Power Games 5:
The BoogieKat Killer pt 4 of 4

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M, M/F sex
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"So have you been to one of these before?" Jake glanced up at Rock when the tabby pulled to a stop outside a relative small, non-descript warehouse in the shipping district near the docks, but not so close that it was high traffic for anything.

Despite going to a weekly service for the first time in years, he didn't feel as apprehensive as he used to be about it. He wasn't sure whether it was from his slowly growing acceptance of his place in the scheme of things or how different this place was in looks and feel, but it wasn't bad to look at the outside and the Panther in jeans, a muscle shirt and red sash in place of a belt guarding the door.

Of course, maybe it had to do with that Panther, who looked more like a bouncer at a club than anybody who'd be part of a temple.

"I was at one of their initiation rites, but not a regular service," Rock admitted as they walked up, a number of people filtering in wearing dark blue and brown sashes of their own. A handful of people without sashes went in, but only with people who were wearing them. A couple of toms that looked like they were out clubbing walked up to the Panther, but found themselves turned away with barely a word between them.

"Hello again, Rock," the Panther grinned at them. "Would this be the Jake I've heard about?"

"Yeah, this is him," Rock chuckled. "Don't know who you've been hearing from though," he added. "Jordan and Henrietta said they'd make arrangements for us today?"

"From those two, of course," Doruth chuckled. "And some of the club-going members of the congregation," he added with a wink. "Yes, they have, but we'll have to call up for them all the same," he explained, sticking his head in the door and sending word up. "Shouldn't be more than a couple minutes."

"A bit paranoid for a recognized deity," Jake cocked his head curiously.

"Part tradition going back some ways, part comforting anybody who comes here from abroad," he explained. "By the way, the name's Doruth. I'm not the only door guard, just the one Rock keeps running into," he chuckled. "At any rate, are you familiar with the reputation we have around most of the world? At least as Eshik and Marka," he added.

"Just here and Majeare," he admitted. "Though I can guess about a few of them."

"I'm sure you can," he nodded. "The Lord and Lady of Pain's Pleasure have always been viewed by most of the world as gods of sadism ... while that is true, and nobody here is about to argue the point, there's more to it than that, which brings many of us here. Unfortunately, that reputation has made for awkward relations in many places ... even today, in MegaKat City, while we are a recognized and legal church, some of our members prefer to keep their devotion to Them secret. You might recognize some co-workers here; they're among the ones who are most serious about keeping it quiet outside the temple walls."

"I know why too," Jake grumbled slightly. "It's not an easy thing to be into, even when your CO is too."

"So you can understand why we're careful about letting in outsiders who aren't with somebody we trust," Doruth nodded easily. "Even if we trust them, not everybody here knows you and Rock, and it could be upsetting for some of them to see you inside the temple area unaccompanied."

"It doesn't get more accompanied than being with two Temple leaders," Henrietta grinned at them from an open door. "Come in. We're glad you decided to come with how crazy it's been out there lately."

"No kidding," Jake groaned as they joined the two Wirehair Dachshunds. "I've been in the middle of most of it too."

"Well, we hope your luck with ghosts holds with the real thing," Jordan said seriously as they stepped inside, closing the door behind them. "How is Chance holding up?"

"Pretty well," Rock chuckled. "Unless you bring the subject up at least. He's pissed off about having to run away from his home on a very fundamental level, even if he knows it's for the best."

"It helps that it's Midnight that said they're staying elsewhere," Jake chuckled. "And that no one has suggested he not go to work."

"You do not cross that shekat when she's made up her mind about what's best for her kittens," Rock grinned in memory of Jake's recounting and additions from knowing her for so long. "It's like crossing Bastet about hers."

"She's an admirable woman, in a lot of ways," Henrietta smiled. "I haven't heard much about her, but I have to admire somebody willing to sacrifice so much for family. So, do you have any questions you want to ask before the service begins?" She asked, leading the way to the large double doors with a dark blue sash across the handles, sliding it aside without any concern and opening the doors for Rock and Jake.

"Has BKK caused you much grief?" Jake asked, his voice low out of respect for what could be a very bad subject for some. As he looked around, he realized he did recognize some of the people here. A few of them were co-workers, some were people he'd met out clubbing. He was more surprised to recognize some others; he was sure that he recognized Professor Right, his Aerodynamics professor from years before, sitting with a shekat and a tom who couldn't be half his age.

"In what respect?" Henrietta asked quietly, closing the doors behind them and finding their way to a seat. "Backlash, or attacks?"

"Backlash, I guess. Attacks I expect I'd have heard about, but I can see some folks taking what he does to his vics as the same as you stand for."

"Another reason for some secrecy ... fortunately, most people rightfully believe that rape, kitten rape in particular, is beyond the pale even for us," Jordan explained. "That would probably end up changing drastically if they saw some of the couples here, but we do not tolerate rape, in any form."

"It's the realm of Rapentap primarily, as I understand it," he nodded and settled down, leaning against Rock and purring softly at the arm around him as he people-watched and took in the feel of the place.

"How did you hear about Him?" Henrietta asked curiously, smiling a welcome at some of the others coming through. "He makes Eshik and Marka look positively flamboyant."

"A priest of His was Berten's primary contact for the last few months of his life," he explained. "Once we IDed who we were hunting, he became a person of interest."

"Ah... it wouldn't surprise me at all to find out there was something going on there," she murmured, her tail thumping lightly against the back of her seat. "Rapentap... I'm almost surprised they could find a priest of his in this city, though if there's anywhere they could...."

"There are those who would say the same about Eshik and Marka, Henry," Jordan pointed out quietly. "There's only so much we can judge without seeing what they actually stand for ourselves."

"I don't really care what they actually stand for when they say it's for destroying puppies and kittens," Henrietta said firmly, shaking her head. "Even if they don't mean physically, glorifying the destruction of innocence has incredibly few favorable interpretations you can give it."

"Even pure evil has its place in the scheme of things," Jake said without really moving, the echo of knowing far too much personally in his voice. "We may not like it, but we created Them, and everything we are has a voice among Them that They don't silence."

"I know," Henrietta nodded silently. "It doesn't mean that I like all aspects of it," she chuckled slightly, settling in a bit as the priests in their red sashes started to prepare the altar and pulpit for the service.

"No, it doesn't," Jake agreed with her solidly, his attention flicking between everything and everyone around him, including the ebb and flow of power he was getting better at understanding.

He noticed as Rock's attention was drawn to one of the last arrivals in the congregation, a powerfully built Rottweiler bitch who took a seat about half-way back, next to a family of five from the look of it, two adults, their teenaged daughter, and a pair of toms about Tamera's age who didn't have the same family resemblance the daughter did.

"Want to introduce you to her later," Rock told Jake quietly. "The Rottie, not the folks she's next to," he added.

"Okay," Jake glanced up at him a bit curiously as to why he'd want to introduce such an obvious gamma before looking around at what the priests were up to.

The priests who looked to be in charge were a pair of well-built Wolf males wearing nothing but red sashes with black stripes down the middle.

"Master Koron, Alpha of his pack, and his Beta, Rich," Jordan told Rock and Jake. "Two of the Priests who handle the regular services."

"Eshik and Marka welcome the faithful, and guests of the Temple," Master Koron said, his voice deep and well suited to speaking to the gathered congregation. "It is a pleasure to see the seats as full as they are."

Indeed, most of the seats were full, couples snuggled up against each other sometimes turning three seats into enough for four people, others seated more normally and listening intently.

"I'm sure you have all heard of the recent rash of attacks through the city. I have been asked by some of our members in the Enforcers to encourage anyone who knows anything about them, or about old victims of the BoogieKat Killer, to come forward. We are not under suspicion by any means, but word is being sent out. It seems that the killer is targeting the BKK's old victims, and the Enforcers hope to keep them safe.

"I would also ask that those of us who have particularly young mates and lovers to be patient with the Enforcers; they may be more overzealous than usual with watching for any signs of abuse or non-consensual relationships. They mean well, and do seem to feel that their suspect is outside of our congregation, but you know what happens when kittens are victims in this city. Anybody with concerns is invited to stay after the service, and speak with one of the priests about them; Richard and myself will be here, as well as the Lord and Lady, and we are once again honored to host the Lord and Lady of Sayden Bay if you wish to speak under the strictest confidence."

Jake glanced around without really moving, taking in those who nudged him in a nearly invisible reminder that he was not investigating anyone here, only trying to catch the vibe of the place and if he liked it.

A series of additional announcements followed, the usual sort of thing he'd come to expect. News about certain members of the congregation, announcements of upcoming weddings or expected births. Updates on projects the temple had been working on. Information about a rally that had been scheduled for during the next week, for anybody willing to go public with their interests in the safe anonymity of a crowd at least dozens strong. Requests for donations, for the Temple and to help support some members of the congregation who needed help.

"In particular, we'd like to remind everybody that we are still taking up a collection for Sergeant Lindsay Wachter, who was badly injured stopping an armed robbery last month. She's doing much better lately, we understand, but her family is still struggling to make ends meet with only her medical leave pay to cover things."

Rock felt his lover startle ever so slightly, then nod.

"We are too," Jake said quietly to Henrietta. "Good to know she has friends outside the Enforcers."

"She's been a member of the Temple since before she was in the Academy, as I understand," the Dachshund nodded slightly as Master Koron took a drink of water, one of the red-sashed priests playing a brief piece on a small organ while he reviewed his notes for the sermon itself. "We do our best to take care of our own."

"Between us, she should do fine," Jake murmured. "Eventually, at least."

"Agreed," she nodded as Koron started his sermon, taking advantage of the particulars of Lindsay's case, a Cheetah attacked by Lions, to tie current events into an ancient story of a blood feud that had been brought to an end by Eshik and Marka, then two nobles called on to mediate over the conflict between a pride of Lions and a family of Tigers, roles taken on by some of the lower-ranking priests to re-enact the situation in brief.

It was a fairly complicated tale that needed the help too, by the standards of a sermon. Each side had conflicting stories of the issues between them, and with Koron's skilled manipulation of the story, it led into smaller sermons.

The first one would have benefited, Jake thought, from a few more details about what had gone before. The Tigers claimed that the feud had started when one of their sons was raped and practically clawed to ribbons. The Lions, especially the one who was accused, protested that the Tiger had been perfectly willing, until his kin had caught the two of them. The case was resolved quickly; as 'Eshik' and 'Marka,' in the form of the two Wolves, explained, the Lions were telling the truth in this case. They themselves had been with both young men, and knew their tastes; a brief chiding from Master Koron as Eshik elicited an admission from the Tiger. This led into a sermon about what could happen if you let a desire to keep your tastes a secret go too far, and praising the tolerance of those who enjoyed pain, and the company of their own gender.

In the end though, all Jake could really do was sigh softly and shake his head in a sad acknowledgment that such feelings were still very much alive, even in this city that tolerated differences more than most.

The next story picked up with the Tiger family facing the Lions over the death of the young Lioness that had been given to them as hostage for the previous story. More of the red-sashed priests had joined in, the entire group that had set things up before, bulking out the two 'families.'

"You failed to protect her!" the dominant Lioness snarled at the head of the Tiger's family. Jake had to give the priests points for acting ability. The subtle confusion of the Tiger when he expected to deal with the Lion and not the Lioness showed. "How could it be that difficult to keep our rivals from cornering her at the party?"

"The cub was not cornered!" One of the Tigress' countered, stepping forward with her lips curled back in a snarl at the accusation leveled at she and her husband.

"Quiet!" 'Eshik' bellowed, silencing both sides for a moment. "We will have order in our house! Now, begin with your complaint; what happened to your cub?" He asked the Lioness with the most patient tone he could manage now that they were under control again.

"She died giving birth," she responded with the respect due a god, though her fury was not dimmed. "She had not had her first heat when she went with them," she motioned to the Tigers. "It had to have happened at their winter's end celebration."

"And do you know who the father was?" 'Marka' asked. "She may have been pregnant when she went to them."

"Then she would not have given birth when they said she did," the Lioness pointed out. "We do not carry for ten months. No race does."

"This is true," Marka nodded easily, turning towards the Tigers. "Do you have an explanation for this?"

"We do, Lord and Lady," the Tiger said seriously. "At the feast of winter's end, the Iron Fang pride was among our guests."

The raw fury among the Lions was palatable, but they held their silence out of respect for the two gods between them and the Tigers that had invited their ancient enemies to a party their cub had to attend as well.

"Knowing the animosity between the Iron Fang and your pride, I kept your cub at my side where I could personally see to her safety," he continued. "One of their own teenaged cubs was paying her close attention; my attention was distracted by a drunken argument, and when I looked back the two of them had disappeared. I hunted your daughter down and found the two of them making their way into the more private parts of our palace.

"I stopped them," he said, deadly serious as he told the part of the story that he hadn't before. "The Iron Fang's son had noticed the scent of her first heat starting; it is common during the time of the thaw in our lands. I sent him back to his kin before he could do more than steal a few kisses from your daughter, but she was as eager as he was to explore the new sensations she was feeling. She was a very pretty young woman... charming and intelligent, fresh with the first flush of her heat. I would have made her a part of my harem if she had lived and you consented, but when she died in childbirth and you accused us of letting the Iron Fang force themselves on her, I wasn't going to have you say that I had done so myself."

He received far less hate than he expected from the females he faced. Shock and confusion ruled the Lionesses as the brothers that were their males took a step forward to press an attack.

"No," a deadly female voice growled from behind them, but was ignored by the two brothers intent on killing the one who had seen their daughter die.

Eshik snapped a whip sharply at one of their feet, inches from actually striking him.

"Violence will not be tolerated in our house without our permission," the Wolf said firmly, waiting for them to back up before looking up at the Lioness. "Do you have anything you wish to ask?"

"How could a Tiger sire on a Lioness?" she looked more at Eshik than the Tiger. "We are not of the same blood."

"It is not impossible... you are not of the same blood, but I have heard of it before. Did any of your pride see the cub?"

"No," she said quietly.

"Can you describe the cub?" Eshik asked, turning back towards the Tigers.

"He looked more like a Tiger cub than a Lion," the older male explained. "His stripes were faint, but there ... no mane, tawny, reddish fur...."

"Still born?" Marka guessed.

"Yes," he nodded gravely. "Had he not been, they would have been told. We kept him to be buried with our kin, as my son."

"From what I have seen, he would have been unlikely to ever have cubs of his own, but that sounds like the child of a Lioness and a Tiger to me," Marka agreed.

"We have no more than his word of this fantasy," one of the male Lions growled.

"If you would rather, we could disturb the spirit of the girl, see if she confirms what he has said," Eshik said, watching for a reaction to the suggestion.

"What of the body of the cub?" a younger Lioness suggested as a middle ground before the Lion could escalate things to violence again. "It would prove its lineage at least."

"If you are willing to have him exhumed?" Eshik asked the Tiger, looking over at him.

"If it will settle this," he nodded.

"Then it is agreed," the lead Lioness nodded.

"They traveled to the ancestral home of the Parccha clan," Master Koron narrated, dropping out of character, "and they unburied the body of the young, half-blooded prince. The infant's body told the truth of the Tiger elder's words, and another dispute was settled...." He continued, laying out the moral of this story, to take pride in your relationships, no matter who they were with, and not to assume that somebody you considered a kitten was unwilling.

Jake had to give them credit for nerve; coming out in favor of that sort of relationship while Berten's crimes were taking an increasingly prominent place in the news was gutsy.

The story continued, this time describing a generation of dispute over a piece of land both sides claimed as theirs. Things came to a head when the Lions attacked the home of the Tigers, killing many of their guards and making off with one of their daughters, as well as a Lioness from their pride they claimed to be rescuing.

It came to Eshik and Marka's arbitration, once again, when each side accused the other of kidnapping one of the girls, and the Tigers claimed the Lions were refusing to send the Tigress they had captured home again.

"Enough!" Marka roared at both sides, the males all but ready to rip each other's throats out. "Mediation means there will be no violence."

"Then resolve this and get our daughter back, or we will take her back!" The aged Tiger they had dealt with in his prime a generation before demanded, furious at the loss of his youngest marriageable daughter.

"You be quiet for now," Marka glared at him until he glanced away in acknowledgement of the god's rank being above even his own.

"Where are the two at the center of this?" Eshik demanded that the two princesses be brought forward.

The Lions led both of them forward; to the credit of the production, such as it was, they were young, wearing the dark blue sash of a lower-ranked member of the church, the two girls acting the part of worried young women quite well.

"Tell us what happened," Marka said gently. "Don't worry; we will not judge you for it, and neither will anybody else," he said with a sharp look at both families. "We'll start with you," he said, looking at the Lioness.

"Yes sir," Lunsina nodded. "I've tried to explain it before, but nobody's believed me. Three months ago, I was with my kin, meeting with a group from the Parccha clan to try and settle our dispute over the Karten Valley. While our leaders debated and recalled history, I played with the other adolescents.

"Nalin was among them," she continued. "We grew close ... when our parents couldn't come to an agreement, we returned home, but I couldn't get Nalin out of my mind. One night, I made up my mind to do something about it, and I stole out of our home in the middle of the night, making my way into the Parccha's territory."

The Tiger's angry words were held silent at a look from Marka and Eshik, when then looked at Lunsina to continue.

"I only wanted to be with Nalin again," the Lioness said quietly. "I snuck in a few days later, when I reached the palace ... the guards weren't watching for one young Lioness, they were watching for an attack. I left my knife outside, so nobody would think I meant harm if they found me. Nalin was out of the quarters for the wives and cubs, and we bumped into each other somewhere near the kitchen ... I was hungry when I got there," she admitted, blushing a bit beneath her fur. "She helped me get a snack, and then we snuck back in with the rest of her kin."

"This is true?" Marka turned to look at a middle-aged wife.

"Yes, sir," she nodded.

"I sent a messenger when I was told after first meal, but the Lions still attacked us," the elder Tiger lord added.

"Did you expect us to wait for your demands before coming for my daughter?!?" The dominant Lion roared. "We set out at first light, and met no messenger along the way!"

"Did the Tigers treat you well while you were with them?" Eshik asked Lunsina directly, all but ignoring the adults until they settled down again.

"They treated me as a guest, though I was under guard all the time," Lunsina explained. "I was able to spend some time with Nalin, though...." She blushed again. "Not as much as I would have liked. When my family came, I tried to go out to tell them I wasn't a prisoner, but the guards wouldn't let me go out while there was fighting, even to stop it.

"It only ended when they killed the two guards watching over me and started to haul me away," she continued with a shame-faced murmur. "I never wanted anyone to get hurt. I just wanted to be with Nalin."

"And what happened after that?" Marka asked softly.

"Nalin... she tried to follow. Before -"

"She was captured, trying to keep your kin from dishonoring us by taking you by force!" The elder Tiger roared, disregarding the scowls that both Gods gave him.

"No!" Nalin shouted back, her fur on edge as she stood up to her father. "Father, I went with them because I wanted to, just as Lunsina came to us because she wanted to be with me!" She was scared, terrified of what her father might say, but she continued. "I want to be with her as well... I don't want to be...." She swallowed, losing her momentum, but it was clear what she'd meant. The two of them were in love, and didn't care what their families wanted in the face of that.

"You are betrothed," her father growled at her, a move that was more than enough to cow the Tigress into hiding behind Lunsina, who glared back at him in defiance.

"To someone she's never met," Lunsina snapped back. "You fell in love with one of us, years ago. She was even younger than we are. Have you forgotten what that is like?"

"You are a female!" He countered, outraged by the comparison. "You cannot give her cubs, you cannot keep her as a wife! She would throw away her future for you!"

"Not in our lands," Lunsina's mother stepped forward with a low rumble. "The lover of my daughter is my daughter. She would inherit my lands with those of my blood." The elder Lioness regarded him levelly for a tense moment before speaking again.

"You would have taken my sister as a wife, years ago. You did take her to her death bearing your cub," she reminded him with remarkable evenness before turning to Nalin's father. "Who did you promise her to, and for what price?"

"Lord Chandrak," he frowned, trying to follow the logic of the question. "In exchange for one of his daughters for my youngest son."

"An alliance, then," she nodded. "What of an alliance with us? Would that not be valuable to you?"

"What would you offer in exchange?" he focused on her, weighing the offense of changing what daughter Lord Chandrak would have over the gain of a blood alliance with the Lion pride at his border.

She thought, turned to her sisters in a silent exchange of flicking eats, tails and fingers before turning back to the Tigers. "We will relinquish our claim to Karten Valley to Nalin's cubs."

"Who would be of your family as well, unless you did something foolish to object," Eshik supplied, making it clear that any sort of retaliation for this would only end up hurting them as well. "I can think of little better way to end that particular dispute than by using it to help end this one."

"Very well," he grudgingly agreed. He had other daughters he could offer to Lord Chandrak; it seemed that only Nalin would satisfy this particular alliance. He would simply have to understand.

"Excellent," Eshik smiled, turning back to Nalin and Lunsina. "Congratulations to the both of you. I hope that this will end the bad blood between your families."

"We give you our blessings," Marka added. "Your line will be strong and proud, and the daughters born to you will have many of their own."

"Thank you," the two youths bowed to him deeply.

"In the next decade there were two more alliance marriages between the Sunrise pride and the Parccha family, leading to a lasting peace and the first lasting bloodline of Liger and Tigon," Master Koron dropped out of character again to shift from story to sermon. "Ever since, to those who know the tales, Ligers and Tigons with kits of their own have been the blessed of Eshik and Marka.

"The story of Lunsina and Nalin tells us the importance of keeping an open mind; both families gained far more than they lost, and had they not been willing to accept the alliance, it would have been far worse for all involved," he continued as the lower-ranked priests began to clear up the props in the area.

"More importantly, it teaches us to be willing to take chances for the things we care about. It is no less true today than it was then; the things that are truly worth having are rarely handed to us, and happiness is the rarest of all to be given without a fight. Had Nalin and Lunsina not taken the chances they did, what might they have lost? What might you lose if you give in the first time you encounter adversity? Sometimes you will have to fight for what is right for you, and few here will live a long and happy life without learning that lesson."

Rock felt Jake turn his head away, moving for the first time since the stories had begun. He glanced down, caught the tightly controlled body language that still betrayed the shame biting at him, and very slightly moved his hand to stroke his side, hoping it would pass soon. The last thing he wanted was for Jake to feel bad when he left.

"You don't have to be alone in your struggles though," Koron continued. "Your lovers and mates will support you, as will the Temple, and your friends in the congregation. We gain strength by having friends and allies, and we find more every day. For example, we have just discovered that Eshik and Marka are known by a different name in Majeare; there, they are Kyan and Kyale, the Challengers of the Ways, and in this guise they support good people who struggle against the weight of traditions that are sometimes enforced with the threat of death. We are trying to contact the leaders of the local faith, to see what we can do to help them, and hope for your support in this."

He continued for a few minutes more, but quickly wound down, the congregation starting to split up, either leaving or heading off to their rooms in the Temple. This time Jake wasn't paying them much attention, though he did pull himself together with reasonable ease.

"Would you like to stick around for a few minutes, talk about your impressions, or maybe go grab some lunch?" Jordan asked Rock and Jake. "We can buy this time," he added with a smile.

"I think sticking around might be good," Jake focused on who was talking to him, though it was clear much of his mind was still a million miles away. "It has a nice feel, and I'm not so hungry right now."

"That's fine. Would you like to come up to our quarters? We'd have some privacy if you want to think things over a bit."

"It's nice, quiet, with plenty of cushions," Rock murmured through a kiss to his hair, and got a chuckle in return as Jake lifted his face for a real, if chaste, kiss.

"All right," Jake managed a bemused smile and nuzzled Rock's neck affectionately. "I trust you."

"I certainly hope you do, by now," Rock chuckled, though he hugged Jake against his side as they stood. He was still glad to hear the compliment, especially here where the full extent of trust was understood better than most. They started out as the room cleared up, and then up the stairs to the second floor.

"So, what did you think?" Henrietta asked as they stepped into the comfortably furnished room.

"It's ... different," he admitted, still not all that sure what to make of the conflicting messages he got from this place. "They have quite a varied portfolio."

"It's expanded over the years... in life, Eshik and Marka were much as you saw them, but jaded nobles still have their duties, and their philosophy carried through into how they handled disputes," Henrietta explained. "They started out as patrons of pain and pleasure, but they've picked up other things as their followers have expanded. Forbidden loves, challenging hidebound tradition, tolerance, secrecy... all are aspects of what they were as mortals, and are as gods. It's just a question of what's emphasized more... admittedly, I think Master Koron cherry picked his sermon for today, knowing we had some people who weren't too familiar with the faith in the audience."

"They weren't always gods?" Jake cocked his head before he was willingly drawn into Rock's embrace on the soft couch.

"At least half the gods weren't," Jordan nodded easily, taking his own seat next to his sister on the cushions opposite Jake and Rock. "It hasn't happened for thousands of years, but mortals with sufficient power and followers can make the jump to immortals, and from there to gods. Eshik and Marka were among them. Of course, these days even if somebody had the power, they'd almost certainly fall short of having sufficiently fanatical followers."

"Or enough of them," Jake agreed, not liking the idea of anyone who did have fanatical followers in modern times making the leap. "We still have too many cults around."

"Agreed," the Dachshund nodded. "At least now that they've narrowed the definition down some. Not that long ago, we'd have been among the cultists," he chuckled.

"But you follow someone who is a god," Jake looked a bit confused.

"It's a matter of language, Jake," Henrietta explained. "These days, in MegaKat City, a cult follows somebody who isn't a god. In other parts of the world, it still includes people who follow unpopular gods, or weak ones ... even in common usage these days, sometimes. Consider Rapentap; most people would consider his faith a cult, if they knew about him. Whether because they didn't want to give that legitimacy to a faith that represents that, or simply because they don't want to believe that there's a god of pedophilic rapists," she chuckled slightly.

"It's mostly improved now, but particularly since Eshik and Marka were mortals at one point, some still like to think that their faithful are simply deluding themselves into thinking that after their cult-leaders died, they became gods," Jordan continued. "Any faith whose god was once mortal was a cult at one point in time... except for the rare cases when they made the jump more gradually, in the spirit world."

Jake nodded slightly, thinking over it all and understanding the point. "How much contention is there over the records of their mortal times?"

"Quite a bit, though not as much as there used to be these days. There are apocryphal stories, of course, and some that aren't accepted as being official... of course, at the same time, there are variants of the same story," Jordan said easily. "Take today, for example. The story that was told was, in its basic form, accurate... there's some debate over whether it happened after Eshik and Marka were gods or not, but there is little argument over the fact that the Karten Valley was settled by a lasting line of Tiger-Lion hybrids, or that it was part of their domain at one point in time or another. Whether or not the Sunrise pride and Parccha clan were the opposing factions isn't necessarily clear either, but the important parts are there."

"As for other versions of their time as mortals... well, nobles are rarely subject to the same truth most people are," Henrietta admitted. "Their own historians paint a far more favorable view of their past than those of their rivals, for example, and even though we can bring points of contention up to have them clarified, they're still subject to interpretation. The legend of Dulcet the Martyr is a prime example; according to our records, and to Eshik and Marka, he died and was resurrected in the course of having sex with the two of them, proof of their divine power. According to other historians of the time, he was murdered when he threatened to leave the cult and a look-alike took his place."

"I understand," Jake nodded. "What taboos do you still believe in holding to?"

"As a faith, very few as long as all involved are consenting," Jordan said easily. "Though there are some practical concerns. For example, Henrietta and I generally try to avoid having pups. We do believe that there is a certain minimum age of consent, but we put the bar lower, and more flexible, than most people do."

"Below the legal range?" Jake asked, not entirely sure he wanted to know but needing to ask all the same.

"In certain situations ... it's an awkward subject, Jake, and one that's controversial even among the faithful," Henrietta pointed out. "But yes, there are some couples we support who are technically breaking the law. It's one of the problems with legal systems rather than moral ones; the law must be blind to specific couples, morals must not be."

He nodded, his body language fairly neutral given what she had just admitted to and his sworn duty to uphold the law.

"How do you tell if it's willing?" he asked as a decidedly personal question.

"We don't just take the other person's word for it, or even the word of the kitten," Jordan said. "For the most part, we can usually get a feel for it speaking with them ... it's a lot like therapy, or an interrogation. However, if we're still not certain, or if somebody challenges our opinions, we do have magical means."

Jake nodded, clearly content with the answer as he snuggled in a bit more against Rock's solid body. "What are your weddings like?"

"It depends on who is involved, but they're usually a lot shorter than the version Bastet uses," Jordan explained. "Our wedding ceremonies involve the recreation of some of the weddings officiated over by Eshik and Marka. During the days when all it took was a noble's say-so, they were very popular for couples who couldn't get their families to agree, or who had powerful cultural taboos against the wedding for whatever reason. Are you asking out of curiosity, or for yourselves?" He asked, glancing between Jake and Rock.

"I think mostly curiosity, at the moment," Rock said easily, rubbing Jake's side.

"For now," Jake agreed with a small smile. "We're discussing options off and on."

"All right," Jordan smiled a bit. "We'll keep this hypothetical then. Two fully-ranked Priests, or the Master and Mistress of the temple, would normally officiate over the ceremony. Any guests would 'just happen' to be there - in reality, we do usually schedule them ahead of time, let people who are wanted there know, all the usual things, but it's not nearly as big a ceremony as most faith's. For two males, the typical wedding being re-enacted would be the wedding between two Tiger warriors who were being tracked by furious family members at the time. The ceremony is rushed by most standards, any necessary paperwork handled promptly, and usually within the space of a half-hour to an hour at most the wedding itself can be completed."

"The ceremonies, of course, were written when we still had to worry about the possibility of raids," Henrietta offered. "It can be rushed through in about five minutes and still be legal, in a pinch, but that tends to be for situations where we really are expecting a raid, or pissed off family members, to interfere."

"A Justice of the Peace ceremony, almost," Jake nodded.

"More or less," Henrietta agreed. "Of course, the Justice of the Peace doesn't usually offer an upstairs room in his house to consummate the marriage afterwards," she chuckled. "It is traditional to spend the first night in the Temple, but not required. Some choose to spend the entire honeymoon there, but again, that's a personal choice."

"No, they don't," Jake snickered. "I imagine that some find new toys to play with on their stay."

"Oh, let's just say that we have to be asked not to come and make suggestions once in a while," Jordan snickered, getting matching ones from Jake and Rock. "Especially when we know that the newlyweds share our tastes."

"You are so bad," Rock laughed deeply. "Even odds for ours, held here or not."

"Hey - the serious side of the faith doesn't interfere with the fun one, that's very clear in the training," Jordan grinned. "By the way, would anybody like a drink? We've got soda, milk, and liquor available," he said, nodding towards a small fridge in the corner. "Some finger food too, if you want."

"Mmm, a blue star?" Jake suggested, not sure if they had the selection Rock tended to keep around.

"I ... think we can do most of that," he mused, getting up and heading over to the fridge. "The 'blue' part of that might be the tricky part," he chuckled slightly, starting to look around.

"I'll stick to juice or water; I'm driving home today," Rock chuckled.

"Fair enough," Jordan laughed, pulling out the ingredients for Jake's drink, and what he already knew his sister would want. "So, Jake, mind if we ask you a few questions now?"

"Go ahead," he nodded, relaxed now that they weren't a surprise and he was snuggled in the protective presence of his lover.

"What do you think of Eshik and Marka, as you understand them?" He asked, starting to mix Jake's strangely colored drink.

"They seem to be good people; they stand for a lot of things I value," he mused, really thinking about it. "I wish this place felt more like a home to me. It would make it easier."

"Make what easier?" Jordan asked him curiously, handing him his drink and going back to work on Henrietta's Bloody Mary and his screwdriver.

"Coming here instead of Bastet's or Halikar's," he explained. "As much as I don't like Them, Their temples ... I can feel the energy of power ... I feel safe there, from everything."

"Does this have something to do with your reaction at the end of the sermon today?" Henrietta asked him gently. "I noticed it, but wasn't going to say anything."

"No," he shook his head, his eyes decidedly downcast. "It just made me remember a few things I'm not very proud of."

"Do you want to talk about them? We might not be able to change things, but we're good with advice ... or just listening, if that's what you need," she offered gently.

"Just the grief I've given Bastet over the years," he kind of shrugged, his eyes down, focused on his drink. "I'm starting to understand She's just trying to protect people, and I've done pretty much everything I can to hurt Her."

"Jake, the situation isn't exactly normal for you," Rock pointed out, tightening his embrace as Jordan sat his juice down where he could reach it.

"Do you think that you've done any harm to Her plans in doing so?" The Dachshund asked as he took his seat.

"No," he shook his head. "I've just been very childish. Rebellious teenager stuff. Lovers She doesn't approve of, interests She doesn't like, avoiding what She wants me to get done. It's not in me to turn away from protecting the city, no matter how angry I am."

"Are those lovers and interests truly something that you enjoy?" Henrietta asked him. "How much have you been fighting Her plans?"

Everybody could tell that Rock was holding back what he wanted to say about this right now, but he limited himself to a protective nuzzle to his lover's head.

"Some yes, some I just don't not like," he said after thinking a bit. "Her plans ... the only one I was really fighting was for kittens, and that ... it wasn't all about Her wishes."

"No, it wasn't," Rock agreed. "Or all about yours, in a lot of ways."

"Bad experience?" Jordan asked gently.

"A mother who was very aggressive about me having kittens when I first started showing interest in shekats," Jake explained. "She was very upset when Midnight wasn't pregnant that first heat."

"When he was twelve and she was thirteen," Rock added grumpily.

"Too young for most, including you I'm guessing," Jordan filled in the blanks. "I can see where that would create some issues for you. Is it something you want to work on, preferably without Bastet's priestesses involved?"

"They weren't any less aggressive about it," Jake shuddered. "What does your help involve?"

"It would depend on what you were comfortable with," Henrietta explained. "Ideally, we'd try to help you get more comfortable with fems ... that's going to be necessary however you want to have kittens. What are you comfortable with, at this point?"

"It's not so much a comfort level as an inability to perform at this point," Jake said quietly.

"What is it that shuts you down?" She asked him, rephrasing it, approaching the problem from a different angle. "Scent, sight, actually trying to penetrate a fem, something else? Does it make a difference if she's in heat or not, or whether or not she's a Kat?"

"Scent mostly," he thought back over all the passing encounters that had shut him down, and how he managed not to shut down around Midnight or Kyale. "Trust can work past most of it, but even when I can stay hard, I can't come."

"There might be ways to work around that," she mused. "Some of them might not be the most pleasant, but I know you enjoy pain, and electrical play, so you'll probably enjoy them more. Does it make a difference at all if you can't breed with the fem?"

"I don't know," he admitted. "The only two I've ever tried anything with have been shekats. Everyone else ... seeing it's a her has been enough to tell her I'm not interested."

"Understood," she nodded slightly. "I think that the first step would be finding out if you can have sex with fems who aren't Kats ... it might be a good way to help break your body back into the idea of letting itself breed. Did you notice the Rottie at the sermon?" She asked him.

"Rock pointed her out," he nodded.

"You might consider trying to get to know her better ... she's a very extreme sub and gamma, and might be fun to play with even without sex being a factor," Henrietta told him. "Which should make it easier to work sex in, when you're ready to try. Just don't get too frustrated, and be willing to let Rock help ... I have a feeling he can come up with a few ways to help you get off no matter who you're inside," she winked.

"I'm sure," Jake blushed and ducked his head a bit, though he found the idea appealing enough.

"If you'd like, she's probably around here somewhere; would you like us to introduce you?" Jordan offered easily. "Maybe invite her up here to meet you?"

"Sure," he nodded, turning his face up to nuzzle Rock.

"I think you'll like her," Rock purred, playing his fingers along Jake's side. "She has a taste for blood and pain that rivals yours."

"And he's not joking," Henrietta chuckled as Jordan got up and headed towards the door. "Might even exceed it, in ways ... one warning though, if anything happens. She's still learning that she can say no. Rock already knows about it, but she's nearly let herself be killed before. It's the gamma part of her," she explained, hoping she wouldn't scare Jake off in the process, "she's so submissive she'll do just about anything, so you won't want to rely on her to let you know if something's gone too far. On the other hand, if you've got kinks that most people don't want to do, she'll indulge you to your heart's content."

"I understand," Jake nodded seriously. "We're both good about limits."

"Good," Jordan grinned before he started down to find Barbara.

"So, why don't I work on getting you in the mood for a bit, hmm?" Rock purred, nuzzling Jake's neck, scritching his chest lightly.

"I'm certainly not going to object," Henrietta grinned. "Just so you know, we do have several healers here, so you can probably go a bit further than you normally would. Anybody with a white strip down the middle of their sash is a healer of some sort. And, of course, anything that happens inside the Temple remains inside it."

"Understood," Rock grinned at them before the door closed. He looked down at his lover with a wider grin. "Now, where were we?"

"I think you were warming me up," Jake grinned back before sliding his arms up around Rock's neck for a long, lingering kiss.

Rock returned the kiss, purring into Jake's mouth as his claws popped out, leaving tiny welts along Jake's fur as he scratched a bit harder, slowly working his hand down to the button of Jake's jeans, here he slipped his fingers down a bit further, teasing Jake through the layers of denim and cotton between them.

"Ohh, yes," Jake nearly cried into Rock's mouth, his body trembling in the sharp surge of need the touch brought on.

"I don't think you need to get him warmed up," Henrietta giggled, getting up and starting to pull out some of the toys they had in their quarters for later use. "Why don't you two get undressed the rest of the way?" she suggested.

"Sounds good to me," Rock purred, undoing Jake's jeans and working them off of him with his lover's full cooperation.

"I think you could use a little though," Jake winked as he got Rock's jeans off and settled between the buff tom's legs to nuzzle his groin.

"I'm not about to object," Rock rumbled hotly, reaching down to scratch Jake's ears as his balls were licked, then sucked into Jake's mouth for more attention.

"And I'm just glad you two don't mind being watched," Henrietta grinned as she settled back in, undressing the rest of the way except for her sash. There was something decidedly hot about watching two people who really loved each other express their passion.

"Enjoy it, even," Rock groaned at Jake's eager attentions. He rubbed Jake's ears, spreading his legs to let the lean tom at him better. "Not gonna take long, Jake," he warned him with a groan.

Jake chuckled softly and let his lover's balls fall from his mouth so he could take Rock's cock into his mouth all the way down to the sheath, working the length with his tongue and throat, eager for a taste of his seed.

They faintly heard the door open and close quietly, smelled the two new Kantin in the room.

"Mmm, nice show to come in on," Jordan grinned as he undressed and snuggled up with his sister, Barbara watching from the door as Jake worked, finally pushing Rock over the edge. The tabby roared, pumping his seed into Jake's mouth, filling it and dribbling out around his lips as he pushed Jake's nose down into his pubes without resistance.

"A big strong tabby," Barbara wagged her stub of a tail rapidly as she watched Jake slowly lick his lover clean and shifted up to snuggle on his lap for a long kiss.

"A very good dom too," Jake told her with a low purr.

"Come on, sit down with us," Rock purred. Barbara did so happily, already naked except for a dark blue sash around her waist.

"I understand that you are also, sometimes?" She asked Jake as Rock wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close to snuggle.

"Sometimes, yes," he nodded, looking her over. "I have a taste for inflicting what I take," he said into a nuzzle of his mate. "Have they shown you any of the tapes I sent Rock with a while back?"

"No, sir," she said, shaking her head. "I've heard a little, but I haven't seen any of them. I'm sure that I would enjoy anything you wanted though," she added. "My own tastes are very rough," she smiled shyly, a strange look on her rough face as she reached up, scratching his chest lightly when he didn't stop her.

"So we have been told," he smiled slightly at her and pressed into the touch a bit. It wasn't the electric contact another male would be like, but it wasn't unpleasant at all. "Something you need to understand about me," he reached out to caress her large, round breasts. "It's been a long time since I've been able to perform with a female. It's not about you."

"I understand," she nodded, rurring and pressing into his touch. "Will you want me to play a male for you?" She asked him easily. "I've done it before."

Jake cocked his head, taken off guard by the suggestion as he figured out what she meant. He smiled and traced a claw around her nipple just hard enough to make the skin tighten.

"No," he leaned over to kiss her uncertainly. "I want to recover from what happened. I want you to understand that you are not the problem if I can't yet. Do you have a safeword you prefer?"

"Whatever you use, Master," she rumbled, kissing him back, running her powerful hand down to stroke his full sheath. "So... would you like to receive what you've just given?" She asked with a playful grin, turning his earlier comment about what he liked around.

"Red for stop, yellow for slow down and green for everything's good," Jake supplied the terms he hadn't actually used yet. "And yes," he turned his head up for a searing kiss from his mate. "While Rock's fucking you."

"Oh, gladly Masters," she grinned broadly, showing sharp canines as she slipped to her knees between Jake's legs, nuzzling his crotch as Rock chuckled and got up, giving Jake a deep kiss.

"Since you're in charge for now, anything you want me to do to her? Besides the obvious?" Rock winked as he reached down and slipped his fingers between Barbara's legs, stroking her sex and making her moan against Jake's sheath.

"Give her what she likes," he grinned, watching over her back as Rock grabbed her hips and drove his hard cock into her sex in a single motion. His claws came out, drawing pinpricks of blood from her hips.

She moaned blissfully, her broad, velvety tongue coming out, washing over his sheath, up his barbed shaft as she reached up to cup his balls in her powerful hands. Rock sank his claws in more deeply, piercing the outer layer of her skin, blood flowing freely as he started thrusting into her tight, slick body, purring hotly as he leaned forward to kiss his lover and give Jake the distraction he badly needed.

He was more than a little pleased to see that Jake was still hard, purring in pleasure, though he was sure it wasn't going to be this easy.

"Hey, Jo, you have anything shocking for his ass?" Rock grinned over his shoulder.

"Of course," the Dachshund grinned. "Want me to use it now, or maybe for if you two trade places later?"

"Let's see how far he can get on his own," Rock rumbled, a deep moan escaping his chest when Barbara tightened her sex around him. "Neither fem he likes is much into pain."

"Okay, but no promises I won't be distracted later," Jordan rumbled, making out with Henrietta as Barbara took Jake's cock into her hot, wet mouth, reaching back and pushing a finger up into his ass, tentatively at first, then more easily once she was sure he wouldn't object.

"I will if you don't," Rock promised with a grin, then focused on working the Kantin under him hard without distracting her too much from making Jake feel good.

She bobbed her head up and down Jake's stiff member, working his barbs with her broad, skilled tongue and working her fingers in and out of his ass, searching for his prostate. She moaned deeply as Rock's shaft speared her sex, rubbing her g-spot, the vibrations shivering down Jake's nerves.

Like this, it was almost possible to forget that it was a fem beneath his legs, to trick himself into thinking that the female arousal was all Henrietta's as she and her brother got increasingly frisky in the corner.

Moments came and went, some where he didn't care that it was a female's mouth working him and everything worked right, then a breath and his body would start to shut down his arousal. A whiff of Rock or a solid kiss and his mind would be back to getting off.

He let out a low, frustrated whine as Rock's tongue ravished his mouth, the flip-flops his body was doing driving him crazy until Rock roared into his mouth, pumping his seed deep into Barbara's dripping sex.

"Hot stuff, Barbara," Rock rumbled as he pulled out and moved around to rake his claws up Jake's chest, making him moaned and his cock quiver. "Care to sit on my lap, or be strung up for my whip?"

"Strung up," Jake groaned, his claws needling tiny pinpricks in Barbara's scalp.

"Should I keep going, Masters?" Barbara asked as Rock helped Jake up and strapped him to the ceiling, shivering at the feel of the tabby's seed dribbling down her thighs, the warm blood dripping from the cuts Rock had left in her outer skin.

"If you want to join Jo and Henry for a bit, go ahead, otherwise just watch for a little," Rock rumbled. "Unless you want her to join in?" He grinned, nipping Jake's neck lightly.

"Want you," Jake shivered, his body hard and eager.

"You've got me," Rock grinned, biting down hard into Jake's shoulder and stabbing his slick cock up into his ass, his claws digging deep into Jake's hips to keep him from moving forward.

"Oh yeah," Jake's entire body electrified on him at the treatment, the knowledge of who was doing it and knowing just from this first assault that it was going to be long and bloody, even for them.

"Just how much can I get away with here?" Rock asked, glancing back at Jordan as he pulled Henrietta up into his lap.

"Don't sever or break anything, and don't bleed him dry," his friend groaned, watching as Rock's claws slid up through Jake's thighs, crimson blood weeping down his fur.

"Right," Rock purred, turning back to kiss Jake hotly as he started hammering himself against the lean tom's prostate while the Rottweiler watched them, her nose working hard and fast to take in their arousal, her fingers rubbing her clit.

Jake could only moan and shudder, his balls tightening up against his body as Rock's efforts took him over the edge and kept him hard. He lost awareness of what he was saying, only sure he was begging for more.

The tabby gave it to him with gusto, their hips slapping together, his claws sinking into different points of Jake's body as he came inside Jake's ass twice before finally winding down. The third time, he sank his claws into the tender skin of Jake's sheath, cutting the skin and putting Jake on the edge of a second orgasm.

"Please," Jake panted, not even sure what he was begging for other than whatever it took to push him over the edge again.

Rock kissed his neck and slammed his hips forward again. He closed his fist around Jake's balls, driving his claws deep into his mate's testicles.

Jake screamed, his shaft twitching and spraying pearly arcs of seed through the air, Barbara catching them in her mouth as Rock held his lover against him, nibbling his neck tenderly.

"Think you're ready for a break from me?" He purred with a grin.

"Never," Jake panted, his entire body trembling from the release and pain etched across every nerve. "Never be tired of you," he murmured with deep affection.

"Good," Rock rumbled deeply, kissing him soundly and groaning as he pulled out of his ass. "But after five rounds, even I need a break," he chuckled, undoing Jake's hands and catching him when Jake's legs gave out. "And I think Barbara's been neglected for a bit," he added with a wink and kiss when Jake steadied himself.

"I think I can help her out there," Jake half-stumbled to her and knelt between her legs. Without a word he ran his rough tongue up her sex and nipped at her clit.

She moaned, leaning back and spreading her legs for his access, reaching down to rub his ears.

"Mmm ... Master? Do you want to do something different today?" She asked him with a low rumble.

"What do you have in mind?" he looked up with interest in his bright amber eyes.

"Have you ever taken a lover between the skins?" She asked him, her large brown eyes meeting his.

"You do that?" Jordan asked, he and Henrietta stopping their own play as the Rottweiler got their attention.

"Do what?" Rock asked, sitting down on the couch and taking a drink of his neglected juice from before.

"It's something that's pretty rare, even with the Kantin who can do it," Barbara explained. "Some of us have a second skin ... Sharpei's, Pitbulls, Rottweilers, a couple others," she said, tugging on her own loose hide a bit. "We feel through it, but not as much ... it's there so when we're fighting, we can get clawed or bitten and not be hurt too badly. A few of us have learned that it can be intense to have a lover between the layers of skin ... I've got a particular trick that I don't get to do often, but enjoy when I have a partner who likes it," she blushed a bit, wagging her stub tail behind her.

"Would you mind if we filmed it, if you do it?" Jordan asked.

"I don't, but it's up to Master Jake," she said, deferring to the lean tom. "It's bloody, painful, but I think it's painful in a good way."

"I don't mind," Jake purred, seriously turned on by the idea even as he continued to lick and nip her tender sex. "It sounds intense."

"Oooh ... it is, Master," she moaned. "When you want to start, you'll have to cut me between my breasts," she explained to him. "I can handle the rest," she grinned down at him as Rock went over for the camera he knew Jordan and Henrietta had in the room.

"All right," he slid the fingers of one hand up to the opening of her sex, then pressed two inside. "Like being fisted dry?"

"Oooh ... if you want to do it, Master," she moaned, spreading her legs. "Do you need a healer soon?" She asked him with a concerned tone.

"It would be good," Rock answered for him.

"What would get you off hard and fast?" Jake asked, his teeth piercing her outer labia.

"Pierce my clit with your teeth?" She asked with a trembling whimper, her legs starting to shake slightly as she tightened her body around his hand. "Put something in the holes?"

"Three clit rings or bars?" Jake glanced at the Dachshunds.

"In here," Jordan said, pulling out a small drawer of them and passing it over to Jake.

Jake licked at her a few more times as a clit-bars were dipped in capsaicin oil. Without much warning, Jake angled his jaws carefully and bit down hard.

Barb cried out as he pierced her clit, blood practically pouring from the tiny wounds until he stopped them up with the tiny bars. She screamed when they were threaded through, the oil on them burning her body, her sex clenching down and spurting her warm juices onto Jake's chin.

Her whimpers and cries continued as he went to work licking her out, nipping, biting and soothing with his tongue until she jerked again, the pleasure-pain spiraling out of control right on top of the first.

She grabbed desperately at the couch to support herself, her legs going out from beneath her, her body shaking as she came and came a third time at his tongue's relentless attentions.

"Fuck," she whimpered softly.

Rock could only grin. "He'll keep that up until you beg him to stop," he winked at her.

"D-does h-he want me to?" She gasped, squeezing her thighs around his head. "So good!" She moaned, laying back more, making a shameless display of herself.

"Not as long as you're enjoying it that much," he rumbled, stepping into the picture with them. He ran his hands down to her full breasts, squeezing them. "Mind if I fuck you while he keeps up the tongue-work?"

"No, Master," she grinned up at him, moaning as he squeezed her breasts. "Just tell me to stop him before he needs a healer too badly," she giggled.

"I will," Rock nodded and helped her up so he could slide behind her on the couch. Jake broke from his efforts for a moment to help them settle with her ass opened wide by Rock's cock.

The big tom grabbed her wrists and Jake positioned her legs outside the tabby's, leaving her spread-eagled and impaled on a living bed that locked his jaws on her shoulder.

"Fuck yes!" She cried out, tightening her ass and sex around the cock, fingers, and tongue inside of her, pressing into Rock's bite, pain shooting through her shoulder and clit as she enjoyed the sound fucking she was getting from both toms.

"Jordan, do you have one of those shock dildos?" Jake asked between nips, thoroughly intoxicated by the scent in his nose.

"Answer hasn't changed since Rock asked for you," he chuckled. "You want a shock dildo, or a cattle prod?" He asked, raising an eyebrow slightly. "You'd be amazed what they do for Barb there," he chuckled.

"Cattle prod, then," he answered when he felt the shudder of anticipation for a device he wasn't allowed to play with normally.

"And would you snag a healer," Rock asked when the device was given to Jake. "He doesn't have to stop now, but soon."

"I am one, remember?" Jordan grinned. "Don't worry, I'll make sure things don't go too far," he winked as Barb howled with another orgasm from Jake's experimenting with the cattle prod on her tender bits.

"Which means I'll just have to stick to fingers and a camera for a while," Henrietta huffed good-naturedly.

"But what a vid you'll get for it," Rock grinned at her between grunts as his balls tightened, threatening his ability to hold off his own orgasm.

He lost it completely as Jake touched the prod down on either side of Barb's clit and she howled in orgasmic pain, her ass clenching down hard around the barbed shaft inside of her. Rock roared, coming hard, flooding her ass as Jake continued to torment her through several orgasms, the hardest of them coming when he put the prod up inside her sex.

Rock only barely managed to get his cock out of her before thousands of volts arced across her g-spot, and she screamed with a pain more intense than anything yet today.

"Please, stop!" She finally broke down and begged, though not using the safe-word yet. The prod was out of her almost instantly, and set aside without a trace of hesitation.

"You okay?" Jake asked, wanting to be sure he hadn't done too much damage.

She nodded, twitching a bit as she laid on top of Rock, recovering from the series of orgasms she'd been pushed through.

"Yes Master," she panted. "Just a little tired," she giggled, finally sitting up and hugging him. "I think it's your turn though," she murmured, licking his cheek.

"After Jo takes a look at him," Rock said firmly. "He could use a healer."

"Yes," Jake murmured, acknowledging the blood loss he was enduring was reaching a critical point. "I do need a healer."

"Let's get you taken care of then," Jordan said seriously looking Jake over, helping him to his feet. "Can you stand?" He asked, starting to work a minor healing spell to stop him from bleeding any worse than he already was.

It took definite effort, and some support, but he managed to find his balance, even if it was starting to be shaky.

"For reference, that raw stubbornness, not an actual ability to stand up," Rock said with a frown. "He's far too used to not being able to admit he can't stand."

"That's not a good thing," Jordan frowned himself, helping Jake into the couch and leaving him rest for a moment. "Goes for you too," he added with a glance at Barb. "Get him some juice, I'll work a spell to help him recover more quickly." The Rottie got up, following his order while Jordan quietly spoke the words to prayer in some language Jake didn't even know the root form of.

"You'll recover the blood you've lost in a few minutes, but no getting yourself cut for the next hour," he said seriously.

"Yes, sir," he nodded without question or resistance to the order.

"At least he's obedient," Jordan half chuckled, half chided as he settled back down with Henrietta.

"He is an Enforcer," Rock grinned back. "Even the rebellious ones know how to take an order."

"Do you still want to play while you rest, Master?" Barb asked, giving him the juice. "This would be a good time for something that doesn't involve your pain," she offered.

"Given how much blood I lost, I doubt I could get hard enough for anything," he chuckled softly in apology to her.

"It's okay," she smiled, moving to snuggle up on one side of him, Rock on the other. "Maybe we'll have another time to try again?" She asked, wagging her stub tail hopefully.

"I'd like to," Jake nodded, snuggling up against Rock and sipping his juice.

"What is it, Jarrem?" Commander Ulysses Feral asked calmly when he greeted his cousin's call. It was early morning; far too early for him to be calling for anything but very bad news.

"Cody ... dear gods, Ulysses ... he's been murdered and worse," the shaky voice on the other end was all the confirmation he needed of the nature of the call. The actual words turned his stomach into a rock blocking his throat.

He forced it down, though his hand was shaking as he did it.

"I'll get the Ghosts over there as soon as I can," Ulysses told him, punching the button under his desk to send out a call for them to be ready to mobilize. These days they knew it meant another rape and murder by the type of creature they had been named after. "What happened, Jarrem? I need to know who to send."

"Raped, tortured to death, blood and semen are everywhere ... all in his bed while his folks are in the next room and didn't hear a thing," he gave the basics. "That room is still bitterly cold, and it's not the AC."

"I'm sending Sashari, Toama, and Sechena Jagrati along with the Ghosts," Feral told him. "I'll be over there myself as soon as I can get away. Do you want me to send Felina as well?" He asked.

"It would help calm down Felist," he admitted. "She's more than slightly hysterical right now. I'm calling Doc Hazlil as soon as I hang up for here."

"Jarrem, I'm surprised you're not," Feral pointed out. "I'll get people out there, you call Doctor Hazlil. I should be able to be on my way in...." He glanced at his schedule for the night.

"I'll be in my chopper in ten, at your place in another fifteen," he promised, taking note of who he'd have to tell to reschedule. None of them were the Mayor, so he could get away with it.

"You know we both don't break down until after the crisis is over," Jarrem Blackthorn nearly laughed. "I'm sure he'll have tranquilizers for me too. Thank Bastet those two aren't in the Academy anymore."

"No, now they're my problems," Feral half-chuckled grimly. "My problems, and getting a visit from yours themselves once in a while. I'll be there soon, Jarrem. Try to keep Felist from doing anything insane until we're there."

"Will do," he hung up with the sound of some kind of scuffle starting in the background.

Feral let out the snarl he'd wanted to voice since the call had started, stabbing the button for his speed-dial to the Ghosts training rooms and quarters.

"Get out to Jarrem Blackthorn's house, now," he ordered them. "It sounds like Berten's attacked again. I'll bring SI and Jagrati," he added, ending the call before waiting for their responses.

He knew they'd be there. Now he just had to get the detectives and psychics from Supernatural Investigations to do the same. At least Jagrati was already here, awake and with all her things for spirit calling and binding ready. He did not relish the idea of having to rouse the ancient Tigress.

Three phone calls later and he stalked out of his office, spat a terse explanation to his secretary, and headed up to the helicopter pad to join his Ghosts for the short flight.

He could hear SI, dozens of stories below, sirens running as they peeled out onto the streets.

"Let's go," he told Felina gruffly. She nodded silently, taking off as he sat down with his most loyal officers around him; they turned for his cousin's house and took off, Felina barking orders into the comm to clear any flight traffic that might be along their route. He thought he heard a pilot objecting, asking for information about where they were going, but some choice, if not entirely professional, words and there were no more objections.

She'd make a fine Commander if she lived long enough to take over. It was strange, realizing that somewhere along the line he'd come to think of her as his successor, and not another tom he'd assumed it would be. For possibly the first time he was also glad she'd never found much interest in becoming a mother. He wasn't sure he could take finding out her kits had been targeted.

It had been hard enough hearing about Cody ... and about Shier's kits.

He tried to distract himself from thinking about either attack too much just now. The Ghosts knew better than to talk to him right now, and Jagrati seemed to be silently preparing herself to deal with the dark spirit she was after, so he could at least try to do so.

Unfortunately, the only way he could really get his mind off of it was distracting himself for a few moments with the thought of what Felina would say about Shier's joke of a few nights before, or that he really was seriously considering retiring before he was forced to by injury or politics.

What would he do with himself?

He almost had to chuckle; the first answer that sprang to mind was to go to Tusandrin and do for Khan what he'd done for MegaKat City. Shier was certainly easier to work with than the Mayor.

Shier wanted him there too, had said it outright that he wanted a co-ruler. Power without the fetters of an inept mayor had its appeal too.

All MegaKat City really had to offer was his family, his heritage, his people. This was his land, damn it all.

"We're landing now, uncle," Felina's calming voice made him realize he'd probably growled out loud.

"Let's go then," he said, nodding sharply as they touched down, out the door right behind Recka, who jumped the short distance to the ground to get there first and make sure nobody was going to try anything when they touched down.

This was his land. And he'd be damned if he let a freak like Berten make him, or his family, leave it. He might not have the ability to fight him himself, but he had resources that could, and would.

Without a word he led the group inside, knowing from experience where the kitten's room was and where the adults would be.

He could hear Felist sobbing hysterically, and he motioned for the Recka, Jagrati, and the rest of the Ghosts to go on ahead while he and Felina went to try and help calm her down.

Looking into the room, he saw Jarrem, looking ashen and sincerely old for the first time in his life with his arms around his grieving son and daughter-in-law.

"That was a very long fifteen minutes," Jarrem murmured as he looked up at his cousins.

"We'd have been here sooner if we could," Feral apologized. "The Ghosts are securing the area, SI will be here soon. Is there anything we can do to help?" He added quietly, glancing back at Felina with a slight nod towards Felist. She nodded herself, confirming that they did have some tranquilizers in the chopper if they needed them.

"Catch whoever did that to my son!" Felist snarled, anger overtaking grief for a moment. "Kill him."

"Just as soon as we can," Feral promised her. "Tonight, if possible."

Only Jarrem blinked at that, looking at his cousin curiously at such a different take on the law and vigilantism.

"If we're right, the one who did this is already dead," Feral said softly. "Berten's ghost has been attacking all around the city."

"A ghost?" Felist blinked, trembling hard. "How do you kill a ghost?"

"That's what Jagrati is here to help us answer," he told her. "She's a Sechena from Tusandrin, she's been dealing with creatures like him longer than he was alive, let alone dead."

He watched his distant cousin regard him, judge him for his word as he had been raised to do as well.

Slowly she nodded. "Do what you need. Destroy him."

"We will," he repeated the promise. "I should go see to the investigation ... will you be all right while I see what's going on?"

"Yes," she promised, squeezing her husband's hand. "I'll hold together."

"Good," he nodded in relief. "I'll be back to tell you what we find out, and if we can draw Berten in tonight."

He turned to leave; grateful beyond words that his family bred strong wills as he walked to the kit's room. He swallowed hard when he glanced around. It wasn't the blood and semen splattered around. In an unsettling way he was almost used to that by now. It was the future so clearly written in the decor and Cody's own scribbling.

It was the room of a young Enforcer, another Feral with a badge, and one more dead before his time.

"Any luck?" he asked Recka.

"No, sir," she shook her head slightly. "She said he's protected by a powerful being she can not overcome."

"Is there any way you can weaken his hold?" He asked Toama, glancing over at the albino Cheetah.

"My Mistress might be able to demand to know who it is, but nothing more," she said, shaking her head.

"We were going to try and summon Cody's spirit," Recka explained, "to confirm that it was Berten, but if you'd rather... it's fairly clear, sir, we wouldn't have to do it. It would only be a matter of form."

"He may also have been told something useful before he died," Feral said. "Kits his age made the case against Berten the first time. We summon him."

Jagrati changed the spell slightly without the order being relayed. After a few minutes, the room chilled again, and a kitten's form faded into view, curled up in the corner, arms around his knees and rocking silently, tail curled tightly around his leg.

"Cody," Ulysses stepped forward and knelt, just a heartbeat away from touching before he held himself back.

"Uncle Commander," the kit looked up at him, trying hard to uncurl his nude body to face him as a proper inspiring officer.

He managed to get into a sitting position, looking up at him, legs still held together tightly, hands covering his bloody nethers.

"I ... w-was I dreaming it?" He asked hopefully.

"I'm afraid not," Ulysses shook his head. "What can you tell me about the one who did this?"

"It was the one from TV," Cody said. "He was... was...." He closed his eyes, a look of terror washing over his face.

"There's something happening," Recka said nervously, glancing at Jagrati, who was scowling darkly as something interfered with her spell. Cody's face contorted, twisted, Berten's fading into view over it.

"Come on, Uly, you know who did this!" Berten grinned viciously. "How do you like my work? Cody was so much more satisfying than that brat of Shier Khan's."

"Make him go away!" Cody begged, taking back control for a brief moment even as Ulysses' full attention was on Jagrati, silently asking what she could do now that they had Berten here.

"He is no longer just a ghost," the ancient Tigress told him. "I will do what I can."

"You'll do nothing to me, crone," Berten sneered over at her. "Not unless you relish the nightmares of all the children I've sacrificed. Oh! Uly, please thank Mr. Khan for holding the funerals so very promptly," he grinned. "My Master was quite irritated with the delay, but when their spirits were all released at once, he was most satisfied. I understand the little tom is a particular favorite of his!"

"Who is your master?" Ulysses demanded, doing his damnedest not to allow the taunting to get to him.

"You should remember, Uly - your people helped me find the priest who showed me His plans for me!" Berten grinned. "Rapentap, who's very much looking forward to this little morsel. And who's very eager to meet you," he added. "Another year, Uly... next time you won't be so lucky!"

"If we meet in another year, you won't be lucky enough to escape me," his ears flattened, a stark reminder to Berten that his first victim was not afraid of him anymore. "You won't see next month."

"How can you kill me, Uly - I'm already dead," Berten taunted. "By the way... would you like me to pay my regards to Janet?" He asked sweetly, grinning when a deep snarl of pure rage erupted from the other tom.

Recka and Felina both moved to grab him as he tried to lunge, holding him back as Cody whimpered and curled up again, terrified at being the vehicle Berten was using to taunt his Uncle like this.

"Don't let him get to you," Felina whispered firmly when she felt him struggle to control himself. "Don't let him win."

"You are dead, and I'll see you destroyed as well, Berten," Ulysses promised with the full determination that had seen him become the youngest Commander in history.

"If you wish to try and kill the Hand of a god, feel free Uly," Berten sneered. "It will make killing you all the sweeter when you've failed, and have the deaths of hundreds on your hands. Tomorrow? I'll kill one especially for you," he promised, beginning to fade away.

"If you can do anything to stop him, do it now!" Recka hissed at Jagrati.

"I ... cannot," she said with a frown. "I cannot hold him, not like this!"

"Contact every church and mage that is on speaking terms with us," Ulysses turned on Recka. "Make sure they understand who and what is hunting at night. We can't protect everyone, but we might be able to keep his choices to a minimum."

"My Mistress knows how to destroy him," Toama spoke softly, stilling the entire room instantly. "The risk is great, however, and few are strong enough to succeed."

"How?" Feral growled lowly.

"He is not truly a ghost anymore ... he is something between a ghost and a demon," Toama explained. "The spirit of a dead Kat, but one with the power of a God behind him. He must be trapped as both would, bound. Once he is bound, he may be destroyed by another spirit. This is what is dangerous about it. He must be fought, and destroyed, in the dream-world. Anywhere else, and you could harm the ghost, or the demon, but not both ... he is only whole in the dream world. But that is also where his power is greatest, from what we have found."

"What can be done to assist the one fighting him?" Ulysses asked, plans forming, odds calculated and timing worked out.

"Very little that doesn't have risks of their own ... if the one who fights him knows it is a dream, he or she can fight back much better, but Berten can use all his powers as well. The best way...." She closed her eyes in thought. "Prepare his dreams. Prepare the field of battle. Give him the advantage in the fight. His conscious mind will not be enough, his subconscious must fight as well."

"His next known target is well-equipped already," Ulysses mused darkly. "He's as likely to succeed as I am," he admitted in a rare moment of honest respect for the other pilot.

"Commander?" Recka glanced at him.

"Lt. Chance Furlong," he told her, the name enough for her to understand what he was thinking.

"He would be a good choice," she decided after a few moments. "He has potential ... it would be a Hell of a chance to ask him to take though."

"Either we give him the tools to fight well, or we bury him knowing we could have tried," he looked at her evenly. "No matter what we do, Berten will try and kill him in less than three weeks."

"True," she murmured. "Unless we can find another sooner, he's our best bet. We'll contact the Temple of Bastet as soon as we can, see if they can start to distribute wards and symbols to hold him off. We might...." She trailed off, frowning as she looked around.

"We might want to focus on Enforcer families, Ferals in particular," Recka admitted.

"I know," Ulysses nodded slightly, his eyes on the spirit of the kitten he was trying to save. "Find who you can. We may be able to protect those who are not suited to the fight."

"I don't want to go," Cody admitted with a scared whimper, knowing that he would have to soon. "He wants to take me to a bad place."

"What can you do for him?" Ulysses looked at Jagrati beseechingly.

"I could bind him to something ... the house, an object he cared for," the ancient Tigress said after a moment. "It wouldn't be pleasant, but it would be better than what is planned for him. He may be able to be released... eventually."

"Cody?" he turned to the kitten about to make a choice more important than most adults ever would. "What do you want?"

"Mommy's silver pendant," he looked up, then over at the Tigress white with age. "She keeps my picture in it."

"It will be a simple matter then," Jagrati nodded slightly, turning to the Commander. "I will need her permission, of course ... it would be best if she and her husband came in and had the chance to speak to him before I perform the binding."

"Very well," he nodded and turned to leave, Recka behind him, though she was on her way back to headquarters to see how many unknown victims she could dig up.

"Can you think of anything we've done that'd get us yelled at?" Chance asked Jake quietly as they rode the elevator up to Feral's office the next day. "I can't place anything, lately ... unless it's me leaving quarantine so fast, I guess."

"Nothing I want to hear about," Jake murmured glumly. "All that stuff that got us grounded in the first place."

"It can't be about that," Chance grumbled. "They already checked it again, and the case got bumped to SI, they're not looking at me anymore. Hey, maybe they want us on the case," he added, thinking about it. "Be weird as all Hell, but it'd explain why Feral's the one who's got to give the order."

"Maybe," Jake nodded as the doors opened and they entered the hallway. "It's better than anything I can think of."

"Well, let's not think about it until we know for sure then," Chance chuckled darkly as they walked back to the Commander's office. "You know, sometimes I wonder what goes on behind those doors," he mused, glancing at the closed doors to the offices that rumor had it were reserved for the Ghosts.

"It's probably less interesting than rumor," Jake cracked a grin. "Even if they are Ghosts."

"True," Chance grinned back, sobering up as they reached the Commander's office and knocked, waiting to be called in by his secretary.

"Ah, good timing," she nodded when they walked in. "Go in. He's ready."

Jake and Chance continued through the front office into Feral's quickly, standing at attention as they faced their Commander.

"Lieutenants Clawson and Furlong reporting, Sir," Chance said professionally, noting with a sinking stomach that he looked even more grim than usual.

"Sit," he motioned to a couple chairs that were not usually on the far side of his desk. "It has been decided that we need to bring you into the Berten case."

Chance controlled his reaction carefully as he took a seat.

"In what way, sir?" He asked. "We'll be glad to help, of course." The rest of it, that Chance at least would be eager to put an end to this once and for all, went without saying.

"We have learned how to destroy him," Feral continued after a small nod. "It is very dangerous, it may kill you, and not even your partner will be able to assist you when you kill him."

"What do I have to do?" Chance asked, leaning back in the seat and not looking to see just what Jake's reaction to the statement would be.

What else could he say? It was risky, yeah, but the alternative was letting Berten stay on the loose ... how many people would die before somebody else got the chance to do it?

How many kittens would be raped and murdered, and would Tamera end up being one of them?

No ... there wasn't really a choice about it.

Feral nodded. "When the anniversary of his attack on you happens, you will have to sleep that night, in an unprotected place, and you will have to find a way to trap and kill him in the dreamscape he works in. We have some magic and knowledge of how to prepare you for this, to level the field as much as possible, but it is where he is the strongest as well. It will be up to your strength of will to stop him."

Feral paused briefly. "The next victim we know of with a real chance of defeating him will not be attacked again for nearly a year."

Chance blinked. Did that mean what he thought it did? It made a lot of pieces fall into place ... the Ghosts, the execution, the chaos around this case.

"I'll do it, sir," he said softly. "Just let me tell Midnight, please ... I have a feeling she's going to freak."

"She will, and she'll understand," Jake spoke quietly with the certainty of someone who knew her far too well.

"Yes, you can tell her," Feral nodded. "I understand Berten has taken a liking to your oldest daughter."

"He has," Chance scowled. "She's the daughter of two of his victims, sir ... the sick bastard seems to enjoy that connection."

"She should not leave the protection of the temple she is in, not even in the day, until Berten is dealt with," Feral said. "While he has not attacked anyone in the daylight, he can appear during the day, and has killed someone in the physical world without touching their dreams. I expect that she is in great danger right now."

"Would somebody from the office be willing to talk to the school? They'd probably be a little more reluctant to take my word for it," Chance said.

"I will," Feral promised, leaving Chance with no doubt that he meant he would make the call personally. "Now, those you will be working with the most closely," he turned slightly to draw their attention to the three figures that had remained in the background until now.

"You know the Priestess of Izaris, Detective Toama," he motioned to the distinctive albino Cheetah in full SI uniform. "Lieutenant Commander Recka Thomas is one of my Ghosts, a minor psi with a talent for spirit work," he indicated the slender Panther. "She was second-in-command of Supernatural Investigations before her promotion.

"The Tigress is Jagrati, a sechena from Tusandrin," he indicated the ancient, hunched over female sitting and still leaning on a heavily carved walking stick. "She has a great deal of knowledge about spirits and how to control them."

"Do not piss her off," Jake murmured to his partner, quiet enough he hoped it wouldn't be heard by anyone else.

"I hadn't been planning on it," Chance responded quietly. "What's the plan?" He asked more loudly.

"You are a good choice," the ancient Tigress observed. "You have a strong heart, and good intent. As for the plan, you will have to fight him in your dreams ... which is beyond me," she admitted. "My part in this is to make sure he doesn't escape ... once it begins, it will have to end, one way or the other."

"A fight to the death, him or me," Chance nodded in understanding. "Is there a way you can trap him if I loose?"

"How much are you and your mate willing to risk to see him bound or destroyed?" Jagrati asked him seriously. "Most of the methods I have that I know would work would bind your own spirit, possibly destroy it, along with his. This Douglas Berten is not a normal ghost, so I must use more extreme measures than I normally would."

"So all I'm risking is oblivion," Chance said, strangely calm about it. "Midnight will hate it, but if it will stop him, it's worth the risk I won't exist anymore."

"Then I will bind all spirits to your body when he arrives," Jagrati explained. "Both of you will be trapped within your body if you die before I perform the unbinding, and when your body ceases to be, so will all the spirits within."

"We do it then," Chance nodded to her.

"Do you have all the paperwork done to ensure your family is taken care of when you die?" Recka took over to make sure he had no worries but the battle itself.

"Ma'am, I'm usually a combat pilot," Chance chuckled slightly. "It comes with the territory. At least if you're still willing, I don't think anything has to change," he said, turning to look at Jake.

"I am," he nodded seriously, decidedly unsettled but understanding as well as his partner that it had to be done this way.

"Good," she said. "If you think of something, I will make it happen."

"I'll let you know if something comes to mind," he nodded slightly. "But I'm not planning on needing the prep. This ritual you're doing; as long as I kill him, it won't do anything to me?" He asked Jagrati.

"Not as long as you survive long enough for me to undo it," she nodded.

"Then great; we won't have any problems," Chance said firmly, knowing that he needed to believe that as much as he wanted to.

"How strong would you judge your imagination?" she asked evenly.

"You're wondering how well I'll be able to force Berten to deal with what I want in dreams, instead of what he wants?" Chance guessed, thinking about it, trying to figure out just how he'd guess something like that.

"That is a factor of your will and awareness in the dream," she said gravely. "Your imagination will determine how difficult it will be for him to trap and kill you. The more unrealistic the dream, the more even the battle will be."

"Does anybody know how he operates in people's dreams?" Chance asked. "Tamera's told me a bit about hers ... from the sound of it, if I can keep it more realistic, it might help me out."

"What are you thinking of, Furlong?" Feral asked him, looking at him evenly.

"I don't care what his imagination can do, he can't beat me in the air," Chance said seriously. "Hell, he probably can't come up with anything crazier to throw at me than things I've already fought and beat. From what Tamera said, he's scary in the air, but he's not a fighter pilot."

"No, he is not," Feral acknowledged thoughtfully. "The hazard is that you have less leeway if he gets a lucky shot."

"We have enough time for me to teach you how to fly my latest sketch," Jake offered uncertainly. "Nothing can take her."

"It'd be a start," Chance murmured. "Though it might let Berten do it instead. After all, if I can ground it in what's real, I can always step out of that when I have to, as long as I'm careful about how I do it." He thought for a few minutes, then cracked a grin that was followed with a laugh nobody'd been expecting.

"He'll be in my dreams, right? So whatever I'm dreaming about at the time is what he'll have to work with?"

"As we understand it, yes," Recka nodded, curious as to what he had in mind.

"So mine it. Make it so I've got a good idea what he'll have, and make it something that I can work with. If I spend the next couple weeks picking out what I watch carefully enough, I should be able to just about script the dreams I'll be having by then. Footage from the last Megawar, particularly dogfights ... some cartoons mixed in, give me a good framework for the insanity he'll be able to cause, and for what I'll be able to throw at him. If I choose the battlefield, it'll be one more thing working in my favor."

"Yes," Feral nodded. "Be careful with it. What you dream is what he starts with, but he can control a great deal once he has made himself known." He almost said more, then his eyes flicked to the others in the room and he thought better of it. "All he has to do is get you to open a door and the setting is his. Or in your case, a blinding flash. Anything in your memory, anything that hurt you, he'll bring up and make it much worse."

"Do we have anybody who knows something about the ins and outs of fighting in dreams?" Chance asked. "And how to make it stick on him? I seem to remember that critters in nightmares don't always die as obligingly as they're supposed to."

"There is one thing we know about him, as a ghost," Toama offered. "Which he might not know. If he dies the way he truly did, it has a better chance of actually destroying him."

"So if I can make those three shots again, I've won?" he focused on her. "Or does it need to include the hanging part too? And how do I know if I've really killed him, or if he's just playing dead?"

"It may not need to be those exact shots ... the hanging may suffice, it's hard to say," she admitted. "The safest method would be an exact recreation, but I suspect you'll have a hard time convincing him to create that in the dream. As for how to tell ... well, if what Jagrati said about the binding is true, she'll be able to tell you after you wake up."

"Yes, I can," the ancient nodded.

"Works for me," Chance nodded.

"Is there any way for someone to help him?" Jake asked uneasily. He was sure there was, but not how risky it would be.

"Yes ... but not you, Chosen of Bastet," Jagrati told him firmly. "I could not take that chance with your spirit. It might make the binding fail ... or it could destroy you as well."

Jake nodded, not happy but not at all surprised.

"It'll work out, buddy," Chance told him with half a grin. "I don't go down easily."

"I know," Jake sighed and settled back, trying to think of anything he could that might help.

"What about me?" Feral asked Jagrati evenly, ignoring the pleading look that Recka was giving him to not make that offer. "I helped to kill him the first time; it may make it easier to arrange the second, and he won't be expecting me in Chance's dreams."

"I ... yes, I could do it," the ancient Tigress nodded. "However, please speak with Master Khan first. If something goes wrong, I do not want to be the one he blames for the consequences."

"I will see that he does not blame you for my actions," Feral nodded a promise as solid as one offered by his lover.

"Then I can do it," she nodded. "You will have to be in the same place; I would recommend somewhere we can control the environment. Do you have ... barracks, I believe your word is?"

"Yes," he nodded. "We have access to Khan's mansion here, several of my family holdings as well and more isolated Enforcer holdings."

"Those would work as well," she nodded. "I will prepare what I need for the binding ceremony; the two of you had best prepare yourselves as well."

"We will," Feral promised. "This is one battle that will not be lost."

"Good," she inclined her head to him.

"Now," Feral turned to Jake and Chance. "I want you two back in the air, on every call, until this is over. I've signed the orders for extra shifts, and that you are to respond whether the call is in your sector or not."

"Yes sir," Chance nodded sharply, chuckling slightly after a moment. "Won't have any trouble getting to sleep when the time comes, I guess."

"No, I imagine you won't," Feral chuckled darkly. "Dismissed; let your mate know what's going on after your shift if you want, but for now, get yourselves suited up and in the air."

"Yes, sir," both toms responded quickly and stood, offering him a quick salute before taking off.

Tamera was sprawled out on the floor late one night, almost three weeks later, watching the small TV they'd moved in from home a couple weeks ago. Chance was on a small couch behind her, watching a late-night showing of Fraidy Kat that was on after a rerun of the documentary about the Blue Manx's last dogfight with the Red Lynx.

"Chance? How do you know we're going to be able to go home soon?" She asked, looking up at him.

"Because ..." he froze, caught off guard by the question he didn't want to say too much on. "Because we have a trap set for Berten tomorrow night. Once he's caught, we can go home. You'll be safe from him."

"What if he gets out?" She asked, looking back at him.

"There is no getting out of this trap," he said with certainty. "We have magic that will destroy his spirit once we have him."

"So how're you gonna get him in the trap? Somebody's gonna have to be bait, right?" She asked, twitching her tail nervously.

He hesitated, reluctant to make her worry, but it wasn't in him to lie to her. Not about this, at any rate.

"Yes, someone is bait," he murmured. "Someone we know he'll attack tomorrow night if they aren't well-protected. Not you," he hoped it was enough to reassure her.

"It's gonna be you, isn't it?" She asked after a few moments of thinking about it.

"Yeah," he nodded slightly. "He's taking out the survivors of his attacks when he was alive on the anniversary of the first attack. Mine's tomorrow night."

"So why don't you stay here?" She asked him, wrapping her tail around her leg. "You'll be safe if you stay here, right?"

"Yes, I would be," he nodded and drew her into a protective hug. "Sometimes there are more important things than personal safety, Tamera. If I face him, we can destroy him. If I don't, if I stay here and safe, then he'll keep attacking and killing people. I can't allow that."

"Will you have somebody else with you?" Tamera asked hopefully.

"Yes," he nodded, hugging her tightly. "Commander Feral will be there for the fighting, and others to help with the rest of the trap. It shouldn't be much more dangerous than what I do every day as a fighter pilot."

"Okay ... just be careful, please?" She said, hugging him back. "I don't wanna lose you too," she murmured.

"I have no intention of leaving you, sweetie," he kissed the top of her head. "I'll be careful, and I'll come back like I always do."

"Okay," she nodded, snuggling up against his side. "Could we talk about Mom a little bit?" She asked him. "About when you knew her?"

"Sure," he smiled softly. "We met at Berten's trial and again as he went through appeals. I was looking for a reason to keep going once they were all over, and she needed someone who understood what she'd been through and didn't just feel sorry for her. She helped me find a reason to live again. I like to think I helped her see herself as a valuable person again. It lasted ... a year ... I think," he murmured, distracted by the jumble of memories from the time. "We just drifted apart, really. Different parts of town, different expectations for the future ... she was lovely. I wish I'd known she was pregnant."

"If you had, would you have stayed with her?" Tamera asked him. "You wouldn't have met Midnight then, right?"

"Yes, I would have, and I don't know," he admitted. "Midnight walked up to me because I was Jake's partner. If I'd still become an Enforcer, I probably would have still met her. I'm not sure if we would have ever been more than friends, though. I didn't sleep around on your mother, but we never discussed what the rules would be if I had found someone else interesting."

"Did you love Mom, like you do Midnight?" Tamera asked him. "Enough you'd have been happy with her and me?"

"I loved her, yes, but not the same way," he admitted. "We were very young, Tamera. Younger than you when we first met, only a few years older when we were dating. I don't know how it would have turned out if we had stayed together. I just know I would have done everything I could to be a good father to you."

"Why didn't she ever give you the chance?" The kitten asked, looking up at him as he hugged her side. "She never told you about me ... and she never told me about you. She only told me that you'd gone away.".

"Maybe she needed her folks more than she needed me," he suggested uncertainly. "They never approved of us, not really. Maybe when she realized she was pregnant, she didn't think I'd want anything to do with it. Maybe she didn't want me involved. Maybe she had a boyfriend again. I don't know," he sighed. "I just don't know."

"Do you think she might have said in her diaries?" Tamera asked quietly.

"Quite possible," he nodded. "They'll be yours once they're released from evidence."

"Maybe we can read them some time? Together?" She suggested, looking up at him. "I mean... after you're home tomorrow night, this'll all be over, right? We'll... we'll have time, some time."

He could tell what was going through her head. She was trying to convince herself that she wasn't about to lose her father right after her mother. It would've been so much better if she hadn't found out what was going to happen.

"Yes, after tomorrow night it'll all be over, and we'll find time to read them together," he promised her, desperately hoping that he wasn't about to make some of the last words to his daughter be a lie. "I think it's time for us to go to bed, honey. Try not to worry too much. I'm tough to kill."

"Okay," she murmured as the credits rolled on the cartoon on TV, getting up to turn it off. "Good luck ... Dad," she smiled shyly back at him, before heading off to her room with the kittens and Lyth.

"Thanks," he smiled, watching her close the door before he turned to the room he shared with his wife. His nose twitched at the scent that went straight to his groin. Midnight's intense arousal, the low whimper of her pleasuring herself in the darkness of their bed.

"Your heat's starting already?" He purred lowly, hoping that if it was, she'd been too distracted to hear the conversation in the next room.

He'd told her about it, but he didn't particularly want to deal with her worrying about it tonight.

"Yes," she moaned, shifting in the bed to spread her legs for him and raised her hands over her head. "Want you so bad."

Chance made short work of stripping and climbing into bed with her, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her soundly as he let her scent do the job of getting him hard as a rock.

"Ever think you'd be trying to have kittens in the High Temple?" He rumbled, licking her lips and reaching between them to fondle her breasts.

"Dreamed of it," she arched her hips up to rub her swollen, slick sex against his cock. "Please, baby, fill me with your seed."

He rolled on top of her, pressing his throbbing, barbed shaft up into her sex with a low, hungry moan that she matched.

"Love you, baby," he groaned, starting to thrust into her eagerly.

Chance looked as exhausted as he felt when he reached Shier Khan's mansion the next day. Any other time he'd have taken the day off ... or have been reamed out for showing up at work in the condition he was.

Today, it was actually kind of expected.

"Remind me to make sure Feral signs off on the next couple of weeks off after today," he murmured to Jake as he parked near the house. "So, any idea how Feral managed to arrange this?"

"Probably the same way he arranged a living treasure from Tusandrin to assist us," he shrugged. "Rumor is that he and Khan dated at one point. Might have ended well."

"If they still are, I think I'll be glad that if this ends badly I won't be around to deal with the fallout," Chance murmured. "You sure you want to be here for this? You won't be able to do anything, unless they'll let you shake me and try to wake me up."

"You know it won't work even if they let me," Jake said quietly as they got out of the car. "I'm here ... I guess because it's not right for me not to be," he reached over to put a hand on Chance's shoulder. "You're my partner. Even if I can't do anything, I want to be at your side."

"And I'm glad you are, buddy," Chance said sincerely, taking Jake's hand and squeezing it lightly. "This'd be a Hell of a time to have to go solo," he chuckled slightly as they headed inside. "Hey, when we're done with this and moved back into the house, think you and Rock can take the kits over to Meg's? Midnight's going into heat, and I'm not sure she'll let me out of the house long enough to take them over," he chuckled.

"Sure thing," he chuckled, eyeing the petite golden tiger tabby shekat in a blue and golden sari that approached them. "You might want to just stay at the temple until it's over. I think she'd enjoy it too."

"Greetings, masters," the shekat bowed to them. "The room is prepared. Please follow me."

Jake and Chance did so, the tabby looking around the opulent mansion, but not saying a word as he was led into a large room where Jagrati was burning incense and preparing the binding spell she would use. Feral was there, as well as Recka and Shier Khan.

His first look at the royal Tiger nearly took Chance's breath away. If there was anyone he could believe was stronger than his Commander, it was this tom. He understood instantly why the rumors happened if they never were a couple, and he thought he could even understand the attraction if they were.

"Lay down," Jagrati instructed, motioning to the two single beds.

Chance brought his attention back to what had to happen here, and took the smaller of the two beds, laying down on it.

"So ... what is it I've got to do out here?" He asked, taking a deep breath and trying to calm himself down the way he did before going into a dogfight.

"Sleep, control your dreams, kill Berten when he appears," the ancient Tigress told him in rough Katian. "I will see to the rest."

"All right," he nodded, laying down on the bed, trying to relax enough to sleep as Jagrati smudged his forehead with some of the soot from the incense.

Fortunately, a night and day spent with a shekat in heat was a very good way to leave him tired enough to sleep through pretty much anything.

He was absently aware of Feral getting the same treatment, that Jake was right next to him, and Shier Khan was at Feral's side. He'd have to ask for the gossip Jake got out of this when he woke up. He was sure his partner would get a wealth of interesting things from the Tiger and Panther that had nothing to do but hang out, wait, pace and talk.

The real world dimmed, faded from his awareness. Scent exploded around him; the hot, sticky scent he had left so recently. Midnight, her fertility as potent as anything he could imagine.

She was in his arms, fur against fur, mouth hungry for his and her body crying for him to mate her.

He kissed her, hungrily, thrusting up into her sex. He knew, in the back of his head, that this wasn't right, it wasn't what he was supposed to be doing, but it was so damned hard to fight it too.

She was pregnant, he could feel it, but hungrier for him that she'd ever been even in heat ... it was like she was in heat and pregnant all at the same time, somehow, a mix that was totally intoxicating.

He wished it could last forever, the perfect way their bodies fit together and the incredible pleasure they gave each other. He grunted as another load was pumped from his balls deep into her body as she rode him, showing off her petite, rounded body and belly full of kittens.

He pulled out of her with a groan, taking a short rest to make out with her. She put his hand on her rounded belly, purring as they kissed ... then reached down, moaning into his mouth as she seemed to go into a much tamer sort of labor than he'd helped her through with the triplets.

"Baby?" he asked, catching the not-quite-realness full on as the piebald tom was born and held up to him dry and open-eyed. "What the?"

He only had time to recognize one thing. The kitten was Douglas Berten.

As that realization dawned on him, the kitten snarled, lunging at him, teeth and claws flashing and biting into his skin before he could throw the damned ... thing off of him. He bounced back ... but not at Chance. Instead, the tiny kitten launched himself at Midnight, and she cried out in a mix of agony and ecstasy as it clawed into her full belly and the other kittens inside, ripping them out and tearing them apart with unholy speed.

Chance snarled and lunged forward, fully in the reality that this was a dream as he tried to grab the little monster, wring its neck ... anything to stop it and stop it for good.

With each of its siblings it killed, the creature grew, until it finally ate out Midnight's heart and took off, leaving her corpse behind, Chance behind it, somehow knowing exactly where it was going. It led him out into the front room, doubling back and disappearing into the house as the door burst open, revealing Feral on the other side.

"Tamera's room!" Chance called to him without breaking his bolt for his oldest daughter's room.

Feral followed him, trying to figure out what the Hell was happening as they heard a strangled scream from the other room.

Chance burst through the door just in time to hear the window shatter, revealing his daughter's corpse, naked, viciously raped, and brutalized far beyond what Berten had actually had time to do.

"It's time we take this bastard out of his home-field," Chance muttered, focusing... and rushing out to the garage, where his jet was waiting for him, fully fueled and ready to take off.

"Take the gunner's seat, and don't ask where the ideas for the ammo came from!" He shouted to Feral, tossing him a helmet and climbing in, both of them in their flight suits now. Flight suits in Ghost colors.

He heard Feral mutter something about wishing the Enforcers could scramble this fast, and they were in the air, the world reduced to blue sky and a few fluffy white clouds.

"Bastard can fly, but he can't fly like we do," Chance growled furiously, knowing his target would appear at any moment.

"We have bogey incoming," Feral rumbled. "Something big and fast ... what in kat's name...." He trailed off, somewhere between frustrated and confused at the readings. "Bring us around, zero-two-niner. What were you fighting this week?"

"Dark Krud's spider-ship, Blackout and Mutilor," he replied quickly, turning and angling to come at the target from above. "Do you know what I know?"

"Not much," Feral admitted as they rounded on the spider-ship. "Berten's got good taste," he chuckled darkly, bringing up the list of the jet's payload. "I do know what these missiles are though. Not sure how, but I do."

"Good," Chance said, his mind shifting to focus on the battle. "I'll try to send you as much intel as I can," he offered as he darted in, trusting his gunner to pick the right weapons for the job.

Somehow, Feral did know what he was looking at too.

"Get behind that thing if you can; I've got something that should take out the force field," he said lowly, cycling through the menus with no luck until he just closed his eyes and started pushing buttons. When he opened them next, he had the missile he wanted, something that should overload its energy levels.

"Raven builds these things for you two, doesn't he?" He guessed as Chance brought them around and he got a lock.

"Yes," Chance nodded slightly as he maneuvered them around, easily avoiding the dreadnought's batteries of anti-aircraft guns. "Tries to keep the whole squad supplied."

"We've got a lock ... firing!" Feral snarled, loosing a volley of missiles. They hit the energy field around the dreadnought, quickly overloading it and leaving the ship vulnerable. He fired the jet's guns, trying to bring up something that would get through the armor before Berten's ship could react.

He closed his eyes, punched buttons again, and got what he needed. He could swear, even in the chaos of the battle, that his knowledge of the place he was in was expanding as fast as he could take it in without distraction.

The jet jerked, twisted, darting around almost too fast for a real Talon, except that Ulysses had seen this pilot do this with this jet.

"Krud!" Chance snarled as everything shut down.

Feral could see him trying frantically to restart the engines, and knew, the same way he knew about the missiles, that it wouldn't work.

"Eject, Furlong," he ordered Chance, reaching down and putting his hand around the ejection release ... only to have it melt out of his grasp.

"Berten won't let us," Chance said grimly. "But he can't stop this!" He nosed the jet into a dive, steely determination on his face as he took them into a suicidal maneuver. "Get ready to fire just as soon as I've got us live again!"

Feral could only nod mutely, understanding in mind and soul what was going on and rolling with it no matter where it took him.

The accelerating dive made the engines spin, speeding up as Chance fought to get them to reignite. At the last second, they did, and Chance pulled up into a sharp climb that pulled enough G's the jet rattled, and Feral felt the blood draining to his feet.

"Now!" Chance managed to get out, bringing the nose up so they were pointed straight at the spider's engines.

Without any real hesitation Feral fired, and kept firing. Whatever came up in the missile roster, he emptied into the giant ship, watching as it crashed and burned.

"There we got the bastard," Chance grinned viciously, bringing them back around towards Enforcer HQ. "With any luck, it took. Bringing us in for a landing."

"Cleared for runway two," Feral responded, letting his body settle down from the battle high.

"Looks like somebody's waiting for us," Chance grinned as they approached headquarters. "You know the girl? Not somebody I've ever seen before, let alone somebody I'd be dreaming about...."

He trailed off at the sharp gasp from behind him.

"Commander?" he glanced back to see all the color drained from Feral's face.

"Yes, I know her," Feral said, shaking badly as he realized that the gray tabby Felina's size was noticeably pregnant. "Janet Mercer. My first partner out of Academy."

Chance whistled as he saw her more closely and nosed down for the landing. "Damn ... I can see why you'd be dreaming about her," he chuckled.

"You didn't see her die," Feral said quietly. "The first time or last month."

"I didn't know, sir," Chance said, his manner more subdued as he touched down, the jet coming to a stop near Jake and Janet.

"You had no reason to. It happened before you were born," Feral kind of shrugged as the canopy opened, though he wasn't entirely sure how to respond to this fantasy made real in the mind of another.

"Uhm ... if I might make a suggestion sir, roll with it," Chance said quickly. "If she's been shaped by my dreams here, she'll probably be ... glad to see you," he admitted with a bit of a blush to admit how physical his dreams could get to his Commander. "That'd usually be Midnight there, when I dream about a fight."

"I understand," Feral nodded as they got out. He didn't get a chance to say anything more. Janet was in his arms, her own wrapped around his neck and demanding a kiss.

It was the first time Chance had ever thought about his Commander as passionate, but not even he could deny the fire and desire behind his response to the shekat thirty years dead was anything short of honestly incendiary.

"Looks like he's in good hands," Chance grinned, turning back towards Jake. "They confirm the kill?" He asked his partner, assuming that he was taking the part that Feral usually would have in this dream, meeting them and confirming it had all gone well.

"Yap," Jake grinned at him. "Come on, you need a shower."

"I'll bet I do," Chance chuckled, following Jake down to the showers. "Close one there for a bit ... but hey, the right guy went down, so it's all good in the end, right?"

In the back of his head, he knew he should wake up if Berten really was dead. But he was exhausted, and wanted to give himself time to be sure of it too.

Besides, this was a good dream so far.

"No kidding," Jake laughed easily. "Did you ever think you'd see Feral do something like that?" he motioned absently towards the flight deck where they had left him with a pregnant girlfriend younger than they were.

"Nope," Chance grinned. "But hey, I think it's good for him," he winked. He just hoped that Feral enjoyed the little interlude after they were awake too. "Come on, let's get cleaned up ... I want to go home to my wife and kits."

"No bets on whether she'll be more glad to see you, or that I won't have to try filling in for you," Jake managed to make light of the grim thought as they walked down to the showers, stripping down in the locker room on the way.

"Eh, she likes you," Chance chuckled, heading into the shower room, turning on the water nice and hot. "But I think she'd end up missing the next three or four litters of kits," he joked.

"Just be careful about your promotions," Jake gave him a wink while he stepped under the hot rain of water next to Chance with a deep groan. "She'd have kittens every heat if you and nature let her."

"I know it," Chance chuckled. "One of the two'll give out in a while though," he said. "Finances if nothing else. But we're good for a year or two yet... and with Tamera to help take care of 'em, it'll be easier now."

"How is she settling in?" Jake took to the new topic.

"Pretty well... wants to go over some of her Mom's stuff with me when it's out of evidence. Try and figure out why she never knew about me, or vice-versa."

"Yeah, I bet," he nodded, grabbing the shampoo. "She's strong, she'll make it, but it's got to be weird to find out the guy your mom said had deserted you wants to raise you so much."

"Yeah ... and even if she said that I didn't know she was pregnant, that's the sort of thing that's hard to get when you're 10," Chance agreed with a sigh. "Me, I'm inclined to blame her folks ... they were real pieces of work."

"More than mine?" Jake raised an eyebrow at the idea. "Scrub your back?"

"No, probably not worse than them ... definitely not the same ways," Chance said, thinking about it a bit and turning to let Jake at his back. "Just convinced their little girl should be marrying up in the world, not dating down."

"No matter if he was good for her or not," Jake nodded with a sigh and worked sudsy fingers into Chance's thick fur at his shoulders. "Or would have done his best for their grandkit."

"Yep," Chance groaned, stretching up as Jake worked out his shoulders a bit. He heard a familiar sound above him, and looked up, startled to find his wrists cuffed around the showerhead.

"What the fuck?" He blinked, tugging at them and found them secure. In the same moment he felt a shift in how Jake's touch felt. "Jake?"

"Did you think my desires are so easily quelled?" the cinnamon tom's voice turn low and dark. "You know I've wanted you since the day we met."

"Jake?" Chance stilled, tightening his hands into fists.

It wasn't Jake. Not even a dream-Jake. Not really.

"Get off me," he growled lowly as possessive hands ran down his sides.

"Make me," Jake's voice was positively vicious as his hand closed around Chance's sheath and balls. "Until then, you are mine."

Chance fought as well as he could, trying to twist out of Jake's grip, kicking back at him. He was in a lousy position though, facing away from him, his hands restrained, and near a wall to keep him from getting any decent leverage.

He felt incredible pain as his ass was forced wide for the cock that sank into him, but held back the scream. Unlike the last time, he knew there was worse than this, and had experienced some of it.

He gritted his teeth, flattened his ears and used his attacker's distraction to his advantage. A quick twist after shifting a foot back and he managed to hook his leg around Jake's and threw him off balance.

He grunted as Jake's cock tore out of his ass, ignoring the pain and wrenching the showerhead off the pipe to free the cuffs, turning and running for the entrance.

The wind was knocked out of him when he was tackled, overpowered by the smaller tom in a way that shouldn't be possible, and felt his ass forced open again.

"I like it when you fight," the voice didn't even sound much like Jake's anymore.

It didn't change the fact a tom was on top of him, slamming his into the uneven tiles of the shower room floor with each thrust in an effort to get himself off against Chance's will.

"I've killed you twice already, Berten," he snarled, trying to twist up, pinned down by the unusual strength on top of him. "How many times do you think you can take?" He roared as 'Jake' slammed into his ass harder than before, grinding his cock against the tiles and pumping a load of seed into his ass.

"When will you get the fact that you can't kill what's already dead," was growled down at him as the thrusting continued.

"Unless you're ... nnngh ... gonna kill yourself along with me, we'll have plenty of time to find out," Chance growled. "I'm not waking up until you're dead for good, and if I die ... you go with me!" He snarled, clawing his way forward and twisting around, catching a glimpse of Berten's face on Jake's body for a split second as he kicked him in the groin. He pounced on top of him as Jake's face formed up again, grabbing his shoulders and slamming his head back against the tile.

The crack was sickening, but he blanked it out as he kept pounding away until the tiles were thick with clotted blood and brain.

It left him weak, shaken and hurting under his tail and between his legs, but he managed to haul himself to his feet and rinse it from his hands before hurrying out top get dressed again.

"Uly!" Janet cried out in excited relief as she ran towards him even as he got out of the jet with Furlong. "You made it!" she greeted him with a small leap up to wrap her arms around him and firmly planted her mouth on his.

His first love. The one he had never managed to tell or touch, yet had been closer to him than anyone else. He relished in the feel and scent of her, her body so full of life and desire for him.

Had his fantasies ever been this good? This alive?

He moaned into her mouth as she slid a leg around his and rubbed against his groin shamelessly.

He kissed her passionately, remembering what Chance had told him; just roll with it. He didn't know why she was here, what was happening ... but he wasn't going to complain, even knowing it wasn't real.

She hooked a leg around his and pulled, knocking him to the floor and climbed on top of him. Her full belly pressed against him as he pulled her into a hot kiss and started to work her uniform off of her.

"I missed you," she whispered hungrily as he fondled her swollen breasts and she worked to get his flight suit off. "Missed how you feel inside me."

"I've missed you too," he rumbled back, kissing her hungrily as he shrugged his suit off, moaning as her hands found his swelling sheath and shaft. He reached down, caressing her swollen belly, a twinge of regret in the back of his mind for the things that could have been.

"Never thought I'd welcome kittens," she smiled down at him, eagerly caressing him to hardness with the skill of a long-time lover. "But it feels good."

"And they're ours," he purred, pulling her into a kiss before she slid down to take his throbbing shaft into her tight, slick sex.

"Of course they are," she moaned, leaning up, shamelessly making a display of herself to the Enforcers gathering to watch the show.

He'd have to talk with Furlong about his apparent taste for exhibitionism later ... for now, he was happy to lose himself in the dream, instead of reminding himself that that was all it was.

She felt incredible, her body tight around him, wet, warm and eager to share their pleasure. They'd have such lovely kittens. As big as most Ferals, the same dark gray fur and black hair and with her fine black tiger-stripes.

He groaned, his balls pulling up, ready to pump his seed into her body. Within a couple breaths he roared, flooding her sex with his seed as she rowled loudly, her pussy clenching down around his throbbing, spurting cock.

"Oh, more, baby," Janet moaned as she leaned forward a bit to lift her hips before she lowered them to drive his cock as deep into her body as they could manage.

"What about me?" a sultry voice cooed behind him.

"Sash?" Feral blinked, stopping as he looked up at the naked steel-gray Saluki who'd been dead for a decade now. "Oooh...." He groaned as Janet licked at his nipples, riding his cock skillfully. "What are you doing here?" He asked.

"For you," she knelt and kissed him, her small breasts brushing his ears. "I've missed your body."

He returned the kiss, reaching up and taking her hips, pulling her forward until his lips and tongue found her sex. He wasn't going to worry about it... it wasn't worth it. Maybe it didn't make sense, but at the same time, maybe it did. The only one missing right now was Shier.

"Ohhh, yes!" Sash howled and spread her legs widely, his head between her knees. "Great Zephyr, what your tongue does to me, Ulysses."

He gripped her rump, pulling her down as his rough tongue washed over her hot, dripping sex. He spread her lips with his tongue, then slipped it up into her body, purring hotly as Sash turned back and started making out with Janet above him.

This was beyond anything in his wildest dreams. He'd have to give Furlong credit on his youthful fantasies and libido ... it was beyond anything he'd ever conceived of in his efforts to make rank and reputation.

As the Enforcers watching started whooping and cheering him on, that reputation sprung to mind. But a quick reminder that it wasn't real let him ignore it, focusing on the two fems who were quickly working him towards another orgasm, doing his best to get them off along with him.

He knew he could get Sash. Ten years as lovers had done wonders for his knowledge of her body and how to work her. Janet ... she seemed to be happy to do most of the finesse work as long as he kept thrusting at a steady rhythm that was working for him nearly as well as Sash's fertile scent.

"Oh ... oh Uly," Sash moaned, her thighs trembling in his hands, her fingers curling against his chest as both females forgot each other as his efforts to please them came to a head with a howl, roar and cry of ecstasy.

He sprayed his seed up into Janet again, and she pulled off of him while he was still spurting, his own come splattering down on his chest before he pulled Sash down and rolled on top of her, sinking his cock to the root in her dripping, pulsing pussy.

"Oh Uly," Sash moaned and wrapped her legs around him, rocking her hips up in time with his thrusts, drawing his orgasm out into a third peak right on the heels of the second and bringing her to a second.

He felt powerful hands on his ass and hips and managed to glance back through the haze of pleasure to see the naked form of his current lover preparing to sink into his ass.

He raised his tail, bracing himself for a fucking as thorough as the one he was giving the Saluki bitch beneath him, kissing Janet hotly as the Enforcers watching came closer, undoing their pants, the toms starting to stroke themselves, the fems shamelessly flashing themselves at him as they made out with their co-workers and his lovers.

It wasn't hard for him to ignore the officers, even faces and voices he knew well. It was a dream, a strange one, but just a dream.

Feral moaned deeply in the pleasure of being buried inside one lover while another was deep inside him. He could smell the seed of others, feel it landing on him, but the pleasure ... he couldn't turn away from how good it felt to have all three of his loves with him at once.

Shier roared, spraying his seed against Feral's prostate as he shot another load into Sash's hungry sex, her muzzle buried between Janet's legs.

"Sweet Bastet you look good like that," Janet rumbled, then moaned and leaned forward to grab his head to claim a kiss as she came. "So hot, giving and taking at once."

Sash's sex clenched down around him, Janet's arousal flooding down her muzzle before she looked up.

"Mmm ... he sure does," she grinned. "But I think it's high time he learns what it's like for us, don't you?" She winked, pulling off of him as Khan pulled out of his ass with a low groan, walking around in front of Feral and pulling him up for a kiss.

"I certainly like the idea," he rumbled, taking Ulysses' head and pushing it down, feeding him his cock as two pairs of smaller, rougher hands gripped his ass.

With Shier's scent so heavy in his nose, he all but ignored the other hands as he knelt and very willingly swallowed him, working the hard shaft with all his skill.

"Mmm ... you do suck cock so very nicely," Berten grinned above him, causing him to try and pull away from Shier's cock to face his demon, but the strong hands on his head refused to let him do more that twitch before he was pushed back down against the Tiger's pubes.

Berten grinned, then groaned as he rammed his cock into Feral's dripping ass. He reached down to caress his captive's balls and cock as Feral struggled against Shier Khan's grip on his head and Berten's on his hips.

"I love the way you fight and still let me do all this," Berten laughed. He popped out his claws, sinking them into the sensitive flesh, carving Ferals' cock and balls from his body, leaving a gaping, dripping, feminine sex where his male one had been as Ulysses screamed around the thick cock in his mouth.

Khan and Berten both roared as he screamed, pumping thick, hot seed into his throat and ass, Khan's come dribbling out of his mouth and bubbling in the back of his throat as another tom slid under him. Berten pulled out of his ass, and Feral felt a pair of strong jaws nip at his neck.

"Never thought I'd get to fuck you like this, sir... or should I say 'ma'am'?" Steele grinned, he and Berten both slamming their cocks up into Feral's tight, virgin female sex, his body screaming painfully.

Feral tried to fight only to find his claws digging into flesh that didn't care and his jaws unwilling to close around the thick length inside it.

Where was Furlong? What was happening to him?

As he tried to think about it, the attack that Furlong was enduring in the showers hit his mind, hard, adding to the growing sense of shame he was feeling as Berten, Steele, and Khan all raped his newly female body.

"Tie his hands back," somebody called, and Janet and Sash both moved to watch, taking places where he could watch them seeing him so soundly abused.

More than that was done, though, as he was flipped to his back on the runway. His feet were forced well apart and secured, and a wire noose secured across his throat to keep him from lifting his body up.

A Wolf, his fur black and cock glistening red and jutting out from his groin in all it's masculine glory, got first crack at him as a her and bound for all to see and use.

Khan backed off as Steele moved up, taking two ample breasts that had emerged from his Commander's chest and starting to fuck them as the Wolf slid his own member into Feral's sex, his tapered, throbbing shaft starting to send the first ripples of pleasure through Feral's body. Janet fitted a ring-gag into his mouth, and Berten was the first to use it, moaning hotly as he took the Commander's face with abandon.

Ulysses snarled, fighting with what little mobility he had as he struggled to ignore pleasure building in his mutated body at the whole new set of abuses heaped on him.

"That's my pretty little girl," Berten grinned down at him when he couldn't hold the groan back, his female body twitching and pulsing with an orgasm that refused to be ignored.

"Incredible, isn't it?" Sash rumbled, straddling his chest and kissing Steele deeply. "Mmm ... come all over her, handsome," she rumbled.

The scrawny tom grinned, then grunted, squirting sticky seed onto Feral's chin before Sash pulled him up for a fiery kiss.

"Now give me a little loving from a real tom," she demanded.

"If you insist," Steele grinned, turning her around to kiss Berten and standing her up, thrusting his cock into her pussy right above Feral's face as the Wolf grunted and tied with him. It was all Feral could do to stop himself from screaming in pleasure, and crying at the humiliation that made Berten's first go at him so long ago seem like pittance.

Ulysses felt his body jerk sharply, the pleasure spiking as the Wolf tied to his female body began to rub the hard, glistening clit just above his knot.

"I'm going to enjoy your kittens, Uly," Berten moaned, coming in Feral's gagged mouth, keeping his cock in Feral's mouth until he had to swallow or choke to death on the sticky stuff. The Wolf howled as he pumped his thick, hot load into Feral's pussy again, grinding his pelvis against 'her' clit as both their bodies climaxed a second time.

"Leave him be!" an enraged male voice crashed through the crowd, punching and throwing Enforcers out of the way until an Enforcer in full Special Ops battle armor was visible through the dissipating crowd.

His blaster was out, and he snapped off three shots in rapid succession, each aimed dead on at Berten. The tom collapsed, blood and brains burning in his skull as the figure grabbed hold of the Wolf and threw him off Feral, then Steele and threw him clean off the edge of the landing strip, a sheer drop of dozens of stories waiting for him.

"Gotta admit, I've been looking forward to doing that," the armored figure grumbled before turning back to try and untie Feral, flipping his visor up. "Let's get you up," Chance said, though his face showed a certain urgency that Feral hadn't been expecting. "Get dressed," he mumbled, his voice more shaky with every breath he took.

"Furlong?" Feral looked at him as the gag was removed. He could see how torn the tom was by something, and that something was him, but it didn't make sense.

"Commander, get dressed," Chance said before closing his mouth, squeezing his eyes shut and trying to look anywhere but at the three naked fems around him as he used his claws to shred the ropes on Feral's wrists. "Please," he added, almost desperately.

Feral nodded and started to stand, only to have Janet grab his arms and pull him down again as Sash pushed Furlong against him, pulling the tabby's nose right against Feral's well-used feminine crotch.

Chance let out something like a sob, turning to try and fight against Sash, but she ignored his claws as Feral felt something warm and wet wash over his dripping female sex. Blood… Furlong's blood.

"Get away from me!" Chance warned him as Sash started tearing his armored suit off and it became obvious just how serious the tabby was.

"Run, sir," he nearly begged, his ability to resist the scent waning as his arousal response to the female fertility hit levels impossible in the real world.

Chance was on hands and knees, blood streaming from his lower lip, Sash pushing him towards the source of that scent overwhelming him while Janet held Feral immobile. The tabby was fighting, but not her. He was fighting himself.

In a moment of panic, Feral sought to understand, and found himself awash in a short lifetime of memories. Of a vulnerability to this on a level he'd only heard about and scoffed at as an excuse of toms trying to get away with rape. Here it was though; the breeding instinct at it's most potent, most primitive, and it was a private hell for the tom who lived with it and had never crossed the consent line.

And it was directed at him.

Feral tried to get away, but Janet was holding him in place. He couldn't bring himself to hurt her to get away, not even to keep Furlong from doing what he was about to.

Chance didn't have that sort of compunction. Given the choice between fighting, even killing, and raping somebody....

The tabby twisted, turning on Sash with claws and teeth bared, the testosterone and adrenaline surging through his system giving him the edge he needed to break free. His teeth bit into her flesh, and she screamed in surprise as Chance fought her back and then released her bloody body, breathing shakily as her limp form fell to the airstrip.

"Berten's still in here," he said certainly, his entire body shaking. "You are a tom!" he snarled at Feral, turning that fierce will to undoing what was going on in his dreamscape.

The runway faltered, flickered, and the world vanished except for the three actual people standing in their natural forms on a gray plane. Both Enforcers were in their uniforms, Berten's fallen body in prison stripes, and Chance was trembling from the effort.

"And I'd had such entertaining things planned for us yet," Berten growled, getting to his feet. "Well, I guess we'll just have to change the venue, won't we?"

"Think about the prison, the way you want it to be," Chance told Feral quietly, knowing what Berten had in mind, even as he worked on forcing the dreamscape to bend to his vision and not his opponent's.

Dark bricks, steel beams and security systems built up around them, forming the prison all three knew on different levels.

Lights flickered, making the place look like a dilapidated Hell dedicated to holding the worst the city had to offer. Chance didn't know which parts of the place belonged to who ... but he did know that Berten had no idea what he'd gotten himself in to.

"Stay close to me," Chance warned Feral quietly. "This could get interesting."

"It already is, Chance," Berten grinned, backing up and disappearing through a wall. "It can't help but be! After all ... it's not every day the Commander of the Enforcers is present when all hell breaks loose around here!"

As his voice echoed through the walls, Chance and Feral both gradually became aware of shouting down the halls.

"Shit, I think that little asshole dropped us in the middle of a riot," Chance hissed, taking off down one of the corridors. "We've got to get to death row!"

"What?" Feral followed, every instinct he had demanding he trust the junior officer even as he took an inventory of his uniform. Boot knife, blaster at hip, 9mil pistol in the breast holster. At least Chance had left him well armed.

"We've got to kill Berten the same way we did the first time, right?" Chance explained. "Well I drilled him in the head the same damn way I did the first time, and he's still going. I figure we've got to try and hang him first, before it'll work."

He nodded and flexed his large hands, ready to face the inevitable battle that would be between them and the execution chamber. He was ready to punch in an access code when the door simply opened for them.

"It's my head," Chance pointed out with a low chuckle. "I have all the codes."

"But I have the corridors, Chance," Berten called out tauntingly, the route ahead of them spiraling down and around, a nightmare of perspective and twisted stairs leading to doors. "Feeling lucky?"

"Oh, I'm feeling plenty lucky," Chance grinned viciously. "Come on, Commander ... if I tell you to duck, don't ask why."

"Right," he half-growled, hating it passionately when he was this out of control, and even more when he wasn't helping things.

"You are," Chance spoke softly.

"Hu?" Feral blinked at him as they moved at speed through the chaos.

"A help," the tabby explained. "I wouldn't have this much control on my own in here. Let me know if you see anything coming." As he spoke, Chance pulled on the unusual gauntlet weapon that Feral remembered he and Jake using in the Academy. It looked different though, more cartoonish and unreal.

"Another of Clawson's creations?" Feral asked, starting to wonder if he might be best served giving the small tom a workshop and no duties other than to hang out and create things to be reverse engineered.

"Kind of," Chance chuckled slightly. "He made the Glovatrix, I've tweaked it a bit to work in here ... you ever watch Scaredy Kat, Commander?"

"No," he sounded as bewildered as he looked, even more so when his mind came back with a massive rolodex of information on it when he thought about it. "Though it seems I know it all anyway."

"Well, let's hope that Berten didn't either," Chance smirked slightly, taking hold of a doorknob. "Duck," he added, throwing the door open and going for the ground. Feral did the same, practically spread-eagling himself to get beneath the massive, spring-loaded boxing glove that shot out of the cell and caught Berten squarely in the face, making the startled tom stagger back.

"You like playing with kits, Doug?" Chance asked, standing up and raising his gauntleted hand. "Let's see you play their games." He tightened his fist, firing a gout of flame at Berten and reducing him to a pile of ashes.

"Come on, Commander," he said, darting past the smoldering pile of what Berten had been. "That wouldn't hold him long even if he wasn't a ghost."

"I am so glad this doesn't have to go into a report anywhere," Feral muttered as he followed Chance, easily keeping pace with the shorter tom.

"Trust me, it's only going to get weirder," Chance chuckled as they continued. He tried another door, and jumped back with a start as a huge, fanged monster leaped out of him.

With a snarl of pent of frustration finally given an outlet, Feral barreled forward and body-slammed the monster, pounding into it with powerful fists in a rare encounter where he didn't have to hold back on any level.

It was a strange blend of satisfying and frustrating all at once. On the one hand, as he pounded his fist into the thing's face and body, it reacted in an overly dramatic fashion that gave the impression Feral was getting something done.

On the other hand, no matter how much he pounded, he never got anything more than that, and soon dust was obscuring the singularly one-sided fight to the point where he couldn't even see that much.

When it cleared, the Monster was laying on the ground, shaky and mangled. Chance walked up, took hold of the thing's head, and promptly pulled it off, revealing Berten behind a mask.

"Come on, we can't be that much farther away from the place," he said, starting back down the halls.

"What just happened?" Feral demanded as they ran, trying to understand even as the information he was seeking popped into his mind.

Cartoon physics, and cheap, cheap shows from decades before. Worlds where violence, even reducing a man to ashes, was a temporary inconvenience at best. Others where monsters, no matter how obviously supernatural, were always somebody in a cheap rubber suit.

Just what had Furlong been doing leading up to this attack?

"If the only thing you have to worry about is getting killed, loading a place with cartoons is a good way to keep it from happening," Chance pointed out as they hurried down the corridor. "I'm just not sure how long I can keep the insanity up with him fighting it."

"Understood," Feral nodded as they continued to move, their senses alert for trouble that was sure to come, but with no clue what form it could take.

Careful of any traps that might be waiting for them now, they checked each door, trying to find a way out of the nightmare corridor and back into the prison setting proper. As Chance opened one of the last two doors, Berten popped out, swinging at him with a giant mallet and smashing him flat.

"Yes!" Berten grinned viciously, pulling the mallet back to go after Feral as the big tom lunged to one side to avoid the blow.

"You know, if you kill him, you kill yourself," Feral grinned viciously. "You're trapped in his body."

"And if you're telling the truth, then if I don't kill him I'm still trapped," Berten pointed out with a shrug, swinging at Feral, who barely ducked the blow.

"Hey, maybe that's true, but at least you're in one piece yet," Chance pointed out, standing up behind Berten, who turned around to look at him in frustrated disbelief.

"Why won't you just die!" He snarled.

"Hey, no hard feelings," Chance smirked, taking Berten's hand and shaking it firmly. The BoogieKat Killer snarled and pulled his hand back, pulling Chance's arm out of the sleeve ... or at least his Glovatrix, on the end of a rather large stick of dynamite.

"Oh no," he whimpered through a resigned sigh before it exploded, leaving a mark of scorched ground behind where he'd been standing.

"This last door has to lead to the execution chambers," Chance said with certainty, heading across the hall. "Try imagining Berten in a noose on the other side, it'll save us time," he suggested, turning the handle.

Feral nodded and focused, hoping beyond hope that it would be there and over with soon.

Chance opened the door, revealing a room full of convicts and pissed off inmates who looked back at them with baleful eyes.

"Oh crap," Chance murmured. "Well ... we've gotta get through 'em. Just be careful, I think the world's back to normal in there."

"Same goes for you," Feral nodded, focusing himself on his less than perfect combat skills. "You die, we all do."

"Right," Chance nodded. "Trust me ... it's on my mind," he chuckled weakly before they both rushed into the room, trying to make it across before the inmates could respond and surround them.

It wasn't a surprise when a big bruiser of a Kantin mutt took a swing at Feral. He didn't last long; it was the kind of fight the Commander was good at. One swing and the Kantin went down, his jaw shattered in a bloody spray and teeth.

That was all it took to tell the rest of the inmates it was party time. With a collective howl for blood, they were up and surging towards the two Enforcers.

"Get 'em!" Berten shouted, a shiv in hand as he squared off against Chance, the other inmates moving to separate Furlong from the Commander.

"It's you and me, huh?" Chance growled lowly.

"If I just have to kill you to kill him, why waste my time with two of you?" Berten grinned viciously.

The tabby squared off against him, crouched down a bit and very grateful for all those hours he had spent working with and just watching Jake fight. A shiv was nothing against the skills he'd built up, or his early street fighting. He'd fought against better than Berten, armed with better than a sharpened shoehorn at that, and won. The only question was if Berten would pull some sort of dream-manipulating shit on him that would turn the tables.

"Come and get me, bastard," Chance growled lowly.

Berten obliged him, rushing him with the makeshift knife that seemed to gleam and shift to metal as he moved. Chance twisted out of the way, but the now-metallic blade twisted along with him, scoring a shallow cut on his arm.

"You might have some skills in here, Chance, but I'm the BoogieKat now," Berten grinned wildly at him. "The real one - Lord of Nightmares, and nothing you can do will stop me!"

"You're wrong there," Chance flattened his ears as he calculated the effective skill of his opponent, and how Feral was holding up. He just had to keep Berten coming at him to stay in control of the situation, and that was something his opponent was well suited to giving him. "I'm not so easily broken."

"Chance, I already broke you," Berten smirked. "Years ago. You've been broken ever since, you just haven't realized it yet!" He came at him again, slashing with his blade at the unarmed tabby.

He frowned when his claim didn't seem to faze his target as his wrist was grabbed and twisted, throwing to him to the ground with a thud even as Chance twisted away again to break the neck of an inmate about to get behind Feral.

"You've already killed me three times in here, Furlong, more than that!" Berten spat angrily, getting back up and popping the claws of his off-hand out. "You're stuck here as well as I am, so why don't you just die and get this over with!"

He lunged at Chance, raking him with his claws when he twisted out of the way, blood seeping from the ragged wounds.

It all triggered something deep inside the tabby, a memory long ignored but a central feature in his development.

Berten moved forward again and stabbed, catching Chance in the side. Rich blood flowed, making the blade gleam a ruby red as it was pulled out.

Then Chance had his arm and slammed down on it, tearing bone from socket until the shiv was on the floor. He let go and cracked a fist squarely into Berten's face so he had a moment to grab the bloody weapon.

Berten howled in pain, and the other convicts started to fade as his focus was distracted. Feral turned, seeing Chance dive into the fat tom, stabbing him over and over, ripping into him with fang, claw, and blade until all that was left of him was a broken, bleeding body. Chance shifted the shiv in his grip, the blade turning to metal again as he drove the point through Berten's sternum and into his barely beating heart.

"Get the gallows ready," he panted, eyes hard as he looked down at Berten's body. "Quick," he added, the cafeteria shifting into the execution chamber, the gallows and hangkat waiting for a tom who was already dead.

Feral nodded, privately shocked at a violence he had been insulated from for a long time by his rank and career path. He didn't let it shake him for more than a moment though, and he quickly pulled Berten's body up the platform and strung him up in the most bizarre deja vu replay of the event yet.

"Do it right," Chance told Feral, backing off and joining the guards as the rest of the scene fell into place. Victims watching, many of them mere spirits. He looked over, and saw Connie, as he knew her last, glowing in the audience. He bit his lip; it wasn't really her. Just a dream. But somehow, it was still right that she was here.

"The rope's not too short this time," he said certainly.

Feral nodded, watching until the hangkat had done his job, then pulled the lever. This time his gut twisted, not because of the failure to kill cleanly, but at the realization that if it was really over, he'd wake up to a city with someone he didn't understand that had been inside the darkest corners of his mind.

And who'd be in the same place ... he'd seen parts of Furlong in here that he'd never imagined existed.

No ... he'd seen parts of Chance in here that he'd never imagined. Furlong was still the same, but the name attached to it ... the image he had of that tom had changed, irrevocably.

Would Chance think about it the same way? Be able to tell the Commander apart from the scars he'd seen?

Before he could decide on an answer, the rope drew taught, and there was a sharp crack of Berten's neck breaking.

Everything began to fade. The hangkat. The walls. The audience. The entire prison disappeared, leaving Chance, Feral, and the dead Boogiekat alone in the black, empty void that was left.

It was over.

"Waking up is going to hurt like Hell, isn't it?" Chance asked, gripping the oozing, bloody wound in his side with a wince, his dreamscape starting to slowly reassert itself now that Berten was gone. It was remarkably peaceful ... and simple. The scents were the first thing to come in, and Feral was sure he recognized, of all things, a turkey dinner being cooked somewhere.

"Yes," he nodded slowly. "We'll both be on medical leave for some time after this."

"Heh ... figures," Chance chuckled weakly. "Hey ... while you're a captive audience, when I'm cleared for flight duty again, could I get you to sign off on me taking Tamera up? In case I have some trouble before I work my way up to you." As he talked, more came in. The sounds of family laughing, a house starting to fade into view.

"Of course," he promised with a small nod, taking in the home he'd seen under much less pleasant conditions earlier. He hesitated briefly when the front door faded into view, but the draw to it was enough to convince him it was time to go, and he could finally get back to himself.

"See you in a few, Commander," Chance said as he opened the door and stepped out into blinding light.

Ulysses Feral could smell Shier Khan standing next to him before anything else filtered into his awareness. Pain joined the party when he tried to open his eyes.

He was restrained ... or maybe his body was refusing to move after the abuse heaped on it from the dream world. He knew he should be grateful to still be alive, given how hard he'd been beaten in the riot.

"Shu," Shier voice was low but strong. "Relax, let the doctors and medication do their work."

He looked over to see Chance looking around wildly, trying to find his partner as the doctors stopped the bleeding in his side. He only stopped struggling when Clawson's hand was on his shoulder and he was sure he was really awake.

Jagrati and Recka were working in the middle of the room, comparing their impressions and notes.

"Berten has been destroyed," Recka told them both after a few moments.

"Good," Chance murmured and finally stopped fighting the painkillers being loaded into his body by IV. "Feral?" he asked.

"He'll recover," Recka smiled slightly at the tabby. "Likely before you do."

"Rest, buddy," Jake distracted any further conversation. "I'll make sure Midnight is there when you wake up, and your kits are cared for until you've recovered."

"Thanks," Chance murmured. "Jake... make sure they're okay, and keep yourself safe too, okay?"

"I will," he smiled slightly. "Berten's gone. No one is hunting them right now. You rest. I'll worry about our family."

"Good," Chance murmured, closing his eyes and laying down again. "Don't suppose I can actually get some sleep now?" He asked the doctors hopefully.

"Yes," the blonde Leopard smiled at him as she took another round of vitals. "Real sleep is the best thing for you right now. You should be at Serenity Thorn when you wake up."

"He's not in real danger, is he?" Jake asked even as his partner slowly surrendered to the sedatives and painkillers.

"I'm listing him as in stable conditions," she said reassuringly. "He'll need heavy medication and IVs for some time yet, but he is not in any real danger."

"Good," Jake sighed in relief. "I'll go let Midnight know... I'll probably be bringing her over to Serenity Thorn as soon as the kits are at their grandmother's."

"Is she still in heat?" the doctor asked gently, startling him a bit.

"I'm not sure. If she is?" he asked, following the logic with a wince for them all.

"It would be best if she did not come until he is in better condition, or her cycle has ended," she said apologetically.

"I understand," Jake nodded as he stroked Chance's arm one last time and headed out, trusting his partner to the doctors.

Dark Kat purred lowly, thoroughly satisfied with himself as he watched a small female kitten playing with a doll that bore a striking resemblance to Berten. He looked up as he felt a disturbance in his base, the Creeplings starting to chirrup and chatter excitedly. He motioned for one of them to come, and grabbed it by the scruff of its pink, furless neck before approaching the kitten, who looked to be almost two.

"Would you like a new toy?" He asked her, offering her the Creepling. The gray tabby squealed and took it, the hapless little creature struggling for a few moments before catching its Master's eye and acquiescing to its fate. Dark Kat picked up the discarded doll, and left to meet his guest.

"Welcome, Herald," he said with a respectful bow to the dark, spindly creature he met in his summoning chamber. "I assume that our Master is satisfied?" He asked, handing over the doll, its expression now frightened rather than neutral.

"By your part, yes," the creature rumbled and accepted the offering. "It is pleased at the progress of your current plan as well," it absently needled the Berten doll with a clawtip as it spoke.

"Good," Dark Kat rumbled. "It is a pity that we couldn't destroy the Commander and Furlong this time, but otherwise things are proceeding as scheduled. Would you like an update before returning with Its price?"

"Yes," Herald nodded, its voice crackling with energy. "She is doing well?"

"Quite," Dark Kat smiled, turning to lead Herald further into his fortress. "I will need some help ... whoever has Janet Mercer's soul, I will need enough fragments of it to make Feral suspect that she is more than just a clone. For now, however, I'm still teaching her the core of what she will need to know." He reached the kitten's room, opening the door and stepping in. The Creepling she was playing with was still and limp now, still serving as an amusing toy despite the unnatural angle of its head.

"Good girl, Janet," Dark Kat purred, kneeling to stroke her hair as she played with the dead creature. "You like your toys, don't you?" She looked up at him and nodded, nuzzling his hand affectionately.

"We will find out," Herald nodded. "She likely belongs to either Bastet or Halikar. If we are fortunate, she will have been reborn and more easily harvested."

"That would be ideal," Dark Kat agreed. "We might even be able to let you do the harvesting," he grinned, giving his little Janet a nuzzle of his own before standing. "The great work is proceeding as well, albeit slowly ... I need more Omegas to really speed things along, especially since I have to dip into the power we're building for the Master in order to create my own. The others will have to start finding more suitable candidates."

"We will press them to do so," Herald nodded. "They need to add to the energy, not cause it to diminish. How long until she is ready?"

"It should be about three years ... I'm accelerating her growth, she'll be suitable by then unless something goes awry. Of course, it means that she'll need to be taught how to act rather quickly as well." He chuckled as she went back to playing with the dead Creepling. "She's doing rather well though."

"Master will be pleased," Herald nodded and leaned down to rub the base of an ear with the back of one spindly, crystalline finger before they left her. "I will return when I have discovered where her soul is."

"Please do ... and let me know if he would be willing to accept the Champion of Pain rather than the Champion of Bastet, so long as Clawson doesn't stand in his way, will you?" Dark Kat purred as they started out of the room.

"I will ask," Herald agreed before he faded from view, the doll containing Berten's soul in his claws.

Dark Kat smiled darkly, leaning down to stroke Janet's silky black hair lightly.

"So, what did you think of your visitor?" He asked her curiously. "You may talk," he added, knowing she wouldn't without explicit permission. She'd learned that much already, even with only a few weeks to do it in.

"Strong," came the first reply, than a pause as her limited language struggled to express her reaction. "Skinny. I want it."

"You know what you have to do to get what you want," he told her seriously. "You have to make it yours. Like you did with your new doll," he pointed out, nodding towards the Creepling.

Janet licked her lips and grinned, looking decidedly demonic for a moment as she patted its head. "Skinny much bigger," she said, most of her developing mind on just how to take such a large and powerful creature.

"Yes, much bigger," he agreed. "You can't just take his power from him. You'll have to be sneakier. Get close to him, so he won't have his defenses up. And I'll show you how, once you're older," he promised her.

That promise got a deeply eager purr from the kitten, her tail twitching in excitement, but she kept silent, not demanding what she could not take.

"That's right. Just be a good girl until -" Dark Kat stopped as he patted her head, feeling a wave of nausea and fatigue rush through him. He pulled his hand back sharply, standing and looking down at her.

"Maybe I shouldn't be giving you advice about being sneaky," he rumbled. Janet had the good grace to look sheepish about the attempt, but he knew he couldn't let that be enough to save her. "Get up, Janet," he told her, his voice firm.

She did as she was told, letting the dead creepling slide to the ground as she faced the punishment she knew was coming.

"You're a very good girl, Janet," he rumbled, picking her up and putting her on the bed so she didn't have to crane her neck to look into his eyes. "But using your powers against me is a very bad thing," he added, punctuating his explanation with a sharp slap to her face, the tips of his claws out to cut her cheek.

"Do you understand me?" He asked her as blood oozed down her dark gray fur, inwardly pleased that she didn't cry and barely flinched away from the pain.

"Yes, sir," she nodded somberly.

"Good girl," he said, kissing her forehead lightly. "Now, who is strongest here?" He asked her, starting the little ritual he had begun shortly after she'd had the capacity to act on her own.

"Dark Kat," she answered, already determined that she would one day make him eat the words, perhaps literally.

"Who is it that made you?"

"Dark Kat," she repeated again.

"And who is it that can unmake you?"

"Dark Kat," she said sullenly.

"That's right. Remember, Janet. I am working very hard to make you stronger. But I will not be betrayed in exchange for my efforts."

"Yes, sir," she nodded, though her eyes were still hungry for the power that was his.

"Return to playing," he told her, sure that he would have to repeat this lesson several more times before it sank in. It was her nature though, and he needed her that hungry for her to do her work when she was grown. It would be worth it though, when she brought Feral down.

Jake hummed softly to himself as he prepared dinner for three. The past week had been informative to say the least. Even though Tamera was a very forgiving subject to see how he handled kittens in the condo, he was very grateful they expected Chance to be released within the week.

"So you do like my music," the subject of his musing giggled.

"I never said I didn't," he glanced over at her from where he was tending their steaks.

"But you were humming 'Summer Cathedral'," she giggled again.

"Well, you play it often enough," Jake chuckled. "Besides, it's not that bad."

"No, it's just not really Enforcer music either," she grinned, apparently greatly amused by it.

"Just don't tell your Dad," Jake smirked. "Or Rock, I'd never live it down."

"I won't," she promised. "Jake?"

"Yes?" he glanced at her, giving her as much attention as he could without risking dinner.

"Why did you and Rock offer to put me up here until Chance is out of the hospital?" She asked him. "I think Meg would have done it."

"Oh, she would have been happy to," he nodded. "A few things. I was an only kit too; I know how intimidating that big a family can be to someone who's not used to it."

"Heck, just finding out I've got a brother and two sisters was pretty intimidating," Tamera admitted. "But I know what you mean. What are the other things?" She asked him curiously.

"Rock and I have been considering having kits of our own," he said with a bashful smile. "It seemed like a good way to see how we'd handle it."

"How do two toms have kits?" She asked, cocking her head curiously, trying to figure it out. She wasn't that up on sex, but she knew that it usually required at least one person of each gender.

"With a shekat and a legal arrangement that they aren't hers once they are weaned," he explained on the simple level. "Rock and I would raise them."

"But who would be the mother?" She frowned, trying to sort it out in her head.

"They wouldn't have a mother," he explained gently. "Just two fathers."

"That's... weird," she decided. "But then, I just had one Mom, so...." She shrugged a bit. "So, did I scare you off the idea yet?" She asked with a giggle.

"No," he shook his head and took the moment away from cooking to hug her. "You haven't at all."

"Well, before you jump into it, just remember that I'm past the diapers, so it gets worse," she giggled, hugging him back.

"I've been pointing that out to him a time or two in the last week," Rock said dryly as he came in the front door. "Dinner smells good," he offered.

"So we take the babies for Midnight's next heat," Jake flashed a wicked grin at his mate and stood to claim a welcome-home hug and long kiss.

"Are you sure you're not the sadistic one?" Rock asked dryly when their lips parted, rubbing Jake's back as the lean tom purred in pleasure to have him home. "Chance is doing pretty well, from what I heard when I called earlier."

"Enough that maybe I can stay a while?" Tamera asked hopefully. "They gave back mom's journals. We were going to read them together."

"I think that'd be okay; you want to go over after dinner?" Rock asked her.

"Yes," she nearly squealed in delight and ran up to hug him. "Did they say when he could come home? How's Mom Midnight?"

"Midnight's just fine!" Rock chuckled, giving her a gentle hug back. "A little frustrated about the timing of all this, but she'll be fine. She's glad those herbs Kyale gave us worked too," he added, glancing to Jake to let him know. "And they didn't say when, or at least they haven't told him yet. I think it's because they know that if they tell him, he'll be out a day early just to prove them wrong."

"That sounds like Chance," Jake laughed as he pulled their steaks and started to plate dinner. "So probably in a few days, if everybody is lucky."

"I think so," Rock nodded, taking the plates and passing them to Tamera so she could help get things onto the table that had already been set up. "He seemed to think he'd be home that soon, at any rate, but ... well, it's Chance," he chuckled.

"Just ask the nurses if he's hitting on them yet," Jake winked at his lover as they sat down. "Or Midnight how frisky he is."

"We'll ask her when we go over later," Rock snickered. "He doesn't hit on the nurses all that much, especially not with her there."

"His survival instincts are still intact then," Jake said with a snicker as they sat down. "How'd work go?"

"Except for the jealous Hyena who thought I was taking liberties with her girlfriend, just fine," Rock chuckled. "Didn't help that she came in while we were in the shower, and I was helping her scrub down. How about yours?"

"Pretty good," Jake thought back for any good tidbits. "I spend most of it in the library at the main temple of Halikar and the rest in the legal library looking up information on divine champions; expectations, rights, special rules. The afternoon was helping Tamera get all her homework done."

"Cool; still sailing ahead of everybody in math?" Rock asked the kit as they started eating.

"Of course," Tamera grinned, the three settling in to talk about their respective days.

Chance snuggled up against Midnight as he worked through one of Connie's journals at Serenity Thorn, reading ahead a bit so that he would know when he should try and get Tamera to skip through anything that she shouldn't be reading just yet.

"There are definitely some of these I don't want her looking through until she's older ... maybe not even then," he murmured, flipping through a fairly detailed fantasy Connie'd had about him while she was pregnant.

"There are some things you never want to know about your parents, or kits," she agreed. "Though she writes well."

"And some things you never want your kits to know about you," Chance agreed. "Yeah, she ... did," he smiled a little sadly. "Tamera's got me wondering how things would've turned out if we hadn't broken up," he admitted. "The rough part is, I'm not honestly sure. It wasn't just because of Connie's folks that we did, after all."

"I never doubted that," she nuzzled him. "You aren't the kind that gives up on what you want."

"Not really," he agreed, returning the nuzzle. "And she wasn't either, though from what I've read from later that changed a bit when she was counting on them to help her raise Tamera. Anyways... I don't think it would've lasted, even if we'd tried to make a go of it. I just don't know how to tell Tamera that, if she asks about it again, or even if I should."

"I wouldn't volunteer the information, but maybe when she's old enough to understand what happened to the two of you, she might be ready to understand how it happened."

"Probably right," he mused, flipping towards the end of the diary. He knew he didn't have too much time to look yet, before Rock and Jake would be over with Tamera. "Not to put you on the spot or anything, but what do you think you'd have done in her place?"

"If I was sure I wouldn't stay with the tom?" she had to think for a bit. "Probably what she did. As much as you'd have liked to be a father for her, it's not really how most girls are raised. The kittens are ours, of our family and lineage. Having a father around is nice, but not really needed."

"So much for male ego," Chance chuckled slightly. "Wouldn't even have let him know? I mean... maybe it's a little selfish, but I know there's parents who might not be a couple, but they both get a chance to be part of the kit's life. It's...." He sighed, closing the journal, trying to find a way. "I don't like that I didn't get the chance until Connie was dead. It keeps coming back to that, I guess."

"If it hadn't ended badly, I probably would have told him," she said thoughtfully, snuggling close to him. "But I've wanted to be a mother, I was a mother for all practical purposes, since I was old enough to walk with Jake. I wouldn't have taken a surprise pregnancy, even at that age, as anything but wonderful."

"Yeah... from the sound of it, she thought a lot differently," Chance murmured, snuggling back up against her. "She'd even thought about adoption... and a few other options. Glad she didn't go for that, in the end." He heaved a sigh, shaking his head. "Even reading the journals, it's hard to figure out what she was thinking sometimes. You girls just don't make any sense," he teased, turning to kiss Midnight tenderly.

"And you guys do?" she chuckled, running her hand down his chest. "I can't wait until you feel well enough to go home," she purred softly. "Those herbal salves may have taken the scent away, but not my desire."

"I know, hon," he said apologetically, reaching over to wrap an arm around her and pull her close for a kiss. "Trust me, if I had my way, you wouldn't be dealing with this ... you sure you don't just want to spend the rest of your heat with Jake or a girlfriend until I'm out? I'd understand."

"Honestly? Not really," she snuggled close. "It's pretty much over."

"M'kay," he murmured. "Sorry about this... be a small litter if you do have any kits this time."

"It'll be fine, love," she kissed his cheek. "There will be other heats for us to enjoy together."

"I'm sure there will," he purred. "And they'd better not count this against my vacation time," he added with a chuckle, turning to kiss her more deeply, pulling back as he heard the door start to open.

"If your pulse rate goes up any more, I'm going to have to slide those two beds apart," the calico nurse observed dryly. "You've got a couple visitors."

"Yes, ma'am," Midnight giggled and shifted away from him.

"I bet that means you'll be out of here soon," Jake grinned widely as he walked up to his partner and squeezed his shoulder. "If you're feeling good enough to be interested, you must be feeling good enough to head home."

"Don't encourage him," the nurse scolded before heading out.

"If it was up to me I'd be home already," Chance agreed with Jake. "Unfortunately, it's not, around here. Tamera's with you?"

"Of course," she piped up from behind Rock. "Glad you're feeling better, Chance," she ran up to hug him.

"Oof!" He grunted as she climbed up to give him a hug, returning it gladly. "Glad to see you too, kiddo. You been driving Jake and Rock up the wall?" He asked teasingly.

"Not too badly, but we'll be glad to have the couch to ourselves again," Rock winked at him.

"I bet you will be," Chance smirked back. "So, think you're up for going over some of your Mom's old journals tonight?" He asked her.

"Of course," Tamera grinned as Midnight got up.

"Then I'll be back in a couple hours," Midnight kissed her forehead. "Enjoy your reading."

"We will," Tamera smiled a bit. "Just don't be too surprised if I'm a little upset later," she admitted as Chance pulled out the journal he'd been looking at earlier.

"Why don't we start with this one?" He suggested as he was left along with his daughter. "Date on the cover says she started it a few months before she had you."

"Maybe she explains in it," she said, half hopefully and half afraid.

"That's what I'm hoping," he nodded, handing it to her to open and start reading through. He just hoped that Tamera'd want to stop before getting to the point where Connie had been considering the alternatives to having her.

He should have known he wouldn't be so lucky. The girl could devour text. He felt it as soon as she comprehended what she was reading.

"Your Mom was scared, Tamera," he said softly, hugging her against his side. "And she didn't go through with it," he added, hoping that reminder would keep her from freaking out too badly.

"But ... she really didn't want a kit," she murmured, shocked to the core about it. "Why would she have me if she didn't want me?"

"Keep reading, hon ... she must have changed her mind. As young as she was, she didn't know what she wanted." Tamera turned a page or two, still a little shocked at what she was reading as she worked through Connie's thoughts on it, the ink on some of the pages still a little smeared from where it had run because of her tears.

"Grandma really didn't like you, did she?" she barely whispered, still reading and trying to understand her mother's thoughts.

"No," Chance admitted. "She thought I wasn't good enough for your Mom, and what happened probably didn't change her mind any. Kinda think they didn't want to believe that you were my daughter... did you know her at all?"

"Yes," she nodded. "They died in a car crash two years ago. We lived with them until then. She never said anything about my father either."

"Maybe if we look for that one, we'll see why she didn't tell me then ... you starting to understand why she didn't at first a bit better now?" He asked her softly.

"Maybe," she shivered and pressed close to him. "I don't want to read about grandma dieing."

"That'd be in one of the later ones... I'll take a look ahead and make sure you don't have to," he promised her, giving her a light kiss on the forehead. "Tamera, whatever it says in these," he said, tapping the book lightly, "you know your Mom and grandparents loved you, right?"

Tamera nodded, though it was questionable whether she really believed right at the moment.

Chance grunted a bit as he shifted, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close to his side, nuzzling her head lightly.

"And whatever else we end up finding in here, I love you," he told her softly, hugging her tight.

Shier Khan hid a private smile as Ulysses snarled at the servants helping him dress and bringing in breakfast, chasing them out of the room before his lover entered. A full week since helping Furlong take out Berten once and for all, he was finally in shape to truly resent the help he was still getting with simple things.

Fortunately, that hadn't gotten to the point where he would turn Shier away yet.

"Would you like some company for breakfast?" He asked Ulysses gently as he dressed.

"As long as it's yours," he actually smiled at the Tiger, an almost-hungry look in his eyes that his body wasn't ready to go through with it yet.

"I wouldn't be asking for anyone else," Khan chuckled deeply, walking in as Feral lay back down gingerly on the couch and lifted the breakfast tray. "Would you like me to call down for anything else?" He asked as he took his place next to his convalescing lover.

"No," he shook his head and downed the pills he was to take before he began to eat. "I just want to be healthy enough to run the obstacle course again."

"It won't be too long, I'm sure," Khan reassured him, rubbing his back lightly as he ate. "You'll be back soon ... and it does make a good excuse for us to get some more time together, before I have to leave again."

"True, even if it's hard to enjoy it much," he paused in eating to leaned against his lover with a soft sigh. "Things ... happened in there. I can't forget them."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Khan asked him, wrapping his arms around Feral's waist. "Or just talk it through while I listen?"

"How much did your background give you on Janet Mercer and Sash Taliin?" Ulysses stilled and sort of relaxed in the embrace. He didn't want to talk, but he desperately needed to, and they both knew it, no matter how much it was going to hurt.

"Janet ... she was your first partner, wasn't she?" Khan asked, trying to place the names. "Died in the line of duty ... and Sash was a lover of yours who died in a plane crash...." His ears flattened as he filled in some of the blanks. "He used them against you, didn't he?"

"And you," he nodded slightly. "Janet ... I had started to fall in love with her when she died. Only she hadn't in one part, and was pregnant," he choked on anything else he might have said.

Shier held him close, sure he'd continue when he could, kissing his neck gently. It wasn't hard to guess as to the likely content, and any way it went, it wasn't good.

"I'm sorry," he murmured softly, knowing it wasn't much to offer.

Ulysses nodded against him all the same, grateful for the offered comfort that was perhaps too rare in his world.

"He found a new way to torment me too, in there," he went for a slightly less painful section of that moment. "Turned me female, in heat. At the center of an orgy with my Enforcers watching, and using me," he shivered. "I'm not sure I'll be able to look at some of them again. Not fairly."

"If you have to ... you know my offer," Khan concluded, not saying what he was sure they both had in mind. "But I'm sure you'll be able to do what's best, love. You're stronger than he is, and you know it wasn't what the officers really did ... or want to do."

"I know," he nodded, though he sounded much less sure than his lover. A sigh, closed eyes, and weary lean against the powerful Tiger supporting him was all he could muster for a long, painful moment.

"Shier ... I can't let him take that away, even if I should," Ulysses said in soft agony, knowing he was placing himself before his city for the first time. He hated himself for it. Hated that his pride won the battle. "Felina has years before she's ready," he murmured a weak justification, even if it was the truth.

"It ... it is not just what he did to me, Shier," Ulysses continued, half rambling, half just needing to say it out loud to make sense of it. "When I was in Furlong's head ... I really was there. I probably know more about him than his brothers do," his voice trailed off.

"Which gave him a similar insight into you," Shier followed the logic. "Do you think he might use it against you?"

"No," he murmured, more sure of that than nearly anything right now. "No, he wouldn't. For his own benefit, possibly. For the city or those he cares about, yes. But not against me. He's from a very different world than either of us."

"Would it work better if he wasn't working under you the way he is now?" The Tiger asked him. "And what sort of benefit do you think it would take for him to use it?"

"I'd rather have him close," Ulysses actually chuckled. "Keep myself visible as a person to him, and be able to see if he starts to shift his opinion of me. The benefit ... I'm not entirely sure," he admitted. "He's driven, but he's not very ambitious in the normal sense. He's not the kind I have much experience with."

"That might be a good thing, in the long run," Khan mused. "For what it's worth, I think he respects you, and not just as his Commander. With people like him, that's worth quite a lot."

"So I've gathered," he nodded slightly. "Recka has made noises about trying them out for Ghosts. After this, it might just be the safest place for me to have him."

"Keep your enemies closer?" Khan asked, raising an eyebrow. "If they'd fit in with the Ghosts, it would probably be a good choice, but I don't know if they would... they give a different impression than most of your Ghosts."

"Something like that," Feral nodded. "They don't, but they wouldn't come by it the usual way. Chance is very loyal to the city. Especially now, I can't question that he'd do the right thing at any cost. Clawson ... he's Bastet and Halikar's champion. A wildcard from hell to be sure, but I do think I understand him enough. He might not be well-suited to most Ghost duties, but he has a job that fits the description better than any.

"Besides," he added with a murmur. "There is precious little that goes on in the tower that he doesn't have access to, if he chooses to access it."

"I suppose that means it's just as well you give him access before he decides he wants it anyways," Khan chuckled slightly. "It would probably be better than the idea that I was considering, at any rate," he mused. "This probably wouldn't be the best time to start a privatized version of your Supernatural Investigations ... though if you have any officers considering a private line of work, I would like to know. After the attack ... we need more of a line of defense against that sort of assault than we currently have."

Ulysses looked up at him, his attention squarely on an asset to his city. "What were you thinking? I'm not sure about civilian, but there are already rumblings about shifting some of that away from the Enforcers and into it's own branch."

"I'd have to have my staff develop a full plan," Khan pointed out, shaking his head. "Ideally though, you might think of it as a dedicated anti-Omega unit. Combat, investigative, more unusual disciplines ... everything they would need in one place, rather than scattered across numerous departments. Trained to deal with threats like that werewolf or Berten without having to go to outside consultants to find them. People who could hunt down Dark Kat, instead of waiting for him to show his face again."

Ulysses nodded, understanding the advantage on a gut level even though he despised the idea of giving up that much of his resource bargaining power with the mayor.

"Useful, but it would have to be done very carefully," he warned quietly, his energy waning already. "Those attacks are my main argument to get the little funding I have."

"I understand," Khan nodded. "It's something to consider though. Now, why don't you finish breakfast, we can talk more about this later if you're not up to it right now."

Ulysses nodded and picked up a slice of pink grapefruit, leaning against his lover to soak in his strength. "Have you ever been that close to someone, where you could tell the other's thoughts?"

"No," Shier admitted, wrapping his arms around Ulysses. "I've studied it, but never actually done it ... not many people I'd be willing to do it with," he murmured, kissing the large tom's neck.

"Mmm, maybe sometime," he shivered at the touch and silent offer. "It's strange, to have that intimate experience with a near-stranger."

"I can't imagine what it would be like," Khan admitted. "Do you think he might want to be less of a stranger after this, just to try and make it less bizarre for the both of you?"

"That ... is part of the draw in making him a Ghost," Ulysses admitted and turned for a soft kiss. "Some things ... his mind is a very sexual place; a very, very het place. I'm not sure how much I'll manage to say out loud, but ... Shier, it's going to take some time to sort out what's me and what's leftover from being part of him."

"It's a bad time to make any lasting decisions," Shier nodded, returning the kiss. "I'm always willing to listen," he promised, kissing Ulysses again, lingering a bit more as he plotted how to take advantage of the openness, his improved condition, and to get him fed.

Jake sighed, content, relaxed and grateful beyond all words that he still had the same Commander, the same partner, and his best friend hadn't lost her mate protecting the world.

He couldn't lie, it ate at him that he couldn't do anything to help. He was supposed to be the trouble-magnet, not Chance. Chance hadn't done anything to deserve this kind of hell, much less to have had his top CO know so many details about his past, fears and weaknesses.

It really wasn't fair.

Rock rubbed his side gently as they relaxed in their condo, a movie playing but largely ignored and leaned down to nuzzle his head.

"Chance doesn't blame you for any of it, y'know," he murmured, giving Jake a gentle kiss.

"I know," he shivered slightly. "Even the stuff he refuses to tell me about. I hate being that helpless to be there for him."

"It's not about you, Jake," Rock told him, snuggling up against him. "It's just ... well, it's Chance. It took him years to really talk about it the first time he dealt with Berten. He'll probably do better this time, but it'll still be on his terms."

"Just about everything is," Jake actually chuckled, though it was weak. "He's strong, but he's not much on opening up. I just hope it doesn't hurt Midnight much. She's kind of used to how easy it is to get a straight answer out of me."

"I think Chance would be able to figure out if it did ... you know how long he took to tell you about Berten at all, Jake. This is a lot of the same, just with a better ending ... he'll probably tell you about the good parts before the bad, but that's just how he is. Besides ... what happens in a guy's head is pretty private for anybody," Rock tried to chuckle a bit. "Probably going to have more trouble with the fact that Feral does know so much of it now ... and the other way. I just hope it doesn't end up screwing up his career anywhere."

Jake nodded with a sigh. "If it does, we already worked out how to let him still show off in the air. We'll just have to see how it goes down once they're both on active duty again," he murmured as he snuggled close. "It's hard to remember that this would have happened no matter what field we were in."

"And that it has nothing to do with being around you," Rock added with a nuzzle and tolerant smile. "You aren't the source of all misfortune around you."

"No, just destined to be at the epicenter of the most important battle in twelve generations," he murmured.

Rock sighed inwardly, kissing Jake's neck lightly ... and running his hand up to a particularly ticklish spot, lighting into him mercilessly until he gasped for mercy through the tears and laughter.

"Got it, got it," Jake gasped as Rock pushed him down on the couch and kissed him. "Cut out the self-recrimination."

"Good," Rock purred, kissing him again. "Now, how about a better topic? I seem to remember we've got a wedding to plan," he winked playfully.

"Mm, yes," he purred, nearly melting under the muscular weight of his lover. "Does that mean you have thoughts for it?"

"Mmm ... more wondering if you do want to go ahead and hold it at the Temple. If you do, it might be nice to have Jo and Henry handle it, if you don't mind."

"I can't think that I'd mind," he murmured into a long kiss. "We might be pressured into a couple others, but that's for later."

"I think they'd be okay with it ... know they'd be glad to do it," Rock purred, nuzzling Jake's neck. "Who would you want there?"

Jake was silent for a long time, his fingers playing in the fur of Rock's chest as he thought. "The squad, Midnight ... who I really want to come ... they'll show if they want to."

"Yeah... they will," Rock agreed, realizing that he was talking about Bastet and Halikar. "Mind if I asked my folks to come down? Been ages since I've really talked to 'em, but they deserve a chance to be there for this."

"You can invite anyone you want to," Jake smiled warmly and kissed him. "You know I'm not shy once I get turned on," he kissed him again. "I want a very different ceremony than I'm used to."

"Oh really?" Rock grinned, pulling him into a longer kiss, pressing his tongue into Jake's mouth to duel with his for a few moments. "So, gonna keep me in suspense?" He teased.

"Mmm, well, for one, I want to keep it to just us. No family histories. No list of reasons we should be good enough for the other's family," he tipped his muzzle down to look Rock in the eyes. "Just you, me, any why we are standing there."

"I think we can strip out anything we want to," Rock purred, licking Jake's nose. "Besides, I already know you're good enough for me, and I'll whip anybody who tries to argue the other way," he winked.

"Thank you," he murmured with a long, tender kiss that ended in a nuzzle as he ran his hands along Rock's sides and rocked his hips up against his lover. "What ... do you think of ... well ... I've been thinking that I should grow up about what I am. I've fought being a champion most of my life. Maybe ... maybe I should accept it?"

"Well... it doesn't seem like fighting it is helping you any," Rock admitted gently, groaning a bit as Jake rocked their hips together. "At least find out what it is they'll want you to do, what the rules are," he murmured. "Find out how much you can't stand, maybe?"

Jake nodded, claiming a lingering kiss as his hands continued to explore Rock's half-dressed body.

"Come with me?" Jake whispered, slipping his fingers under Rock's belt as they rubbed each other to hardness. "Listen with me to they have to say."

"If you want me to," Rock murmured as Jake undid his belt, reaching between them to do the same. "If they'll let me in," he added with a slight chuckle.

"They will," Jake pulled him into a deep kiss. "They want me there too badly too care who sees."

"All right," Rock murmured into the kiss. "Tomorrow though ... for tonight, I think I want you right where you are," he purred, undoing his lover's pants and going over what to do before they had to rest.

Dawn came early, but Jake and Rock were both ready and standing before the grand main temple to Bastet in MegaKat City. Just as Jake was ready to take the first of the wide stairs, Rock slid his arms down Jake's chest and turned him around for a long kiss.

"No matter what they say, I love you," Rock said seriously, tipping Jake's face up to look him in the eyes.

"Thank you," Jake went up on his toes for a second kiss. "I love you. I trust you. Now let's get this over with."

Rock could only smile at that to stop himself from beaming. "Deal," he said as they walked inside. It took barely a few words to get them shown to the private receiving room of the high priestess of the city.

Rock watched silently as Jake quietly stripped down and folded his clothing neatly in a corner, being as supportive as he could. He hoped this worked out well ... desperately. So much of Jake's life had been miserable because of what he'd been born as. If he could accept it ... maybe things would be a little bit better.

And maybe it would help prepare him for the possibility of joining Jake as one of the Champions.

Jake kissed him gently, squeezed his hand, and knelt in the middle of the room to wait the few more moments before High Priestess Fela Bast-Daughter walked in. He dropped his eyes, submissive in an honest manner that only Rock had seen up to this point. "I am ready to understand my fate."

Power Games 5: The BoogieKat Killer pt 4 of 4

NC-17 for M/M, M/F sex
Het Level is HighHet Smut Level is Medium
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Medium
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

199 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written November 5, 2007 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: SWAT Kats

Primary Races: Kantin, Kat

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Alternate Universe, Bestiality, Child Abuse (Sexual), Fantasy, Rape (M on M), Rape (M on M), Sex (BDSM), Sex (BDSM), Supernatural, Violence

Pairings: Chance Furlong/Midnight Raven, Jake Clawson/Rock Furlong, Ulysses Feral/Shier Khan, others

Notes: While the actual pedophilia is kept off screen, it is a central feature to this story and not a minor warning. If you made it to this far, you obviously have a strong stomach for violence, but this pushed even our comfort zone.

Blurb: When Chance and Ulysses' kittenhood nightmare finally faces death for his crimes, it is the beginning of the horrors, not the end, for MegaKat City and its defenders.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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