Sliding Time 8:

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

Obi-Wan expected to land on his feet smoothly, now well used to how to exit these portals without tripping over disoriented legs and comrades, only to find the ground was a good eight feet further down than planned and those already here hadn't really gotten to their feet yet.

He caught warm air, sandy red soil and little vegetation before le landed among his companions. He picked himself up with a bit of a groan, rolling off the pile of people and to his feet fairly easily. Even as he took inventory of his group and realized that not everyone was there, he realized that this time they were in the middle of a rather large group of people.

Or at least he dearly hoped they were people.

The forms he knew, but never honestly expected to see the wide variety that had once existed. A solid two thirds of the gathering were Lumari, but all five forms were represented in a rainbow of colors; Maru, Marki, Lupki and Luprani were all staring at the group with a mixture of expressions.

It was a nearby reddish-tan furred and naked female Maru and the brown on gray stripped Lumari male wearing very little more beyond a few pieces of jewelry next to her that had his attention, though. SunWind had managed to land with his head in her lap and the big red-furred male was growling, his long, nearly furless tail lashing and ears flattening a bit as he glared down at the scene.

Obi-Wan glanced at SunWind, focusing on picking him up telekinetically, trying to make it look as natural as he could until the stunned Loup Maru got with the program and on his own feet, though he was decidedly green beneath his tawny fur.

"Who, and what, are you?" A deeply resonate female voice belonging to a lightly dressed but heavily decorated black furred Lumari female tapped her nine-foot wooden staff on the hard ground, stilling the gathering before it got too restless.

"I am Obi-Wan Kenobi, a human from far away," Obi-Wan answered her in the Loup Maru tongue, grateful more than ever that he and SunWind had passed so many dull days preserving it. "This is SunWind... we apologize for our abrupt arrival, I'm afraid we had little control over it," he said, figuring he'd save the rest of the introductions for when it seemed safer, along with figuring out what happened to Sly and Carmelita.

"I gathered that much." The elder female snorted with a bit of a chuckle and stepped forward from the circle into the clearing and around the bonfire that was at the center of it to look at the group for a moment. She shifted to Maru after considering them, her carved wood, crystal and feather adorned staff shrinking to an appropriate height with her. Then she focused on SunWind with a confused frown. "You are of Haloeth, but not of us."

"No ..." SunWind admitted as Obi-Wan felt him instinctively reach out into the Force. "Alpha Lighting-at-Dusk." He lowered his body language into the submission they hadn't seen him give anyone. "My Haloeth was destroyed when I was young."

She nodded slightly, then focused on the new pack's Alpha despite her inclination to speak to her near-kin as their leader. "Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are leader of this pack?"

"Effectively, yes," he nodded.

"I am Alpha Lighting-at-Dusk of the Blue Crystal Falls pack." She introduced herself, then glanced at SunWind, who ducked into Luprani by Wolf's leg and tried harder not to stare at and subtlety court the female he'd had his nose in the crotch of not long before.

"He has not been among Loup Maru since his youth, Alpha Lightning-at-Dusk." Obi-Wan tried to forestall any trouble by SunWind's lack of manners.

"Yes," she nodded thoughtfully. "Come, eat with us and we will speak of things. You are not the visitor we were expecting, but we have meat enough to be hospitable for a visiting pack."

A soft growl broke the general silence before Obi-Wan could answer, and Lighting-at-Dusk rapped her staff on the ground again, silencing the big brown on gray striped male.

"Thank you, Lightning-at-Dusk," he said, inclining his head politely and checking his manners and body-language as his 'pack' moved to take seats in the space that was made available for them. Fortunately, their translators were still covering the brunt of the local language for the rest of the group. "If I may ask, were there two who arrived shortly before us, through a similar method?"

It was, after all, possible that the wormhole had dropped them in slightly different time frames... unlikely, but possible.

"Not recently." Lighting-at-Dusk told him and portioned out the feast so Obi-Wan had plenty for his pack in proportion to the layout. "The bridge should not have closed while there are those on it. They may have fallen off on the path." She warned him softly and took a large bite from a soft-skinned, purple and orange fruit rich is water.

Fallen off the path... that made sense, actually. There had been something unusual about this wormhole; he just hoped that if they had 'fallen off,' that they'd landed somewhere safe. If not, there was little that could be done for them... maybe he could find something later, when he had time to meditate.

He passed out the food to each of them, trying to come as close to equal amounts for each of them, compared to their requirements, as he could. He was quite aware of the scrutiny the eating order was under by most of the Blue Crystal Falls pack. They knew he was the alpha and his eating first enforced that. He had few doubts they knew Alyaa the gamma, the lowest ranked of them all, but here was where they expected the rank to be put on clear display and thankfully it went as it should. SunWind ate second and was overtly aggressive about securing better portions for Lyass, Wolf and Alyaa than they technically had right to. It also put on display that although they had a ranking structure, it wasn't heavily enforced.

"Where were you trying to go when our bridge diverted yours?" Lighting-at-Dusk asked after they had both eaten several bites.

"We've been trying to get back to my homeworld," Obi-Wan explained. "We have little control over where they go, so I'm not too surprised to be here instead. Surprised to be here, but not somewhere we hadn't expected to be," he clarified.

She glanced at SunWind again, who was trying his damnedest not to respond to the reddish-tan female that was flirting with him at a distance. "Has he bred yet?"

"Not that either of us are aware of," Obi-Wan said, shaking his head. "If he had, they have passed on by now. We thought he was the last of his kind still alive," he admitted.

"He is, in a way." She said softly. "But he is already attuning himself to this Haloeth; in a few months he will be one of us if he stays." She focused back on Obi-Wan. "Who is likely to stay with him?"

"Wolf and Alyaa," Obi-Wan said, indicating the two of them. He'd have to force them both to come along if SunWind stayed, and he had to admit, he wasn't particularly inclined to do so. "Lyass...?"

"I have a duty yet," the blue-skinned Twi'lek said simply, glancing at SunWind. "And I think it would be better if I came along."

A subtle nod from SunWind confirmed it even as the female Loup Maru who'd been flirting with him decided on a more direct approach and stood in Luprani with the head of an animal in her jaws, already broken open so the brains were easy to get at.

"I will keep that from turning into a fight." Lighting-at-Dusk promised Obi-Wan. "Dust-Runner wants pups badly."

"I'm sure that SunWind does as well," Obi-Wan nodded slightly. "And thank you. We don't want to cause trouble... but it seems to crop up regardless," he chuckled slightly.

"That sounds like the Endless Storm." She chuckled softly, but stilled and looked at SunWind when he froze, his eyes wide in shock.

"His pack's name," Obi-Wan said even as SunWind shook himself back to the here and now at a touch from Wolf.

"They live far from here, but their Alpha, Shadows-in-the-Dawn is my litter-sister. The bridge between our Caerns is well-used." Lighting-at-Dusk told him gently. "I am sure she would welcome a visit."

"Thank you, Alpha." SunWind dipped his head, a distraction that the brown on gray stripped male took advantage of to grab his scruff in Lumari.

"Chases-the-Wind, stop that." Dust-Runner growled at him, her shift into Lumari nearly as fast as SunWind, who turned out to be a good deal larger than his opponent, and much more battle hardened. "Three years you have not been able to give me pups. I have the right to choose another for it."

"Move your hand or lose it." SunWind bared his teeth in the other male's face.

"He is capable of enforcing that warning," Obi-Wan warned Chases-the-Wind, putting a bit of Force behind both warnings. He wasn't in much of a position to stop SunWind, but hopefully it would be enough to make it unnecessary.

"Most of us are." Lighting-at-Dusk pointed out, watching the conflict carefully with her knowledge of two of the participants and the laws they followed.

It was Dust-Runner that broke the stand-off with her tail, snapping it up hard against Chases-the-Wind's forearm and stepped between them fearlessly when he took a step back in surprise at the pain.

To Obi-Wan's relief, SunWind also backed off, though not as much. Dust-Runner's scent was too enticing with her willingness mixed in.

"Seven times you have tried to give me pups. He may not have been called here to answer my need, but I am not going to pass it up for that." She growled deeply even as her tail slid up SunWind's inner leg to heighten the effect her scent already had on him.

"She is within her rights." Lighting-at-Dusk reminded all of them with a steady tone and light rap of her staff on the dusty ground.

"So am I to challenge the quality of the sire of my pups." Chases-the-Wind growled back. "He is not even one of us yet."

"So challenge him, already." Dust-Runner snapped. "Formal trials or back off. I will breed tonight."

Chases-the-Wind flicked his tail in irritation and growled, but he stood up strait and shifted into Maru, a move that SunWind followed but Dust-Runner did not.

"I challenge your suitability to sire pups with my mate." Chases-the-Wind did his best to keep his tone level out of respect for the place and function of the custom.

SunWind suddenly blinked, the full implications of what was going on sinking in for the first time. His first look went to Wolf, silently looking for his reaction.

"Formal -" Wolf started, already on edge.

"~It is up to them,~" Obi-Wan reminded him. "~They are not supposed to be fatal. I doubt that SunWind is in any serious danger, even if it is a physical challenge.~"

"Right." The one-eyed warrior settled back with an unhappy expression. Still he nodded, knowing SunWind would somehow manage to turn it down if he insisted on refusing approval.

"I accept." SunWind said evenly.

"Very well." Lighting-at-Dusk nodded. "What aspects do you challenge?" She looked at Chases-the-Wind.

The striped male had to pause, trying to come up with something that wouldn't get him laughed out of the gathering given SunWind's obvious physical condition and experience as a warrior. That he had two female and a male mate, even if they were not Loup Maru, spoke highly to his ability as a hunter, provider and social standing where he was from.

"Wits and intelligence." He decided, picking something that was at least an unknown.

Wolf couldn't help but relax a bit; there were damned few ways that could end up being anything worse than embarrassing, especially given the trials weren't supposed to be very dangerous to start with.

"SunWind, do you understand what is going to happen?" Lighting-at-Dusk asked politely.

"The basics," he admitted. "The details I do not know, but I believe they still need to be decided."

"True," Lighting-at-Dusk nodded. "Everyone return to your meal. We will decide on the appropriate tests before sundown."

"It sounds like you might only be siring these pups," Wolf said softly as SunWind sat back down and two older Loup Maru joined Lighting-at-Dusk and Obi-Wan in a hushed and somewhat heated discussion a bit away from the main gathering. "Don't know how much else you'd be involved with."

That was enough to snap him back to reality and away, and least somewhat, from the hormone and pheromone driven arousal. He looked sideways at Dust-Runner, who rurred at him softly, and his breath caught in his throat.

"They'll know I'm their sire, even if not their father." He managed, struggling to keep his mind on the subject despite all his recent practice with the Twi'leks. "I'm ... I don't really want her as a mate."

"That's good, because I don't think she will be," Wolf murmured. "Uhm... just a thought. Maybe, if you pass the test, suggest 'loaning' Alyaa to him? Doubt she'd mind, and it might cut off any bad feelings."

"No, she wouldn't." He chuckled softly. "And it might." He leaned over to kiss Wolf soundly and draw him a little closer on the dusty red soil. "Though from the sound of what led up to this, there's nothing I can do to really soothe things if she does get pregnant. Seven tries ... it's amazing she's still with him."

"That's not something we can help with," Wolf murmured, returning the kiss... though he couldn't help feeling a little self-conscious, knowing at least from SunWind's accounts what could be in store for the two of them here.

"I'm of no rank or expectation here." He murmured softly. "There are freedoms with not being expected to be a great leader."

"Okay," Wolf murmured back, relaxing some. "Sorry... just nervous," he chuckled.

"I know, but these aren't Mice. Very different social standards. It will only be frowned on if I won't breed at all, something that they know I will do." SunWind nuzzled him. "It'll be okay. Might not be quite as open as Corneria, but we'll be fine."

"I'll deal then," Wolf smiled, settling back and relaxing some.

"You were to be a leader, SunWind?" A burgundy-furred female asked from nearby.

"My mother was the Alpha of the Endless Storm, I was to succeed her." He nodded, cautious but open. "That was a long time ago."

"I am Far-Reacher." She smiled with a slight nod. "I was born to the Endless Storm here. The alpha of a pack is not usually enough to warrant such strictures." She added curiously.

"I know," SunWind ducked his head a bit. "It was thought I would be among the alphas in the Great Council, the world leaders."

"Ah, yes." She nodded in understanding. "A preference for males would be frowned upon by some at that level."

"SunWind, are you ready?" Lighting-at-Dusk asked him as Obi-Wan sat down with the group and the Loup Maru returned to their places among the much larger local pack.

"I am," SunWind nodded, standing up.

"Then watch Eyes-to-the-Sky." Lighting-at-Dusk instructed and motioned to a slender, rusty-gray female in Luprani.

As all attention turned to her, Eyes-to-the-Sky lifted a strip of leather with her mind and began to tie a complex knot in it.

"Undo it, then recreate it, with only your mind." Lighting-at-Dusk told him as the leather strip was floated over to him.

SunWind shifted to Luprani easily, remembering the steps she had taken in producing the knot, and slowly beginning to reverse them.

Untying it was actually the trickiest part; he could play over its creation easily, but undoing it was a little trickier, some of the later steps concealed behind and beneath the earlier knotwork. Still, he managed to undo it and only have to start over once - and he'd retied it from the mistake he'd made. Retying it, particularly once he reached the point where he'd made his mistake earlier, was far easier to redo.

He floated the knot back over to Eyes-to-the-Sky for inspection, then returned to Maru form. A bit of perspiration that dampened his fur was quickly whisked away by the dry air.

"~Very good.~" Eyes-to-the-Sky said in an open broadcast.

Lighting-at-Dusk nodded to her, glanced at Dusk-Runner, who was smirking a bit, and at Chases-the-Wind, who looked a bit defeated.

"Demonstrate that you have sufficient connection with Haloeth to pass on to your pups." She told SunWind.

SunWind nodded, drawing on the skills he'd learned so long ago. He focused, and Obi-Wan felt the Force 'shiver' around him before he stepped sideways, into the Umbra. The Jedi did his best to keep his heart from racing at the strangeness of a physical entity completely within the Force, or close to it from his perspective.

He could tell, too, than many of the Loup Maru could see him as he walked around the central bonfire before stepping into the physical world again.

"Dust-Runner, Chases-the-Wind, do you have another challenge to his suitability to breed?" Lighting-at-Dusk asked the pair.

"No, Alpha." Dust-Runner answered quickly and eagerly.

Chases-the-Wind muttered slightly. "No, Alpha."

"Then this challenge is closed and SunWind is considered a suitable sire for Dust-Runner's pups." She looked between the pair. "The rest is between you."

SunWind nodded acceptance and sat down next to Wolf again, privately feeling a bit of a rush at what was to come. It was finally starting to register what some of his older packmates were reacting to when they were selected to breed. It had been so long since he'd had a serious thought of pups....

He shook his head a bit and focused his attention on Dust-Runner as she came up again in Luprani with the open head of an animal in her jaws. It felt very good to be treated with such deference; to actually be given such an offering by the female courting him as a sire. It was a turn of events he had barely even dreamed of.

Still, she needed the brains and he took only a small bite before feeding the rest to her.

Obi-Wan was privately fascinated by the unusually close look at the Loup Maru's mating traditions; most groups were more private about it, but it seemed that there were no such concerns here. Though it did make a kind of sense given what little clothing they did wear seemed to be as ornamental as what was obviously jewelry. Those of all ages were naked in any form and there seemed to be no distinction between the genders or concept of modesty that most cultures he knew of had developed well before a world government had formed.

Might explain a few of the incidents with Lyass and Alyaa, come to think of it, even if SunWind's adulthood as Throttle had been in a society that was as concealing as most in the Republic. All sexual characteristics were covered, except for the antennae. Maybe he should take time to talk to SunWind about that. It was an unusual combination to cover some sexual organs but not others.

He tried not to stare while watching as Dust Runner nuzzled him, and noticed that his interest was mirrored on a level among many of the Blue Crystal Falls pack. It wasn't the same kind of new experience fascination, or that of voyeurs, but a breeding that was expected to produce pups seemed to be a social event of some importance to the entire pack.

"You wear so much." She crooned in a mixture of confusion and frustration at trying to figure out how to get him nude enough to mate.

"Habit," he drew a sharp breath as it sank in that she had no expectation of going anywhere, not even over the small dune nearby. "Lot of places expect it." He managed before desire, pheromones and the promise of siring pups overcame his near-instinctive modesty and he helped her strip his boots and jeans off.

As SunWind and Dust-Runner began to nuzzle and sniff each other, getting briefly acquainted, Alyaa quietly moved over towards Chases-the-Wind, careful of any sign that her attentions were unwelcome or improper. She was met with uncertainty and definite interest. Her scent affected him as it did SunWind, and she smiled to herself. An entire world of people who were at her mercy.

She definitely wouldn't mind staying here with SunWind.

"Trade for the night?" She asked him with a soft, suggestive murmur. "He won't mind."

Chases-the-Wind looked at her and shifted into Maru before he nodded and ghosted a hand over her lekku, as close to the touch of an antennae as her form allowed.

The two events gave Obi-Wan a very insightful look at how sex differed between reproduction and pleasure. SunWind and Dust-Runner were both in Luprani and he could only describe it as rutting. There was little apparent effort made to pleasure each other outside of the shared sensations that were flowing across the entire gathering, generating approval from many of the older members and arousal in all. Not far away Chases-the-Wind licked and caressed Alyaa's body, using her arousal to heighten her pleasure and going relatively slowly as he learned a new body.

She returned the favor, exploring his powerful form and pleasuring him as some of the other members of the Blue Crystal Falls pack began pairing off as well.

It was an exhilarating experience to be witnessing, simply for the joy in life and complete lack of shame or secrecy that marked so many societies view of sex and nudity in general.

Obi-Wan was still watching the way the various pairings interacted; the differences and lack of them between the mixed gender and same gender lovers, and the two three-way pairings there, when he became aware of a sexually laced curiosity directed at him.

He glanced around, wondering just where it was coming from, and noticed a Loup Maru just out of adolescence looking at him. The Maru's silvery fur was well-groomed, lightly ornamented and he had his arm around the striped, dusty-rose furred female next to him. When Obi-Wan made eye contact, the youth's bright blue eyes flicked away politely, but soon returned.

The female, likely his mate, nuzzled him and nudged him to move.

Obi-Wan gave a slight smile to the teen, fairly sure what he was curious about. A newcomer, of a different species entirely... it wouldn't be strange to be interested, especially not with the level of sexual energy flowing freely right now and the open culture towards the body so clearly on display.

Despite a bit of uncertainty, the Loup Maru shifted forward into Luprani and padded over, his body language submissive but curious.

"~Hello,~" he reached out tentatively with his mind along with a less word-oriented name.

"~Hello... Storm-Crystal?~" Obi-Wan asked him, wanting to confirm the name he suspected.

"Yes," he nodded and knelt up into Maru form, the closest match he had for the stranger. "You wear so much." He said, trying to express both curiosity about the clothing and what was under it.

"I don't have fur," Obi-Wan pointed out, slipping his outer robe off. "Some places I've been aren't as comfortable as here."

"Do you have a mate?" Storm-Crystal asked, his full senses trying to take in what he was seeing, and what he wasn't.

"Yes, back home," Obi-Wan smiled slightly, trying to think of how to word it so that it would be clear he was still available if Storm-Crystal was interested. "I hope to get back to him soon, but that's not an issue now."

"Does he share?" He asked a bit submissively. "I am curious what you look like."

"He wouldn't object," Obi-Wan smiled, reaching out mentally with a friendly impression of Qui-Gon, and just how much he wouldn't mind.

"And you?" He carefully didn't touch as his tail ghosted up Obi-Wan's body.

"If you're interested, I am willing," Obi-Wan smiled. "You are attractive."

"I am." Storm-Crystal smiled and lightly caressed Obi-Wan's face with the end of his tail. "I have never seen anyone without fur that was not nearly dead."

"That is one thing I am not," Obi-Wan chuckled, reaching out to run his fingers along the youth's chest, enjoying the sensation of the soft, thick undercoat and the somewhat coarser outer guard hairs. "Most of my people are like this," he explained and caught the youth's intense curiosity and his unwillingness to make a real advance on a much higher ranked individual.

It was in that moment too that he realized that by physical maturity, they were about the same age. Though to judge by SunWind, Storm-Crystal was likely in his early thirties.

He began to undress under Storm-Crystal's watchful eye, and the interest of several others who kept their distance but didn't hide their fascination for what was going on. His shirt was first, and was enough to catch a raised eyebrow from Lyass, but no other comment from his fellow Jedi.

It was apparently enough to get Storm-Crystal to explore the newly exposed skin with his hands, tail and tongue. Despite the sexual nature of it, Obi-Wan couldn't help but recognize the lack of anything but curiosity behind the touches. This was what sex was supposed to be for Jedi; physical but not emotional, and it still felt strange.

The Jedi began to return the attention, exploring the Loup Maru's furry, well-muscled body in return.

"Have you been with a male before?" He asked him quietly.

"I prefer it." Storm-Crystal nodded and moved forward to nuzzle him while his hands explored the smooth chest, then looked up in surprise. "You do have fur."

"I suppose you might say that," Obi-Wan shrugged slightly, rubbing his sides. "We think of it as hair. It's not particularly thick either, of course," he chuckled.

"True," Storm-Crystal murmured and lowered his head to lick at a nipple experimentally.

"Mm ... that's good," Obi-Wan murmured back, reaching down to rub Storm-Crystal's with his fingertips, encouraging him to touch and explore.

Before long Obi-Wan unstrapped his boots and pulled them off, then shifted backwards to push his leggings down. It was a moment the entire audience had been waiting for; to see what this very different biped looked like.

Storm-Crystal rumbled in a mixture of surprise and strong interest at seeing how similar they looked, a sentiment that was shared by much of the group watching. With little hesitation he reached forward and slid his fingers along Obi-Wan's hard cock.

Obi-Wan pressed into the soft contact instinctively, reaching down to rub the Loup-Maru's sheath and shaft lightly, brushing his cheek against his muzzle in a light nuzzle. He couldn't help but feel the pleasure and appreciation at his touch. The Loup Maru tendency to broadcast their sexual reactions was going to be a major advantage in making this something that made the pack look on them a little more favorably.

He relaxed as he was gently pushed to ground on his back, and groaned as a long, wet mouth closed around his cock. He reached out through the Force, stroking Storm-Crystal's antennae and letting the Loup-Maru share his pleasure in a manner as close to what he'd experienced with SunWind as he could.

He knew it was appreciated, though not a sound passed between them beyond a few mumbled moans until Storm-Crystal gently pressed the tip of his tail against the sensitive pucker of Obi-Wan's ass.

"Oh... go ahead," Obi-Wan nodded slightly, groaning at the feel as he focused enough to reach down and stroke his shaft telekinetically.

"~Urrr!~" Storm-Crystal rumbled in surprise, then shivered and groaned around Obi-Wan's cock as he pressed his tail inside the human's body gently.

"Mmm...." Obi-Wan moaned, reaching out a bit more to Storm-Crystal's mind.

"~Inside you, like I'm around your shaft?~" He asked him.

"~Like ....~" he thought back before he caught onto the idea and shivered again in anticipation. "~I would like that.~"

The young Jedi focused a bit more, starting to 'thrust' into Storm-Crystal's ass, lightly at first, but putting more pressure into it as he felt the Loup-Maru relax, his own body shivering with pleasure. Soon Obi-Wan let himself go and thrust up into Storm-Crystal's mouth as he came; long pearly ribbons of semen pumping into Storm-Crystal's mouth even as Obi-Wan caught the Loup-Maru's desire to be mounted.

He shifted easily, pressing his chest against Storm-Crystal's furry back.

"Do you want this?" He asked quietly, reaching down to stroke his shaft with his hand.

"Oh, yes." He moaned softly and pressed against the hard chest against his back, his head tilted back to give Obi-Wan good access to his antennae and his tail snaking out to wrap around Obi-Wan's waist.

He pressed forward, nuzzling Storm-Crystal's antennae as he sank into him, enjoying the feel of his tight, hot body around his shaft, stroking the Loup-Maru's in time with his thrusts. Even more prepared for it after fooling around with SunWind a couple times the psychic feedback loop two telepaths could create with shared pleasure at its most intimate and intense was enough to make Obi-Wan gasp and his balls tighten against his body much more rapidly than he had planned on.

He groaned as he surrendered, spilling his seed into Storm-Crystal's body and pressing against him warmly in an effort to bring him off as well. It wasn't something that took long. The Loup Maru had no interest in holding back and took the pleasure, physical and mental, to it's destination with a moaning howl, his seed splashing on the dusty red ground.

They both panted and recovered there, Obi-Wan against Storm-Crystal's back and buried in his ass, their pleasure echoed around the gathering and mingling with that of lovers, mates, playthings and the rutting pair that set this all off.

Despite his physical state, Obi-Wan noticed what was going on as well. There were a fair number of people copulating, as he expected given the psychic state of things, but there were also those that seemed unaffected or simply looked wistfully at someone, or no one. It was hardest not to look at SunWind and Dust-Runner, both in Lumari and rutting in an absolute abandon and aggression that made it very easy to understand how Alyaa kept getting injured.

Honestly, it made Obi-Wan realize just how lucky the Twi'lek was to come out of it with as few injuries as she did.

"Thank you." Storm-Crystal turned his head to nuzzle Obi-Wan's cheek.

"You're welcome," Obi-Wan chuckled, returning the nuzzle, pulling out of Storm-Crystal with a groan. "Mmm ... and thank you. That was very good."

Lyass watched the two of them from where she was sitting during the feast, only Wolf left nearby now. She didn't have any problems with the Loup Maru or Obi-Wan ... it was the smells, and the psychic feedback. Even closing herself off from the resonance through the Force was like trying to close the door to drown out the sound of a small war going on outside.

She could tell that a number of the males were interested, but thankfully they were all willing to focus on waiting for Alyaa to be available when she didn't return the interest. At least that social rule held true on both planets.

"You are Lyass?" An older female still in her physical prime settled down next to the awkward pair in Maru.

"Yes," the blue-skinned Twi'lek nodded even as she wrapped her arms around herself lightly, as if closing her body language would help make the psychic noise and scents more tolerable. "If I may ask, your name is...?"

"Flames-in-the-Sky," she said with what she hoped was a warm smile to the young female so clearly in distress. "You have chosen not to breed?" She asked gently with an unconscious glance at SunWind and Dust-Runner.

"I have," Lyass nodded, taking the shorter and simpler explanation rather than trying to give the full story. She had to admit, she was slightly curious about the interest, and just as grateful for the distraction.

"Sometimes another female can take the edge off the need." She offered.

"Ah... I'm sorry, but no thank you," Lyass said, shaking her head despite the temptation. "I'm not in heat," she said, with a slight nod towards Dust-Runner and SunWind. "I'm just seriously not used to the 'noise.' The sense-sharing is something very unusual where I come from."

It was certainly true enough, and easier than trying to explain the Jedi of her home-galaxy and their near-total denial of the sex drive. It had been hard enough to explain to Obi-Wan and SunWind who were reasonably used to it. To the Loup Maru here? She wasn't sure if they would be able to understand it without a lot more explanation than she was up for just now.

Flames-in-the-Sky nodded in acceptance of the half-truth. "Is it the same for the other female of your kind?" She nodded towards Alyaa.

"The lack of training, yes," Lyass nodded. "Though she isn't as sensitive to it. I also imagine that the only objection she'll have to breeding, if she can, is that it will slow her down while she carries her children," she chuckled slightly. "Admittedly, we're not sure if Twi'leks and Loup Maru even can breed."

"I have seen stranger things in my life, but it would be most unusual." Flames-in-the-Sly considered the idea from several angles. "Are any of you likely to stay with SunWind?"

"I am," Wolf said seriously. "Alyaa too, probably."

"I'm not likely to," Lyass said, shaking her head. "I have other obligations to fulfill, and we'll probably both be more comfortable with it in the long run."

"He will be a fine Alpha when he gets used to the idea of being home." Flames-in-the-Sly smiled slightly. "I do not think he realizes how clearly his sire quality shows."

"He had every reason to believe he was the last of his kind," Lyass pointed out. "I imagine it was less painful to think of it that way. He had some very... difficult... attitudes towards sex at first, I understand."

"Mostly with males," Wolf said easily, moving a bit closer so he wouldn't have to talk to everybody. "With females... I think that was mostly getting used to the fact that there were females again, who wouldn't try to kill him."

Flames-in-the-Sly considered SunWind again, cocking her head slightly as she watched him without really watching what he was doing. "I can not imagine how strong he must be to have survived that." She finally admitted softly, then almost had to tear her eyes away to look at Wolf. "I realize he is your Alpha, but he is your mate too, and I saw at the feast how much you care for each other. Be careful with him," she advised gently. "His services as a sire will be in high demand for a while, once he is known. If he is as unaccustomed to such attention as he seems and you say, it could be ... used to his detriment. Not all bitches are worthy of him, and some may be good enough to breed with, but not raise the pups."

"Thanks. He is my Alpha though," Wolf pointed out. "If I think he's making a bad choice... what sort of say can I have in it?" He asked. "I'm not up on the local rules, and back home it was damned little, short of leaving."

"As his packmate, little short of challenging him outright for his rank." She acknowledged. "As his mate, though, he has obligations to you before all others and you do have rights to a say in who he breeds with who is not his mate. He cares a great deal for you as well. I saw that in the feast. I would be surprised if he did something you truly do object to."

"So would I," Wolf smiled fondly for him. "Though, at times, he can be remarkably stubborn. So if I get a bad feeling about a particular breeding partner, I can at least ask him to think it over for a bit before he decides, to think about how well they'd raise them?"

"Yes," she nodded, very serious. "The law may be less than direct about it, but any pup he sires could be yours. If he insists on raising them, you would be their parent as well, as his first mate. Once you have a bitch in your pack to feed them, no one will blink at him insisting on raising at least some of his own offspring. It is your voice that is likely to get him to think about it that way."

"Thank you," Wolf said, inclining his head towards her. "By the way, on the off-chance that Alyaa can get knocked up out there, whose pups would they end up being considered? SunWind's, I'd be guessing, but I don't know if it's different when it's not arranged ahead of time."

"Knocked up?" She paused before the rest of his words filled in the meaning of the phrase. "Hers, unless a higher ranking bitch in the pack decides to claim them. It is rare, but it is legal and it happens. Mostly when the alpha male mates with a gamma bitch the alpha female will take the pups as hers." Flames-in-the-Sly looked at the brightly colored Twi'lek for a long time. "For what it is worth, I would advise finding a bitch to outrank her quickly, even if she is not SunWind's mate. Alyaa is not alpha quality by my judgment." She paused, flicking a look at Wolf to make sure she hadn't just insulted him and relaxed when he just nodded agreement. "I doubt you will be short on volunteers to join the pack once he settles into a territory."

"How are people likely to react to Alyaa believing she's SunWind's property, rather than mate?" Wolf asked quietly.

Flames-in-the-Sly blinked, her mouth open slightly as she worked on how to answer something that simply had no sense to it.

"How did she come by that idea?" She finally asked.

"On the world she came from, it's relatively commonplace," Lyass explained. "She grew up being trained for it. SunWind rescued her from a beating, but in the process he ended up as her new owner, legally. He's trying to teach her to be more of an equal, but it's slow going. She still refers to him as Master unless she's corrected, and treats him as such."

Almost as soon as she said it, and the translator turned it into 'Alpha', Lyass realized the longer explanation was going to be required.

"Not Alpha," she apologized. "That's how the translator gets the word across... not her Alpha, but her owner. The word translates closest as Alpha, according to the system... that will need to be tweaked, or there could be some serious misunderstandings."

"Maybe not." Wolf murmured, thinking even as he spoke as Flames-in-the-Sly watched their interactions with the intense curiosity of any pack animal working out a new group's real social order. "She'll have to learn Loup Maru if she stays, same as I'll have to become fluent in it. It'll cause fewer problems if she just ends up calling him 'Alpha' to everyone. It's not inaccurate, just not how she thinks of him."

"But how might that affect people's perception of SunWind?" Lyass asked. "I know people are supposed to be deferential to their Alpha, but to the extremes she is?"

"She's a gamma, an extreme one, but it exists outside slavery." Wolf said very quietly.

"Groveling, excessive submission, self-humiliation, doing anything to please?" Flames-in-the-Sly looked between the pair.

"Yes. She mostly exploits her sexual appeal." Wolf nodded towards the orgy she was in the middle of and loving every second of. "It's very gamma behavior."

"Not being used to pack behavior, I wasn't sure," Lyass admitted. "It's good that she'll fit in reasonably well... I just hope her tendencies won't cause trouble. She'll cheerfully keep every male she can very, very busy."

"She's done a good enough job with SunWind," Wolf agreed.

"I am sure she'll find a pack that appreciates it." Flames-in-the-Sly shook her head a bit. "There are definitely places that she would be very welcome at."

"If you know a few, it'd be good to know about 'em," Wolf admitted. "It's like she's in heat constantly, for SunWind... it's not healthy."

"I do," she nodded. "Do you know if she's more likely to be happy at a place with many males coming to her or a randy pack to herself?"

"Long term, probably better with males coming to her," Wolf mused. "Not that she'd mind a stable pack to herself, but it'd probably be safer for everybody the other way."

"I will ask my mother's sire's daughter which acoten are looking for new members." She nodded easily. "It will take a few days, but between here and the Endless Storm, there should be enough males to keep her happy without wearing on him too much."

"And it'll give me time to talk to SunWind about it, see what he thinks," Wolf nodded. "He might not want to let her go, after all, even if she would want it. And if he doesn't, she won't go, I'm sure."

"True enough." Flames-in-the-Sly nodded to a statement she considered a natural assumption and relaxed to her side on the ground. "Her markings are quite striking."

"That they are," Wolf nodded, leaning back to watch the show, breathing shallowly. "By the way, Lyass, you might get a little relief if you move upwind."

The young Jedi nodded and stood, paused for a moment to force her body to settle and catch the direction of the wind before heading to the edge of the gathering upwind. Even though it didn't do much for the psychic onslaught, it did help to a noticeable extent.

She looked over and noticed Lightning-at-Dusk nearby, watching the sexual display with bemused interest.

"Would I be bothering you if we talked a bit?" She asked the older Loup Maru politely.

"Not in the least, Lyass." The pack alpha smiled and shifted into Maru before patting the earth next to her. "What is on your mind?"

"It seemed you were in the middle of some ritual or ceremony when we arrived," Lyass said, shifting to sit next to her. "I was wondering what we had interrupted... I hope it wasn't anything too important, or time-critical."

"Not so much that we can not try again in a few days." She said evenly. "We were summoning a Ravizza spirit for news on the goings on in the spirit world and other planets. It seems we ended up summoning folks with news from much further away." She chuckled softly, then sobered and looked at SunWind, who was tied to Dust Runner and still humping her in a primal expression of life. "It would have been worth interrupting a much more important event to recover a lost pup, especially one of his breeding."

"How can you tell his breeding?" Lyass asked curiously. "Not that I'm disagreeing, but I'm curious," she chuckled.

The question seemed to startle the Loup Maru, but she recovered quickly and paused to think about how to explain it to someone who couldn't simply tell.

"It is a combination of things; his scent, appearance and ..." she paused, searching for the right word. "Aura, I believe is the best description. You have a much stronger link to the Umbra than most of your companions. Can you tell the strength of that link in others?"

"I can," Lyass nodded. "Though my sense of smell is weaker, so I lose that information."

"It is something similar, I believe." Lightning-at-Dusk told her. "It is not just about your lineage; it is also how strong an instinctive connection you have with that lineage, the spirits of your ancestors and their knowledge. Those of very strong pure breeding can access information from the past that most can not. In time, with training and settling into his Loup Maru identity again, SunWind will eventually be able to recite all the history of his people, use and teach the Gifts lost with their deaths and know much of what they knew. It is not always passed on, but this litter will likely have at least one pup that stands out, even if not as much as their sire. If he breeds true well, his value to the world as a sire is even greater."

"A sort of racial memory?" She asked curiously. It explained a fair amount of what SunWind could do, even without the training.

Lightning-at-Dusk considered it and nodded. "Yes, I believe so."

"That makes sense," the Twi'lek mused. "And recovering the history of his Haloeth would be invaluable, to him if not to your people... you seem remarkably at ease with the idea."

"Why would I not be?" She looked over curiously.

"Most people would find a number of strangers showing up out of nowhere and saying that they were from not just another world, but another version of their own world, a little hard to believe," Lyass shrugged slightly. "At least where I come from... to be honest, I found it a little unbelievable myself, even if it was a relief."

"SunWind's existence proves his story, and yours ... Obi-Wan could be from Enderonth from his appearance, but the rest of you are not like anything in this system." Lightning-at-Dusk tried to explain. "You are not the first visitors we have had. It may not be common, but it is well known that any time one tries to summon something, there is a chance it will pull in the wrong something. Some are friendly, some are definitely not."

"Fortunately, we're on the friendly end of things," Lyass smiled. "I do hope that Sly and Carmelita came out somewhere safe."

"When the Umbra has settled a bit, we can try to trace where your bridge met ours. That is the most likely place where they fell off." She offered. "I am afraid that it will not be very safe if they are in the Deep Umbra somewhere. It is not a safe place."

"Hopefully they simply reached the end of it ahead of us... they went through before we did," Lyass explained. "If so, they might have gotten past the disturbance and to a safe place... if not, I have no idea how to get them from there. They may ultimately be lost there."

"If they are still in the Umbra, we can find them." Lightning-at-Dusk told her with a conviction born of experience. "Do you know where you were going relative to here?"

"With this jump, no clue," the Twi'lek admitted. "We don't have any control over the portals, or where they go, from what I understand. Obi-Wan can predict how likely they are to return to his home-world, but since the last jump that was almost certain to take him back and took him to mine instead... well, if it doesn't, there's know telling where it'll go."

"You may never be able to find them then." She cautioned the young woman gently. "Even if they did arrive safely, we can not help you get there without knowing where you were going."

"I know," she nodded slightly. "Obi-Wan may know more, but they may well be lost to us. I only hope that where ever they are, it's a safe, comfortable place."

"Yes, it is a good hope." Lightning-at-Dusk agreed before a ripple in the Force, something similar to shielded telepathy in feel, drew her attention to her left. She had a brief, silent exchange with it before turning her head back to Lyass. "That was my litter-sister, Shadows-in-the-Dawn of the Endless Storm. She is eager to meet this lost pup of her pack and welcome him home. She will be here with a delegation in a few days, after Dust-Runner's heat is over."

"I'm sure SunWind will be glad to hear that, once he can," Lyass smiled. "Was a Death-Angel ever the Alpha of the Endless Storm?" She asked.

"Not recently." She shook her head slightly. "It is only a name, though, and from the sound of it, a name earned in the last days of their world. Did you meet her?"

"No, but she was SunWind's mother," Lyass explained. "If there had been, he might have been interested to hear about her life here, where things seem peaceful enough... he may be able to identify her better."

"Likely," Lightning-at-Dusk agreed. "Assuming he has met her, he should be able to pass on the information that will allow us to identify her in memory, if not in life. He is not so old that she might not still be alive." She motioned towards him. "I would doubt he is more than thirty."

"If she is... I'm not sure how it would feel for him," she admitted. "He might be glad, but it may bring up all the wrong memories as well. It's always difficult, I'm afraid, to predict how things like that will turn out."

Lightning-at-Dusk could only nod. "I hope it is a good thing, whatever we find out. It is possible his bloodline was never born. It is hard to tell how long ago our paths diverged, but I do not think it was recently. Loup Maru are not an easy race to kill, especially not on our own world."

"I don't doubt it," Lyass agreed. "I've seen him in a fight before. There were other species on his Haloeth, like the Maru and Luprani, but they weren't shifters."

There was an instant shift in the mood of all who heard her; a mixture of anger, shame, regret and sadness that was as intense to her mental senses as the lust had been when she had sat by Wolf.

"The Luprani are doing well." Lightning-at-Dusk almost kept her voice even despite a subject that cut to her soul. "The Mice are no more."

"I'm sorry," Lyass said, inclining her head. "It was different on his Haloeth... but this isn't the time to talk about it, I suspect."

"No." She murmured and stilled the twitching of her tail. "It is never a good time to speak of such things, though a few of us will with him in time. It is too important not to."

Wolf cracked an eye open well after both of Haloeth's small moons had set, not long before the pre-dawn light crept over the open horizon. While he was quite used to sleeping under the stars on all sorts of alien worlds by now, he wasn't used to sleeping around so many, or without SunWind.

It was movement nearby that roused him this time, just like the last nine times since the group and about half the Loup Maru had called it a night. This time was a bit different. The smell of a female in season was heavy in the slender current of air that drifted over his ear. But the hands and tail that wearily slipped around him, the hard body that pressed against his back, was anything but female, and intimately familiar despite no longer smelling like himself.

Wolf pressed back against his mate with a happy murmur.

"How are you?" He asked, turning around to wrap his own arms around him.

"Exhausted," he murmured, his voice carrying every inch of the word's meaning to life. "Missed you." He summoned the strength to nuzzle him into a gentle kiss.

"Going to be going for another round when you wake up, or is she done?" Wolf murmured, kissing him again and welcoming the way it made him feel to have his mate come to him as tired as he was, and no doubt over the objections of the female he was breeding with.

"Hope it's over." He didn't have the energy to shiver as his eyes drifted closed. "Just hold me, 'kay?"

"Okay," Wolf murmured, hugging him close and closing his own good eye again, not really caring to get up and leave SunWind alone for now even if he found a need to. It took a lot to get the Loup Maru to this level; to have him ask to be held.

Obi-Wan was not really surprised at how easy it was to meditate and tune into the Living Force of this world, though it was a welcome change from Puckworld. When almost all residents were sensitives and tuned to their world, it was common. What did surprise him was that the other aspects of the Force were just as easy to connect with and very ... friendly ... in a way he wasn't used to. The Force here to liked to interact with strangers.

It was not a boon he questioned too much as he sank deep into a meditative state and searched out the lines of the future. He traced back to just before they arrived on Haloeth and easily spotted where Sly and Carmelita diverted from the main group. It took little effort to look far enough ahead to realize that while their paths parted and rejoined several times, they were where they belonged.

Much was the same with SunWind, Wolf and Alyaa. The three stayed with them for some time, but their energy separated from his own at a point in the future he suspected was when he left Haloeth and they did not.

SunWind's line drew his attention for the longest time in how dramatically it changed within moments of their arrival. What was a slowly strengthening lifeline suddenly flared with energy and purpose that was nearly blinding to the mind. A cautious look around those nearby showed much the same. These people, their world, it was the same to them. He could see a black thread intertwined with every one of their lifelines, the loss of the Mice had scared the race as a whole, but they were still strong and vibrant.

"~This world is incredible.~" Lyass murmured softly in his mind as he drew himself into the present time and place. "~I have never felt the Force so at peace with reality.~"

"~I know,~" he agreed and opened his eyes to the vibrancy of a truly living world inhabited by Force-users. This would what he believed a world inhabited only by Jedi would be like. "It is a beautiful place."

"It is," she nodded, still relaxed where she was sitting. "If this is what SunWind's Haloeth was like, I can understand better how the loss scarred him so."

"It would be far worse, given how tied they are to their world." He said quietly. "Some were difficult to distinguish from the world itself when I looked. It was quiet impressive how much SunWind's lifeline changed when we arrived here."

"I noticed that as well," she nodded. "He will do well here, I'm sure."

"Yes. Are you ready to spar before breakfast?" He asked in the pre-dawn light.

"Yes," she nodded, standing up to face Obi-Wan in the open area they had available and relaxed her body into a defensive position. She knew she was getting better at sparing, but she still wasn't anywhere close to the natural warrior that her opponent was and she never would be.

Obi-Wan settled into a slightly more aggressive stance and their lightsabers flared to life in unison. Somewhat to his expectation, the new sound drew the attention of those awake, but no one seemed to be concerned by their energy weapons.

Instead, some seemed curious as the two of them dropped into the easy katas of their morning workout, the attacks and blocks becoming more complicated and intensive as they shifted from workout to actual sparring, Lyass blocking Obi-Wan's attacks and trying to take advantage of the openings he gave her.

The moves and combinations were nothing new to either of them. She knew full well that Obi-Wan wished he had a sparing partner that was his equal, someone who could challenge him and make him improve, but was accepting his status as teacher with a lot of grace for the level of frustration it caused.

The interest from those around them increased when he twisted her lightsaber's blade into the ground and its destructive potential was revealed.

She stepped back, raising her blade again as the two of them shifted roles. She began to take the aggressor's place, reading his actions and predicting his movements with relative ease. She just didn't have the speed to keep up with him; even with being able to read his defenses, she couldn't take advantage of the openings he gave quickly enough to keep him from catching her and closing them.

Even in never getting an edge, she could read his approval for her progress. He thought she was improving and it pleased him, just as it had pleased Master Jorrdu.

A powerful burst of desire from one of the onlookers distracted her despite her best efforts and her lightsaber went flying. Without thinking about it, she stepped back, reaching out and telekinetically grabbing her lightsaber before it could hurt anybody, bringing it back to her hand and dropping into the neutral stance to end the sparring match for the time being.

"Not the usual reason I disarm you." Obi-Wan mused slightly as he settled back into the neutral stance between rounds. "Ready?"

"My apologies," she said simply. "I'll focus more this time," she said, shifting back to the attacker's stance, indicating that she was ready to begin the next round.

"Good." He nodded and began with a mid-range kata.

Now that she was expecting it, Lyass was able to filter out most of the attention from their observers. Instead, she focused her attention on Obi-Wan, calling on the Force to bring her reflexes up to match his own. Normally, she would have considered it disrespectful for a sparring match, but they'd decided before reaching Tatooine that it was acceptable between the two of them.

As he had put it, they were combat training more than true sparring. Short of dirty tricks, she could do anything in these bouts to make them more even. They both knew it would never be, this Obi-Wan had proved to her early on that his counterpart's reputation as the sparring champion of his generation was not ill-founded.

They continued to exchange blows in a combination display of endurance, skill and what a Jedi could do that had no doubt in which would be the victor. In the back of her mind, it was clear that the audience didn't think any less of her for being a lesser warrior.

It was good to know, really. If they would, there wouldn't be much way to improve their opinion of her.

She did manage to get a few attacks through Obi-Wan's defenses, though she was sure that in a true fight he would have been able to block them. Before long, both of them were somewhat worn out, and she stepped back to a neutral stance to signal that she was satisfied with the match.

Obi-Wan matched the move and they deactivated their weapons.

"Are you so fierce without your weapons?" A deep female voice asked with a mixture of respect and aggression.

"Fierce how?" Lyass asked politely and was met with confusion all around, except from Obi-Wan, who recognized what she was asking on reflex.

"She is asking what meaning of fierce you are using." He tried to explain better before the edgy, battle-scared warrior who had spoken decided this was a challenge.

"Are you so dangerous without those swords." Battles-the-Death-Bear tried again.

"My apologies for the misunderstanding, Battles-the-Death-Bear," Lyass said, inclining her head apologetically. "As dangerous, no, though we are still skilled warriors. Some of our Order are close though."

The ripple of interest and surprise among the crowd wasn't much of a surprise to either Jedi. True as it was, it was an amazing claim for a creature with no naturally visible weapons, even to other sensitives.

"As warriors?" Battles-the-Death-Bear asked, somewhere between shocked and incredulous despite not actually disbelieving then.

"You saw him fight. The power he drew for speed, strength, endurance just to train her." Kills-with-One-Strike pointed out from her left. "He claims little rank or age among his kind, but he could probably match Silver-Tail unarmed even now."

She considered her packmate, then Obi-Wan. "Hunt with us today?"

"I would be honored," Obi-Wan said with a bow. "Would you like me to leave my lightsaber behind?"

"That is up to you." She said after a moment. "We will leave at high sun."

Wolf opened one eye. It was well after sunrise. Most of the locals were up and about. Dust-Runner and Chases-the-Wind were snuggled close together in Luprani and SunWind was still in his arms and in Maru. It was a situation he hated to leave, but knew he'd have to. His stomach wouldn't let him stay here nearly that long.

A rustling behind him, someone going through his backpack, turned his head around to look at the dark chocolate colored Maru form kneeling there.

"Here." The girl, probably just barely in her teens turned around and held a chewy granola, fruit and jerky bar from the pack to him. "Stay with him."

"Thanks." Wolf said softly and took it, consuming it quickly before his stomach growled and woke his mate.

"You are welcome." She smiled at him before heading off to join her age-mates in play.

Lyass smiled as she watched some of the more curious of the younger pups approach her again. The two in the lead were only just old enough to be out of the den and not yet in cognizant of their shapeshifting abilities. It made them very much too young to be out from the watchful eyes of their elders; Loup Maru who weren't in the hunting party.

She'd been helping keep the youngsters, ranging from these infants in Lupki to those just entering puberty and fully in command of their shifting abilities, entertained all afternoon. It was mostly playing with them telekinetically, though occasionally one or two came close enough to sniff at her or be petted. They almost all had a natural draw to her lekku, the closest thing she had to the long, prehensile tail that all their forms shared that was weapon, tool and hand all in one.

The older ones even sometimes asked questions, but most of the time they all seemed content to just fool around and enjoy the warmth of the day. It was a tendency that the adults seemed to have as well when there wasn't something important to do.

So much simpler than life back in the Republic. She chuckled a bit, thinking about it, particularly the mental image that came to her of Master Yoda in her position. Her lekku flicked at one of the younger pups, drawing him in closer before she teased his furless tail with a telekinetic wisp, catching his attention.

He responded by catching one of her lekku in a light tug and gave her a canine grin as he tried to flick his tail out of her grasp.

She hung on for a moment, then let him go mid-wriggle, tugging back with her lekku as he tumbled a bit with a yip.

It was enough of a commotion to draw several other young pups over, but the adults just glanced and chuckled as the play continued.

A few more minutes of play, and Lyass carefully extricated herself from the various pups, most of them roughhousing as she noticed Eyes-to-the-Sky, the pack's Lorekeeper.

"~May I speak with you?~" She asked her telepathically.

"~Of course,~" the elder, rusty-furred Maru looked her direction with a nod.

Lyass made her way over to the Lorekeeper, deciding to stick to telepathy for a few moments.

"~I was wondering if you would be willing to speak with me about some of the differences between this Haloeth and the one I know about... the Mice in particular, if you are willing.~"

Despite the intensity of pain she could feel, the graying Loup Maru nodded and stood. "~Come, this is a topic best discussed a bit more privately. All know, but few have accepted it.~"

"~It is why I asked like this,~" Lyass nodded slightly and followed her out of the group, giving one of the pups a last scritch before heading out. They didn't go far, just far enough that it was clear they were looking for some privacy.

"What did you want to know?" Eyes-to-the-Sky asked quietly as they settled into a natural depression in the ground with coarse, silvery-blue plant life around it.

"What happened, mostly," Lyass admitted. "I know that, on SunWind's Haloeth, the Mice basically took over... it eventually led to the downfall of the Loup Maru, as I understand."

"The Wyrm-taint went unfound." She nodded very slowly as she absorbed the statement about what would have happened if they hadn't acted when and how they had. "I think I will have a very detailed conversation with him when he has settled more." She drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. "What happened here ... the race we nurtured to sentience was infected by the Destroyer and we could not purge it." She dropped her eyes slightly. "The decision was made that we could not allow a repeat of what was happening on Enderonth. We ... exterminated them." She admitted painfully, going silent for a lingering moment as she pulled herself together. "It has left a gaping wound in all of us, but it was them or Haloeth. We have already begun the search for a race to raise in their place, but it is hard with the loss of our ward so recent."

"If it is any sort of comfort or help, SunWind's Haloeth is proof that, if something hadn't changed, it wasn't only the Loup Maru who would suffer," Lyass said softly. "As I understand, the Mice nearly destroyed both other races... then the Plutarkians destroyed what was left, and Haloeth itself. The Mice were completely unable to stop them."

"When did the Plutarkians come?" She asked softly, pronouncing the new name with slow care.

"I don't know, for sure," Lyass admitted. "Within twenty to thirty years of when SunWind was thrown out of his system; he was the last known survivor, and he'd been fighting them alone for over a decade after they destroyed the other two inhabitable planets in the system when it happened."

Eyes-to-the-Sky nodded slowly, her tail twitching a bit as she thought. "He is remarkably well socialized for his background." She glanced to where SunWind was still sleeping in Wolf's arms. "How did these Plutarkian's come?"

"Are you familiar with the idea of starships?" Lyass asked her.

Eyes-to-the-Sky paused thoughtfully, searching her memories, then the racial memories for a meaning beyond what she could piece together from the word's component parts. "Yes, the humans of Enderonth have built a few. I can see how those beginnings could progress into something viable for distance travel based on what they accomplished with other types of vehicles."

"The Plutarkians have similar vessels, that can travel from one system to another," Lyass explained. "As we do in the Republic. From what I have been told, the Plutarkians tend to infiltrate an area and try to purchase influence over a world and its people. They offer money and technology in exchange for what they want, at first, and then they invade once such means have acquired all they can."

"They will get little here or on Itassa with such offers." She considered the young Jedi. "They are likely to bring their spaceships and warriors early then?"

"It is possible, though they may not even exist in this universe," Lyass pointed out. "SunWind could better explain things... I'm afraid that I know very, very little beyond what has been discussed in the past months."

"News of such arrivals would have traveled quickly. I am sure all know of your pack by now. There is time to speak with him and the Rallic Alphas before they could get far." Eyes-to-the-Sky decided, speaking mostly to herself. "Do you know when another portal will open for your bridge system?"

"I believe Obi-Wan said it should be four months, but whether or not we go will depend on the odds of its going back to the Republic, most likely," Lyass said easily. "And on whether or not there is something else going on that we have to deal with."

"Ah, yes, the eternal condition." She chuckled softly. "I doubt you will have much trouble finding a place to bed down or hunt while you are here."

"That's good," Lyass smiled. "We would rather not infringe on anybody's territory, if -" she paused, leaning back as a tremor in the Force from far away that was stronger than anything she'd felt, short of her Master's death.

A sharp gasp nearby was distant to her ears, but the gentle mental touch was familiar with what she was experiencing.

"~You may wish to talk your alpha into staying longer.~" Eyes-to-the-Sky said softly in her mind. "~An untrained Seer talent can be dangerous for all.~"

Lyass wrenched her mind and focus back into the present, shaking her head sharply to clear it.

"I'm sorry," she said softly. "I have been trained... but I've never felt a vision like that before. Like somebody screaming in your ear...."

"~Relax into it,~" Eyes-to-the-Sky crooned in her mind gently, guiding her to the place where the vision was trying to form. "~Haloeth is strong and determined. Let her speak.~"

"~Yes, she is,~" Lyass agreed, taking a deep breath and focusing on her early training. She hadn't bothered with this part of it in years, to be honest... there was too much of a fog over the future in her Republic, the Dark Side's influence masking what was to come of the Order.

Now, she had a lot of catching up to do, and quickly.

Perhaps this stop was for more than SunWind, part of her mused even as her mind's eye saw what a powerful mind in the Force wanted her to.

It was blue. Rich with small life. Motion was everywhere, in the life and in the thick air, all around her. One particular form was trying to get her attention, but she couldn't focus past the chaotic mass of life and motion all around it.

"~There's a creature there,~" Lyass told her guide. "~I can't make it out... blue... water? An oasis?~"

"~Possibly,~" she nodded. "~There is a sea on Haloeth, polar ice and many rivers. Try to show me.~"

She opened her mind to the Lorekeeper; giving her a direct look into the strange vision and the creature Lyass couldn't quite make out darting through a school of fish, plant life, hiding and hunting as Lyass tried to get a good look at it.

"~That is the sea near here. I know some of those things.~" Eyes-to-the-Sky said before backing out of her mind, and taking the images and intent of the vision with her as best she could. "~I can feel the importance Haloeth puts on that little one. Can you tell anything more?~"

"~Very little... it is important. Something... growing. Changing... unclear. Natural, but not....~"

"~A direction? A time? Grief or joy?~" She pressed, trying to have something of a purpose to take to the others.

"~The future ... that way,~" she motioned with her hand. "~I can't tell the result, but I feel that good things are meant for it.~"

Eyes-to-the-Sky nodded. "Are you willing to speak to a gathering of Seers and Lorekeepers? This is worthy of further investigation."

"It can't be worse than the Council," Lyass said, chuckling slightly as she came out of it. "If I could rest a bit first, though? I'm afraid that was... rather draining. Back home, I was never able to get a vision like that one."

"Of course," Eyes-to-the-Sky nodded easily. "It will be after Alpha Shadows-in-the-Dawn comes to meet SunWind. Several days yet."

"Good," Lyass nodded slightly. "Maybe by then we'll have more information... thank you for your help, Eyes-to-the-Sky."

"You are welcome, Lyass." She smiled in return.

Obi-Wan was too fascinated by what he was seeing in the Force around them to be tired, though by all rights he would be ready to drop if he hadn't supplemented his endurance with the Force so much. These people of the Living Force were much more in tune with it than he had even guessed by meeting SunWind, but in their oneness with it, they explained in many ways how surviving the loss of his world had warped and all but broken him, and just how much further he'd fallen than Obi-Wan first assumed.

These people drew on more Force from their world by just breathing than most Jedi did in battle. He didn't want to imagine what one with Jedi and native training would be capable of. And that was before he started thinking about what a Lumari could do with a lightsaber, or what a lightsaber that size would do to anything else.

He shifted his focus back to the hunt as the group came up on their prey, a small herd of local beasts that were about the same size as a bantha, though they had far less fur. These were about as bright though, not that that was saying much. Perfect prey for a large group of predators like the Loup Maru with so many mouths to feed back at their den.

He recognized the basic tactics Battles-the-Death-Bear sent to them all; though he was a bit surprised she only wanted one smaller one taken. He moved out with one group of five others that was to flush the herd; get them to run so others could wear them down.

They waited for the others to get into place, taking up positions on the other side of the herd and along the path they'd drive them, one group at a time, until one or more of the beasts fell out and showed itself to be the weakest. Then Battles-the-Death-Bear and her partner would close in for the kill as the ranking members.

At least if it went according to plan.

The scrubland and occasional shrub trees didn't offer nearly enough cover normally, and Obi-Wan found himself using the Force to hide himself when the other hunters used their smallest, dusty-red forms and long knowledge of the world to do the same. It was only when everyone was in position that the Lumari forms came with howls and roars that startled the small herd into a stampede with the Loup Maru nipping at their heals.

Obi-Wan realized that they all knew which one would fall out first. He could tell in her Force-signature that she was just a bit weaker than the rest. What he didn't understand at first was why they made such a production of it. One Lumari could have easily snuck in and broken the target's neck.

Of course, if it was noticed by the rest of the herd, it would be somewhat nastier... and there was the pack issue to deal with. Such tactics could be considered too risky, or too self-focused, for the rest of them. Probably the too self-focused. This gave everyone, no matter how many there were, some hand in the success or failure of the hunt.

As it was, he was with the rest of the group, putting the Force to use where his lungs were insufficient, making the charging group seem larger and even more intimidating than they already were until the herd was passed on to the next ambush that would continue to chase them.

When his group slowed, Obi-Wan paused to catch his breath, but was careful not to show how winded he was without the Force bolstering him. He had hoped for a longer rest, but it was only a few minutes before the group leader, Sun-Dusted, padded on in Lupki, the form that could move the fasted for the longest. They didn't follow the herd directly, but cut across the dusty red landscape to head off where it was expected to end.

He followed as well as he could, though he had to keep moving at a steady jog to have a chance of keeping up with them. He had a feeling he'd be politely turning down any future invitations, at this rate. As much as he tried, he simply couldn't keep up with them well enough in the long run.

At least those near him, those who were no doubt aware of his straining, didn't seem to think anything less of him for it. He was sure that Sun-Dusted and Viraxxi were honestly impressed by his performance. Just then he caught Sun-Dusted glance at him in the Force, and the pace gradually slowed a bit. He still had to jog, but it wasn't as punishing.

Sun-Dusted dropped into Luprani between one step and the next and settled on his stomach on top of a small rise. His head was down as the others relaxed a bit while keeping a low profile.

It was time to wait for the hunt to end.

He could hear the howls change as each group drove the herd in a wide circle through the landscape. He had recovered for the most part by the time the sun was halfway down the horizon and he heard the dual tone of Battles-the-Death-Bear and Ebony-Stag cut the air just before an animal's death bellow.

He placed the location even as his group stood. He had to give Sun-Dusted credit. They weren't far off at all.

He started to follow them as they moved towards the kill. The rest had helped quite a bit; he was able to keep up with them on the run, and wouldn't be completely exhausted when time came to prepare the kill.

He was only a little surprised that nothing had been done to it when they arrived, until he picked up on the anticipation, the waiting; it wouldn't begin until everyone had arrived.

"You do well." Battles-the-Death-Bear approached in him Lumari, her praise honestly meant.

"Thank you," he said, meaning it just as honestly. "Your people are very impressive, to say the least."

"Haloeth did not create Her defenders as anything less than what would be needed." She actually smiled at him. "It seems little different than your kind. You are what you need to be."

"When we have to be," he nodded. "The Jedi usually have to work alone as well; you learn to adapt."

"Yes, I can imagine so." She admitted, though the idea of being alone so long disturbed her to the core. "Ah, good." She glanced up at the last four arrivals.

Obi-Wan settled back to watch and keep the most appropriate manner for whatever was going on. Something in their manner made him doubt butchering was next. Their manner seemed too reverent as gathered in a circle around the carcass and began to howl.

Despite the translator's difficulty with the subtleties of the language, that they were giving thanks to the life given up to feed them came across clearly.

He offered his own quiet thanks into the Force, watching the brief ritual of the hunters as an outsider.

Then it was time to butcher the animal, and he held back a bit to watch how they went about it. Too many cultures held importance on the how and with what of food preparations. Any culture that gave thanks to a dead beast for its meat had high odds of other rituals and customs he didn't want to run afoul of.

There was a pause in the gathering, all eyes fell on Battles-the-Death-Bear as she made a silent ripple in the Force and turned to Obi-Wan.

"I invited you on this hunt. You did well in what I had you do." She spoke seriously, the importance of what was happening clear just by the intensity of the other hunters on the pair of them. "Do you wish to cut the kill?"

"I will start, at least, thank you," he said respectfully, igniting his lightsaber and moving to start removing one of the legs to make the move easier. It was short, quick and bloodless work with the weapon, but when he looked up from removing the second hind leg the pack had made equally short work in removing the front legs and neck from the body.

Then the detail work began with claws on the main body. Somewhat to his surprise, even when they'd finished it was only the minimum of butchering to break it in half along the spine.

Powerful ripples in the Force, like nothing he'd ever felt before, snapped Obi-Wan's attention to several of the Loup Maru; seven to be exact.

As he watched, they unhinged their jaws, rather like snakes, opening them wider than should have been physically possible. Then each one took a portion of the beast, something that was upwards of twice as big as their Lumari forms, and with some help, shoved them into their open maws without distorting their bodies.

The Force swirled and rang with the power each was using to warp the most fundamental laws of physics.

All that, and it was to bring home a kill small enough that the hunting party could easily carry back with no trouble.

Of course, it would let them keep hunting if they had to. He watched, unable to completely hide his amazement at the unorthodox use of the Force, or the contortions they were going through to swallow the pieces, much less how completely mundane they all thought this was.

"As much as you use the energy around us, this surprises you?" Viraxxi looked at him curiously.

"This is a use of it that is well and truly beyond anything my people have discovered," he said easily, and honestly.

"Oh." She looked surprised, then looked at the last of the kill disappearing down grossly extended maws. "Both are a fairly simple tricks I could teach you."

"I may take you up on the offer, though I fear I have little to offer in return," he warned her.

"You know how to make a powerful fetish," she pointed out, though he could feel clearly it was more about showing him he was wrong in his assessment rather than actually expecting him to trade such a secret for what she was offering. "I saw you train your kin, there are moves you could teach we would find useful. Your stilling too."

"We will see then," he said, inclining his head towards her. It might not be something he'd use often, but new skills and uses for the Force were always worth learning.

Wolf was still snuggled close to his mate when he got the first inklings that he was going to wake up. Still it would be a bit ... which left Wolf with time to think yet.

He'd been doing a lot of thinking over the past few hours, to be honest. Especially about the warnings he'd gotten, about SunWind and potential dames. That would be tricky to try and warn him off about... especially figuring out what parts of it were serious doubts and what parts were being a little jealous, or just wanting some time with his mate. After the past few weeks with Alyaa, he had to admit that he was feeling just a little neglected. It made it all the harder knowing that SunWind wasn't all that happy about all the female attention, for all he wanted pups and couldn't resist it very well.

A soft nuzzle, and unconscious movement that buried SunWind's nose a little move into Wolf's fur brought a contented sigh. Even without the natural telepathic gift of the Loup Maru and Jedi, Wolf had few doubts the sound was about confirming who he was sleeping with this time. It came every morning, but not when Alyaa was the one closest to him.

"It's me, love," Wolf murmured, shifting to hug him and rub his back. "Alyaa's still busy," he chuckled slightly.

"Good," he mumbled, still mostly asleep as rather content to stay that way. "Love you."

"Love you too," Wolf murmured, kissing his muzzle gently. "Think it went well last night?"

"Hope so," he returned the kiss and slid his hands along Wolf's sides affectionately. "We'll know when she's examined later today."

"Mmm ... 'til then, we've got time for us?" Wolf murmured, pressing closer and kissing him again, rubbing his sides.

"Yes." SunWind smiled at him and shifted down a bit to nuzzle his chest, which put his antennae right near Wolf's nose. He slid one hand down Wolf's chest and under his belt without hurry. "~I may be drunk on them, but I love you.~" He told Wolf in the most intimate manner he knew how.

"~I know,~" Wolf thought back, though he couldn't keep all his thoughts about it to himself in the process. He nuzzled SunWind's antennae, licking it lightly.

"~Even through the hurt.~" SunWind moaned softly and used his tail to open up Wolf's jeans so he could slide his fingers along his mate's slowly filling sheath. "~I'm only drunk on their scent.~"

"Mmm ... I know," Wolf murmured, pressing into SunWind's touch. "Hell of a scent, 'specially last night."

"Oh yeah." SunWind arched his body against Wolf's as they slowly caressed each other, utterly oblivious to all the people and activity around them. "Still wished it was you I was making feel so good, making me feel so good."

"We've got time," Wolf rumbled deeply, tilting SunWind's muzzle up to kiss him deeply as they rubbed against each other. "Mmm... especially with Alyaa having others to keep her busy."

"Yesss." SunWind shuddered and moved his hand to Wolf's side so they could rub against each other fully. "Oh yes." He breathed, nearly a sob as they slowly pleasured each other, their mouths rarely leaving the kiss even when a few salty tears escaped SunWind's eyes at being with who he actually wanted to be with, rather than who instinct drove him to.

Wolf rubbed against his mate slowly, wanting to draw this out for both of them as his hands roamed the larger male's back. The fact they were in the open didn't really register with him; he simply gave himself over to pleasuring and being pleasured by his mate, reaching up to stroke his antennae lightly.

He knew the shudder that was coming in response and relished it. As sensitive as they were, as easily as anyone could make him come by touching them, no one else got that particular response. No one alive at least. It was one more little thing that SunWind gave only him, a mark of what he meant to him.

"Love you," Wolf moaned softly into his mouth, feeling his balls start to tingle as he came close. "So much...."

"~Yes.~" SunWind held him close and let their mounting pleasure push them both over the edge much more gently than they usually bothered with, but this morning, after mating to breed for so many hours, it was what he wanted the most; the kind of touch and pleasure that couldn't come from a female form.

Wolf hugged him close as both of them came against each other, their seed and arousal blending together. It was then that he remembered just how exposed they were, the collection of Loup Maru around them, not a few of whom were watching with varying levels of interest and amusement.

"I can't believe we just did this," he murmured softly, blushing deeply beneath his fur.

"You'll get used to it," SunWind licked his cheek affectionately. "Just like I got used to folks wanting privacy, eventually."

"Two days ago, only folks who wanted more privacy around here had feathers," Wolf pointed out with a murmur.

"Two days ago, I wasn't home." SunWind nuzzled against him. "I'll be more careful." He promised softly.

"Mmm ... we'll figure it out," Wolf murmured, nuzzling him back. "We should probably clean up before we get dressed again," he observed.

SunWind nodded and reluctantly extracted himself from the embrace to stand. "I'll show you how."

"We can snuggle more later," Wolf promised him with a bit of a smile, sitting up and trying not to think about the others who were watching them as a pair or watching one of them with more direct interest. Most of the pack, however, was going about their day like nothing was happening, and to them, it probably wasn't.

He followed his mate out of the main den without question, honestly more than a little grateful that whatever form this bath was going to take, he'd have a little more privacy in it. They didn't go far, just over a small rise and past some shrub trees.

"Dust or tongue?" SunWind murmured as he turned to draw Wolf close and nuzzled him.

"Mmm ... tongue sounds good to me," Wolf murmured, nuzzling him back and winking. "Maybe now that we've got a little privacy, I can give you an extra thorough cleaning in ... certain places."

"Get her smell off and yours on." He grinned and kissed him before moving his mouth slowly down Wolf's body. "I like it."

"Mmm ... and I don't think they're going to be expecting us back any time soon, so plenty of time to do it right," Wolf rumbled, stroking his mate's antennae, leaning back onto the ridge and pulling him down with him.

"Not likely," SunWind shivered into the contact and knelt as he began to lick their mixed seed from Wolf's fur.

"Mmm ... y'still thinking about some way to keep Alyaa happy that means you don't have to be with her all the time?" Wolf asked, rumbling lightly.

"No, but that'd be great." He glanced up, his dark brown eyes showing just how clearly he did.

"I was talking with Flames-in-the-Sky, she said something about an 'acoten,'" Wolf explained. "Mean anything to you?"

SunWind paused, working his mind back to the still unfamiliar place of his early upbringing. "It's a pack that entertains outsiders. I think."

"About what it sounded like," Wolf nodded. "From the sound of it, would've called it a brothel back home," he admitted. "Sounds like something she'd enjoy; plenty of action, people coming to her for sex and attention... don't know how you'd feel about letting her go though, or how she'd feel about being 'let go' like that."

He remained still and thought it over. "Except for the negative associations, yes, it's like a brothel. I'd love to get rid of her." He murmured, then nuzzled the fur above Wolf's sheath. "Just have to tell her the right way."

"I'm a merc, love," Wolf groaned with a chuckle. "Mmm ... not too many of the negative things there with me. We'll figure out a way ... maybe just make the offer for her, if last night was any sign she'd love it."

"You think she'd go for it?" SunWind asked, the hope in his expression almost painful for Wolf to see.

"I think so," Wolf nodded, stroking SunWind's antennae gently until SunWind began to lick him clean again. "Once she knew you were okay with it, especially if she knew you wanted her to. Let her know you're turning her free, maybe."

"Worth a try." He nodded. "Was there one interested in her?"

"Flames-in-the-Sky said she had kin who might be," Wolf rumbled. "So there's a chance there, at least."

"Good," SunWind breathed a sigh of relief before sliding his mouth along the side of Wolf's sheath to lick at his balls.

"Oooh... is that a 'stop talking?'" Wolf asked with a groan, pressing into his lover's attentions.

"~Yeah,~" SunWind chuckled before sucking one ball into his mouth to wash it with his tongue.

Wolf tried very hard not to shift or look as uneasy as he was. The Endless Storm's Alpha would walk through the shimmering blue portal at any moment. He had no idea how it would go down when SunWind met his family for the first time since they'd been slaughtered in front of him. He honestly wasn't sure whether to hope there were no similarities to make it less of a shock, or whether to hope there was enough in common that his mate could settle in quickly and forget most of the past thirty or so years.

It didn't help that SunWind wasn't even sure what he was hoping for.

So Wolf stood by his mate and did his best to support him in what was coming and tried not to make him any more tense than he already was watching the first form stepped into the clearing from the portal. An elegantly boned, dark red Maru form with flowing black hair and crystal blue eyes demanded obedience at a glance.

Even before her companions joined her, both Shadows-in-the-Dawn and SunWind stiffened as they locked eyes.

Then SunWind began to tremble even as she stumbled forward a few paces as the arrival of her companions pushed her forward.

Wolf took his mate's hand, squeezing it gently, offering him the support he could. From the descriptions and mental impressions he'd gotten, he was fairly sure who this Shadows-in-the-Dawn was to SunWind.

His mother.

"Dawn's-Whisper?" Shadows-in-the-Dawn finally gasped when she found a bit of her voice back.

"Death Angel." He murmured in reply, answering his-not-name with her own.

"~It really is him?~" A big gray male looked at his leader.

"In a way." She answered them both as she got her wits about her. "My son died when he was thirteen."

"My pack died when I was nineteen." SunWind answered the unspoken question.

"Am I a grandmother?" She cocked her head at him.

"Not yet." He flicked a glance at Dust-Runner. "If she's carrying, they're hers." He said softly.

Shadows-in-the-Dawn looked at the lower-ranking female solidly. "We will see about that." She focused back on her son. "I believe we have much to discuss."

"Yes, mother." SunWind dipped his head slightly.

Wolf mimicked the gesture, not wanting to offend his mate's mother, hoping that the old pack manners he'd learned would keep serving him well here. He really hoped that the 'much to discuss' would only include him peripherally, at most.

Through it all, Obi-Wan and Lyass were watching in rapt fascination and carefully control concern for what could well be a turning point in a world's history. Awkward, cautious joy, old pain, desire from the gray male.

"~Come on, you're my Alpha and my mate. This is for you too.~" SunWind sent to Obi-Wan and Lyass along with a small motion to join them with Lighting-at-Dusk away from the group to an extent.

"~Thank you,~" Obi-Wan replied as he and Lyass followed SunWind and the others, not entirely sure what would come of this but pleased to be directly included.

It was a rather odd but very powerful group. Alpha Lighting-at-Dusk and Lorekeeper Eyes-to-the-Sky of Blue Crystal Falls, Alpha Shadows-in-the-Dawn, a powder-blue furred, sea-blue haired female and the gray male from the Endless Storm, SunWind, Wolf, Lyass and himself from his group. Alyaa was skirting the edge of the group. Far enough away to not get in trouble, but close enough to catch much of what was said. She wasn't alone either, and from the two Alphas reactions, it was quite acceptable behavior.

"First, the good news." Lighting-at-Dusk spoke up as they all settled in and relaxed as best they could. "SunWind's second litter has taken well. At least two pups are in Dust-Runner."

"Second litter?" Wolf asked, unable to keep his disbelief entirely out of his voice.

"Alyaa, I suspect," Lyass said softly, several things she'd felt making more sense now.

"Yes," the local Alpha nodded seriously. "She is not of us, but she is carrying a Loup Maru pup and he is healthy so far."

"I think her departure from the pack will have to be delayed." SunWind managed to murmur through his shock.

"I still wish one of Dust-Runner's pups." Shadows-in-the-Dawn looked at her litter-sister and counterpart. "As the first full-blooded offspring of my first born."

"I know, sister." Lighting-at-Dusk nodded. "She will be relieved that you are not demanding them all."

"You are my sister." Shadows-in-the-Dawn chuckled. "They are not going far, or be the first of either of our packs to join the other."

Obi-Wan simply watched quietly; even if the argument could be made that he had some stake in the decision, he wasn't going to remove one of the pups from their homeworld. It was interesting to see how casual they were about it though, and how little say either parent seemed to have in the fate of their pups. Yet from both alphas open minds he knew they were very concerned for the social status and care for the pups, parents and mates.

The question of Alyaa's litter raised another one about Lyass, though a relatively minor one.

"~Even if I could conceive with him, I have not.~" She replied just to him. "~I can control my fertility, and I have kept it off. They are not so desperate for females that it would be a reason to stay.~"

"~Which is very good,~" Obi-Wan agreed. "~I didn't really think you had; general observation.~"

"As to pack associations." Lighting-at-Dusk caught everyone's attention again. "SunWind is an Alpha, and by rights should have his own territory."

"That will take time, sis, and you know it." Shadows-in-the-Dawn reminded her. "Until then, they are welcome to share the Endless Storm's land." She looked at SunWind. "From another body or not, you are still my oldest son."

"Thank you, mother." SunWind dipped his head in thanks and submission. "My pack is only three now, two and a pup once he is born."

That got a raised eyebrow from her.

"You do not like her?" Shadows-in-the-Dawn cocked her head.

"Not when I can think." He murmured, his eyes flicked down to her tail that gently squeezed his calf.

"Just like your father." She smiled wistfully. "He couldn't resist it well either."

"A warning, about Alyaa," Obi-Wan added quietly. "Her scent seems to be very potent at all times, not only when she is in heat. It is similar with Lyass, though she controls it far better. It is something that has to be watched out for."

"We have discussed it some." Eyes-to-the-Sky nodded to Wolf. "My mother's sire's daughter knows the acoten. There should be one who would welcome such a member."

"Very much." The gray male nodded.

"The acoten?" Obi-Wan asked, not recognizing the word, just as curious as they could see Alyaa was, where she was sitting away from the group, still slightly stunned by the overheard news of her pregnancy.

"They are packs who entertain those without a mate. Some offer breeding partners as well." The gray male told him politely.

"For a fee." Shadows-in-the-Dawn added. "From all that has been said, she would flourish in such a pack."

"Yes, I imagine she would," Obi-Wan nodded, the controlled interest of the Twi'lek in question clear to all of them.

"We were both okay with it, too," Wolf said when SunWind didn't say anything. "Though obviously, the timing will have to change now."

"Yes, and I think she likes the idea as well." Lighting-at-Dusk chuckled with a look at the brightly colored alien.

"A good thing." SunWind let a small breath of relief out, then looked at his mother, though his eyes kept flicking up at the gray male.

"He is called Shadow-Flash here." She said. "What is your current name?"

"SunWind." He said softly.

"What was his name?" She nodded to her companion.

"Stag." He answered, a nearly inaudible tremor in his voice.

"~We can work it out when this is done.~" Shadow-Flash sent him privately and got a small nod in reply. "~I miss him still.~"

"~So do I.~" SunWind admitted privately to this stranger, though Wolf heard it all as well. What made it less than painful was that SunWind also including how dear Wolf was to him even in the thoughts of his first lover. There wasn't a place in SunWind's mind that didn't have some warmth for Wolf in it, even those parts that were before they met.

"Lyass, I am Future-Sight." The dusty blue female introduced herself. "Have you had any further visions?"

"Nothing that was clearer than the first," Lyass admitted. "My skills at seeing into the future were neglected, as they were for many Jedi in my universe, it seems. The cloud that hung over its future was... discouraging, to say the least."

"Are you willing to sit with me tonight and try?" She asked politely.

"If you are, and you feel it would help, quite willing," Lyass said easily. "Whatever I was seeing, I am sure that it was of great importance."

"That it is agreed on." Future-Sight nodded. "It is important to get as many details as we can to tie it into the visions others are having correctly. It is not uncommon for the full story to be given, but in pieces to dozens of Seers. It makes sure we continue to socialize." She smiled faintly.

"That it would," Lyass agreed. "I would be happy to sit with you then, Future-Sight. Thank you."

"While we're on the subject of the future?" Obi-Wan asked, waiting a moment until he had the group's attention. "What year is it, by your local calendar?"

"Twenty-nine-five'o'o'one." Lighting-at-Dusk answered him with a curious look.

"I was born in Twenty-nine-four'nine'four'six." SunWind supplied, catching on to Obi-Wan's intent. "It's thirty-two years past the invasion on my Haloeth."

"All right," Obi-Wan nodded. "Given the other similarities, I felt it would be good to make sure we hadn't shifted back through time to before the Plutarkian invasion of Haloeth. It may still come, but it isn't as likely to come in the immediate future."

"We would have heard of their arrival from the Ravizza last night if there was anything out there." Lighting-at-Dusk added. "It is out looking for information on them even now."

"My apologies," the Jedi said, inclining his head to them. "I was unable to understand much of what was said last night."

"No offence taken. You understand a great deal for an offworlder." Lighting-at-Dusk smiled at him, then glanced at SunWind and Shadow-Flash, who hadn't really been paying much attention to the rest of the gathering. "I think they need some time to catch up, and settle things out." She said softly, the memories of helping a grief-stricken teen through the loss of his friend still clear in her mind.

"Agreed," Obi-Wan nodded slightly. "We all have a fair amount to do, I believe; maybe this would be a good time for it?"

"Yes," Shadows-in-the-Dawn chuckled and stood. "I understand you have many interesting stories to tell."

"Perhaps," he said, standing as well. "I could certainly help you catch up on some of what I know about SunWind."

"Perhaps a little privacy to ... talk?" Shadow-Flash took the lead again and offered his hand to SunWind, who took it in a bit of a daze.

"Would three be a crowd?" Wolf asked Shadow-Flash politely, though his desire to come along was clear.

"You are his mate, as I understand." The big male nodded a bit reluctantly.

"Come on." SunWind wrapped his tail around Wolf's waist as they walked off.

"Thank you," Wolf said to both of them, moving to follow as they left the group and headed out beyond the den. He wasn't all that surprised when turning around a small ridge found SunWind pressed up against the dusty stone with Shadow-Flash's mouth melded against his own and their bodies rubbing together.

Wolf sat back for now, watching the two of them. It was much like the memories of Stag that SunWind had shared with him, almost identical except for the shift in age for both of them. It was hard to forget that for that first time SunWind hadn't really consented, and it was equally unlikely that he had now. Still, this time SunWind was a seasoned warrior and Wolf knew could take care of himself.

Well, except when it came to sex. Didn't have a good track record there at all.

A throaty moan drew Wolf's attention back to the present and the way Shadow-Flash was mouthing his hardening sheath.

"Ohhh, Stag." SunWind reached down to stroke Shadow-Flash's antennae, but his tail reached out to Wolf, as did his eyes.

Wolf moved towards his side, not sure how much he could do without bothering Shadow-Flash... or how he felt about the wrong names being used, though he had few doubts that SunWind would be called Dawn's-Whisper more than once. He pressed close to his mate, stroking his chest lightly and kissing him.

The pleasure echoed into his mind, but with it, and for him only, was gratitude.

"~Thank you.~" SunWind moaned into Wolf's mind, only just stringing the sound-thoughts together. "~Need to finish this.~"

"~Do you still want him, as a mate?~" Wolf asked SunWind silently, shifting a hand up to the back of his head, caressing one of his antennae lightly.

"~Don't know.~" He shuddered and moaned, willingly submitting to both his lovers. "~Love you, loved Stag. He's so close.~" His mind went fuzzy as he came in Shadow-Flash's mouth and was licked clean.

"~He's probably going through the same,~" Wolf thought back with his usual difficulty in getting his meaning across. "~We'll figure it out.~"

Shadow-Flash stood and kissed SunWind, their tongues mingling. "~Been wanting to do that since I was fourteen.~"

"~I know.~" SunWind kissed him back hard.

When they finally parted, Shadow-Flash's eyes glittered with mischief. "~Think he'd hit me?~"

"Nah," SunWind chuckled out loud and caught Wolf's mouth in a long, hungry kiss.

Even as he was melting into the embrace and the warmth behind it he felt knowing fingers gently cup his groin and caress him through the thick cloth of his jeans.

"Huh?" Wolf murmured into SunWind's mouth, his confusion and total surprise clear in his mind as he realized that Shadow-Flash was the one whose hand was between his legs. Still, it didn't take much for him to let his nose and arousal take over, pressing into the touch and kissing SunWind even more heatedly.

The Loup Maru kneeling between them took it as acceptance and unzipped Wolf's jeans after lightly brushing SunWind's mind for the how. Without hesitation Shadow-Flash nuzzled the musky, hard flesh covered in thick, soft gray fur.

A low moan escaped the kiss going on above him, and Wolf reached down to join SunWind in working the other Loup Maru's antennae.

"~Love you,~" he told SunWind silently, wrapping his other arm around his back to hold him close as his shaft emerged to Shadow-Flash's attentions.

"~Love you.~" SunWind wrapped Wolf's mind in his emotions.

"~I am not out to come between you.~" Shadow-Flash told them as he took Wolf's cock into his mouth. "~I'm not so ill-mannered as to try to come between mates.~"

"I know," Wolf admitted with a groan between kisses. "Just not easy to forget you were his first, kind of...."

"~I understand.~" Shadow-Flash said silently as he worked Wolf's hard cock with his mouth and balls with his hands.

"~Like being taken?~" SunWind asked privately to Shadow-Flash.

"~Sometimes.~" He looked up with an inquiring gaze.

"~Wolf takes you, while I suck you off?~" He knew he had the gray male with the shudder of anticipation that ran down his body, earning a low groan and shudder from Wolf as well.

"How'd you like to mount him to finish off?" SunWind whispered in Wolf's ear.

"Mmm ... he want it?" Wolf asked, licking his muzzle.

"~That's what the shudder was for.~" Shadow-Flash sucked a bit harder as his hand slid up to press against the base of Wolf's knot.

"Oooh... well if you don't stop that, not sure if I'll have anything for back there," Wolf half-chuckled, stroking Shadow-Flash's antennae lightly.

Shadow-Flash rumbled and slowly drew his head back and gave Wolf a last lick before standing and kissing SunWind solidly and lifting his tail in invitation to Wolf.

Wolf shifted, straddling the Loup Maru's hips and rubbing his shaft between his ass-cheeks.

"Need any prep?" He asked with a rumble.

"No," he moaned softly, shivering as SunWind kissed and licked a trail of fire down his body to cup his balls and take the tip of his cock into his mouth.

Wolf shifted, leaning up to lick the base of Shadow-Flash's antennae as he sank himself into his ass with a deep, lusty groan, feeling his tight ass squeeze down around his length.

Shadow-Flash moaned deeply as he was sandwiched between two pleasures. He instinctively opened his mind to his lovers to share the pleasure they were giving and taking and got a surprise from SunWind's mind. He moaned again as he realized just how much his first love's counterpart enjoyed being taken, even just in the mouth.

He reached down and caressed SunWind's antennae before he began to thrust into the welcoming wetness the way the tawny Loup Maru wanted.

Wolf found a rhythm of his own, stroking Shadow-Flash's hips as he thrust, his knot swelling quickly after the oral attention from before.

"Nnngh ... tie?" He asked, knowing there wouldn't be too much longer before the question was answered for him.

"Not today." Shadow-Flash breathed sharply, then moaned as he came with long ribbons of seed squired into SunWind's mouth and his body clamping down around Wolf's flesh to milk it for every bit it was worth.

It pushed Wolf over the edge; his grey fur blending with Shadow-Flash's, Wolf bit off a howl as he pumped his own seed deep into the Loup Maru's ass as all three relished the feeling of the triple orgasm shared across their minds.

"Oh, wow." Shadow-Flash breathed as they relaxed and he pulled SunWind to his feet for a deep and lingering kiss that eventually ended with SunWind's chin resting on the bigger male's shoulder and his tail snaked around to wrap around Wolf's waist.

"Yeah," he managed threw a tight throat that soon closed too much to speak as tears began to trickle down his face.

Wolf pulled out of Shadow-Flash and moved around, gently pressing against his mate's back and hugging him as well, holding him along with the other male as he started to catch up with everything that had happened.

Lyass sat down near Future-Sight, taking a deep breath as they prepared to try for another vision.

"Thank you again," she said respectfully to the Seer. "Have others been having similar visions, elsewhere?"

"~Possibly,~" she nodded slightly and settled down in Lumari. "~No one has had a clear vision, but given how rarely the sea is shown to us, they are likely to be connected.~"

"~Yes, they are,~" Lyass agreed silently, slipping into the Moment as well as she could. It was easier than it had been on Tatooine, she was glad to find. Easier to focus, despite the large number of Loup Maru and the effect they sometimes had on her focus.

The vision came again easily, still as fuzzy as before. This time, though, she felt the mind of a true Loup Maru Seer ghost against hers and draw her into a connection with the world that was natural to her and almost too much to comprehend for Lyass. So much like the Force, but so different at well. There was a definite personality here; feminine, fierce and maternal. All around were distant motes of other Loup Maru's minds, other Seers here in the world's own Force-bubble.

"~This is....~"

"~Haloeth, yes,~" Future-Sight confirmed.

"~Very different from what I am used to,~" Lyass mused.

"~She is quite protective of her world, as is Ramilz of the entire system. It is why SunWind's story is so frightening to many, as much as he is fascinating for his survival. That such a thing could happen is ... it would require all of this to die.~"

"~Is that what is happening with Enderonth?~"

"~Perhaps,~" she acknowledged reluctantly. "~It is what the Wyrm and Weaver are trying to do, each in their own way. The odds are against Enderonth, but she is not gone yet.~"

"~For now, we will focus on Haloeth, I believe,~" Lyass nodded slightly, deciding it was a good time to focus on the task at hand again.

She could hear the curiosity in her guide's mind, the unasked question about why she would be concerned for another world when the vision was so clearly about Haloeth.

"~Try to settle into that vision again. I can begin to weave together the hints the others have gleaned.~" Future-Sight instructed her.

Lyass took a deep breath, trying to find the place she had been before, the blue ocean and the creatures inside it.

It didn't take long, but this time it wasn't the small creature that had her attention. It was quite a big one. An intelligent one. A social one.

And it radiated a greedy Darkness not so different from that of a Sith.

No ... it was different, in a way. The Sith were anger, they burned for revenge against a slight that had long ago been forgotten, even by them. It was... understandable, in a way. This, this was pure greed, desire for the sake of desire. And a heartless willingness to do anything to fulfill the endless hunger for more.

"~That is not good.~" Future-Sight murmured.

"~Fish... Plutarkian?~" Lyass asked mentally, even knowing that the Loup Maru couldn't answer her question. She didn't want to bring SunWind into it though. "~Can Obi-Wan be reached?~"

"~Yes, just as you normally do.~" She nodded silently.

"~Obi-Wan... how much to you know about the Plutarkians?~" Lyass asked the other Jedi.

"~Enough to recognize the race, several individuals, insignia. SunWind had a lot to warn me about early on. You think you have seen one?~"

"~The impression of their kind,~" Lyass agreed, giving him a window into what she was sensing, the decadence and depravity behind it.

"~Yes, that fits with what he showed me.~" He nodded. "~No guarantees, but it fits.~"

"~That is what I was afraid of,~" she murmured mentally. "~According to Obi-Wan, it fits, at least,~" she told Future-Sight.

"~So I heard,~" Future-Sight said, already thinking even as she extended her mind, gathering up the minds of those around her. "~Share what you have seen.~" She instructed Lyass as many minds bright in the Force gathered around hers.

Lyass did so, opening her mind to the Loup Maru around her, far more comfortable with this than with trying to receive the vision in the first place.

She felt them begin to work on it. A few focused on the temporal aspects, others the how, others the why. It was a worldwide effort by the time it was over, and even that produced only the roughest of sketches. It was soon, before the current pups were grown. It was by space -- technology -- not by their means. It would hit Enderonth first and hardest.

"~We will have to try and warn them, even if they refuse to listen.~" A strong voice from far away said to them all. "~We must bring this to the Rallic and have them act.~"

"~Agreed,~" several others echoed in the mental space before drawing towards their own bodies.

Lyass returned to her own body quickly, snapping out of her trance, not entirely sure how long she'd been in it this time.

"~That was quite interesting.~" Future-Sight told her silently. "~Thank you for your gift to us. We will not waste it.~"

"~I only hope it is enough warning,~" Lyass responded silently. "~Or that more could be done to stop them....~"

"~Such as?~" She prompted, curious as to what she thought she could do.

"How much control is there over your portals, and where they can go?" Lyass asked her. "I would have to ask SunWind, but I imagine that any invading species that was attacked, and had their initial invasion fleet decimated, would think twice before coming back if it happened before they were even supposed to have been detected, by a people that wasn't supposed to be able to even find them yet, let alone fight them."

"~Quite a bit of control. If we can find the ship as it comes near, we can go there.~" She nodded, clearly approving of the plan. "~SunWind has done such things~"

"I imagine he has," Lyass nodded. "I'll admit, I'm not entirely sure how Obi-Wan will feel about this particular suggestion. We may not have his support; pre-emptive strikes like aren't typical Jedi tactics, not even during a war. Especially not when you don't have better evidence of their intentions than we have."

"~We do not need his approval to defend ourselves. SunWind knows how to do this and will be with the Endless Storm by the time these creatures arrive. Several will go with him to ensure that these visitors are the same kind as before. We have acted on no more than this kind of vision before. If the Seers agree on a meaning, it is headed here.~"

"I understand, and I didn't mean to imply that you should need it," Lyass apologized. "Simply that we can't necessarily count on his support, and I don't know how that would affect my ability to help here, if you would want me along."

"~That would be the choice of the pack alpha that leads the attack.~" Future-Sight said simply. "~It is too far in the future to know yet who that will be.~"

"Understood, Future-Sight," Lyass nodded. "Thank you again for your help, and I hope this was useful. Is there anything else you need me to do?" She asked politely.

"~No. I doubt you will be able to focus on the little fish right now.~" She said easily. "~Perhaps another time we can try again.~"

"I hope to do so," Lyass agreed. "I believe I will go meditate for a while then; I hope somebody can find better news than I was able," she chuckled, bowing before she turned to leave and find a quite spot to center herself again.

Wolf slowly opened his good eye and blinked. The hand brushing against his sheath didn't feel quite right; then a soft moan above his head clued him into why. It was the back of a hand that was slowly stroking SunWind to awareness and hardness.

Wolf reached around behind them, stroking Shadow-Flash's side lightly, and SunWind's, petting them both as he started to think a bit. At least Shadow-Flash was another guy, if he joined them. He wouldn't be trying to compete with somebody like Alyaa, or even just someone that could give SunWind pups.

SunWind suddenly shuddered with a deep moan and pressed against Wolf's body as he claimed a heated kiss.

"~Want to?~" Shadow-Flash ghosted a mental image across the surface of Wolf's mind. Wolf was stroking himself and SunWind with the same hand, while Shadow-Flash took SunWind from behind and suckled his antennae.

"~If he does too,~" Wolf thought back, hoping he managed to keep his memories and thoughts of the first time SunWind had shown him out of the message, kissing his mate back.

"~I do,~" SunWind nuzzled him affectingly for his concern.

"All right then," Wolf murmured, nuzzling him and reaching down to wrap his hand around both their cocks, SunWind's leg now resting on his hip. He kissed him tenderly as Shadow-Flash pressed into SunWind's body with a low moan. It was easy for Wolf to read his mate's body and how welcome this pleasure was. It was also quick to sink in that this morning was going to be very different than last night too. There wasn't the hard, breathless desperation in either Loup Maru now. It was slow, gentle, and stayed in Maru as their pleasure gradually built.

Frankly, Wolf had to admit he preferred it. He pressed his muzzle into SunWind's shoulder, holding him close and rurring lowly as his own pleasure built along with his mate's and SunWind's tail curled around him, reminding him who came first.

Shadow-Flash worked himself in and out of the Loup Maru's tight ass while his hands and tail caressed and encouraged both Wolf and SunWind. He was still largely in shock over finding the one he'd fallen in love with and been forbidden to approach so long ago, and he could feel a similar state in the Loup Maru he was holding and mating.

It was what Wolf implied of his counterpart's behavior that was truly unsettling. He knew the small canine was trying to be polite about it, but it was very hard to miss such a strong word in his mind. He shuddered in pleasure, but also in distress that SunWind could have been raped by him, and still want him so badly. But that impression wasn't in SunWind's mind and Wolf didn't seem jealous, so where could it have come from?

"~Couldn't explain what happened well enough.~" SunWind told him, only half-aware of the train of thought. "~He's pack and canine, but not like us, not exactly.~"

"~At least he doesn't seem to be holding it against me too much.~" Shadow-Flash murmured silently before they all let thought slip away into the slow pleasure of mating.

Time blended together, the three of them mating, savoring the feeling of being with each other without expectations of a quick return or responsibilities. Before too much longer though, they did cum, seed spotting the dusty red earth and their fur.

"Mmm ... guy could get used to this sort of thing," Wolf murmured.

"Very much so." SunWind kissed his forehead and stroked his back. "Glad you don't mind too much."

"It's easier with another guy," Wolf murmured, nuzzling his neck. "Or at least somebody who isn't like Alyaa," he admitted. "Somebody who gets sharing, and letting you relax sometimes."

"Somebody who actually cares about you." Shadow-Flash nuzzled SunWind's neck affectionately.

"Yeah," Wolf chuckled, reaching back to rub Shadow-Flash's side. "That's not so bad. We can work together on takin' care of you then."

"And you'll have somebody else to pick up the real local culture from." SunWind murmured. "We both know what I learned is going to be pretty different after so many generations of persecution."

"Yeah, we're not getting snarled at," Wolf murmured, hugging him lightly. "So... either of you think any about the future yet?"

"Still getting used to the idea there is a future." SunWind admitted and got hugged and nuzzled from both sides.

"Hard as it is to remember, you're still young." Shadow-Flash kissed his neck. "I doubt you're much more than twenty-five, even with the different worlds and everything you've seen."

"Which means there's plenty of future for you," Wolf pointed out with a smile. "And your pack, however big it might be."

"Between Shadows-in-the-Dawn adopting you and what you've managed in two bitches this month alone, as big as you want it to be." Shadow-Flash chuckled. "You're going to have hopefuls from all over trying to join your pack."

"Shadow-Flash ... how easy is it to travel to Earth ... Enderonth?" SunWind looked over his shoulder at the older male.

"Not hard, if you ask the right people. Looking for something, or someone?" He kissed him softly.

"A human I knew in Chicago. She might still be alive here."

"Alpha's the easiest way to manage that. She has contacts." Shadow-Flash nodded. "Could take a while to set up."

"I buried her a long time ago. I can wait." SunWind said softly.

"She won't know you here, love," Wolf warned him. "At least not from what we've heard... it'd be pretty weird if she did."

"She wouldn't have been born yet when I died here." SunWind nodded. "But if she's the same kind of person, it's worth making friends with her again."

"Just reminding you," Wolf murmured, nuzzling his neck. "From the sound of it, she was one Hell of a woman."

"She was." SunWind agreed. "She took us in, taught us about Earth, reminded us that there was always hope, even stuck on an alien world under siege. She'll make quite a war-alpha if it comes to that."

"War-alpha?" Shadow-Flash raised an eyebrow. "Only the Bete have that on Enderonth."

"A leader," SunWind rolled his eyes. "Whatever the breed, she'd be a great one."

"Well, we'll try and find her," Wolf reassured him. "Might not hurt to open up relations between the two worlds a bit anyways, even if it's just through a couple people. What sort of shape is Enderonth in around here?"

"It's bad." Shadow-Flash sighed. "The humans began to build great cities and made the Weaver too strong. She began to tangle everything up and stagnated the world. When the Wyrm tried to restore the balance, she was trapped in the Weaver's web and went insane. She began to destroy everything, warping everything she touched. That's what began to happen here with the Mice. The Weaver and Wyrm infected them, began to do here what they've done on Enderonth."

"And here, they were stopped before they could take control," Wolf nodded slightly, not getting all of the conversation, but understanding enough of it.

"At the price of an entire race." Shadow-Flash nodded numbly. "Enderonth ... it may cost a half dozen races or more by now. There are still good people there, but there may not be enough to repopulate most of the bloodlines anymore."

"What does that mean for the world, in the long-run?" Wolf asked a little uneasily, fairly sure he had an idea of it.

"That is largely up to Enderonth herself and what survivors there are." Shadow-Flash explained. "Just like it was here, really, but with less unity. The world itself isn't a lost cause, but much of the life is."

"Not as bad as I'd thought," Wolf said with a bit of a sigh. "Glad we didn't have to worry about that sort of thing back home."

"What were you expecting?" Shadow-Flash looked over SunWind's shoulder curiously.

"Wasn't really sure," Wolf admitted. "It sounded like there was a good chance Enderonth itself wouldn't make it."

"If nothing is done, she probably won't. If they get their act together, she might, but the price will be so high they might not be able to accept it. I really do not know. They are not easy to understand." Shadow-Flash muttered.

"No, they aren't." SunWind agreed and pulled Wolf close to him. "It also isn't really our problem."

"Right," Wolf nodded. "We've got enough that are to worry about for now," he chuckled.

"Like getting you used to wearing nothing." SunWind grinned mischievously and snaked his tail around to play up Wolf's inner thigh.

"Mmm ... that's gonna take a lot more than one night," Wolf chuckled, kissing him deeply. "We expected anywhere soon?"

"Shouldn't be." SunWind rumbled and claimed a deep kiss even as Shadow-Flash silently slipped away a few feet to watch the mates begin to make love without a care that he was watching.

It was a bit heart-wrenching to see SunWind in love, to see him with someone who loved him, but it felt good to see how the rough edges from a hard life were being smoothed by it.

It was going to be a very long settling in for them all.

Obi-Wan held back as the activity and parting socializations worked their way between the two related packs. It was absently fascinating to watch with his knowledge from SunWind being both accurate and badly skewed.

"Lyass," he glanced over at the other Jedi. "How did your vision quest go?"

"Reasonably well, even though the vision was entirely unrelated to the first one," she said. "It's odd, suddenly being a Seer after years of practically nothing."

"What was it about?" He prompted, honestly curious.

"The Plutarkians," the Twi'lek explained and did her best not to react to how Obi-Wan blinked, then shuddered privately. "The reason I contacted you about them. That impression was what I got in the process of the vision."

"Have you told SunWind yet?" He asked quietly.

"Haven't had the chance," she pointed out. "Not in person. And there's no way I'd say that telepathically, given what happened between them. Though he will find out soon enough, I'm sure. His mother may even tell him when she goes to get him, Shadow-Flash, and Wolf."

"What was Future-Sight's reaction?" He asked, more than a bit concerned. "And how soon should it happen?"

"How soon, I don't know," she admitted. "They have to confer with other Seers, to see if anybody can narrow things down. I would doubt that it would be long from now... visions seem to be directed here, to some extent. It's not like back home, where a Seer ten thousand years before could catch an eddy in the Force and see something that they weren't going to be connected to at all; like the coming of the Sith. Visions seem to be meant for specific people... which would imply that I may be involved, somehow."

"If they come soon, we will be." He said grimily. "At least we have some forewarning now."

Lyass nodded. "As for reaction, they will be addressing it at a gathering of leaders and seers. The Plutarkians will not be allowed to destroy this system the way they did SunWind's," she said certainly.

"I suspect he won't allow it, even if they do." He said with a soft, deadly serious tone. "He did a lot of damage to them on his own when he was so badly poisoned that only his healing factor was keeping him alive from one minute to the next. Give him a world and his people to fight for and the knowledge he gathered in those years, and he may take them down solo."

"That is not our way." Shadows-in-the-Dawn told him with deadly seriousness. "My son will not fight alone."

"We did not expect him too, Ma'am," Lyass said, inclining her head to the newly returned Alpha. "There are already some options that would make them think twice."

"Yes," Obi-Wan bowed in deference to her. "I was speaking of his determination to protect this world and people against any odds."

"I see," she smiled softly at him, her dark red fur dusted with red soil making her look even more a part of the world she was standing on than her nature did. "You give my son a great deal of respect."

"He deserves it," Obi-Wan pointed out sincerely. "He has done a great deal, been through more, and come out of it stronger."

"Hopefully strong enough that he can get Wolf to show his face after I tell them it is time to leave." She chuckled deeply. "He is so body-shy."

"Wolf, or SunWind?" Obi-Wan asked with a chuckle. "They both grew up on different worlds, where clothes were more mandatory."

"Wolf." She flicked her tongue out to lick her soft whiskers back. "He is very loyal to my son." She added with approval. "It is time to interrupt them, however."

"Would you like me to warn SunWind that you are coming?" Obi-Wan asked politely and got a wickedly playful look from her.

"Now what kind of mother would I be if I didn't make sure my son's mate was treating him well?" She actually giggled a bit, far too amused for one her age and rank in most cultures.

"Certainly not one who is enjoying the chance to catch up on embarrassing her son and his mate," Obi-Wan chuckled. "I'll keep quiet," he promised.

"Good," she gave him an affectionate squeeze on the wrist with her tail before heading off to where the three males were getting a little bit of privacy.

"I think Wolf will either adapt fast or die of embarrassment." Obi-Wan chuckled softly.

"Most likely adapt, though he'll probably disagree," Lyass giggled a bit.

"Did your vision indicate anything about how the Plutarkians would come, or how best to react?" Obi-Wan asked her, going back to the important topic of the day.

"For sure, only that they are coming, though I would imagine that they are coming by ship," Lyass explained. "They seemed to be coming steadily, so I doubt it was some manner of teleportation, like SunWind described they were capable of. As for dealing with them, I imagine there is only one way to really accomplish it. It's like trying to keep the Hutt out of a criminal enterprise; convince them it isn't worth it before they invest themselves seriously in the project."

"You are talking about a preemptive strike, aren't you?" He narrowed his eyes a bit in concern.

"You know what the Plutarkians will do," she pointed out. "And the vision confirmed that these are not people who are unlike the Plutarkians from SunWind's world. If you can imagine a better way to stop them from destroying at least two living worlds and the life on them, I'm open to suggestions, and I suspect the Loup Maru would be as well."

"Jedi do not strike first." He pointed out to her, fully aware of the interest their discussion had generated by those nearby.

"The Jedi do not go to war either, and yet every time the Republic has needed an army, the Jedi have led the way," Lyass countered. "You know the Plutarkian tactics better than I do, Obi-Wan. If they are allowed to entrench themselves, allowed to make the first violent move, then they will not stop even if their entire expeditionary fleet is destroyed. They will send another, and another, until they win. If they are given the impression that they seriously underestimated the people they seek to destroy, the odds are best that they will turn back."

"Why us?" He asked her, falling back on mannerisms he'd seen his Master use on him often enough. "It is not our way to strike first. Why not let others do that work?"

"Why refuse them our help, when it could save two worlds, an entire system?" Lyass countered. "I don't doubt that the Loup Maru would be capable of doing it, especially with SunWind. But you know that the casualties to both sides will be higher, as would the total casualties. The three of us could probably destroy their flagship, even give them a chance to evacuate before it was done. How many Loup Maru would it take, and how many on both sides would have to die in the process? The Jedi may not strike first, but it is foolishness to wait for a man with a blaster aimed at an innocent to pull the trigger before you take his hand off if you know there is no other way to stop him."

"Lyass, this is not our world, not even our galaxy. If we are asked to help, we'll help. I will not sanction any action before there is a reason for it."

"Because it is not the Jedi way?" Lyass asked him, the anger and pain she'd been controlling remarkably well since her vision on Puckworld coming to the surface as she continued. "Obi-Wan, in my Republic the Jedi are dead. The Jedi way has seen my Republic conquered by the Sith, under the control of a despot and a traitor from the Council itself! The Jedi, from greatest to least, have been killed or driven into hiding, are hated by the people they had sworn to protect, and are hunted by warriors who were churned out like cheap blasters on an assembly line! Perhaps you can understand why I am less than convinced that the Jedi way is more important than giving all the help we can to the Loup Maru. If they don't want our help, that is one thing, but I have seen the Order and Republic alike fall because the Jedi distanced themselves from the concerns of others, I won't let the 'Jedi way' risk more worlds, whether they are 'mine' or not!"

Despite her anger, he caught a truth in her words that unsettled him to the core; a truth about the possibilities of the future and the nature of the Darkness.

"Alpha Obi-Wan Kenobi, we must speak. Now." Shadows-in-the-Dawn almost growled at him in Lumari, several warriors behind her and the entire population ready for action. "You seek to enforce your reality on this one, and we will not have it."

Both Jedi understood without a word being said that these people were more than willing to kill them to stop whatever they saw happening.

"I do not -" Obi-Wan caught himself at SunWind's nearly frantic expression. He slipped into the Force to see what she was talking about, somehow sure she meant it far more literally than he had first thought. Sure enough, he could see the muting of the wild rainbow of the Force here, as though it was dulling out to simple black and white. Not irreparably so, but it was noticeable.

"My apologies," he said quickly. "I did not realize that things were so... mutable here. Is there anything I can do to undo the shift?"

"Stop thinking about the black and white." She calmed down quickly at the willingness to cooperate. "The right and wrong. It is your way, but it has no place here where the Triat rule. This is a land of many things, not one view." Shadows-in-the-Dawn paused, seeking the right words for him to understand. "What you think and believe, as it is in your home, affects what is around you. Here, though, we are guardians of the balance, where you are guardians of a creation of what we would call the Weaver. I do not ask you to believe as we do. I would have you try to not focus on the way things fit into the ... Light and Dark ... I believe you call it. It is a concept we do not want to take root any more than the Weaver, Wyrm or Wyld should take control over the others."

Obi-Wan nodded and turned his attention inward. It would not be the first time he would have to subdue his Jedi training to cope with local conditions and he doubted it would be the last.

"Will you teach me of how things are here, Alpha Shadows-in-the-Dawn?" He bowed to her respectfully, giving her as many of the submitting alpha signals that SunWind had taught him as his form allowed. "I do not mean to disrupt your world."

"If you wish to learn, we will teach you." She settled into Maru and the gathering dissipated a bit along with much of the tension that had appeared so quickly.

"Thank you," Obi-Wan said, relaxing himself a bit further. "~You may wish to do the same, though you do not seem to have as much affect on the local color.~" He sent to Lyass.

"Would it be acceptable for me to join you?" Lyass asked, agreeing with Obi-Wan on both counts. At the very least, it wouldn't hurt to understand the local Force better.

"Yes," Future-Sight smiled at her. "All are welcome to learning here."

"Thank you," both Jedi said politely as the Loup Maru split up to continue the process of saying goodbye to their friends and kin.

"That was a problem I never anticipated." Obi-Wan admitted to Lyass as they watched and waited for SunWind, Shadow-Flash, Shadows-in-the-Dawn and Future-Sight to be ready to go.

"And not one I thought was possible," Lyass agreed. "It ... makes you wonder, doesn't it? About how things are in our parts of space."

"Yes, it does." He admitted very quietly, aware that his words were tantamount to blasphemy. "To know good and evil, peace and hate, order and chaos, life and death the way we do, but to have the Force be so different ... what came first where we are. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to see what other worlds are like, whether they are closer to this one or ours, or something completely different."

"Perhaps," Lyass nodded. "Do you have any better idea when the next portal is supposed to arrive?" She asked him. "No telling if we'll have to miss this one."

"There is one in four months, and another a year after that. Local time, I believe it works out to eleven weeks, then five months. There are likely to be more past that, but the device doesn't work well that far in the future." He explained.

"Makes sense," she mused. "Well, then I hope that there are more further out. I'd be surprised if we were ready to go that quickly, at this rate."

"Not between your visions, no." He agreed. "I am sure the Force will see to it that we stay as long as needed and not forever."

"Ready to go?" Shadows-in-the-Dawn looked around and got nods of agreement. "Until next time, Alpha Lighting-at-Dusk." She nodded formally to her litter-sister and turned to the center of the caern for the circular portal to open.

Obi-Wan kept all his senses open as he followed Shadows-in-the-Dawn and Future-Sight through the light. The first surprise was that he could still see the physical world, though it was gray and not quite clear. The auras, energy, of the Loup Maru still there glowed brightly in the gloom though, making them a startling contrast to the gray background.

Then he glanced up and saw the local Force in all it's ... her... iridescent, flashy glory.

"~Keep an eye on the path, Obi-Wan,~" Shadows-in-the-Dawn advised him gently. "~Falling off is a bad thing.~"

"~Yes, Alpha,~" he responded, shifting his focus back to the glowing path they were following, moving rapidly along it towards the Endless Storm's territory.

"Think those two are getting something out of it we aren't," Wolf murmured to Alyaa as they walked along, only the path and the ghost-image of Haloeth visible to him.

"I... think I see part of what they're seeing," Alyaa observed.

"What does it look like?" He looked at her curiously, though he kept mindful of Shadows-in-the-Dawn's warning to Obi-Wan despite SunWind's tail wrapped around his waist. He suspected his mate was as fascinated by the surroundings as the Jedi.

"It's... bright," Alyaa said. "The Loup Maru are there, and there's something... something big."

"Probably the Force they're always going on about. It is energy, and this is the spirit realm. I think." Wolf told her.

"About right." SunWind murmured, his tone laced with awe. "Never seen it so bright and whole."

"This is Haloeth without all the problems yours had," Wolf pointed out. "And you live here now; don't have to worry about what was ever again."

"Maybe not worry about it, but it's still ... this is still so different." He admitted with a mixture of pain, awe and relief in his voice. "It will take some getting used to."

"You will." Shadow-Flash put a hand on his shoulder from where he was taking up the rear and on guard for trouble. "When you've lived here as long as you've been elsewhere, it will all seem as normal as it should be."

"What is that?" Wolf raised his blaster at an approaching object in the shadows beyond the path.

"It is just a Ravizza Gaffling." Future-Sight told him. "It is here to check out what is going on. They are harmless, they only watch and report to their masters."

"They are the news reporters of the spirit realm." SunWind added. "A Ravizza Jaggling, the next rank up, was what was summoned to tell us the news of the system two days ago."

"They are what will give us first warning of the invasion." Future-Sight added.

"The what?" SunWind nearly lost his footing at the mental edge to her statement.

"Later, son." Shadows-in-the-Dawn snapped, fully aware that they could not afford such a conversation on a bridge.

"Yes, mother." He settled instantly, though his mind was still turning over the statement until they reached the other side in a few minutes.

"Wow." Obi-Wan blinked as it sank in that they had traveled nearly half way around the world.

"I smell water." Lyass said in surprise even before she started to look at the three dozen Loup Maru gathered to greet them.

"There is a spring fed lake at the edge of this caern." Shadows-in-the-Dawn told her.

"Well, that's something," Alyaa murmured, looking around, trying not to seem as nervous as he felt as they were all greeted with sniffs and polite but curious mind touches.

Most of the attention was centered on SunWind, though, not that it came as a surprise to anyone. He was loving every second of the greeting as well, both having people to greet him, and recognizing a few more people he'd thought lost long before. None of them were the same surprise he'd had with his mother or Shadow-Flash, but for somebody who had lost his world and species, everybody who meant something to him, it was more than he'd ever imagined.

"That will take a while." Future-Sight chuckled with pleasure as she watched the greetings next to her Alpha.

"He has been gone a very long time." Shadows-in-the-Dawn murmured, the old pain and stunned joy of a mother reunited with a long lost child both clear in her voice.

"You are welcome to swim in the lake." A low ranking female commented after seeing Obi-Wan watching the water of their spring-fed water source.

"Thank you," Obi-Wan nodded to her, fairly sure that he wasn't necessary just now, the others caught up in greetings that would probably take some time, especially once they moved on to SunWind's mates; Alyaa, Lyass and Wolf.

He headed to the red-colored water not far away. It wasn't a large lake; on most worlds it wouldn't even qualify for the name, really. Probably not even ten meters across and he doubted more than two deep at the most, unless you went into the spring that fed it. Closer he realized the water wasn't red, but it was so clear that the sandy red mud made it look much like the rest of the landscape. It smelled fresh as well, and he quickly stripped all the way, to be more in line with the locals, and joined the half dozen Loup Maru in the water.

"Do all your kind have so little fur?" A young male voice asked from nearby.

"Yes," Obi-Wan answered the deep purple Maru-form easily, rather used to the question by now. "My homeworld had a wider range of climates than I've seen here."

"You haven't seen much of Haloeth yet." He grinned up at Obi-Wan, his mind reflexively respectful despite his youthful playfulness. "Do you want to?"

"How are you thinking of showing me?" Obi-Wan asked curiously.

"We're friends with many packs," Crash grinned wider. "Even one by the sea and the Endless White Rain in the far north."

"Visiting, then?" Obi-Wan chuckled. "I suppose it depends on how long we're here, and if there's time to do so." Though, he had to admit, visiting the pack near the sea might give them somebody who could put a name to the creature Lyass had almost seen in her vision.

"I'm Crash," the youth added as an afterthought. "How did you meet my mother's son?"

"Obi-Wan Kenobi," the Jedi introduced himself. "We were both teleported to the same world. He was in pretty rough shape at the time. We were both found by the same people, and I helped them help him recover from the years of being alone."

"Years alone?" Crash gasped, his bright blue eyes going wide at a concept he instinctively feared above nearly all else. "How?"

"He's very, very strong," Obi-Wan said respectfully. "When they found him, he was nearly feral, but he recovered quickly. I think that having a goal helped as well."

Crash nodded slowly and solemnly, his respect for his much older half-brother increasing sharply as he internalized what he could comprehend of the statement. It wasn't easy for the youth, and Obi-Wan privately hoped that it remained that difficult for him. Lyass' vision of Plutarkians could mean he would be in for a difficult life, though not if his brother could do anything about it.

"What was his goal?" Crash asked softly and sank up to his neck in the warm, moving water.

"Revenge, I think," Obi-Wan admitted softly. "Wiping out the Plutarkians, destroying everything they had in the area."

"What did they do to him?" The youth glanced in the direction of the den and the Loup Maru in question before looking back at Obi-Wan.

"In his universe, they were the reason for everything being destroyed," Obi-Wan explained, carefully watching Crash's reaction, visibly and in the Force. It wasn't hard to catch his shock as it shifted into disbelief, then uneasy acceptance of the statement as the truth, somehow. "They destroyed Haloeth, Enderonth and Itassa in turn ... but many things were different there already."

"Like why he is only starting to get used to thinking of himself as a Loup Maru?" Crash half-guessed.

"Yes," Obi-Wan nodded. "The Mice were in charge of his Haloeth; he spent much of his life as one of them."

"That wouldn't be good." He murmured with bits of memories passed down from the time of the extermination of the Mice here clear in his upper mind. "The Weaver would have stilled the world."

"Which may have made it easier for the Plutarkians," Obi-Wan agreed. "From the sound of it, they were tempted far more easily."

"Probably." Crash agreed, though he really didn't have much of an opinion on it. "Were you going to bath or play?"

"I had been planning on taking a bit of a bath," Obi-Wan admitted with a chuckle. Play might come later, but cleaning up was the first step. He had gotten quite used to being clean while on Tatooine.

Crash nodded and swam out into the deeper water near the spring entrance, leaving Obi-Wan to wash the ubiquitous red dust of Haloeth from his body. He dunked himself beneath the water, then came back up, the water flowing along his body as he started to scrub himself clean with some of the sand from the bottom, rinsing himself off fairly frequently.

He was soon aware of a female presence nearby debating with herself about something involving him. He let her be as the low ranking Loup Maru worked things out for herself.

Soon the gray furred female with black hair and a white face approached him with her body language and mind submissive to him. He was half surprised that there wasn't any sexual intent in her as she scooped up some of the red sandy soil from under the water.

"Help you bathe, Alpha?" She asked with an odd hopefulness.

"Sure," he smiled after a moment to check what he'd learned to make sure she probably wasn't propositioning him.

She smiled shyly and rubbed the sand gently into the fine hairs of his chest, careful not to press too hard for his thin skin.

"Would it be impolite to ask your name?" Obi-Wan asked her with a smile, letting her work.

She nearly jumped, startled by both his polite manner and the question itself.

"White-Face, Alpha Obi-Wan," she made a shy motion to face before resuming her attention to him with a bit more open curiosity, but still no sexual interest.

It took him a moment to realize she was mirroring his reactions. He wasn't interested in sex, so she wasn't. He was curious, so she felt it was okay to be.

"Do you have any questions you'd like to ask me?" He asked her, giving her an opening to express her curiosity, if it was honest. He knew he had to be careful in the local hierarchy, but he didn't think that he was doing anything that would be either forward or too submissive to her. The reactions of the other Loup Maru around seemed to confirm his estimation; the overall impression he got from them was that they thought he was being quite tolerant, but nothing too surprising.

She was startled though, even if she covered it quickly. He was already being much nicer to her than she was expecting.

"Are you going to stay on Haloeth?" White-Face asked after a moment before she leaned forward to lick his clean-scrubbed skin.

"For a while, yes, but not for good," he said easily, quickly putting together as much as he could about what was going on for her. He suspected she was one of the Endless Storm's gammas; he just wondered how much she might be reading into his tolerance of her attention. Right now her mind wasn't telling him much, but he would have to keep an eye on things. It would not due to have her try to join him in the Republic. As much of a home he was sure she would be given in the Order, these people were not meant to be without each other. It was not as if she was truly mistreated here; she was just the lowest possible social rank and like most was looking to improve it.

White-Face nodded and continued her attentions. Under any other conditions Obi-Wan would have expected there to be a sexual component to this. Here, though, among a people that didn't really wear clothing and had so many animal traits, it made a kind of sense that tongue bathing could be social beyond the sexual edge. It was just a form of grooming, just not a form that many humanoids engaged in.

When he felt her slender fingers begin to work the curly, strawberry blond hair above his groin he held back a surprised sound, though not enough of it from his mind to stop her from to pausing and looking up at him.

"Not used to this sort of grooming," he admitted, realizing that she was just checking for pests. He relaxed and was careful to keep any indication of sexual interest out of his reaction.

"An Alpha of your standing surely has attention?" She half asked, at a complete loss for how it was possible he wasn't groomed regularly.

"Grooming is more private for my people," he explained. "And pests are a very rare issue. I don't mind, it's just not something I'm used to yet."

"Oh." She murmured even as her mind worked hard to figure that out even as she continued to groom him and others watched with some interest at the interactions.

"How do you socialize if you don't groom and don't pleasure?" She grew bold enough to ask with in interest of all those around them backing her question.

"The Jedi aren't usually as social as the Loup Maru," he pointed out. "It varies, from person to person, but there are also generally more leisure activities available that we can do in groups. Most people tend to socialize by talking, studying and working together, or enjoying other leisure activities together."

"You don't usual form packs?" A black and white furred male asked from nearby.

"Not my people," Obi-Wan agreed. "Loosely knit ones, I suppose, but not like there are here. There are close bonds between Jedi who are partners, and between Masters and their Padawans, but not the larger groups." He decided not to bring up the separation of families the Jedi usually opted for; he could only imagine how they would react to that idea.

"Don't you draw strength from each other?" Someone else asked, her curiosity and confusion open for him to read.

"At times," he nodded, giving her a sense of the tie between himself and his Master, the fondness and strength they lent to each other. "But the Jedi... we often have to work alone, on worlds that are far apart. We learn to support ourselves, even when alone for long periods of time, because of this."

He wasn't surprised by the burst of telepathic traffic the explanation generated. These people were as interconnected as most Jedi were independent. He did have to give them credit for being open-minded for a race that didn't really have much contact with different kinds of people. He was fairly sure a few of them occasionally went to Enderonth and Itassa, and just as sure that most were born, bred and died within a single home territory. Most races that didn't regularly interact with others had more trouble than this accepting strange ways.

"SunWind has never groomed or pleasured you?" Chases-His-Tail asked curiously.

"He has, but mostly when he was remembering what it was to be social again," Obi-Wan said honestly. "We spent more time talking during that time, but he did groom me as well, as I did for him."

Obi-Wan let out a carefully shielded mental breath of relief when that made sense to them. While it was enjoyable to interact with friendly new societies, it was also becoming tiring after so many without a break. Even a small thing he didn't have to explain was a boon.

He caught a flicker of jealousy and desire directed towards him, but not at him. It only took him a moment to trace it to a rather young male.

"~Do you like him?~" Obi-Wan asked White-Face privately.

She gave a glance in the youth's direction and ducked her head a bit. "~He is attractive.~" Her reluctance to leave the grooming of one his rank unfinished clear in the background of her mind.

"If you're interested, go on." He smiled slightly at her. "He's going to be a bigger influence in your life than I am."

She hesitated, then nodded and stood to walk over to the younger male with a much more flirting manner than her approach to Obi-Wan. It didn't take the young pair long to move to shallower water and begin copulating noisily.

Obi-Wan smiled slightly, then returned to washing himself off. Hopefully, it would work out for the two of them.

Nor far away Lyass was watching the greetings between the Endless Storm and SunWind with detached interest. It was ... fun, in a way ... to feel the different ways those who had known the local him reacted from those who hadn't, and how he reacted differently to those he had known versions of. What was most striking was how some didn't seem much different to SunWind from their counterparts, while others had almost nothing in common with the incarnations he'd known.

Her relaxed observations drew to a close when a male about SunWind's age approached her from one side. His dark red fur was well groomed and glistened with health. He'd even taken the time to doctor the faint chocolate brown stripes and white scars on his body to make them stand out more.

"Greeting, Lyass." He inclined his head politely to her and sat down about an arms length away.

"Hello," she smiled. "I'm afraid I don't know your name," she admitted. She could find it easily enough, she was sure, but she felt like relaxing a bit, telepathically, for now. It was draining to keep herself under the tight controls she had so far.

"Long-Spear," he introduced himself, though she could hear the echo of a second name in the warm air between them along with why he was called Long-Spear; it was his favored weapon, even above his claws. "How did you get your name?" He asked, honestly curious at the absence of information he was used to catching with it.

"It is a name from my clan," Lyass explained easily. "Names among Twi'leks aren't as descriptive as Loup Maru names are. It was chosen for a type of stone whose shade was similar to my skin tone."

"It must be a pretty stone." He observed while looking her over. "Your markings are stunning."

"Thank you, though they're not natural. They're tattoos... like permanent dye," she explained. She hoped he wouldn't ask too much about why she had them; she'd done a fairly good job of not having to explain the idea of slavery around here, and she was hoping to keep it up. She got a curious look but nothing more for or against the shields that kept those thoughts to herself.

"Hers are the same?" He motioned towards Alyaa with his nose.

"Very close, yes," she nodded. "If I might ask, what is your other name?"

He flushed slightly before answering. "MacGyver. Walks-to-Other-Worlds gave me the name because she said I act like a hero from Enderonth called MacGyver."

"Well... I have to admit, that doesn't mean too much to me," Lyass chuckled. "So if it embarrasses you, I don't honestly know why."

"Being named for a human ..." he drifted off a bit. "Guess it is just a bit more recognition for how I am different that I really care for sometimes."

"Well, Long-Spear works fine for me, so I'll use that instead if you'd rather," she said easily. "How are you different, if you don't mind talking about it?"

"I tend to see things, potential, in objects and situations that no one else does." He said softly. "I build things. Like they do."

"Is that a problem here?" Lyass asked carefully. "Or just something that makes you different?"

"Just different. It has been long enough since the Mice that it is not really that scary anymore." He explained a bit, his gaze drifting to the group around SunWind. "Being different is not easy sometimes. It is not pleasant to make your packmates uneasy and confused by what you do naturally."

"I'm sorry," she said sincerely. "It can be hard to be different, and I can only imagine what it must be like for you."

"There are worse," he half shrugged. "I am no gamma. I have enough to offer a bitch to be chosen to breed."

"You have quite a bit to offer, I'm sure," she reassured him. "No mate though?" She guessed.

"No," he admitted, the first bit of his hope filtering through her shields. "No one wants to be that close to me."

"I'm afraid that I'm not really looking for a mate," she told him gently. "If I'm right in assuming you're hoping that I might be."

She could feel the sting and acceptance of a refusal he'd heard enough times he honestly expected it now.

"You were." He nodded, but he didn't move away. Instead he shifted his mindset slightly and remained interested in her, but on different terms. Her terms. "You are very different from your kin." He half-asked instead.

"Yes, I am," she nodded. "We are both Twi'leks, but I was trained as a Jedi, while she was trained to pleasure people; not necessarily as a mate, but as a companion. Something that the Jedi rarely consider, where I came from."

"She seems to have an easier time of her place than you do." He regarded her a bit uncertainly. "You stay so tightly shielded."

"She is closer to following her nature," Lyass admitted. "The Jedi who trained me, raised me, taught me to try and ignore that part of myself. I'm not entirely comfortable listening to it yet."

"Why would they do that?" He asked with remarkably little judgment in his mind, though it was bewildering to him.

"The Force works differently where I came from," she explained, choosing her words to avoid coming near the situation they had seen before, during her argument with Obi-Wan. "For many of us, strong emotions like anger and jealousy can be a path to a destructive sort of energy. Emotional attachments to other people, strong ones like love in particular, have sometimes caused Jedi to go down that path, with disastrous results. They try to teach us to avoid those sort of ties to minimize the risk."

Long-Spear considered that in silence for some time, trying to work out just what he did think about the system.

"It seems extreme to me, but does it work?" He finally asked.

"It seemed to," Lyass admitted. "Now, I'm not entirely sure... and that was back home. Here, it's entirely different."

He nodded, still thoughtful about what she'd said. "Why have you begun to abandon your upbringing?"

"My Jedi were destroyed recently," she said, carefully controlling her pain at remembering it. "One of our leaders betrayed us, and the people we served and protected turned against us along with him. And it is different here. Just looking into the Force here, on Haloeth... there's a very clear difference."

"Haloeth is a living world who's creator is still active. I understand that outside of Ramilz, that is very rare." He nodded. "I expect the energy would look different."

"Basically," she nodded. "Going from seeing everything in the galaxy the way we were taught it was, to seeing another world that's so very, very different ... it goes along with everything else to make for doubts."

"I imagine so." He nodded. "SunWind had something to do with those doubts?"

"Some of them," Lyass nodded. "Have you noticed the effect Alyaa can have on some of the males here?"

"Some," he nodded. "I noticed you more." He admitted quietly.

She wished there was something she could say to try and soften the fact that she wasn't looking to be courted; she'd hoped that the fact that she wasn't interested in anybody would help, but it seemed that it still stung more than a bit.

"The effect is mutual, to an extent," she explained. "There's something about the two of us that leaves our scents similar to a female in heat, and we respond to Loup Maru males in much the same way. SunWind was the first one I met, and I wasn't really ready for the strength of the effect. It was completely overwhelming," she admitted.

"You seem to be able to control things now." Long-Spear pointed out with a small smile. "From what I have heard of his story, he was likely little better prepared than you for it."

"I'm doing better," she nodded with a slight smile of her own. "And he wasn't, I don't think. But it's difficult sometimes, and the first few weeks were... not particularly pleasant, for either of us. It certainly didn't help the questions any when I had to admit that the way we had been taught left me completely unprepared for what had happened."

"It doesn't have to be like that, Lyass." He told her quietly and reached out to brush her cheek with the back of his fingers. "The frantic need, the sex until you're sore, the mindlessness of time that you don't remember."

"It wasn't always like that, and I know," she smiled, taking his hand in hers, rubbing the back of it with her thumb.

She felt the spike of pleasure it caused in him, the way her own body reacted to it, but unlike SunWind, he could control it as easily as his shifting. It was natural, desirable, but it didn't control him in the least.

"Good." He schooled his body's response to her touch down so he wouldn't be fully aroused so quickly. "He seems to be a very good person, and you shouldn't think it is always going to be so intense."

"No ... Long-Spear, I can't stay here forever," she said, trailing off, unsure if she wanted to keep going with what she was going to say. "I have to leave with Obi-Wan when the time comes, to warn his Jedi of what might come."

"I understand," he said even as he drew his hand away gently. "That is some time away yet. Your life does not need to be on hold until then."

"I know," she nodded slightly. "I just don't want to raise your hopes. It seemed you were looking for something long-term, and I can't offer that."

"I would like that," he mentally shrugged. "Death and duty exist here too, Lyass. A few months would still be a welcome time of my life. If it lasts, it lasts, if not, that is how things are."

"So, how does this work out?" She asked him with a slight smile. "Here, at least? I'm afraid I'm not really used to courtship."

"That depends on you for the most part." He managed to say despite how startled he was at the question and how to answer it. "Usually one or both bring gifts to the other, extra grooming, attention, food ... whatever appeals to the other."

"Well... where would you like to start?" She asked him, rephrasing it, not honestly sure how to answer that question for herself. She could easily feel the answer his body wanted, but it was what hers wanted as well.

"By getting to know you better." He said despite the fire in his veins and visibly growing arousal.

"Where would you like me to start?" She asked him easily, controlling her own body's reactions as well as she could, trying to stay welcoming and avoid urging his arousal on at the same time.

"What kind of attention do you like?" He started the conversation.

"Not something I've thought of all that much," she admitted with a smile. "But talking is good... some touching," she added, taking his hand and squeezing it lightly.

He nodded and lightly snaked his tail around her waist, the tip moving slowly to rub her belly. "How have you managed not to get pregnant? You've been with him longer."

"I was trained to be able to control whether or not I get pregnant," she explained easily, shifting a little bit closer to him. "And Alyaa shouldn't have, but her cycle came a bit earlier than expected."

"Useful lesson." He nodded, but did not grow any bolder in his touching. "You are beautiful."

"Thank you," she smiled. "And you are quite handsome, I think. So, what sort of things do you like to do?"

"I like building things," he ducked his head a bit. "And taking them apart. I even learned English, Japanese and Latin to read much of Enderonth's scientific and technical literature. I am still trying to get Shadows-in-the-Dawn to allow me to visit. She is not very happy with my interests."

"You enjoy the learning?" She asked him curiously. "Not just the technical, but the rest of it?"

"I like getting my hands on things, working with them, more than the rest." Long-Spear admitted a bit nervously. "Just the text is hard enough to get. Anything more ... I have to build it if I am going to have it."

"I'm bothering you, aren't I?" She asked, backing off the subject. Given what had happened with the Mice, she couldn't really blame them for being a little leery of technically inclined individuals. She just hoped it wouldn't be too big a problem for him.

"No, I am just not used to being around anyone willing to talk with me about it." He squeezed her waist lightly. "It is a tolerated quirk, but only because I am good for other things."

"Well, I don't mind it." She smiled at him. "Technology is common where I'm from. Do you have anything you'd feel comfortable showing me?"

"If you want to." He shivered slightly in excitement, her scent's effects on his body nearly forgotten with the promise of someone to talk to about his fascinations. "Come on, it is a ways off." He stood and offered her a hand up.

Lyass took his hand and stood up easily. "Lead the way," she smiled and followed him out of the main den and some distance to a stand of trees nearly invisible to the main pack. That they had left together, or that he was headed to his 'special place' was not lost on much of the pack. She suspected several would be quick to point out her new association to Obi-Wan in the belief he should know about it. The notice wasn't lost on Long-Spear either, though he made a point to try and ignore it.

The stand wasn't much for a workshop, though given what 'home' looked like, it was likely the work of many months to get to this stage. Everything was of wood, stone or other natural materials; a worktable was a flattened chunk of stone, storage was mostly in the dirt but he'd made a few shelves from the living trees.

It wasn't technology as she thought of it. There were primitive wheels, wooden, stone and animal component weapons and a smattering of things that would make it rough to get the Loup Maru recognized as a sentient species in the Republic if it was the most they did, and it probably was.

"Very impressive, given what you've had to work with," she said approvingly, looking around his small workshop. "There isn't likely to be any trouble, as long as Obi-Wan doesn't object, is there?"

"There should not be," he said even as he picked up a strange stick to show to her. "I do not have that much rank and you are not going to have pups in the next few months. They have several names for this. Atl-atl, woomera, kalashnikov and spear thrower among others. I still have not gotten it to work right, but I am making progress."

Lyass inspected it, looking over the hooked stick carefully.

"Used with a shorter spear?" She guessed, handing it back over to him.

"Yes, at least it works better with shorter ones." He nodded and put it down. "It does not add much to a throw yet, but it should when I have it worked out."

"I'm sure you'll manage it," she smiled, squeezing his shoulder lightly. "Maybe if you could do something with the base of the spear, so it stays in the thrower longer."

"You have seen a real one?" He asked even as he moved to get a sharpened stick not quite as tall as he was that he used for a short spear. He shifted to Lumari and used his claws to make a notch in the base so it would rotate with the thrower and stay in longer.

"Not for spears," she admitted. "A race back home, the Gungans, used something they called an atl-atl to throw energy balls. But the reason those worked was because it would stay in the notch through the entire throw, they could put all the force and leverage behind it."

"It makes sense," he nodded and fitted the simple spear into the thrower and stepped into the open space outside his grove to give it a test throw.

It worked much better, though there was still room for improvement. The biggest issue that Lyass could see, though, was that with the magical and natural weapons any Loup Maru could bring to bear, the weapon was little more than a curiosity here, even with every conceivable improvement. Maybe if the spear were enchanted somehow it would help, but as it stood, it wasn't likely.

"Thank you." He smiled at her before dropping to all fours into Luprani and trotted out to fetch the glorified stick that was called a short spear.

Lyass leaned back against a tree, waiting for him to return and shift back to Maru.

"Have you thought any about how to improve it, beyond what you could do naturally?" She asked him.

"Not really." He admitted as he put the items away. "Once I am sure it works regularly, I might create a fetish version. Something that would actually be useful, but getting permission for it will be nearly as hard as arranging a trip to Enderonth."

"Because it's hard to get permission to create fetishes, or because they're leery of the new device?" She asked him.

"Both," he sighed, then perked his head up to stare at the horizon. "Sandstorm." He whispered and grabbed her waist with his tail and began to move away from the den area.

"Luprani," she managed to tell him, not sure where he was heading, but summoning the Force to enhance her speed so she could keep up with him.

He didn't question it, just dropped to all fours and stretched his legs out to bolt for a shallow depression even as she could hear the wind pick up in a vicious howl and the sun began to dim.

Lyass barely had time to realize that the depression contained an opening to a den of some kind before she was pulled inside, squeezed in past Long-Spear as he twisted around to close off the entrance with a wood and dried mud mesh that would keep the worst of the sand out. Then he backed into the tunnel, turning around as he crawled further in.

"There is a proper den further in and around the bend," he explained. "Another shield from the sands too."

"We crawl then," she nodded, starting to make her way in deeper. "Any forks in the tunnel?"

She felt him reach his mind out before answering. "No. A few small animals. Nothing to worry about." He said even as a powerful surge of desire swept his body and mind now that his nose was only inches from her sex as they moved down the tunnel dug for Luprani to walk in.

"Okay," she nodded, making her way down the tunnel until it opened up, giving her a little more space to move around in. It was still fairly tight quarters; she had a distinct impression, both from the Force-signature and dimensions, that Long-Spear had dug this for himself with no expectation of having company.

"~Sorry for the small space,~" he caught a bit of her thoughts as he set the second woven grate in place to keep the storm out. "~There wasn't time to get to the main den.~"

"~I understand,~" she thought back. "~Any idea how long the storm will last?~"

"~Couple days at worst.~" He shrugged his lupine shoulders and settled down in the circular cavern not much taller than his smallest form. "~Probably be over before dawn.~"

"~Good. Not that I mind spending the time,~" she smiled mentally, reaching out to stroke his coarse, dusty fur lightly. "~Thank you.~"

"~Even if it is a bit cramped?~" He gave a canine grin and arched into her touch with a pleased rumble. "~The air can get a bit thick if it lasts very long.~" He added with a gentle warning. "~Especially with your scent.~"

"~Understood,~" she told him. "~And cramped is better than dead. I should let Obi-Wan know that we're okay,~" she added, taking a moment to send a mental message to the other Jedi. She felt SunWind's relief in the background when Obi-Wan acknowledged her.

"~So ... anything you want to do while we're stuck here?~" Long-Spear asked. "~We usually sleep these things out, but we don't have to.~"

"~There is a trance that I was trained to use, that will help save the air more,~" she told Long-Spear. "~I was thinking of entering it. I just don't want to worry you. Let me know when it passes?~"

"~All right.~" He nodded. "~How do I wake you?~"

"~Just contact me mentally,~" she told him. "~It might seem like I'm dead, but it's just the trance. I'll stay warm though, and be fine for at least a week if it should last that long.~"

"~I will be very hungry if it lasts that long.~" Long-Spear's fur rippled. "~I will wake you when the sky clears.~"

"~Thank you,~" she said, dropping into the hibernative trance easily, her breathing slowing until it virtually stopped, her body shutting down almost completely to wait out the storm.

Obi-Wan was laying on the sandy red soil near the small lake to dry off after he had finished bathing when a physical and mental howl of danger rippled through the pack with a single word.


He quickly grabbed his robe, pulling it on as hew hurried to his feet. He looked back, seeing if any of the others hadn't gotten the warning yet. Two pups were near the far shore, swimming furiously towards them.

"~Come, Alpha Obi-Wan.~" A female in Luprani snagged his wrist with her tail and tugged. "~Night-Guard and Water-Weird will bring the pups in safely.~"

Obi-Wan turned to follow her, summoning the Force to fall into a sprint that let him keep up with the Loup Maru running back to the main den. He was absently amazed that there was actually some fear towards the natural phenomenon, but at the same time he could understand why. If these sandstorms were anything like on some other desert worlds they could scour the flesh from your bones as you stood there, likely even for a creature as resilient as an adult Loup Maru. Even if it wasn't fatal, it would be agonizing to be out in.

He had to crawl on hands and knees to enter the main den, and was quickly surprised by how large the tunnel complex was as the female led him further inside.

"~The main chamber is large enough for you to be comfortable.~" She told him after another turn.

"~What about Lyass and Alyaa, the others who were with me?~" He asked mentally as they entered a large spaced that had been dug out of the hard red earth. Several Loup Maru already there and more behind them. Unlike the tunnels and a few side caves he'd seen, this one big enough for a Luprani to stand upright in. It also showed sighs of resent excavation.

"~Alyaa is with Crest-Rider. Lyass is with Long-Spear.~" She answered after a moment, her mind adding the images of the two males along with their names. Also with it was what they were up to, to an extent. He couldn't find it in him to be surprised that Alyaa was having sex and Lyass was talking. "~Wolf, SunWind and Shadow-Flash are in a side den here.~" She added without being asked.

"~Thank you,~" he said. "~It looks like Lyass is somewhere exposed; are they in the path of the storm?~"

"~He has a den near there.~" She didn't quite keep the way that made her feel alienated from her packmate, or the way he felt that made him dig it.

"~Obi-Wan, are you safe?~" Lyass' mind touched his.

"~We are,~" Obi-Wan told her. "~In the main den. Are you and Long-Spear?~"

"~Yes. He has a well-protected den near his workshop. If this lasts long, I plan to hibernate the storm out. It was not meant for two to be in here.~"

"~A good plan,~" the younger Jedi agreed. "~Good luck to both of you; you might make sure to warn him before you begin to hibernate, he doesn't need to be worried. We do not need him to risk his life in the storm trying to get help for you.~"

"~I will.~" She said with a hint of fondness in her mind for Long-Spear and broke the contact.

"Long-Spear and Lyass are safe," Obi-Wan told Shadows-in-the-Dawn as she walked nearby and settled down in the center of the large room in Luprani with part of her pack around her. "Is there anything that has to be done to help the pack through the storm?"

"~No. We are well prepared for this storm season. Relax, sleep; there is little to do but wait the storm out.~" She answered easily.

"~Understood,~" he nodded, sitting down and leaning back against a wall of the cave. "~Any sense of how long it will last?~"

"~A day or two, most likely. It is not a major storm.~"

"~Good,~" he said, his relief clear in his mental presence. "~Are they usually dangerous, or does the pack just not take the chance?~"

"~A strong hunter can survive out there unprotected, but will not heal completely for some time.~" She yawned widely and used a packmate for a pillow. "~Dens are not the only protection, but we do prefer it when we can. More space to move around.~"

"~Understandable. I'll leave you to rest; if it seems like I have gone into a very deep sleep, nobody should worry, it is a Jedi technique for times like this.~"

"~I understand.~" She nodded mentally. "~Rest well if you choose to.~"

Earlier, Wolf and Shadow-Flash were snuggled up against SunWind in one of the side dens off from the main pack.

"Mind if I ask a question that might be a bit touchy?" Wolf asked Shadow-Flash gently.

"I do not mind," he accepted it. "It will not be the last one."

"Probably not," Wolf agreed. "What was Dawn's-Whisper like?"

"Young." Shadow-Flash sighed deeply. "He was not to me back then, I am only two years older, but looking back ... he was very young."

"I wasn't very young when Stag finally managed to kiss me." SunWind murmured and stroked Shadow-Flash's side with his tail. "He had a hard time getting that far."

"Your mother was not very keen on it." Shadow-Flash sort of chuckled. "Mostly because he was not. He was a handsome pup, fiercely protective and so bright." He closed his eyes against the grief, then opened them to look at Wolf. "He was old enough to show interest, but he just was not. Not for me or anyone else. He only wanted to run and chase the sun, see what was out there. He had so much promise."

"What happened to him?" Wolf asked gently.

"He was just learning how to navigate in the Umbra and got lost. When we found what was left of him and what he fought we could not even tell what kind of Bane had killed him." Shadow-Flash managed to keep his voice even. "He had killed it, but did not have enough strength left to make it home before his body gave out and his spirit moved on."

"I remember that." SunWind shuddered deeply. "Mom got there before the Scrag really hurt me. Still almost didn't make it back."

"Is that where she earned her name?" Shadow-Flash nuzzled SunWind's shoulder affectionately.

"No, that was from long before I was born. We'd been at war with the Mice, and losing, for generations. Names like that were common. Warrior names, instead of hunter names." SunWind sighed. "I never asked how she became Death Angel, but she had the wings and sickle to go with it when she really wanted to make an impression. It was a gift from Gaia and Luna; Enderonth and Astellia here."

"Wow." Shadow-Flash murmured.

"She was something else, always has sounded like it," Wolf agreed, hugging SunWind lightly. "And she is here too, I'm sure," he added as he was nuzzled in thanks and held close even as Shadow-Flash held SunWind.

"Yes, she is." Shadow-Flash murmured, though he wasn't sure his Alpha would stand up to one whom had earned her name and gifts from a World Spirit. "She is a fine Alpha, but we have seen nothing like the wars on Enderonth or that you grew up with. Haloeth is not the divided one."

"I know." SunWind turned his head to lick Shadow-Flash's muzzle. "I hope you never do."

"Without the Mice to cause a war, I doubt they will ... and I doubt you will again," Wolf reassured his mate. "Given what happened... the Mice losing in the end might have been the best thing to happen for Haloeth."

"There is still Enderonth," SunWind murmured. "I know you can't hear Her, feel it, but She is part of us too. She is our mother's sister's daughter. I know how to fight, I know a lot about what it there. Maybe why I'm here is to bring things there under control."

"You think they'd want one person, any person, to try and clean that mess up?" Wolf asked in disbelief.

"Not by myself." SunWind murmured in embarrassment at the idea he could be so important. "But I know how to fight this kind of war. I know how to make allies of mutual enemies. I know in a way no one in Ramilz can refuse what is coming."

"The Plutarkians," Wolf guessed. "That's it, isn't it?"

"Not just that," he shook his head a bit. "They only accelerated what was already happening. Haloeth is fairly safe here as long as Enderonth still stands. If one world dies, it will damage the others beyond repair."

"How ..." Shadow-Flash cut himself off as he realized what SunWind was saying. "Sweet Haloeth. We are in trouble."

"Less than my world." SunWind reminded him. "It is possible to heal the Wyrm and Weaver even now."

"They're insane, not sick." Shadow-Flash pointed out.

"They are insane," SunWind nodded. "And that is a kind of sick. Mind-sick. Think about what happens to one of us left alone. You loose your mind. Even ten years alone can be recovered from. So can they."

"If they're willing to recover," Wolf pointed out gently. "You wanted to get better, once you knew you could... they might not. 'Course, I don't know anything about that set of problems."

"The Weaver grew too strong on Enderonth and began to cocoon everything." Shadow-Flash explained. "It is Her nature, Her purpose. But the humans and their cities threw things out of balance by making her too strong and the Wyld too weak. The Wyrm is the force of destruction. It is Her purpose to keep the Weaver in check by destroying Her webs when they grow too numerous, even as the Weaver keeps the Wyld in check by making webs and keeping things from becoming too fluid.

"But with the humans breeding and building so quickly the Weaver grew strong enough to trap the Wyrm. Unable to escape, She lost her purpose and became a force of decay -- the ultimate form of destruction and a force that does not bring balance. I do not know how anyone can bring the Wyrm back to what She was."

"But I do." SunWind barely whispered. "Insanity from loss ... even if She is not healed, I do know how to bring things back into balance. The price is going to be very high, possibly higher than what Haloeth paid to survive."

"Wiping out the Weaver's works and influence," Wolf guessed. "Annihilating everything that lets her trap the Wyrm, and force them into balance again. Armageddon."

"Only if it's screwed up." SunWind said firmly. "If we can bring balance, Ramilz may set her minions right."

"However it happens, I have a feeling it's gonna be messy," Wolf sighed, pressing against his mate.

"War is always messy, love." SunWind nuzzled him.

"It's also supposed to be messy for the people who've chosen to fight it, not for those who haven't," Wolf pointed out.

"When has it ever actually worked that way?" SunWind raised an eyebrow.

"He knows how to wage war too?" Shadow-Flash looked at the pair of them.

"Yes, and how ugly war is." SunWind nodded. "We don't have to think about that until after the storm." He suggested, hoping for a different subject.

"What storm?" Wolf asked.

"Sandstorm." SunWind told him. "The alert went out, but we're already in here, so it didn't seem worth bringing up then."

"Oh... didn't know," Wolf murmured. "Everybody get in okay?"

"We wouldn't be in here if someone hadn't." Shadow-Flash leaned forward to rub Wolf's flank.

"Well, you would be." SunWind told Wolf firmly. "You wouldn't survive out there in a storm."

"They bad around here?" Wolf asked.

"They can take the meat from your bones as you stand." SunWind said softly.

"Yeah... that's bad. Not even Titania usually had storms like that," Wolf murmured. "Venom, but... Hell, let's be honest, Venom was the best named planet in the Lylat system."

"True," SunWind nodded slightly and kissed him; a soft, lingering and hungry touch.

"Mmm, Wolf, what is it about how I first touched SunWind that bothered you so much?" Shadow-Flash asked even as he shifted back a bit to enjoy watching the mates,

"Just... parts of memories," Wolf admitted. "SunWind's, from when he was with Stag the first time.

"It did not bother him." Shadow-Flash looked confused.

"Between how young he was, and how aggressive Stag seemed in the memories... back home, we're taught pretty hard that that young isn't supposed to be happening, at least not unless it's the younger one making the first moves. Cultural thing," he shrugged slightly. "And not something you did."

"Oh," he nodded, though he only sort of got it.

"~Don't worry too hard. I don't understand it either.~" SunWind told him privately as he began to kiss his way down Wolf's jaw and throat. "Enough talking for a while." He rumbled.

"Mmm ... I can take a hint," Wolf rumbled, returning the kisses as the three of them got back to passing their time during the storm a bit more entertainingly than some of the others.

Long-Spear telekinetically shoved the last of the dirt he'd excavated over the past few hours out of the entrance of his small den. Only now had a chamber big enough for two Maru to relax ... or play ... comfortably. He knew now was too soon, but he hoped that the expansion would meet with favor with Lyass.

He turned around and trotted back to the den chamber before shifting to Maru and knelt by Lyass, who was still deep in her hibernative trance. He brushed his fingers along her tattooed lekku and exposed skin, taking in a bit more physical contact that he expected with her awake.

"~Lyass? The storm is over.~"

Her eyes snapped open, her entire body seeming to come back to life in an instant.

"~We have to dig our way - my, there's certainly more space down here than I remember,~" she chuckled mentally. "~The air is fresh too.~" She added after a deep breath.

"I did not have much else to do," he chuckled a bit. "I cleared the tunnel too."

"Thank you," she said gratefully, taking his hand and squeezing it lightly. "They'll be expecting us back at the main den soon?"

"Not really." He shook his head. "We are not on a hunting party or pup duty so our time is our own for now.

"Would you like to spend a bit more time out, see how well things in your workshop survived the storm?" She offered.

"If you do not mind." He nodded and helped her stand. "Are you hungry?"

"No, not really," she admitted. "The trance keeps those processes from continuing as quickly. Are you?"

"I snacked on a couple critters that took shelter in the tunnel." He shook his head and turned to drop into Luprani to head up to the surface.

She followed on her hands and knees, grateful to get out into the fresh air and sunshine, equally grateful that the sun wasn't too high just yet, and that it was fairly livable on the surface. She may have been born on Ryloth and just come from Tatooine, but she'd spent much of her life in places with much more moderate climates.

Besides, there was a reason that most Twi'leks lived beneath Ryloth's surface.

At first glance, it seemed as if the storm had destroyed everything, but as she watched his well-rehearsed moves around the stand of trees she realized that she should have had more faith in his knowledge of his home territory. He'd probably been through dozens of these storms and knew they'd come in several times a year.

"Hundreds," he said with a bit of a chuckle. "There are usually several hand of them each storm season and a few in the rest of the year. And it is all right."

"Just have to dig it out then?" She asked with a bit of a smile. "I could help, if you'd like."

"Go ahead," he smiled over his shoulder at her as he pulled a short spear from the sandy dirt.

She focused, centering herself and beginning to carefully push the sand away from anything that she'd seen before. A few things had been lost, but nothing important, and before long it was all back in order.

"You are good with telekinesis," he observed with a nod of thanks.

"One of the primary skills the Jedi learn," Lyass smiled. "Though I'm not as good as some. That, farsight, and the trance I used, abilities we have to learn before we're even teenagers if we want to become Jedi."

"When do they teach you to fight like that?" He asked as he sat down on the sandy soil and fussed with cleaning off his stone for something to do other than look at her and pay attention to her enticing scent.

"From childhood on; as soon as we can stand and begin to use a lightsaber, they start us with trainers. We work our way up from there, and truly begin to learn to fight when we become Padawans, apprentices."

"Adolescence." He nodded after catching the age-link from her mind. "It is all you think about for a long time."

"It's all we're supposed to think about. There's a lot to learn, and most of us only have two short decades to learn it in. Less for Twi'leks, less still for other races."

"The control does not come easy for Jedi?" He cocked his head and looked up at her.

"The Force isn't something that many races use naturally," she explained. "So we don't have the training and control of the Loup Maru. Some species have an easier time of it, but humans and Twi'leks are not among them. There is also the fact that we have many, many things to learn other than the Force. Practical skills that we are supposed to rely on more than the Force."

"Like?" He prompted her, honestly curious about this way that was so different from his own.

"Cooking, medicine, diplomacy, piloting ... it depends on what we're going to be doing once we are Jedi," Lyass admitted. "But like I said... we are trained to be able to support ourselves in various capacities. We never know what skills a mission will require, so we tend to train in an incredibly wide variety of them."

"Not many make it to Jedi." He half asked, half said.

"Most don't," she agreed. "They find other places to use their skills." She stepped up, squeezing his shoulder lightly. "Everything's in place, right?"

He glanced up and caught his breath. Not so much at physical beauty, though her patterning fascinated him, but at the acceptance her mind held for him and his oddities.

"Yes," he nodded even as he brushed a few grains of dust from the flat slab of stone he was sitting next to.

"I'm not sure how fast Loup Maru are normally, but if you would like to be together before we go back, I'd be willing," she said, kissing the side of his muzzle lightly. She felt his surprise and the surge of desire before he turned his head to kiss her mouth awkwardly, unfamiliar with it beyond what he could glean from her mind.

"I would like to." His breath quickened as he looked up to meet her eyes briefly, then instinctively glanced away in submission. He slid an arm around her side to draw her closer against him and snaked his tail across her hips and up her chest to gently fondle her breasts. "Do you want to den?"

"If you do," she said, blushing a deep blue. "It wouldn't be the most public place I've been before."

"You prefer it not to be," he shivered in anticipation as he stood, taking the effort to keep his arousal under control as they walked close together to his den. "Come then, I did enlarge it for your comfort."

"I do prefer some privacy," she agreed, wrapping one of her lekku around the back of his head lightly. "And thank you. It is more comfortable like that."

"Good," he nuzzled her cheek affectionately, then licked it before he let her go to crawl into the den first.

Before she did, Lyass took a few moments to slip her robe and leggings off. The warm wind blew over her bare skin before she crawled along the J-shaped tunnel into the den and laid her clothes along the floor. She was laying back on them, waiting for Long-Spear, when his Maru nose appeared in the room.

He let out a soft rurrr as he came in and took in her naked, willing and very alien form. There was a pause too, an unfamiliarity with casual pleasure, that he was still working out what he should do.

"I'm not too familiar with it either," she admitted, holding her arms out to him in a welcoming gesture. "Come on," she smiled, leaning up towards him and taking his hands.

Long-Spear nodded and slid his tail along her body to curl around her firm breasts as he leaned over her to lick and mouth his way along her jaw and down her throat.

She ran her hands down his sides, tracing her lekku along his antennae, kissing the side of his muzzle lightly as she could, reaching down with one hand to caress the base of his furless tail lightly.

He moaned and rubbed his full sheath against her smooth skin, encouraging himself to arouse fully while he explored her body with his mouth, hands and tail.

Lyass moaned softly, taking the tip of one of his antenna into her mouth, suckling it lightly as she pressed against him, enjoying the feel of fur against her skin, of his powerful body against hers. The drive to mate was the same as with SunWind, but Long-Spear's self control made the effect on her less. It was easier now to touch him, encourage him to do what felt best for them both, and simply enjoy the mounting arousal as she rubbed her hips against his and his cock hardened.

She spread her legs and hooked them around his to moisten his cock with her juices and encourage him to sink into her body. She shuddered with a deep moan when he shifted to rub threw her lower lips and against her clit with each stroke while his mouth worked a nipple.

"~Feels good,~" she told him mentally, pressing against him with some of the increasing hunger she was feeling. Easier to control or not, it was definitely still there... somewhere between the casual, simply physical pleasure she had shared with Obi-Wan, and the carnal need she felt with SunWind. The back of her mind found the differences, especially between the two Loup Maru, fascinating and worthy of investigation. This ... the way it was with Long-Spear ... she could live with.

Long-Spear shifted his hips and slowly pressed into her body with a trembling moan. She could feel how unusual the position felt to him, that he was trying it because it felt most natural to her. As she tightened her body around his shaft, she knew he no longer cared how they were arranged as long as it felt good to her.

"~Maybe something different later,~" she offered, squeezing her body and milking his shaft, enjoying the way it felt inside of her and the shared pleasure without so much loss of control.

She felt a wordless agreement to both her words and her reaction as he shuddered and thrust into her deeply, his balls tightening against his body as his body neared orgasm.

She whimpered softly, pressing against him needily and gripping his ass with her strong fingers as pleasure rippled through her body and their bodies and minds fed each other to an orgasm that was anything but silent. He continued to thrust after the first roar of pleasure, each time marked with a grunt and rush of hot seed into her body.

She held herself close to him, savoring the feel of his seed pooling in her body, their mixed juices matting his fur and slicking her blue-skinned thighs.

"~Luprani?~" She asked him, once her mind had steadied enough to speak to him telepathically.

"~Tie?~" He asked even as he reluctantly withdrew from her body and shifted into his smallest form.

She rolled over onto her hands and knees, shifting a bit so he'd have room to mount her.

"Yes," she said, relishing the guilty, half-taboo pleasure of having an animal's form take her. She reached back with one hand and spread the lips of her sex wide for him.

"Ohhh!" She moaned when she felt his nose bump against her slick, sensitive skin, then his tongue came out and began to lick her clean with careful attention to the swollen, nerve-rich folds of flesh that made her tremble.

She moaned against in sheer pleasure, some of his slick, bitter seed dribbling out to his tongue, lapped up quickly as he pleasured her with long strokes of his tongue until she began to tremble again. Then he closed his small, sharp front teeth around her clit and suckled it until the forearm holding her up gave out with a shuddering cry.

With her pleasure washing over them both and her ass high in the air he jumped up and pulled himself up her back with his forelegs until he felt himself pressing into her body again.

She pressed back, feeling his smaller shaft spread her wide and deep, her sex stretching to accept him easily. She reached up, stroking one of his antennae when it came close enough. She squeezed her eyes shut and reached out to share her pleasure with him in a way she didn't dare to do with SunWind. It was risky, she could feel how close she was to loosing herself, but every time Long-Spear pressed against her mind and brought her back to herself.

His jaws closed on a lekku as the closest thing he could get his mouth around since she had no scruff and began to press his swelling knot into her body and pulling it out, a task that was more difficult with each thrust.

"~Go ahead,~" she said with a moan, "~tie me. Just don't bite down too hard.~"

"~I will not.~" He made the effort to form the words even as he shifted his jaws to gum hold her more than with his teeth. A few more thrusts and he couldn't pull out of her any more. A deep groaning howl vibrated up from where they were joined, across her back and down her lekku as his thrusting shifted to a quick, forceful pounding against her sex that did nearly as much to get her off as the pleasure and erotic sensations rushing her mind from his.

She let out a low moan, clenching her body down around his as she teetered on the edge of a second orgasm that soon rippled through her body in an unrelenting wave with each squirt of seed into her body. She moaned again, pressing back against him, squeezing down around his knot and reaching back with one hand to stroke his flank gently as they came together and slowly came down together.

"~Thank you,~" Long-Spear murmured into her mind as he let her lekku go and nuzzled her shoulder.

"~Thank you,~" she replied, pressing back against him lightly. "~That was very pleasant.~"

"~Yes it was,~" he nuzzled her again and relaxed to wait his knot out so they could move again. "~What changed your mind?~"

"~Two days to think, I suppose,~" she chuckled slightly. "~Meditating for two days straight, not even having to spare brain power for breathing ... it frees you up to focus on other things. I've been holding back, but not because I thought it was the right thing to do. It was because I was afraid.~"

"~Of something that happens with SunWind?~" He half guessed, half picked up from her.

"~The loss of control, and everything else that goes with it....~" She sighed, trying to think of a way to explain it. "~Control is one of the first things they teach us. They teach us not to lose control, especially over our emotions, at practically any cost.~"

"~I am glad you did not this time,~" he nuzzled her and shifted into Maru to gently gather her up in his arms and shifted to their sides without pulling completely out of her, though they were no longer tied together.

"So am I," she murmured, rubbing his side. "Mmm... I should probably let Obi-Wan know that we're okay, and not to send out a search party," she chuckled. "Because he will."

"Then let him know." Long-Spear chuckled. "I do not really feel like getting up yet."

"Long-Spear?" Wolf asked with careful attention to pronouncing the dark red Loup Maru's name correctly in his own dialect. A week after the storm and a lot of thinking had gotten him to the point where he was ready to take one more step towards becoming a local.

"Yes?" He looked up, openly curious why Wolf was coming to him and more friendly than most, though no one had been overtly unfriendly. He'd gathered that SunWind's assumed rank as Shadows-in-the-Dawn oldest pup and heir was largely responsible.

"Well, I've been thinking, and if I'm going to stay here I won't be able to keep using my blasters for the rest of my life. At least not if I live even half as long as I want to," Wolf chuckled. "It sounds like you're the best guy here to talk to about local weapons and tools, so I was wondering if you'd be willing to help me figure out a few replacements for when my power cells burn out?"

"I would be happy to." He stood smoothly and motioned Wolf to follow him after a quick glance towards SunWind to confirm that the higher-ranking male knew what was going on. "Has Lyass told you much about what I have worked out?"

"A fair amount," Wolf nodded and walked along with him. "Spears, spear-throwers... I know a few of the basics, from my old survival courses, but I never really had to use 'em enough to know what I'm doing that well. Since I don't have any of the advantages you guys do, I'd better learn again fast."

Long-Spear nodded. "I would not advise going up against the larger animals with anything I have yet, but you should be able to join most hunting parties. We can easily create something very useful for you, especially if your mate can lean on his mother for permission to create a Fetish for you. Spear and spear-thrower are probably the best choice, but do you have anything in mind?"

"For now, I think you're right; spear's versatile, spear-thrower makes it more useful, and I can work on a bow later on, if I need more range. Already spotted a few things that could be handy for that. I've got my blasters for a couple of years too, if nothing happens to them, but it's a good thing to get started."

"I also do not have a working bow of any quality to offer, or arrows that work well. It is not easy to find things that make good quills. Feathered animals are rare on Haloeth and permission to travel to Enderonth or Itassa or trade for them is difficult at best." Long-Spear nodded. "You might have an easier time of it, between your rank and not being a Loup Maru."

"My rank? Wolf asked, raising an eyebrow. "You mean as SunWind's mate?" He guessed.

"Yes," he nodded, "If you ask him, he is unlikely not to do what you ask. Being the Alpha's favorite pup and a natural leader is not a small thing. It is why no one has raised a fuss about you or the half-breed pup, and they are not likely to."

"And if I wasn't, that'd be likely to change, huh?" Wolf guessed. He wasn't surprised; to be honest, he was a little surprised he had been as well-accepted as he was. This explained a lot.

"I expect so, though it will depend on how long you are here before it happens." Long-Spear nodded. "Once you are accepted by most on your own merits, it will not matter as much. It would not hurt you to try to be as ... local ... as possible. The less you look and act like an outsider, especially the kind that is causing so much harm in this system, you easier it will be to gain acceptance."

"Working on it," Wolf nodded. "Be a long time before I give it all up though. As SunWind keeps reminding me, I don't heal as well as you guys do, so...." He shrugged as he took in what passed for a 'technology lab' here.

"He is just concerned for you," Long-Spear said softly. "If you want any help there, I know how to walk the line fairly well."

"I know he is," Wolf admitted. "It's just a little... weird, I guess. Where I come from, I was pretty close to top of the local food chain, at least in some circles. Definitely didn't have to worry about not being able to take care of myself."

"That would take some getting used to." Long-Spear nodded and picked up a practice spear and spear-thrower. "We can work on making a few real spears for you. These are not fit to hunt with, but are easy to replace when practicing."

"That's all I need for now," Wolf nodded and accepted the somewhat familiar spear and unfamiliar thrower. "Is this fairly typical, or would most spears have a separate head on them?" He asked.

"Separate, such as 'most' means here." He said after a moment to think. "Grazen-Spear and I are the only ones who ever use them among the Endless Storm, and his is more a mark of status for having killed a grazen by himself."

"Okay," Wolf nodded, looking at the notch at the base of the spear he'd been handed. "Well, I can tell what this is for," he chuckled. "That's a step in the right direction. So, where should we start?"

"Pick a target and let us see how well you do." Long-Spear suggested.

"Thrown, launched, or up close?" Wolf asked easily, spotting a scraggly tree about ten paces off. "That tree there work?"

"However you feel you are most likely to use it." Long-Spear suggested. "The tree should work fine."

"Start thrown then," Wolf nodded, taking aim and throwing the spear, clipping one of the branches.

"Do you mind if I ask a question?" Long-Spear asked cautiously.

"Go ahead," Wolf nodded, running out to grab the spear before he came back. "This is pretty well built," he said approvingly. "So, what was the question?"

"Thank you," he said to both statements. "I can tell you and SunWind care for each other, but why did you leave your people with him?"

"Like you said, I care for him," Wolf said, taking better aim before throwing again. "Don't know that I'd say he was my Alpha, but he was definitely pack. And I didn't have much of anything back home that was worth sticking around for anymore."

"You will probably never have pups of your own." Long-Spear tried to voice one of so many things he couldn't understand but wanted to.

"Pups aren't something I was really interested in back home either," Wolf pointed out. "Not when I left, anyways," he admitted.

Long-Spear nodded slowly, thinking on that as Wolf retrieved the spear again. "What do your people think about names?"

"Not too much," Wolf chuckled. "At least we don't put too much thought into them most of the time. Look at me; it'd be like a Loup Maru being named that, instead of whatever his name was. Had a lot of friends who were in pretty much the same boat."

"Are you going to mind if you earn a different name here?" He asked diplomatically.

"No, not really," Wolf said easily. "As long as it's not a name that I'm going to want to un-earn fast. There one that folks are thinking of already?"

"Not that I've heard. Right now 'Wolf' is both unique and descriptive, even if it was not where you are from. It is just that most of us do have several names in our lives as things happen and if you want to keep Wolf, it would be good to get it known early on." He sort of shrugged as Wolf took aim again. "Have you ever hunted with your jaws? You are big enough to keep yourself feed that way if you need to."

"Against the local critters?" Wolf asked, raising an eyebrow. "So far, everything I've seen would think I was a gnat or something, I think."

"Because that is what we usually hunt as a pack." Long-Spear chuckled. "The Luprani have to have something to eat, and there are smaller predators than them. A riia may not look like much, but they are a good mouthful if you're hungry, breed fast and are everywhere."

"I'll keep it in mind," Wolf chuckled, glancing down at one of the large, field-mouse like riia as it darted across the dune quickly, and he threw the spear again, this time hitting the main trunk.

"There are things bigger than them, but still small pray." Long-Spear added as Wolf padded off to get his spear again. "Though with the right spear you should be able to hunt with the pack. It will need to be a Fetish of some kind, though. I do not think I can make anything that would work well."

"In the short term, unless it's going to bother somebody I can hunt with my blasters too," Wolf offered. "They'll burn out because of time, more than use."

"Some will, some will not." Long-Spear shook his head a bit. "It will be up to the hunt leader whether it is okay for that hunt or not." He chuckled slightly. "Of course, the hunt leader is likely to be SunWind or Shadows-in-the-Dawn most of the time and they will not mind."

"Especially not SunWind," Wolf chuckled. "He's almost as good with a blaster as I am, really. He just sticks to the up-close-and-personal approach more often."

"I expect it works most of the time." Long-Spear chuckled in return. "Did you have many places to visit before you got here?"

"Counting the places I visited before I met SunWind?" Wolf asked curiously and had to chuckle very privately at the startled expression he got for the question.

"Umm, either." Long-Spear decided after a moment.

"Counting 'em, definitely," Wolf said easily. "My home system had figured out interplanetary travel long ago. I've visited every planet in the system, and fought on most of them. Not always on the right side of the fight," he admitted quietly. "After, there were a bunch of them, though I don't know that I'd say many, necessarily. Some weird ones, that's for sure."

"I can imagine, maybe." He murmured. "Just the local worlds are pretty strange to me."

"With you there," Wolf chuckled. "Weirdest one was probably this crazy world, all oceans and forests, where we ran into these humans who were constantly hurling spells back and forth... not so much what they were doing, even if magic's pretty rare back home, but the fact that I think everybody there was certifiably, committably insane."

"Certifiably, committably?" Long-Spear asked with a bewildered look.

"Sorry," Wolf chuckled. "Guess you haven't invented the sanitarium yet. They're terms for somebody who's crazy enough that they should be sent away for everybody else's safety."

"Oh," he murmured, still trying to work out the concept. "We put them out of their misery."

"Not something we usually approved of back home," Wolf explained. "Hell, execution for anything was practically abolished by most planets. Didn't agree with it myself, but I benefited from it a time or two, so can't say I should complain too much."

"What could you have done that could have gotten you killed?" He asked, even more confused that SunWind's mate could be the kind that would get into that kind of trouble.

"Are you familiar with the idea of a mercenary, somebody who's paid to fight?" Wolf asked Long-Spear, fairly sure they wouldn't hold his merc work against him.

"No, but I think I understand." He nodded slowly.

"Well, some of the things I was paid to do were... shady, at best," Wolf admitted. "At least after the war. Hell, the whole war would've gotten me executed in some places, before they changed the assorted laws. Made some bad choices about which side was the right one."

It didn't take a telepath to figure out that Long-Spear was working hard to correlate the person standing in front of him, the mate of his future leader, with someone who could make that kind of mistake.

"My people can't read minds, or even feelings." Wolf added as Long-Spear continued to work on it. Though he wasn't fond of it, he opened his mind to the tentative mental probe and let Long-Spear look at the memories of that time; the reasons Wolf had made the choices he had and what he'd done to try to make amends.

With a shudder and silent thanks Long-Spear backed out of Wolf's mind, but not before Wolf caught the closest thing the Loup Maru could come to understanding what had happened: betrayal by a packmate.

It was a reaction that Wolf expected would make life very much easier for him, at least from Long-Spear's reaction. He saw very little blame on Wolf's part and the effort to make it right.

"Around here, it helps that you guys know what's right and wrong, at least with the big things," Wolf said. "Back home... none of us know it. You know that you're supposed to protect Haloeth, if most of the spirits around here can be trusted. We just had to take it on faith, and mine was really, really shaky when Pigma came to me with Andross' offer. Doesn't make what I did right, but maybe it explains it a bit more."

"I can not say I understand what that would be like, but SunWind believes in you and I see nothing to contradict it." Long-Spear eventually decided. "You are not evil now. That is what matters."

"Thank you," Wolf smiled. "Another reason it was easier to leave home... lot of folks weren't sure that I wasn't, back there."

"Because they could not see you, the way we do?" He said as much as guessed.

"That, and because a lot of them had seen me the way I was on the other side. Everybody makes mistakes, but fighting for somebody against your own people... that's a pretty hard one for them to forgive." Wolf shrugged a bit. "Doesn't matter anymore... that's something I don't want getting around too much, unless I'm pretty sure the person I'm telling will accept that it was a long time ago, and that I've changed since."

"I can understand that." Long-Spear nodded as he fingered a smooth length of polished stone he'd picked up at some point. "On Haloeth at least, people can see what you are. I'd keep that very quiet if you visit Enderonth or Itassa. None of their native races are like us that way."

"It's not something I brag about," Wolf nodded. "I'll keep it quiet. SunWind does know, by the way, you don't have to worry about that."

"Good," Long-Spear nodded crisply. "How does the spear feel?" He asked, putting the conversation behind them.

"Pretty good," Wolf said, glad to do so. "Not really natural, but what training I had wasn't in throwing them, more up-close. Not much of that either," he admitted easily.

"Do you want to try a moving target?"

"What do you have in mind?" Wolf regarded him evenly.

"I doubt you are up for a live target yet, but I can hang a target somewhere, set it up to move in a half-random pattern." He offered.

"I'm not up for it, and the targets probably aren't either," Wolf agreed with a half-grin. "Target works though."

"Good," he grinned back. "I'll set it up. Your mate wants your attention right now."

"I'm going to assume you know that because he just asked where I was," Wolf chuckled, handing the spear over. "Well, if you don't mind, I'll go give it to him."

"I do not mind in the least." Long-Spear chuckled. "I will have a target set up when you feel up to coming by again."

"I'll keep it in mind," Wolf smiled. "Thanks for the help," he added, before turning to run back to the den.

Obi-Wan was more than content to be lazy in the late afternoon heat of the section of Haloeth's northern tropics that the Endless Storm claimed as home. Normally he wouldn't be so cavalier about spending a day, much less months, doing effectively nothing but keeping up his skills and taking in the local culture. Here though, it was normal and even though they did their best to be understanding and accepting of differences, it wasn't hard to tell that they were looking more at ease than they really were with the stranger's ideas of always doing something.

So now it was sometimes days at a time doing nothing more than lounging around, eating when they were hungry and occasionally talking or investigating something of interest.

It was everything being a Jedi was not, except for the long hours in communion with the Force.

He spotted Shadows-in-the-Dawn lay down in Maru to relax in the warm sun and stood to join her.

"Do you mind talking a bit?" He asked before sitting.

"What are you curious about?" She opened her eyes to look at him curiously.

"How often do your people use the bridges, like the one between here and Enderonth?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Moving around Haloeth, someone does most days. To Enderonth or Itassa, a few times a year." She cocked her head a bit. "What are you thinking?"

"I was thinking it might be possible to direct a bridge back towards Republic space, with a bit of work to find coordinates for you," Obi-Wan explained. "Unless you need a 'caern' on the other end?"

"We do, but I doubt they exist only in this system." She said thoughtfully. "A caern is simply a place of power where the line between the spirit and physical worlds is thin. A trip of that distance would be long and very dangerous."

"Not like the wormholes we've been using so far then," the Jedi mused. "The trips through them have been relatively short, and the only danger was that we would have no control over where it would come out. Though I imagine that the Jedi Temple on Coruscant would qualify as such a place of power, among others."

"Quite possibly. You are assuming you are in the correct set of worlds to get home." She pointed out gently.

"That is a concern no matter which way we might try to get back," he admitted, the issue not particularly concerning him. "But with the length of the trip and danger involved, it would probably be best to treat that as a last resort means of getting out, in case our portals aren't going to show up again for some years."

"Once I know how far and where, I will be able to tell you more about the risks involved and how difficult it will be to open it." She nodded.

"I'll try to get that for you when I can," Obi-Wan nodded. "What is the main factor? Physical distance, or a general location?"

Shadows-in-the-Dawn thought about it for some time, then reached out to her kin around the world who knew more about the bridges and Deep Umbra than she did. When her eyes focused on the here and now again she nodded to herself and her kin not there.

"The general location and a distinguishing feature that we can send a Raven to look for. Physical distance does not translate well to the Umbra and even worse in the Deep Umbra. It would need to understand your directions and what you are basing them on. Ravens are smart, but they are far from omnipotent."

"That information I should be able to get for you," the Jedi nodded. "It will take some time, but we have plenty of time to get it, I believe."

"Three more weeks at least, from what your device said."

"Yes, and I doubt we'll be leaving with that one, to be honest," he told her. "There is too much that's uncertain yet, that we may need to help with."

She cocked her head in curiosity. "What have you seen that you may be needed to help with?"

"Lyass' visions, particularly regarding the Plutarkians," he said easily. "We may not be, but we may be as well, at least in the early stages... we need to know more to be sure."

"What do you need to know?" She asked.

"Mainly, what is likely to happen and whether or not Lyass needs to be present for it," Obi-Wan explained. "Jedi visions vary from thousands of years off and being a warning, to 'this is going to happen and you need to deal with it.'"

"Both her visions are likely to be relevant before next summer." She said with easy confidence. "Neither of them will require much preparation, so they are likely to be soon."

"Then, with some luck, we should know before the second portal I can detect has passed," Obi-Wan said easily. "It has slightly better odds of getting us back home at any rate."

"A good plan then. Our lands are plentiful enough for you to stay until then." She agreed.

"Thank you," he nodded. "Could I ask you a bit about Long-Spear?"

"Of course. What is it you are curious about?" She cocked her head a bit that he wasn't concerned about him.

"I can tell that he is attracted to Lyass, and I know about the time they've been spending together over the past few weeks. I'm wondering mostly if there's anything I should know about him, given that he seems to be largely on the outer edges of the pack's social system."

"His status is a side-effect of what happened with the Mice here and the humans on Enderonth," she sighed. "I try to encourage more open thinking, but it is difficult when everyone still remembers those times and the Weaver's insanity. His fascination with tools and technology still looks dangerous to many."

"Really? It seemed that most were interested in the technology we brought with us, not concerned with it," Obi-Wan mused. "Still, I suppose it's different when you're living with it. Do you have any objections to his interest in Lyass?"

"No," she chuckled. "He'd have tucked his tail and kept away from her if I did object. For the interest in your things ... we are a curious race by nature. We were the ones who taught the Mice how to build things, towns. It was only when that building turned the Weaver mad on Enderonth and drew the madness here that we turned away from it.

"Obi-Wan, when we had to destroy the Mice to save Haloeth it tore a piece of our collective soul out. That wound will never heal, for the Mice are gone forever. Even after more than twenty generations, it is still very painful to be reminded. We walk the line between our nature as creators and guardians and our pain in what our creations have cost us. It is not an easy line to walk."

"I ... may not truly understand, but I know what you are saying," Obi-Wan said, inclining his head to her. "Long-Spear favors his nature as a creator then... he is good at what he does, for what that matters. At least he seems to be."

"Yes, he is." She nodded regretfully. "It costs him a great deal to be what he is. As much as it is frightening what he makes me remember, I can not be true to myself and not protect one who is so dedicated to what they are. If you stay here long, you may learn just how strange a place the Endless Storm holds in our social structure. This is a pack of outsiders, renegades and oddities. We are also the third most powerful pack on Haloeth." She added with a proud, vindicated grin. "It has not been easy to build a power base of outcasts."

"And yet, the outcast are so often those who can earn power when they have the chance," Obi-Wan smiled. "Are you the founder of the Endless Storm then?"

"No, just the one who brought it to prominence in recent history." She chuckled a bit. "This pack was founded near the beginning. One of the few who have remained the entire time."

"Either way, you have much to be proud of," he smiled. "Can you tell me anything about the other packs, or the Storm?"

"Where to even start?" She murmured, honestly a bit at a loss as how to respond to his question. "For one who is not born with the knowledge, there are centuries of stories to tell."

"Highlights, what the other, stronger packs are?" He suggested. "I actually have a fairly good grounding in Haloeth's history, at least from SunWind's version of it, which I suspect is mostly the same up to the point where the Mice were lost."

"The stronger packs are Blue Crystal Falls and Sea Hold. You have met Blue Crystal Falls, and Sea Hold will be one we will visit soon. We are not on the best of terms, but with Lyass' vision, we must go there to find it."

"Is there likely to be any trouble with them, or are your pack and theirs just not friendly?"

"They're an old pack as well, and very traditional. They led the movement to destroy the Mice. We just do not get along well, but we're civil enough." She chuckled a bit. "Loup Maru aren't like most races that way. Even those who hate each other are still bonded and know it."

"That's always an improvement on what I'm used to seeing," Obi-Wan chuckled. "About how long a trip is it, generally?"

"A few minutes, little different from the trip here." She answered. "Bridges connect all pack territories."

"A good way to keep together," he nodded slightly. "Do you know if it will be possible to get any more detail about what we're looking for, before we end up having to go?"

"We already know enough to have its habitat down to a section of near shore between the Red Knife and the Jagged Cliffs; not half a day's walk apart. That's more than we had with the Mice or Razor Wolves. We do not truly need her, but as the one who led the vision of it, it is a matter of respect to include her in the search."

"And I would not ask that you wouldn't do so," Obi-Wan said easily. "I was only curious if you hoped to get more from her."

"Not particularly," she admitted. "She is important to finding it or she would not have received the central vision of our new charge."

It took Obi-Wan a moment to understand the psychic echo behind her words, but it made his breath catch when he realized the implications of Lyass' impact on this world when he did.

She wasn't just having visions of some fish of interest. She was having visions of the next sentient race of this world -- the creature that would take the place of the Mice in time.

"Is this how a charge is usually chosen? Based on a vision?" He asked her.

"No," she murmured, the pain of loss bright in her mind for a moment before it settled down. "When Haloeth created this world She created but one guardian for it, a male named Lumari. As time passed, She saw what was happening on Enderonth and his loneliness and created two female companions for him; Luprani and Maru. With them, with becoming a race, She extracted a price. They would not be physically immortal, but they could have pups with all of their forms. In exchange for giving us first place in her world, She demanded we prove that we deserved our status. She told us to raise up two races that would join us as the people of this world; one that would look like each of Lumari's mates.

"We do not know how this fish will fit in, but we are taking the visions as a sign that Haloeth is giving us a second chance to create the triad she desired, even though we failed in our first attempt."

"A process that takes millions of years, as I remember?" Obi-Wan asked. It was hard to imagine a species that was so very, very dedicated to a cause, but he could see it so clearly in their minds that they had done this twice and were beyond grateful for the chance to try again.

"From the level we begin at, yes." She nodded. "Even with all the assistance we give, it will take several thousand of our generations to bring these fish to the point where you can usually see progress in your lifetime, in only a few of theirs."

"Any faster and the repercussions are likely to be quite unpleasant," he nodded. "The Arkanians learned that on several occasions in our history... though some would question that they ever truly learned it."

"Any faster and it is the place of the greater spirits and not mortals to do the work." She agreed. "If She had wanted it done quickly, She would have created them Herself and not asked us to do it." She added, her pride in being chosen for such important work clear in her voice.

"How do you go about the process, if you're willing to talk about it?" He asked, aware that it might be something they wanted to keep secret.

"No real secret." She chuckled, grateful to be on a more pleasant topic. "We protect them, make sure they have food that will help grow their brains, that their young have a higher than natural survival rate, choose breeding partners when there is a reason to and do our best to expand their territory. It is not too different in many respects from what the humans of Enderonth do with domesticated animals, but we are breeding for intelligence and sociability more than anything else."

"With a water-bound species, that could be difficult," he mused. "What would happen if a particular pack were in the best position to care for a charge species?"

"Such as it is now." She smiled slightly. "They would gain prominence and members who are well-suited to needed duties. Anyone with an affinity for water and swimming will be working with them, even if they don't join them."

"Not likely to cause much strain then, I hope?" Obi-Wan smiled slightly. How many species back home would something like this have caused war between?

Probably just about all of them. Even among the Jedi, it could come close.

"Much less strain than when we had to destroy the Mice." She said with a stiff sigh. "It will be ... interesting ... for several generations as things are worked out and settle down, but in the long run there will be little trouble. It is a joyous thing to have happen and every one of us who is involved somehow makes us all feel better about what we are doing."

"Your telepathy and racial memories," Obi-Wan guessed. "This species isn't particularly well known then, yet?"

"No," she shook her head a bit and looked up at the darkening sky. "It is small, lives in a limited area ... not something many of us would hunt or be drawn to."

"Not intended to be easy, is it?" Obi-Wan chuckled, looking up with her, seeing the stars begin to reveal themselves. "Hopefully the Plutarkians will cease to be an issue before they have a chance to interfere with this."

"They will learn the hard way that a World Spirit is not a thing to anger if they do." She said with a calm certainty. "Unlike SunWind's homeworld, this Haloeth is healthy and strong. If we must, we will call on Her and the other Celestines who protect this world. His people were not able to do so."

"It is possible that they don't intend harm for Haloeth," Obi-Wan pointed out, though he was fairly sure he wouldn't get anywhere with the argument. "We can't be sure they're the same way here they were in SunWind's universe."

"If they are harmless, they have little to fear from us, or Her." She almost shrugged. "We will know their intentions when they come close."

Obi-Wan nodded slightly, leaving questions of hows, whys, and whens for another time on this particular subject.

"Do you think there was a reason that SunWind was brought here?" He asked after a few moments longer. "It could just be random chance... could be that he came because he was with the rest of us, but it seems quite the coincidence."

"Coincidence may exist, but it is rare with so much power involved." Shadows-in-the-Dawn chuckled a bit. "You, Lyass, SunWind ... you are all very powerful. Even Alyaa is, in her odd way. Until Lyass had those visions, I could be convinced that your arrival was nothing more than chance. Not since then. Haloeth spoke directly to her. That is not something She would have done to one She did not intend to have you here for a reason."

"It would certainly be unusual," he nodded. "I have heard of stranger things, but not many," he chuckled. "And that's from a whole galaxy of strange coincidences to happen in."

"From all you have said, it is also a galaxy with far less direct intervention from the spirit realm." She added. "Coincidence is much more likely in areas where spirits of power do not take an interest often."

"Don't get me wrong, the Jedi aren't much for coincidence either," he nodded. "The Force, as we call it, has in several occasions seen to things happening the way they were supposed to, even if they seemed to be coincidence at the time. I must agree that the odds strongly favor that we were brought here for some reason."

"Even if you were not brought here for a reason, you have one now." Shadows-in-the-Dawn smiled slightly at him. "You have already changed the future of this world in many ways. Lyass' visions, my son's return with experience and knowledge that no one in our history has, new pups." She looked back at the sky and the two small, oval-shaped moons that circled Haloeth. "He has already sired four pups by two bitches, and there will be more. Wounds created by his death here are healing. As painful as his past and path have been, he is very much the adult I had hoped my son would grow into."

"You're very proud of him, and with reason," Obi-Wan said understandingly. "He may not be the son who was born to you, and you may not have been the mother he was born to, but the two of you are close enough to make up the difference. I don't doubt that he feels as strongly about you as you do him."

"I know," she smiled, a tear beginning to form in one eye as she watched the sky. "It is quite the role to fill, his Death-Angel. She was an amazing Alpha in very troubled times."

"Just don't underestimate yourself; you may not have the same accomplishments, but I don't think for an instant that SunWind thinks less of you for it. From what I've heard him say, you're what Death-Angel had wished she could be."

"The twists of Fate," she chuckled softly, but nodded to his wisdom all the same. "She was a unifier in a time and place where it could not happen. She gave her life for her beliefs. It is not something many here have the opportunity to even consider doing." She glanced at Obi-Wan. "I, for one, am very glad for that. SunWind has galvanized our people in a way nothing but experience can do. Just by being here he has changed how we look at the future and even at Enderonth."

"Seeing the dark side of a future can do that," he murmured, wondering just what would happen when he got home with Lyass' stories of her Republic and his own experiences there. "Learning that something that has survived almost longer than you can imagine could fall apart in the space of a single lifetime. I hope that the effect it has isn't a negative one, in the long term."

"There are the beginnings of a thought among the leaders that we should interfere with Enderonth's fate more directly, if She will have it." Shadows-in-the-Dawn said softly, an edge of a confidence in her manner. "Itassa and Haloeth are strong enough to set things right, if we unify. It goes against much of how we think of ourselves and our place in things. We have always believed that each Sister took care of her own creation and it was not our place to interfere. We are beginning to doubt that. It is not a comfortable thing, but my son may well be right. We may have to fix the troubles on Enderonth to preserve Ramilz."

"A daunting task, to say the least," the Jedi murmured. "Especially from what I understand of its native defenders. All descriptions I have heard make them out to be incredibly territorial within their own kind, to say nothing of outsiders."

"We know that very well." She nodded, her gaze still on the near-sky. "If what SunWind has seen is true, if what our own Seers have seen is interpreted a certain way ...." she sighed deeply. "If what I know of my own travels there is true, they are almost as much a part of the problem as the Vampires, humans and dozens of breeds of Wyrm and Weaver-spawn that they are fighting." She shivered in real fear, but old memories. "We could have so easily been in their situation now, instead of being able to help if we choose to."

"You seem to have more experience with them yourself than most I have spoken with," Obi-Wan observed. "What can you tell me about them?"

"It's quite a patchwork of races," she admitted. "You have the Garou, who are shapeshifters much like us, but based on a human-wolf mixture." She added mental images of the races and forms for him as she continued. "They are only one of many shifting races that I can name. There are also the Gurahl, a human-bear breed, Ratkin, who are human-rat, nine tribes of Bastet, the human-cat shifters, who claim their tribal name on what kind of feline heritage an individual has. The Nuwisha, the tricksters of Enderonth, are very close kin to Garou, but of a smaller canine stock, a coyote. Mokole are of reptilian heritage and the oldest of the shifters. I have often wondered of their claims of existing long before the humans they must breed with."

She shook her head a bit. "That I have always found unsettling. With strong enough magic, we can breed with a Razorwolf or Mouse, but it is natural for us to breed with our own kind. All the shifting races of Enderonth are different. They must breed with the animal and human they are linked to. If they breed with their own kind, the results are deformed and sick, even sterile.

"There are also weresharks, the Rokea, and werespiders, the Ananasi. I know there are many others, but I don't know them all or how creatures like Kistune, the werefox of the East, fit into the shifter family tree." She took a deep breath. "Then there are Vampires, Ghouls, Mages, Wraiths, Fomori, Banes ... the list keeps going. Not even the well-informed of locals know them all. I do not even try."

"The whole of the Republic condensed into one world," Obi-Wan murmured, shaking his head. "And they have room left for people to fight over?"

"Room is why they fight, mostly. There just isn't enough of it as fast as the humans breed. There are already seven billion of them ... seven with nine zeros after it." She murmured, more than a little stunned by the number being applied to a population despite it not being new to her. "It is growing fast too, their both rate is nearly three times the death rate. I really don't understand how it's as stable as it is there."

"Ways that the Loup Maru would never consider," Obi-Wan murmured. Coruscant had started in much the same way. Now, seven billion was a conservative estimate for how many people lived in some districts, and the planet was built up to the point where even SunWind probably would've been overloaded. "I've seen it before. Entire worlds paved and built over, kilometers deep. Only the tallest mountaintops poking out of the buildings, and only then because people decided to preserve some semblance of nature."

"I think I'm going to be sick," she whispered, her face contorted as she tried to keep her dinner down.

"~Mother?~" SunWind's mind-voice was the first to ask even before he skidded to a stop on all fours next to her and shifted to Maru to hold her, his gaze going from her to Obi-Wan for an explanation.

"~A world-city.~" She reassured him gently. "I wasn't ready to know that reality."

"Not here." He promised and held her close, the memories of holding others like this as they died too close to the surface to be hidden from anyone.

"~I am not that sick, son.~" Shadows-in-the-Dawn reached into his mind to reassure him and cool the pain of old memories and lives lost he had only begun to grieve for. "~Just shocked.~" She reached out to reassure her pack that had gathered from all over the den and beyond at her state.

"I'm sorry; I shouldn't have brought that up," Obi-Wan apologized.

"It is all right," Shadows-in-the-Dawn said as things settled down and people began to drift off. "It is a good warning of what can happen. You are right, such things are beyond our imagination."

"For what it is worth, Coruscant is an exception to the general rule," Obi-Wan offered. "Most worlds are far more reasonable, and some are even entirely wild, much like Haloeth."

"I am glad to hear that," Shadows-in-the-Dawn said quietly as Wolf and Lyass caught up with them, not having the advantage of four legs to run on or knowing what was going on before they got there.

"~It is all right,~" SunWind sent to both of them. "~Mother was just shocked by the Republic.~"

"Coruscant," Lyass guessed with a nod. "Everything is all right then?"

"Yes," Shadows-in-the-Dawn nodded, though she seemed quite content to continue to let her son hold and groom her with tongue, tail and fingers. She looked over at Obi-Wan and snuggled into her son's embrace with a content sound. "What were we talking about again?"

"Enderonth and its inhabitants," Obi-Wan offered. "What would be done about them."

"That will depend on what Haloeth, Enderonth, Ramilz and Itassa have to say about it." She murmured, her eyes closing as she was carefully groomed by her oldest son. "If Enderonth and Ramilz permit it, we may all but wipe the world clean of people and she will start over. It is the easiest path, but the least likely to be approved of."

"I can understand why," Obi-Wan murmured, watching the tender displays of affection and the relative ease with which she spoke of genocide against dozens of races in the same moment. It was a distinct contradiction to her reaction to just about any mention of the Mice and their fate. "Would you like me to leave the two of you be?" He asked politely.

"No need," she smiled at him before nuzzling her oldest son. "I am quite willing to talk."

"Yes," SunWind said, more than a bit of warmth and belonging in his voice. "No need to interrupt political chatting for the grooming." He added with a grin for his former leader.

"If politics back home were more like this, I'd dislike them less," Obi-Wan laughed, shaking his head. "How about a lighter subject?" He suggested. "Any idea how long it will probably be before Alyaa has her pups?"

"There is one, a male," Shadows-in-the-Dawn answered and wrapped her tail around SunWind's before squeezing it in an open display of approval and pleasure with him. "It is too early to be sure, but likely about seven more months, early Zunu. From the pup's development so far we expect her pregnancy to follow Loup Maru patterns. It will be much longer than she is used to."

"About five months longer than her normal by your calendar, even if it will only be eight of fifteen months to us." SunWind added as they shifted so he could work on her back; where grooming became more of a massage. "Dust-Runner's should come a month later or so, in Vameri."

"Oh I'm sure she'll love finding that out," Lyass chuckled, shaking her head. "After that, and some recovery time, she'll probably go to one of the acoten?"

"She seems to like the idea, and several have expressed interest in meeting her." Shadows-in-the-Dawn said. "They will teach her how to control her fertility as well. Not as you do, but it should be effective enough."

"And after having been pregnant once, I'm sure she'll be more than happy to learn that," Lyass nodded. "Do your Healers have any thoughts regarding the possible complications?"

"Some." Shadows-in-the-Dawn nodded. "We have some experience with crossbreeds, though nothing quite so extreme as this. The difference in gestation time is the most worrisome. If her body tries to deliver this pup in her normal cycle it will be too young to survive. Little more than half formed. The other concern is if he makes it to full term ... we typically remain in Lumari for the second half of a pregnancy and give birth to pups in it."

"A Loup Maru can easily be two and a half feet tall and weigh a couple hundred pounds or more when it is born." SunWind added. "There is no way she will be able to give birth normally if he tries to be born in Lumari, like most are."

"By the time it beings to really affect her, we should be able to communicate with him and hopefully convince him to remain in Luprani until he is born." Shadows-in-the-Dawn picked up from her son. "It will be a rather unnatural time for him and leave him at a disadvantage after he is born, but not so much of one that it can not be overcome quickly."

"On the other hand, it's the only way he's likely to survive being born," Lyass murmured, thinking things through. "What can be accomplished with your fetishes here?" She asked.

"Anything we can think of," Shadows-in-the-Dawn looked at her curiously. "It is just a matter of difficulty and power required."

"There... are some things I may be able to do that would make it safer," Lyass explained, still thinking it through. "Are you familiar with the concept of an incubator, from Enderonth?"

"I am," SunWind nodded.

"A device that takes the place of a mother's womb?" Shadows-in-the-Dawn glanced between them to make sure what she's gotten from SunWind was accurate.

"Effectively," Lyass nodded. "I certainly wouldn't suggest allowing Lyass to go into labor when her body would normally want to, but I am familiar and experienced with procedures that would make giving birth slightly early for a Loup Maru much easier, especially if you can convince him to stay in Luprani. If it would be possible to design a sort of incubator, the dangers to mother and child would be minimal. Most of the risks involved would be because of the lack of facilities and technology I'm familiar with."

"No." SunWind shook his head before his mother could work through her mixed feelings on it. Despite the pain of it, he was sure of the choice. "If he can not survive, he is not meant to. We are not so desperate for pups here that it is worth abandoning our oldest ways."

"Very well," Lyass nodded. "I simply felt I should make the offer."

"Thank you," SunWind inclined his head to her and meant his words. "Not long ago the answer would have been very different."

"I understand," she said easily. "A different place, however, and somewhat different time. I hope I will still be welcome to help, when the time comes? I'm more familiar with how Alyaa's body should be acting."

"Of course," he nodded. "The input will be welcome."

"I imagine it will be more comfortable for her as well," Obi-Wan nodded. "You said that the mother is usually in Lumari form; is that true of those attending as well?"

"On the rare occasion it is attended, Lumari or Maru." Shadows-in-the-Dawn answered. "We do not usually give birth with company of any kind in the den with us."

"Nearby, but not there." SunWind added quietly. "One to three females, usually close kin or very close friends."

"Sisters or mother-sisters typically," Shadows-in-the-Dawn agreed.

"That is very different for Alyaa," Lyass observed. "Twi'lek clans differ from one to the next, but most have at least one midwife present. Just so you know she may be expecting something else."

"You?" SunWind suggested as much as asked. "You know what she needs and what she's expecting, and you are trained."

"It would probably be best," Lyass agreed. "Of course, that's some time from now. Though I will let Alyaa know she'll be in for a longer than normal time," she chuckled.

"And that I'm not expecting her to remain celibate for it." SunWind chuckled. "Just a little more careful than usual."

"That she'll like," Wolf chuckled. "So, how are the pups going to be named?" He asked curiously. "I mean... I think I've got the basic idea, but clearly they change from time to time."

"A pup's first name is usually a physical characteristic. We are born blind and nearly deaf until our ears and eyes open around three weeks, personality do not tend to show much for a couple months, until after they can walk on fours." Shadows-in-the-Dawn explained. "Those names rarely last more than a year. Few pups have not done something name-worthy by then."

"Mine lasted less than two weeks." SunWind chuckled a bit, though it was shadowed with both pain and pride.

"Was that when you were called SunWind, or a different name?" Wolf asked, giving his mate a light squeeze on the shoulder.

"That was when I was named Blood-Face, for killing the Mice that found our den and tried to kill us." He said softly. "SunWind didn't come till I was twelve."

"At two weeks old?" Shadows-in-the-Dawn twisted to look at her son in honest shock.

"They didn't realize the Luprani pups they'd found were Loup Maru. I shifted to Luprani and bit one." He explained briefly. "Mom found me covered in green blood, none of it mine."

"You were a fighter even young." She murmured, trying to come to grips with the idea that he'd killed a Mouse before he could see or hear, even before he could do more than scoot slowly on his belly. "That is quite a naming event."

"For quite a pup, in one Hell of a place to grow up," Wolf agreed with a slight nod. Even having heard the story before, it was rough to think about the effect it must have had on his mate, to have his first sentient kill to be that personal and that young. Innocence on any real level was never something SunWind had had, even less so than most of his kind.

"It was a long time ago." He murmured with something of a blush.

"Saving your siblings is nothing to be ashamed of." Shadows-in-the-Dawn told him sternly.

"When your mother is trying to bring peace between your races, it's not something to be proud of either." He told her quietly. "Killing was not what the Endless Storm was about."

"Saving lives was though." She persisted. "She would not have let the name happen if she hadn't been proud of your actions."

"I know." SunWind looked down, submissive and accepting of something he was still having difficulty with.

"You had to protect yourself and your siblings, love," Wolf said softly. "You can't tell yourself otherwise, it'd be beyond ridiculous." He had to work to censor his voice. Even knowing both Loup Maru would have heard the 'stupid' he thought just fine, it was still something he believed in doing.

"Never said I was all that rational." SunWind tried to chuckle. "Especially not about those years."

"True," Wolf smiled gently, giving him a light nuzzle. "Just don't be ashamed of it anymore, if you can help it... it doesn't matter anymore."

"I try." He nuzzled him back.

"So, anything else we need to think about with our pups, before they're born?" Wolf asked, shifting the topic away gradually.

"What are your customs on naming and heritage?" Shadows-in-the-Dawn asked him.

"The modern ones, or the old ones?" Wolf asked, shaking his head. "Way back when, we had to earn our names. Didn't have one until we'd done something noteworthy. Hadn't been that way for a few thousand years though. Modern days, like most people, our parents would come up with a name before we were born, usually... suppose that might be why Wolf is so common a name, I s'pose," he mused. "Holdover from the old ways."

"Not too different from our ways, then." She nodded with an easy smile as her son began to relax at his mate's attentions. "You do know that his pups are considered yours as well?"

"That's something I'd picked up on," Wolf nodded. "I'm trying to say 'our' pups more often, but not too good about it yet," he admitted.

"It will be very important when the births are near." She told him. "Most pups use their minds as much as anything to differentiate people, especially before their eyes and ears open. If you do not think of yourself as their father, they will not think of you as their father either."

"Is there a difference here, between sire and father?" SunWind asked abruptly, too many cultures and ways competing in his mind for dominance.

"Your sire is the male who bred your mother for you. Your father is a male who raised you." Shadows-in-the-Dawn smiled warmly at him. "Who was your sire?" She asked curiously.

"Mother never said." He shrugged. "She never took a mate or lover I knew of."

"Not often, if she was like me." She nodded.

"Does it make a difference who the sire was, usually?" Wolf asked her.

"It only matters in a case like Dust-Runner and SunWind, when there is a very significant rank difference and the sire, or his mother, makes it an issue." She explained as simply as she could. "We usually trace our linage through our mothers. As it stands in this case, and likely with Alyaa's pup as well, I will be their mother and they will be of my linage."

"If their mother's rank will have any serious effect on their lives, definitely through yours for Alyaa's," Lyass offered seriously.

"It does," she nodded to her. "We do place a higher value on skill and quality than heritage, but who your mother is will determine your starting rank and your immediate outlook, including your odds of survival in lean times."

"I was expected to be pack Alpha largely because my mother was and I was the oldest." SunWind offered.

"And you showed signs early on that you had the ability." Shadows-in-the-Dawn added sternly. "Not every Alpha's pup has the potential to lead."

"I know," he backed down quickly, an apology in submission that was accepted in silence.

"And I'm guessing that the pup of somebody who's as clearly a gamma as Alyaa would be significantly lower in the pack," Lyass nodded. "I doubt she would object to not tracing their heritage through her. She might not even be able to trace it back much farther than her mother, if that far."

"For one of her rank to keep a pup she whelped would be very unusual." Shadows-in-the-Dawn acknowledged. "Especially when the sire's mother is someone of rank."

"Before the wars, it would have been rare for a gamma to be allowed to breed at all." SunWind added quietly. "Even if she was mate to a ranking male, he would be expected to find better stock to reproduce with."

"A case where the gamma might raise the pups, but they would still trace their lineage through their dam." Shadows-in-the-Dawn nodded. "It is rarely so complicated." She added a bit sheepishly. "We have the laws and customs in place to deal with it, but for them to be used more than a hand of times in a generation worldwide would be extraordinary."

"Understandable," Lyass nodded easily.

"I think all involved have to admit that the situation was hardly normal though," Obi-Wan chuckled. "Given that we, quite probably, weren't even in this dimension when the pup was conceived."

"And no one was actually born on this world." SunWind shook his head. "I'm still shocked that Loup Maru and some Twi'lek can breed. It's not like we're even closely related."

"I'm still trying to figure that out myself," Lyass admitted with a nod. "Though Twi'leks have proven able to bear children by a variety of other species, albeit rarely, so it's probably something on our end."

"Sounds a bit like the humans of Enderonth." Shadows-in-the-Dawn chuckled. "They can breed with quite a few races that we know of, beyond the shifters who have a human form. Though with them, we know it was designed into them."

"They can?" SunWind looked at her, both shocked and a little uneasy.

"Yes," she glanced at her son. "You did not know that when you bedded one?"

"N-no." He managed to stammer.

"What's wrong, love?" Wolf asked softly, knowing he was missing easily three quarters of what was happening just now.

"Charlie ... the human woman I told you about ... she lost a baby." He managed to get out. "We never thought ... she was with humans too."

"Surely it would have looked different if it was half Loup Maru." Wolf squeezed his leg gently as he tried to absorb the idea of realizing years down the road that you may have had a pup and lost him.

"We ... didn't look that close." He swallowed with difficulty. "It didn't look like anything yet. Only a couple months, Earth months ... out of sixteen or more if it was."

"Is there any way to find out?" Wolf asked Shadows-in-the-Dawn.

"If it had been here, yes." She spoke in a guarded tone. "That it was a different Haloeth and Enderonth ... I very much doubt it."

"Worth a shot," Wolf murmured, hugging SunWind lightly. "There's no way to know, love."

"It may have something to do with why Alyaa became pregnant before her usual cycle," Lyass suggested and got a curious look from both Loup Maru and Wolf for it.

"I do not understand." Shadows-in-the-Dawn prompted her for more.

"The Loup Maru do believe in reincarnation, yes?" Lyass asked, though she was sure they did from what SunWind had said.

Shadows-in-the-Dawn took a moment to make sure she was nodding to the correct concept. "It is rare, but we know that there is a spirit that survives the body. Sometimes they do come back, either by possession or by being born again."

"You think it could be Charlie's child in Alyaa?" SunWind frowned, though it was hard to miss how much the idea appealed to him.

"I think that it is possible," Lyass agreed. "Maybe not likely, but... an unexpected child, conceived in a place surrounded by a desperate war, to a mother who shouldn't be able to. A hybrid child as well. A surprising number of similarities and coincidences, especially coming here so soon after."

"If Charlie's was mine." SunWind murmured, more than a bit torn about what he'd like more, and the probabilities of it either way. "This one is, though." He finally said with a firm tone. "He won't face what that pup would have."

"He has a much happier home here," Obi-Wan agreed, breaking his earlier silence on the subject. "You'll do well with both your pups, I'm sure."

"Yes, they will do well." Shadows-in-the-Dawn agreed and silently put an end to the discussion of reincarnation and the things that made it a possibility.

"On a different subject, why are Healers so common among your people?" Lyass asked curiously. "From what I've been able to see, practically every reason to need one is something the Loup Maru can heal from naturally in a day or two at worst."

"We can, but our charges can not." Shadows-in-the-Dawn explained. "Also among the Healer's skills are manipulating life beyond healing. Mutating a life form is healing taken in a different direction. It is all manipulating flesh."

"A different form of healing than we are taught," Lyass nodded easily. "Changing a life form in that way is not something the Jedi teach, so it wasn't something I thought of. The Healers, then, are most important when beginning the process of shaping a charge?"

"They also ensure that those who are born among us and our charges are healthy and will not pass on any problems to their young." She nodded. "We have long believed that the broken and ill should not suffer in life."

"Will they be able to tell how serious the mixing between Twi'lek and Loup Maru is?" The Jedi asked curiously. "I won't be able to detect more than the most extreme issues that may arise."

"He has very little Twi'lek in him." She answered evenly. "Just enough to keep her body from rejecting him outright. It will not be an easy pregnancy for any of them."

"I never expected it to be," Lyass agreed. "Is that relatively normal for hybrids with Loup Maru?"

"Yes," she nodded. "Granted we have experience with only two races, both of which we created to look like one of our forms before this. It seems to hold true when that is not the case. Unlike the races of Enderonth, Loup Maru do not breed true hybrids. He will not have any Twi'lek traits by the time he can walk on fours."

"So if I ever decided to have pups of my own, and found a willing dame, it'd be possible?" Wolf asked, raising an eyebrow slightly.

"In theory, it would work." Shadows-in-the-Dawn nodded cautiously. "The pups would not be much like you, they would be Loup Maru. The same skills should also allow you to breed with a race closer to you in form. There are several on Enderonth, though her agreement will still be the difficult part."

"Right up there with getting mine," Wolf chuckled slightly. "I'm not looking for pups any time soon… but if it's possible, I just wanted to know."

She nodded in acceptance and smiled privately as SunWind nuzzled him, encouraging Wolf to stand so they could have a little privacy elsewhere now that the heat of the day had passed.

"They make a good couple, don't they?" Obi-Wan chuckled as the two headed off to one of the side-dens.

"Yes," Shadows-in-the-Dawn smiled at the departing mates. "I am glad he has someone to watch out for him. He would be very vulnerable without a mate."

"He's lucky he showed up somewhere the people who found him weren't interested in taking advantage of him," the Jedi nodded. "He went from paranoid to incredibly trusting very, very quickly."

"I'm not surprised," she murmured. "It is not in our nature to be very suspicious. I understand how he learned, but all the same, it is not a lesson meant to hold well."

"And I'm glad for him that it didn't. He's started living again, and it's good to see him like that. Coming back here... more than he'd hoped for. The best he'd been hoping for was trying to rebuild the Loup Maru in the Republic."

"Somehow, I expect he would have managed it." She chuckled softly. "He is truly extraordinary."

"He definitely is," Obi-Wan nodded. "If you'll excuse me, now that it's cooling off I should probably get some practice in," he said, shifting to his feet along with Lyass.

"Of course," Shadows-in-the-Dawn chuckled. "Enjoy yourselves.

"You know, as much of a desert as Haloeth is, it still beats Ryloth for being hospitable," Lyass murmured as she and Long-Spear watched the stars coming out a few nights later, near his workshop.

"I would hope that has to do with it's people, and that it is has a living world-spirit." He smiled over at her and caressed one lekku with his tail.

"Quite probably," she smiled, reaching over to squeeze his hand lightly. "Of course, the fact that we've learned to survive by digging downward doesn't help very much. One of these days they'll finish mining the spice there, and I wouldn't be surprised if the entire planet was abandoned."

"That bad?" He murmured, the shock of his face clear to see. "How did anything develop on a world that uninhabitable?"

"We're not sure," Lyass admitted. "At least I'm not. There are some areas that are more inhabitable, but they're all shadow-mountains, inhabited by some very nasty predators. Twi'leks, as you might have noticed, aren't top predator material," she chuckled.

"You seem to be able to hold your own." He pointed out with a smile and nuzzled her cheek, then licked her jaw affectionately in a puppy-like submissive gesture that still managed to send tingles down her spine.

"Mmm... I do my best," she murmured, turning to kiss the side of his muzzle as she shifted to snuggle up against him. Even as she was getting used to it, it still seemed strange to her that almost no one wore anything but a few decorative baubles. It made it all the more clear when one of the males was interested in her, and especially it made it difficult not to reach down and caress Long-Spear's sheath or cock when they were like this.

"How many worlds have you been to?" He asked with a soft rumble and licked his way down her throat with a gently arousing touch that pulled them close together.

"Dozens," she admitted. "Back in the Republic. Ryloth, Coruscant, Tatooine... mmm... Corellia... list goes on."

"How many that you know well?" He smiled and nosed her robe out of the way to lick at one dark blue nipple.

"Oooh... with, or without you distracting me?" She teased lightly, nuzzling one of his antennae lightly. "Five or six, probably."

"With," he closed his mouth around her nipple and suckled on it. "~Give you something to think about besides losing yourself.~" He grinned in her mind with a touch of the challenge he thought she appreciated.

"~You're evil,~" she teased him, moaning softly as she rubbed down his back, kneading his powerful muscles with her slender fingertips. "~Coruscant is the world Obi-Wan mentioned to Shadows-in-the-Dawn last night... don't think you want to hear about that one.~"

"~But your main ... Temple? ... is there.~" He slowly began to work her clothing off, taking every opportunity to explore the intricate tattoos on her body with his fingers, tail and tongue.

"~It is,~" she agreed, rubbing the hot-spot just above his tail gently. "~Kind of a holdout, really. Gardens all over, and the Spires that everything goes on in... classes, meditating, meals....~" She swallowed hard as memories came to her, along with an overwhelming sense of loss.

"~I am sorry.~" He caressed her mind gently as his hand played across her body to comfort her rather than arouse her. "I did not mean to remind you of such loss." He spoke softly and pulled her close.

"It's just... everything I've known, gone," she murmured softly. "I've talked about it before, but it's... how did SunWind ever manage to accept it happening?"

"I do not know." Long-Spear admitted and stroked her back, trying to comfort her. "I do not think I could." He murmured with a mixture of awe and respect in his voice and mind. "You are though. You have hope. You have another of your kind to be with. You are not completely alone. It is not all gone."

"No ... and there is Obi-Wan's Republic yet. But it all fell apart so quickly... I don't know what's left of the Temple, but everything I knew has probably been destroyed, or worse, turned over to Palpatine and that traitor Anakin...." She took a deep breath, centering herself before the anger she was feeling got the better of her.

"Do you have a way to calm down?" He asked, more than a few hints of ways he knew in the back of his mind. All very un-Jedi like ways, but things that worked for a race that was so easily consumed by rage.

"Meditation, centering myself like I just did... they're not helping much, long term. They make it slower to come to the surface, at least, but I don't know how well I'm letting go of it. Not as well as I should be, I know."

"Have you tried to forgive yourself, for failing your people and your training?" He nuzzled her, trying his best to help her resolve at least a little of her guilt and pain.

"When the Jedi fell? I'm not the one who failed. We were played like fools, but we remained Jedi, and true to the Code."

"You feel very personally responsible about something there." He challenged her cautiously.

"My Master," Lyass admitted softly. "When the Purge began... she died just after Obi-Wan and the others arrived. I should have been able to heal her, to help protect her. There were two of us there for a reason."

"A pup trying to protect their mother." He put it in the closest context he could. "Lyass," he tipped her chin up to face him and gathered all the resolve he could to make her understand. "Death is part of life. I know you know that. I can feel it. There is nothing wrong with outliving an elder."

"You don't know what happened," she pointed out, taking a deep, shuddering breath as she worked to control the feelings of loss and pain that she'd rarely let herself express since losing her Master. "It's not that... simple."

He kissed her soundly. "~It can be.~" He told her while occupying her mouth with newly developed kissing skills. "~Just like sex can be simple or complex. Death and survival can be. It is what you make of it.~"

She caught a stray thought in the back of his mind, and pressed herself close to him with an apologetic shake of her head.

"~Pups would only complicate things more,~" she told him silently, apologetically. "~Besides, I wouldn't be here to raise them like I should be.~"

"~I know.~" He murmured. "~It is not an answer for you. Something is though.~"

"~I know... I just don't know what it is yet,~" she told him softly, shifting to her back to roll him on top of her, reaching up to stroke one antennae lightly.

Long-Spear shivered and instinctively rubbed his hips against her, her soft skin an erotic sensation for his cock. "~Work your anger out this way?~" He managed to ask, his mind already quite willing to give up on talking.

"~For now,~" she agreed, spreading her legs and pressing close to him as she allowed the desire building in her to gain control. She wrapped a long, slender leg around his waist and pulled him close while they kissed and he rubbed against her lightly. His short, soft fur was an erotic sensation against her bare skin that had few equals.

He didn't have the words, but she caught the intent of his thought to her; aggression was easier to work out on top.

She shivered lightly, sending him a mental image of her on top of him, taking control.

"~Like so?~" She asked him silently.

"~Yes,~" he smiled as their kiss broke and he nuzzled her, more than a bit excited by the idea himself. The newness of it touched something deep inside him he barely knew was there.

She rolled on top of him, straddling his hips and taking his hands, pushing them up above his head and pinning them there with her own as she leaned down to kiss him heatedly, rubbing her slick sex against his shaft. She felt more than heard his whimper, the excitement of the newness to him, and his absolute trust in her control of him.

"New to me too," she murmured, kissing him again before she slid up his body a bit, then back, taking his thick shaft into her body with a pleasured moan, leaning up so that she was almost sitting on his lap. His arms spread out and pinned to the dusty, red ground of Haloeth by the Force as she started to move up and down his length. Her fingers curled into the short fur of his chest as he moaned and thrust his hips up to meet her.

She shifted, rubbing his shaft against her g-spot as she moved up and down his smooth length, his thrusts up into her hips making her bounce up and down a bit.

"~Knot?~" She suggested, leaning forward and caressing the side of his muzzle with one of her lekku.

He opened his mouth to lick it and focused on shifting only that one part of his body to indulge her. A low moan from both of them greeted the change as she was stretched open further and her body tightened around sensitive skin.

She could feel him strain against the Force-restraints holding his hands; he wanted to touch her, hold her hips and thrust into her as he watched her breasts move and the pleasure flush her body a rich purple.

"~Not yet,~" she told him silently, tightening her body around his shaft, leaning her head back with a moan of bliss as she worked him right to the edge. She reached back through the Force, pressing against the tight, nerve-dense pucker of his ass lightly.

He didn't try to move away, but the startled jerk of his hips at the unexpected sensation drove his knot fully into her body and nearly lifted her knees from the ground.

"~Different.~" He murmured, uncertain whether he liked it or not.

"~You want to... mmm... try more?~" Lyass asked him, her mental voice breaking into the pleasure that was getting harder to hold off by the moment.

She could feel his uncertainty, the interest in the new countered by unease at something he wasn't sure he liked.

"Maybe later." He murmured as his eyes slid closed at the intense pleasure of his knot squeezing out of a body almost too tight to let it escape.

"That's... mmm... fine," she murmured, stopping the attention for now, pressing down on his shaft again, trying to fit his knot into her one more time before they both came.

They both cried out as she forced him fully into her; the moment her body closed around the base of the knot he thrust up hard and shot the first load of seed deep into her body.

Her own body spasmed, milking his shaft as she released his hands, letting him go as they both came hard, his hot cum pooling in her body as he grabbed her hips and continued to thrust into her. Each new spurt came with a matching grunting whimper and shudder as they gave into the sensory overload of sharing their orgasms.

She leaned down, laying on top of him with a tender nuzzle.

"Thank you," she murmured. "You really liked that, didn't you?"

"Yes," he murmured back and wrapped his arms around her, gently caressing her smooth skin. "I think I could really enjoy that drawn out, before we're that wound up."

"Maybe one of these days, we'll have the chance," Lyass smiled, hugging him and trying to relax into the pleasure of being full and still for a while.

"Anytime you feel like it." He nuzzled her affectionately. "Maybe I can hold you down sometime too?"

"Would now be too soon?" Lyass chuckled, giving him a kiss and rubbing his sides lightly.

"Not at all." He shivered in real excitement, his cock twitching inside her as he instinctively thrust up a bit before focusing to make his knot disappear.

"Good," she moaned softly and relaxed into the roll that put her on her back and drove his cock deeper into her body before he pulled out and caught her wrists with his tail. She couldn't help but shiver at the hunger and desire in him as he rose to his knees and simply looked down at her body for a long moment.

She relaxed completely; letting her Jedi training and control go for a while. For now, while she was giving him control, she was giving it to him entirely, every bit the pleasure-slave she had nearly been trained to be. It was different though; she could feel how much he wanted this to be good for her too.

Slowly he leaned forward, covering her body with his own but not touching her as he kissed with a gentle passion that carried from body to mind and made her mons ache.

"~You are beautiful, Lyass.~" He whispered into her mind and began to train kisses down her jaw and neck as he tasted her skin.

"~Tease,~" she murmured back mentally, arching into his touches, careful not to do too much.

"~Very much so.~" He grinned at her and kissed his way down her collarbone and around one breast before trailing his tongue up it's slope to flick against her nipple.

The Jedi whimpered softly, reminding herself that he was in charge. She had to check herself at several points to keep from doing more than struggling lightly at his tail's grip.

"~You can have me any way you want me,~" she told him, meaning it entirely.

He rumbled and suckled on her nipple a bit before working his way down her body with a slow deliberation before settling between her spread legs and ghosting his tongue over her sex, licking at their mixed fluids and relishing the shuddering moan she gave him.

"~Submission doesn't need to mean passive.~" He caught her swollen clit in his teeth and held it lightly while his tongue worked on the intensely sensitive skin.

"~Thought that was what you wanted,~" she whimpered mentally, pressing into his muzzle with a deep moan, tightening her thighs around his head. "~Besides, I'm a little... oooh... tied up,~" she teased lightly.

"~True,~" he grinned up at her and let her clit go before his tail unwound from her one wrist and he drew her up while he settled on his knees. With a bit of a mental hint of where he wanted her Lyass quickly settled on his lap, her legs spread outside of his and his tail once more wrapped around both her wrists, this time secured behind her back.

With his hands free he ran them down her body and kissed her soundly as he guided her up, then down on his cock with a deep groan.

"~So good,~" Long-Spear moaned with his muzzle pressed against her neck and began to thrust. One arm was around her, helping to stabilize her, while his other was on her hip to guide her movements that maximized both their pleasure.

"~You're right,~" she agreed, moaning deeply, rippling the walls of her sex around his shaft as the rest of her relaxed against him. Each motion, every breath rubbed her nipples against his fur and her clit against his sheath or the thick fur above it. "~So very good....~"

He shivered in their mutual pleasure and moaned against her skin before letting her wrists go. His tail wrapped around both of them, holding them together as they slowly made love under the darkening sky.

Long-Spear watched Obi-Wan's open-hand and lightsaber practice end in the evening cool of the next day. Like many of the pack, the unusual way of fighting was a subject of much fascination, enough that even the most technology wary members watched occasionally.

As the audience dissipated, he walked up to Lyass' Alpha in Maru, every ounce of him marked by submissive supplication and waited to be acknowledged.

"Long-Spear?" The young Jedi asked, turning to face the Loup-Maru, wondering at why he was taking such an extremely submissive attitude this time.

"I would speak with you about the Jedi, and Lyass." He said quietly, worry and hope in his voice.

"Of course," Obi-Wan nodded easily. "Is there something wrong?"

"I am not sure." Long-Spear admitted. "I am worried. She has so much pain and guilt she does not know how to cope with. Our ways are not of much help to her."

"And I am afraid that I have limited experience with the methods that would help her the most," Obi-Wan agreed. "Back home, she would have access to a mind-healer... I'm not entirely sure they even exist anymore back in her Republic, and I'm sure they don't here. How did it come to your attention?"

"I asked her about the worlds she knew, about the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. She started with good memories, then she got so angry, so sad at its loss and the betrayal Anakin did. Then at herself for not being about to just let go of all that." He struggled to explain what he didn't understand. "You have seen first hand how a Loup Maru who survives reacts when everything is lost. It is not what she needs, but she does not know any better than I do what she does need."

"That scale of loss isn't something I'm really trained to help with either," Obi-Wan nodded. "Unfortunately, the hardest part is something that I'm not entirely sure her Jedi accepted at all, accepting that the loss and pain is normal, not something that needs to be concealed."

"I think she believes it should not happen at all." Long-Spear said quietly, more than a bit disturbed by the idea. "That she should somehow be able to just shrug it off, like a Lumari can injuries."

"That is not the teaching of the Jedi who raised me, but neither is abject celibacy, or a number of other elements," Obi-Wan sighed. "They seem to have been far stricter; they took the teachings of one particularly conservative Master and turned them into nearly iron-clad law. The Jedi in my Republic are taught to keep their emotions from ruling them. I don't know if it's how she was taught, how all her Jedi were taught, or her interpretation of all of it, but she seems to be entrenched in the idea that a proper Jedi should be able to disregard any sort of temptation or distraction. It's a very... immature philosophy," he mused.

"It seems impossible to me," Long-Spear shook his head, utterly mystified. Then he shook it again to focus on what he needed to. "How can I help her? She may not be of your upbringing, but you seem to at least understand the basics of hers."

"It's not that uncommon for Jedi to fall into the trap she's caught in, even in my Republic," Obi-Wan chuckled. "I've been in a few versions of it; irrational levels of perfectionism. The only way to really help her, at this point, is to teach her that it's not wrong to feel the way she does. Once she accepts that, she can start to learn how to deal with it properly."

"I do not think that will be easy." Long-Spear murmured, mostly to himself. "Thank you, Obi-Wan."

"You're welcome, Long-Spear," Obi-Wan said. "And no, I doubt it will be. If you would like some help, or if she's in a bad mood and you want to get away from it, feel free to ask me, any time."

"I will." He promised with a bow of his head before he turned to find Lyass again.

Wolf sniffed the air as he and SunWind stalked the dunes away from the main den, looking for prey that was small enough Wolf stood a chance of being able to handle it with the crude spears he was using. He did have his blasters, but he didn't want to use them unless he had to.

"Think I've got something," Wolf whispered to his mate, loading a spear into the atl-atl and taking aim for a quiet, red-furred creature about the size of a deer, a long red horn spiraling up from its forehead.

"No!" The raw fear, something that in all their battles together Wolf had never heard from his mate, froze him in his tracks.

"What?" He looked over at the wide-eyed Lumari where a calm Maru had stood seconds before, then to the animal he'd targeted.

"Grazen." SunWind whispered, somewhere between awe, shock and the kind of fear from seeing a boogieman in the flesh for the first time.

"So... what's a grazen?" Wolf asked, not entirely sure what the problem was. Except for the horn, the critter looked harmless enough. "Some sort of sacred animal?" That would make sense at least. If it was something you were only supposed to hunt at a specific time, or a specific way, or for a specific reason... of course, it could just be crap eating too, but that really wouldn't explain SunWind's reaction.

"No," SunWind whispered back as he put himself between the animal and his mate. "It's one of the few animals that can kill a Loup Maru more easily than we can kill it." He moved back, physically forcing Wolf to back away or be pushed. "~Its breath is deadly; the horn, hooves and bite don't heal right. It can fly and chase us into the Umbra, and it will.~"

What wasn't said was nearly as important to Wolf as he moved away from the harmless looking creature.

Unlike so many things SunWind told him about, this one he knew only from stories and memories of others.

Still, it didn't matter. Anything that could inspire this sort of... fear in SunWind was worth being worried about. Wolf backed away, letting the spear down and hoping the wind wouldn't shift as he pulled his blaster out, just in case.

"Crap," SunWind hissed as the grazen lifted his head and snorted, looking right at them with large black eyes. "Run." He snarled before lifting his head in a yipping howl even Wolf recognized as a desperate call for help.

Wolf turned to run along with his mate, though he knew the grazen was following them from the sound behind them. They were hours out from the dens by now, and even accounting for how slow they'd been moving, it would take time for help to get there.

He finished getting his blaster out, spinning to snap off a shot at the pursuing creature as he ran. He heard it hit, the low, grating bellow of the creature's rage as it sped up.

"~Grab hold,~" SunWind ordered as he dropped to all fours and used his tail to help Wolf onto his back where he could hold onto thick fur of the Lumari's scruff.

He didn't need to be told twice; Wolf was quickly on his mate's back, clinging tight, occasionally glancing back to watch the creature gaining on them.

"This isn't working!" He shouted. "We can't outrun it like this!"

"~We don't have to. Just keep ahead of it until help gets here.~" SunWind replied, his fear and desperation showing clearly behind the thoughts.

"~Then I'll try and slow it down,~" Wolf thought back to him, his ears swiveling back towards the sound of the racing creature as he aimed by sound alone and fired off a spray of shots.

The grazen bellowed in rage and pain, not unlike the sound SunWind made when he got really pissed in a fight.

"Shit." Wolf chanced a look back just as SunWind shifted to put him on his feet and dug his feet into the ground to turn his momentum around and challenge the animal that didn't even weigh as much as his Maru form.

Wolf could see that his blaster wasn't doing too much good, but he knew just as well that he wasn't about to take that thing on in hand-to-hand. He also knew that he couldn't chance firing on it while SunWind was up close, so while he had the chance he flicked the selector switch to automatic fire and dropped to the ground, steadying it on the ground as he squeezed the trigger, sending a steady stream of energy bolts at the grazen.

"~Run, damnit!~" SunWind snarled at him as he closed with the grazen and drove his fangs deep into it's shoulder.

The beast bellowed and bucked upward, the power of its nature throwing the several-ton Loup Maru well away from it. Its shoulder injury didn't seem to phase it as it turned to charge SunWind when he hit the ground hard.

"The Hell I will," Wolf muttered. Alpha or not, he was not about to abandon his mate to a fight like this. Seeing that the rapid-fire bolts barely seemed to phase the grazen, Wolf switched to charge mode, plasma burning at the tip of his barrel as his target charged SunWind again.

The Loup Maru leapt nearly straight up to avoid the charge, and right into the animal's last-second leap that impaled its horn into his thigh.

SunWind howled as the grazen twisted its head, throwing him back to the ground. Wolf let the charged blast fly, the shot crackling through the air, burning the dust around it with an acrid smell as it slammed into the beast's side, leaving a scorch-mark on its deep red hide.

It did what it intended, the grazen turned towards him and drew a deep breath, it's eyes glowing with a palatable hate.

"No." SunWind gasped and lunged, ignoring his own injured leg to tackle the much smaller beast and deflect its deadliest attack from his mate.

The grazen's lethal breath scorched and melted the dust where it hit, and Wolf quickly realized that it had the same type of weapon he did, a plasma breath. No wonder the standard blaster bolts hadn't hurt it. The damned thing was probably extremely resistant to the heat.

Still, he could tell that his charged shot had hurt it, so he started another shot charging quickly, starting to run around the outside of the battlefield, keeping his distance and hoping that SunWind would have the sense to let him get a shot in when he could.

"~ Try. Will.~" His mate responded weakly, most of his attention focused on not getting hit by the next ball of plasma that ionized the air and made SunWind howl in agony.

"~Get away from that thing!~" Wolf thought back at him, not wasting time to say it, taking advantage of SunWind's dodge to fire again, this time catching the grazen in the side of the face, one of its eyes boiling inside its skull as the superhot gasses burned away at it. "~I've got time to dodge,~" he added, breaking for the grazens' newly-blind side.

"~It'll kill you.~" SunWind snarled back, no longer much on thinking as he drove his jaws into the beast again. It should have been enough to cut the grazen nearly in two, but while green blood flowed from the wounds, it shook SunWind off it again to send him rolling in the red dust.

The creature was smart enough to know that SunWind flying off would be Wolf's cue to fire again, so it tried to beat him to the punch, turning towards him and drawing a deep breath. It was just the opening Wolf needed; he flipped the selector switch to single-shot, firing a blast straight down the grazen's throat. It hacked, its seared lungs fighting to draw breath through a horribly burned throat, giving Wolf time to take more careful aim as he heard the howls of the approaching hunters.

His next shot was carefully chosen; he put a blaster bolt straight through the grazen's ruined eye into its brain. Even the incredible aggression and will to fight the beast had demonstrated wasn't enough to carry the fight forward further. It fell to the red soil, and Wolf quickly holstered his weapon, bolting for where SunWind lay in the sand, his heart hammering as the fear of losing a third mate raced through his every thought.

"~Not that badly injured.~" SunWind reached out to reassure him, even though he was fighting for breath against the pain. "~I'll heal, eventually.~"

As Wolf knelt to assess the punctures, oozing green blood and angry black burns, he heard the howls of five Loup Maru clearing the ridge, and the startled choking sound one made when he saw the three of them.

"I'm still going to worry," he said firmly, ripping a strip off of his shirt to try and bind the worst of the puncture wounds. At least he wouldn't be likely to need one any time soon.

"~Stay still.~" Lyass' mind was against SunWind's a heartbeat later, stilling him until she could be at his side at the full speed a Jedi could call on.

"You are insane, you know that?" Grazen-Spear said to Wolf as he got close to the living pair. Despite the words, Wolf could hear real respect in his voice.

He found himself respecting the young hunter a great deal more as well, knowing first-hand now what he had killed by himself to get his name and namesake weapon.

"I wasn't about to leave him to fight that thing alone," Wolf said simply as Lyass arrived, quickly assessing SunWind's condition and moving to help him. The mercenary backed away, knowing that the Jedi was infinitely better qualified to help SunWind than he was.

"You are as brave as any warrior." Grazen-Spear murmured.

"Bravery wasn't what decided it for me," Wolf admitted, watching quietly as the two Jedi worked on SunWind and tried not to fidget at the seriousness of what he was looking at. He'd seen good friends die of less. It wasn't something he was ready to contemplate after seeing how Lumari normally healed.

"Would anybody object if I took a close look at that thing later?" Lyass asked quietly as she worked to heal SunWind. "Whatever it is, the wounds simply aren't healing anything like they should be."

"They never do." Shadows-in-the-Dawn said grimily and shifted to Maru to kneel beside her son. "~Still,~" she crooned gently in his mind. "~Rest, feel no more pain. Storm-Healer will be here soon.~"

SunWind mumbled indistinctly and closed his eyes, his body relaxing as her Force-backed suggestion was obeyed without resistance.

"Yes, you may examine it." Shadows-in-the-Dawn nodded to Lyass before focusing inside and calling on a significant amount of power to form plant-fiber bindings to stop the bleeding. "That is the reason killing one is worth a name." She nodded towards Grazen-Spear.

"For what it's worth, fighting that thing wasn't something either of them planned on, I don't think," Obi-Wan told her as Lyass went to collect the carcass after doing what she could to help heal SunWind's burns and the worst of his wounds. "Not once they knew what it was at least, from what I'm getting from Wolf."

"I am sure they did not," she nodded and stroked her son's broad, long forehead, playing her fingers in his black mohawk of a mane they had in Lumari. "He's far too afraid of them to want to hunt it."

"To judge by his wounds, I can understand why," Lyass said as she came back. "I'm not sure what it is about the grazen, but something is keeping the wounds from healing, even with help. How long do they usually take to heal normally?"

"They are creatures of power, like us. The energy, what you call the Force, that allows us to eat so little, shift forms and heal quickly does not heal its own wounds well." Shadows-in-the-Dawn tried to explain. "Those of Enderonth call it the supernatural factor. Those creatures that have power can do grievous damage to each other." She brushed the back of her finger along the top of SunWind's long muzzle. "He will most likely not be fit to hunt until after the shadowed moon. Three or more before he has healed as fully as he will."

"I may be able to accelerate that over time," Lyass said with a slight nod. "If I wasn't worried about the supply, I could try one of our bacta-packs; it should help him heal before the shadowed moon," she mused.

Shadows-in-the-Dawn considered her for a long moment. "It is the burn that will be hardest to heal and the most painful. I will trade you a good amount if this bacta can sooth that."

"It may actually be possible to replicate it here, with Loup Maru magic," Obi-Wan offered. "Bacta is a living substance created by a species in the Republic as a natural waste-product. It is incredibly difficult to replicate by scientific means, but your abilities might be able to do better. If we could do that, it wouldn't be a problem at all."

"~Most likely,~" Storm-Healer said as she ran towards them.

"A natural product is usually fairly simple to recreate." Shadows-in-the-Dawn nodded.

"Is it safe to move SunWind now?" Obi-Wan asked. "Telekinetically at least? I imagine it's in the supplies back in the den, and he would likely be more comfortable there."

"I just arrived, Obi-Wan." Storm-Healer chided him lightly as she knelt next to SunWind and began her examination. Her hands soon glowed in a soft green-blue light as the Force, a factor bent on healing, gathered around her and flowed into SunWind, then some of it flowed to back her.

"Come, Wolf." Grazen-Spear shifted to Maru and touched Wolf's shoulder. "Let us prepare your kill. You should carry it back, if you can."

"And it's something to think about other than SunWind," Wolf nodded, following Grazen-Spear to deal with the chore. "Couldn't have taken it down without him."

"He would not have survived it without you." Grazen-Spear said quietly and twisted his spear around, the tip the full spiral horn of the grazen he had killed, and used it to cut into the beast's tough, resistant hide.

"That's why I stayed," Wolf said seriously. "Thanks for your help. I had no clue what the thing was when I saw it; if he hadn't been there, I'd have probably hit it with a spear and gotten myself killed before I'd done more than get a couple blaster shots in."

"Most likely." He nodded as they worked on butchering the animal. "You'll get a name out of this one."

"Hopefully not one that means 'Colossal Idiot,'" Wolf chuckled grimly. "I'm lucky those eyes aren't like the hide. You know if it stays that way? Might be handy if I ever get in a fight with another of them."

"It can be made to, but not naturally. Its powers are like ours; they come from the spirit inside."

"What would be involved in getting it made into a... fetish?" Wolf asked, searching for the right word and how to pronounce it properly. He was trying to speak in the local language naturally, rather than relying on the translator, though he knew his accent was still thick. Not as bad as Obi-Wan's would have been, but still pretty bad. "The biggest problem I have around here is always going to be that I can't take the same hits a Loup Maru can... that might help a bit."

Grazen-Spear nodded. "Yes, a fetish. I doubt Shadows-in-the-Dawn will give you much trouble after saving her son's life and killing a grazen yourself. It is how I got mine. Some things are more important than rank when it comes to fetishes."

"I was thinking more along the lines of what's involved in the process," Wolf admitted. "If I need to know any of your magic, it's going to be a lot more difficult."

"Oh," he blinked in surprise. "One of the elders will make the fetish. You need to tell them what you want, get most of the items needed to make it, something of value in trade for their effort and get permission from Shadows-in-the-Dawn. Do you know how to make what you are thinking of making with it?" He asked awkwardly, not really having the words Wolf did.

"Yeah, I can do that part of it," Wolf nodded easily. "I'm not the best tanner out there, but I can do the job and make it into a suit of rough armor easily enough."

"Armor," Grazen-Spear repeated the alien word carefully. "Protective hide you wear?"

"Right," Wolf nodded, privately kicking himself for not realizing they wouldn't have the word. SunWind's version of the language had so many modern concepts that never happened here between the lack of Mouse culture and the revolt against technology that their destruction had created. "Like this," he focused on a mental image of what he was thinking of creating and opened his mind to Grazen-Spear enough that he could pick it up.

"I understand, I believe." He said uncertainly. "Useful when you can not heal quickly."

"Right," Wolf nodded. "I can't bounce back as well, so I have to be able to keep from getting hurt in the first place."

"Your kind has created many things to compensate for lack of natural abilities?" Grazen-Spear asked as they loaded the meat into the hide to carry it back in.

"That's where the blasters came from," Wolf said, not entirely sure he liked the wording, but knowing that it was the easiest explanation for now. He hurried to catch up with the others as they helped SunWind to his feet, the two Healers able to help him recover enough to walk back under his own power. It was slow, especially for the Lumari forms, and he was shaky even on all fours, but Wolf had to admit he was glad they didn't have to carry him.

A few hours later, they were arriving at the den, SunWind refusing any help he could get away without on the return trip, wanting to get there under his own power... especially once Shadow-Flash caught up with them, and things had been explained to him.

As Wolf and Shadow-Flash led SunWind into one of the side-dens for some badly needed rest, Lyass went to fetch the medkits and the bacta packs they held. She found them a few minutes later, opening the kit and pulling out one of the packages of green-ish gel.

"Wolf, can I show you how to apply these?" She asked him, knowing that it would be a good excuse to demonstrate to the others as well. She could feel their intense curiosity at this natural healing product.

"Yes, please," he nodded and shifted to SunWind's side opposite her.

"It's very simple, really," she explained, cutting a slit in the pack and squeezing some of the cool bacta onto the furless wounds left by the plasma burns. "Just spread it lightly over the wound," she explained, starting to spread it out evenly. "The bacta will start working to renew the damaged flesh immediately. It works best when you have a full tank and several hundred liters to work with, but I'm afraid we're a little short of that," she chuckled lightly, finishing coating the burns. "Put the rest of the pack on his other wounds. He shouldn't move too much until the next sunset; we don't want it getting scraped off on anything. I'll check on him tomorrow evening, and we'll see if we need to put more on the wounds then."

"How long before there should be a visible change?" Shadows-in-the-Dawn asked.

"There should be a noticeable change in less than an hour," Lyass said easily. "But it will take a while. The cuts will be easier to notice it with than the burns, at first."

"We will wait to speak of trade and creation until dusk." Shadows-in-the-Dawn told her. "How much more effective would it be if he could be submerged in this bacta?"

"He would be fine in a day or two, at most," Lyass said easily. "And that's with a normal healing rate. I haven't tried it with somebody who heals as well as a Loup Maru does, it might work faster."

She could feel the murmur that rippled through the large pack, most of whom where 'watching' from outside through Shadow-Flash and Shadows-in-the-Dawn. It was a statement that was as difficult for them to fully believe as it was for most groups introduced to bacta for the first time.

The biggest difference was that these people would not normally need it, and they could likely produce it for themselves.

"Let us leave SunWind to rest. I have questions about this bacta's other uses." Shadows-in-the-Dawn told her and turned to pad out of the underground den in Luprani.

"There are few," Lyass admitted, following Shadows-in-the-Dawn away and leaving the three mates to keep SunWind as comfortable as possible while his burns healed. "Its primary use is medicinal, it's simply the second-best medical substance in the galaxy I come from."

"Does it ease pain?" Storm-Healer asked as they stood on the outside.

"Not for most injuries, though I imagine it feels better than simple air on his burns," Lyass said easily. "At least not on contact, though obviously a healed wound stops hurting more quickly. You meant additional healing uses, didn't you?" She asked, catching her mistake of a few moments earlier. "Anything that involves repairing damaged tissues is something that bacta is incredibly effective for. Stopping bleeding, repairing nerve tissues or spinal damage... I haven't tried it before, but I've heard of minor brain damage being correctable, though there are obvious difficulties getting it to the damaged tissues. So long as the tissue is capable of healing, bacta accelerates the process greatly."

"Lost limbs or fingers?" Storm-Healer perked up considerably. She wasn't doing anything to conceal her interest in what this substance could do.

Obi-Wan watched and listed, fascinated by this glimpse into the natural Loup Maru reaction to the new and apparently useful. It was amazing on a level to see how much a difference the biological nature of bacta made in their interest in it.

"If the severed part can be preserved and gotten into treatment quickly enough, yes," Lyass nodded. "It's chancy, and doesn't always work, but the odds are reasonable. Unfortunately, if either wound has been cauterized, or the severed part isn't taken excellent care of, it's practically guaranteed that it won't work. How well does the Loup Maru constitution handle such wounds normally?"

"It depends on how strong the injured one is and how sever the amputation is." Storm-Healer began as the four of them settled in the early afternoon heat with a sizable crowd of interested pack members around them but outside of the conversation itself. "A small loss, a finger, toe or tip of the tail, will usually regrow in a few weeks with little effort. An arm, leg or entire tail depends largely on how strong the healing magic is applied. It can be regrown, but it is difficult, energy-expensive, painful and can take a year or more."

"I lost my arm from here," Shadows-in-the-Dawn lifted her right arm and marked a point half way down the forearm with her left hand. "Twenty years ago. Most of my tail six years ago." She flicked the full length for Lyass to see. "The pain was almost unbearable while it regrew, but Storm-Healer does good work. Except for the memory, not even I can tell. Not all are so lucky."

"You were not injured by power." Storm-Healer reminded Shadows-in-the-Dawn. "If a grazen or other energy-user had taken something off, I could do little for beyond sealing the injury so it would not become infected or continue to bleed."

"I can't say that we always get results like that," Lyass admitted. "There's usually some scarring. But the new limb can be reattached, rather than replaced... and, with your magic, it might be possible to accelerate the regrowth instead."

"The difficulty in regrowing something on a person who does not naturally regenerate will be convincing their body that it needs to add the limb again." Storm-Healer tried to explain. "It is possible, but it has not been done in living memory."

Lyass caught the unspoken, even unthought, temporal note to the words, that it was during the time the Mice were still around that they had practiced this. Likely only on those very Mice that had turned on them later.

"It would still be possible for some species," she nodded her acceptance. "And it is possible that we could adapt the techniques later on. For now, however, the important step is to find a way to replicate the bacta."

"I will need a sample to understand. Once I understand it, we can determine how to create it." Storm-Healer nodded seriously.

"I brought some extra samples with me," Lyass nodded, pulling another pack out of the med-kit. "I should probably check on SunWind soon. Let me know if you need another sample?"

"I will." Shadow-Healer agreed. "See to him. The injured come first."

Long-Spear carefully padded through the den tunnels to the quickly enlarged den cave that Shadow-Flash had created for the two Lumari, Wolf and healers who would attend regularly. As he had expected, Lyass was still at SunWind's side. It wasn't hard to tell that her presence was wearing on Shadow-Flash's nerves. He wanted the den to his lovers for a while.

"~Lyass, it is dark. Come. Leave them be for a time.~" He asked her silently.

"~All right,~" she conceded. "I'll be back in the morning to check on him," she told Wolf and Shadow-Flash before turning to go to Long-Spear.

"~How is he doing?~" He asked as they worked their way out of the den tunnels.

"~Very well, from what I can gather,~" she told him as he stood and shifted into Maru as he stepped outside. "~I'm just worried that the conditions here might have reduced the bacta's effectiveness.~"

"Lyass, he is healing many times faster than even Storm-Healer could manage. Even if the bacta is not as effective, it is still an improvement." He paused and put a hand on her shoulder. "Burns are very nasty things to heal from. Do not trouble yourself over now much you can or can not help. You have helped a great deal."

"I know," she nodded easily, reaching up to rub the back of his hand. "I'm not saying that I should be able to help more, I'm just concerned that what I was doing do help might not be working properly. No guilt, just concern."

"It is a fine line, Lyass." He leaned forward to lick her forehead affectionately. "Accept how well it is working. You are doing no harm." He tipped her chin up in the gesture he'd learned was a caring one to her, not an act of intimidation or trying to force a challenge. "Stay with me until morning. Let his mates take care of him, and me take care of you."

"All right," she smiled, leaning up to kiss him lightly. "I can take a hint... sometimes," she chuckled.

"If I am so injured, would you hover over me?" He teased her as they began a slow, leisurely walk to the relative privacy of his workshop and den.

"If I said yes, would I have to tie you down to keep you from chasing off after a grazen?" She teased back.

"Depends on where you tie me down." He grinned and gave her a wink. "I have been busy while you were."

"Oh?" She asked curiously. "And are you going to tell me, or do I have to wait until we've gotten there to find out?"

"It will be better if you wait." He leaned over and nuzzled her. "We can try it out then too."

"All right," she smiled, returning the nuzzle and wrapping an arm around his back lightly. "This have something to do with why you've been busy the past couple days?"

"Yes," he smiled, a hit of nervousness starting to show. "I hope you like it."

"I'm sure I will," she chuckled. "Don't worry, okay?" She said, leaning up to kiss his cheek lightly as they reached the entrance to his small den. "You want to go in first, or should I?"

"Go ahead." He smiled. "It goes down first."

Lyass raised an eyebrow at that but was careful as she crawled in, only to find that she could stand up once past the entrance.

She looked around, stepping in further, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness as she realized there was much more space available.

"This is different," she said approvingly. "It's still stable?"

"It should be, it is nearly hard as stone." He nodded and followed her inside. "The real work is in the den hollow."

"Okay," she nodded, heading down a bit further, into the single large 'room' of his den.

"You have been busy," she murmured as she saw the large, rough-built bed sitting in the back corner of the much-enlarged space.

"I do pay attention," he came up and nuzzled the back of her neck. "Want to see if it is soft enough for you?"

"All right," she smiled, turning to give him a gentle kiss on the muzzle before slipping her robes off and moving to the bed, laying down on it carefully, testing the strength of it before laying down completely. It was filled with feathers, fur, and other local paddings. It wasn't the best bed she'd ever been on, but it was better than many.

"It's wonderful," she told Long-Spear with a pleased sound. "Join me?"

He smiled and knelt on the edge of the bed, not completely confident about how to move on the new kind of object he'd built. "I am glad you like it."

"Come on," she said with a smile, guiding him to lie down next to her. "I do like it. I notice you built it for two," she chuckled, nuzzling his cheek as he settled and slid one hand under her robes to caress her shoulder and collarbone.

"I do like sleeping with you," he said and kissed her. "It seemed like a good idea to make where you slept big enough for me."

"So, is it comfortable for you?" She asked, rubbing his side lightly as they lay next to each other.

"It is different," he snuggled into the soft bedding a bit. "Very soft. I think I can get used to it easily."

"Good," she murmured. "If you weren't comfortable, I'd stick to the ground." She took a moment, shifting to remove the rest of her clothes. "Would you mind just snuggling for a while?"

"Not at all," he gently wrapped his tail around her and drew her close. "I do enjoy just being with you."

"Same here," she smiled, hugging him lightly and pressing against his warm, furry body. "Has Obi-Wan said anything to you yet, about us? He hasn't to me, but he might not."

"No," Long-Spear shook his head. "What were you expecting him to say?"

"I'm not sure," she admitted. "Approval, disapproval... cautionary notes, about us planning on leaving," she shrugged slightly. "Maybe he knows I'd have covered most of those already."

"He did say you were dangerously perfectionist." He put the strange combination of words together. "He told me some things about how you were raised and why you have had such problems now that you are living with non-Jedi."

"I don't have problems with the Loup Maru," she reassured him, running her fingers through his fur lightly.

"But you do with sex, with emotions, with the balance between self-control and living ... you scared me there." He admitted quietly. "I do not understand your ways, or why they hurt you so much."

"I'm sorry," she murmured, kissing his neck lightly and murmured in pleasure at the way he rubbed her back in reassurance. "To be honest... I'm not sure why they do either. What it is about me that makes it so hard to keep to the teachings that have worked for so long."

"Because there is comfort in what you know, when it is all you have left?" Long-Spear suggested with a kiss to her forehead. "I know I would be very hard pressed to not be a Loup Maru ... to do what SunWind did ... just to survive."

"I know," she nodded. "That's what I mean though... I'm not sure I am keeping to them. It's... pulling at me, in different ways. Everything was destroyed... how am I supposed to just let that go? But that's what I've been taught I'm supposed to do. Supposed to be able to do, especially as a Knight."

She knew even as she spoke he was well over his head as far as understanding the contradiction, but he was trying hard to understand enough to try and help her for no other reason than he cared about her.

"Do you want to let go of it?" He asked eventually.

"I... don't know," Lyass admitted softly. "There's a part of me that does. But that part of me... it's frightening."

Long-Spear could tell that she meant more than the fear of losing what she'd grown up to be. He couldn't tell what it was, but there was something there that truly frightened her.

"Can you tell me what that fear is of?" He asked her gently.

"The Dark Side... it's something that doesn't exist here," Lyass admitted, trying to put into words something she understood instinctively. "At least not on Haloeth, beyond Obi-Wan and I. A difference between the Force here and in the Republic. The Dark Side... it's raw, uncontrolled entropy and aggression. The Wyrm of Enderonth, from what I've heard."

"As it is now," he nodded with a shudder for something he feared greatly. "Out of control, insane ... not at all as it was meant to be."

"Understood," she nodded. "But that is what is back there... there's a part of me that wants to be angry, to lash out at something. It's the same drive that Anakin gave into, that the Sith worship."

"Worship?" Long-Spear frowned, trying to repeat the word that didn't translate.

"They... revere it, in much the way the Loup Maru revere Haloeth's spirit," Lyass tried to explain. "Worship is a sort of extreme reverence... difficult to explain, since I don't know that you technically have religion the same way many species do."

"I think I understand." He murmured. "Your kind can not rage and come back to normal?"

"Some of us can, that makes it all the more complicated," Lyass sighed, snuggling close. "Wookies can enter a rage that would do a Loup Maru in full Lumari proud, and many of them would have made excellent Jedi if they had been willing. But it's... natural for them. The rage is a part of them, something that is part of what the Force meant for them, the way it is for the Loup Maru. For other species, it is different. It wouldn't be a one-way trip... but it would be much harder to control it each time I gave in."

"This is how it is for Obi-Wan as well?" He just held her close and tried to comfort and support her.

"I believe so, though without having seen his Republic it is hard to tell," she said, accepting his comfort, careful to see what effect her explanation was having on the world around her. To her relief, things seemed to stay the same. It wasn't just talking about it that created the change, or at least not talking on this level. It was probably an effect that could take lifetimes to understand; time she would not have here.

"Did it help to give your anger another outlet?" He asked, rubbing her back gently.

"Another outlet?" She asked, trying to bring her distracted mind back onto the subject and place what he meant.

"It was sex last time, but any physical or mental exertion might work well." He explained. "Burning off the rage in a way other than random violence. Rage is mostly physical, same with most emotions. They can be transferred to something else physical in a similar way and dealt with."

"I would have to be careful about how I did it, but that might work," she nodded. "It actually worked fairly well last time... I was able to use the aggression, but I had to keep it controlled."

"While you are here, we can fight." He offered softly. "Without the lightsaber, you do not seem to have any skills that can hurt us for long."

"I could, but I want to be very careful about that," she said, nuzzling his chest. "If I'm angry, if I'm already on the edge of losing control, sparring might get risky, even without a lightsaber."

"Risky to you." He asked to confirm what he thought she meant.

"Primarily, and to whoever I was sparring with," she said. "There are techniques available to those who wield the Dark Side, sometimes even unintentionally, that can be very deadly. I doubt I would do anything like that… not in the real world, at least. It happened before, but in a vision, and the situation was very different. I meant to do it there."

"Lyass, you should not live in fear, even with the intention of doing good by it." Long-Spear told her gently. "You fear becoming evil, you fear hurting others, you fear loosing yourself, your heritage." He tipped her chin up to look at him. "I understand it is very difficult to get out of that mindset, but you need to."

"I... I know," she sighed, closing her eyes. "It's just so very difficult to let go of that."

"It is easier if you have something you care about as a reason." He said gently. "You have to be willing to start somewhere."

"It's going to take time too," she murmured, pressing her face into his shoulder as she held him close. "It's not as simple as just turning it off."

"I know, Lyass," he stroked her lekku and back. "How about starting with not talking about choices based on fear?" He suggested. "Instead of not wanting to fight for fear of hurting one of us, choose a different target or accept that it can happen."

"I'm still not sure that fighting to burn it off is a good thing," she murmured. "I know it can work, but that's still the first thing they told us not to do."

"They also taught you sex is a bad thing." He pointed out. "What about taking it out on an object? A rock or something."

"Probably work better sparring," she admitted. "I'll just have to be more careful about it. Shouldn't come up too much, I don't think."

"Not if we do it right," he nuzzled her. "Just remember, there are always other ways."

"M'kay," she smiled, hugging him. "Thank you, for caring."

"Thank you for listening," he kissed her forehead and hugged her back. "We can make this work."

"Mmm ... different topic?" She murmured, tipping her head up to kiss the bottom of his muzzle lightly.

"What did you have in mind?" He rumbled softly and slid his tail up to caress the side of her breast.

"That depends on the mood you're in," she smiled, enjoying his touch as she reached down to rub the spot just above his tail. "Though this is the sort of thing it could be interesting to tie you down to," she teased.

"If you want to," he smiled and kissed her soundly. "It was kind of fun."

"Only if you want to," she said, hugging him. "Equals works for me too."

Long-Spear nuzzled her and caught the wisp of a fantasy from her mind. "How about this?" He claimed a hard kiss and rolled her to her back with his full weight on top of her as he rubbed his groin against hers.

"~This works,~" she told him silently, spreading her legs instinctively as he picked up on the fantasy she hadn't even been aware of having until she'd picked up on his intent, and the way it was stirring interest deep inside of her.

"~Yes it does.~" He rumbled, sharply aroused by her reaction and the slick heat of sinking into her welcoming body. "~So incredible.~" He shuddered with a groan and began to slowly thrust into her with a hunger intent on slowly sating itself.

Lyass moaned, wrapping her arms and legs around his body, kissing and licking at his muzzle submissively as he took her, pleasure shivering through her body at his touch and penetration. It was ecstasy under control. Everything that a Loup Maru did to her and everything that was in her nature came together in submission without mindlessness.

"~This is how it should be.~" Long-Spear kissed her soundly and intertwined their fingers as he pinned her hands by her head and continued his slow thrusting as their pleasure built.

"~Yes,~" she agreed silently, returning the kiss, carefully opening her mind to his to share their pleasure.

"Ohh," he moaned and shifted his position to drive deeper into her as his balls began to tingle. "~Come with me,~" he whispered into her mind as their pleasure fed off each other's into a crescendo.

Lyass cried out into his mouth as his shaft brushed against her g-spot, her body rippling around his, milking it hungrily as she came hard and eager for the seed he surrendered to her pleasure and his own.

"Mmm, I like it when you relax." He murmured as they panted to regain their breath.

"So do I," she murmured, nuzzling his cheek. "Mmm... this side of you is pretty good too. So... am I having any other fantasies I don't know about yet?" She asked with a teasing kiss.

"Maybe," he grinned down at her and lifted his hips to draw out of her with a groan. "You clean me off, then get me off, while my tail works on you." He suggested even as he shifted to kneel over her breasts.

"Mmm... and whose fantasy is this?" She asked in a low, seductive tone, her warm breath washing over his slick shaft as she leaned up, kissing the tip, licking the salty mix of their fluids from her lips.

"Mostly yours," he chuckled and slid his tail into her sex, a moan catching in her throat at the unexpected penetration. "Not that it is unappealing," he rumbled as she slid her tongue along the bottom from sheath to tip. "Most of mine just aren't going to happen."

"~Like?~" She asked him gently, licking their juices from his cock dutifully before taking his tip into her mouth, suckling and moaning at the feel of his tail exploring her pussy.

"Like, mmm, holding our pups in your belly as we come together," he moaned, his eyes drifting closed as he opened his mind to her, sharing as best he could why it would be so much more intense. Even with full acceptance that it was not going to happen, the fantasy was no less strong. "Tasting your gravid pleasure." He trembled at the mental image of licking her sex as she cried out, her belly large and round with unborn life above him, their pup's minds sharing the joy of their parents together.

She moaned deeply, his pleasure doing more for her than the fantasies themselves. It he and SunWind were any indication, those fantasies weren't uncommon in the least, even if she hadn't gotten as much of it from SunWind after so many years of suppressing his drive to reproduce. Long-Spear had no such history. His mind was a much more natural representation of a Loup Maru male.

"Oh yeah," Long-Spear moaned and caressed her lekku as his tail slid deeper into her and doubled over so the tip snaked it's way back out and teased her anus.

"Mmm...." She moaned deeply around his cock, taking it deeper into her mouth and lavishing it with attention from her broad, soft tongue. The attention to her ass was unexpected, but it didn't bother her in the least. Being the second person in a pseudo-foursome was a bit of a rush, actually, feeling him at each entry to her body.

"~You're close,~" she observed mentally, feeling his pleasure, tasting the change to his arousal as pre leaked into her mouth. She moaned around his cock at the pleasure of a gentle penetration of her ass and the textured tail sliding in and out and along all the lower insides of her body. "~This is good,~" she added, giving him mental access to how it felt for her.

"Yes," he shuddered and leaned back, his attention focused on the pleasure building in his cock and tightening balls as everything else faded away.

Lyass moaned deeply, her pussy rippling around his tail as she sucked his cock hungrily, tasting his seed as he came, filling her mouth with the thick, musky fluid and her mind with their joint pleasure.

"You are incredible." Long-Spear murmured as he slowly drew his cock from her mouth and settled along side her. "So very incredible." He kissed her and slid one hand along her flat belly to lightly caress her sex as his tail withdrew.

"Mmm... I do my best," she smiled, moaning a bit as she rubbed his clit, swallowing the last of his cum. "You're pretty good yourself."

"Good," he murmured and rubbed his hard cock again her thigh. "Up for more?"

"Mmm... want to put that where you almost put your tail?" Lyass suggested shyly, spreading her legs further.

He looked a bit uncertain, but kissed her and nodded. "Should I do anything differently?"

"Just go slow," she said easily, wrapping her arms around him and rubbing his back. "Mmm... might take a few thrusts up here, to get yourself nice and slick," she said, pressing his shaft against her pussy-lips with a bit of a smile.

He nodded and groaned as he slid into her sex. Despite his willingness to do what she wanted, he couldn't conceal that this was what felt natural; this was what he enjoyed most.

"Oh... this is fine too," she told him quietly, kissing him tenderly. "It was just a thought."

Long-Spear took the opening she'd given him to stay with normal sex and relaxed into a long evening of pleasure with her

"What's wrong?" Wolf asked as Shadow-Flash winced yet again. In three days SunWind had begun to heal nicely, but he was still visibly painful and resting only under psychic sedation.

"The images in his head ...." Shadow-Flash shuddered. "Not even Wyrm-spawn are so ... so ... sick."

"Something he did, or that psychopath who took his eyes?" Wolf asked quietly, fully aware that both were a real possibility.

"Something he witnessed." Shadow-Flash hesitantly looked a little closer, using SunWind's half-conscious mind to fill in the who, what and where with as few other details as he could manage. "A Rat and SunWind's white packmate. Hurting Vinnie for the ... the fun ... of seeing SunWind ... Throttle ... react." He flicked a glance at Wolf. "Throttle was a name he had once?"

"It was," Wolf nodded. "Probably longer than SunWind, but he took it back after he was out of his system."

"Throttle was his Mouse-name. The one he used to hide with?" He half-asked.

"Right," Wolf nodded. "Not surprised something like that happened... from the sound of it, everybody working with the Plutarkians was pretty damned twisted."

"And these are the people that are coming here?" He looked worriedly at Wolf. "How do you fight something like that?"

"You don't give them the chance to reach that point," Wolf said seriously. He knew that, aside from SunWind, he was the most actively experienced soldier here, and that meant they were taking what he said seriously. "You have to stop them, before they get a foothold. Convince them that the war isn't worth it."

"By ... attacking first?" He asked hesitantly, the idea not settling well with him.

"Either attacking first, or hitting as soon as they start. The problem is, from what SunWind's said... by the time it's a war, they're already established and invested to the point where they just won't leave."

"Then they will start with Enderonth," he caressed SunWind's sweat-dampened hair. "They would stand little chance of it here or on Itassa now." He glanced at Wolf uneasily. "That is what the argument was about, when the Jedi and leaders were going on about ships and Umbral watchers?"

"I imagine so," Wolf nodded. "I don't think Obi-Wan has quite the mentality it takes to win a war, honestly," he admitted. "Well... that's not true. He has the mentality it takes. Just not to do it in the quickest, most bloodless way possible."

"Which is to strike first and hard." Shadow-Flash nodded. "I do not like it either," he looked down at the male he had loved his entire life and never gotten a chance to know. "After seeing what he is remembering to ease his pain now ... I know what those people are ... I can do it. It will not be the worst thing the Loup Maru have done."

"Hell, it wouldn't be the worst thing I've done," Wolf said with a nod, reaching down to stroke SunWind's forehead gently. "I have an idea of what he's thinking of, what you're seeing through him. It's a thousand times worse in person."

"I believe you." Shadow-Flash whispered, seriously unsettled and suddenly feeling very much outclassed by these two strangers to his world and pack. "I do not know which will be worse. What he remembers, or what is being planned for Enderonth if we can get permission for it. You have brought many changes to Ramilz."

"I'm sorry," Wolf said, knowing that even if the changes weren't bad ones, they weren't particularly good. "I just hope it all works out, in the long-run."

"Someone will figure out how," he sort of chuckled. "Someone smarter than me, most likely."

"How it always works, isn't it?" Wolf chuckled. "Just as long as the smarter folks are on the right side."

"Something with that happened to you?" Shadow-Flashed asked as much from curiosity as wanting a new subject.

"Yeah," Wolf nodded with a sigh. Even only being the second time he was explaining it, it was more often than he really wanted to. Shadow-Flash had more right than most though. "It's hard to explain around here... you guys always know what the right thing to do is, when it's about the big things, about Haloeth, from what I can tell. We don't have that. Somebody I believed came to me and said that the Alphas in charge shouldn't be. He was a psychopath, but I didn't see it at the time, and made a bunch of bad decisions based on what he said."

"It can happen," Shadow-Flash said softly. "When an Alpha goes insane quickly, or is possessed by a spirit who knows how to hide it, their pack can be led down a wrong path. It is rare, but it has been seen. Ronin, those without a pack, are even more vulnerable than most to both fates."

"Yeah, but I imagine it's pretty rare, and doesn't go on too long," Wolf mused. "Just seemed like Long-Spear was having a hard time figuring it out, when he heard about it," he shrugged. "And I imagine that the big things you guys can catch on to pretty quick. Instead I very nearly helped depose the government of my home system and install a ruthless dictator."

"Long-Spear is a bit ... different," Shadow-Flash tried to explain. "That does sound bad. How did you survive?"

"We didn't win," Wolf chuckled darkly. "More importantly, in the process of 'not winning,' I didn't do anything that would have been held against a soldier, like knowingly attacking a civilian target. Everything I went after was a legitimate military target, so...."

"So the winning Alphas forgave your choice of pack?" He guessed, hoping he'd worked it out.

"That's about it," Wolf nodded. "Wasn't exactly popular after that, of course, but that's to be expected. One of the reasons I came here, really."

"To have a new life in a new place." Shadow-Flash nodded and looked down at SunWind, brushing his fingers threw the cascade of SunWind's mohawk, brushing the stiff black hairs back into place. "Your outcast status likely helped you get close to him. It gave you something in common, a loneliness that I expect few understood."

"His was a lot worse than mine ever was," Wolf said softly, rubbing his mate's shoulder lightly. "I wasn't really alone... they just didn't want me around. I honestly can't really imagine how bad it must have been for him."

"A kind of insanity he is very lucky he recovered from before he arrived." Shadow-Flash said softly. He paused to caressed SunWind's forehead until his pain-haunted eyes closed again. "Alpha's chosen or not, even Shadows-in-the-Dawn would have put him down. It would have made him too dangerous to be allowed to live."

"Even if he would have recovered shortly after he believed what he'd found?"

Shadow-Flash had to think about that. Pushing the memories from SunWind from his mind, he tried to think the way the leaders did about the future and what Healers could do. "I ... believe ... if the Healers thought he would recover quickly enough to not do permanent damage ... they would help him heal. I am not an Alpha or Healer. I do not understand much of how such choices are made."

"Understandable," Wolf nodded. "For what it's worth, he'd recovered enough not to be dangerous after a few hours or days, from the sound of it."

"Not dangerous that way, Wolf." He shook his head a bit. "Dangerous to the balance, to those around him. We are a united race. What affects one affects us all. Someone as strong as him could warp days worth of territory and everything, everyone, in it."

"Things are that... malleable here?" Wolf asked, looking for the right word. Damn... Andross would have adored this place, he was sure.

"For those with power," Shadow-Flash nodded. "It is why Enderonth is in such bad shape and why the Mice posed such danger here. It is why there was such a reaction to the Jedi when they argued and Obi-Wan tried to enforce his will over hers. He has the power and will to enforce it to a level few in history have."

"Lyass probably would too," Wolf murmured. "He didn't intend it, though." He sighed, leaning back. "I am so fucking glad we didn't know about this place back home until recently."

"If what you say about your people is correct, very few would have the power to affect much, particularly against us." Shadow-Flash said. "That or great numbers here. We are not completely without a hold on our reality. We are its chosen guardians. We do not loose so easily."

"I know," Wolf nodded. "It's not most of my people I'd worry about. Andross... he was something else. He had the willpower to avoid dying when his brain was blown apart."

Shadow-Flash blinked several times, having difficultly grasping that even though he knew Wolf was telling the truth.

"You really mean survive physically, not as a spirit." He finally half-asked.

"A bit of both, from what I understand. His spirit fled, but he created a new body for himself... almost destroyed an entire planet in the process to do it. Made himself out to be a god or something to a very nasty group of natives, led them into a battle to steal the artifacts that kept the planet together. He was beaten, but it was a damned close thing. Hell, for all I know he might still have another backup plan in the works."

"Do you think he might be with these Plutarkians?" He asked with real concern. "Power like that is rare."

"No," Wolf said easily. "He wouldn't be working with them. SunWind thought of that too, if I remember right, but Andross ... he was all his own sickness. Besides, even though I think he knew about them, they worried him as much as they do anybody here."

"Good," Shadow-Flash murmured, still stroking SunWind's mohawk mane as the tawny Loup Maru slept. "Is there anything you would like to know about me?" He offered, both for a change of subject and as a fair exchange.

"Mmm ... well, I don't know much about you," Wolf admitted with a chuckle. "Most of what I do is about an entirely different you... so why don't we start with how you got your name?"

Shadow-Flash chuckled and got a familiar look of half-embarrassment that many seemed to have about the story of their naming. "When I was younger, I could see spirits in the Umbra without trying and I would snap at them. I did not know any better back then. We all can, but it takes a bit of training to see both sides at the same time. I came by it naturally. I could see the Umbra even before I opened by eyes. Well, one day I was chasing a spirit and I stepped sideways into the Umbra by accident. It is not something that should have happened, but it did. My mother said that she saw a shadow, then a flash of light as I crossed over. It is not common to have visual effects like that either. Both things are still with me, though I know how to control it now."

"That's always a good thing," Wolf grinned at him. "Anything else you think I ought to know about? How things were between you and ... Dawn's-Whisper, I think it was?"

"Yes, that was his name here," Shadow-Flash smiled down at SunWind. "There is little to tell there. I was just old enough to know desire and he was not the last time we saw each other. He was to grow up to be my Alpha and not my mate. I doubt that last part would have lasted if he had lived long enough. A couple strong litters will do wonders for a mother's issues about who her best pup sleeps with. Even now I am not sure what is between us. I can feel it and so can he, but it is not like anything either of us have known. The elders can not put a name to it either, though I am not sure how hard they have tried."

"Think that, back home, the phrase would have been 'soul mates,'" Wolf offered, using the individual words when he could not think of the local phrase. He wasn't crazy about the idea... but he had to admit, it seemed accurate enough.

The frown that crossed Shadow-Flash's face seemed to indicate it was no more accepted than it had been for Wolf.

"Do you mean that we are somehow bonded in a way no one can see?" He asked slowly, trying to work out the meaning of the phrase from context and what he got from Wolf. "Or destined to be together?"

"Something like that," Wolf said with a bit of a nod. "That there's something between the two of you that something wasn't going to let different worlds keep from happening... who knows, I could be all wrong," he shrugged slightly.

Shadow-Flash looked at SunWind's resting expression and the injuries he was still healing from.

"Perhaps," he said softly, still considering the idea with some suspicion. "He is willing to fight a deadly nightmare for you."

"Yeah, and I'm not about to forget it," Wolf nodded. "I know he loves me, but he cares for you too. By the way... given how little experience I've got around here, mind if I ask you a few questions about the fems in the pack, and area?"

"I do not mind," Shadow-Flash looked up at him. "I will answer what I can."

"Any of the fems around here interested in SunWind, as a sire or mate, that you know of?"

"Should have seen that one coming," Shadow-Flash laughed lightly and relaxed against the wall of their small cave-cubby. "All of them, to some extent. It is just a smart thing to do, to be interested in a high-ranking male. Shadows-in-the-Dawn is the one who chooses who gets to breed, and to some extent she will be more favorable to any request that includes one of her pups. SunWind will lead one day and he will be the one to choose. Even a gamma like White-Face can improve her status if she gets a high-ranking member to take her as a mate. It is something we all want.

"As for specific ones," he paused to think about the part that Wolf really wanted to know about. "White-Face is fairly bold and with how he treats Alyaa she is working up to it. She would not be a poor choice to have around if you like females. She is playful and quite willing to be with more than one at a time. She should not be his first female male, however, because she is a gamma.

"Storm-Healer has been looking at him as a possible sire. She has a mate she is very close to, but with two litters with him, she is unlikely to get another. As a strong healer, though, she could get permission for more if she chose another male. Until now, none have suited her for whatever reason. She would only want him as a sire, if she chooses to do anything.

"Sea-Foam has been showing some interest and she is unmated since her first mate died nine years ago. She has good breeding and is a fine choice as a first mate, if you both like her. She is not very forward and she is a bit flighty, but I know Shadows-in-the-Dawn would approve of her."

Shadow-Flash cocked his head a bit. "Is there anyone you have noticed, male or female?"

"Well, there was one fem who seemed curious about me, at least," Wolf chuckled. "I've gotten used to noticing when I'm noticed. Think her name is Far-Walker; attractive woman."

"The traveler," Shadow-Flash nodded. "Even if she is interested, she is not likely to settle down anytime soon. She is like Long-Spear in being different and strong enough to express it fully. She is technically of the Lost Island pack, but she is rarely with them."

"Wander-lust," Wolf nodded slightly. "Bet she has an interesting life," he chuckled. "Aside from her, haven't really noticed anybody in particular. Not like I've been looking too much," he added.

"Not too surprising," Shadow-Flash commented. "I am going to be here to help SunWind choose a good mate or dame, and so will his mother. We do not intend to let him be taken advantage of like Alyaa does."

"For what it's worth, I don't think Alyaa knows how much she is taking advantage of him. She's used to people who are all too willing to tell her when to back off, stop, and just go away."

"The only unpleasant thing about her is that she is aware of what her scent does and revels in the control it gives her." Shadow-Flash muttered a bit. "She may not be fully aware in his case, but she knows what she is doing and she is willing to be persistent. I expect her new Alpha will have her sterilized unless this pup is truly exceptional."

"Oh that I know she knows," Wolf muttered. "And yeah, somehow I don't think she'll mind either. Being pregnant's likely to just slow her down. If I'm right, most of the time it would have meant she was about to take a serious step down in position back home."

Shadow-Flash blinked, his mouth open slightly in shock at the idea.

"It's because of her specific situation, not something widespread," Wolf said quickly. "The people who she was with valued her not because of being good a good dame, but because she was good at sex. If she was pregnant, it would probably only be because they'd decided that she should be turned to breeding stock instead, which they didn't have nearly the same respect for."

"Strange." Shadow-Flash murmured. It was literally the only thing he could think of in response to such an alien idea. "It sounds as if the universe if full of very strange societies."

"If it wasn't, it would be a lot more boring," Wolf chuckled. "Besides, they'd probably say the same if they knew about Haloeth."

"True enough," he grinned back. "The people of Itassa sure do."

SunWind murmured, shifting painfully in his sedated sleep, and Wolf reached down to rub his shoulder lightly.

"I think that was a half-hearted request to quiet down," he smiled softly.

"Then come here and let us rest for a while," Shadow-Flash shifted a bit and opened one arm in an offer to hold Wolf. It might not be what either one wanted the most, but it was the Loup Maru's honest effort to become closer to SunWind's first mate. It was a gesture Wolf accepted, snuggling up lightly as they both watched SunWind recuperate.

Sliding Time 8: Haloeth

NC-17 for M/M and M/F sex
Het Level is MediumHet Smut Level is Medium
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Medium
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

350 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written November 12, 2006 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Biker Mice from Mars, Star Fox, Star Wars Episode 1, Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, World of Darkness (generic)

Primary Races: Human, Loup Maru, Twi'lek, Wolf

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Alternate Universe, Violence

Pairings: Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon (in abstansia), SunWind/Wolf O'Donnell, SunWind/Lyass Vida, SunWind/Alyaa'rann, Sly Cooper/Carmelita Montoya Fox, Wildwing Flashblade/Duke L'Orange, Wildwing Flashblade/Canard, Duke L'Orange/Canard, Duke L'Orange/Shatta Swiftwing, others

Notes: Many thanks to Annie Booker for going over this monster for spelling and such. She was a great help and any issues that remain are my fault.

Setting: Haloeth

Main Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lyass Vida, Alyaa'rann (Star Wars), Throttle/SunWind (BMFM), Wolf O'Donnell (Star Fox), Sly Cooper, Carmelita Montoya Fox (Sly Cooper), Wildwing Flashblade, Duke L'Orange (Mighty Ducks TAS)

Blurb: When their portal is hijacked by an Umbral bridge, no one is prepared for where it lands them, least of all SunWind.

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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