The tube was designed for that since it was easier to dry fur with help. The air buffeted them from all sides and when they were done, they had a dozen wet towels and mostly dry bodies.

The locker room was busier, and they had to amicably jostle people out of their way so they could reach their lockers. As he dressed Trembor saw something he rarely did in public. he’d turned and caught Marlot looking at him with love visible in those eyes and that smile. It only lasted a moment before the wolf grew self-conscious and looked away.

Trembor wanted to hug him so badly, to show him how much that meant to him. he had to stop his hand from reaching for him. When Marlot looked at him again, the lion simply smiled lovingly back at him.


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A Wasterful Death CH 18.pdf (83.8KiB)

A Wasterful Death CH 17 2020-06-24T13:00:09+00:00
Marlot considered more than once turning around and heading home. If anyone other than Trembor had suggested going to a bar, he would have refused outright.

He tried a few bars once he decided he was staying in the city, instead of going back home. He’d hoped for a place like Alde’Haer, the bar where he’d gone to relax when the day had been rough. But he hadn’t found anything like it.

The places he’d tried in the city didn’t have the calm atmosphere of Alde’Haer, they were loud and seedy, more likely to have fights rather than people relaxing. After the sixth one in a row like that, he gave up on them and decided the best place to relax was in his house.

Knowing Trembor frequented bars didn’t sit well with the wolf. It was a side of him he hadn’t known about, and that worried him. What did he find enjoyable in a place where the noise was so loud you had to scream to be heard, the air so thick with the scent of stale alcohol you can barely breathe and fights keep erupting?

Marlot hoped the lion wasn’t going to insist they start going to bar regularly. It would strain their relationship.

He continued to follow Trembor’s car, waiting for the neighborhood to become more disrespectable, but it remained solidly mid productivity. The houses were in good conditions, if tightly packed. The people sitting and walking about were an even mix of predator and prey, and none of them looked like they were lacking for food.

They parked right outside the block of houses, next to a clean red brick building. The parking was only a quarter full. Marlot exited and looked around. This wasn’t what he’d expected. He never found a bar in such a neighborhood in his short search, only in seedy neighborhoods.

Trembor motioned for him to follow, and they walked around the corner. The front of the bar had a large window, through which he saw the large room, with a bar in the center, tables scattered around the room, and a smattering of customers seated at them. Above the door, a wooden sign swung in the breeze. ‘The Watering Hole’ was carved on it. Under the name, in smaller letters: ‘No Predation Allowed’.

The first thing he noticed on entering was the smell, or rather lack thereof. He could barely smell the alcohol and there was no scent of blood or vomit. The floor was clean, no one was screaming, no loud music trying to cover that. In fact, the large vid-screen on the wall was muted. Some action vid, judging by the explosions he saw when he glanced at it.

This is what Alde’Haer had felt like, except the customers were more varied here; three squirrels talking energetically at a table, while the tabby seated at the table next to them discreetly listened in with a smile.

A female brown bear served a weasel, and rabbit seated together. At another table, a grey wolf and brown coyote were sitting close, whispering, and looking at each other with affection. Marlot stared for a moment on realizing they were both males.

“Trembor!” A lion stepped into the room for an office. “It’s been a while. I was surprised you called earlier.” They hugged.

“Sorry about that.” They let go of each other, and Trembor introduced him. “L’nard, this is Marlot, my partner.” Marlot shook the other lion’s hand. “Marlot, this is my cousin L’nard, and the bar’s owner.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Marlot looked around again. “This is a nice place.”

“Thanks.” L’nard stepped behind the bar. “What can I get you?”

“I’ll have a heater.”

The lion nodded and looked at Trembor. “Your usual?”

“Yeah.”

A moment later L’nard placed a tall glass of alcoholized blood in front of Trembor and one half that height filled to a third with a clear liquid before Marlot.

The wolf paid and took a sip, letting the alcohol burn on his tongue before swallowing. A moment later the warmth was in his stomach and started spreading throughout his body.

“Where did you get the name for the bar?” Marlot asked. “Seems a bit odd.”

The lion put glasses under the counter. “In the history books. Back before we were civilized, watering holes were any body of water you could drink out of, and since everyone needs water, they became the first no predation zones. Felt appropriate for what I wanted here.”

The wolf nodded. “How do you enforce it? I don’t really see anyone other than you who could stop a determined predator.”

“It was difficult when I first opened, so I roped in family members to help out, brothers, sisters, cousins.” He pointed to Trembor, “him.”

Marlot gave Trembor a questioning look.

The lion chuckled. “What? He’s family. I couldn’t very well say no, could I?”

“It didn’t take long that everyone got used to it. Now It’s rare that I have to do anything to enforce it.”

Trembor’s smile widened. “It does help that the tigress you’re courting is a regular here.”

Marlot’s ears perked in surprise. “I thought tigers only mated withing their species.”

L’nard chuckled. “That’s the old attitude. No one follows them anymore. Now, you love who your heart tells you to love.”

Trembor gave Marlot a knowing look and raised his glass. “I’ll drink to that.”

Marlot felt his ears warm and hoped no one noticed. He down the rest of his drink to give his hand something to do.

“You want another one?” L’nard asked, taking the glass away.

“I’m good, thanks.”

The lion nodded and moved on to another customer, an aardvark, seated on the opposite side of the bar.

Marlot let the warmth of the drink calm him, along with the relaxing atmosphere. He would come back at some point, even if it was by himself. He gave his lion a sweet smile, and Trembor returned it. Marlot felt himself blush again.

Trembor leaned in close. “What do you think?” he indicated the wolf and coyote with a nod.

The coyote nuzzled the wolf and whispered something which made the wolf laugh. While doing that, they were holding hands on the table, in view of everyone.

“See,” the lion whispered, “there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Marlot turned to tell Trembor he knew that, and found his lips close to him. Just lean in, Marlot told himself, you can see no one cares. But he looked away. “Sorry.” He didn’t have enough alcohol in him to overcome the fear he still felt. He fought to keep his tail from curling under the stood and displaying his he felt.

When he trusted himself to look up Trembor was back in his seat. “It’s okay,” the lion said and gave him a warm smile.

This time his tail did curl under in shame. He thought about ordering another heater, or two, that would probably be all he’d need to dilute his fear. Enough, he’d be able to give in to his desire to kiss his lion. He looked for L’nard and was about to raise a hand to get his attention when someone slammed a hand on a table.

Marlot and everyone else turned to watch one of the squirrels lean on the tabby’s table “Why don’t you repeat that to my face.”

The feline was obviously surprised by the outburst, but he quickly regained his composure, only moving his drank away from the squirrel’s hands.

“I said that the Equalists have no business trying to break down a system that works perfectly fine.”

The squirrel leaned in even further. “The *system* only works for predators like you, who take advantage of people like *us*. We ought to band together and wipe you off the face of the planet.”

The cat eyes the squirrel. “I’d love to see you try it. Equalists are just a bunch of scared prey who wand to tear down the system because they’re too lazy to keep their productivity up.” The feline got in his face, starting to snarl and claws extending.

“Enough!” Everyone, even those not involved in the argument, turned to L’nard as he glared at the two. “The no predation sign also means I don’t allow fighting in here. You two want to go at it, take it outside.”

The cat’s snarl turned into a smile, and he leaned back in his chair. “Yes, that’s a very good idea. Why don’t we continue this discussion outside?”

The squirrel looked at the cat, eyes growing wide. Maybe he was only now realizing who he’d been arguing with? “That’s okay,” he mumbled and sat back down, wrapping his shaking hands around his glass. His two companions looked at him with a mix of admiration and worry.

After a few moments, things went back to normal. Trembor talked with the bear as she dried the glasses, L’nard carried drink to customers. The wolf and coyote went back to making eyes at each other and holding hands. And Marlot looked around, avoiding staring at them, again considering ordering another drink.

The door burst open, and a tiger stormed in, in somewhat disheveled expensive clothes. He headed for the bar, and L’nard, who was preparing a drink. “Have you seen Tiff?” The urgency in his voice made Marlot’s ears straighten.

The lion leveled a steady gaze on the tiger. “You’re joking, right?”

The question perplexed the tiger. “No, why?”

L’nard nodded to the screen. A lioness was holding a cannon in her hands that should, by all right, have toppled her to the ground. She was firing it at an armored vehicle rolling toward a tigress in a military-style uniform. She was carrying two cubs to the safety of a half-destroyed wall.

“No, no.” The tiger shook his head. “I mean here, today, right now.”

L’nard’s lips twitched and curled up at the corner, but he didn’t let the smile form. “Calm down, Conr’d. what’s this about.”

Marlot noticed Trembor didn’t even try to hide his grin.

The tiger leaned on the counter and took a few breaths. “The studio wants to move the promo shoot for our movie to right now and she’s not answering her pad.”

L’nard nodded and took his pad out of a drawer. He started a call and listened for a moment before disconnecting. “Drezz, any idea where Tiff went after her photoshoot with you?”

The wolf and coyote both looked up, and the wolf frowned. “I think she went to her mother’s,” he replied with a trace of an accent Marlot couldn’t place. The wolf then focused back on the coyote.

“There you go,” L’nard told the tiger.

Conr’d sat on a stool and held his head. “That’s great.” Despair in his voice. “Except I don’t have her number.”

“You don’t?” L’nard said, ears forward in surprise. He looked through the list of names on his pad. “I’d have thought she would have giving it to you during the years you were with Tiff.” He put the pad to his ear and raised a hand to stop the tiger from talking. “Hi Ms. T, is Tiff there? yeah, can I speak with her? thanks.” he gave Conr’d a satisfied smile. “Hi sweetie, sorry to disturb you like that. I know you don’t turn off your pad without a good reason, but Conr’d urgently need to talk with you.” He handed the pad over.

“Tiff? how soon can you be at the studio? they’ve been trying to reach you for hours. They want to do the shoot right now.”… “I know, I know, but the photographer is leaving tomorrow.” He looked at the gray wolf and nodded to him while he listened. “You know they won’t work with him. I know it’s stupid of them, but they’re the ones making the decisions.” He checked his watch. “Yeah, I’ll be there by then. Okay, I’ll see you there.” he gave the pad back to L’nard. “Thanks,” he sighed in relief.

“You want a drink to calm your nerves?” the lion offered.

“Can’t. I have to go right now. I want to be there before she arrives so we can get this over with as soon as possible.” The tiger ran off before L’nard could say anything.

Marlot looked from the closing door to the lion behind the bar and then to Trembor, who was laughing. “I’m missing something here, aren’t I?”

Trembor took a moment to quiet his laughter. “Quite a lot, actually. I’m surprised no one’s made a series about the three of them yet. It would be a hit, I guaranty it.”

L’nard chuckled.

“The quick story is that L’nard has been after Tiff for a very long time. I mean way before she started appearing in magazines or became a vid star. While he pined after her she went out with Conr’d. No contracts or anything like that, but they seemed to be serious. They were together for a few years. A while after they broke up she and my cousin hooked up.” Trembor looked at the other lion. “So, when are you two signing a contract?”

“When the time’s right,” L’nard answered, taking Trembor’s empty glass.

Trembor checked his pad for the time. “We should head out,” he told L’nard. “We’ve got gym in the morning.”

The lions shook hands. “It was good to see you again, cousin. Don’t wait so long before dropping by again.” He shook Marlot’s hands. “Same goes for you.”

“Thanks,” the wolf answered. “You don’t have to worry about that for me. I’m going to be back. I like this place.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

Trembor opened the door for the wolf and the walked to the cars in silence. There Marlot leaned against his car.

“I’m sorry about inside,” he said as Trembor opened the door to his car. “I wanted to, but I just couldn’t.” His tail tucked itself between his legs as the shame come back.

The lion smiled at him. “It’s okay. Like L’nard said, ‘When the time’s right.’”


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A Wasterful Death CH 17.pdf (87.1KiB)

A Wasterful Death CH 16 2020-06-23T13:00:08+00:00
“Are you certain you want to do this?” Marlot asked. They were parked in the parking lot to Jaxca’s medical clinic, had been there for five minutes now. He looked around again, hoping Trembor would arrive soon.

Telima had been silent the entire drive here. Any time Marlot glanced at him, the doberman was looking down at his feet. Marlot hadn’t said anything himself while he drove, hoping Telima would tell him to turn around.

The dog took a moment to study his hands, then nodded.

Well, Trembor or no, there was no avoiding this then.

Marlot got out of his car, and a moment later so did Telima. He led the dog to the reception desk, where they both signed in. The otter behind the desk had been informed why they were there and he let them in.

Jaxca’s clinic wasn’t large, the reception, two examination rooms, an operation room, an autopsy room, and the freezer room all the way to the back. At this hour things were quiet. Jaxca’s clinic was private, so he controlled when it opened. He would show up for an emergency, but he preferred keeping it to daytime hours.

The freezer room was a smaller version of the one where he and Trembor kept their bodies, only ten units, and it was cooler. Or maybe it was Marlot’s imagination. The units were insulated so they shouldn’t soak up the heat. Maybe Jaxca kept the temperature here lower. After all, he had to pay for the power himself.

“Is, is that it?” Telima whispered.

The sound pulled Marlot out of his mind. Had that been fear or reverence in his tone? He looked at the only unit pulled out of the wall. It was eight feet long but had to be it, Jaxca said he would have it ready for them.

He went to it. At a glance he could see it was unlocked. His hand shook as he reached for the button. This was stupid. It wasn’t his first body. He opened the cover.

Telima gasped, then moved closer. “I thought it was going to be Aiden.”

The small box inside the unit was clear, and a mass of tissue was visible, but didn’t look like anything that would have been a cub if she had lived until then.

“Bodies have to be stored separately,” Marlot replied and moved aside.

The doberman stepped in front of the box. He gazed at it, then tentatively placed a hand on top of it. “Why didn’t she tell me?”

“I don’t know.”

“What will happen to him, or her? Is it male or female?”

“It’s too early to tell, And until Aiden’s case is resolved it will stay here, after that I don’t know.” Marlot was saved from having to add anything by a commotion in the hall. Someone was angry and moving closer. A second voice was trying to placate him.

The door burst open, and a cheetah entered. “If you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to eat you right here!” he yelled at the otter who took a step back. Alicon then looked in the room, saw them, then the open unit. He looked at Telima again, lips pulling back, exposing teeth. “What is he doing here,” he growled.

Telima looked from the cheetah to the wolf and back to the cheetah. “I’m, I’m meeting my cub.”

“Your cub? That’s my cub! Get the fuck out of here.”

“What is he talking about?” Telima asked Marlot.

Marlot was still staring at Alicon, trying to understand who he’d found out where Aiden’s body was held. The question and the cheetah stalking forward forced him to focus on what was going on. He interposed himself in front of the doberman.

“Get out of my way. I’m going to rip his throat out.”

“You can’t. He isn’t of predation age.”

“You think I fucking care about that? He’s trying to take my cub from me. I’m going to make him pay.”

Marlot swallowed, he could see death in Alicon’s eyes. “The cub isn’t yours. It's mixed breed.”

Alicon’s eyes narrowed. When he spoke his voice was low and through clench teeth. “You said it was mine.”

Marlot didn’t break eye contact, but he saw the cheetah’s very sharp claws and the tension in his arms.

“What’s going on here?” Jaxca said.

Marlot didn’t dare say anything or look away.

A red hand grabbed Alicon’s arm. “I said, what’s going on?”

The cheetah back armed the frog away without looking at him. “You said the cub was mine,” he repeated.

“You did?” Telima asked.

Marlot forced himself to calm down. He very much wanted to get out of here. “No. I didn’t. All I said was that Aiden was pregnant. You just assumed the cub was yours.”

“You let me do that!” The claws came at him, and Marlot could only flinch and close his eyes. Alicon was right, he’d let him think the cub was his. Trembor had chided him for doing that.

When he didn’t feel the claws dig in his flesh he slowly opened his eyes. The cheetah’s claws were close to his face, shaking. A golden hand was holding the arms.

Marlot looked up gratefully, but the look Trembor returned wasn’t happy. The lion pulled the cheetah away and sent him back a few steps.

“You think you can steal my cub away from me?” Alicon growled. “You mean nothing. I won’t even notice paying your taxes.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Trembor replied, crossing his arms over his chest. “But first you’re going to have to kill us.”

Having the lion next to him, Marlot felt safer and braver. He stood straight.

“That is my cub!”

“No, it isn’t,” Trembor replied.

“He said.”

“No. He didn’t.”

Alicon seemed to deflate slightly. “She was supposed to give me a cub.”

“I’m sorry, she didn’t.”

The cheetah shook and then fell to his knees. “I was supposed to be a father.” He was crying now.

Marlot looked away, and straight in Trembor’s eyes. He wasn’t happy with him. The lion indicated the cheetah with a nod. Marlot shook his head.

“Go apologize,” Trembor growled.

Hunched and ears plastered back against his skull, Marlot walked to the cheetah. He looked down at the sobbing male and went down to his knees.

“I’m sorry for letting you think the cub was yours.” He put a hand on his arm to comfort him.

Alicon shoved it away. “Don’t touch me.” He glared at him. “How could you do that to me?”

Marlot couldn’t look at him. “I thought it was more important I find her killer. I’m sorry.”

“You should be.” Alicon pushed himself up. “You better hope you never need my help for anything.” He stormed out.

Marlot watched him leave. He couldn’t believe how badly this had gone. He felt someone next to him and looked up. Telima was looking at him, eyes wet.

“I think I’m going to take the transit back to the academy,” the doberman said.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have told you about the cub.”

Telima looked back to the freezer unit. He shook his head. “No, I’m glad you did. I would have been a good father. We would have been a good family.” he turned to leave, then looked back at Marlot. “Please find who killed them.”

Marlot nodded.

“Well,” Jaxca said, “Do I want to know what caused this?”

Marlot shook his head. “It’s my fault. Sorry, you got mixed up in it. are you okay?” He forced himself to stand and Trembor was there to steady him.

“Just a bump or two. I’ll be fine. You?”

“He’ll be fine,” Trembor answered for the wolf. “We’re done here. Thanks for arranging it.”

Marlot let Trembor support him until they were outside. The sun had set, and the air was cool.

“I’m sorry. You were right, I shouldn’t have used the cub as I did.”

Trembor held him at arm's length and looked him in the eyes. “Just tell me you learned your lesson.”

Marlot barked a laugh. “Damn right I did. Fuck, I screwed up so badly it’s probably going to make the news.”

Trembor hugged him. “It wasn’t that bad, the city is still standing.”

“I’m going to go home, bury myself in my bed, and hope I’ve forgotten about this by morning.”

“No. What you need right now is to be among other people. I think we should go to a bar.”

Marlot eyes his partner. “A bar? You want to go to a bar after this?” What was Trembor thinking? “I didn’t even know you went to bars.”

“I don’t, not often, but there’s this one I think you’ll like.”

Marlot was dubious, but he got in his car and followed the lion.


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A Wasterful Death CH 16.pdf (75.8KiB)

A Wasterful Death CH 15 2020-06-22T13:00:11+00:00
Marlot stood by the entrance to the medical clinic. It was near the divide between his and Trembor’s territory, on Trembor’s side. His had been nearer to his house, but when they merged territories, they’d agreed to a central location. The clinic had been happy to lease out more freezer space.

He watched the people walking by, as well as in and out of the clinic. The MPB tracker hadn’t told him what species he was, by the voice he expected him to be someone large, a rhino, or a bull. Not all cows were as timid as the Ironhorns were.

“Are you RI Blackclaw?” the gruff voice said behind him.

Marlot turned, wondering how he’d missed the tracker, or how he’d entered the clinic. This entrance was the only public one. A small lemur stood a few feet away, near the door. He was over a foot shorter. He’d noticed him entering, with his ripped sleeve and the scent of blood on him, he’d thought he was here to see a medic.

“Tracker Sleek?” Marlot asked.

“Yeah, so you’re Blackclaw?”

“Yes.” Marlot eyed the brown sleeve. “What happened?”

The lemur looked at the rip. “Someone thought I was an afternoon snack. Always happens when I come to a city.”

Marlot tilted his head. The tracker looked kind of thin under his clothes, but the fact he wasn’t bleeding meant he knew how to fight. That would make him all wiry muscle, tough meat. He wouldn’t eat him even if he thought he could afford him.

“The entrance to the freezers is on the side,” Marlot said instead of commenting on his state, and guided him to it.

The saint bernard on duty took their ID, wrote the numbers down in his system, and had them sign in. Because the clinic was responsible for anything happening to the bodies in the freezers, they carefully monitored who came and went.

They walked past two autopsy rooms provided by the clinic. If needed, Marlot could hire one of the clinic’s medic to autopsy bodies, but Trembor was already using Jaxca when they began working together so there was no need to hire anyone else.

The roof after them was the freezer. twenty-foot wide and ten deep, with tables and instruments along the sidewall, while the back one had all the freezer units. Marlot brought up the bighorn sheep’s file on his pad and then used it to highlight the relevant unit. the second from the left, third from the bottom lit up.

He grabbed the handle and pulled it out. He came to a stop with a clunk, and then lowered itself. Marlot stopped it once it was at a comfortable height for him, then lowered it some more for the lemur. He unlocked it and lifted the cover, wrinkling his nose and the cold, chemical air hit him.

The lemur peered inside. “You were right, he’s really bloated.”

“Our examiner had trouble giving us a time of death because of how long he was in the water. His best estimate is between one to two weeks before it was found on the banks of the river on the south edge of my territory.”

The lemur took a table from the wall and rolled it close. he put his case on it and opened it. “How long have you had it?”

Marlot checked the file. “Close to six months now. He didn’t have anything on him, so we haven’t had much to work with. The inaccurate time of death and the current make it difficult to work out where he entered the water.” He pointed to the three deep gashes along the sheep’s neck. “If not for those he would have been yours.”

The tracker nodded and took out a cast from his case. “Please open his muzzle.”

Marlot noted the cast had holes instead of teeth. He had to force the jaws, and with a loud crack, they came apart. The lemur maneuvered the cast in the mouth and fit snugly over the right side lower teeth.

“It’s a perfect fit,” he said, taking it off and putting in his case.

“Does that mean you’ll be taking it off my hands?”

The lemur eyed the body. “Only if those gases were accidental.”

Marlot shook his head. “They’re too even, and Jaxca found the tip of a claw in one of them.”

“Still yours then.” he took out a data slate from a pocket in his case. “You think something in the water did that?”

“Of course not. There isn’t anything with claws in the river, unless you mean those stories about a predator living in it.”

“It’s possible.”

Marlot shook his head. “There’s nothing bigger than your hand in there, and even if there is. His lungs didn’t show any signs of drowning. He died on dry land.”

Sleek handed him the slate. “Your sheep’s name was Obija Grainraiser. The slate contains all the information on it we have compiled.”

Marlot inserted it in his pad and took a quick look through it. Obija had been reported missing a little under eight months ago. That gave them a starting location and a time frame. He sent the information to Hela’Han with instructions to contact everyone mentioned in the file.

He shut the casket and put the freezer back. Once it went dark, he escorted the lemur outside.

“Do you need a lift?” Marlot asked as his pad beeped. He was from Trembor. “Just give me a moment.”

‘I’m done here. Want to meet up for a drink?’

Marlot started to type yes, then his stomach knotted itself, remembering he had something to do. ‘I Can’t, I’m taking Telima to the freezer to see his cub.’

‘What time?’ the reply came. ‘I can go get my car and meet you there.’

Marlot looked at the offer. He shouldn’t. He knew how Trembor felt about it, but he really didn’t want to do this alone.‘I’d like it, if you could. We’ll be there at six.’

‘See you then, I love you.’

Marlot looked at the reply, smiling a little. He started typing a reply, but his fingers wouldn’t go pass ‘I’. He couldn’t even make himself type it. He put the pad away.

“Sorry. Do you need a ride?”

“If you can take me to the office I’d appreciate it.”

Marlot nodded. He’d go pick up Telima after that, and then they’d go see his cub.


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A Wasterful Death CH 14 2020-06-21T13:00:08+00:00
Post Chapter here from Notepad
The door Trembor stood before was heavy wood with a frame reinforced with metal strips. It would take a lot of work to force his way through it if that was in intention. Despite its thickness, he could smell the fear wafting in from the other side. It was a scent he was used to, how could he not, he was a predator and a lot of the people he passed on the streets were prey. Only the most secure in their productivity status could afford not to be concerned about being close to a predator. The main difference between him and a lot of other predators, he thought, was that he didn’t get a kick out of smelling this.

He knocked, and something deeper in the apartment shattered. Steps came to the door.

“H… hello?” the female on the other side asked in a shaking voice.

“Ma’am, it’s RI Goldenmane. We talked earlier, I said I’d come over.”

There was a moment of silence, then three heavy sounding locks were thrown. They were old fashion mechanical locks instead of the electronic ones most doors used now. The door was pulled back only enough for a large bovine eye to peer at him.

Trembor didn’t move or say anything. The scent of fear hit him with almost physical force. She was terrified. The eye looking at him might roll back in its socket at any moment. The door slammed shut. The only sound coming from her side was heavy panting. and then a chain was rattled and steps moved away.

Trembor waited for a moment, wondering if she’d gone to get something to defend herself with. A minute later she hadn’t returned, so he tried the door.

It opened quietly. She was standing on the other side of the large living room, wringing her hands and trying to say something. Her position placed a cowhide couch right in front of her and a coffee table covered with knick-knacks in front of that as a defensive ‘wall’. Unfortunately, the only other way out of the room was down a hallway, but that was closer to him. Would she be able to force herself to move closer to him to reach it?

“I’m not here to hurt you Ma’am,” Trembor said in the most reassuring tone he could manage and stayed in the doorway.

“I know.” She hugged herself. She was wearing what he thought was a nightgown.

He nodded and entered. He closed the door and took a step toward her.

“Don’t come any closer!”

Trembor kept his arms at his side and hunched in, trying to make himself look smaller. “Alright.” He looked around for something to sit on and found a wooden stool against the wall, under an ornate mirror. Glancing in it, he saw her watch him wearily as reached for it and pulled it away. It looked to be handcrafted, large solid legs, and the seat worn form years of use. It didn’t even creak when he sat on it.

“When am I going to be able to get my Harko back?”

“Like I explained over the pad, it’s only been a week since he died, we’re still looking for the killer. We have leads on the people who were in the area when he died. We’re confident it’s one of them.”

“What does it matter who got him?” She interrupted, his voice going up an octave. “He was killed by a predator, that’s what happened? Why haven’t I got the benefits yet?”

“Possibly, but the system needs the killer because and made to pay the tax, the survivor’s benefits come from that.” Trembor didn’t think that was a predator, not in the way she meant it. Her mate’s productivity rating hadn’t been that high, a store in this part of the city wasn’t exactly a vital industry. Any predator hunting him would have been able to pay the tax. Even a scavenger would probably have paid it, instead of claiming the body as found and then having to wait for the killer to be caught and made to pay for it.

Jaxca’s finding indicated it had been accidental, probably the result of an argument, and some of the homeless had taken advantage of an unprotected body and fed themselves on it.

“We have three months to catch the killer. If we can’t you’ll be awarded the benefits at that time.” And part of it would come from his salary. The incentive for RIs to care about getting their job done. Trembor didn’t need such an incentive, He’d become one because he wanted to catch those trying to evade the system.

“How am I supposed to survive until then without money?”

“You have a source of income, Ma’am. Your store. All you have to do is open it.”

“I can’t! There are predators out there! How can I be safe without my Harko?”

There’s a predator in here with you right now, Trembor thought, but he kept the growling out of his voice. “Surely there’s someone you can call on to keep you safe.”

She shook her head violently. “No. Only my Harko could keep me safe. That’s why I need the benefits? Please, you have to get this resolved now.”

And what are you going to do once those run-out? The survivors benefits were there to help the family transition with one less provider, not to set them up for life.

He regretted telling Marlot he wouldn’t eat her. Maybe it would make things easier for everyone concerned. Instead he took a breath, rubbed his face, and went through the explanations again. When he was done with that one, instead of letting her start on her protestations again he excused himself, saying he had to get back to his work.

Once outside the building he looked up. “I need a drink,” he told the gray sky. Actually, that wasn’t a bad idea. He took out his pad.

‘I’m done here.’ He sent Marlot. ‘Want to meet up for a drink?’

‘I Can’t,’ the reply came a moment later. ‘I’m taking Telima to the freezer to see his cub.’

Trembor growled. Right, that bad idea. He couldn’t see how that was going to turn out well. ‘What time? I can go get my car and meet you there.’

The reply wasn’t immediate. ‘I’d like it if you could. We’ll be there at six.’

‘See you then, I love you.’

He didn’t get a response. he put the pad away and headed for the closest transit station.


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A Wasterful Death CH 14.pdf (70.5KiB)

A Wasterful Death CH 13 2020-06-20T13:00:08+00:00
“I don’t get how you can waste your time with that show.” Marlot got out of the car and waited for Trembor to do the same. “You put eight predators on an island with eight prey and you know exactly what’s going to happen.”

Trembor looked at him over the car. “That’s where you’re wrong. The goal is for them to survive without predation.”

Marlot shook his head and headed toward the dark gray building housing their offices. “Look, predators are predators and prey’s prey.” he took out his pad and called up the lock’s history. “There’s a reason the system works.” Hela’Han was already in. “one hunts the other.”

“Morning Hela’Han,” Trembor greeted the elephant seated behind the desk. “You’re looking especially good today?”

“Thank you, sir.” She smiled, and her large ears fluttered and gained a slight pinkish hue. “The MPB wants someone to call them as soon as you have the chance. I transferred the call information to the buffer. Also, Miss Ironhorn called again. She wants another update on her mate.”

“Thanks,” Marlot said, behind Trembor. He stopped by her desk and looked at her. He canted his head to the side. “Are you going out for dinner with that male again?”

The pink on her ears spread to her face and her trunk fidgeted with a data slate. “Yes sir. It’s our third date.”

“And he’s still treating you well? Remember, if he doesn’t just pad me and I’ll deal with him.”

“Thank you, but you don’t have to do that.” She took hold of her trunk, trying to keep it still.

Marlot opened his mouth to comment but was pulled away by Trembor. “Why don’t you let her work?” the lion said at the look of indignation he received. “She doesn’t need you acting like her brother.”

“Fine, fine.” He poked his head back in the reception. “Just remember, I’m only a pad call away if you need it.” He made a choking sound when Trembor pulled him by the collar this time.

He glared at the lion, loosening his shirt collar and then put his jacket on the stand, adjusting Trembor’s haphazardly thrown one.

“You should give the show a chance,” Trembor said, sitting down and powering up his computer. “There’s plenty of vegetation on the island, there’s no need for them to hunt the prey, and there’s fish.”

Marlot shook his head, taking his own seat. “Vegetation’s fine for prey; and fish? Really? you’d eat fish? Those things wriggle in the water, and there’s no telling what they eat. Considering what *we* dump in the water, I wouldn’t even touch a fish, let alone eat one.” He looked at the lion across the desks. “Please tell me you’re not turning equalist on me.”

“Of course not,” Trembor scoffed. “I’m a predator, and I’ll always be one. I just think it’s interesting when they do experiments like that.”

“Just tell me this. How long until the first prey got eaten?”

Trembor didn’t answer immediately, when he did it was grudgingly. “Three days.”

“Ah! there you go. You have your answer right there.”

“Go eat grass,” Trembor chuckled.

Instead of raising to the bait, Marlot send a message to Jaxca, checking if he could bring Telima to see the unborn cub. He’d planned on doing that the previous day, but he’d gotten distracted by questioning the suspects. After that he listened to the message from the Missing Person Bureau.

“The MPB needs to check a body. Do you mind if I take that? I don’t particularly want to deal with Miss Ironhorn again.” Her husband had been found a week ago, dead and partially eaten. They were still looking for his killer, but every other day or so she called wanting to know when they would be done.

“Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll call her.”

Before he made the call to the MPB Jaxca replied to his message, saying that it would be fine, but reminded him there wouldn’t be much to see, the embryo was only two months old. He sent Telima a message letting him know they could go tonight.

“Missing Person Bureau, how can I direct your call?” a female said.

“RI Marlot Blackclaw, returning a call.”

“One moment please.” Her voice was replaced by the soothing sound of a brook.

Marlot looked at the lion, talking with Miss Ironhorn. He explained again they couldn’t release the body until they had finished their investigation, and there was no way to know how long that would take. From his expression, she wasn’t happy with that answer.

The Ironhorns were cows and had been mated thirty years, which, considering their species, was a surprisingly long time to be alive, let alone mated. They earned a living running a small supply store.

“RI Blackclaw,” a gruff voice cut off the brook. “I’m tracker Sleek, thanks for returning my call.”

“Not a problem, what can I do for you?”

“We’ve been contacting every RI with a bighorn sheep in their freezer to see if it matches one of our missing persons.”

“Okay, pad me the DNA and I’ll see if it matches our sheep. I didn’t realize there were so many big horns killed in the city.”

“We’re not looking at one city, but the country. When someone goes missing, they can end up wandering quite far. Unfortunately, we don’t have any DNA. She lived in a commune with constant comings and going.”

“Can’t you use a relative’s DNA to get a close match?”

“It’s a commune, Mister Blackclaw. The way they breed there, no one knows who’s related to whom.”

That surprised Marlot, the farming commune his home town used kept good birth records. “Alright, but without that I’m not sure how I can help you.”

“How’s your body’s muzzle?”

Marlot pulled up the file and quickly read through it. “It’s bloated because the body was in the water for a few days before it was found, but otherwise intact.”

“Good. we recently found out our missing sheep had a dental cast made of the right side of his lower jaw. I want to compare that to your body’s teeth.”

Marlot searched the file for any details on the teeth. “I’ve never heard of teeth being used to identify a body.”

“It’s an old method. Hasn’t really been used for two decades, not since DNA typing became fast and accurate. These days we only pull it out if we’re dealing with someone missing from one of the farming communes. They aren’t exactly as up to date as the cities.”

That comment surprised Marlot again. As far as he knew everyone was DNA typed back in the commune near his town. They wanted to keep track of who died or disappeared to ensure none of the neighboring towns poached their commune.

“I can’t find any mention a cast was made. I’ll have to go to the freezer and make one myself.”

“I’m in the city, I can meet you there in two hours and bring the cast.”

“Let’s make it three this afternoon, I have work to do on an active case first.”

“Alright.” Marlot gave him the address and ended the call. He looked at Trembor who had his elbow on the desk, his pad to an ear and his other hand on his face.

“Look, Ma’am, how about I drop by this afternoon and we go over this in person?” A pause. “Good, I’ll see you then.” He sighed deeply.

“That good?”

“She doesn’t want to listen, she’s adamant we need to return her mate’s body. I’m hoping that in person I can impress on her we’re doing everything we can. She says she needs the survivor’s benefits. Can you drop me off on your way to the freezer?”

“Sure, but didn’t you tell her that even if we haven’t found the killer in three months she’ll get them?”

“She needs them now, she says she’s running out of money.”

“What about their store? she should be getting something from that.”

“It’s closed. She afraid of being in it without her mate.”

“can’t she get someone she trusts to help her?”

Trembor gave hi ma sad smile. “Cows aren’t really known for being trusting.”

“Okay, hopefully, you’ll be able to calm down before then. Right now I’m worried that your idea of ‘impressing on her’ might mean eating her.”

“Don’t worry, I almost never eat someone out of annoyance.”

“That’s good, it’s bad form to eat the relative of one of our bodies.” He closed the sheep’s file and brought up Aiden’s. “I’m sending the enforcers the names and addresses of Aiden’s old lovers, maybe they can place one of them near her house.”

“And we’re going through the rest of the people she had contact with? Through the messages to see if someone had a problem with her.”

“Yeah, but I’m not overly hopeful.”

Trembor nodded. “The odds are everyone she interacted with regularly is as wealthy as she was and could afford to pay her tax.”

They worked on that, stopping only for lunch, pulling out the previous days’ meat from the cooler. By the time they had to leave, no one had jumped out from the people Aiden knew.

They stretched, put their jackets on, and reached for the door at the same time. Trembor’s hand ended up on top of Marlot’s and it lingered there for a moment. They shared a smile before the lion removed it.


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Wasterful Death CH 13.pdf (77.9KiB)

A Wasterful Death CH 12 2020-06-19T13:00:08+00:00
Trembor’s pad beeped, and he reached for it without taking his head off the pillow.

“Morning.”

“Did I beat the clock?” Palinox asked, excitedly.

Trembor rolled to the other side, and as he looked the time rolled over. There was a click and an advertisement for synthetic meat ended.

“Yep. You woke up your uncle before his clock again.” On the radio, the traffic report started.

“Yes!”

The lion chuckled. “Give my love to your dad, okay?”

“I will!” His nephew disconnected.

Trembor turned the radio off as the announcer mentioned Hardclaw road. He yawned, put the pad back on the table, and took the earpiece next to it. He put it in, made sure it was secured, and got up.

He started on his morning stretching exercise and was halfway through them when the earpiece beeped.

“Answer.”

“Good morning Uncle Trembor,” a very young female greeted him.

“Good morning, Issa.” He continued with his exercises as he spoke.

“Has Nerik called you yet?”

“No, your brother hasn’t, should I expect him to call?”

“Huh-uh. Have you brushed your teeth?”

“Not yet. I’m doing my stretches.”

“You better brush them real good, otherwise you’ll have to go to the dentist.”

Trembor couldn’t help the smile. “I will.”

“Good. have a good day.”

“You have a good day too.”

He finished his stretching without anyone else calling and he took his shower, folding his ears back to keep the water out of them.

He was lathered up when the earpiece beeped again.

“Answer.” He reduced the spray to a trickle so he could hear his nephew.

Except whichever one it was didn’t immediately speak. “Hi Uncle.”

He had no problem placing the voice. “Morning Herelex.”

His nephew sighed. “Have you brushed your teeth yet?”

Trembor was able to keep from laughing. “No. Issa called you, didn’t she?”

“Yeah.” He was silent for a moment. “Uncle, I… Something happened to me during the night.”

Trembor’s smile disappeared. “Are you alright? What happened?”

“I don’t know.” His nephew sounded like he might cry.

“Herelex, you can talk to me, whatever it is.”

“I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t cry. I’m an adult now.”

“There’s nothing wrong with crying. Herelex, just tell me what happened.”

His nephew sniffed once and then exhaled. “I woke up in the middle of the night I was feeling strange, and I felt tingly in my, errr. you know, down there?”

“Your groin?”

“Yeah. When I touched there to see if I’d turned on something, it was hard and wet. I got scared. I thought it was blood, that I’d cut myself, but I sniffed it. It wasn’t blood. Now it’s soaked into the sheet.”

Trembor relaxed, grateful it wasn’t anything major, although at fifteen Herelex was a little young for his body to be getting ready for his heat. The academy would start teaching him what to expect in his next year, since seventeen and eighteen was the age range most felines experienced it.

“Uncle?”

“I’m still here. What you experienced is normal.”

“It… It is?”

“Yes, it’s your body preparing itself for when you’ll experience your first heat.”

Herelex was silent for a moment. “Mom is going to think I wet the sheet. She’s going to think I’m still a baby.”

“No, she won’t think that. she’ll understand.”

“Dad?”

“Yes, he’ll understand. He went through the same thing when he was younger.”

“He did?”

“Yep.”

“Did you?”

“I did. Every male does.”

Herelex was silent again. “Do females go through that?”

“That, I have no idea. You’d have to ask your mom.”

“No!”

Trembor smiled. “Alright.”

“So there’s nothing wrong with me?”

“No, there isn’t. You’re simply growing up.”

“Oh, okay.” Somehow Herelex made those two words sound like a disappointment. Quite the contrast to his reaction to being considered an adult at the dinner.

“Are you going to be okay?”

“Yeah. I will.” He did sound more confident.

“Alright. Have a good day.”

Trembor ended the call and considered that Herelex was the oldest of his nephews. Would they all come to him when they reached that point? That’s what he got for being the only unmated male they knew. Or maybe it was because they knew he wouldn’t divulge their secrets to their parents. He chuckled, it was the price to pay for being the family confident.

He brought the water spray to full force and rinsed off. After that grabbed his brush and turned the blower on. He brushed his mane as it air-dried until it was fluffed up the way he liked. he gave the rest of his body a quick brushing, but his fur was short enough it didn’t need much and was dry by the time his mane was done.

He examined his teeth in the mirror, Issa’s constant reminder aside, he took good care of them. his toothbrush was almost in his mouth when the earpiece beeped.

“Answer.”

“Good morning,” Nerik said. “Have you brushed your teeth?” he asked with obvious reluctance.

Trembor smiled. “You can tell your sister I’m just about to do that.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to bother you.”

“I know. You wouldn’t have asked if she wasn’t pestering you. That’s what sisters do. Your mom used to do the same with me.”

“Really? She was like Issa?”

“No, she didn’t make me call our favorite uncle. She forced me to have my action figure go on dates with hers.”

“Eww.”

“I know, right? That’s totally gross. But I came out okay. You’ll be fine too.”

“Oh, okay. I’m going to go have breakfast now.”

“Alright. You do that, and you have a good day.”

“You too.” the call disconnected.

He was able to finish his grooming and dressing and preparing his breakfast without any interruption. He’d eaten half the meat and was finishing a glass of blood when his pad beeped. He swallowed quickly and answered it.

“You answered!”

“Good morning, Dayra. How are you doing?”

“Good. I make my own breakfast myself.”

“Wow, I’m sure your dad was impressed.”

“He was.”

Trembor wondered how much of a mess Baytil had to clean up. “Did you call me to tell me about your trip to the museum?”

“No. That was the other day. You didn’t answer that day.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Today I’m signing.”

“Really?”

“Huh-uh. Miss Whitehorn is going to teach us all a song. Can I call you so you can hear it?”

“No, I’m sorry. You know the rules. I don’t take family calls while I’m working.”

“Aww, but I want you to hear me sing.”

“Can you have your instructor record it for me?”

“I don’t know.”

“Asked her to do it, And I’ll call you tonight and you can have me listen to it, okay?”

“Okay, bye.”

He finished eating, washed the dishes, and then his pad beeped; but this time it was a text message from Marlot.

‘Remember to back up your pad. you don’t want to lose anything.’

Trembor rolled his eyes. ‘Ha Ha, very funny. Be ready in a few minutes.’

He then instructed the pad to connect to his system and initiate the backup.

Marlot had explained how to program it to do it automatically, and every so often he came over claiming he was going to set that up for him. Somehow they always ended up doing something else instead.

When the pad indicated it was done, he disconnected it from the system and left the apartment without bothering to shut down his computer. That was something else Marlot kept trying to get him to do. Anyone could infiltrate his system and do all kinds of damage while it was on.

Trembor didn’t care. It wasn’t like he kept anything important in it, it was just his home system. It had a few games, his favorite vids, his accounting — Nothing important.

On the elevator ride down, he set his pad to automatically transfer the calls from his family list to the buffer. When he exited Marlot was waiting for him outside.


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Wasterful Death CH 12.pdf (77.1KiB)

Why do I bother 2020-05-24T21:05:41+00:00

Last week, I mentioned that I’d had an idea for a new series and wrote the outline for the fist book (I did, I checked) I started working on the outline for the second book early this week and as the week progressed, the energy of the new idea ebbed away, and in its place I was left with fear.

Fear that I’m doing this just to get attentions, Fear that I’m hoping it’s going to make me right real quick, fear that I’m just doing it because it’s “the popular genre” fear that by doing these outline by myself, I’ll alienate my co-scripter. Fear that I’m not good enough to even write without my Co-scripter’s help.

Now, before everyone emails me to point out how I’m wrong, thank you, but that isn’t why I’m doing this.

I’m not writing this looking for sympathy.

I’m writing it to talk about perseverance.

I know these fears are irrational. Most fears are these days, especially fear of intangible things. Somethings, there’s even crippling. I haven’t touched any of the outlines for this series in two days. I don’t know if I’ll be able to work on it today, or tomorrow, or the day after that.

What I do know, is that I will work on it.

I will get these outlines done, even if I decide not to write the books because… whatever reason I decide not to write them. While I do intend to write the novels, the primary exercise is writing the outlines.

I will work on my fears as it relates to this, I will overcome them, as it relates to this and I will get the outlines.

One last fear about these. I’m afraid they won’t be perfect.

How is that for stupid fear? The fear’s still real, I still have to work on it.

And that’ll be it, so I’ll see you on the next one.

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Comments (3)
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User #8044527 - 25 May 20 13:22
The law of Jante: 1) You are not to think you are anything special 2) You are not to think you are as good as us 3) You are not to think you are smarter than us 4) You are not to convince yourself that you are better than us 5) You are not to think you know more than us 6) You are not to think you are more important than us 7) You are not to think you are good at anything 8) You are not to laugh at us 9) You are not to think anyone cares about you 10) You are not to think you can teach us anything
user avatar
kindar - 25 May 20 23:49
I have to say that when my mood drops low enough it does feel like some of those laws do govern me
user avatar
User #8044527 - 25 May 20 13:18
You sound like you live under the Law of Jante. It’s from this Nordic book, describing the mentality about the people of Jante (a made up city in Norway I think). The Law is basically these ten commandments, which everyone lives by - only, when you actually write down these laws all together they look ridiculous. They seem sort of true if you take them one by one, but all together they just look like a 10 year old throwing a tantrum. Point is, all these fears and insecurities might seem “legit” when you take them one by one, but if you line them all up together it will become evident just how insane they are.
Virtual Friendship CH 01 2020-06-14T21:00:48+00:00
























































































































































































Omar Grindgear looked out on the landscape of rocks and crystal as the transport gem crumbled in his palm. He brushed his hands; the metal scraping together. He smiled, gears whirling as his lips moved. This would be a great game.

He saw movement in the distance, between two crystalline outcropping. A group of… he made the required gestures, added the one with his other hand to extend range, said the activation word, and a wave of energy flashed from him toward the group. Information appeared, his identification spell revealing those were Kravegidders, twelve of them, level fifty-eight to sixty-two.

He made a note not to head in that direction. Unless Bonesword had invited a hell of a lot more people, they wouldn’t take on that level and number of monsters.

“Wow,” someone said behind him, “have you looked at this view?”

Omar let out a steamy sigh and turned. “What are you doing here?” he said, his voice a mix of steam, hisses, and clanks.

“Admiring the view,” the simian being composed of branches, leaves, moss, and hardly wearing anything answered. On the other side of the vegetation monkey, was the edge of the world, with the clouds of the gas giant underneath them. Small rocky islands floated ag various heights and distance from the edge.

“I mean, how did you follow me?” Omar’s eyes glowed in anger, and steam escaped from the joints in his face.

“Oh, I paid one of the game’s admin to make me a duplicate of your travel gem.”

“Of course you did. Why?”

The monkey shrugged. “I thought I’d play with you.”

“No.”

“Come on Tr—”

“It’s Omar. When I’m in the game, it’s always and only Omar.” The Brastok threw his hands in the air. “That’s why I don’t play with you. You can’t take this seriously! And I bet you’re just here because you want to get my friends naked.”

The monkey raised a leafy eyebrow. “Is this region set to adult?”

“No. Get out, Tuck. If you don’t have a gem to get you back to the city, then just log out, otherwise, I am kicking you off the edge of the world.”

“Not going to introduce me to your friend first?” the simian said, indicating behind Omar.

He looked. Someone on horseback was approaching. “Leave, now.”

“Come on, Omar, be a sport, I haven’t met any of your friends.”

“And there’s a reason for that. I remember the first time I introduced you to some of them, even if you don’t.”

The simian’s grin told Omar he did remember.

“Get out of here, Tuck. Go fuck some of the passengers instead of bothering me.”

“Fine, be that way.” The simian stepped off the edge of the world with a salute.

Omar didn’t watch. If he did Tucker would just keep falling into the gas giant until he reached the end of the playable area and the game despawned him.

He turned to greet the arriving horseman. “Longpine! It’s been a while. How was your trip?”

“Slow and uncomfortable.” Like the simian, Paul Longpine was made of branches and leaves, but his facial structure and mask of dark green leaves marked him as a raccoon. He got off the quad horse and patted its neck. He moved with ease despite the heavy armor he wore.

“Uncomfortable?” Omag asked, a metallic ear tilting with a whirl. “Since when have you started traveling in less than great comfort?”

The raccoon shrugged. “I don’t like traveling.” He motioned around them. “This is the only way I enjoy leaving Earth. It’s quick, it’s easy and I can leave whenever I want.”

“You don’t get this view from Earth,” Omar replied, motioning over the edge of the world. “Unless you’re looking at a projection.”

“Yeah, well, as nice as it…” Paul looked in the distance and canted his head. He turned to his stead and rummaged through the packs, pulling a scroll case, and then papers from it, leafing through them until he found what he was looking for. “Yes!”

“What?” Omar asked.

“There’s an achievement for reaching one of those islands.” He kept reading.

“I don’t think you can make it unless you got yourself something to fly since we last played.”

The leafy raccoon shook his head. “Wouldn’t help. The achievement is only valid if accomplished without the use of items, or outside help,” he added as Omar was about to offer to use his magic to help him.

“It’s a long drop, and an even longer ride back here from the closest city. I only have one portal spell ready and it’s for the others to join us.”

Paul took off a necklace with a green crystal hanging from it. “Spawn anchor,” he said, handing it to Omar. “Just hold it for me.” He climbed his quad and rode away.

Omar looked at the crystal. Getting one of those took dedication.

With a yell and shake of the reign, Paul got his steed running toward the edge. Omar had read up on the knight class and they could do a lot on horseback, but he didn’t see Paul having any buffs that would let him cross the distance.

The quad horse hit the edge and jumped. It was high, and majestic, Omar had to give Paul that. The raccoon stood on the saddle, stepping back until he was on the quad’s rump. As the quad reached its apogee, Paul ran, putting a foot on its head and launching himself in the air.

Omar fought the urge to cast a flight spell on his friend, it might save his life, but Paul hunted achievements in the game like Omar did spare parts. He’d rather die than have it invalidated with help. He held his breath as the raccoon fell. He wouldn’t make it, Omar was certain of it. There was no way.

Paul landed, rolled, and caught himself to stop his slide, coming to a final stop with his feet dangling off the other side of the tiny island. He jumped to his feet and fist pumped, taking out the scroll from the case, reading it and waving it around to show Omar he’d done it; as if his presence on the island wasn’t enough proof.

The raccoon put the parchment away. His fingers to his lips and let out a shrill whistle. His falling steed vanished and reappeared next to him. He mounted it, waved to Omar, and stepped off the edge.

Omar turned away. What was it with this place and people walking off the edge?

The crystal in his hand glowed, and Paul appeared next to him. He snatched the crystal with a grin. “That made the trip here worthwhile. I’m not one of ten people to have that achievement.”

Omar rolled his eyes a full three-hundred-sixty degrees, but the notification the others were assembled at the agreed location kept him from replying. He stepped away from the raccoon and shook his hands to loosen them. It had been a while since he’d cast the portal spell and while he’d practiced the gestures in his lobby before logging in, as he’d told Longpine, he only had one of the spell set. If he screwed this up, he’d either have to shell out to reset it, or the dungeon crawl wouldn’t happen.

He moved slowly, footwork matching hand motions, each word falling precisely with his steps. He’d mapped the spell to a dance as a way of memorizing it after watching Theo go at it, but he’d never have his brother’s fluidity.

Still, thirty seconds of it and with a silent explosion a purple hole ripped the air open and three men stepped through while Omar caught his breath. This spell took a lot out of him. He should invest his next few levels into raising it.

“Greetings comrades,” a bat said, covered in cloth, next to him stood Melor bareback, the Matrant bear, easy to identify with his bone carapace, and eagle, sitting on his shoulder. On his other side was Marc Bonesword, the skeletal bull.

Omar knew who the player behind the bat was, but he kept changing character and while he knew he’d played the tech bat before, the name wouldn’t come to him and he didn’t want to have to call up the character info.

“That’s Taro, right?” Paul asked.

The bat smiled and bowed. “Taro Sato, humble alchemist at your service. I hadn’t played him in a while and I figured I should make use of his work credits before the admins decided to change the rules and put a cap on it or something. It’s good to see you all again. It’s been what, two years since we’ve been in the same place at the same time?”

“And Titan, of all places,” Melor said, “what are the odds.”

“Ceril,” Omar corrected.

“Right, Sorry,” the bear apologized. “So, Bonesword, you picked the place, I figure your interminable research in this game told you there’s something worthwhile to kill here.”

The skeleton smiled. “Indeed.” He pointed, and a reticule appeared in Omar’s sight, highlighting a rocky mountain opposite the herd of monster. A window appeared.

You have been invited to join the quest
The Dragon of the Rocky Depth
Quest type: Dungeon Level 40 to 45
Yes/no?

Omar accepted it. That was why he was here after all.

“How do you know where all those quests are,” Taro asked. “I searched the boards when I got here and this one never came up.”

“The advantages of doing beta testing for the game,” Marc answered, “they had me run this area before they brought the game online.”

Omar eyed the skeleton. “Hasn’t Ceril been online for like seventy years now? Just how old are you?”

The bull smiled at him. “Old enough to know all the good quest. Shall we?”

“Definitely.”

* * * * *

Paul Longpine dug his heels in Warstallion’s sides, two quick bursts, activating the trampling attack. Warstallion ran at the incoming monsters protecting the cave’s entrance. Paul drew his sword and slashed at the Rock Eaters who didn’t die under his steed’s hooves. They cut him and his health bar flashed visible each time he took damage. They had some sort of ability that let them bypass a lot of his armor, and his health was going down faster than he’d expected.

“Heal!” he yelled as he slashed and killed.

A bottle shattered next to him and the green vapors enveloped him. His heath bar filling up. He steered Warstallion to the middle of the horde, counting on the potion to keep him alive while he killed most of them.

A lightning bolt fell close enough he felt the heat from it and a dozen of the Rock Eaters blew apart.

Melor swung his ax, cutting a swatch through the Eaters, saying the occasional word Paul didn’t make out to activate an effect or another. Occasionally the eagle swooped down to rake at the monsters.

Finally, the battle was over, Omar and Taro walking over, the only two without any visible damage since they’d provided support. Marc became visible, cleaning his knives.

“How much time do we want to spend on the loot here?” Paul asked. “I’m set to having to do an actual search of the bodies, remember?”

“Is any of us that desperate for level thirty-three loot?” Melor asked, looking at Taro.

“I can do a quick search of them, I’m tap and take.”

“Go for it,” Mark said. “I need to let my health fill up, these bastards were tougher than I remember.”

“They have armor bypass,” Paul said, taking feed out from his bag and Giving it to Warstallion, watching his steed’s health refill as it ate.

“Sorry, I should have mentioned that.”

“Are the five of us enough for this quest, Marc?” Omar asked. “This mob felt borderline too much.”

“Afraid of dying?” Melor asked, wiping the gore off himself with a washcloth.

“No, but unless someone has a group anchor they didn’t mention, any death takes them out of the quest. It’s going to be another hour before I can cast a portal spell again. And if I’m the one who’s dead…”

Marc went still. The player pulling out of the character for, Paul figured, some quick research through one of those secret file beta testers had access to. “Okay, they raised the area’s level three years ago as a response to all the newbies who kept running through it, but the dungeon itself hasn’t been touched since hardly no one has found it yet, and those who have, kept it quiet.”

“Players not talking about a dungeon?” Omar asked. “Just what is in there?” he looked at the skeleton.

“You want me to ruin the surprise, or you want to have fun?”

“You know me, Bonesword,” Omar said, groping his crotch. “I’m all about having fun.”

“Then, in we go.”

* * * * *

Melor yelled “Toramok!” at the top of his long as he swung, activating his damage buff. His ax cut the golem in two. He removed another’s head and the legs out from a third before the buff expired. He yelled wordlessly as he cut through more of them. Keeping an eye on his health and his resistance buff. “Geronimo!” he yelled as the buff expired, a glow surrounding him as the new one applied. “Darickfort!” Swift Wing cawed in response and his health refilled. “Tomarok!” more of the golems went down. “Tomarok!”

And the fight was over. He dropped to his knees as his stamina vanished.

“You okay?” Paul asked.

“Just need to catch my breath. Went too hard on the damage buffs.”

“I’m thinking you went just right. You sure you’re not a tank in hiding? I’m always amazed with what you get this druid class to do.”

“Barbarian,” Melor said, hitting his chest with a fist. “I strong and hung barbarian. Not plant eater.” He snorted. “It all about how you use the class’s specialization.”

“And I thought druid was a simple class, like knight.”

Melor stood and patted the knight. “Hey, you can do some pretty amazing thing with that steed of yours. Omar said you jumped off the edge and reached one of those islands. That’s supposed to be impossible to do.”

“Not impossible, just really hard. And Warstallion doesn’t fit in here.”

“You’re still tough on your own.”

“You two done making out?” Omar asked.

“No!” Melor answered, “you jealous?”

“You left me with bone butt and spark cock, what do you think?”

“Hey,” Tora exclaimed. “My cock sparkler happens to be very liked.”

“You actually have that?” Omar asked.

“Be nicer and you might find out,” the bat answered.

“How much further?” Paul asked.

“Some way,” Marc answered. “I did tell you guys this wasn’t going to be a quick quest.”

“Then let’s keep going.”

* * * * *

Marc sidestepped the stone elf’s swing and went still, letting the elf’s gaze move over and past him searching for what had almost registered, but the rest of the fight called to him and Marc was free to move again. His target was the taller elf at the back of the group, the leader, the one whose presence gave the force a buff to their attack and their defenses. If they had to fight through twenty or so enemies to get to him, the five of them would be too weak to have a chance.

It was why Marc loved being an assassin. Let everyone be distracted by the big fight while he made his way to the more valuable target. Technically, this could be considered kill steal, since as the sole person to kill the leader, he could keep the experience to himself, if he remembered his tables, it would be enough to get him up to level forty-eight, but he didn’t need it. He played for the enjoyment of it and to hang out with his friends, not to amass power, so he had himself set to share his experience evenly with the party.

He stood behind the stone elf leader, who was still unaware of him. The blind spot was on purpose, he knew, since it should be technically impossible for someone to make it through the fight unnoticed. But Marc knew the way the program ran. Not a cheat, he reminded himself, just a lot of studying. It wasn’t his fault if he had access to information the administrators didn’t have.

He buffed the knife’s power, added poison to the blade, covered the elf leader’s mouth with a hand, and planted the knife in his back with the other. The leader stiffened, and went limp in his arms. Marc let him fall and sat on the throne, waiting for the fight to be over.

Without the leader’s buffs, the rest of the elves fell quickly.

“Enjoying yourself?” Paul asked.

“Immensely,” Marc answered.

“I should hate you sneaky types,” the raccoon said, looking at the dead elf leader. “You make it look so damned easy.”

Marc smiled. “Ahh, but my young friend, it is easy, when you’re a sneaky type.”

* * * * *

“Marc’s down!” Paul yelled, and Taro cursed. Marc had said this wouldn’t be that tough of a dungeon, so he hadn’t prepared as many ranged healing potions.

“Omar! What are you like to heal him?” Taro yelled. “I need a few seconds to make a potion!”

“Healing’s not really my thing, Taro!” the metal tiger replied.

“I’m keeping him safe!” Melor yelled. “You have those seconds.”

Taro mixed the ingredients, spend the work points to speed up the process. Looked up, located Melor and Marc and threw the bottle. Getting to work on more immediately.

“Taro!” Melor yelled, and the bat looked up. Three of the Subterranean Horror were running in his direction.

With a curse, he grabbed three bottles and lobbed them at the Horror. “Omar, where my support?” the wizard was supposed to keep the enemies off him when he was crafting. A glance at the metal tiger fighting for his own life explained why he had to fend for himself.

The acid cloud had dealt with the three Horror and Taro finished the healing potion before lobbing it in Omar’s direction. Neither of them was close-quarter fighters, he’d need the healing.

He made more acid, it seemed especially effective against the Horror, added Colaro root to protect his allies from the effect and threw them in the fray, then went back to making healing. He was never taking on a quest without at least five dozen healing potions ever again.

“Getting a little full of yourself, hey Marc?” Paul said once the fight was over.

“It got in a lucky shot,” the skeletal bull replied.

“And that was all it took for you to go down. You owe Taro your life, by the way.”

“Good save, Taro,” Marc said.

“That’s my job, but I’d like better intel next time. This dungeon is not the cakewalk you said it would be.”

“Did I say it would be a cakewalk? I thought I’d said they hadn’t touched it since I’d run through it in its beta stage, over seventy years ago.”

“Then please tell me we’re almost done. I’m out of work credits so I need time to make more potions.”

“We almost are. There’s a couple of small rooms, then we’re at the dragon. Easy peasy.”

* * * * *

Omar looked up, and up, and still up, the gears in his neck straining. “You have got to be kidding me.” The cavern had to be at least two hundred meters in height, and the dragon, sitting in the middle of it, head touching it, while slouching. “How is that thing only level forty-five?”

“It’s level sixty,” Marc corrected.

“This is a level forty to forty-five dungeon, what is a level sixty boss doing here?”

“Making us work for it.” The skeleton grinned.

“We have to try it,” Taro said, “we made it this far.”

“Is that what I think that is?” Melor pointed to a pillar before the dragon.

Marc’s grin broadened. “That is a caern, didn’t any of you thought it was odd this is an open-world dungeon instead of an instance. We defeat the dragon, and we get to claim this place as our own.”

“Until someone takes it from us,” Paul said, “as far as I know, none of us is staying on Titan station past our current business.”

“It does simplify our victory celebration,” Melor said, “we can have it here.”

“That’s if we win,” Omar said. “Does it have any weak points?”

“Cold and ice,” Marc answered.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me,” Omar said. “You brought us to fight a dragon’s who’s only weakness if that one element I don’t control yet? Taro, do you have anything cold related?”

The bat shook his head. “I don’t even have the kind of ingredients I’d need to cobble something like that together.”

Melor pulled his ax. “Then we do this the hard way.”

Paul looked around and put his fingers to his mouth. His steed appeared after the whistle. Omar looked at the dragon in worry, but they were outside its field of detection.

The raccoon climbs on his quad. “At least I have space to move about here.”

Omar sighed. “As Taro said. We made it this far, we might as well go for it, but Marc, if we win, your ass is mine.”

“If we win, you’re welcome to it,” the bull answered and Omar realized his previous confidence had been forced. Marc was no more confident in their victory than any of them were.

Omar shook his hands to loosen them “okay guys, let’s do this.” Stepped until the detection field as he finished the gesture to unleash the lightning strike.

* * * * *

“I am done,” Melor said, on his back, covered in gore. “If I move, it’s going to cost me the little health I have left.”

“Someone crawl to the caern to claim it and activate the healing field,” Marc said, leaning against a severed dragon leg, missing one of his own legs.

Paul limped to the pillar. “How do I claim it?”

“Just put your hand on it. The interface will appear.”

“Never claimed one before?” Omar asked.

“No, I’ve mostly done instance dungeons or city quests with I’m not with you guys.” He placed his hand on it and his eyes lit up.

“Congratulation then,” Marc said. “You have now claimed this cavern system. You can adjust its settings, bring up a few vendors, set defenses, and even establish a communication system for us to leave and retrieve messages. In short, you’re the god of this place. Please abuse the power responsibly.”

Omar felt better and his health rose fast. “I think he found the healing options.”

“And the rating,” the raccoon said, grinning.

“Good,” Omar replied as the ‘adult’ rating flashed. “Because a certain skeleton owes me an ass.” He removed his robe, exposing a muscular metallic body of brass and silver with a polished brass cock jutting out of his crotch.

“I swear,” the bull said, standing and taking odd his scale armor. “That thing’s always hard.”

“Only in adult-rated areas,” Omar replied, stepping up to the skeletal bull. “You telling me yours has an off switch. Bonesword?”

“Off switch? What are those?” the bull replied, turning and offering his ass to the metal tiger.

* * * * *

Taro rested on top of the raccoon, exhausted all the way to this real body. He loved these celebrations and was definitely happy he’d invested in a top of the line sensory suit. He rolled off Paul and was leaning against Melor, who ran a hand over the circuitry on top of Taro’s head. Contented sighs sounded throughout the pile.

Taro chuckled. “I went up a level, guys. I’m officially forty-five.”

“Almost forty-six here.” Melor said, “I’d just crossed forty-five before this.”

“Forty-eight,” Marc said.

“Same,” Omar said.

“Forty-four,” Paul finished, “but I was forty-second at the start of the quest.”

“We should celebrate,” Taro said.

“Again?” Marc said. “I’m not sure if I can take much more of that metal cock.

“I mean, we should meet up and have dinner. You know. Meet officially. We’ve known each other for close to twenty-five years now and not one of us has met for real. We’re all here, so why not?”

The silence stretched, finally, Omar sighed. “I can’t. This was my last game here before my cruise departs. I’m heading back to Earth, vacation’s over.”

“I might be able to do it later,” Marc said, “but once I log out I have to meet with a client.”

“I’m going to be in meetings all week,” Paul said. “Being a big entopic producer sucks at times.”

“I’m here for a few weeks,” Melor said, “but I have to set up an entire division of employees for my corporation. I am going to be drowning in managerial stuff.”

Taro nodded, holding back the disappointment. “I get it. There’s always once we’re all back on Earth.”

The agreement felt forced to him. Maybe it was something about having an implant that made them consider this as good as the real thing. “Since Paul owns the caern, it’s safe to log out here, right?”

“Yeah,” Marc answered. “If someone claims it before you get back, you’ll just respawn in the city.”

“Okay, I’m going to log out then.” Taro clapped his hands together before any could say goodbye and he found himself in the game lobby, facing the wall of characters, with Taro’s space empty. It took off Taro, returning to being Nori, and put him back in his case, brushing imaginary dust off the bar’s cloth, fixing the tears it received during the battle with a touch. When he closed the case, information appeared on the surface. When he’d last worn him, the number of work credits he had accumulated. Level, health, traits, and abilities. As well as his pretty much empty inventory. He’d have to go shopping for ingredients before he played Taro again. He had plenty of gold after this quest.

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A Wasterful Death CH 11 2020-06-18T13:00:08+00:00
The store was busy with people dropping off bodies or picking up the orders. Exk’Eriel happened to look in his direction when Marlot joined the line, so he waved to him with his free hand. He was carrying a bag with the unfolded and washed blood container from his previous kill.

Exk’Eriel nodded then went back to talking with his customer, a slightly overweight alligator. Marlot could hear them over the noise of the crowd, but it didn’t seem to be going well. The alligator was gesturing emphatically, and Exk’Eriel was shaking his head.

Marlot checked the time, he’d taken into account how busy the store would be, so he should be able to get home, put the meat in his freezer and still be to Harik’s place on time. He might have to forgo the shower. The smell of meat would make the mouse uncomfortable. Hopefully, the line for the pickups would move quickly.

Drugar was at the counter with Exk’Eriel, but he was handling the pickups and sale of the pies. While the other three moved the orders outside to be transferred into the cars. The bundles of meat had a protective wrapping and were stacked on pushcarts.

The line moved steadily, and half an hour later he was at the counter. “Marlot. I dropped off my kill yesterday. I’ll also take three pies.” If he didn’t have to worry about prepping his food, he should be able to grab a quick shower.

“Horse,” Drugar read off the screen, “Just the meat and fifteen quarts of blood.”

“Just fifteen?”

The hyena checked. “Yes, it says we could keep ten.”

Marlot nodded. “My estimation of his mass was off. I thought I’d get twenty quarts out of him.”

“Well, considering you left us everything else, I can get you the five quarts, it won’t be from your kill though.”

Marlot smiled. “Thanks, but I don’t have the time. I’ll manage.” If he had to, he could buy some preserved blood from the convenience at the end of his block, even if he hated the way that stuff tasted.

Agasmil rolled out a cart as Marlot paid for the pies. “Marlot Blackclaw?” the hyena asked.

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Just point me to your car.”

Marlot helped him move the meat to the trunk

“Thanks, Agasmil,” Marlot said as the hyena pushed the cart away.

The hyena stopped and turned. He studied the wolf. “Sorry, but do we know each other?”

“Not really, I’m usually here twice a month. I caught your name from discussions between you and your brothers.”

“Ahh, okay. Sorry, I don’t think I ever noticed you before.”

“It’s okay, you deal with a lot of people every day. I wasn’t expecting you to remember me. Have a good night.”

“Yeah, you too.”

The hyena was still looking in Marlot’s direction with a puzzled expression as he pulled out of the parking lot. Once home he pulled out his own cart and moved the packs of meat and blood to it. He counted twenty-five packs. The hyena put three pounds to a pack, so each was one meal. Considering he and Trembor usually had lunch at the office from the meat there, he was good for almost the next month. That had been a good kill.

With everything in the freezer and a quick shower, he headed out. Harik lived in a neighborhood on the other side of the core. And even with his pad directing him around the worse of the traffic, he was a few minutes late.

The house was large. On paper it was for a family of six, as were all the houses around, and the others had children playing in the front yard under parent supervision. Harik didn’t have a family, but he was wealthy from his work in electronics and he could afford to pay to have the paperwork misfiled so no one evicted him.

“Like dad always said, ‘Wealth has its privilege’.”

The door opened before he could buzz. “If you weren’t here in the next five minutes I was going to start without you,” the mouse said.

“Thanks for waiting.”

“Thanks for showering,” Harik spoke quickly and looked around nervously. Marlot thought he was making the mouse nervous, being twice his size, and a predator. he had no way to know since he’d never seen the mouse outside of these meetings.

They walked by rooms filled with electronics. Every bedroom except for his bedroom, and his office looked like someone had shredded computers and pads and lefts the parts piled up on the floor.

Marlot didn’t know how the mouse could work in this environment, but he couldn’t deny his success. Harik had designed the hardware for the Slasher, which was why he was getting one month before it was available to the public.

“Finally!” A raccoon exclaimed, rubbing her hands together.

“Alright, we finally get to see the wonder.” Said a rabbit stretched on the couch.

“Afirna, Joren,” Marlot greeted them. “Where’s Ukely?” She was the last of their quintet.

“She can’t make it Joren said, getting up and moving to the desk, on which was a large box with the Interon logo on each side. The rabbit put a claw under one of the flaps, but it was slapped away by Harik.

“Patience, patience. My system, my privilege to own it.”

“Then you better do it before I get too impatient,” Marlot said. As usual, they were nervous in his presence. They couldn’t help it, he was a predator, and he couldn’t help reacting to it himself, finding himself slightly on edge and wanting to chase one of them.

He wouldn’t do it. Not only was it impolite in the extreme to hunt your host or his guests, they were his friends.

Harik carefully opened the box, then pulled the system. It was a black cube, close to a foot on all sides. Harik placed it in the center of the desk.

“That’s it?” Afirna said. “The way you were talking about it, I was expecting something more impressive.”

“Where’s the screen?” Marlot asked.

“They didn’t ship it with one, I have plenty.” Harik pulled one from the floor and set it on the box.

Joren grabbed a keyboard and handed it to the mouse.

“I won’t need it.”

“Errr, isn’t this how you interact with a system?”

“Yes, but the Slasher comes with its own keyboard.”

Marlot studied the system. mate black plastic casing with no visible seams. He expected them to be on the underside, as not to mare the simplicity of the design. That was one of the things Interon was consistent on.

“I don’t see where it’s stored,” the wolf commented.

“That’s because it isn’t one.” The mouse pressed the corner, and the system beeped. The screen flashed and the Interon logo appeared. Less than five-second later the screen showed the standard display.

“They sped up the boot-up,” Afirna said.

“It has the new Interon Slasher processor, it’s using milicent circuitry in HAFIM encoding, just that doubles its speed. Memory is now on flatline connection so information transfer if up to a millionth of a second.”

Marlot was impressed. “Is it still on the A-Core language?”

“Yes, they considered going to Sintico, but not enough programmers use it.”

Marlot was happy about that. He knew Sintico, but he found it too bulky of a language, for all that it was supposed to make programming more intuitive. A-Core was still his preferred language.

“I still don’t see the keyboard,” Joren mentioned.

Harik smiled. “That’s because you’re not looking. it’s right here.” The mouse tapped the empty desk in front of the system, and the keyboard appeared.

“It’s a light projection?” the raccoon asked.

“yes. the projector is at the base of the casing. the size can be adjusted, and it had location perception is extremely accurate.” He quickly typed commands, bringing up management windows and then the code for the operating system.

Marlot looked at it, but it was going by too fast to make much of it. Harik wasn’t showing that to them, just how responsive the keyboard was.

“I think they didn’t take into account a good part of the population.” Marlot wriggled his fingers, and then typed on the desk, his claws clicking loudly against the wooden surface. “There’s a lot of us who either don’t have retractable claws, or don’t constantly trim them short. I’m going to gouge holes on my desk in no time this way.”

Harik nodded. “It still recognized external keyboards. You don’t have to use the integrated one.”

“Good,” Joren said. He put the keyboard he was holding on the desk. “Move over, I want to see what this baby can do.”


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Wasterful Death CH 11.pdf (55.6KiB)

A Wasterful Death CH 10 2020-06-17T13:00:09+00:00
Trembor walked up to the building where two of the males he needed to talk to lived. It was a multiple lodging building for singles who couldn’t afford houses. It was located at the edge of one of the poorer neighborhoods and an industrial zone.

It looked in much better shape than the lion expected for this area. The windows he could see were intact, the grass and trees well maintained. The concrete path leading him to the entrance had been poured recently and the columns holding up the overhand had been painted no more than two days ago, judging by the scent.

A sign, polished to a shine, proclaimed predation wasn’t allowed within the building on threat of prosecution by the administration, but Trembor didn’t see anyone in the lobby who could enforce it. The only person was a smallish buffalo mopping the floor. She glanced at him, and moved away, but didn’t otherwise acknowledge his presence.

Trembor took the stairs instead of the elevator. The stairwell was bright due mostly to a skylight in the ceiling, twenty floors above, and lights on each wall. It smelled well used but clean.

He opened the door to the second floor, where his first quarry lived, and took a step back in shock at the stark contrast.

The carpet might have been auburn, at some point long ago, but now it was the deep brown of dried blood, and the scent confirmed that more than one person had died here. So much for this being a no predation zone. The sign was worthless if the building owner didn’t enforce it. On top of that, garbage bags lined the wall. Fortunately, they didn’t smell too old yet.

He made his way to his quarry’s door, careful to avoid spots on the carpet that looked to be wet. Once there, he wrinkled his nose. The smell in the hall was getting bad, but what wafted through the door ranked. It was the smell of catnip smoke. He steeled himself for what was coming and knocked.

The door opened and an emaciated black and white cat leveled his partially vacant gaze on him. “What’s you want?”

Trembor almost took a step back as the smell of catnip engulfed him. He showed his ID and kept his dislike for the addict out of his voice. “Trembor Goldenmane, registered investigator. I’m looking for Sorin Whitetag.”

The cat looked at the ID, moving closer and then back. he rubbed his eyes, looked again, then shrugged. “that’s me.”

Trembor looked over the cat’s shoulder, into the one room containing a pullout couch, table beside it, piled with dishes. He really didn’t want to enter. “Can I come in?” He couldn’t have this conversation in the hallway. “I have questions about Aiden Spottedfur.”

The cat shrugged again. “Whatever.” He walked to the couch, folding it close. The lion wished Marlot had been the one here instead, catnip wouldn’t bother him. He entered, closing the door behind him.

Aiden had had twelve lovers over the past ten years, not counting her contract. Marlot had been right about her, all of them been young when the relationship started. Not old enough to have experienced their first heat.

Of the twelve, only six still lived. Since Marlot had cleared Telima that left five. Two lived near the academy, Marlot would see them, Trembor got the other three because two lived in the same building. Now he regretted it.

He did his best to keep his breathing shallow.

“When was the last time you saw Aiden?” He decided to stick to the basic questions. and get out of here as fast as possible.

“The day that furless queen ruined my life,” Sorin spat, throwing torn and stained cushions on the couch before letting himself fall on them.

“So you two didn’t part on good terms.”

Sorin glared at him. “What’s you think? Look around. ‘Really thinking this was what I wanted outa life? I had an athletic career in front of me. I woulda put the academy on the map.” He grew quiet, then snarled silently. “Then she shows up, made me all sort of promise. Introduced me to nip.” He chuckled, then laughed for a good minute before he managed to stop. “She sure showed me some good times. But then she dumped me like I was last week’s trash. When I tried to get some answers out of her she had her new male beat me up.”

“He didn’t try to do anything more?”

“Couldn’t. I was still a student. ‘Course that didn’t last long. Backers stopped paying for my courses when my grades dropped too much. She kept saying I didn’t have to worry about that, she’d take care of me.” Sorin grew forlorn.

Trembor nodded to himself. Athletics weren’t part of the basic curriculum. Even if what he implied was true, He’d have to pay to continue. He hadn’t been able to afford it on his own, and whoever his backer was, they expected him to maintain a minimum level of performance.

“Did you hear she died?”

The cat looked up at him, his eyes taking a moment to focus on the present. “Yeah, I heard. Good riddance is all I got to say. Wish I’d been able to afford doing it to her. I’d have loved to have seen the look in her eyes when I ripped her throat out.” He mimed the act.

Trembor shutoff his pad, feeling a catnip induced headache coming on. “Thank you for your time. I don’t think I’ll need anything else.”

“You and ‘vreone else.” The cat slumped forward and looked at the floor. “Wish someone’d put me out of my m’sry.”

Never going to happen, Trembor thought as he left, hurrying to the stairwell where the air was clean. He didn’t understand those who smoked nip. It smelled bad, and the smoke struck to their body, making it impossible to sneak up on prey. On top of that, according to an article he read, it numbed the senses, making hunting even more difficult. It’s one redeeming quality, if that was even the word for it, was that it made the smoker’s meat taste horrible.

He knew that one from experience. he’d hunted a smoker in his youth and got sick after only a few bites. He’d stalked that male long enough to know he was a light smoker, and he hadn’t been able to eat anymore, so he could only imagine what someone like Sorin tasted like.

It was no wonder so many addicts lined the alleys. No one wanted to touch them even though their ratings were none existent.

It took a few minutes for the pounding in his head to subside, then took a few more to prepare himself for what the other one was going to be like. The whole climb to the top floor he found himself wondering what the lizard he was seeking was going to be addicted to.

He wasn’t familiar with reptile physiology, but he could only hope that whatever it was wouldn’t be smoke, or that at least he wasn’t going to get a headache from it.

He opened the door and was shocked at how clean the hallway was. The carper was clean, showing that it was a pale auburn. There was no garbage and the air smelled as fresh as in the stairwell. Maybe talking with the lizard wouldn’t be as bad as he feared.

His name was Cristan Hardtalon, and iguana. He was the oldest of Aiden’s surviving lovers. And he didn’t seem to be home, Trembor concluded after knocking a few times.

The sound of wood sliding against wood made him look over his shoulder. A pair for large bovine eyes look back at him through the door’s viewer. He showed his ID. “Registered investigator Goldmane.”

“I don’t care,” the female behind the door replied. “I’m not opening the door to a predator.”

Trembor smiled and took a step closed. Her eyes grew wider. “It’s quite alright ma’am. You don’t have to. Do you know Cristian Hardtalon?”

“I’ve seen him around. he’s safe to be around.”

“Do you know when he’s going to be back?”

“He’s usually at the gym all day. He won’t be back anytime soon.”

“Do you know where it is?”

“It’s on Harrow road, in the financial district. It’s called Tension.” She smalled the viewer shut.

“Thank you,” he told the door.

The financial district was on the other side of the city. From here it would be at least an hour’s drive. The academy wasn’t too far. He checked the addresses of the males Marlot would question.

He called Marlot. “hey, it’s me.”… “One of the males I need to talk to spends his day in a gym in the financial district.”… “Actually, I was thinking we could meet there once I’m done and question him together, how does that sound?”… “okay, I’ll do that. See you there.” He disconnected and sent Marlot the information the female had given him.

* * * * *

“Yeah?” Marlot said, putting his pad to his ear. “Hey.”… “Okay, I’m going to be in the area, do you want me to question him?” He smiled. “Sure, just send me the information and I’ll wait for you.” He put the pad away. He turned to the bull who had been escorted him out of the house. “I’m sorry about that.”

The bull nodded and made a noncommittal noise before opening the door. Marlot ignored the beep telling him he’d received a message as he walked to his car.

He wondered if it might not have been better for Trembor to take this one. His attitude baffled him. He idolized Aiden, not despite what she had done to him, but because of it. He had turned every mistreatment he had received into some sort of test of his personality, to ensure he was worthy of her. Up to the point where years after she had dumped him he continued to build himself up to try to match her ideal, in the hopes she would come back to him.

The news of her death had devastated him. He could barely stop crying long enough to answer Marlot’s questions. The bull had shown the wolf all the pictures of her he had set up in the shrine he’d just made to her memory.

It took all of Marlot’s self-control not to smack him in the hopes he would wake up and see Aiden for the abuser she was. She didn’t deserve any of the worship he was giving her. Maybe what these males had gone through was too close to his experience for him to remain detached.

He could understand that everyone dealt differently with abuse — well, maybe not in this case, but he hoped the next male wasn’t going to be like this one. He checked the address, just a mile outside the financial district.

* * * * *

A brown-furred wolf opened the door after Marlot knocked. He showed his ID. “Are you Merkin Sunrunner?”

“Yes, I am.” Merkin’s tone was guarded.

“I’d like to ask you some questions about Aiden Spottedfur.”

The wolf stiffened at the name. he opened his mouth to say something, but a female voice came from inside. “Honey, are you going to be quick? Raida needs to be changed.”

“I’ll just be a moment,” he replied before joining Marlot on the patio and closing the door behind him. “I’m going to make this real easy for you. Did I ever want to see Aiden dead? you can be sure I did, right after she dumped me. back then, if I’d have the chance I would have wrung her neck and not cared about having to work it off. but that was eight years ago. I’ve built myself a life since then, in spite of what she did to me. I have a family and, frankly, I couldn’t care less what happened to her.”

Marlot studied him for a moment, taking in his scent. Annoyed and a little angry. “You seem pretty sure of why I’m here.”

Merkin rolled his eyes. “I’m not stupid. Registered Investigators only get involved when deaths aren’t claimed. There’s no way I could afford to pay that, so you’re trying to find out if I had anything to do with her death. Why else would you be here?” He stared at Marlot. “Well, I don’t. I have better things to occupy my time than an exploitive female. is there going to be anything else?”

Marlot suppressed a smile of satisfaction. This was a reaction he understood perfectly. “No, that’ll be all for now. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.” He got back inside and Marlot returned to his car.

* * * * *

He didn’t bother looking for a place to park within the district, even if he found one, he wouldn’t be able to afford it. Instead, he parked at the edge and walked the rest of the way.

He felt eyes follow him as he walked, but he wasn’t worried. His build alone would deter most. Those who weren’t would be given pause by the confidence in his steps, and the clean-cut of his suit. Those were the marks of someone productive, therefore expensive.

That didn’t mean he was safe.

He had been surprised to learn, the hard way, that some people in the city were so desperate for food they might attack anyone, even another predator, and not care about the consequences.

Back in his hometown, everyone had food. Even if someone fell on hard times and couldn’t pay the communal fee, the others would chip in until they got back on their feet.

He bought a pack of dried meat from a corner store and leaned against the building across the street from the gym. It was real meat. He didn’t care how palatable the synthetic stuff was supposed to be, or that it cost so much less right now, he wouldn’t lower himself to eating that. He was a predator, and predators ate meat. It was that simple.

He’d eaten half the bag when he was the lion drive by for the first time, searching for a parking spot. Marlot waved at him. He also waved the second and third time he drove by. He didn’t on the fourth because Trembor glared at him as he was about to raise his hand.

After that, the lion disappeared for half an hour. When he reappeared he was walking out of an alley, tail lashing in frustration.

“We should be getting special parking permits for when we’re working,” Trembor growled.

Marlot chuckles and offered him the last of the meat. “I think the city already has enough problems with the enforcers using them to park everywhere they want. They’d probably see giving us some as just adding to the problem.”

“Probably.” Trembor worked out his frustration by ripping the meat into pieces.

“How’d it go?”

Trembor shrugged. “One’s a nip addict who couldn’t get out of his place if it was on fire. The other has a normal life working in a factory, although he really let himself go. you?”

“one worships the ground she walked on. I know,” Marlot said at Trembor’s look of disbelief. “I don’t get it either. The other’s still angry at her, but he’s proving to himself and her that he can have a normal life despite what she did to him.”

Trembor crumpled the empty bag and dropped in a trashcan “Let’s go talk to Cristan.”

Marlot pointed to the ‘no predation’ sign by the door.

“This is a gym, even if all they have are muscle-building machines, I don’t think they have any trouble enforcing it.”

As with the lodging building, it was the owner’s responsibility to enforce it, either through force or legal action. The former tended to be more successful than the later. Only the academy grounds, hospitals, and the main government building were ‘no predation zones’ backed by the law.

The gym was one large room filled with various strength building machines commonly used by non-predators. Marlot saw only a hand full of predators among the large numbers of prey species. They didn’t look like they were looking for a meal, but actually using the machines. He shrugged, to each their own.

The air was thick with scents, so many of them he couldn’t tell species apart. All he could tell for certain was that they were exerting themselves.

Trembor asked the receptionist, a solidly build female rabbit, for Cristan and she pointed to a large iguana helping a small squirrel holding weights.

“Cristan Hardtalon?” Trembor asked him, showing his ID.

The iguana looked at them, then the ID. He patted the squirrel on the shoulder. “Remember what I said, lift up, don’t swing. Do twelve reps, then rest for a minute and do another set. If I’m not back by then, move to the leg extension, and I’ll show you the next exercise after that.” he turned to Marlot and Trembor. “What can I do for you?”

“We’d like to ask you about Aiden Spottedfur,” Trembor said. Marlot also showed the iguana his ID.

Cristan’s eye ridges went up. “I thought RIs worked alone.”

“We get that a lot.” Marlot’s tone was flat. One of these days people would stop being so surprised.

The iguana shrugged and lead them to the juice bar. “I don’t know what I can tell you. It has to be more than ten years since I saw her.” He moved behind the counter.

“What was your relationship to her?” Marlot asked.

Cristan chuckled. “I was her boy toy, not that I knew that at the time. I was sure I was the love of her life.” He took a bottle out of the fridge. “Can I offer you anything? I’m afraid I don’t have any blood though. I have a strict policy against carrying anything that might indicate predation.”

“Whatever you have is fine,” Marlot said.

Trembor declined the offer. “How did you react when she dumped you for someone else?”

“It stung for a while.” The iguana leaned on the counter. “I sulked for a while, but then I realized that what she’d done was for the best. She’s the reason I got into strength building. I was nowhere near this muscular when I first met her. She made it clear she liked lots of muscles on her males, so I worked hard to become what she wanted.” He took a long swallow. “having to deal with the breakup toughened me up, made me shrewd, so I was able to jump on the business opportunity that led me here.” He motioned to the gym.

“Were you affected by her death?”

“Sure, but I’m not the boy who’d fallen in love with her anymore. She showed me what life is about, and because of that I’m sorry she’s dead, but look around. I have plenty of females around me. I don’t miss Aiden at all.”

“Thank you for your time,” Trembor said, and they left.

“What do you think?” Trembor asked Marlot.

“I think we spent the afternoon learning a whole lot about a bunch of strangers, but nothing that puts us closer to her killer.” the wolf replied. “Tomorrow I’ll send their names to the enforcers, maybe they can place one of them at her house.”

“If they can it will certainly help close this case, but that’s for tomorrow. How about we head to my place? I have food, and a comfortable bed.”

Marlot quickly looked around to see if anyone was listening to them. Then he shook his head. “Can’t. I have to go to the store and pick up my meat, then I’m meeting with the guy.”

“Oh, right. Today’s your weekly tech meeting. Are you sure I can’t convince you to come to my place instead? I’m much better company.”

“Yes, you are, but Harik bought a new Interon Slasher System, and he promised he’d wait for tonight before unpacking it and setting it up, so we could experience the first boot up with him.”

Trembor looked at him blankly.

“It’s Interon’s new system, the upgrade from the Claws one that came out two years ago?”

Trembor took out his pad and ran a search.

Marlot looked at the screen. “What are you looking for?” he asked when he realized the lion wasn’t looking for information on the computer

“I’m looking for an addiction treatment center.”

“Why?”

Trembor looked sideways at the wolf. “Because you have a problem.”

Marlot rolled his eyes. “I do not have a problem.”

“You’re picking a computer over an evening with me. That is a clear sign there’s something wrong.” He put his pad away.

“I’m not picking anything. I’m going to be hanging out with friends who happen to speak the same language as me. You’re welcome to come with me.”

“Oh no. You are not going to rope me into that. For all I know I’m going to catch what you have and next thing you’ll know I’ll be saying things like ‘But the XYZ computer is so much better than the ABC one, I can’t understand how come no one realizes that. Oh, and remember to backup your pad. What would you do if you lost it? The information in it doesn’t just magically appear on it, you know.” His smile stretched from cheek to cheek.

“I do not talk like that,” Marlot said pointedly.

“I know you don’t.”

They’d reached Marlot’s car. “Where is yours parked?”

“Two blocks that way. I couldn’t find anything closer either.” Trembor looked around, making sure no one was there, and kissed Marlot. “You have fun tonight. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“You too.”

“Well, since you’re not going to be there to make my evening interesting I’ll just relax with a vid.”

“Well, enjoy that then.” Marlot waited until the lion had taken half a dozen steps. “Oh, Trembor?”

The lion turned. “Yeah?”

“Remember to backup your pad when you get home. You wouldn’t want to lose all your information. You do know that stuff isn’t magically floating in the air, right?”

Trembor snarled amicably at him. “Very funny. you go do your techy things and let me enjoy my evening.”


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A Wasterful Death CH 09 2020-06-16T13:00:09+00:00
Marlot accessed Aiden’s pad with his computer. Normally the enforcers took care of extracting the information off any electronic device owned by the body, but they were low priority items.

Since he’d gone through the needed certifications, Marlot was authorized to do the extraction. He was also less busy, so he’d requested it couriered overnight. Hela’han handed it to him when he got in.

Marlot had cracked enough pads in his life to be confident he wouldn’t lose anything from her pad. Back in his home town, he’d been the one everyone went to when they had problems with their electronics. What he wanted to get off it was the list of her conquest. He knew it was in there, prowlers like her always kept track of who they had used.

He got in a lot easier than he expected. As the vice president at Arcas he expected her to have better security, then the simple password he bypassed. She did have encrypted files, close to half the content of her pad.

He sent the unencrypted files to Trembor’s computer to let him look through them while he worked at breaking the encryptions. They were top of the line ones. Marlot was familiar with all the basic encryption modes, as well as many of the more obscure ones, but he had to call on experts to identify Aiden’s. Once he knew which one had been used, all it took was a little reading about it before he wrote a program to assemble the key to the encryption.

“You okay?” Trembor looked at him. Marlot had been fidgeting for a few minutes.

“Just thinking about Telima.” Marlot stood and stretched.

“Who?”

“The doberman from Aiden’s place.”

“What about him?”

“I’m just thinking that once we catch Aiden’s killer her history as a prowler is going to come out. He’s going to be devastated when he finds out she was just using him.”

Trembor rubbed the back of his neck. “You can’t be sure of that.”

“He’s completely in love with her, and he believes she was in love with him, that’s how they work. Trust me, when he finds out it’s going to shatter his world.”

The lion shrugged. “okay, but it isn’t like you can do anything about it.”

Marlot rested against his desk. “I can tell him about the cub.” He nodded thoughtfully to himself.

Trembor’s eyes narrowed, and he clenched his jaw in anger. hadn’t he told the wolf that cubs weren’t pieces of meat to be dangled in front of someone hungry?

Marlot didn’t notice his reaction. He was too busy with his own thought to hear The lion’s tail lashing about and hitting the side of the chair.

Trembor waited for the anger to pass. There was no point in getting into an argument about this. “Is that smart?” he finally asked. He couldn’t see any good coming from this, but maybe it was a lesson Marlot needed to learn first hand? “He’s still a cub himself. How is he going to deal with learning that he lost both the female he loved and his cub?”

“It’ll hurt, but at least he’s going to be able to use that against those who’ll say she was just using him.”

“What if it’s not his?”

“It is.” Marlot’s tone was certain. “Alicon said she’d been on anti-pregnancy medication until five months ago. It would have taken a while for her system to clear them out, and then Telima got her pregnant before Alicon.” He looked in the lion’s eyes. “I know that kind of female. She wasn’t going to risk what she had by having sex with another male.”

Trembor stared back and focused on keeping his tone neutral. he didn’t want an argument. “You know how I feel about using a cub that way.”

“This isn’t like yesterday. You don’t know what it’s like to be used by a female like her and then just thrown away. I’m not going to wave the cub in front of him and take it away. I want to use it so Telima won’t have to go through that. I’m not doing it to hurt him, or to get a reaction. I want to give him a family so he’ll be able to weather what’s going to happen when we catch the killer.”

Trembor studied his lover for a moment. “You’re right. I don’t know what that’s like. I still think you’re making a mistake, but,” he paused, “just be careful when you tell him, okay?”

Marlot nodded and grabbed his jacket. “The computer’s going to beep when the program’s done. It isn’t locked so you can go through the files then.” He hurried out the door without giving Trembor time to reply.

The lion shook his head sadly as he watched the wolf vanish.

* * * * *

“Sorry ‘bout that,” the burly bear in the security uniform said as he handed Marlot his ID back, and then gave him a visitor’s badge. “We’ve been getting a lot of unauthorized people on campus so we’ve had to increase security. Just go to the administration building. advisor Shortpelt will be waiting for you.”

Marlot thanked the guard and drove in, marveling at the size of the campus. He knew it covered twenty city blocks, but hadn’t realized how much space that was until now. When he’d thought about the Academy, he’d imagined something closer to what he’d experienced in his hometown. Three buildings, rarely more than half full.

He drove slowly, both to make sure not to hit any of the students to cross the road without checking if there was an oncoming car, and to watch the students themselves. He hadn’t expected the species to mix as much as what he saw. Back home, it was expected for prey species to see to the education of their own cubs. After all, as long as they knew how to farm the land, they’d be fine.

Here, predators and preys intermingled. They laughed and played together. It was the advantage of spending their days in the largest No Predation Zone in the city. It was also why the academy needed the guards. A lot of vagrant, and others with low productivity rating, tried to get on campus for protection.

There were lawful ways to gain access, mainly by taking courses, but those were expensive. So, almost by virtue of where they stood in the food chain, a lot of those who needed the protection the campus afforded, couldn’t afford to take the courses.

Schooling was free for cubs. They spent ten years here, learning the basics to function in society, as well as a trade of their choice. By the time they reached predation age, it was expected they had learned everything they needed to have productive lives.

Those who wanted to pursue more studies had to find a way to pay for them. The wealthier families could afford to have cubs continue to higher studies, but for anyone else, it was the companies that paid for them.

They scoured through the students, looking for the ones with the best grades, and offered to pay for the higher studies in exchange for a work contract once they were done.

The companies looked everywhere, even in his home town, with its low population. They never wrote anywhere off in their hunt for the best employees.

Marlot hadn’t needed them. He’d known early on he was going to be a registered investigator. He’d been the only one in the town to take that course. There wasn’t much call for them in smaller towns.

He studied hard and graduated in the top ten percent in the country. This ensured his productivity rating started high, and it gave him time to build a reputation. Within two years his territory included half a dozen other towns who didn’t have their own RIs.

The road led to the administration building. It was one of the smaller ones within the grounds. The direct road ensured no one had a reason to wander off before explaining the reason for the visit. He parked in the half-full lot and entered the building.

“Can I help you?” the yak seated behind the reception desk asked.

“RI Blackclaw, I’m here to see advisor Shortpelt.”

“Just a moment.” She made a call.

She didn’t show any of the usual nervous signs prey showed around predators they didn’t know. It was probably because she spent so much time inside a no predation zone. Marlot made a mental note of her name, to add to his list of potential meals. Her lack of nervousness could mean she was careless when she was outside the campus. If only for that it would be worth the research time to find out what range her rating fell in.

“investigator Blackclaw?” A small equine walked down the hallway. She extended her hand to him. “I’m Sterin Shortpelt, what do you want with Telima?”

Marlot shook it, and she too was unusually calm around him. He didn’t bother making note of her name. As an academy advisor, there was no way he could afford her.

“How is he doing?”

“I’m not aware of anything being wrong with him.” She led him to her office. “Should I be?”

It was a small space, barely large enough for her desk and the two chairs. “I’m investigating the unclaimed death of someone he was close to.” He sat in the chair before her desk.

“The female he’s seeing?”

Marlot nodded.

“I’d wondered why he came back here on his rest day. When he started seeing her, he rearranged his schedule so his rest days were consecutive, and he always spent them away from academy grounds. I’m guessing at her place.”

“Did you know her?”

“No, but I know of her. She’s a prowler. Every year she comes to the academy under the pretense of looking for potential recruits for her company, but she spends all her time in the gym. She’s ruined a lot of student’s lives, so when I found out Telima was seeing her, I kept an eye on him, tried to make sure he didn’t sacrifice his future for her.”

“has anyone tried to stop her from prowling here?”

“Not that I’m aware of, at least not since I’ve started working here. What she’s doing isn’t illegal, technically.”

“I know, it’s just highly immoral.” Marlot barely kept the growl out of his voice. “Do know you if anyone kept a list of the cubs she prowled upon?”

Sterin searched through the system. “It doesn’t look like they did, sorry.”

“It’s alright. Do you have any objection if I go see Telima?”

“No.” She asked for his badge and inserted it in the slot on her keyboard. a few keystrokes and she returned it. “He’s in the history class right now. I’ve given you access to that building, and that class. Connect your pad to the academy’s network and you’ll be able to access the map. If your pad is one of the newer models, the network can track it and give you directions.”

Marlot thanks her. As she suggested he connected to the network, and it guided him. the building was close by so he walked there. The network provided him with information on the buildings he walked by on his way there, their use, as well as their history.

It guided him through corridors, where he had to dodge running cubs of various ages until he came to the door indicated. His badge unlocked it, and he entered.

It was a large room, a half amphitheater with a dozen rows of desks, half of which were filled. The instructor was a rabbit, and she was seated at the desk on a raised dais. The cubs were bent over their pads, either reading or writing, he couldn’t tell. The rabbit glanced at her pad, then up at him.

He leaned against the wall while he waited for the class to end. This was so different from the classroom he’d learned in. It had been a small room with no more than fifteen desks. He’d spent his ten years in the same classroom, with the same eight cubs.

The rabbit stood and moved in front of her desk. “Alright, you can finish the rest when you’re home.” The cubs looked around, in obvious surprise, but put their pads away. A few of them looked at the clock in the center of the wall, above the instructor.

“I’m going to throw a few questions out to you,” she said. “This isn’t for points, think of it as an impromptu practice for the upcoming test. Now, who can tell me when the Productivity Tax was first introduced.” Hands went up. “Dakruk.”

The badger she indicated looked around nervously. “Well, do you mean the rating tax? or the initial documented case of a tax being paid?”

“That’s very good. What’s the difference?”

“That caught the badger unprepared. Well, the rating tax system was a result of the computerized census. The initial case was.” He hesitated. “Well, it was the first time we know someone paid money for having eaten someone.”

“Very good Dakruk, when did that happen?”

“In five hundred and three.”

“Correct. Now, who can tell me who decided what that amount was, and why he required it be paid?”

More hands went up

“Jelafin.”

An antelope stood. “It was King Arshimed the fifth, and he had to ask for money because it was the peace envoy who ate his favorite valet. Normally he’d just have eaten the person responsible, but that would have started away he was trying to avoid, so he asked for money instead.”

“Correct, do you know how much he asked for?”

Marlot had to think back on his own history classes. He thought it had been two hundred gold shling.

“It was two hundred and twenty claws,” the rabbit answered herself after the silence went on. “It’s the first documented case of a value being applied to a worker. Before that time protection was provided by the employer. As far as we know, that incident is what led to the creation of the system we now call the Productivity Rating System, which calculates how much each and everyone of us is worth to society, therefore how much needs to be paid as a tax if we’re killed.”

She looked the class over. “The reason I bought this up, is that we have a registered investigator with us today.”

The class had a gasp of surprise, which amused Marlot, then they looked around and over their shoulder at him. Only then did it register she meant him. He straightened and smoothed down his jacket under the gaze of the students.

“Investigator Blackclaw, would you come done here please?”

He thought about declining, but everyone was looking at him expectantly. He swallowed and eyed the door for a moment, before walking down the steps to join the instructor.

He looked at the students once he was next to her, and his tail hugged his leg.

“Can you tell the class what it is exactly that you do?”

He looked at her, and for a moment he thought he had an idea what prey felt like the moment it realized a predator had his sight set on it. “err, well, I investigate unclaimed death.”

She smiled warmly at him, and that didn’t make him feel any better. “Maybe you can go in some more details, maybe tell us how you came to become an investigator?”

The desire to flee reared itself. he looked the class over and swallowed again. “I’m sorry, I’m not very good at this.” He noticed Telima in the fourth row who was looking at him with some apprehension. he focused on him. He could talk to him.

He took a few breaths and remembered what he’d learned during his RI classes. “The position which is called Registered Investigator used to be done by the enforcers. They would investigate anyone who disappeared to find out if they’d been eaten. Until the census and rating system was set in place forty years ago or so, it was difficult to ensure the PRT was paid. there was no easy way to keep track of who had died and who had just moved away.

“Once both systems were in place, it became easier to keep track of that and therefore enforce the paying of the tax. The first department to be separated from the enforcers was the Missing Persons Bureau, who looks into people who disappear without leaving a body. When the census was first started, it’s estimated that only thirty to forty percent of the people killing prey paid the tax. Twenty years later we were up to ninety percent.

“At that point, the government decided it wasn’t worth having the enforcers do it anymore, they have more important matters to deal with, so they outsourced the position, which is what RIs now do. These days, the payment rate is above ninety-nine percent.

“I took my RI courses at the academy, well, the one back home. I’m from a farming town a few hours away. But anyone can apply to become an RI. if you pass the qualification tests, you go on a waiting list, and when a territory becomes available, you get it.”

“Thank you investigator Blackclaw.”

Marlot only now noticed the cubs were fidgeting. He looked over his shoulder and the clock was pulsing between red and green, indicating the class was over.

“Telima, please stay behind,” she said as the student got up. “That was very textbook of you,” she whispered to Marlot.

“I’m sorry, that’s all I could think to say.”

She smiled. “It’s alright. Sorry for putting you on the spot.” She took her pad, vest, and left the classroom.

Marlot and Telima were the only ones left. The doberman was still in his chair, so Marlot climbed up to the third row.

“Hi.”

The worry in Telima’s eyes was apparent. “Am I in trouble?”

Marlot gave him the most reassuring smile he could. “No, you’re fine. I just needed to talk with you.” He looked around the classroom. “Is there someplace we can talk? I expect they’re going to need the room.”

“We can go to my room. I don’t have any other classes today.” He put his pad in a pocket and stood.

Marlot followed him and wondered if he was doing the right thing. Trembor’s words echoed in his mind. Did he have the right to burden Telima, who hadn’t entered predation age, with the knowledge he had a cub?

He pushed the question away. he was doing this to reinforce Telima’s belief Aiden had loved him. She had carried his cub, so no one would be able to convince him he had only been a toy for her.

He didn’t want Telima to go through the devastation that realization brought.

Telima’s room was small, a bed, dresser, a desk and barely enough space to move about. The doberman sat on his bed.

“So?” the cub asked.

Marlot hesitated, doubting the wisdom of his actions. “Aiden was carrying your cub when she died.”

“Oh,” was all Telima said, but Marlot smelled the shock off him. The doberman looked down at the floor and for a long time the room was silent.

The scent changed to grief, and Telima looked up, his gaze hollow. “Can I see it?” His voice was barely above a whisper.

Marlot crouched before him, and he had to force himself not to react to the smell. “It was only conceived two months ago. There isn’t going to be much to see.”

“Please,” the doberman pleaded. “I’m… I’m the father, don’t I have the right to see my cub?”

The pain in Telima’s voice made Marlot cringe. “Alright. I’ll make the arrangements. I’ll call you when everything is ready.

Telima nodded and went back to looking at the floor.

Marlot fled to room. The smell surrounding the doberman almost made him sick. He cursed under his breath and wondered how he could have been so stupid. There was no way the pain he’d felt after being dumped had been greater than what he’s smelled coming off Telima.

He almost ran to the advisor’s office, but thankfully she wasn’t in. He had no idea how he could explain what he’d just done. He thought about waiting for her to come back but instead left a message with the secretary for her to check in on Telima and left.

He sat in his car for half an hour, trying to decide what to do. Part of him wanted to go back inside, find the advisor, and tell her exactly what he’d told Telima. The other wanted him to start the car as drive as fast and as far from here as possible.

He jumped when his pad beeped and fumbled for it. “Hello?” he said, barely managing to keep his voice from cracking with worry.

“Hey, it’s me,” Trembor said. “I’ve gone through the list on Aiden’s pad. Are you done with the doberman?”

Marlot sighed at the sound of Trembor’s deep voice. “Yeah, I’m done here. I’ll head back to the office.”

“You don’t have to. a couple of ….” Trembor trailed off. “Are you okay?”

Marlot closed his eyes and leaned back in his seat. He should have known Trembor would pick up on it. “I’m…” He tried to say he was okay, but he couldn’t. “I screwed up. You were right, I shouldn’t have told him.”

Trembor was silent. “Do you want to postpone questioning her old lovers?” he finally asked, keeping his tone soft.

Marlot thought it over. Right now all he wanted was to curl up against his lion and have him soothe his worries away. Have him say that everything would be okay. He wanted someone else to deal with his mess, but he wasn’t a cub who could go hide under his mother’s tail. he was a full-grown male, and he had a job to do.

“No. The best thing all around is to get the killer and give Telima closure. I’ll come pick you up.” he blinked a couple of times before wiping the wetness away.

“You don’t have to. I padded Cerek earlier, he’s one of my brothers. He’s going to bring me my car. There are enough guys to see that it’s best if we split up, and some of them are close to the academy.

Marlot nodded, slightly disappointed he wouldn’t get to see Trembor right now. “okay, pad me their information and I’ll get started.”


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Wasterful Death CH 09.pdf (97.0KiB)

A Wasterful Death CH 08 2020-06-15T13:00:10+00:00
Once home Marlot changed into something more comfortable before getting meat out of the cooler. He didn’t have much choice left. He took out two of the four pieces left and put them in the heater. Good thing he was going hunting after eating. He emptied the last of the blood in a glass and rinsed the bottle. It wouldn’t be much, but if he wanted to have something left for the morning, he had to sacrifice tonight.

At least he wouldn’t be hunting on an empty stomach. Hunting hungry always caused him to act impulsively. He’d lost more than one prey that way.

Once the meat was warm, he preferred his close to body temperature; he brought the food and drink to his office and sat in front of the computer.

He brought up his tracking program, which he’d written himself, and three names came up. This morning there had been twelve. The names of prey he’d encounter in his daily life and who looked appetizing. These were the three whose results had shown the most promises, based on light automated research through the public information network. He changed the display and now, each name was joined with a picture of the person, as well as information on them, the company they worked for, their position there, where they lived.

There was a lot more information on them that he didn’t need right now. Each time he added someone to his list, he did as much research as he could himself. The more information he fed his program, but better the results.

Once he picked the three this morning, he set his program on their scent. It rummaged through every database accessible and used everything it found to calculate their productivity rating. It used their position within the company they worked for, the company’s profit rating as well as related news stories. It also dug into their past for anything that could affect their worth to society.

The final number wasn’t exact, but after four years of tweaking his program, it was accurate enough Marlot could plan his food expenses with it.

Trembor liked to rib him about how he hunted; a techy, the lion called him. Trembor had neighborhoods he hunter in. Places he was familiar with so he had an idea how much he’d end up paying for a kill.

Marlot didn’t find that an efficient way to hunt. By hunting in the same places prey got used to it and adapted, which made the hunt more difficult. Not to say he could end up killing someone outside the local average and have to pay a premium for it.

With the technology that was available these days, Marlot didn’t see a need to hunt that way. With only a little leg work, and his well-designed program, he could get all the information he needed about his prey before he left home. And he didn’t create a hunting pattern for the prey to learn.

He read the file on the prey at the top of the list, the one is the three his programs told him had the most affordable rating for the amount of meat he’d get out of him. Today his prey was male, a horse.

He filed his claws as he read, looking for any details his program might not have taken into account that could affect the rating. He worked at a warehouse on the other side of the city.

Based on the company records, he took the promotion tests twice and failed both times. He had a gym membership, which he only used occasionally. He also had two convictions for shoplifting, three and five years ago.

This led him to agree with the result his program gave him. His prey was low on the productivity ladder. Labor work was an entry-level position for those who couldn’t get the academic marks to come in at a higher level. that he failed the promotion test twice indicated he wasn’t the best worker there. Even if there were a few years old, his conviction still affected his rating. Those usually stayed in the system a decade for something minor.

All this put his rating at the lower end, and it didn’t help his prey that the company he worked for had been sliding down in the markets. Marlot nodded to himself. This shouldn’t cost him more than half his budget.

It wouldn’t be an easy hunt, horses were strong by nature and this one could know how to fight, but that just made it more exhilarating. He transferred the file to his pad, then made sure his claws were sharp. Sharpening them was something he only did when he expected to get in a fight. The rest of the time he didn’t care how dull they got.

His prey had the afternoon shift, so he didn’t have to hurry. That wasn’t an accident. Everyone Marlot kept on his list finished working after he did. He hated hunting on his rest days. He firmly believed those days were to relax, so he arranged it to do his hunting after work.

He washed his dishes before heading out and had a leisurely drive. He parked in a public lot, away from the warehouse where his prey worked, and walked to a juice bar located across the street from the building’s exit. He wasn’t the only predator here, watching. A lot of laborers were prey species, so they attracted crowds, predators looking to see what was available, or just looking to whet their appetite.

He didn’t have to wait long until his prey’s shift let out. Most headed for the parking lot, or the bus stop, traveling in groups whenever they could. Marlot had no trouble locating his prey among the crowd. His height and palomino markings were distinctive. The horse kept walking when the group he was with stopped at the bus stop; he lives only a fifteen-minute walk away.

Marlot finished his drink and started after him. He kept the distance wide enough his prey wouldn’t notice him, but not so wide Marlot could lose sight of him. He was downwind of the horse so that was to his advantage, but that didn’t stop him to look around nervously, ears jittering side to side. That was an ancestral reaction, dating back to when they lived in wide-open spaces and it was possible to pick out noises that didn’t belong.

Other predators moved about the sidewalk in both directions, going about their own business and not paying attention to anyone around them. They ensured the horse couldn’t pick Marlot’s scent is the wind shifted.

His prey quickened his pace, as if he still sensed he was being hunted. Marlot matched him, he didn’t how, but no matter how careful he was, they always seemed to know the hunt was on. He’d talked with other predators, who confirmed it, so it wasn’t something he did that gave him away.

Marlot could take him down right now if he wanted. Predation was allowed everywhere except for the academy grounds and hospitals. But he didn’t like getting in a fight in public. For one thing, it disrupted other people’s days, and for another, someone might come to the horse’s defense. That’s why he preferred waiting until they were in a much less crowded area.

Fortunately for Marlot, his prey’s nervousness prevented him from thinking clearly. Instead of staying on the busy sidewalk, he cut through an alley in an attempt to get home faster.

The horse was looking over his shoulder when Marlot turned the corner and his eyes went wide. He ran off.

Marlot smiled and ran after him. the horse was faster, but Marlot hadn’t spent the day exerting himself, and he did endurance training. His prey hadn’t thought it through; he was still too far from his home. Marlot didn’t expect him to be able to maintain the pace long enough to reach it.

He lost sight of his prey twice, but his scent was thick with fear and he had no trouble staying on his trail. It was even stronger than the stench emanating from the vagrant sprawled on the ground against the wall.

The horse’s scent took him out of the alley and back on a street, and he saw he was now catching up. It was a smaller street and didn’t have anyone currently walking along it, so Marlot wouldn’t have to worry about someone intervening.

When he was close enough Marlot threw himself on the horse’s back and they both went down. The horse didn’t waste a moment and threw him off. Marlot rolled and got back to his feet.

An elderly rabbit shrieked in fear and ran off.

The horse stood before him, breathing heavily and hands clenched in fists. He couldn’t run away anymore. If he was going to survive, he had to take Marlot down.

Marlot wasn’t worried about being killed. Prey hardly ever killed predators, and when they did, it was by accident. He didn’t know if what made them prey made them incapable of killing, or if it simply didn’t occur to them, but the worse he had to worry about was broken bones and bruises. And he wasn’t even worried about that right now.

The horse closed the distance between them and sung. Marlot easily avoided the blow. Like most prey he hunted over the year, this one didn’t know how to fight. He was throwing punches, hoping one would connect.

Marlot had seen the kind of gyms prey went to, all they had were weights. It made them stronger, but what was the point of that they didn’t know how to fight? How did having a good looking body help them survive?

One of the punches connected with Marlot’s shoulder, sending him flying back. Mind on the hunt, he chided himself as he rolled, just in time to avoid the horse’s foot landing where he had been.

Marlot stood and punched the horse across the face, fist closed. He tried to avoid using his claws when hunting since that means the prey would lose blood. He only used them if his prey ended up being a better fighter than he expected. He wasn’t going to need them here.

The horse continues swinging, almost blindly. Marlot focused on avoiding them, only throwing one of his own when he had a clear opening. He was letting the horse exhaust himself. His prey didn’t know enough to realize what was happening, so he fought with all he had.

It didn’t take long for the horse’s breathing to become labored. His punches were now easier to avoid as he slowed down. Marlot waiting for an opening and clocked the horse across the muzzle with a double-handed fist.

The horse’s head spun, taking his body with it and making him buckle at the knees. Before he could shake off the dizziness, Marlot took his head in both hands and twisted it hard.

The horse crumbled to the ground, neck broken.

Marlot closed and opened his hands, trying to force the pain to recede. the horse’s muzzle had been a lot harder than he’d expected. He wondered if he should look into getting the protective gloves he’d seen advertised on the vids.

Once he trusted his fingers to be able to do finer work, he searched through the horse’s pockets, looking for his wallet. He took the ID card out of it and put it back in the pocket. He pocketed the card and lifted the horse over his shoulder.

* * * * *

On the walk back to his car, predators Marlot passed smiled, and nodded in silent congratulations, while prey gave me a wide berth. Some even threw him angry glares, but he didn’t pay attention to those. He quickly became used to them once he started hunting in the city. He also got used to feeling eyes follow him.

Scavengers and less scrupulous predators preferred stealing prey rather than doing their own hunting. Marlot had learned early on to pay for a kill only after locking the body in the trunk of his car.

He dumped the body next to his car and undressed it. He put the naked form in the trunk, closed it, and set the alarm. Marlot watched as his shadowy entourage dispersed, now they couldn’t get to it easily. He rolled the prey’s clothing into a ball and crossed the parking lot to reach the payment kiosk.

He swiped his ID card, and the screen lit up with his name, address, and job. It then asked him to confirm the information was accurate. He shook his head in annoyance. Why would he use someone else’s ID? and if he’d stolen it, he’d just say it was accurate. this always felt like a waste of his time.

He confirmed it was him and then picked the option to pay off his kill from the list and appeared. The kiosk asked for the kill’s ID, and Marlot swiped that card. The screen went dark while it processed the information.

The next question the kiosk asked was if he was returning the kill’s possessions. He said yes. Returning the possessions wasn’t mandatory; in fact, from listening to other predators talk, many of them liked to keep them as proof of their kill. Marlot didn’t have a need to do that. As far as he was concerned, hunting was about putting food on the table and nothing more. The government encouraged their return by giving a small discount on the kill’s price.

The front panel opened, and he took the empty plastic bag from it. The bundle of clothes went in, and the ID card went in the holder on the bag. He sealed everything and placed it back in the kiosk.

The horse’s family would be advised of his demise, as normal, but they now had the comfort of knowing that anything he had of value, both monetary and sentimental, was coming back to them.

Then the amount he had to pay appeared. It was a little higher than his program had calculated. This was the third kill where it had underestimated the value. he’d have to take a look at the calculations and see where the flaw was. It was still within his budget.

When prompted, he chose to have the amount deducted from his account. His ID card was set up to allow that. It asked for the confirmation code, and he entered it. The kiosk still accepted cash, although Marlot didn’t think that was going to last much longer, he didn’t like to carry that kind of money on him. It was far too easy to become prey with that as an incentive, and he preferred to keep cash for transactions he didn’t want traced.

The receipt printed, and the kiosk asked if he wanted to see how his kill tally ranked within the neighborhood, city, his employment, or productivity class. He canceled that request. Marlot kept his own tally, and he didn’t care how he rated compared to anyone else.

The tally option was a recent addition to the kiosk. The only reason Marlot could see for it was that the system was now able to calculate it.

Again, from listening to other predators talk, he suspected the rank system got some of them to hunt prey above what they could afford, just so they could brag about it. Unfortunately, those most affected by ego tended to be the younger predators, those who couldn’t afford it. They ended up racking up debt just so they could claim to be at the top of a list.

He wasn’t the only one who felt that was. Multiple petitions to get the ranking removed from the kiosk had been handed to the city government. There was no indication things were going to change any time soon, much to the delight of the lending agencies.

Marlot had read there was talk of including debts in the productivity calculations. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. Sure, he could see how that might discourage some from hunting above what they can afford, but how about everyone else? He had a couple of loans, for his house and his car, that didn’t make him less productive. Hopefully, it was one of those things politicians kept talking about, but not do anything with.

Marlot entered the information about his kill in his pad, as well as how much the discrepancy on the value was.

Then he drove to his processing store, not far from his house. It was run by a hyena family and they did quality work, which was why he kept coming back here.

The door buzzed as he pushed it open; the horse slung over his shoulder. The space was well lit, separated in two by the large counter where the bodies were butchered and prepared. The wall display, behind the counter, where various meat products were normally arranged for sale, was almost empty due to the late hour.

The smell was that of blood, fresh meat, and hints of spices from the cooking that happened throughout the day in the kitchen behind the closed door at the back.

Earlier during the day, the place would be crowded with people placing orders, picking them up. Conversation would be loud and boisterous.

Because he was the only one here. The sound of laughter was quite loud. He walked to the counter and saw four of the five brothers huddled in a corner still wearing their blood covered apron. They were snickering and trying to catch their respective breath.

Ezk’Eriel, the oldest of the group, looked up and waved at Marlot. He stood and walked to the counter, getting some of the laughter under control and wiping his eyes with a sleeve, leaving a smear of blood over it.

From behind the counter, a hand appeared and gripped the edge. The fifth brother, Agasmil, pulled himself up, tears streaming down his eyes as he tried not to laugh. He put his other hand on the counter, his face contorted in an effort to keep it still. Then he was snickering. He lost control and was laughing hard. He lost his grip and fell back on the floor with a loud thud.

The three in the corner looked at their brother for a moment, then exploded in laughter. One of them, Jarardem, Marlot thought, had been in the process of standing, and he went back down, sliding against the wall.

Even Ezk’Eriel had trouble keeping a straight face.

“Should I ask to be let in on the joke?” Marlot asked, finding himself smiling.

Ezk’Eriel shook his head. “You wouldn’t get it.” He had a fit of laughter and it was a moment before he could breathe enough to continue. “It’s a hyena thing.”

With a chuckle, Marlot decided not to press the point. He dropped the body on the counter.

Ezk’Eriel took a moment to put his professional face on and looked it over. “Your usual cuts?”

“Yeah.”

Agasmil finally got up and joined his brothers, fighting to keep his laughter at bay.

Marlot chuckled and focused on Ezk’Eriel. “Can you leave a little more fat on this time? I’m healthy enough, I can take it.”

The hyena nodded and wrote on the counter. “The usual for our cut?”

“Yeah, Skin, bone, extra fat, and head’s yours.” Normally the hyenas’ price for processing a body was two pounds of meat, which Marlot had no issue paying, but since all he took was the meat and blood, leaving them everything else, they never felt to need to take meat from his kills. “You can take ten quarts of blood. I won’t be able to drink everything you’ll get out of him before it goes bad.”

The hyenas were proficient at using everything that wasn’t edible to earn extra money. They tanned the hides to resell to the clothing industry, the bones and fat went to the pharmas. Marlot never asked what they did with the heads. He didn’t want to know.

“You’re one of the few that leaves us the fat anymore,” Ezk’Eriel commented as he traced the cut lines on the horse. “Ever since that new fake meat’s hit the market the demand for fat’s gone way up. Now predators are selling it direct to the pharmas.”

Marlot shrugged. “I have enough to do already without having to navigate the markets. You guys are willing to do the work, you should earn the reward.”

“Always appreciated, and that reminds me.” Ezk’Eriel picked a pie off the display and handed it to Marlot. “Mom made it this morning.”

“Thanks.” Marlot ate it in a few bites. It was a mixture of meats and vegetables in a thick, slightly spicy, sauce wrapped in a crusty bread dough. It was delicious.

Marlot had trouble making sure he ate enough vegetables. He didn’t particularly care for them, but if he ever managed to work up the patience to learn to cook like Ezk’Eriek’s mother, he would never have that problem again.

“Thank your mother for me, this was delicious.”

“Your meat’s going to be ready tomorrow morning. If you come pick it up early, you can tell her yourself.”


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Wasterful Death CH 08.pdf (70.8KiB)

A Wasterful Death CH 07 2020-06-14T13:00:07+00:00
Marlot dropped him off at home, but Trembor didn’t stay there long. He quickly showered and dressed in something more casual before driving to his parents’ house for the monthly family dinner.

He parked next to the other cars in the large driveway in front of the ancestral home. It no longer stood on the edge of what had been the town, back then. And his family no longer owned the land as far as the eye could see.

The city had grown around them and had bought more and more of the land to convert it into many more residential zones. But his family had been able to hold on to enough to have a large front and back yard.

Trembor hadn’t experienced the forest that used to stand behind the house, but he’d seen pictures. His father’s mom, granny, had told stories of running in them, of tricking some prey into it so she could hunt like in the old stories.

He missed granny.

“Hi dad,” he said as he entered the house. He then went to the living room and his father looked at him from the old recliner he sat in. He closed the book he’d been reading, keeping a finger in his spot.

“Welcome home,” Torim replied in his deep voice.

“Where are moms and sis?” he asked looking around, then at the ceiling when the sound of running around came from there. the sound was too light to be them, and they wouldn’t run int the house. It was the cubs playing.

“They’re out hunting.”

“Already?” Trembor checked his watch. he hadn’t made as good time as he’d hoped. “I was hoping they’d wait for me. I told mom I wanted to go with them.”

Torim gave him an amused look. “I understand you have to do your own hunting since you live alone, but you shouldn’t be so eager to do it. It’s a females job.”

Trembor rolled his eyes and chuckled. “You need to keep up with the times, dad. No such thing as a ‘females job’ in this day and age.”

“You know father,” a younger lion said as he stopped next to Trembor, arms full of plates. “He likes his old traditions.” He was Trembor’s brother via Sarene. He was a head shorter with a long messy red-brown mane and currently smelled of detergent.

“Traditions endure for a reason,” Torim replied gruffly. He opened and raised his book to hide the smile that curled his lips.

Trembor chuckled at their father’s reaction. “You need any help setting up Bo?” he asked his brother.

Bolifen shook his head, making a lock of his mane fall in front of his eyes. “No, we’re good.” He tried to blow the lock away without success. “Cerek and Juress are already helping.” He whipped his head around, and the lock flew out of his view, only to fall back in front of him, and then more fell. He growled in annoyance as he stormed to the dining room.

Trembor and his father tried not to laugh.

“You should deal with your own crisis before you offer to help Bo with his.” Torim focused on his book.

Trembor frowned. “I have a crisis?”

“Seems a certain someone had his pad turned off this morning.” Torim didn’t look up from his book.

Trembor frowned, then cursed. With Marlot being in his bed, he’d forgotten. “Dayra’s going to claw me to the bone, isn’t she?”

Torim chuckled. “No, but if she did you’d deserve it.”

Trembor headed to the kitchen with a resigned sigh.

“Hey bro,” Cerek said as Trembor he entered the room. He was lean with a light brown mane he kept short of everyone in the family he was the closest one to the golden mane of their surname.

“Hi, Cerek.” Trembor wrinkled his nose at the intense smell of cleaners in the room. “Found a mate yet?” His brother had gone through six mates in the last seven years.

“No, I’m taking my time. If I bring another female home, only to break up with her again, Dad’s going to think I’m like you.”

Trembor snorted. “I can’t see you in bed with another male.” he eyed his brother critically. “Although, if you ever want to try. I know a pleasure house where they’d appreciate your looks.” Cerek had definitely inherited their mother’s, Arina, lean muscles, while Trembor had gotten their father’s more massive ones.

“No thanks.” Cerek chuckled. “I like to keep my tail tucked down, thank you very much. And what do you know of pleasure houses? Aren’t you going steady with that mystery male of yours?”

“That doesn’t mean I’m not up to date on what the tastes are running toward there.” He looked through three cabinets before finding the tin container he was looking for.

“If Sarene finds out you took from her stash, you know she’s going to tell mom, right?”

Trembor took a packet of the tin before putting it back in its place. “She won’t mind. this is an emergency.”

Cerek’s eyes lit up in understanding. “You’re the reason for all the mumbling that’s going on.” he shooed his brother out of the kitchen. “Don’t waste your time talking to me, go appease the cubs.”

With a chuckle, Trembor did as he was told.

As soon as he poked his head at the top of the stairs, one of the cubs spotted him.

“Trembor’s home!” Neril exclaimed, and the cubs rushed him. He saw Dayra start running too, then stop. She crossed her arms over her chest and turned her back to him. Herelex also hung back. He was the oldest of the cubs and considered himself too old to act like an excitable cub.

Issa was the first one to reach him, and she had her arms in the air so he picked her up. He made sure she was secure in the crook of his arm and then picked up Gansir.

“You’re going to be a strong hunter,” he told his nephew. “I can barely pick you up anymore.” Gansir grinned at the compliment. Trembor carried them in the room, heading to the large couch at the back.

“Why didn’t you answer your pad?” Palinox asked, looking up at him. His mane was darker than Cerek, his father, but otherwise, he looked a lot like him.

Before Trembor could reply Issa was pulling his lips up. “Did you brush your teeth this morning?”

He had to wait until she was satisfied they were clean before answering. “Yes, I did.” He deposited her and Gansir on the couch. “Now, if you all wait here quietly, I’ll answer all your questions.”

“All of them?” Jinni asked, looking at Ronik, her brother.

“Yes, all of them.” Trembor guessed he was setting himself up for some difficult ones by the look he received. With a series of ‘okays’ they settled down on and around the couch.

He crossed the space to Dayra, who made sure to keep her back to him. Her ears twitched as he knelt behind her, they almost turned in his direction, but Trembor could tell he was concentrating on keeping them steady.

“I’m sorry,” he offered.

“You said I could tell you about the museum.” The four-year-old’s tail lashed about angrily.

“I know. I forgot. I’m sorry.” He took the meat packet out of his pocket and ripped it open with a claw. “I brought you a treat.”

Dayra’s ears swiveled back at the sound, and her head slowly followed. Her nose twitched as the smell reached her. Everyone in the house knew about Sarene’s stash of high-quality meat, and only the huntress’s fierceness kept the cubs out of it. With the fickleness only the very young could manage, she hugged him tightly, all her anger forgotten. She then took the packet out of his hands.

He picked her up and walked to the couch. The cubs made space so he could sit. He did and made sure his niece was comfortable on his lap as she nibbled on the meat.

“Alright, as promised, what’s the first question?”

“Why didn’t you answer your pad?” Vanya asked. She was Dayra’s sister, older by two years.

“I was busy,” he answered, expecting it.

Frowns traveled on the cub’s faces and they looked at each other before Bawly piped up. “But you usually answer even when you’re busy.” She was Gansir’s sister.

“Were you busy with him?” Herelex asked.

“Yes.” They all knew about Marlot, even if it was only as the mysterious ‘him’. Trembor didn’t volunteer any details about his relationship, and the cubs had learned he wouldn’t answer questions that were too personal.

The cub’s face lit up.

“Is he here?” Isneson asked. He was Herelex’s younger brother.

“No.”

“Why not? Miril asked.

“Because he isn’t ready.” Trembor looked forward to the day he could introduce Marlot to his family, but that wouldn’t happen until his wolf was comfortable with others knowing how they felt about each other.

“What’s a tail raiser?” Ronix asked.

The surprise made Trembor choke. “Where did you hear that word?” he was careful to keep the disdain he felt for it out of his tone. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Herelex look away, ears folded against his skull.

“At the academy. Junson said Arik’s dad was tail raiser, and all the older cubs laughed.”

“Did you laugh?” Trembor fixed the cub with a steady gaze.

Ronik shook his head vigorously. “They didn’t know I was there. They don’t like it when the younger cubs hang out around them.”

Trembor closed his eyes for a moment, trying to figure out how to explain a sexual slur to a cub in a way that wouldn’t get either one of them in trouble with his parents.

“It’s a word used to hurt someone’s feeling, so I want you to promise me never to use it.”

Jinno elbowed her brother in the side. “see, I told you it was a bad word.”

Ronik rubbed his side and glared at her. He then looked at Trembor. “I promise,” he said solemnly.

“That goes for all of you. I don’t want any of you to use that word, understood?”

They all nodded.

“Why is it an insult?” Isenson asked.

“Leave it alone,” Herelex told his brother.

“But I don’t get it? What’s wrong with raising my tail?” To demonstrate, he raised it.

“It’s a sexual insult,” Trembor said, which earned him disgusted looks from most of them. “It’s used to mean that a male liked other males.”

“Is there something wrong with a male liking another male? You like another male.” She was Miril’s sister, and at ten she shouldn’t be old enough to know about sex, but she was very smart and had access to the information network.

“No, there’s nothing wrong with it, but some people think there is, so they use that word as an insult.”

“I still don’t get it,” Isenson said.

“That’s ‘cause there’s more to it than that,” Herelex replied, his tone becoming sharp.

“Like what?” his brother asked, a confused expression on his face.

“That’s he’s like a queen,” Herelex spat before storming to the other side of the room.

Trembor was surprised at the use of the word. He wondered when ‘queen’ became a sexual word. He had an inkling as to what it meant, but it was obvious by his expression Isenson knew exactly. He was thirteen, so Trembor wasn’t surprised. His nephew looked away, ears turning red when he realized Trembor was looking at him.

The other cubs looked from one brother to the other, realizing something had happened, but not knowing what. Trembor got them to promise again not to use that word, and they moved on to other questions. Fortunately, none of them as delicate as this one.

After an hour of questions, most of the cubs grew bored and moved on to playing games together or on their pads. When the last one left him Trembor stood and stretched. He had to find a way to trick one of his brothers into helping him next time.

He joined Herelex. “Are you okay?” he asked the young male as he sat next to him. He really couldn’t think of him as a cub anymore. He expected Torim would offer him a seat at the adult’s table soon.

Herelex looked like he was going to give him a dismissive answer but then closed his mouth. He was silent for a moment. “When did you know you liked males?”

“I knew for sure after I experienced my first heat, but looking back on it I’m sure the signs were there before that, why?”

The young lion shrugged. “Someone called me a tail raiser at the academy.”

Trembor hugged his nephew. “You’re not one.”

Herelex resisted for a moment before leaning into him. “I don’t know. In the shower, after sports, I got hard. I didn’t mean to, it just happened.” His ears turned red before folding back in embarrassment.

Trembor didn’t let go of him. “That’s not what I mean. even if you like males that doesn’t make you a tail raiser. Tail raisers are broken inside. Something’s missing in them and the only time they feel like it isn’t is when they are having sex with a male. So they just lie there with their tail in the air, waiting for the next one.”

They were both silent after that.

“So they’re sick?” Herelex asked.

“Yes, they are.” Trembor remembered some he’d seen in the pleasure houses when he still frequented them. The look of desperation on their face while they looked for a male to take their pain away.

He mussed his nephew’s mane. “Don’t worry too much about what your body does. Until you’ve experienced your first heat, it’s going to have a mind of its own. Just don’t let anyone pressure you into anything, not a male, female, or even your own body. You have plenty of time to figure out who your heart wants to lay with.”

Herelex growled in annoyance as he rearranged his mane. Unlike his father, he always kept his brushed and trimmed. Trembor chuckled and used the distraction to take the young lion’s pad out of his jacket. He added some information to the entry for his number.

Herelex made sure his mane was back in his place before taking his pad back. “What’s that?” he asked, looking at the entry.

“That’s the code that lets you bypass the family lock I put on my pad when I’m working. Only use it if you think it’s important, okay?”

Herelex nodded, in awe at the privilege he’d received.

* * * * *

The cubs ran off at the sound of adult female voices entering the house. Trembor smiled at their exuberance and followed them.

When he reached it, the large entryway was crowded with his mothers and sisters, as well as the cubs swarming around them asking questions about the hunt. Two of his mothers, Arina, Sarene, two of his sisters, Elin and Dania, had kills over their shoulders, an antelope, an elk, a bull and a horse. The four of them tried to keep their balance while avoiding stepping on the young ones.

Trembor made his way through the throng to take Arina’s kill off her. His father took Sarene’s, with a kiss to her, Cerek Elin’s, and Bolifen Dania’s. The females gave their thanks and moved to the living room to get their wounds seen to by the other males. Even hunting as a group didn’t keep them from getting injured, especially when going after such large specimens.

No one offered to help with the prey. As large as the skinning table was, one male per body was enough. They dumped them on the immaculate stone table, one to a side. It no longer saw much use, now that all of their children had their own places, on any other days, they had their meat processed at their local store.

The family dinner was special, and preparing the meat was part of the tradition, a call back to older times, a time for the males involved to catch up on what happened in each other’s lives.

Torim took out the box containing the skinning knives. The wood was old and well worn. Skinning could be done with claws, but it was much more practical and faster to do it with a well-maintained knife. He handed one to each of his sons.

“Harezik isn’t here again, I noticed.” Trembor pulled the skin off the antelope’s body.

Cerek nodded, cutting the skin around the bull’s horns. “last I heard he and his mate’s family were visiting Sorango.”

Torim shook his head in amusement. “At this rate, he’s going to see more of the world before he’s twenty than I have in my entire life.” He was an expert with the knife and had the skin off the elk before any of his children.

“I’m in no hurry to leave the city,” Bolifen stated. “I have everything I need here, my children, my family, females.” He grinned at that one.

“Speaking of females.” Torim looked at him. “Any prospect for a mate?”

Bolifen shook his head and cursed as a lock again fell in front of his face. He reached for it, saw the blood on his hand, and cursed again. “I’m in no hurry. Cerek’s showed me the futility of rushing things.” He grins at the pale maned lion.

“Hey, I’ve learned my lesson,” Cerek replied. “I’m taking my time now.”

“So, seventh time’s the charm?” Trembor commented, trying not to smile.

Cerek snorted. “Hey, at least I gave dad a grandchild.”

“Oh, that hurts,” Trembor replied, no longer able to keep from smiling. “well, at the rate you’re going, I’m going to be mated before you are.”

“Oh? you willing to bet on it?”

“Definitely, how much?”

Torim cleared his throat. “Let’s not have any gambling, shall we?”

“Sorry dad,” Trembor and Cerek said in unison, their mood losing the playfulness as the comment reminded them of their father’s youthful troubles.

“Does that mean you’ll be introducing us to him soon?” Torim asked.

Trembor shrugged and focused on the body before him. “I wish I knew. His upbringing was so different. Something he gets hung up on the smallest things.” He paused and looked at his father. “I just don’t know.”

They were silent for a time.

“Okay,” Bolifen said, “before this silence drags us into an unbearable depression, I’m changing the subject. The Survivor experiment? Any of you caught the latest episode? Did you see how quickly Jugen took down that sheep? It’s like it never saw it coming.”

“Yeah.” Cerek set the skin aside, Lyria, their third mother, would tan it before selling it. “I have to say I’m surprised it too one of them so long to do it.” He cut the bull belly open and blood spilled out over the table. The rich smelling liquid flowed to the groves at the edges, which channeled it to the hole at the corner to be collected in the container there. “I would have gone after the rabbit on the first day. Talk about easy prey.”

“I expected them to try harder to stick to the rules.” Trembor cut the stomach out of the body and placed it on the large tray at the center of the table. He then started cutting the meat away from the bones.

“Are you serious?” Cerek asked.

Trembor nodded.

“You can only go hungry for so long,” Bolifen said, “Before you do something about it. We’re not made to survive off the green. Sure, we have to eat some of it, but only that and we get sick.”

Cerek nodded his agreement. “The look on Malik’s face when that rabbit brought him those fish he caught and suggested he eat that. It was priceless.”

“No, him actually trying to eat one and throwing up,” Torim said. “that was priceless.” His sons stared at him, stunned surprise on their faces. Torim laughed. “Don’t be so surprised I watch the vids too.” He went back to cutting the meat into manageable portions. He was almost done with his prey. “I’m not that old.”

* * * * *

The dining room was loud with conversations. The adults were seated around the long table, while the cubs were spread over three smaller tables. Torim sat at one end, smiling as he looked at his mates, seated at the other end, and then their children between them.

The meat was laid out on the table with plates of vegetables scattered among them. The platter with the stomach was in front of Sarene, Arina, and Lyria. As patriarch, Torim could claim the best part of the kill, but he always gave that to his mates, without whom he wouldn’t have prospered.

Torim stood, and silence fell over the room. It didn’t fall quickly, some of the cubs at to be reminded by their parents to be silent. He raised his glass, and everyone raised theirs with him. they were filled with blood, the adult’s cut with varying levels of alcohol, depending on tastes, while the cubs’ were clean.

“To those who can’t be with us anymore.” He nodded to Bolifen, Fanea, and Vexori, giving them a moment to remember their deceased mates. “To our females,” he continued, “who brought us a feast. Who ensure the survival of our name, and who remind us what life is about.”

“To our females,” everyone joined in, even the cubs.

Torim waited until everyone had taken the traditional first swallow of their drink. “Before my loves distribute their shares, I’d like to make an offer.” He paused and looked over his family. “Herelex, if you want to, you are welcome at our table.

The young male’s jaw dropped. The other cubs looked at him with admiration, while the adult kept their face neutral. Torim hadn’t commanded, he had offered, so the choice was Herelex’s.

Trembor remembered when he’s received the same offer, made by his grandfather. He’d been so proud, nervous, and afraid. To be offered a seat at the adult’s table meant that even if you were still a cub in the eyes of the law, the family recognized you as one of them, with all the privileges that meant, and all the duties.

If he accepted, Herelex wouldn’t spend the time before the meal playing with the other cubs anymore. He would be expected to help prepare the meal. Soon the females would bring him on hunts. He couldn’t kill yet, but he was old enough to learn and prepare himself for his first kill.

Herelex looked at the cubs seated around his table. The youngest ones had confused expressions. They couldn’t understand his hesitation. being able to sit at the adult’s table was what they all aspired to. He looked Cialin, and she nodded. With that, he stood.

Bolifen got out of his seat and offered it to his son. Everyone on that side of the table shifted to make more space as he pulled out another chair. Trembor smiled to himself. He was going to be conscripted to help lengthen the table before the next dinner.

With everyone seated again, Torim raised his glass to his mates. “Loves,” he simply said, then sat down.

The three females cut the stomach and distributed the portions among the cubs. There was quiet rejoicing among those tables, and Herelex looked at them with envy, which turned to surprise when he also got a portion.

“Cherish it,” his father whispered as he ruffled Herelex’s mane. “This is the last time you’re going to enjoy it until you’re able to hunt on your own.” Bolifen then added a little alcohol to his son’s glass.

Herelex was too stunned to react to having his mane out of place.

Once the cubs were served, Sarene indicated everyone else could start eating, and the conversations restarted accompanied by the clinking of utensils on plates, moans of delight, and laughter


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A Wasterful Death CH 06 2020-06-13T13:00:08+00:00
The scheduled meeting time was early enough it let them miss the traffic rush that came with the start of the evening shift. Alicon owned Sharptooth Pharma, and like most of the large pharma companies was located in the middle of the city which turned the area into a zone of towering glass buildings.

The pharmas made most of the products that made everyone’s lives a little easier. Alicon’s company specialized in making fur care products. Marlot had been surprised to find the fur wash they’d used in the morning was made by Sharptooth pharma.

With the number of furred species just in this city alone, most of them with slightly different needs, Alicon was a very successful male. His company ranked in the top thirty in the country.

Trembor presented his ID to the guard at the underground parking’s entrance and they were let through. He parked in the first spot available because Marlot insisted.

“We can walk to the elevator from here,” the wolf said.

“I can find us a closer spot.”

“Look around, the place is full. It’s going to be faster to just walk from here than for you to find something closer.”

Trembor grumbled but finally agreed.

Marlot looked at all the buttons on the panel, before pressing the one for the top floor. “Why is it that all these successful companies build tall buildings and then put the president’s office at the top of it?”

“It dates back to the olden days,” Trembor said as the doors closed. “King always had a tower that was built high enough they could see the whole of their kingdoms from it.”

Marlot eyes the lion. “And how do you know that?”

Trembor puffed out his chest a little, without realizing it. “My ancestors were kings.”

“Really? When?” Marlot’s face had a trace of disbelief on it but was mostly full of curiosity.

Trembor frowned, trying to remember the details from his father’s stories. “Seven of eight centuries ago, I think. Our line was almost wiped out during a revolt. We haven’t held power since then.”

Marlot was silent, looking at the numbers change on the display. “I think you should try to become a king again,” he said suddenly. “You’d be really good at it.” He turned to look at the lion, licking his lips. “After all, you rule over my body expertly.”

Trembor stared at him, mouth opened. He never thought he’d hear his wolf say this king of innuendo. He regained control of his mouth, but the doors opened before he could form a comeback.

The reception area was large. Much larger than theirs, and much nicer. The carpet was green and thick, making Marlot wish he could take off his shoes and dig his toes in it. The chairs were large and inviting. The walls were a mix of brown and dark green, while the ceiling was light blue.

The young female coyote behind the desk smiled at them, her large ears perking up cutely. “I’m really sorry, but Mister Sharptooth has been delayed. I hope you don’t mind waiting until he arrives.”

“Not at all,” Trembor replied and Marlot headed for one of the chairs, looking forward to sinking into one of them.

Before he reached them the other elevator doors opened and an older, lean, cheetah stepped out, holding a suitcase. “You must be the RIs Goldenmane and Blackclaw,” he said in a deep voice. “I’m Alicon Sharptooth. Please accept my apology for the delay. A young wolf decided to hunt a sheep on the platform and didn’t expect the other sheep to come to their friend’s defense. The commotion made me miss the train.” he shook both their hands before guiding them to his office.

“I must say,” Alicon said, once the doors were closed. “I’m surprised to see to RIs working together. I’ve always thought registered investigators were quite territorial.”

Trembor threw Marlot a grin. “We get that a lot.” He sat in the offered seat.

Marlot sat in the other one, his tail slipping in the open slot for it, and almost moaned in delight as his body sank in the soft padding. Chuckling made him open his eyes. Alicon was the one chuckling, and Trembor was looking at him strangely.

“Sorry.” Marlot’s ears burned. “I have to get one of these for the office.”

The lion gave Marlot another look before taking out his pad and setting it to record. he placed it on the desk. “I want to thank you for seeing us. Especially on such short notice. I hope you won’t mind me saying this, but you seem rather unaffected by Aiden Spottedfur’s death.”

Alicon intertwined his finger and set his hands on the desk. “The relationship between Aiden and I was purely professional. Don’t let the mating contract fool you. We didn’t feel any affection for each other.”

“The contract was for a cub, correct?” Marlot was seated very comfortably, but his face was completely serious now.

“Yes. In that, her death has affected me very much. it was difficult to find a female with a pure lineage. These days almost everyone has someone from a different genus mixed in. I don’t relish having to start my search again.”

“I didn’t see any clause in the contract pertaining to what part she was to play in raising the cub,” Trembor commented

“That’s because once the cub was born, it became mine alone.”

Trembor nodded. “When was the last time you saw her?”

“Five days ago, for our weekly mating.” Alicon’s tone was matter of fact.

“How long have you been trying to get her pregnant?” Marlot asked. He hadn’t read the contract and was curious as to how the time frame compared with Aiden getting pregnant.

“I contracted her four years ago.”

Marlot sat up.

Trembor stared at the cheetah. “Four years and she still hadn’t become pregnant?”

Marlot glanced at his partner. Seemed he hadn’t thought to look at the contract’s date when he read it. He looked back to Alicon before he could reply. “An acquaintance of Aiden stated that you were demanding and controlling. Is that why?”

The cheetah looked at him and took a moment before answering. “You’re still young, so you probably don’t know how it is. But when you reach my age, you seriously start thinking about having someone to leave your legacy to. I spent two years looking for the right female before finding Aiden. She agreed to my terms for the contract, I agreed to hers, and we met every week to mate.”

Alicon smiled, his gaze distant for a moment before focusing on them again. “As I said, it was business. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy ourselves. Aiden was very talented, and I like to think my years of experience taught me a thing or two.

“When I found out she’d been using anti-pregnancy medication, I was hurt, and yes, angry. I confronted her,” he hesitated, “in the moment of anger I hit her. Yes, I made demands on her at that point. I forced her to get weekly tests to ensure she was off the medication. I took out some of my anger on her during our next sessions, but she didn’t press charges.”

“How long ago was that?” Marlot asked.

The cheetah consulted his pad. “Five months ago.”

Trembor looked at Alicon. “Didn’t you think it was strange that she hadn’t become pregnant during all that time?”

“I did, but she brought me her health reports every six months. They showed everything was fine, so I figured we simply didn’t have any luck with the timing. It’s only by accident I found out they were falsified reports. I’d misplaced the last report she gave me so I contacted the medical offices directly to get another copy, only to find out she’d never been there.”

“Did you know about Telima?” Marlot asked.

Alicon frowned.

“Dobberman, well built, still at the academy.”

“Oh, you mean her toy. Yes, I knew about him. It was part of her side of the contract that she could have them.”

Marlot nodded. “Did you know she’d gotten pregnant?” he said casually.

The cheetah stared at Marlot. “What do you mean pregnant?”

Marlot ignored the glare Trembor threw at him. “There aren’t many things I can mean by that.”

Alicon’s face lit up. “She was pregnant,” he whispered, then looked at him with a wide smile. “We finally did it! how’s the cub?”

Trembor growled at Marlot, who looked back at him, unimpressed.

Alicon looked from one to the other and lost his smile. “What?”

Trembor tore his gaze away from the wolf. His face softened as he looked at the cheetah. “The cub didn’t survive. I’m sorry.”

“What? how?”

“She’d been dead for three days before the enforcers were contacted.”

Alicon buried his face in his hands. His body shook as he sobbed. Trembor threw an accusatory glare at Marlot.

“What about the killer?” Alicon asked through clenched teeth. His eyes were still wet, but they were hard and cold.

“We’re doing everything we can to find him,” Marlot answered.

The cheetah glared at him. “What can I do to help?”

Trembor took his pad and stood. “We appreciate your offer, but we have this.” The look he gave the wolf, as well as the nod toward the door made it clear Marlot was he head that way now.

Alicon stood and shook the lion’s hand with both his. he looked him in the eyes. “I want to know what you’ve caught him. I’m going to want a piece of him.”

“I’ll make sure you’re informed,” Trembor replied, and the cheetah released his hand.

As he passed the wolf waiting for him by the door, he grabbed his arm and pulled him to the elevator. He almost threw him in when the doors opened.

“That was pretty callous,” Trembor growled in anger once the doors closed. he kept his back to Marlot as he pressed the button for the parking.

“We needed to know if he knew about the cub,” the wolf replied in a firm tone. “it was the only way to find out ID he was involved or not.”

“well, you smelled the surprise and shock off him, so now you know,” the lion snapped and then was sullen.

Marlot didn’t say anything, unsure how to react to the anger in the tone.

When Trembor spoke again his tone was soft, even a little sad. “Families are precious, Marl. You can’t just dangle that hope in front of a male trying to build one and then yank it away.”

Marlot was silent for a moment. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt him.” He hesitantly put a hand on the lion’s back. “Or you. I didn’t realize you wanted a family.”

Trembor looked over his shoulder, giving him a small smile, and then turned to face him. “I have my family. I have you, my father and mothers, my brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces. But you have to understand. Cubs are precious, they aren’t tools for you to use to get a reaction out of a suspect. *they* are what makes families.”

“I know.” Marlot looked at the floor. “I’m sorry, I understand.”

Trembor cupped his muzzled with a hand and kissed his forehead. “Thank you for saying that even if you don’t understand.” He hugs Marlot tightly just as the doors opened.

The wolf squirmed in the lion’s arms. “Someone might see,” he pleaded.

Trembor moved a foot to prevent the doors from closing. “Tough. This is your penance for what you did upstairs.” He kept hugging him for a long minute, and as soon as he released him Marlot was quick to straighten himself out, but he was smiling.

“So, where do we look for suspects?” Trembor asked as they walked to his car.

Marlot’s shoulders slumped as he thought about it. “We’re going to have to go through her list of old lovers,” he said, dejected.

Trembor stopped and turned to him. “Something wrong?”

Marlot sighed. “not really, but it won’t be pretty. Aiden was a prowler.”

Trembor frowned. “What’s that?”

“Prowlers are people who go for young ones. Most of them are females going after males who are just about to become fertile. They use them until they get bored and then throw them away. Females like her tend to leave a trail of broken males behind them.”

“The Doberman told you that?”

Marlot sighed again. “No, he doesn’t know what she was. I recognized the signs from what he said.”

Trembor looked at him, a strange expression on his face. “You’ve seen that kind of stuff done before we met?”

Marlot looked away. “Only once.” He started walking again. “to me.”

Trembor stood there, stunned.


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Not the reaction I was expecting 2020-05-18T23:48:59+00:00

So, maybe I’m not as weird as I thought?

I expected people to either claim I was making stuff up or have a more extreme reaction. Other than one person agreeing that I was weird, but pointing out that didn’t make me scary, those who commented or contacted me about it mainly said I was pretty average, some even mentioning how they did similar things.

I guess it goes to show our view of ourselves and the rest or the world rarely matches what others see, about either of them

The was supposed to come out yesterday, so today’s post of chapter 1 of A Wasteful Death wouldn’t be a surprise, but stuff got in the way.

So, yeah. Starting today, I will be posting one chapter a day of Wasteful Death and then A Familiar death, as a actual post, instead of an attached file, there is also an attached PDF for those who prefer having the file. The release will be delayed by 1 week per tiers, starting with the two 2 releasing at the same time, the tier below that a week later, the one after that a week after, and then releasing to the public the week after.

If I calculated correctly, I should finish A Familiar Death this way around the time I will start writing book 3, A Series of Death, and those chapters will be released the same way. I will do the same with any new books, starting with Virtual Friendship next Sunday.

I will still release the files of what I am working on at the moment as a weekly attachment in the meantime.

On a side note, I wrote my first outline this week! Now I need to write 5 more so I have a 6 book series outlined. The series is called ‘Restart?’ it is litRPG, and I’m enjoying working on the outline.

And that’ll be it, so I’ll see you on the next one.

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A Wasterful Death CH 05 2020-06-12T13:00:08+00:00
Trembor wiped as much of the blood as he could off his hands before hitting the answer button, on voice-only mode. He wasn’t presentable for visuals. “Trembor speaking.”

There was a moment of silence. “It’s Jaxca.” a hesitation, “Am I interrupting something?”

“Somewhat, we’re finishing breakfast. Packing what’s left for processing. We can call you back once we’ve cleaned up.”

“Please do. I’d rather not see blood on anyone who is still alive.”

The lion chuckled. “Alright. It shouldn’t be too long.” He shut the receiver off and joined Marlot in the adjoining room. Like him, the wolf was naked and covered in blood. He was putting the remaining chunks of their meal in the center of the tarp covering most of the floor.

“So much for licking you clean,” Trembor said in disappointment. He grabbed a haunch and swung it with the other parts. “That was Jaxca.”

Eating on the floor, ripping flesh off the body with teeth and claws always made him feel primal. He loved the feeling and if he could, he would eat this way all the time. Unfortunately, it did get messy, and it wasn’t appropriate in public.

He was resigned to eating his meat processed, and in a nice, civilized way, like everyone else, but once in a while he had to give in to this need to bury his muzzle on his prey, fell the blood drip over him. When he felt that way, he didn’t care how long it took to clean the result. He was lucky that Marlot also enjoyed this more primal form of eating.

Marlot took in the lion’s bloodstain golden fur and licked his chops. Another hunger built in him, just as primal as devouring unprocessed prey. His body reacted, and he stood, panting. He took a step toward the lion and noticed the door he’d left open, their desk, communication unit, and the other door, behind which Hela’han worked.

He tried to keep the passion building, but it died. he mouthed a ‘I’m sorry’ before looking away, his ears folding back. He knelt back down and went back to wrapping the meat, making sure the package was properly sealed. Dripping blood on the way to the processing store wasn’t good manners, and it tended to attract unwanted attention.

Marlot handed it to Trembor without looking up. After putting the package in the cooler, he placed a gentle on the wolf’s shoulder and drew him to the shower.

under the warm water, Marlot thought it was ironic that he had been shown such an uncivilized way to eat once he entered what he’d considered civilization while growing up in his small town.

He felt Trembor join him, then a hand on his back, and after that, they were pressed together. Marlot closed his eyes in contentment when he felt the lion lick his neck. He could stay like this all day.

“You taste like breakfast,” Trembor whispered. “Maybe I should have you for lunch.”

Marlot smiled at the images this brought up, and his body started to react, but then he remembered Hela’han, behind a door that might not be locked and he tensed. His tail went between his legs. Why did he have to feel like this?

Trembor kissed the back of his neck and released him. He reached over their head to stop the flow of water before picking up the bottle of fur wash and applying a generous portion on Marlot’s back. His touch was gentle, but all business, and he lathered the wolf’s fur.

Marlot was both relieved at the lack of affection and angry at himself for letting his past influence him like this.

By the time Trembor was done lathering him, Marlot was calm again, having pushed the anger to the back of his mind. He’d deal with it when he had the time.

Marlot then lathered Trembor, after which they rinsed off. By the time they were dry and dressed, more than an hour had passed.

“We need more hours in the day,” Trembor stated, “So we can do this more often.”

Marlot shook his head. “We’d go broke doing this every day.”

“It would be worthwhile.” The lion grinned and then dialed Jaxca.

A moment later the red frog appeared on the screen. “Good morning. I take it breakfast was good?”

“Very good.” Trembor sent the image from the small screen to the space above the desks, where Jaxca’s head look a little larger than normal.

Jaxca shook his head in amusement. “I’ll never understand why you enjoy eating in such a sloppy manner.”

“It’s a predator thing.” Marlot moved in the camera’s view. “We don’t expect you to understand. I take it you’ve never had someone lick you clean after a meal.”

Trembor stared at his partner, ears erect in surprise.

“Very funny,” the frog said with a dry laugh. “No, I’ve never been licked. How about we proceed?”

Marlot inserted the data slate and their computer took a moment to sync with Jaxca’s. When that was done the frog brought up multiple thumbnails on each side of his image. He touched four of them and they tiled over his face.

“As you can see from the x-ray, her neck was broken. The break wasn’t fatal, but it obstructed her airways. She suffocated.”

Trembor nodded. “It explains how she was found. She tried to reach her pad to call for help.”

“Were you able to determine if it was broken on purpose?” Marlot asked.

Jaxca waved the images off and brought two others from the selection. They showed the body’s neck, the fur shaved off, the skin showed signs of bruising.

“You can tell from the shape of the bruises that someone had their hands around her neck at some point before she died. While that might not be enough to say it was done on purpose.” He replaced the images with two others; her wrists, also shaved. “These indicate she was also held down. From what I see, it’s my opinion that he broke her neck and then held her down while she suffocated.” He moved the images away and became visible again.

Trembor looked at him. “You were able to determine a male killed her?”

Jaxca brought up another picture, which he kept smaller, but they could still see it was her vagina, bruised and bloodied. “He raped her, probably while she was dying. The person who did this is one sick individual.”

“Or really angry,” Trembor offered.

“Whatever the reason, I hope you find him because he didn’t kill one person, he killed two. She was pregnant.”

Marlot and Trembor were stunned. They hadn’t seen any evidence of a pregnancy.

“How far along was she?” Trembor asked once he regained his voice.

Jaxca eyed them for a moment. “Best I can determine, two months.” He glared at the lion before he could say anything. “Don’t you dare bring up that three-month crap. A child’s a child from the moment it’s conceived.”

“I know that!” Trembor’s voice was equal part anger and exasperation.

“But,” Marlot continues in a calm tone, “the law doesn’t recognize a cub’s existence until the third month after conception, so we can’t add predation of a cub to the charge.”

Jaxca and Trembor were both fuming. Punishment for predation of a cub was to be eaten alive by the family, or appointed representative. For Aiden’s death, the male would have to pay the tax, if he couldn’t he would be assigned to a work detail until the value had been worked off. Work details were certainly rough, but they didn’t bring the satisfaction a kill would.

Trembor closed his eyes and took a few breaths. “What can you tell us about the cub?”

Jaxca took a little longer to calm down. “He’s mixed breed. It’s too early in the pregnancy to be able to tell what species the father is, but it looks properly formed, so he’s probably of a genus close to hers.”

Trembor nodded. “So probably another feline.”

“Could the father be canid?” Marlot asked.

Jaxca thought it over. “It isn’t likely, but it’s possible. Feline/canine mix do have one of the higher birth survival rates. The only to be sure who the father is is to compare DNA.”

“Is there any indication the father is the killer?” Marlot asked after a moment of silence. The question earned him a horrified look from Trembor, and he sat down. The thought that someone might kill his own offspring visibly disturbed him.

Jaxca shook his head. His tone was clinical. “No. He used a condom, so he didn’t leave anything inside her. Also, the only fur on her body was hers, so nothing to get DNA from.

Marlot nodded. “Anything else?”

“No, that’s the gist of it. The slate had a detailed report.”

“Okay, thanks. We’ll be going through the enforcer reports. If they found anything we need you to look at, we’ll let you know.”

The frog nodded. “The body will be here until you’re done with the investigation.”

Marlot ended the call. “Are you going to be okay?” he asked the lion.

Trembor grimaced and looked like he might throw up. “I think breakfast was a bad idea.”

Marlot took his hand in both his and crouched next to him. “Just relax, think of something else.” To help in nuzzled his neck and nipped at it gently.

Trembor’s breathing slowed, and the tension slowly left his body. “Thank you.”

Marlot smiled at him, and the lion kissed him. The kiss lasted longer than either intended and they were breathless when they finally separated.

Marlot stood and straightened his shirt in a futile attempt to cover the state the kiss left him in. “Yes, well, I think we should get back to work now.” He sat down on his side of the desk.

Trembor chuckled sheepishly, happy he didn’t have to stand. He took the slate with the enforcer reports, slotted it into his computer, and went through them.

The first one was almost word for word, what the officer he spoke with told him about how Aiden’s secretary had found her body. The next one was the initial inspection of the house. Nothing was obviously missing, or been added. The lock’s records showed they had been active for the last three days before the enforcers overrode them. The back door lock had been deactivated and then reactivated fifty-three minutes later.

“Marl, does Jaxca give a death time on his report?”

Marlot quickly scanned the report he was reading through. “No precise time. His estimate puts it in the late afternoon on…” he checked the date. “On the last day, Aiden was working. Fits with her still being dressed for work.”

Trembor nodded. “It also matches the lock records. So she let whoever killed her in. Then, a little less than an hour later he leaves, locking up behind him. She was either dead by then, or died not long after that.”

He Frowned and went back through the initial report. “Okay, that’s weird. How does spend that time in the house, not to say rapes her, and not shed?”

“By being prepared, I’d think.” Marlot glanced aside his screen to look at the lion. “But that raises the question of why she would let someone in a shed proof suit in? Those things aren’t exactly discreet. And why leave the body lying thereafter taking that kind of precaution? Without a body, it’s just a missing person’s case. The longer it takes to find it, the more it deteriorates, the harder it becomes to do the identification, let along-track down the killer. The six bodies in our freezer are proof of that.

“Which reminds me.” The wolf pointed to the last slate on his desk. “We have a tip on the Sho’Acan body. We’ll want to look into it when we have the time.”

Trembor nodded. “Okay, so we’re agreed, this isn’t the work of a paid hunter.”

There weren’t many of them, but some people were willing to hunt for others. They tended to be employed by the rich, whose extravagant lifestyle tended to mean they were in no shape to do their own hunting.

Such hunters were usually not quite sane. They didn’t kill to feed themselves, all they wanted was the hunt and the kill. One such hunter, the last one in the city, had been the cause for Marlot and Trembor’s initial meeting.

Those who were caught before they did something illegal, like hunt on no predation properties, or leave a series of unpaid bodies lying around, were usually taken by the Peacekeepers, who redirected their killing instinct toward protecting the country.

“no, this feels more like someone lashing out in anger. Breaking her neck, watching her suffocate and raping her, probably while she was dying. he wanted her to suffer like she made him suffer.”

“So we’re looking for a spurned lover. The file only lists two current lovers, Alicon Sharptooth, her contracted lover, and Telima Shortail.”

“That’s the male from the house. He’s a student and I’m pretty sure he isn’t out killer.”

“Why? He’s been to the house before, so the enforcers wouldn’t note his fur as being out of place.”

“You were on top of him, you smelled him. He was completely devastated by seeing her dead. You can’t fake that. You can’t fake emotions, that’s why any live acting is done downwind of the audience. If we caught scent of the actors, we’d never buy into the act.” Marlot sighed. “And why use a condom with someone you’re already having sex with? Someone you’ve already impregnated?”

“You think he’s the father? not Sharptooth?”

“Jaxca said the cub was mixed breed. Sharptooth is a cheetah too. She won’t have a third lover, so Telima has to be the father.”

Trembor canted his head. “How do you know she won’t have a third lover? Or more?”

Marlot shifted uncomfortably. “I know her type.”

Trembor looked at him and debated pressing him, but he could smell how uncomfortable his wolf was. “That leaves Alicon.”

Marlot nodded, visibly calming. “Telima seems to think he’s responsible.”

“He might have found out about the pregnancy.”

“It would certainly anger him to find out she was pregnant with someone else’s cub, while contracted to have his.”

“Depends on the contract.” Trembor pointed out before accessing the Mating Agency’s records. His investigator’s ID gave him access to them and he ran a search for Aiden and Alicon’s. In this day and age mating contracts weren’t used as much as in the old days. They certainly weren’t needed to build a family, but they did provide some protection by outlining the purpose of the contract, expected behavior, and consequences if the contract was broken.

The contract came up and Trembor nodded after reading it. “The contract is for a cub.”

“That puts Sharptooth at the top of the list.” He got his number from the registry and called it. A quick conversation later they had a meeting set. “He’s waiting for us, four this afternoon.”

Trembor’s tail stilled. “that’s pretty quick.”

“I get the feeling he’s in a hurry to put this behind him.”

The lion nodded. “Okay, so if we leave in three hours we should have plenty of time to make it. Anything else we can use to break someone away from the herd?”


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A Wasterful Death CH 04 2020-06-11T13:00:08+00:00
Marlot leaned through the passenger side window. “Remember, don’t get anything to extravagant. I don’t want us to blow our finances on breakfast.”

Trembor rolled his eyes. “I know, I know. And you’re hoping I’m doing to stay away from rodents since they taste gamey to you. This isn’t the first time I’ve hunted us a meal. Now you go take care of the office and I’ll be back within an hour. And I also know to be careful with your car.”

Marlot did a quick look around and, not seeing anyone, leaned in through the window to give Trembor a quick peck on the muzzle. He then hurried inside the building, leaving the lion with a stunned expression on his face. Marlot couldn’t believe he’d done that.

“Good morning, Hela’han,” he greeted their secretary as he closed the door.

“Good morning, Marlot,” the elephant replied. She handed him three slates. “This one is the reports the enforcers made on the Spottedfur case. This one if from Jaxca and this last one came from the Tip Line. It’s about the She’avan body.” Her trunk sniffled his hand as he took the slate.

“Really? that body’s over five years old. We’re still getting tips about it?” It was Trembor’s body, from before they started working together. Marlot has no expectations they would ever find out who killed him.

“Someone catches an old newsie show and they think they remember something. We owe it to the body’s family to look into them even after all this time, right?”

Marlot nodded.

“Where’s Trembor?”

“He’s getting us breakfast.”

Hela’han nodded. “Did you spend the night at his place?”

Marlot almost dropped the slates. “What? No! Why d'you ask?” he stammered, working hard at keeping his ears and tail from reacting.

She shrugged. “His scent if very strong on you today.”

How could he have been this careless? “It must be from the car ride.” He hurries into his and Trembor’s office.

“It’s not usually that strong,” he heard her comment as he closed the door and locked it.

She knew. He paced around the room. What was he going to do now? For a moment he contemplated eating her, but what would Trembor think? She was his employee too. What was he going to do if she told someone?

He paced, running his hand over his head, his ears flat against his skull. He didn’t hear the buzz of incoming calls or even the beep of the door unlocking. He caught sight of the door opening out the corner of his eye and turn, looking at it with dread.

Trembor entered carrying a stag over his shoulder. “Why did you lock the door?” He asked, closing it. Seeing the state Marlot was in, he dropped the carcass and went to him. “What’s wrong?”

Marlot looked at him, eyes wide in fear. “What are we going to do? what am I going to do?” he repeated over and over.

Trembor grabbed him by the shoulders. “Please calm down.

Marlot pushed him away. “Don’t tell me to calm down! she knows!” he pointed at the door.

Trembor looked at it and then at the wolf in confusion. “What does she know?”

“That I spent the night at your place! She caught your scent on me and figured it out. I shouldn’t have stayed. I should have gone home like I usually do.”

Trembor growled in annoyance. his tail lashed behind him. he grabbed Marlot by the shoulders again. “Calm down! Who fucking cares if she knows, she works for us. Do you really think she’d go around talking about us?”

Marlot didn’t try to break out of his grip. “What if it just slips out and someone else finds out?” His face was a mask of worries.

“Will you get it through that thick skull of yours that no one cares about that anymore?” Trembor roared at him.

Marlot started shaking. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he whimpered and Trembor pulled him in close. “I just got so scared when she said it. I couldn’t think of anything else.”

Trembor kissed the top of his head. “It’s okay. Everything is going to be alright.” maybe it had been a mistake to force him to spend the night after all. Even after being lovers for over two years, there was a lot he didn’t know about his wolf’s past.

He knew he’d grown up in a backward town where anyone who didn’t conform to their view of what was ‘right’ was ridiculed or even lynched without repercussions, but that didn’t explain his reaction. Something had to have happened very close to him for him to react in such an extreme way to something this inconsequential.

He held him at arm’s length and look at him for a moment. The black fur under his deep brown eyes was matted from his tears. he let go of him to wipe the fur dry. “Are you feeling better?”

Marlot nodded and opened his muzzle to say something, but Trembor silenced him with a finger.

“No more apologizing. The important thing is that you’re feeling better.” He broke into a mischievous smile. “But you should consider yourself lucky this room is soundproof. You were pretty loud with your hysterics. If Hela’han didn’t know before, she would have now.”

Marlot’s ears went back down against his skull and he buried his face in Trembor’s chest. “Eat me,” he whispered, “just eat me now and put me out of my misery.”

The lion laughed. “And ruin breakfast?” He hugged him. “I don’t think so.”


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A Wasterful Death CH 03 2020-06-10T13:00:08+00:00
Marlot rested his head back on the headrest. Trembor’s home was similar to his, a small house for unmated people. It had a bedroom, an office, a living room, where the wolf was currently sitting, and a kitchen/eating area. That was the smallest room in the house since people without families weren’t expected to process their own kills — that was what the processing store was for.

“Want something to drink?” Trembor asked from the kitchen.

“Sure, whatever you have that’ll help me relax. He took off his shirt and threw it on the seat opposite him. The lion’s living room had a couch and two seats, all of them plush and comfortable, covered in natural tan hide. On the wall hung the vid unit, with pictures of his family around it, most of which were of young cubs.

“This is what you need.” Trembor appeared in the doorway and lobbed a can at him.

Marlot caught it and read the label. Alcohol wasn’t his first choice, but it would indeed help him relax. He pressed a claw in the top and was rewarded with a spray on his face, chest, and the laughter of a lion.

“Thanks a lot,” Marlot growled, “Like I need this after the day I’ve had. Do you have any idea what it’s like dealing with the folks from the missing person’s bureau? They think they can do whatever they want.” He moved to stand, but Trembor pushed him back down and straddled his lap.

“You said you needed to relax. I happen to know that you find my licking you relaxing, and seeing how it’s my fault you’re covered with alcohol, I have no choice but to do it.”

The wolf tensed.

“You know the laws have changed. This hasn’t been illegal for over a few decades.”

“I know,” Marlot whispered, “but that never mattered where I grew up. It never ends well for males like us there.”

Trembor raised the wolf’s muzzle with a finger so he could look in his eyes. This wasn’t a new reaction from his wolf, although each time Trembor hoped for something different. He nodded and got off him.

Marlot caught his arms. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just the two of us here, so it’s fine.” He pulled the lion back to him, and the lion fell on his lap.

“It is, is it?” He leaned in, and licked Marlot’s muzzle. “Alright, but there’s a condition tonight. You’re spending the night.”

“I can’t,” Marlot replied, his voice quivering. “I have to go back to my place. we can’t have people talk.”

Trembor placed a finger on his lover’s lips. “This isn’t negotiable. If we start this, you’re spending the night.” His voice was soft but firm. He didn’t care how long it took, although some days he wasn’t sure Marlot even wanted to change. He was going to get his wolf to become comfortable with who they were.

Marlot closed his eyes and calmed his breathing. He couldn’t quite chase the fears away, but he still nodded.

With a smile, the lion leaned in, and they kissed.

* * * * *

Marlot came slightly away as he felt Trembor shift on the bed and reach for something on the shelf on the headboard, and then reposition himself. Marlot didn’t open his eyes as he snuggled up against the lion’s back. His lover’s body felt so nice. He draped an arm over the lion and slowly ground against him. This rubbing together that felt quite good.

“Good morning.” Trembor placed a hand on the wolf’s arm and pulled him a little tighter.

“Is it?” Marlot’s voice had a dreamy quality to it. Trembor was still slick from their play before they slept, and the wolf easily slipped between the lion’s cheeks.

“It must be,” Trembor said, with a purr to his voice. “I can feel someone’s morning wood.”

Marlot changed his angle as Trembor spoke. “It isn’t wood.” He pushed in, and Trembor moaned loudly in pleasure. He threw a leg over the lion’s and pushed further in. When he stopped moving, he was almost all the way in.

Trembor panted heavily. “No, that’s definitely not wood. Wood wouldn’t feel anywhere near this wonderful.

Marlot held Trembor tighter in response to the comment. He didn’t understand why such a simple compliment could make him feel so loved. The wolf began thrusting languidly, savoring how good this felt, along with the moans and groans of his lover.

For his part, Trembor held Marlot’s arm, gently rubbing the fur as the wolf picked up speed. The times he could enjoy his lover’s company like this were few and far between. Normally Marlot left as soon as they were done, leaving the lion to sleep alone.

Marlot’s insistent thrusts forced Trembor to turn onto his stomach. From that position the wolf moved faster, Grunting each time his knot felt resistance. he knew he shouldn’t, they didn’t have time to tie, but he couldn’t help himself, he pushed harder, making Trembor gasp with each thrust.

With a grunt from both of them, the knot went in, and the ancestral part of Marlot’s brain took over. He bucked on top of the lion, both trying to pull out and go deeper. He kept at it until his orgasm hit, and then he collapsed over him, his strength gone.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Marlot whined softly. “I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t stop myself.”

Trembor shushed him gently. “It’s alright, I don’t mind. This way I get to have you with me that much longer.”

Marlot opened his mouth to respond, but the words stuck in his throat. He buried his muzzle in the lion’s mane and breathed in his scent. He couldn’t say them, those three little words. Each time he thought about doing it, he remembered the last time he did say them to someone, and how later that same day he was killed. His tail, which had been wagging behind him, dropped at the memory.

His killers hadn’t even tried to be discreet, they had proclaimed his killing. For a moment it looked like they were going to be killed in retaliation, since the cub hadn’t been of predation age. But then they revealed he had been a tail raiser, and they were celebrated. Even the cub’s family joined in the congratulations.

Marlot didn’t know how they had found out, but he was lucky that they didn’t know about him. He would never forget that day, and what those three words caused.

Drinking his lover’s smells, he forced himself to remember this wasn’t the time of his youth, or of that backward community. That, as the lion said, what they were wasn’t a crime anymore.

But he still couldn’t get those three words to leave his lips.

They held each other in silence, waiting for Marlot’s knot to go down. Trembor looked at the time and shut the alarm off, then did the same to his pad.

Once enough time passed Marlot pulled out. He went slow and did everything he could to be gentle, even shrunk his knot was still large. Most canines only had vestigial knots now. He was one of the rare ones with a fully developed one. Trembor winced when it finally popped out.

Marlot rolled off the lion and sat on the edge of the bed, looking at the floor. He so wanted to tell his lion how he felt.

When he looked up, Trembor was next to him, offering him his hand. Marlot took it and was pulled into a tight hug. When the lion released him, he felt a little better. He smiled at his lover, who returned it. before pulling him to the bathroom.

Under the hot water jets of the shower, Marlot noticed Trembor hadn’t climaxed. He didn’t hesitate. He dropped to his knees, and before the lion could comment, he proceeded to remedy that.

Marlot closed his eyes, and he worked. he loved how his lion smelled and how he felt. He liked feeling Trembor shudder in pleasure. And he loved how he tasted. The lion held Marlot’s head in place and grunted.

He never lasted long, but Marlot didn’t mind.

He stood, licking his lips with a satisfied grin. Trembor kissed him hungrily, purring as they shared his taste.


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A Wasterful Death CH 02 2020-06-09T13:00:08+00:00
Trembor cursed and ran for him.

“Aiden? Aiden!” The dog headed for them, but the lion intercepted him before he took more than two steps, throwing him to the ground.

Marlot entered a different number. “What the fuck is going on?” He yelled when the officer in charge answered. “Why do I have a civilian in my crime scene? I thought the house had been secured? Don’t you people know how to do your job? No, I don’t want you to come get him. I want you to make damn sure no one else just walks in here. If I find anyone else here, I’m going to make sure your rating drops so low even a vagrant will be able to afford you. Am I making myself clear?” He terminated the call and glared at Trembor, who was grinning at him, a knee on the doberman’s chest. “What?”

The lion couldn’t reply immediately because he was now laughing. “You like threatening those poor folks way too much. One of these days one of them is going to realize you can’t actually do that. What are you going to do then?”

“I’m going to hunt and claim them no matter their rating.” His tone was serious as he joined Trembor.

The lion looked at the dog under him. “Now, I’m going to let go of you and get up. You’re going to remain exactly where you are. If you move, even to scratch your balls, I’m going to knock you unconscious and we’ll question you in the hospital, understand?”

The canine nodded weakly.

“And you comment on my threats?” Marlot asked with a chuckle.

“At least I can carry through with mine.” Trembor stood.

Marlot rolled his eyes and extended a hand to the doberman. “Come on, let me help you up. Don’t worry about the maned pussycat here. He’s not going to touch a strand of fur on your body.”

The canine looked skeptical, but still slowly reached for the offered hand, watching for the lion’s reaction. Marlot pulled him up and sat him on the bench, keeping himself between the young dog and the body.

He smelled young, and looked lost, now that he was no longer terrified. His gaze kept going from the floor to where the body was. Marlot was happy he was blocking his view.

“Call Jaxca,” he told Trembor over his shoulder. The lion nodded and took a few steps away. “What’s your name?” Marlot asked the doberman.

“Te… Telima, sir.” He sounded a lot younger than he smelled.

Marlot showed him his ID. “I’m a registered investigator. MY name is Marlot Blackclaw. I have to ask you some questions. are you okay to answer them?”

Telima nodded.

“What are you doing here, Telima?”

The doberman hesitated for a moment. “I sort of live here.”

“Sort of?” Marlot prodded when Telima didn’t add more.

Telima plastered his ears against his skull and his tail stuck to his leg, trying to get between them.

The wolf sighed. “Look, I don’t think you have anything to do with this, but if you don’t answer my questions I’m going to have to get the enforcers to take you in. Things won’t be anywhere this comfortable if we have to do this at a station.”

“I’m sorry, sir.” Telima’s voice was barely above a whisper and his eyes didn’t leave the floor.

“It’s alright. Let’s try this again. What were you to Miss. Spottedfur?”

The doberman took a breath and let it out. “I was her lover.”

“Contracted?” Marlot asked.

Telima shook his head. “She’s contracted with someone else.” He lifted his head, surprise in his eyes. “He did it!”

“Who?”

“Her contracted lover. She told me how controlling he was. He must have found out about me and done that to her.”

Marlot gave the young dog a moment to calm down. “Do you know who he is?”

“I never asked. I didn’t want to pry. I was happy enough she wanted me over him.”

Marlot studied the doberman for a moment. “How old are you?”

“Eighteen, sir.” Telima puffed up his chest.

Marlot stopped himself from smiling at the youthful display of pride. He looked from the doberman to the body and back. “She was your first, wasn’t she?” The age difference, the fact she had a contracted lover, Marlot was familiar with the situation.

Telima tried to keep his gaze on the wolf, but embarrassment made him look at the floor again. That was all the answer Marlot needed. He didn’t show his reaction, but he felt sorry for this young dog.

But maybe the situation was for the best, Marlot thought. There was no avoiding that Telima would be traumatized by her death, but it would be tempered by the belief he had been the love of her life. He wouldn’t have to deal with being dumped as soon as he wasn’t horny enough for her.

“You have a bag.” He pointed to it. “Were you planning on staying here?”

Telima nodded. “I’m at the academy for the week and I come here on my rest days.”

“Can I see your ID card?”

The doberman took it out of his pocket and handed it to Marlot.

He looked at it. Unlike his own card, which was muted gray, Telima’s was bright red, identifying him as a student, and therefore off-limits to predation. At least he didn’t have to worry about him disappearing during the investigation. He handed it back.

“I want you to go back to your dorm. You can’t stay here, it’s going to be awhile until her possessions are processed.” Telima nodded and stood, looking a little dazed. Marlot placed a few bills in his hand. “I want you to buy a wallet for your card. The type you can wear around your neck. Once you do, don’t take it off, even while sleeping.”

Telima looked at him, eyes wide. “Am I in danger.”

Marlot couldn’t stop a small chuckle. Ah, the ignorance of youth. “You’re eighteen, Telima. You’re of predation age. You look like an adult, and you smell like one. The only thing keeping you safe off the academy’s ground is your student status. You need to take care of your card. It isn’t because you’re a predator that you’re safe. Until you’ve learned how to defend yourself, you can end up as someone else’s meal. Yes, they’re going to be in trouble when they find out you’re a student, but you’re still going to be dead.”

Telima nodded and quickly backed away.

Marlot didn’t care if he’d scared him, he’d be better off for it, so long as he took care of his ID card. They were already loosing too many your adults to carelessness as it was.

The doberman looked at the money in his hand, a questioning look on his face for a moment. He probably hadn’t handled physical money before. The government had started pushing for electronic currency a decade ago, and nowadays it was the most common method. Only the older folks, or those like Marlot who dealt with people in the gray areas of society, kept physical money going.

The government kept pushing to eliminate physical money, claiming only criminals used it these days, but it never amounted to anything. Everyone knew a lot of people within the government were involved in criminal doings.

Marlot didn’t expect it to happen anytime soon. The worse Telima would have to deal with were odd looks when he paid for his wallet with them.

A few moments after Telima left, a bright red frog came up the stairs carrying a portable gurney. “Hey Jaxca,” Marlot greeted him. “How’s life?” He joined the frog next to the body but kept his distance.

“You know me. I live the blessed life.”

“Don’t get cocky.” Trembor’s tone was sharp. “one of these days you’re going to come across someone with a taste for the exotic.”

Jaxca set the gurney down next to the body. “My rating keeps anyone but the rich from affording me.” He took a plastic bag out of his jacket, unfolded it over the gurney, and unzipped it.

“And who do you think have the weird tastes?” Marlot asked. “Those who can afford them,” He answered himself.

They meant the warning. Even Marlot could make quick work of the frog if he wanted to. Only the poison Jaxca’s skin secreted had kept him from considering the frog as his next meal the first time they met.

“Just be careful, okay?” Trembor helped Jqaxca place the body on the gurney. “I don’t want to have to start looking for another examiner. No one’s going to measure up to you.”

The frog stood and looked up at the lion, the top of his red head barely reaching the middle of Trembor’s chest. “Everyone measures up to me, and more.” Jaxca then bent back down to zip the bag close.

Marlot gave him a wide berth. He didn’t want to risk even a mild case of accidental poisoning. It wouldn’t kill him, but it would lay him out for a few days.

Jaxca stood. “You two grab the gurney and bring her to my car. I’ll have a prelim for you by morning.”

The lion and wolf carried the body out of the house, and newsies started snapping pictures and yelling questions. The enforcers kept them for coming close.

Once the gurney was in Jaxca’s car Marlot when to the officer in charge, a female hyena. “We’re done here. Have all the lock codes been changes? are the unused doors sealed?” The officer gulped and nodded. “Good. you’re clear to catalog the contents. When you’re done seal the house and pad me the codes.”

He joined Trembor and lead him to where he was parked. “Do you think her contracted lover could have killed her out of jealousy?”

Trembor looked at the house before answering. “She was a VP. Do you really think she would contract someone who couldn’t afford to pay her rating? I don’t care why he’d kill her, he wouldn’t have left her there to rot.”

Marlot nodded. He unlocked the car and sat behind the wheel. Trembor sat on the passenger side and placed a hand on the wolf’s thigh as soon as he closed his door.

Marlot placed his hand over the lion’s and squeezed it once, before moving it back to Trembor’s lap. “Someone might so,” he said, looking ahead.

Trembor shook his head in amusement. “No one cares, Marl. And we’re RIs, even if they did, you really think anyone would want to mess with us?”

Marlot shrugged and started the car. “Let’s just go, okay?”


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A Wasterful Death CH 01 2020-06-08T13:00:11+00:00
Marlot walked toward the crowd. He parked a few blocks away, knowing from experience that trying to park close would be a waste of time. Bodies left to rot always attracted gawkers, even when the body wasn’t in plain sight. And it happening in such a wealthy neighborhood just made the spectacle all the more appealing to them.

He reached the back of the crowd and looked for space to squeeze in, unlike them he wasn’t here to look but to work. He didn’t see any. Everyone was packed tight, trying to get as close to the enforcer line as they could, morbid curiosity forcing them to catch a glimpse of what was waiting for them.

Everyone ended up as a body. It was just a question of time.

“Excuse me,” he said, his deep voice a little louder than the crowd. “I need to get through.” They didn’t hear him, too focused on the enforcers moving about in front of the house. It wasn’t like they were going to get to see the body until he was done with it.

Marlot sighed and ran a hand over his muzzle in frustration. He could certainly force his way through them. Looking over their head he could see many horns and antlers. It made sense, herd mentality, they wouldn’t pack in close to predators if they could avoid it.

A not very friendly smile crept on his muzzle. Well, he could certainly use the fact they were prey against them.

He let a low growl escape his lips and maintained it. It wasn’t very loud, certainly not loud enough to be heard over the noises of the crowd. It took a moment, but the people closest to him, a buck, antelope, and horse, started fidgeting.

He kept growling, and they started nervously moving in place, looking around. They weren’t aware of him yet, but their instincts were telling them they were in danger.

The horse looked over her shoulder and startled at noticing him. She moved away, bumping in the antelope who looked at what was causing the commotion, noticed him, and also backed into someone else. In a cascade they all became aware of the wolf in their midst and backed away, making a path for him.

Marlot smiled at them, letting his sharp teeth show just for a moment. “Thank you.” He strode through the opening until he reached where a muscular moose dressed in the orange enforcer’s uniform was standing. He didn’t react to Marlot being close to him. Enforcers when through intensive training to help them curb their instinct, fleeing for prey species and hunting for predators.

“This is as far as you go.” The moose’s voice was deep and reverberating. “There’s an investigation going on.”

Marlot took out his ID and showed it to him. “Marlot Blackclaw, Registered Investigator. I’m here for the body.”

The enforcer took it and examined it, then returned it to him. “There’s already an RI on the scene.” He looked over his shoulder and searched for a moment before pointing to the lion by the house’s garage.

Marlot smiled as he watched Trembor for a moment. He was talking with a female bobcat officer. Further back, leaning against a car, he noticed a bright red frog eating a sandwich.

“I work with him.”

“You do?”

Marlot smiled and patted the moose on the arm. “I know, You’ve never heard of two RIs working together.” The moose flinched at the touch. he was new to the force, he still thought of himself as prey, even if his uniform marked him as being off-limit at the moment.

Marlot slipped past him and walked toward the house. like the other houses on that side of the street, it was partially built in the hill. Other than that, each house was different. The people living here were wealthy enough to afford to build to their individual tastes. Everyone else, Marlot included, had to contend with houses made in bulk and identical.

This house was well-maintained slate gray concrete for the street level and blood-red siding for the two levels above. The color made him salivate. He should have stopped for something to drink before getting here.

There was another officer by the door, a skinny wolf with motley brown fur, but this one looked at his ID and let him through.

The entrance hallway was short, long enough for a small table against the wall that had seen better days and an open door through which he saw an expensive car in the two-car garage.

On the opposite side was another door, this one closed. He put his gloves on before opening it to look inside. He didn’t have to do that, the enforcers would go through the house once he and Trembor gave the all-clear, but he liked seeing what was in a body’s house, it helped him form an idea of who they were. By the number of boxes in the room, he guessed the owner liked keeping things as a way to remember the past.

He closed the door and went up the stairs at the end of the hallway. The stairs ended at a large, floor to ceiling, scratching post, and by the marks on it, it was used frequently. So the owner of the house was feline.

He could only turn right, and there was a door there leading to the master bedroom. It was over the garage and took went all the way to the front of the house. It was clean, the bed made, and it didn’t contain any smells.

He listened for the air system. It was running, his sound much fainter than the one in his house. It was probably more efficient, but he could assume it took about a day to remove all scents from a room this size.

The hallway went along the room and ended at another stairwell going up to the other floor. Before that was another door.

This door was opened and showed a large room divided in two. On one side was an office, everything neatly in its place, while the other side was a workout area with various muscle-building machines. This side looked like a storm had gone through it. Towels hanging on the machines, free weights left randomly on the floor.

He looked from one side to the other; the difference was clear. Two people lived here.

The stairs followed the front of the house, with windows looking out. At the top, he turned right and saw that this last floor was one large space. the only door was on the other side of the room, on the wall now to his left. There was an ornate bench next to it and a large mirror hanging above that. So it probably led outside.

In turning right again he saw the body on the floor, in the living area, close to the kitchen which was against the right wall, toward the back. He could tell at a glance it was female and a cheetah. He didn’t go to it, continuing to look around, getting a sense for the person who had lived here.

The kitchen had modern appliances, a warmer, and a cooktop, which told him she had done some cooking, and not just warmed her meat, as Marlot did. He’d never gotten the hang of cooking food.

There was a large dining table, close to the kitchen. He counted eight chairs, and there was a purse on the table. The rest of the space was set up as a living area. Multiple seats and sofas positioned around a heat generator. For cold evenings, or because most felines loved relaxing in front of a warm spot.

He was surprised at the lack of a vid unit. The only one he’d see was in the office and served as the computer’s screen.

the four sides of the rooms had thick curtains blocking the outside light. He turned off the light and found himself in almost complete darkness. She liked to control her environment. He turned the lights back on and pushed the curtain aside.

He looked out onto the side of the house, the hill going up until it became level with this floor, about two-thirds of the way. He went to the back of the house and looked out. The yard was deep, well-manicured, and lightly wooded at the periphery. He could see a path at the back, going through the trees, and closer to the house was a sunning chair.

He didn’t bother with the purse as he walked by the table to reach the body. Something else the enforcers would catalog and send to them, Trembor was the one to deal with that. He did note her pad was out of the purse.

He stood over the body, looking at it. She was on her stomach, right arm stretched out toward the table. Her death hadn’t been instantaneous. She dragged herself, trying to reach her pad and call for help. The killer had either let her do it, knowing she wouldn’t make it or had already left.

He crouched next to the body and took out his pad. He looked at her again and sighed. “What a waste.” Before turning on the recording program. “This is Registered Investigator Marlot Blackclaw, recording the visual examination of the body. No name yet. The body was a cheetah, female, approximately five foot eight, and weighing a hundred and ten pounds. The body is clad in a light brown business jacket.” he paused and pulled the sleeve away for the arm. “Over a white shirt, and a matching knee-length skirt. She is still wearing her shoes, so she was attacked not long after arriving home. Those things look too uncomfortable for her to stay in them any longer than needed.”

He paused the recording when he heard someone coming up the stairs. A red-brown mane came into view, followed by Trembor’s golden furred face.

“What do you think?” Marlot asked the lion, indicating the body.

Trembor looked around and joined him. “Well, I don’t think she did it to herself.”

Marlot chuckled. “That’s kind of obvious. Do you have a name?”

“Aiden Spottedfur, she was thirty-two.”

“Did the first officer on the scene catalog her ID?”

Trembor shook his head.

“Maybe we’ll be lucky then. It’s possible her killer just hasn’t gotten around to paying her PRT.”

Trembbor leaned over the body and sniffed it. “Smells like she’d been dead for a few days. what do you think, three? That’s a long time to wait to pay her Productivity Tax.”

“Just being hopeful, if he was planning on paying it he would have taken the body.” Marlot started recording again. “The body’s name is Aiden Spottedfur, and the smell test approximates the time of death at three days. Now checking the pockets for content.” The only thing they contained was her ID wallet. “Her ID has been found. This is now officially a tax evasion case.”

“Her rating is going to be high,” Trembor said. “She worked for Arcas.”

Marlot had to think about it for a moment. “They’re the ones who came out with the synthetic meat that’s actually edible, aren’t they?”

“Yes. Everyone who worked there saw a large increase in their rating when that stuff started selling.”

Marlot called up the Productivity Rating Database on his pad. It checked the pad was authorized, then requested his access code. When that was confirmed, the scanner on his pad came on, and he Scanned Aiden’s ID.

A moment later her information appeared on his pad, including her Rating. “Take a look at it,” Marlot gasped, lifting his pad so Trembor could read it. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Rating this high.”

“No wonder,” the lion said in amazement. “She didn’t just work at Arcas, she was their vice president.”

Marlot read her information and confirmed it. That indeed explained the number. “Who contacted the enforcers?”

Trembor took out his pad. “Her secretary. This morning was the third that Aiden wasn’t there. When she didn’t answer her pad, he checked the Claimed ID Registry. Aiden wasn’t listed there, so he came here. All the doors were locked, but the curtains were open. that’s when he saw the body. The enforcers closed them to prevent the newsies from peeking in.”

“It lines up with the scent of death.” The wolf stood and stretched.

He was in the process of entering Jaxca’s number when something fell behind him. He and Trembor spun around and stared at the doberman standing by the door, a sports bag at his feet.


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This one might make people uncomfortable 2020-05-11T01:29:53+00:00

I am weird.

Anyone who knows me, knows that, anyone who hangs out with me for a while will probably pic up on that. I’m so used to it, and have enough coping mechanism in place to deal with them that I don’t really notice it anymore. But once in a while something will show up.

I’ve mentioned I have ADHD, but what I also have is a flexible moral code.

I don’t mean I’m happily breaking the laws, I know they are there for a reason, and I will respect them, mostly. This one usually shows up in thing I consider small (others might disagree). I remember, years ago when I worked as a night clerk in a motel, one of my job was to audit the cash register at the end of the day, and one time by the time I was done, there was a dollar left over, so I pocketed it. Another time it was a few bucks, pocketed that too. It happened a few more time until I realized that while it was extra, the money technically wasn’t mine, it was the motel. So I stopped doing it.

Another, I decided to see if I could scam my credit card company. Took the bus to Montreal, made a bunch of purchases and signed for them with my left hand. That was before swipe and chips. Credit cards were processed with what I called ‘kershalck’ machines. Bulky things they put the card on it, with a credit card slip, it went ‘kershlack’ as they forced an imprint of the card on the slip then filled the rest by hand. I bought a few hundred dollars’ worth of stuff, then just left my card somewhere. And returned home. The next day I called the company to let them know I’d lost my card while I was in Montreal. I remember the person on the other end asking a lot of questions, and I realized she was trying to determine if I was scamming them. In the end I got my purchased reimbursed, and decided it wouldn’t be worth the trouble to come up with a way to do it again, and I was probably on a watchlist. I’d satisfied my curiosity, that’s what it was about, really.

A few days ago, this is what made me think of this. As I was about to swipe my credit card to fuel my truck, I noticed the guy before me hadn’t properly shut the pump down, so it was still on his card.

I put twenty dollars’ worth in my truck before I even questioned if I could be doing this. And what stopped me was that “I” wasn’t gaining anything, the company was paying for my fuel. So I hung it up, made sure it was shut down and swiped my card to continue fueling.

As I said, I’m weird.

Since I’ve probably scared you, I won’t bother with anything more. This week’s file are with the accompanying post. I’ll see you on the next one.

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Comments (3)
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User #344478 - 16 May 20 20:50
Not scary. Weird? Definitely. But not scary.
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User #6249976 - 11 May 20 01:32
I mean, you do catch yourself and stop and think. All these examples are you doing immoral stuff but it's not really against someone specific. More opportunistic than anything. I think you are fine.
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kindar - 15 May 20 00:03
thanks
It’s different for everyone 2020-05-03T19:40:38+00:00

Depression is insidious.

It affect people in different ways, sometimes instead of hitting ‘hard’ it sneaks in, and even once you realize it has you in its grip, you can’t always work up the energy to do anything about it.

I’m lucky in that suffer from mild depression, I probably mentioned it before, I describe it as ‘the winter blahs’. It always sneaks in, and because it doesn’t affect the things I ‘have to do’ weeks can go by before I notice it.

Some of you might have noticed there’s been a lack of posts here recently. That’s why. I hit Sunday, look at what I want(not really) to do and what must(do I have to) do and this post gets batted off the table all cat like.

The important stuff hasn’t been affected, my driving and my main writing both went without problem. The pleasure project was a little tougher since I don’t have an outline for it and low motivation, but I finally cracked that particular nut and 2628 is back on track, I expect it to be finished in a month at most.

I’ve also started a new project (yes, yet another one) this one is litRPG https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LitRPG it is set in the Lands of Farr, a game that has been mentioned in 2628, and I think 2626, but will be front and center in the next Orr Chronicle story ‘Virtual Friendship’ the working title is Amakron, which is the world within the game where the story takes place (yes, I know, so creative) and will follow the Main Character as he wakes up with no idea who he is and how he got there (ahhh, the ever popular amnesia trope) as he goes about learning about the game and hopefully himself.

The interesting aspect for me is that one of the thing that is vital for litRPG is the game system, how it works, so I have to build something as I’m writing and have to make sure it works. I’m borrowing left and right from existing games, but keeping thrack of everything is… interesting.

And that’s going to be it, so I’ll see you on the next one.

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No idea how to title 2020-04-06T02:00:36+00:00

This has been a decent week filled with driving.

Made it to Houston, then Laredo where I sat for a day because no one bothered paying attention to the delivery being a day later than when I was told to arrive. It gave me the chance to run errands, then the pick up was read for me and I moved. One good thing is I found out that we are getting Love’s Trick stop a few miles from the yard, and it’s almost done, so it might be open by the time I’m in Laredo again.

The one down side is that I lost a chapter on Friday. Windows crashed, and I think it happened as Scrivener was backing up, because even the backup was corrupted, so I couldn’t retrieve the chapter. It hurt, but I’ll rewrite it on Monday and hopefully finish Protecting the line On Tuesday.

So on to the writing, Protecting the line got chapters 40 to 43, 44 was eaten by Windows. I finished Part 4 of Wyatt’s story, and I’ll be taking a break from it. I don’t really know what the next part will be and I need to return to Tiranis. And I work on 2628, but I didn’t finish it, I need to figure out how it will progress

Movie of the week

How to Train your Dragon, the hidden world. This movie is good. As good as the previous two. Hicup is now leader, and needs to comfront someone who may very well be smarter than he is, on top of that, Toothless is distracted by something, and it’s entirely possible Hicup will have to find out how much of a man he is without his dragon at his back.

This movie made me realize something. I love hope, in a movie. I love that moment when all seems dark and the main character understands something that changes how their story will progress. It doesn’t have to be big, and it doesn’t have to ‘plot driven’

In the Incredibles, it’s when Dash discovers he can run on water. He’d chased by men on flying vehicles, there are more than he can deal with and there’s water ahead of him, and while afraid, he keeps running. The surprise, the joy on his face as he realizes and proceeds to have the time of his life using that to beat his opponent was amazing

In Rock Dog, it’s when Bodie accidentally discovers that he does have the inner fire his father despaired he’d ever find. The initial discovery is accidental hit me as it hit everything else in the scene, and then when he returns to his village and uses it, it was another amazing moment.

In Hidden World, it’s when Hicup his told he can only save one of two dragons by his opponent who is laughing at him while saying that, and Hicup saves one dragon, let’s go, telling her to save the other. The peace on his face as he does that and the terror on his enemy who was holing on to Hicup for his own life was a sight to behold. I was so invested in the moment that I forgot Hicup wouldn’t die. All I saw was his willingness to sacrifice him himself in the hope of saving someone else.

And that’s the thing about hope. It’s not always about being the one who wins with it. Sometimes it’s about being willing to lose so someone else will win.

And I realized that moment is one I try to put in all my series. I can’t know if readers will see it, but I put them in it. It’s in Tristan. It’s in Inheriting the Line, twice, it going to be in Death by Predation, and I definitely hope it’s going to be in Demons.

Because that moment, to me, is the culmination of a story.

And I’m going to leave you on that. I’ll see you on the next one.

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Yes, I’m driving! 2020-03-30T00:00:43+00:00

Communication with my company is always fun. This week was no different.

I got in my truck on Sunday evening, as I always do in situations like this, since I want to be ready to drive as soon as they find me something on Monday.

I sat there Monday, Tuesday, at with point I get a message from the Scheduler saying my manager wants me to head home and see him next Monday. Because I know of the ways each office tries to make to others look bad, I email my manager to get a confirmation. I don’t get one, so I stay where I am. On Wednesday I plan on trying again in case it’s just late.

Wednesday late morning, the scheduler emails me asking if I’ll be ready to move Thursday for a pickup. I say yes, and am doubly happy for not moving, and he replies he’ll confirm soon.

By 16:30 I still don’t have a confirmation, so I email asking for an update.

The answer comes at 8:30am the next day that the load is good to go.

I never did get a reply from my Manager.

I drove to Grand Forks BC, got there early evening, dropped the trailer and parks to the side to wait since officially the pickup was not until Friday. I did see the trailer be moved to a dock before I went to bed, so I was hopeful.

Friday morning, I check in early, the trailer is loaded, they are just waiting on the papers. An hour later that’s done, and I hit the road. It was early enough I was able to cross the border before the end of my day.

Yesterday and today were good days. I did have to drive today, which is never ideal, but I should be able to get back to my normal routine by next week

Writing side, Protecting the Line got chapters 35 to 39, only 6 more chapters to go. I started on part 4 of Wyatt’s story and 2628 got chapter 29, although it’s a smaller one due to having to drive.

As usual, anyone at the 1$ support level and up can read them.

Taking the Line is still being edited, but I am going to make changes to it. Not the story itself, but I may take it out of the series. The book is problematic on at least two level. One it focuses on a different character than Denton, which causes a break and two it’s a LOT darker. Arnold is not a nice man, and the things he does aren’t pleasant to read about, so it would cause an even harsher tonal break.

IF Protecting the Line can work without Taking the Line being the book that precedes it, I might publish it as an aside with plenty of warning attached to it.

And that’s it, I’ll see you on the next one.

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back to work for me! Well, almost 2020-03-23T01:36:34+00:00

the week was not overly eventful, but still interesting. With my physio ending last week, and my truck dropped off at the shop Saturday, but without an appointment, of course, it became a question of waiting and calling the shop to get updates. To make things easy on me, I called at 4pm, local time, for one thing, it made sure they had time to work on it, and for another, it’s 6pm for the scheduler, and he leaves the office at 5, so no one telling me to rush, rush rush.

After dropping the truck, I emailed my manager to 1) let him know it was at the shop being worked on and 2) get the email for the scheduler since my manager was on vacation. As part of that email I said that 1) I had no idea when the truck would be ready and 2) that I would call the shop on Monday.

ON Monday, my manager forward the email to the scheduler telling him to hurry to find me a load since my truck was ready. The scheduler replied telling me to have the stuck ready ASAP since he did have a load for me.

After calling the shop Monday at 4pm, to be told the truck wasn’t ready, I emailed my manager and the scheduler telling them it wasn’t ready, still no ETA and that I would call Tuesday for an update. Tuesday morning, I get a reply from my manager, “the truck probably won’t go in before Thursday since it didn’t have an appointment, but make sure to call tonight in case we’re lucky and they start working on it early.” The Scheduler replies “the truck must be ready on Wednesday because you need to drive on Thursday to do the pickup Friday morning.”

Don’t you just love the ready capabilities of my coworkers?

Tuesday, I call and I’m told it will be ready at noon on Wednesday. No, I do not rejoice. I don’t even call at noon for an update. I call at 4pm as usual. The truck isn’t quite ready, but it only has a couple of hours left on it. This is why I didn’t bother rushing.

I did get in the truck Wednesday evening and hit the road Thursday morning. I made it halfway to the customer, where I stopped at a Walmart for supplies, and found out the load had been cancelled. I parked at the truckstop across the road, and on Friday I was told to return to Calgary, where I spent the weekend at my friend’s place.

So yeah. It’s been interesting, but it meant time to write. Protecting the Line got chapters 30 to 34. And I cut one entire chapter out. Changes made to Albert rendered the motivation behind the chapter unusable, and ultimately, there was no vital information given to the reader so I didn’t bother reworking it to make it work. Wyatt’s story got the last part to chapter 3, so that’s going to be on the Patreon today. And 2628 got chapter 28.

If you want to read any of that, it’s only 1$ a month.

Editing of Taking the Line is happening, if a little slower that I’d like, but that’s my fault. I have the file, just need to work on it.

Movie of the week!

Can I make that a think? Should I?

I watched Maleficent, Mistress of Evil. This time we aren’t retelling a fairy tale, we’re continuing a few years down the line and exploring greed, belonging and being a parent. It’s a fun movie, better than I expected for a sequel and avoids falling in the trap of this side is good and this side is bad by giving us more nuanced characters, with a few stereotypical ones. there’s love, action and a curse, of course. The story doesn’t try to fool you as to who the bad guy is, but puts the question mark on Maleficent’s reaction to what is done.

And that’s it, I’ll see you on the next one.

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Plans have to change 2020-03-16T02:55:18+00:00

I’m guessing the Corvid Virus is forcing many of you to change their plans. I’m hoping you’re all washing your hands and being cautious.

For myself, the convention I was planning on attending and selling my novel at, Furnal Equinox, has been cancelled. Fortunately I was informed with enough time to cancel all my plans, and be reimbursed for the flight.

My physio finished on Friday, I’m not 100%, I’d say about 90%, but I passed all the test needed for me to get back to work. I’ll continue my exercise and keep getting better. The convention meant I was going to take my vacation before getting back to work, now that’s cancelled. Once my truck is out of the shop, I will get back to work, because of course my company never planned ahead, and waited until the last minute, as in, this Saturday, before sending my truck in for it’s maintenance, yes, I was going to be on vacation for a week and a half, but things change.

The week itself hasn’t been eventful. The writing went well, Protecting the Line got chapters 25 to 29, 2628 got chapter 27. Wyatt’s story got some of chapter 3, but that’s not finished.

On the editing side, Taking the Line is still being worked on. Getting through it slowly.

I watched Frozen 2 this weekend. The Sequel to Frozen, where we learn more about the world Elsa lives in, Elsa herself, and the past of Arendelle.

The movie is definitely fun, and add depth to the word. On the whole the characters are interesting, and still who they were, although they have grown up slightly.

If I have one observation/complaint to make is that Disney seems to have decided that the songs take precedence over the story, leading to a number of songs that while good, don’t feel like they fit within the story that’s being told, either by pulling us out of the story, or putting a character in the forefront that isn’t doing much otherwise in the story.

Still a fun movie

So that’s it, I’ll see you on the next one.

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The Lord Tiranis, An Origin, Book 5 (part 4 of 13) (an excerpt) 2020-03-11T22:30:59+00:00

Tiranis is a world of humans and furries, of super science and super powers, of ordinary people and extraordinary ones.

Stories of the Past is a series of stories exploring the history of the city of Tiranis, as well as the world it exists in or sometimes people of importance in it.

This is excerpt is about 550 word of a 5,500 word chapter.

You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level

A story of the past

“I couldn’t have children! We were made sterile! We weren’t people to them, we were weapons! Made to fight an die. Do you have any idea what it is like to find you can have children when you’ve believe that for centuries?”

With a laugh Lars sent the water at the jackal and lifted him off his feet. “Those signs are as meaningless as the Celeste of yours.” He faced the crowd again. “I saw others have children, but I never had them. I was too old I thought, I’d been made too long ago. Whatever change that had let the newer ones be fruitful was denied to me! I never wanted kids, I had Vee and he was enough, or so I thought. Then came Alaine, and I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t have children, I had believed it. You want a miracle, there you have it, but it had nothing to do with your Celeste.”

The storm formed a wall around the crowd; him, The Keeper and them in the eye. Some made to run. “No,” Lars said and the ground wrapped around their feet. “You don’t get to leave. None of you do. You murdered my son. All of you.”

He faced the jackal. “Leo was special, beyond his ability. He was a gentle man. He didn’t want riches, someone who can control water could make himself a king, but all he wanted was to help people. To fucking guide them to what you brainwashed him into believing was the right path. Unlike you he didn’t terrify people into giving him respect. He just wanted people to be happy.”

“He wasn’t right!” The jackal yelled. “He was tainted!”

“My son was perfect,” Lars snarled, “before you screwed him up. Before you make him renounce the water he loved. But was still enough of a good man to reveal himself to all of you instead of letting that family die, and you murdered him for it. What kind of man does that?” he looked at the crowd. “What kind of good folk allow that to happen. What kind of monster condemns a hero just because he saved them in a way you disapproved of.”

“He’s the monster! You are!” the jackal yelled. “You see what he does, how long have I told you he was a demon here to corrupt us? I am a good man, I do the Celeste’s work!”

“Who ordered my son’s death. Who stood by and watched happen? If that’s what your Celeste asks of you then you all deserve what’s coming. You wanted power Keeper? You wanted to be important in this little insignificant town? To wanted to be the one to ruled these cowards? Congratulation, you succeeded. You got them to ignore decency for you. You turned each and every one of them into the same kind of monster you are. Now it’s time for you to get your just rewards.”

Lars pointed to the jackal, who tried to pull his feet out of the earth

“What are you doing?” The Keeper grabbed his chest. “Stop it, please!” he panted.

“How does it feel,” Lars snarled. “How do you like the fire building inside you, knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop it. That pain is all you have to look forward to until it consumes you?”

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Finally, a confirmation 2020-03-09T18:01:21+00:00

Another week gap, this is becoming a bad habit, isn’t it? Not that there was much to talk about last week. Physio happened, was painful, I improved. I also wrote.

This week was mostly the same, although I got good news. After an on the spot, not official, evaluation, I got confirmation that my therapy will end on the 13th of march. I’ll take my vacation time so I can fly to Toronto to attend Furnal Equinox on the 20th-22nd, then fly back to Calgary and get back to work on the 26th.

For those who plan on attending the convention: https://www.furnalequinox.com/ you can find me in the dealer’s den at Table F3, look for the “The Tiger Writes” Banner.

I had to go into the office this week to evaluate a potential driver, unlike the first time, I took a taxy since it’s covered by WCB. The driver never showed up, and when my manager called our driver who had referred him, it sounded like there had never been any intention to show up. It also sounded like the previous conversation between my manager and the potential driver did not go well. Even before overhearing that, I was not surprised the driver didn’t show. Historically very few potential drivers show up to evaluations.

Over the two weeks, I wrote Chapters 15 to 24 on the second draft of Protecting the Line. I finished Chapter 2 of Wyatt’s story and started on chapter 3. I’m officially giving LRK’s story a break until I can figure out what to do with it. 2628 got chapters 25 and 29.

If you want to read them, it’s only 1$ a month.

The edits on Taking the Line have begun, and I need to figure out what to do for the cover.

I watched Wreck it Ralf 2 ‘Ralf Wrecks the internet’ it’s a fun movie, and considering how long it’s been out, there might be spoilers in what follows.

One of the visual strong point was being able to show just how crowded the internet is, how invasive some adds can be. Story was, it was an interesting exploration of friendship in the face of a changing world. I heard complained about the inclusions of the Disney Princesses, but I enjoyed their quick scenes, both for poking fun at the ‘Disney Princess’ trope, and because they do a reversal and give the princesses the chance to safe a big strong man for once.

One the weak side, the ‘insecurity virus’ was way too much on the nose. I get this movie is aimed at a younger audience, but come on, kids are smart enough to work it out if instead they had said the virus seeked out ‘weak security’ and then it targets the characters insecurities.

Still this was a fun movie. I’m not sure if there will be a 3rd one, but what I would like them to do, now that the arcade is online, is have Ralf meet the Ralf from another arcade.

So that’s it, I’ll see you on the next one.

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The intensity is intense 2020-02-24T00:00:01+00:00

I started a new Physiotherapy system this week. It’s a ‘get me back to work’ system, more intensive in that instead of being 20 minutes 3 times a week, it’s 3 hours, 5 times a week, with set exercises for stretching, increasing my arm mobility and strength.

Or as I call it, Torture.

I swear, if it doesn’t get me back to work, it’s because it killed me. I had no idea how strenuous low impact exercises could be, not only is my arm shaking by the time I’m done, but my legs are too, a particularly nasty exercise requires me to keep myself from falling forward of back as I lift a ball from the floor to over my head, and that makes my legs work hard!

Add to that the 40-minute walk to the clinic, and then back, and is it any wonder my legs are considering a divorce?

Because this takes most of my afternoons, the writing had to slow down. Protecting the Line got chapters 08 to 14, one chapter a day is what I expect for the future, unless they are on the small side. Possibly as a consequence of the Physio, I did not write this weekend. Too tired/not in the mood.

So that’s it, I’ll see you on the next one.

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Comments (4)
user avatar
User #5681130 - 24 Feb 20 00:10
PT is always torture, sadly. As someone who has had PT a lot, somehow if it wasn't painful, it would be ineffective. I hope you get better and out of PT soon.
user avatar
kindar - 24 Feb 20 03:20
Thank you, what was your PT for, if you don't mind me asking?
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User #5681130 - 24 Feb 20 04:10
Broken leg, tennis elbow, and a broken bone in the hand. The hand was the worst.
user avatar
kindar - 24 Feb 20 14:35
ouch, you certainly have an active life.
Are you bored yet? 2020-02-18T01:00:00+00:00

This is the 10th week of my convalescence. I can not wait for it to end.

I mean, having all this time to write is nice, but I like driving the truck. I want to drive the truck. I just want this arm to be working again so I can get back on the road. I won’t say I’m getting stir-crazy, yet, but I can see it approaching.

I am being evaluated on Tuesday, so hopefully that will be good news.

Since I had timer to write, I wrote chapters 1 to 7 in the second draft of Protecting the Line. Book 4 in the Inheriting the line if officially heading to the finishing line. LRK only got a few words yesterday, I was not feeling it. It’s becoming a theme with LRK. I think this story stretched on so much further than I ever expected. 2628 got another chapter, things are progressing

On the editing side, Taking the Line is with the editor now. Waiting on comments for this bad boy.

I saw Birds of Prey yesterday. The new Harley Quinn movie from DC. It was a fun movie, lots of action, somewhat over the top, but it fit. And I can definitely see what a certain section of men have a problem with it. Not one damsel in distress for them to save in this entire movie. I think it’s among the better DC live action movies.

And this is another week with little to say , so, I’ll see you on the next one.

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Comments (2)
user avatar
User #6249976 - 18 Feb 20 05:40
I do look forward to you being out of convalescence. It seems to really put a bit of a damper on you, at least mentally because of the feeling of limitation. I'm glad to hear progress on the novels continues! I hope things look up!
user avatar
kindar - 23 Feb 20 17:10
thanks things like this will take their tools, bu I keep busy :)
The Lord Tiranis, An Origin, Book 5 (part 3 of 13) (an excerpt) 2020-02-13T01:01:00+00:00

Tiranis is a world of humans and furries, of super science and super powers, of ordinary people and extraordinary ones.

Stories of the Past is a series of stories exploring the history of the city of Tiranis, as well as the world it exists in or sometimes people of importance in it.

This is excerpt is about 4600 word of a 5,600 word chapter.

You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level


A story of the past

“Look, maybe you didn’t ask around, but I was near death when I made it into the tavern. It took two days before I was in good enough of a state to do more than rest and eat.”

“And how did you find the tavern? No one could have known where it was there, not during the storm. I could not see my extended arm.”

“How should I know? Luck?” Lars swallowed his pride. “Maybe the Celeste guided my steps.”

“You speak of the Celeste?” the man said with disdain, “when I have not seen you at even one ceremony?”

That’s because I’m not interested in hearing over and over how people with powers are monsters, Lars thought. What he said was: “Just because I don’t prostrate myself before you, doesn’t mean I don’t follow the Celeste.” He hated having to play into being a believer, but he needed to end this so he could make sure his child came safely. Valedine’s pain was coming faster, and he thought that meant something about how close this was to happening.

“I am the—”

“Just because someone wears black robes and goes around claiming to speak for the one watching over us, doesn’t make it so. Do you have any idea how many charlatans I’ve seen making such a claim in my years of travels?”

“Are you accusing me of being such a man?” the Keeper growled darkly.

Lars realized he’d let his anger take him too far. He raised his hands. “No, I’m sorry. I might not like you, but I’ve seen how you live. You work just as hard as anyone else in the town. I had no right to imply that. I just wish you’d leave me alone at least for today. My child is coming. Can you at least respect that? We can go back to bickering tomorrow if you want, but I need to be by his mother’s side.

And Lars saw the jackal’s face soften. “I will watch and bless the child. If you try anything, I will stop you.”

Lars took linens off the lines and brought them to the birthing woman. He felt the Keeper’s eyes on him, but ignored it. He took Valedine’s hand in his and did as both woman ordered, speaking only to remind the woman to use a new cloth.

This wasn’t the first birth Lars assisted with, but even the first time he saw the miracle happen didn’t compare with today. Back then he’d understood them for the special event they were. A new life was entering the world, from being that had been designed to be sterile.

But this was his child who was entering the world. The demonstration that he too had been changed that he could leave a legacy beyond his actions.

His breath caught as the head appeared. It was so small. Had any of the other child been this small? Hadn’t they been bigger, stronger? Was his child going to be slight? Deformed? No, he wouldn’t believe that. His child would be perfect.

And then the child was in the birthing woman’s hands, crying. He handed her a clean linen. She washed her.

He had a daughter.

Then he held his daughter, this small bundle of perfection who grabbed on his little finger and wouldn’t let it go.

When the Keeper cleared his throat, Lars stood without protest and let the man perform the blessing, but he never looked away from her face. He would never get enough of looking at her, at his daughter.

The blessing ended and his daughter settled in his arms, then stopped crying. The Keeper said something that sounded smug, but Lars was bringing her to Valedine and once she held their daughter, he held one to both of them tightly.

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Late, I am so late! 2020-02-11T00:18:53+00:00

This is what happens with being home all the time, I run out of things to talk about there and with that, I run out of motivation to write my ‘weekly’ posts.

Because for the last two weeks all I’ve been doing is going to my physio and writing. And I have been writing a lot. 2 chapters a weekday on average, the weekends I aim for 2000 words or so.

So Taking the Line got chapters 33 all the way to the Epilogue, Yep, Draft 2 of Taking the line is now complete. It clocks in at 143,000 words. I’m not doing audio edits on it before sending it to my editor. I also worked on LRK’s origin story and 2628. if you’d like to read them, as well as many more stories, you can do so by supporting me at the 1$ level.

I watched the animated Adams Family over the weekend. It was no as horrible as I was afraid it would be. The main thing it made me realize is that I’m no longer fan of animation where the story could be told with live action.

Animation allows for a lot of visual shortcuts, and it feel that more and more those replace characterization; by exaggerating a visual trait, the character becomes that, instead of having a personality.

I do wish had I more to say, but it’s one of those days. So, I’ll see you on the next one.

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Return to work Delayed 2020-01-27T01:40:44+00:00

And warmer weather returned to Calgary! It’s bearable to be outside again.

The week has been quiet, writing, physio exercises and resting. Very little to comment on, except that as the post title says, I will not be returning to work when I expected/hoped for.

The doctor, in my last checkup, stated that he was okay with me returning to work at the end of January. So that was what I was aiming for, and my therapist comments about how well I was progressing compared to her usual patient led me to think I was on track for that.

To be fair, I didn’t ask until Friday when she thought I might return to work, she said I had a few more weeks to go. I still can’t reach overhead, and it sounds like that’s one of the things she’s looking for as a marker of recovery. Because she gives a report to the Worker’s Compensation Board every 3 weeks, I am expecting she will keep me for all that time.

What it made me realize is that I haven’t been trying ‘hard’ to get better. I did the minimum of the exercises she gave me and figured that was enough based on her reaction. The thing is that I don’t want to be off work for more than 3 weeks. I enjoy all the writing I’m doing, but I do want to get back to work.

So I decided to double the number of exercises I’m doing. Every 4 hours or so, instead of in the morning and the evening. I am not pushing myself harder during them; I do not want to cause myself damage, just add some session to help ensure I will be back to work as soon as possible.

Writing wise, Taking the Line got chapters 24 to 32. And I have started doing audio edits on it since I don’t know that there will be time to hand it over to my Beta-reader, Life has been keeping him busy.

That all the writing that happened, I didn’t have the energy to work on LRK yesterday, and after writing 6 words today I realized I need to do some research in the earlier chapters for a character’s name. I found it and immediately fell victim to the fact that I love the stories I write. I started reading and didn’t stop until my story meeting began. On the plus side, it allowed me to discover that the surprise visit from one of the character’s grandmother couldn’t happen, since I’d already written her as being present. Fortunately for me I had a backup plan that only required minor alterations to what has already taken place. So when I do write it next weekend, it will flow well.

Yesterday I watched Joker, and it’s interesting. I really don’t see what the big deal about it is. It’s a decent movie, but nothing spectacular, at least nothing to create the reactions I’ve heard of, from the people who love it or hate. It’s an interesting take one who the joker was before he became the joker, and having done a bit of research, it seems to be close to what DC has loosely established as the joker’s origin story. I’m not sure if it means this joker will ever show up in other DC movies, but as its own thing, it was decent.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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On the Mend, I hope 2020-01-20T01:20:07+00:00

The week has been quiet. I’ve been avoiding going outside because the temperature has been averaging -25oC in the daytime. You don’t want to know how <bleeping> cold it’s been at night. I hope it’s been warmer where you are, and that if it hasn’t, you have been keeping warm. I still had to go out for my Physio therapy, but it was not pleasant. It’s a 20-minute walk to the mall where the clinic is located.

All that time indoors means I got to write a fair bit. Taking the Line got Chapters 15 to 23. Worked on LRK’s Origin story some more, and I got back to 2628, writing Chapter 20, which closes what I consider the first half of the book. On to the spy mission. I also wrote a quick story focusing on Wyatt Orr.

Now, a word of warning, Wyatt’s story is in the world of Inheriting the Line, and takes place about 25 years after the end of that series. If you have not read the first draft of Inheriting the line, you might get spoilers on that series, as well as the ‘Initiation’ series which will follow it. I’m using the story to explore what the world looks like after both series.

Once broken back with the editor for the final pass and the typesetting.

Physio is going well, I am regaining mobility, and I have something that happened yester that took away basically all the pain in my shoulder when I move it. I was in the shower, and reaching over with my left arm to wash my right shoulder. The left shoulder is the injured one, and I do that to train it back into doing my everyday tasks. As It reached there was a soft ‘pop’ in my shoulder and all pain vanished. The soreness in the muscle is still there, but it no longer feels like I am fighting against something any time I move my shoulder. I suspect that the bone was not properly seated in the shoulder’s socket, and that it fixed itself as I tried to reach for my shoulder. I’ll talk about it with my physio therapist tomorrow.

I watched the new Lost in Space series, only the first seasons, and it’s a surprisingly captivating show filled with compelling characters and complex relationships. The most interesting for me is Doctor Smith, they actress they have playing the character has this ability to look really creepy, without even trying. What they did with the robot is interesting, if a little over powered. I’m looking forward to watching season 2.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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The Lord Tiranis, An Origin, Book 5 (part 2 of 13) (an excerpt) 2020-01-14T03:07:29+00:00

Tiranis is a world of humans and furries, of super science and super powers, of ordinary people and extraordinary ones.

Stories of the Past is a series of stories exploring the history of the city of Tiranis, as well as the world it exists in or sometimes people of importance in it.

This is excerpt is about 400 word of a 4,400 word chapter.

You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level

A story of the past

“I’m not taking anything that’s yours.”

“It isn’t mine, it was one of the bandits.”

“You killed him, so it’s yours. Nothing a demon touched means you well.”

“I can swear it three times if you need me to.”

The man started to nod, stopped, sighed. “Guess if you meant me harm you could have done it already.”

El smiled. “I thought protecting you was a good indication I mean you no harms.”

“Can never tell with demons.” The man looked at his feet. “Sorry, not mean anything by that.”

“It’s okay, I get that with the few people to come this way, there’s even less chances you’ve seen someone like me before.”

The man nodded. “It’s early for food, you said a bath. There’s a tub in the barn. It’s old and dented, but it holds water.

“Hot water?”

The man shook his head. “Bucket leaks.”

“I’ll manage, if you can take me to it.”

The barn was old, missing planks here and there, but the structure looked like it could endure storms. A cow and horse, both thin, were in stalls. At the back, the man pulled an overturned tub and righted it.

It wasn’t the cheap thing El expected. The bathtub was long enough El would be able to stretch in it, had clawed feet and sound thick. It was rusted in place, and as the man said, dented, but well cared for. This was probably the farmer’s most valuable possession, and he took care of it.

“The well’s behind the barn.” The man indicated the other door. “There’s soap on the shelve. If you use those.” He turned and left El alone.

He inspected the tub. Free of cracks and a knock confirmed it was thick. He hollowed a pit under it then went out the back to gather wood, filling the pit with them. He felt for fire, and the closest was in the house’s hearth. The farmer wouldn’t appreciate the burned trail if El called a flame to him, so he took out the flint and his knife.

He managed to hold on to a refillable lighter for almost twenty years, hoarding light fluid and flints like they were gems, but eventually he’d run out and had to do like everyone else in the army.

He stroked the knife against the flint once and the wood caught, the fire spreading quicker than a normal fire would. He didn’t bother with the well to fill the tub, he drew it out of the air.

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Recovery Report 2020-01-14T01:30:40+00:00

It’s been two weeks. Yeah, forgot last week, not that there was much to report. Saw Rise of Skywalker. It’s a movie, and under the circumstances, I think it’s the best JJ Abram could do after the fiasco that was the last Jedi. This is the best example of why you don’t want to switch directors in the middle of a series.

My recovery is going well. Crossed one of my personal markers of progress, I reached the backsplash in the kitchen and flicked the light switch there. This weekend I celebrated a second marker, being able to carry food to my mouth with my left hand, by going out and eating a burger as South Street Burger. Very good burgers there. The next marker is being able to tie my hair back. Currently I can get my fingers to touch each other at the back of my head, but moving my arm once there is not possible. So definite progress is being made. My shoulder makes me pay for pushing each time I do it, but progress is being made.

So the writing, I began the second draft of Taking the Line, book 3 in the Inheriting the Line Series. I did so by taking out the first 3 chapters, starting with Arnold arriving in Denver. I also made minor changes to Arnold and his interactions with other people to make him less despicable. I can’t have him be a nice guy, but my beta reader commented on how he was so unlikeable that he had difficulty staying with the novel. I am hoping I managed to pull that off.

I wrote chapter 1 to 14, on Taking the line, I finished Freefall, which closes the first Arc in the Monsters and Bad Men series. It’s 33,000 word long. I currently have 6 arcs for the whole series, but not the individual novel ideas. I’m setting the series aside for the moment to focus on finishing 2628, and after that I want to write Virtual Friendship, set in the same universe as 2628.

Nothing else to say that I can think of, so with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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The Last Post 2019-12-30T00:33:27+00:00

Of the Year.

Come on, I had to do it.

So let’s get this out of the way. I hope everyone has a good Christmas, and is enjoying the holidays. I enjoyed the peace and quiet. I don’t celebrate Christmas; I just rest while everyone else is partying.

As you can imagine, I don’t have a lot more to say, it’s been two weeks of me not doing much because of my writs and shoulder. I started physio two weeks ago, man is that painful. Don’t ever get hurt, getting better hurts even more.

But I’m regaining flexibility, the main issue if the pain when I move from the muscle having seized up. On the plus side, still a lot of time to write. So it’s been two chapter a day, Breaking the Line went from CH 30 all the way to 49, which ends the novel and the series. Breaking the Line is 107,000 words long after the first draft. I like it. I think it’s a proper ending to the series. All my main characters get what they deserve, well, okay. I’m a it nasty to some of them and they might not have deserved it. The full novel will be included with this post.

LRK’s Origin story is moving along, wrote 2500 words on it, I think I’ve reached the point where it should pick up again.

Chapter 9 of Freefall is done, and I wrote it two handed, my splint came of yesterday, more on that in a bit. I think Freefall only has 2 chapters left.

Editing wise, the second pass on Once Broken has begun. Both my editor and I have a lot of free time so it’s moving along faster than previous books.

Before moving on to something else, I figured I’d end the year by giving you a rundown of where Tiranis is heading. This is even further than the next year since at 1 chapter a month, telling all those stories will take a long time. maybe you can tell me if I’m wasting my time with them, after all, they are in part written for you, my supporters.

In the ‘Stories of the Past’

LRK’s Origin story has book 5,6 and 7 left. 5 is done, and it’s long. 6 is being written and I am doing the best I can to keep it short. I don’t want to tell another epic in this setting.

With the exception of an occasional short, LRK will be the last story set in the Past.

In the present.

Going Home has ‘Downtown’ left and then, unless I come up with something else to cover, I’ll write ‘The Swamp’, which will be the last neighborhood of this series. I will leave an indeterminate amount of time between Downtown and The Swamp so I can add chapters as I come up with areas to cover in the city.

After that will be ‘The Reborn” That will be 26 ‘books’ long. I’m hoping to keep each one very short, more chapters, but this is me we are talking about.

And Reborn will lead into ‘Conflict’ which will close this section of time in the world of Tiranis. Think Avengers Infiniti war 1 and 2 in scope, at least that’s the plan.

I have not made plans for what come after this. I know that the cast of character will completely change. With only cameos from the previous group. Maybe I’ll explore more of the world, instead of staying focused on one city.

So? Am I wasting my time?

I had a follow up yesterday, when the splint finally came off. It was time because having it on was becoming torture. It itched all the time; I could scratch it, but it didn’t help. That scrubbing at the clinic felt so good, but even now my hand feels weird from not having handled anything in about a month.

As I said, physio hurts, but my arm is improving. The doctor said that the bones are now good, so I will be good to get back to work at the end of January. I am looking forward to it.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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Comments (4)
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User #6249976 - 30 Dec 19 01:14
Very happy that you are getting better, dude! Hope the arm stops hurting!
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kindar - 30 Dec 19 04:38
thanks. The physiotherapist warned me that even once I have functional mobility, it could be up to six month until everything is back to normal
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User #2413235 - 30 Dec 19 01:10
"so I will be good to get back to work at the end of the month" -- do you mean the end of December, or the end of January? I'm surprised to hear that it's this soon. Great news, though!
user avatar
kindar - 30 Dec 19 04:38
I meant endof January. I fixed the post. and yes, it is great news
The Raw StoryTeller Ep 19: Small details
The Raw StoryTeller Ep 19: Small detailsmore_vert
2019-12-19T16:47:01+00:00
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Small details can have larger than expected impacts on your story.


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Title needed here 2019-12-16T01:12:59+00:00

Another quiet week with my fractured arm. The biggest problem is boredom. Once I’m done writing, there isn’t a whole lot I can do one-handed. Chat online, surf the web, watch tv.

I have been writing 2 chapters every day this week, to have something to do. So Breaking the Line got chapters 21 to 29. I managed to work on LRK’s story yesterday, but Freefall was a bust today

I’m on the second block of chapters for the edits on Once Broken (Tristan 6) and they are going well.

Today we finished the outline for “Trust in oneself” which is book 3 of the Initiation series. We w ill be starting on Jeremy next week, but I figured this was a good time to let you know the schedule for the next little while.

Dates are subject to change.

Once Broken (Tristan 6) March 2020

Taking the Line (Inheriting the line 3) October 2020

Protecting the Line (Inheriting the line 4) February 2021

Breaking the Line (Inheriting the line 5) June 2021

A Series of Death (Death by Predation 3) October 202

A Fraudulent Death (death by Predation 4) February 2022

Demons 3 (still needs a title) June 2022

Faith in the Family (Initiation 1) October 2022

Hope in Coincidence (Initiation 2) February 2023

Trust in oneself (initiation 3) June 2023

Jeremy 1 October 2023

Jeremy 2 February 2024

Jeremy 3 June 2024

I haven’t decided what series will come after that. I am considering the first 3 in the Hunter Series, or possibly rethink how I do things, I what while the outline for Jeremy is written to decide.

On the Medical side, as of yesterday, in no longer wear a sling for my arm, the doctor decided my shoulder is healed enough it’s no longer needed. I figured it would be nice, but hadn’t considered just how sore my shoulder and elbow would get simply dealing with the weight of the arm and being always swung about and jostled by motion. I know it’s going to pass as my arm gets used to it, but right now there is a constant ache in my shoulder.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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The Lord Tiranis, An Origin, Book 5 (part 1 of 13) (an excerpt) 2019-12-10T15:01:01+00:00

Tiranis is a world of humans and furries, of super science and super powers, of ordinary people and extraordinary ones.

Stories of the Past is a series of stories exploring the history of the city of Tiranis, as well as the world it exists in or sometimes people of importance in it.

This is excerpt is about 400 word of a 4,000 word chapter.

You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level

A story of the past

“El, we were made to fight, who cares who we fight? I mean what else are we supposed to even do?”

“Stop?” the lynx asked hopefully.

The bull laughed. “We can’t stop fighting any more than we can stop breathing.”

“How do you even know?” El demanded. “You’re so busy enjoying murdering everyone that comes up against you. Have you even tried not to fight?”

“Do you really think any of the others found peace when they abandoned us? You heard the same stories I did. They kept on fighting.”

“That was centuries ago. I think that if they kept on fighting we would have heard new stories, of gods or spirits joining wars. Unlike you, few of them have powers that can be hidden.”

“You haven’t heard stories because they’re dead. That’s why you don’t use your powers in the fighting, isn’t it? You don’t want them to turn on you either.”

“I don’t do it because I’d have to kill them to survive. I won’t do that just because someone’s afraid of me. They would do the same.”

“Okay, look I don’t know what’s gotten into you today, but talking about the others isn’t going to do you any good regardless of what happened to them.” The bull stood. “Come on. You don’t have to join in the celebration, but we do need to put in an appearance.”

El shook his head.

“El, what’s going on?”

The lynx let out a breath as he took the bulls hand in his. “Vee, let them have their celebration, let’s just leave. Just the two of us. Let’s go find a quiet place, let’s go find peace for a while. Don’t you think we at least deserve to find out if we can have peace?”

“I can’t leave,” Vee said as if it was self-evident, “I have responsibilities.”

El snorted. “You lead an army, not a research lab. Someone can take your place.”

“Are you saying I’m that easy to replace?”

“For that, yes.”

Vee narrowed his eyes. “What happened to you, El? Don’t you remember how important it is that the right person lead? What’s going to happen to them if I leave?”

El let go of the hand. He’d tried. He’d hoped, but hadn’t believed, he’d received a different answer.

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Typing one handed 2019-12-09T02:57:29+00:00

Get your mind out of the gutter, not that kind of one-handed typing.

My greatest fear did not come to pass, I am about to write with only one hand. It wasn’t the act of typing that concerned me, I knew I could do that; my fear was that it would disrupt the flow of me storytelling and I wouldn’t be able to write. That did not come to pass. I wrote everyday of the week, so Breaking the Line got chapters 16 to 20, and Freefall got chapter 6 and 7, which you can read by supporting me at the 1$ level

Then only noticeable effect is me speed of typing, it’s about 50 percent slower than when I use two hands. I have all days, so it doesn’t matter how long I take to write a chapter.

Other than that, it was a restful week. Had to go in the office on Monday to fill paperwork in regard to my fall. I haven’t heard anything since, so I figure they are keeping me in Calgary for the duration. The bus ride back was horrible. I hit the time students got out of school and the bus got crowded and loud. I hope to never have to take another Calgary bus ever again.

Had a follow-up for my shoulder yesterday, and the doctor was happy with what he saw, but I’m still looking at 7 more weeks before I can go back to work.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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User #6249976 - 9 Dec 19 10:48
you're one hell of a trooper, dude!
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kindar - 9 Dec 19 12:00
thank you, but how so?
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User #6249976 - 9 Dec 19 22:01
Because you continue to type with only one hand. When I sprained my wrist on my dominant hand some years ago, I basically ended up useless and did the minimum of activity. <.<
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kindar - 10 Dec 19 00:34
ahhh. I've been told that i can be obsessive :)
Kindar had a fall 2019-12-02T02:08:04+00:00

It wasn’t a great fall, but still enough to break something. The left side humerus to be exact. I slipped on ice.

That means I’m off work for 2 months, and can’t use my left hand to type.

It’s interesting how one event can change plans. I’d planned on talking about the 2 and a half hours I spent ai the border for a random inspection, instead, all I feel like saying is: other than that, the week went fine, did the delivery, the pickup, and my writing, which amounted to chapters 11 to 15 on Breaking the Line. Freefall didn’t get anything because I was to work on it yesterday and today, and my fall was on Friday.

Fractured Families is now all done and uploaded, I will include the link for the 10$ and more supporters in a following post.

I watched Rocketman today. It’s a musical bio-pic about Elton John, and I loved it. If you are a fan of musicals, or of Elton John, you really should see it.

I listened to a couple of books the week, and wrote a review for one, Omega; an Icon Story https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3067454648?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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Episode 18: NaNoWriMo
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2019-11-26T13:21:04+00:00
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National Novel Writing Month is upon us (almost over, since I am so on top of things) and I give my through about it


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Cravings 2019-11-25T00:27:57+00:00

They aren’t always about food.

So, in the end, this week went okay. On the way back from the US with a delivery to Montreal For Friday, my manager called to inform me that after it, they would have a load taking me to Indiana because there is a pickup on Tuesday heading to Calgary. As he’s telling me that, I head the Scheduler, from St-Germain, tell him to make sure I have the hours to do it, with the implied threat that I wouldn’t get the pickup otherwise. I’m pretty sure the scheduler didn’t know I could hear him from the speaker phone he was on. I told my manager that so long as St-Germain didn’t screw around with making me waste time, it would be no problem.

I show up at the customer a day early for the delivery. I expected to be told I’d have to wait, but no, they were okay with me dropping the trailer and moving on. My dispatcher even had my next load already in the system.

A pick up in Alma, QC going to Crawfordsville, IN. Delivering on Monday.

Now, from Alma to Crawfordsville, it’s 2000km. from Montreal to Alma 500km. that’s just distances, so if I drive without any delays, it’s 25 hours. I have to cross 3 metropolitan cities, and one border with an average wait time of 1 hour. So let’s say 30 hours. When I started my day on Tuesday, I have 34 hours available, and it took me 5 to get to the customer.

Here is the thing. For my dispatcher to have been able to give me the information as soon as I asked for it, it was already assigned to me. That was the load I was expected to do after I delivered this on Friday. I can only drive 11 hours a day, so that’s 22 hours over the weekend. Plus maybe 6 or 7 I’d have left for Friday.

If I hadn’t arrived to the customer early, I would never have been able to make that delivery on time.

This is what it’s like working for my company. Each office tries to screw the other one over and the driver is stuck in the middle.

Now, I still expect to be screamed at, because based on previous experience that Monday delivery is going to be at 6am, but no one told me that. When I was sent the information there was no delivery time indicated, just a date, and as soon as I did the pickup, I told them I’d be there at 2pm on Monday. No one returned me a delivery time. so as far as I’m concerned, that’s my delivery time.

Right, the title is cravings, and nothing of that qualifies.

This week I have been craving playing Minecraft. To the point that considered installing vanilla Minecraft and just digging holes in the ground. Make a stairwell going down to bedrock and then just mining without stopping. Maybe plant a forest around the entrance so I can get wood to make pickaxes.

I didn’t, because vanilla is a gateway to modded Minecraft and I already know how horrible that is for me. Instead I tried Surviving Mars, it’s Meh, played a bit of Cities Skylines and it was Meh too, and then I realized that what I wanted to do was bury myself in gaming for a few weeks, so yeah, not going to be satisfied with games for a while, so I am not going to play any.

Writing wise, Breaking the Line is coming along with Chapters 6 through 10. No Freefall this week, only wrote half a chapter.

On the editing side, I received the Proof for Fractured Families, which means the editing is done! I should receive the files for the E-Book in a week or so.

I watched “The shape of water” this morning. it’s okay. You might have noticed I’m in an ‘Okay’ mood this week. It wasn’t the one I was planning on watching, but with being in Canada for the last few days, and the truckstop’s wifi being down this weekend, I wasn’t able to download the one on the schedule, and as I was considering re-watching something I noticed that “The shape of Water” at the bottom of my downloaded list and I’d never seen it before. Not sure how I missed it.

Listened to a few books. “The Price of Time” advertised as what if Criton and Christie got together to write a novel, and utterly missed both genre. It fails as a who dunnit, or as a thriller.

“One more Last Time” is an LitRPG novel that is actually engaging, but reads more as part 1 of a bigger book then as a complete novel and because of that I felt let down. I’m going to be recording a podcast about LitRPG and How I feel about them.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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User #6249976 - 25 Nov 19 06:23
I had no idea LitRPGs were a thing. Does sound interesting, in concept. In regards to games, has anyone recommended Terraria to you? Its a lot like minecraft, but being restricted to a 2D plane might make it less drug-adiction-level for you. There's also Stardew Valley for a very zen experience of crafting, mining, farming and NPC interaction. I personally -still- have to watch Shape of Water, I was just reminded that I've totally been putting it off. <.< Hope you have a good week!
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kindar - 26 Nov 19 13:27
I do have Terraria, and what makes a game addictive to me is the path to take in getting everything done. I'm a perfectionist at heart and as I play a game like Terraria or minecraft, my mind gets stuck trying to come up with the most effective way of doing everything so it's what I wind up thinking about instead of the stories and then my mind wants me to play so I can test all the ways I came up with, 99.99% of which can't even be done because my mind doesn't bother with things like 'how the game works' it's why I try to stay away from those games :)
Almost forgot 2019-11-18T00:24:10+00:00

And not sure it would have mattered, since I can’t think of anything to say about this week. Work happened, in a reasonable way. I got the writing done, Chapters 1 through 5 of Breaking the Line, book 5 in the Inheriting the Line series, and the last in Denton’s arc. I also wrote chapter 5 of Freefall.

On the editing side, I finished the second round of Edits for Fractured Families and now my editor is doing the third round before doing the typesetting for publication. Speaking of which, Fractured Families is up for Pre-order at bit.ly/TristanFractured it’s 2.99$ while on Pre-order, going up to 5$ when it goes live on December 15th.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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Game addiction 2019-11-10T23:56:43+00:00

Hello, my name is Kindar, and I am addicted to playing video games.

Well, not really. Actually, maybe I am, or, who knows. I mean, I am not compelled to play video games, usually. I can go months without even thinking about them, and it isn’t all of them that’s a problem. I can play Bejeweled without it interfering with anything else I do.

But, there are those games. The games that get in my head and just will not let me go. I may have talked about one of them before, so for those who are tired of hearing about this, I am sorry.

At the top of the list is Minecraft. I know I’ve talked about this one. How if I play an hour of it, it’s in my head for weeks, interfering with my ability to come up with stories. This one is so bad that it’s on my ‘Do Not Play Under Any Circumstance’ list.

It's the only one on there at the moment.

Other games that are not as bad, but aren’t healthy for my stories are just about any management games I enjoy. RimWorld, SimAirport, Cities Skilines, RailRoad Tycoon, if it’s about managing something and I enjoy the game, I really shouldn’t even think about touching it.

Yeah, and that would be why I own way too many of those.

Maybe I do have a problem.

Or maybe it’s just ADHD? I might have mentioned how having given it a name, it’s become easy to make it the excuse for just about anything? Yeah, it’s been creeping up here too. And does the temptation to throw my hands in the air and just let my control go, after all, I have a condition, so what can I do about it, right?

I have mentioned how I hate not being in control, right?

So, I’ve been putting myself through my very own desensitization treatment, or maybe it’s called something else? I don’t feel like looking it up. I’ve been watching Let’s Play videos of Cities Skyline this week. Watching those makes me want to play the game. Watching any of those kind of videos makes me want to play the game in question. I start imagining what I’d do in their place, I’d start planning the game, and I plan hard. All the energy I’d put in to planning a story goes into that. It gets even worse if I actually play the game.

So what I’ve been doing is paying attention to where my mind goes, and the moment it starts working on a city, I pull it back to story building. I’m hoping to be able to train myself to only think about games, when I’m playing those. I plan on doing the training for the month, and if the results are to may satisfaction, I’ll give playing a try.

On the writing front, which I expect is all you care about <chuckles>

It’s been two weeks, in that time, I have finished Protecting the Line. That is chapter 37 to 45, plus an epilogue. I’ll also include the full file for those who prefer a single document.

I managed to get Freefall going again. And I have chapter 3 and 4.

On the editing front, Fractured Families is almost done with the Second Edits, only one block of chapters left and I plan on doing that tomorrow.

Tristan is finally on the way to being an audiobook. I have 2 chapters done and I’m waiting on the retakes for a handful of lines. I don’t know when it will be done. I expect to have the file for the whole be by the end of the month, but I am doing the editing, and that is a little slower than I expected. On average, it’s 1 hour for each 10 minutes of finished work. But it’s getting there.

I don’t have a book or movie review. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing with those. I haven’t had the desire to write reviews recently, even when I enjoyed the books or movies. I know it can help the author, at least with self-published books, but I haven’t had the energy to put in to them, and for movies, well, come on, it isn’t like my one voice will do anything.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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Going Home: Harland Part 6 of 6 (Excerpt) 2019-11-10T13:10:12+00:00

Going Home is a series that Explores the city of Tiranis through the eyes of Eric Clarkson, a returning veteran, who finds that the city has changed more than he expected in his absences.

Each section of the series will focus on a different part of the city while Eric gets pulled into problems typical to that area, or sometimes not so typical.

This is about 500 words of the 5,600 words chapter.

You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level

Going Home: Harland Part 6 of 6 (Excerpt)

Vivianne reappeared. “He’s almost here.”

Eric stood. “Unarmed?”

She nodded. “He calmed down during the walk.”

“Herman, Yaimie, you know what to do.”

Herman opened the door and they place on each side. Eric stood a dozen paces away, Anita next to him.

“It’ll be fine,” She whispered to him, as he considered taking out the gun. He gave her a nod and a smile, and left it in his pocket. Guns created more problems than they’d ever solved.

Steps became audible, then a man stepped into view, accompanied by the foreman. He was in his late forties, his black hair streaked with gray. His suit was gray, fitted him well. He looked like any movie businessman Eric had seen in Anita’s collection.

“Mister Fulton,” Eric greeted him.

Roland studied him disdainfully. “Who are you?”

“Me and my associates are the people standing between you and what I believe you are looking for.” He motioned. “Why don’t you come in? I’m sure we can come to some sort of arrangement that will satisfy everyone.”

“You have no rights to do this,” Roland glowered. “This is my property. I demand that you leave immediately or I’ll be forced to call the police.”

“Please do,” Eric replied, “I’m sure Miss Ardent’s estate will be happy to know what you’re planning to do to her body.” He motioned again. “Now, why don’t you come in?”

With another glare, Roland entered. The foreman didn’t move from where she stood. Eric nodded to Herman, and he closed the door.

“What is he doing?”

“Closing the door, what does it look like he’s doing?” Yaimie answered, earning himself a glare from Roland.

“I figure this discussion will go better if we aren’t interrupted,” Eric added.

“Fine, get on with your demands.”

“I have no demands, there’s nothing here.”

Roland didn’t take his eyes off Eric. “You’re lying. Dad told me she was entombed here with her most valuable possessions.”

“No,” Vivianne said. Roland didn’t react to her words. “I Told Samuel I wanted to be somewhere within the park because that is where with I considered most valuable to me was.”

“Her fans,” Eric translated, “she wanted to be here because she wanted to be surrounded by people who loved her movies.”

Roland snorted. “Right because a rich woman like her preferred fans over her money. Well, her fans aren’t keeping this park alive, I am. And I need what dad buried her with to keep it going.”

“Look around, Mister Roland. Vivianne had nothing left by the time she died. It all went into treated her sickness.”

He looked left or Eric, panning to the right, the annoyance mounting on his face until his gaze was right of him and Anita. His eyes grew wide. “That’s a glowstone,” he said in awe. He took a step in its direction.

Anita moved in his way. “Keep your distance.”

“Do you have any idea the kind of money I can get for it?” Roland asked, looking around Anita. “And that’s just what we can see, it’s got to continue in the rock.”

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A vacation from life? 2019-10-28T01:18:41+00:00

I’ve been on vacation since the 18th. That’s 3 days earlier than planned, but by the time the 18th came about I was done dealing with work. They changed the previous day’s load because the other driver needed to head back to montre4al, which is where my load needed to go, while his when to Brampton, which is where I was aiming to go, so on the surface, it resolved both our issues.

The problem was, I found out once I was moving with this load, that the delivery time was impossible to make and they absolutely wanted me to make it. They never told me this was a rush load ahead of time, and they knew they’d screwed up, because they called me to tell me to rush there, instead of sending the message over the terminal, where they would be a record of their request.

So I drove as late as I legally could, had to stop two hours from the border, got going as early as I could the next day and as soon as I was in Canada called dispatch to tell them I was going home after the delivery. That ‘I don’t want to deal with anyone’ mood pretty much stayed for a week. Even ow I’m not the most upbeat guy around.

I did stick with my writing, with a variation. Freefall and LRK’s stories are stalled, and instead of sitting at the computer making myself miserable trying to write them, I decided that on those days those stories aren’t coming, I’ll work on whatever needs to be published, so all you’re getting this week is 2 weeks’ worth of Protecting the Line, and since I’m on vacation, I wrote 2 chapters on any days I wasn’t busy with other stuff.

So you’re getting chapters 24 to 36. I’m down to 10 chapters, so unless things something happens, the first draft of this book will be done within 2 weeks.

One the editing side, we’re started the second pass on Fractured Families, Book 5 in the Tristan Series. And it had a cover. If I remember I will post it along with the chapter. You guys are supporting me so you really should get to see those ahead of everyone else.

On the 26 and had a dealer’s table at Ontario Furry Expo, a one-day expo near the airport, and I did surprisingly well in sales for a one day event. I made a profit. I’ll definitely do it again next year.

I don’t read when I’m on vacation, and I didn’t want a movie, although I now know that I can fully set up the projector, so eventually I will get to watch movies while on my bed, instead of having to sit at the desk.

And with that, I’ll see you on the next one.

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