A Triad Through Fire, Darkness and Death part 7 of 7
by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for friggen Everything
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Jake whimpered as he woke, his entire body nauseous and dizzy as if he's been awake and working for a week Even the warmth of the bodies around him and the supportive, protecting presence in his mind did nothing to alleviate the misery that wouldn't allow him to drift off into oblivion again.

Nathan's eyes snapped open a moment later, his mind scanning the area for anything that shouldn't be present He calmed himself down, and turned to face his mate "Something wrong, love?" He asked gently, stroking the Kat's cheek ruff soothingly.

"No yelling, please." Jake whispered before clamping his claw shut against the roil in his gut, then covered his mouth with one hand and made a very awkward bolt for the bathroom.

Before Nathan or Patrik could move they heard him vomit into the toilet.

Nathan quietly got up, and padded quietly toward the bathroom, Patrik just behind him He carefully restricted his telepathy to a very quiet setting. "*Are you all right, Jake?*" He asked in a very concerned voice In a quietly shielded corner, he cursed the fact that his medical kit was back in his apartment.

"No," he said in a nearly dead voice from where he knelt before another bout of nausea overwhelmed him.

"*Heron, Jake just *admitted* he's sick.*" Patrik's frightened mind-voice called to the squad's healer-medic.

Nathan knelt down next to Jake and put his arm around the Kat's shoulder Gently, he used one of his mother's tricks to deal with nausea that had come in handy during Cazi's occasional drinking bouts Carefully, he passed some his strength to Jake in a fashion directed to calm the parts of the body that were both causing and responding to the nausea He paid particular attention for any peculiarities in how the energy feed behaved, looking for anything truly out of the ordinary for a Kat.

Nathan wished he had his mother's experience in this sort of healing approach, but unfortunately that was something one had to learn, and he'd only had the ability for less than 24 hours As he tapped his energy stores to buttress Jake, it hit him that he didn't feel particularly well either Of course, functioning as a healer while being under the weather was nothing new, and it wasn't like Jake was feeling good enough to notice him faking it.

The strongest draw came from a spot the size of his fist that made no sense ... below Jake's stomach and just above the pelvic bone ... a place that should only be muscle Before he had a chance to investigate further a strong hand was on his shoulder.

"Nathan, I am a Healer, let me see him." A strong, commanding female voice spoke very softly in a tone he remembered well from every good Healer and Medic he'd known.

He glanced up to see the worried face of a dark gray Gargoyle with black hair.

Nathan kept focused on Jake, and fully in 'healer' mode "I don't have my medic kit on me, but whatever the problem is, is centered here." He indicated the place he'd sensed without actually touching.

Carefully, he allowed the Gargoyle to see Jake But he never let the physical contact between them break He'd promised to look after Jake and protect him, and no one could relieve him of that responsibility Of course, he still wasn't sure why he felt more than a bit ill, a sensation something like a really bad stomach flu he thought.

The 'Defender' part of him was reacting in a confused fashion to the Gargoyles presence; part of it took the Gargoyles presence as reassuring, but the other part remembered a dark female Gargoyle as a threat The disagreement cancelled out, and left him a little confused.

Heron concentrated for a moment, bringing a soft, gray glow to her left hand before running it over the shaking tom's forehead After a moment he slumped in relief and she urged Nathan to move him away from the toilet as she flushed it.

Then she turned gentle hands, glowing pale blue, to the spot Nathan had indicated and frowned in confusion After silently running her hands across his entire body she returned to his abs and sighed, looking between them.

"It would be good for all three of you to get dressed, and come to Medical." She helped Nathan stand, supporting a very dazed Jake "What I suspect should probably be double checked by technology."

Nathan gently helped Jake get dressed, before getting dressed himself He considered asking Felsira, but decided to let Mother rest until it seemed that she was needed, rather than simply wanted Once dressed, he helped his dazed mate up and toward Medical, though he was prepared to carry him should it be necessary.

As they walked, Nathan had to suppress a sudden spasm as a burning sensation erupted on his left arm, just below the shoulder The tiger-tabby was not happy, as if hiding a bad stomach flu wasn't enough now he had to keep anyone from noticing his arm hurt too He just hoped that Jake was keeping the healer thoroughly distracted; Jake's problem was what was important anyway.

Nathan felt a soft, seeking, healing energy wash over him as looked over to see Heron looking at him worriedly "You need medical attention more than Jake does." She shifted run a hand down his left arm, washing the pain away "Any idea how you acquired a third degree burn there?"

Nathan refused to be distracted from his mate's condition, and tried to shake the attention. "I'll be fine." He said tersely, before he considered the arm "Don't know, I remember an old childhood injury there."

"Nathan, you are sick Jake is not." She replied stubbornly.

"Then what am I?" Jake growled.

"Urr, you're just pregnant."

Nathan spun around, and promptly discovered that his head didn't care for the sudden motion, as he tipped into a wall.

"That is not funny, Heron." Jake growled as he tried to help Nathan stand on his own.

"What? Or better yet, how? I thought Ashley was joking about males being able to conceive." He shook his head, and leaned against the wall.

"That I don't really know," she shook her head, "but it is a fact that Jake is carrying a very new life."

"I'm not sick." Nathan said stubbornly "Just a bit stressed, that's all It's been a long weekend." The tiger-tabby said as he leaning against the wall at a very precarious angle.

"Either way both of you need to get to Medical." She glared at them both, all Healer "You may either walk, or I will have stretchers called."

Nathan forced himself up, and looked at Jake with an uneasy grin "I recognize an ultimatum when I hear one Shall we attempt to retain some dignity and walk?"

"I think I'd actually prefer to be carried," he said weakly.

Nathan smiled. "Under the circumstances, I think I can understand that Actually, I think I'm going to go with four-legs Lower center of gravity, and stronger anyway." He said before shifting to tiger form. "*Under other circumstances I'd switch to war-form and carry you myself, but I don't think the Healer will let me.*" He thought, still focused on looking after his mate.

Heron looked decidedly disturbed and raised her hand "Ethro Myi Rhoor."

The world dissolved in a glimmering shadow and reformed into a medical facility significantly more advanced than what Nathan had seen in Cathedral before.

"So what have we got?" A slightly accented, deep female voice asked as Heron got Jake to lie on one of the medtables.

"We have a pregnant male that isn't fighting me," Heron indicated Jake, "and a very sick Medic." She pointed at Nathan before turning to the older Lioness, "and Patrik you know about."

The tiger padded over next to Jake's bed, sat down, and watched everything and everyone carefully, his entire stance read 'Guard Cat on Duty.' He quietly monitored their LifeBond watching for any sign of trouble or distress from his mate.

Dr. Hathin sighed and rolled her eyes "You know Jake, one of these days you'll come in with a problem I have seen before." She walked over to the other side of the bed and nodded to Heron as she began to read the initial results.

The Darshar knelt and wove healing energy around Nathan, seeking both problem and cure After a long search she nodded "Nathan, you have, for all practical purposes, a sever viral infection I can force it to run it's course quickly, or it will do it on it's own over several days."

Nathan shifted out of tiger form and leaned back against the side of Jake's bed, sitting on the floor "If you don't mind, just let it run its course."

He looked at the Darshar uneasily "Darshar magic caused the problem in the first place." He said quietly, feeling more fatigued then he wanted to admit There was a sudden flash of pain from the burn, causing him to gasp briefly.

Heron frowned before asking very carefully, " Do you know who?"

Nathan carefully pushed the burn pain out of his mind, as he tried to concentrate on the name that had been "Somebody named Tartirin, a near immortal I'm told." He shrugged "All I know is that I don't appreciate being played with like a lab rat My genetics are screwy enough, without her help."

"The Traitor," Heron's eyes flashed white-hot, then she focused on Hathin "Can you handle these two?"

"Of course," the Lioness frowned "You look ready to go to war."

"Good guess," she swiveled on one thick, clawed foot and stalked out, radiating her rage.

"One of these days," Hathin shook her head before focusing on her sick patient "I can see you are in pain, Nathan I can give you a pain killer that won't hamper your ability to think."

Nathan looked at Hathin, and nodded gratefully. "That would be appreciated Actually, would you mind taking a look at the burn on my left arm? It keeps flaring hot, like the site is infected or something."

He stood up unsteadily, checked his link with Jake, and gently brushed the Kats hair back He turned to Hathin. "He's just sleeping, right?" He asked nervously, one hand gripping the edge of the bed for support.

She looked at the readouts to double check and nodded "Yes, he is resting normally." She regarded him for a moment before walking over to the next bed and disconnecting a several cords before pushing it next to Jake's and hooking it back up "Lie down, Nathan You can keep watch on your mate from the bed."

Nathan relaxed a little. "Okay, I guess I can't do a very job protecting him if I don't look after myself." He said absently, as he lay down.

Hathin carefully helped him remove his shirt to examine the burn "That has got to be the oddest thing I've seen." She looked at Nathan and then turned to get a hand mirror "You have a serious burn in the shape of a Wyvern, a two-legged dragon And a good detail at that."

Nathan looked in disbelief "That injury is almost forty years old." He grinned a little sheepishly. "It was supposed to be a tattoo, actually."

"A tattoo? Well, it's detailed What did you tattoo yourself with?" She asked with a trace of concern "I can't think of anything off the top of my head that would do this, but it's clearly not normal."

"Well, when I did it forty years ago, I used a piece of metal and a laser field tool; first to draw the design, and then to make it hot enough to make a permanent mark.

"I recall that it hurt like hellfire at the time. But that was forty years ago...that looks like I just did it." He looked at the mirror again. "Well, not exactly It didn't glow like that when I did it originally."

She frowned and grabbed a scanner It quickly revealed what appeared to be a very recent burn wound, which wasn't healing or more accurately it was healing repeatedly because the injury seemed to be recurring There was also an unidentified energy field present at a low level.

The tissue seemed to be suffering an injury consistent with metal heated to high temperature, though the metal itself was not present.

"This makes less sense what Jake's condition." She shook her head "Nathan, are you aware of any conditions or energy forms that would produce this?" She handed the scanner to him "I've never seen anything like it, short of magic."

Nathan looked at the scanner and shook his head "Not an energy form I've seen before I wouldn't rule out magic though, the original injury occurred in an area that had a fairly potent spell operating in it Though I don't see how it would relate Of course, the fact that it didn't reappear until just recently would imply something in the local environment triggered it.

"Unfortunately, the medical school I went to didn't cover Magic in the curriculum." He said with a mild chuckle.

"I'm not sure what I can do for you beyond pain killers." She looked very concerned "I can heal it easily enough, but it keep reoccurring I've sent the readings to Medical, but if Heron couldn't fix it ..." she let her voice drift off as a ping indicated the results were confirmed on her patient "Okay, Nathan, the embryo is less than a day old Would I be amiss in recording you as the likely father, until we can be sure?"

Nathan turned and looked at her, then chuckled. "There aren't a whole lot of other choices Rik was certainly there, but he's bottomed exclusively And while Keltin and Caito were present, to the best of my knowledge neither of them had sex with Jake Besides, he's my LifeMate, doesn't matter what tests show or don't show, we'll be raising the kit together We're planning on that anyway This is just a little sooner then we thought."

"I understand," she nodded easily, and more than a little relieved "You will not have an easy time of the six months or so, until he gives birth, however that will actually be handled.

"He must not take the risks he's used to Exercise is fine, sparing carefully if he must, but no taking G's, in a sim or jet Understand?"

Nathan nodded. "I understand the rules for pregnancy, though I must admit I'd never expect to see them applied to a tom As for sparring, I know Jake well enough to know that it had better be ruled out because he doesn't spar carefully, once he's into it he's not going to think that clearly."

Hathin nodded "I'm well aware of his tendencies in that area It may be possible for his to spar against an opponent capable of keeping it low-key Sheir Khan is one of those I get the feeling you may be as well."

Nathan nodded "What I'm wondering is how is the fetus going to develop, a tom's anatomy doesn't really have room ... or did Jake's develop some?" Nathan wondered curiously.

"According to the readings," she shifted the readout panel so Nathan to see it, "he does have a womb, and at least a partial vagina His bio-chemical makeup is that of a newly pregnant female with a high testosterone level Close to how a Hyena would be.

"This is something like what the genetics team theorized he would become if he didn't continue the stabilization, though the process is not finished, and it's progressing much more rapidly than expected." She frowned and quickly hooked an IV into Jake's left arm "That's probably why he's so weak, and at this rate he'll never be able to eat enough He'll need the IV nutrients."

"What the hell are you talking about, Hath?" Jake asked groggily as the pain in his arm roused him slightly.

"You're in a very serious condition, and require special care." She spoke directly to him "The best thing is to rest right now You will need to be of a clear, sound mind to answer a few questions soon."

Nathan was beginning to feel just a tad overwhelmed He'd known about the transformation, he'd even accepted it intellectually But it was supposed to be years away He was supposed have some time to adapt He began to give serious thoughts to seeing if there was something Felsira could do about this.

The tiger-tabby carefully shielded all his worries, since Jake didn't need to hear them Nathan wasn't sure how to deal with all of this so suddenly, too suddenly in fact This was just too much, too fast Nathan desperately needed to think, and he didn't even realize what was happening when he shifted to tiger-form and curled up with his tail over his eyes.

"*Nathan?*" Jake's worry as well as his exhaustion, confusion and pain accompanied the mind-touch and shaking hand behind Nathan's ear "*What's wrong? You're a tiger ... and smell scared.*"

Nathan tried to bury the fear, but it wasn't working. His system was taxed by trying to remove the genetic garbage and just couldn't take anymore Trying to bury the fear made him a little incoherent. "*Too soon. Not ready. Too fast.*" was all the tiger could get out word wise, but overlaying it all was a sense of deeply loving Jake, but being uncertain of his own ability to adapt so fast, as years turned into hours.

"*I'm sorry,*" Jake closed his eyes and hugged the tiger as best he could "*You will still have all the time you need If it means you can't touch me as a lover for a while, so be it I'll survive We'll survive I ... I can go through the stabilization again It'll buy a few years.*"

The tiger shook his head. "*No, I said I wouldn't make you go through that again, and I won't.*" His need to 'protect' began to give him a little stability He gently licked the Kat's face. "*I'm just tired, and it's tough to think clearly much less make that kind of adjustment I'll work through this, but I'm not giving you up; and not touching is like saying nothing happened. I can't do that, I'll figure out something ... I have to.*" He shuddered slightly, and his coat went totally black. "*Just very tired right now, can't think straight.*"

"*I love you, Jake. Always have, always will,*" came across the link weakly, as he sank into a deep, dreamless sleep.

"*I love you too.*" Jake whispered across their bond before sinking back down to lay as close to his LifeMate as forms and positions allowed.

Hathin keep a close eye on the pair as they slept, running scans on Nathan each time his form shifted through a succession of primitive forms over twelve hours: Black Lion, Panther, Black Lynx, and finally a small black cat she had to move from under Jake's head when it displayed difficulty breathing under the weight.

Jake remained sleeping soundly through it all as he went through a nutrient drip an hour.

The small black cat woke up, stretched fully and instinctively cleaned and straightened his fur He looked at Jake, sprawled and still asleep on his side around where Nathan had been sleeping He hopped off the bed and figuring he needed some fresh air, peace and quiet to think he headed for the nearest door.

"Nathan," large, strong hands picked him up carefully around his middle and placed him back on the bed next to his mate, "you really should stay here."

Nathan swished his tail angrily "*Why? I'm just a second tail around here There's nothing I can do to help Nothing anybody can do, whole fraggin' universe is screwed up, down and sidewise.*" He projected in anger and frustration at the hands that had picked him up He promptly hopped back down, and headed for the door again.

"And when Jake wakes up without you here?" Hathin spoke softly, but made no move to stop him this time.

Nathan padded over quietly and stared at the IV nutrient flow "*Don't you mean if? I've seen that level of nutrient use before.*" The little cat shuddered remembering one of the stages Storm had gone through.

He stretched and shivered a little as he shifted to a small black cat with gray, leathery wings "*Can't take it again.*" He said, desperately frightened.

"There is no reason to believe he won't wake up." She knelt to scratch the winged cat's shoulder comfortingly, sure of her words "While it's going fast, he's progressing as we expected."

Nathan snarled angrily. "*Going fast? I should say so. He told me it would be years before this happened, not overnight. Sounds like somebody flubbed a calculation Not that I'm surprised.*"

"Not flubbed Those calculations were based on the assumption that he would change at roughly the rate he had been He has been exposed to a tremendous amount of transformative energy recently Just as if he chose to speed it up, that is a trigger to kick the process it into high gear."

He hopped up next to Jake and sat down glaring around the room. "*'Progressing as expected.' Hummph, sounds like the AGDL bastards when they were trying to make Storm into a weapons project.*" Nathan blustered, his anger clearly directed at life in general, and what he considered a miserable situation in specific.

"*Nate, please calm down.*" Jake's mind-voice was a little groggy, but definitely with it, though his body didn't move "*It'll be okay.*"

Nathan could be mad at the world, but not at Jake He lay down quietly with his head in his paws, and his wings caped along his back "*Glad one of us can believe that.*" He said uncertainly, memories of too many nights spent in the Medical bay with Storm flashing through his mind.

He quietly tightened his thoughts so only Jake would hear him. "*What did she mean 'chose to speed it up'?*" He asked in a very confused, small mind-voice.

"*I used to change my genetics at will, remember?*" He made the effort to shift and pull the small cat against his chest "*I can speed the process up or slow it down, but not stop it, or direct it much That's changing, slowly, but shifting is an incredibly energy intensive process regardless.*" There was a long mental yawn "*It's also exhausting.

"*Nate ... listen to me. This shift is to protect our daughter I must be able to carry her. That means my body *must* change, and do it in a *big* hurry.*"

Nathan shook his head still very confused. "*I still don't see how conception occurred Even under normal circumstances, conception is a tricky thing and often doesn't happen the first time.*" He sighed. "*I wouldn't be too far off if I guessed that your shift to female started before we started Joining, would I?*" The little cat was feeling very tired again, and quietly curled up against Jake's chest, surrounded by the tom's arms and head.

"*Probably ... a shift was showing two weeks before that.*" He hesitated for a very nervous moment "*As for the rest ... I've want a kit for so long ... I think my body just made sure it happened once we'd mated and I knew you'd accept it I'm not in as much control of this as I'd like.*"

Nathan stood, stretched, turned around a few times and then laid back down with wings carefully caped back. "*Control is an illusion, so is order In the end, entropy eats the universe.*" He said cryptically as he drifted off to sleep.

When Nathan reluctantly returned attention to the real world he found Jake watching him with open, alert eyes Though the nutrient drip was still feeding him, everything else seemed much better.

Nathan stood up, stretched, made sure his wings were where they were supposed to be, walked over by Jake's face, and impulsively licked the lean tom on the nose He wasn't sure why, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time He then sat down quietly watching his mate, since watching was the one thing he could do.

"Imp," Jake chuckled softly and reached out to scratch Nathan's jaw "*I'm sorry,*" an incredible depth of guilt flowed with the apology.

Nathan rubbed his head against Jake's jaw, purring noticeably "*Me too.*" He looked at the IV. "*These still scare me.*" He thought in quiet explanation of his reaction.

"*I guess I'm used to them, and this.*" He licked the side of Nathan's head with a rough tongue as wide as the cat's head "*I'll get to leave in a couple hours at this rate.*"

"*Really?*" Nathan asked momentarily excited. "*Then what?*" He asked feeling extremely uncertain about the future, a future for which nothing was certain or clear.

"*Then I we need to put some *serious* thought into just what we intend to do.*" He sighed "*And a few little things ... like what to name our firstborn.*"

"*Hmmm. Naming, always difficult.*" Nathan turned to pace, whapping Jake's nose with a casually swishing tail "*Well, we should have at least till what, tomorrow before the kit arrives?*" There was a distinct grin to the medic's mind-voice.

"*Five months,*" Jake corrected almost automatically "*Assuming this follows my form.*"

"*Did Hathin give you the scoop on what you're not allowed to do while pregnant?*" He asked, figuring he didn't need to repeat the speech if it had already been done.

"*No,*" there was a distinctly dark foreboding behind the thought.

The small cat humphed. "*Well, I was hoping she would have. But I guess I'll bring you up to speed. Exercise is okay, Sparring is okay if you really need to, and you're careful Real combat is out of the question, as is any flight that's going to involve pulling any noticeable G's To put it politely, you're grounded and on light duty I expect you'll probably hear that from your team medic, as soon as she gets back from the war path she left on.*"

"*War path? Heron?*" He blinked "*Twenty years and I've never seen *anything* set her off What happened?*"

"*She was trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and then offered to help fix it I kind of reacted badly to the idea of more Darshar magic messing with my system, and I politely declined She asked who I'd had problems with before and I mentioned that name you gave me, Tartirin Turns out to be someone of major bad significance, I guess.*" He shook his head. "*Had no idea she'd react like that, I didn't figure she'd recognize the name She did, and stormed out looking like she wanted to kill somebody.*"

"*Hay, Cathedral, where's Heron?*" Jake requested.

"*She's in Syreth's quarters.*" There was a pause "*They are both quite agitated.*"

"*About what?*" He asked cautiously.

"*Can't tell, they're talking in a language I don't know.*"

"*Oh,*" Jake sighed and rolled to his back, then focused on Nathan "*Seriously ... are you going to be okay with all this?*"

Nathan snuggled up against Jake, nuzzling in between one arm and the tom's chest. "*I will be, its just my system still in turmoil and I'm borderline exhausted so adjusting to this dramatic and unexpected a change isn't easy I'll be better once the genetic garbage flushes out. I guess it's just the way it's dumped on me didn't give me chance to roll with it.*"

"*Yeah, it's a lot for one week.*" Jake closed his eyes and let himself drift off into a light sleep.

Nathan curled up next to his mate and let himself doze, still lightly aware of the surroundings.

Hathin and Heron exchanged worried looks as Jake accepted his light-duty orders and instructions without comment, complaint, or rebellion.

"You sure you understand all that?" Hathin asked gently.

"No G's, no fighting, no class G or higher projects, get enough sleep, watch my diet, come in weekly for a physical, don't leave the base." Jake nodded easily for each point "Right?"

The female healers exchanged another series of glances before Hathin nodded and looked at Nathan "And you understand?"

Nathan refrained from rolling his eyes, and preened his wings instead. "*Not like I haven't issued those kind of instructions often enough.*" If there was one thing Nathan hated it was being talked down to ... if he was all of a fifteen inches high at the shoulder.

"But not when they pertained to your own mate and kit, I believe." Hathin spoke softly, then shifted to address all three "Do you feel up to talking to Pakitra and officials from the ITA? They seem to think it's important, but I can keep them away for a couple more days."

Nathan smiled, a strange look on small cat. "*Yeah, well, I'll make sure he behaves.*" Then he shrugged "*As to whoever, whatever As long as Jake feels up to it, its fine with me.*" The small black cat honestly didn't care, they weren't important anyway He just hoped Morin was on his way; that would make things better.

"Rather not." Jake shrugged "Who's the ITA?"

"Interdimensional Troubleshooters Alliance." Heron hesitated "They're here to take Nathan home."

Nathan growled angrily. "*Never heard of them, and besides I'm not leaving Jake So somebody can tell them there's nothing to talk about.*" He projected, his tail swishing in angry agitation.

"We'll talk to them now." Jake said quietly "Get it over with."

Hathin nodded "Follow me."

Nathan, Jake, Patrik and Hathin walked into a meeting room where Pakitra, Kenya and the three ITA agents were already sitting.

"What the ..." Jake froze, staring at his mirror ... then his eyes feel on the big tabby next to the other Jake and lunged with a roar of pure rage.

Nathan quickly remembered a few of the Jedi basics, and grabbed Jake firmly but gently in Force-bands, and held him back. "*The doctors said 'no' combat, Jake. That's not our Chance anyway Don't know who it is, but he feels wrong empathically, and smells wrong to boot.*" He said in a thought sent along the LifeBond.

The small winged cat glared around the room. "*I don't know who's stupid idea this was, but this meeting is now over.*" He walked back out, gently carrying Jake just far enough 'up' to keep his feet off the floor.

"*Put me down Nate.*" Jake sent quietly when they were in the hallway, though he was still seething below the surface "*I'll behave, okay?*"

Nathan gently put his mate down, and force-held the door to the conference room instead. "*What happened, Jake? Why are you so angry at Chance?*" There was a mix of worry, confusion and sorrow in his mind-voice.

"*Don't know ... I just ... reacted.*"

"*That much I noticed Jake, this is serious, there's no reason you should respond that way. Well, I'm glad whoever that was set it off Better some stranger, than the real Chance.*" He said nuzzling Jake's leg "*With any luck, they'll just go back wherever they came from and leave us alone.*"

"*Yes ... and we can go back to our quarters ... I'm hungry.*"

"*Anything in particular, you want? I can probably get Cazi to run something over here, in case those two aren't going away soon.*" He smiled amusedly. "*Damn lousy timing on their part.*"

"*We should tell him he's going to be a grandfather soon, shouldn't we?*" Jake chuckled slightly as he swept his mate up in his arms and moved at a brisk past towards his quarters "*Mmm, pizza and chocolate milk With everything on it.*"

"*Probably, though don't be surprised if he gets a little thrown by the details Not as bad as me, but still it's not going to be easy.*" He sighed. "*I'll have him deliver the food, we might as well tell him now Delaying isn't going to help Though it's his second grand kit actually.*"

"*I thought he wasn't involved with Storm?*"

"*He wasn't involved but he did know We talked while you were 'working things out' with Rik I even introduced him to Storm, they get along quite well.*" Nathan paused. "*He was actually present the whole time Storm was sick, he was one of the medical staff on Gildenfire.*"

"*Looking after you as best he could,*" Jake smiled softly and nuzzled the cat as the now unmarred door to his quarters opened for them.

"*Yeah, from what he said he's been doing that all along He was just afraid to get too close, didn't want the SG to use me to blackmail him into to working for them again.*" He grinned and nuzzled his mate's cheek ruff. "*That's why he let Xander 'strand' him here, he was supposed to look after you, 'cause Xander told him I'd need you when I got here.*" The cat chuckled quietly. "*Xander was right, I did.*" He purred quietly.

"*And I needed you,*" Jake flopped on the bed and pulled Patrik down with him for a sound kiss "*Both of you.*"

Nathan crawled up on top of them. "*I can't help but be little curious what those ITA folks want, whatever they're about it's serious enough that Pat appears to be taking them seriously.*"

"*That usually means she deems them capable of taking what they want.*" Jake explained quietly.

"*Its not like we weren't discussing the trip, before the universe got scrambled.*"

"*True ... but that was before ....*"

"*Before things turned upside down.*" Nathan sighed "*We'll just have to wait till the kit's old enough to travel is all.*" He said calmly "*Not like I was in a big hurry to get back anyway.*" He said, quietly purring while lying on Jake.

The vibrating purr all but made the lean Kat melt "*How old is that, anyway?*"

"*Well, normally that depends on species. And between the two of us I don't know what that will mean I'm going on the assumption that I'm the sire for the time being I suppose I could be wrong, but its a good working theory.*"

"*If it's not you, it's not anyone I care about enough to claim.*"

"*But I'd tend to rule out space travel for the first six months, maybe the first year Unless, there was a strong reason to make the trip, in which case I know it can be done safely at three months.*"

"*So we're looking at almost year or more ... and maybe a better question would be how do we prevent another unplanned kit.*" Jake frowned "*Kat's go into heat ... it's very obvious ... so we haven't really researched much outside of sterilization and abortion.*"

Nathan grinned. "*Well, Felsin don't go into heat. Somewhere during the transition from Kat to Felsin that changed. So we've done a fairly broad amount of contraception research. But assuming it works properly on my screwy genetics, there's a shot I can give myself to cause short-term infertility. Lasts about 3 months per shot.*"

"*Then all we have to work on is you, since unless you've had a sudden personality change there's no way one tom can keep you satisfied.*"

"*I'd rather be sure, anyway.*" Jake shook his head.

"*Though if you want to have a kit with Rik I won't mind.*" He thought with a distinctly Cheshire grin.

Both toms blinked at him like he was crazy.

"*Maybe ...*" Jake started to muse it over.

"*With a little planning we could even have a kit that was blood related to all three of us.*" He thought, neither entirely serious nor entirely joking.

"*That would be ... interesting.*" Jake mused over it, trying to put the species together "*A created chimera, a created Kat and a half created Felsin-Kat. This family will give some poor genealogist whiplash.*"

Nathan chuckled. "*Well, turns out I'm part Dracon too.*" He thought quietly "*But like I said, let's get past this first pregnancy before we start making plans I've still got Storm to think about too.*" He said very quietly.

"*Mmm, yes After we eat, why don't I show you the *real* labs, and we can see what will actually have to be done for that to start.*" Jake grinned "*And maybe get you back to that two-leg form I've grown attached to.*" Jake smirked slightly.

Nathan hesitated noticeably. "*Jake, I've got to explain what's going on to Storm first ... and I'm not sure quite how to do that. Hell, I'm just barely managing to explain it to me.*" He lay down quietly, ignoring the comment about the two-leg form. He wasn't sure what difference forms made anymore any way.

"*What's hard about it?*" Jake rolled over to pet the winged cat "*Your LifeMate is pregnant and he'll have a sister soon.*"

"*Jake, I have to explain that someone he sees as his 'father' is pregnant. That's going to be quite confusing for an eight year old. His understanding of biology is good for a kit his age, but still ...*" he sighed, purring a little, he couldn't deny Jake's touch made him happy ... but that was about all he was happy about currently.

"*You can always gloss over the details, just tell him a sister is coming.*" Jake suggested "*It's not like he's likely to be 'born' before she is.*"

"*That would work except for a couple of things, not the least of which is that he picks up 'glossing over' frighteningly quick...not surprising given his empathic strength And he will ask where a sister is coming from, and he knows I don't have a female mate And if the tech was ready I'd have told him.*"

"*I thought you had to create more equipment for him than a 'regular' kit.*"

"*The principles are the same, besides I wouldn't create another, before I did his body and he knows that.*" The cat put his head on his paws.

"*Then tell him the truth.*" Jake sighed in frustration "*It happened, and you don't really understand how.*"

Nathan sighed. "*I guess that'll work. He won't be happy with it, but he'll probably accept it for a while.*"

"*Nathan, if he doesn't want to accept what you can tell him, have me do it This is my 'fault'.*"

Nathan looked up at him. "*Jake, it isn't anybody's 'fault', it just is.*" He said quietly.

"*I know, but I'm the one who's pregnant.*"

"*That's probably Cazi with food.*" He said quietly at the knock at the door.

"Good," Jake growled eagerly and rolled off the bed to greet his father-in-law at the door.

Cazi walked in carrying a great deal of food. "I take it you guys decided to have a party. Pizzas, chocolate milk, and a saucer of heavy cream, I wonder what that's about."

"*Saucer down here, Cazi.*" Nathan projected from the floor.

"Right." He said, looking at the small cat as he set the saucer down. "*Nathan?*"

"*Uh huh.*"

Cazi looked around. "Why do I get the feeling, that something very 'strange' is going on?"

"*Beats me.*" Nathan said paying more attention to the saucer than anything else.

"Because you're perceptive?" Jake quipped as he dug into the pizza next to a very quiet black and white.

Cazi shook his head. "Okay, enough with the amateur comedy routine Nathan, why are you a small winged cat?"

"*Why wouldn't I be?*" Nathan said indifferently.

"I feel like I've walked in on the second act of a play, anybody have a synopsis of Act One?" Cazi asked smiling, but it was clearly forced.

"Nathan and I Joined," Jake said between bites, "and somewhere in the last twenty-four hours I got pregnant."

"I knew about the Joining." He started "You what?! Jake how in Felsira's name is that possible?" He found an open spot and sat down abruptly. "No wonder my son's a small black cat ... not sure about the wings though."

"It's possible because I'm a genetic shapeshifter," Jake looked at him sympathetically, "and my base form is a hermaphrodite How it happened now, while I'm still basically male and not in heat, is just about anyone guess." He returned to the pizza, then added very quietly "Though that I've wanted a kit for so long probably has something to do with it."

Alex shook his head. "Okay, weird but hardly the strangest thing I've encountered Basically male, but if you're pregnant then there must be some female type adjustments made to make it work."

Jake nodded.

"And I'll bet somebody just kind of blurted the whole thing out to Nathan It explains the small cat form, he's got a heavy dose of programming designed to prevent interaction with females on sexual level Probably overloaded a bit I imagine, especially given that he would've been bonded when he found out."

He looked down at the cat. "You've been a cat since you found out?"

"*Pretty much.*"

"Not surprising, though I think there's more to it then just the programming, but that's the base cause."

He looked between Jake and Nathan. "Psychological defense mechanism taking control of the shapeshift ability As a small black cat, there's no longer a danger of interacting with 'female' elements, despite the bonding.

"Nareena explained this to me a long time ago, said we'd all need to understand, just in case only one of us was left to look after him."

"Lovely," Jake grumbled, "and the best way to toast this programming?"

Alex thought about it. "Honestly, I'm not sure It never occurred to any of us that he could get Bonded to someone who'd turn female later on." He picked up Nathan held him comfortingly. "I think part of the problem right now is simply shock. Since I don't know what he heard, what changes are taking place or have taken place? Most importantly, are most of the changes internal currently?"

Jake shifted in the chair to give Alex a good view of him "It's all internal at the moment Given that Hathin let me out, and that I'm still conscious, any other changes won't be happening nearly as fast unless I get access to another significant energy source to trigger it."

Alex gently set Nathan on the bed. "Jake, one thing you need to understand and which isn't obvious is that Nathan has only barely been involved since he hit this form From what I can sense, I think he's been a little more involved then might be expected, probably because something happen that caused him to have to 'protect' you in some fashion But mostly he's in a state similar to low level sedation. He's functional but not registering any thing, it keeps the shock from getting any worse.

"The fact that he's in this little form is a good sign, really It means that as bad as the shock is, he still loves you and wants to find a way for things to work. This form leaves you the opening to do things like pet him, pick him up and other small pet like affection things If he'd stopped in a primitive like a tiger or a saber-toothed then there'd really be a problem.

"I'm not sure what the long-term solution is, but the best way to get him to reconnect is for the two of you to spend some time alone together, preferably in bed If he gets the reality that you're still male, that should break through the programming on at least a temporary basis, since the cause of the snap was someone using far too much female terminology in reference to you all at once, I'm sure."

Jake nodded without a word and sat on the bed next to his LifeMate, then lay curled around him and pulled the cat close, scratching Nathan's jaw "*We'll sort this out, Nate.*"

Nathan moved around till he was snuggled tight against Jake's chest, with his tail over his nose After a small cat sigh, he began softly purring as he drifted off to sleep.

Jake continued to scratch the cat's ears for a while longer before he drifted off himself.

"This is a hell of a weekend, even for around here." Patrik spoke softly as he picked up the milk saucer and tidied up the remains of the meal.

Alex gave him a hand with the tidying up "Not entirely surprising, neither of them was in the best frame of mind for Joining." He said in a near whisper. "I don't think it's going to get any easier, not for a while, at any rate."

The petite tom nodded "I'd be surprised if it does."

Chance was just stunned, not sure what to make of what just happened as the small feline walked out with the local Jake following a few inches above the ground.

Jake recovered more quickly "Anybody want to explain what just happened?" He asked more than a little shocked.

Duke was still wondering when Colonel SolGardin was going to show up.

"That was a serious problem." Pakitra blinked "The one who lunged is our Jake ... the little black and white is his pilot, Patrik Celest ...."

"The winged four-leg was Nathan," Hathin added, "and he'd already said 'no' to leaving."

Chance thought about what his nose had been telling him, about the local Jake He couldn't put a finger on it, but there was more wrong than just a break-up of SWAT.

Jake thought a moment. "Okay, did he say why he wouldn't leave?" The agent asked quietly, trying to figure out transportation issues if the local Jake was going to insist on trying to rip his partners throat out.

"He's not leaving Jake." The tall Lioness inclined her head "Though at this moment, I'd say there might be more problems that that involved."

Jake nodded. "Looks like it For some reason, your Jake reacts very badly to my partner."

Chance leaned back. "Don't know, kind of reminds of Sam with Vulcan when she was expecting her first kit."

Jake looked over at his mate. "Uh, Chance. Sam's a female Tiger/Hyena, not a male Kat."

The tabby shrugged. "There was something distinctly 'pregnant' in his scent, that's all I'm saying."

Jake looked back at the Cathedral crew. "I don't know what he's talking about either, he just gets these 'impressions' of people Though I guess this is this first time he's this far off."

"Not really," Hathin shook her head "He is."

Chance smirked slightly at his partner, while Jake merely looked perplexed.

"He is pregnant?" The agent said after several moments of baffled silence.

"Yes," Hathin nodded "First kit."

"Accepting that for the moment, I'd guess he's under the same sorts of restrictions, including travel, that pregnant females usually are, is that correct?" Jake asked, groaning internally and wondering just what he was supposed to do with this assignment.

Hathin nodded "I'm being significantly more strict, as this is his first kit, and our first male pregnancy when the male in question couldn't clue us in on how it works."

"I'm not surprised he can't clue you in, he probably doesn't know Actually, I think you may have a multi-dimensional first here." He shook his head quietly, making a note to notify Apollo's med-science section when they had a moment.

Chance looked around. "So, is the Colonel the father?" He asked quietly, wondering why his detail oriented partner hadn't.

She nodded "He is the father, though we will have to wait a while before we can check to see who the sire is."

"Hathin, just how ... long ago ... how long has he been ...." Pakitra couldn't quite put the sentence together.

"Not quite a day."

Jake shook his head. "Not quite a day, and already detectable? That's fairly incredible, though I'd say it seriously cuts down the potential pool of sires for the kit."

"Unless, part of this male pregnancy included a way to store the sire's seed for later use." Chance added casually, he'd made a brief study of parenting biology so he could avoid 'accidentally' becoming a father before he wanted to "Some species can store viable 'seed' for up to a year Though a year is the longest I've ever heard of."

Canard looked at the two of them. "That just limits the pool of potential sires to the males he's been with in the last year I mean, how many can that be?" He said casually.

Hathin looked disturbed and Pakitra started to giggle a little hysterically.

"A year?" The white shekat's eyes were wide "That'd be like half the damn base."

"Oh, my." The Lioness took a seat "And here I was thinking to only have to worry about trying to explain self-cloning if it wasn't Nathan."

Jake chuckled quietly, amused to find something in common with his very strange local self.

Chance grinned. "Half the base? I guess there are some constants in the multiverse after all." He said with wink for his partner.

Canard looked a bit surprised. Even Tabrin had never tried to hold that big a group together with sex.

Jake looked at his partner. "The way things are going, if it's anybody but Nathan it's probably your counterpart That's just the way fate works." He said wondering what was going to go wrong next, he never seen a 'simple' mission get so mucked, so quickly.

"That would just be the icing on the cake,*" Pakitra groaned "Like that wasn't ugly enough as is."

Jake and Chance both nodded in agreement. "That situation is problematical, and the Colonel is quite solidly in between, as it were." Jake said calmly. "His profile indicates a strong drive to maintain team unity against all damaging forces, external or internal.

"There's also strong evidence that your Jake hasn't entirely given up on the relationship, despite certain appearances." Chance said casually.

Canard began to think a Saurian invasion would be a good way to reduce some of the tension that was building Either that or get all these felines on a hockey rink He reduced a chuckle to a small grin, as he got a mental image of Ms. Dyne in goalie gear.

"I think we could all stand a good joke right now, Canard." Pakitra locked eyes on the Duck "Do share."

Canard briefly got a deer-in-the-headlights look, before he smiled "Well, it isn't funny unless you're familiar with hockey." He looked around. "Has this planet discovered hockey yet?" He figured they must have, but it was always dangerous to assume After all, several members of ITA came from worlds that had never even heard of hockey, much to his shock and dismay.

Pakitra nodded and brought up a holographic display of a fairly proper looking rink with two teams of six on it "This?"

Canard smiled. "Yep, that'd be it Well, I was thinking that with all stress we've got building hockey'd be a good way to burn some it." He paused. "Then I just got an image of you in goalie gear and it struck me kinda of funny, though not strange since a lot goalies are also team captain."

He looked around. "Well, it seemed funny at the time."

Jake and Chance watched carefully to see how the rookie's humor went over It was always risky trying to lighten a situation.

Hathin chuckled "The gear'd way more than you do."

"It'd be ... odd." She shook her head, though a small smile turned her mouth up.

Jake and Chance relaxed considerably, they'd both seen humor backfire when it turned out someone was lacking a sense of humor.

Canard smiled, relieved that he hadn't seriously screwed up Though he couldn't imagine how this mission could get much more screwed.

Jake looked around. "To be honest, Ms. Dyne. I think we're going to have to return to our ship and confer with HQ Nathan's clearly not going to be willing to move for probably a year or more, and we need to know just what kind of crisis that much delay is going to cause Depending on the exact nature of the Dimensional Crisis, in a year he may not have to go it ... it may come to him." He said standing up.'

"You might want to give Nathan the option to commute, if it's that serious." Pakitra stood to show them back to their ship "And find out how much of the details you can tell me I might be able to translate it into a form Jake will go with."

"How serious is what we need to get defined, I'll see what we're allowed to release details-wise Depending on how fast the crisis expands and were it starts, you may have valid need for full details." Jake said evenly.

Chance followed behind them, and turned to Canard. "Well, as long it stays with Investigation." He said quietly to the Duck. "If it moves from Investigation to Defense, then worry."

"Gemini to Headquarters." Jake kept his voice as professionally natural as possible.

There was a pause as the signal had to punch through the high background noise in the area. "Headquarters Go ahead Gemini." The main dispatch operator answered in a rather high-pitched female voice.

"We need to talk to Rafe." Jake informed her "We have a situation."

"Yes, Sir." She said professionally. "Patching you through to the General's office."

"Hi, guys." Rafe's voice came back after a few moments. "What's the situation? You're calling in with something other than a completion report, so I know its not good By the way, those invaders look to be strictly locals, probably tech borrowing like Cathedral does."

"The short of it is that Colonel SolGardin is married, in the Felsin Joined sense, his mate is pregnant, and seems to be rather angry with us at the moment He's also a shapeshifter with at least two other forms."

"Okay, he's Joined ... not entirely unexpected, but a complication His mate is pregnant? I'll take it that Apollo analysis that he's strictly attracted to tom's is in error He's got the background to be a shifter, even if Apollo said it was strictly latent.

"Who's his mate, and do you have idea why she's mad at you?" He asked evenly, trying to sort things out.

Jake glanced at Chance before answering "His mate is the local Jake Clawson He broke up with the local Chance, and tried to rip Major Furlong's throat out on first sight."

There was a noticeable pause. "Okay, you've managed to find a universe were the SWAT Kats broke up, and local Jake is married to our wayward Colonel But you said the Colonel's mate was pregnant I'll admit that biology is not my strong suit, but last I checked toms don't get pregnant."

"Same here, and the locals seem more than a bit surprised too, but that seems to be the case." He paused "I also have some serious doubts that the local Jake is a Kat, for all he looks like one The Chief Medical Officer at Cathedral mentioned she suspected self-cloning as a possible cause of the pregnancy, if Nathan wasn't the sire."

"You said 'tried', I take it Chance is still in one piece then Hopefully you didn't have to put the local Jake down too hard to stop him."

"Nathan actually did that ... though how I'm not sure of Reminded me of force-field technology, but not quite."

Rafe paused. "Okay, so our Colonel's managed to get married and fathered a kit, with another tom Would it be an accurate guess to say that he's refusing any sort of relocation?"

"Right now, he's refusing to even see to us, much less listen." Jake sighed "Though when he heard from a third party it was apparently a rather emphatic refusal."

"This isn't surprising, if his mate's pregnant it must be fairly recent and if he's still inside his profile then he's behaving defensively The mate is most likely under travel restrictions, and the Colonel is refusing to leave him behind."

"Speaking of third parties, how are you getting along with Cathedral, since it sounds like they're going to be key no matter how things go?" He asked with some measure of concern.

"That, at least, seems to be going well Ms. Dyne has offered to try to convince Jake, if we can provide a few things." He hesitated "Which is the hard part."

Rafe chuckled. "A few things, huh? What'd you promise her, Jake? We're talking about a pre-starflight society, how bad can it be?"

The lean tom cringed "What I promised to convince her not to shot isn't the problem, she just wants a superfarm and a local teleport system they're less than a decade away from building themselves anyway."

Rafe nodded. "That's not so bad, send the specs if she's given them and I'll pass them to R&D Doesn't sound like anything Jupiter will get too excited about."

"I also said we'd look into finding out who the alien power broker is on this world for her They seem to think they do have at least one Sith on planet as well and are actively hunting it, with Jedi help On the up side, she seams rather open to formal relations I told her the diplomats would be contacting her to set up relations, and Transportation would contact her to return those non-natives that want to go home to their respective worlds."

Rafe nodded. "I think formal relations are a good idea Seeing as you already determined that she's open to it, I'll have Hermes get a Diplomat out as soon as feasible Returning the non-native who want is trivial, we do that regularly."

"Sith involvement? Like the one who took a liking to you a ways back? Great, those psychotics a pain in the tail I'd better have Hermes see if they can get a Jedi or two in the scout team, assuming Recruiting's managed to acquire some."

"What they want to let the local Jake go, is basically the equivalent of what he'd provide over the next twenty years or so."

Rafe shook his head "Twenty years of tech advances is clearly not something we give them up front That would far too disruptive to the local balance of power."

"I'm not sure she demands them now We didn't get that far into the details, and she seems fairly reasonable for someone with her tail to the wall."

He considered "And geniuses who are willing to relocate, aren't easy to come by. Especially not Jake Clawson level geniuses." He said smiling; Jake's inventiveness was fairly legendary around ITA "Is the local Jake a specialist when it comes to research and development, or is he more of a generalist? If it comes to that ... I might be able to come up with a stand in, what's the local other-species, specifically non-feline tolerance?" He asked already working through the few geniuses he though might consider relocation.

Jake ran a few quick checks "He seems to specialize in vehicle and non-lethal weapons technology most, but he's got his paws in every projects I can get any kind of specs on, including AI development, which was successful at least four times He's also a significantly powerful TechnoMage It should also be noted that I'm fairly sure he's heavily involved in planetary politics and the running of Cathedral."

"A TechnoMage? Just great, they'll probably expect the sub to be one as well. Well, I know Apollo's got some ... hope one's up for a long term off-base assignment Try and find out if they'd settle for a genius inventor, or if they'll need the sub to be a politician and administrator as well."

"Cathedral species tolerance is very high According to their records they have roughly sixty species from forty worlds, and that number is increasing Most residents are canine and feline, but just about anything would be accepted from what I've seen."

Rafe relaxed. "Well, there's that much at least Most of my replacement candidates are in some of our less common types."

The Major hesitated, swallowing "Now this was before we learned he was carrying, but the other offer was they wouldn't fight him leaving, if he could commute to help with disasters, assuming he agreed to it Catch is, he has to get from Felsinor, or wherever he is in that galaxy, to here and ready to fight, in under two hours."

There was a pause "Two hour, intergalactic commute? Well, Janus says it's 'possible', though they don't think it's advisable Something about that much interdimensional access around one planet, attracting unpleasant kinds of attention But I suppose that's a security issue we can always deal with later.

"They refuse to comment on the medical issues involved in interdimensional shifting of a pregnant tom Apollo refuses to comment, without one of their physicians doing a full work up of the tom in question, and they'll want his full, unabridged medical history to look at."

Jake flinched "They're not going to get that Cathedral doesn't even have that His origin of record is 'genetic experiment' and even my hacking into the local BlackNet didn't get anything on his early years."

Rafe nodded "Understood, they'll settle for whatever they do have Genetic creation? I think this is the first local Jake who wasn't a genuine Kat. Local design?" Rafe asked curiously.

"According to records, he was at least 'acquired' by Ms. Dyne via a local, illegal, lab her father bought out The lab's files on him were destroyed before they got him though, and I have my doubts, especially considering it is fairly reliable that he's been alive and accounted for at least thirty years."

"Well, who the designer was probably isn't that important, unless they turn out to be those off-world interests Would be the first time infiltration preceded invasion, though I don't think that's the case here."

"We can hope The situation doesn't need to be any more complicated than it already is." Jake grumbled.

Rafe sighed. "In short, commuting is technologically possible, but whether its medically advisable is open to debate Especially in the next six months ... I don't suppose they mentioned when he's expecting did they?

"Doc said the conception was less than a day ago," he frowned and checked his laptop files "Assuming he's a Kat, it should be roughly eight and a half months standard time That date is a *huge* set of assumptions, though, considering the cross-species issues involved and the fact it's a male who's carrying.

"We also have a few names of the greater powers running around that aren't usually here: The Triad of Felsinor and Lord Soron of the Darshar Another Darshar, Heron, is a resident, along with a couple Jedi and Jake, as well as Ms Dyne, are quite powerful TechnoMages I'm transmitting the files I got off them, and the additional info we've gathered now This place is a major mess."

Rafe quickly ran through the basics of the files "Right, the greater powers aren't completely unexpected based on Apollo situation analysis The Darshar are somewhat surprising, they're not known for getting involved."

"I'll have to see if Thaelon is available, not that he's likely to be but he's our expert on Darshar The Triad are probably a good thing, but given they're likely looking after Nathan Keep that in mind, especially since the two males have a reputation as being somewhat volatile."

"Understood." Jake nodded "Just how bad will it be if we take the road of least resistance and the Colonel stays here for another year or so?" He asked hopefully.

Rafe hesitated while sifting through a couple of reports "According the best analysis Apollo and Pythia have currently, the good side is that after a year you won't need to relocate him.

"Bad news is a couple of things; one, you three are going to have to stay and keep an eye on things, since they could change rapidly and this is still Investigations case Two; the highest probability chaos analysis shows the invaders gaining a power similar to a minor Celestian, who happens to be a Chaos Mage And three; 75 percent probability of a major planetary war most likely due to the efforts of the Chaos Mage."

"Just great," Jake rolled his eyes "There are days I hate this job."

"Pythia's Pattern track is beginning to clear a little and it looks like the Colonel may not be the Focus, it looks like the Focus may be his mate."


"The reason the Colonel seemed central is that he has a strong Pattern anchor and moving him will likely move the mate, he's also the focus for one of the Prime Dragon Spirits, but which one isn't clear yet."

Rafe paused for a moment. "Pythia wants to know how complete SWATs break up is, she's interested to know if there's anything still connecting all three of them."

Jake groaned and rested his head against his hands "I have no idea It's serious enough that they all moved out and Cathedral came in and moved everything of value out of the Hanger Nathan seems to still be a connecting factor Chance was in the Colonel's place, and Jake is now his LifeMate Whatever happened went down very recently, and is not well documented anywhere I've looked.

"We've spent more time trying to find the Colonel, honestly The break up gives me the creeps."

"Me too, Jake I find it hard to think of you two not being a team. Pythia seems to think that the local Chance is going to become important, especially if things stay local She's not sure why though."

"Probably because the Colonel is still associated with him." Jake sighed "There will have to be some kind of dealings between the three of them in all likelihood."

"Probably, and from the sound of it the local Jake will not be happy about that I don't suppose his file shows any indications of insanity does it? If he's LifeMate to an Anchor we need to know."

Jake skimmed the extensive file he'd snagged off the BlackNet and his gut froze "A rather extensive one, actually Multiple personalities, delusions, several compulsions and a list of quirks to watch out for as long as his talents with a note that more are suspected but unconfirmed." He frowned "How the hell did this guy survive?"

Chance smiled and hugged Jake from behind. "You survived Shadraxus' attentions for decades, how much worse can a little insanity be." He gently teased.

Rafe cleared his throat. "Adaptability as survival trait seems to be common, between both of you and your various local variants Though it makes me wonder about Cathedral if they let someone with that much instability have so much responsibility.

"Though the main concern is what affect that instability will have on the Colonel, now that they're Bonded. The last thing the local environment needs is an unstable Pattern anchor, especially with the amount of Chaos present."

Jake nodded uneasily "I'll work on it."

"For now, just making sure the local Chance alive will be sufficient If contact becomes necessary you may want to have Canard handle it Given the way the local Jake reacted, you may not to risk a confrontation with the local Chance Any idea where he is currently?"

Jake glanced at his laptop, then tapped a few keys, and blinked in disbelief "He has apparently been hired by Cathedral as a test pilot Current location is their Ameliorate base."

Rafe chuckled "I'd say the Colonel had something to do with that, based on his profile He wouldn't want his teammate to get too far away, and every Cathedral on record has always had a shortage of good test pilots."

"True I'll set up a tracer of some kind on him, in case there's trouble."

"Good idea Pythia asked me to pass along a warning, I think its kind of a given but she's the Oracle Apparently, the Colonel has a standing grudge with DarkKat. Pythia says he should be prevented from acting on it Given the DarkKat that Taurus just ran into, I'd tend to agree."

"We'll do our best.*"

"I'll see what I can dig up in terms of a replacement genius, but that's not going to be quick, and don't be surprised if Thaelon shows up Sounds like you've got things under control, to the extent they can be."

"As far as the Hermes Diplomat, that'll probably be at least a week local, probably more Same for the Janus transport section Anything else?" Rafe asked, leaving an opening for literally anything else.

Jake took a deep breath and tried to order his thoughts as a path of least resistance became clear "How much would you object if I stayed as the local Jake's replacement until another is found?"

"As long as you can keep to the tech their working from I don't see a problem You can't just jump them ahead because you're used to working with something they aren't due to develop for fifty years."

"I'll do my best," Jake nodded "Bottom line for Ms Dyne is pretty clearly survival Hell, she didn't even ask for a weapon as a good faith gift, just a way to feed the world I'm sure I can deal with her."

"But there's a bigger issue, have you checked with your partner about how he feels about what could be a long-term posting, if the replacement isn't available right away? If you stay, he does It took too much to get Gemini together." Rafe's voice was serious, but more on a personal level.

"No question, Rafe In fact, I was just going to ask you to make it a team posting." Chance said with absolute certainty.

"Of course, this assumes that the local Jake is physically up to relocation With the pregnancy, he may not be for some time."

"There are ... options, Rafe." Jake spoke slowly "If I can isolate them so the only issues are their personal ones, I think I can do this." He took a breath "Just ... don't ask me how, now or after Okay?"

"Jake, you're beginning to worry me And that's both as your mate and as the head of Investigations I can't imagine what you're planning that you don't want me asking afterwards, but I'm pretty certain its dangerous which why you don't want me asking now."

"It's not very dangerous Rafe, to me or them." Jake shook his head "I just don't want to explain."

Rafe sighed. "Be careful, Jake If it wasn't for Chance being with you, I would ask a lot of questions, but I'll let him look after you." The black on silver tabby paused for a moment. "Be careful, and come home safe."

"We will I promise." Jake spoke with quiet assurance "We'll visit if we're here for long."

Rafe chuckled :"If you're there for long, I'll visit you But then I planned on that anyway."

"Thanks Rafe," Jake blew him a kiss, "we'll keep you updated as we can."

"Anytime, Jake." He said as the connection closed.

Rafe sat at his desk, considering which to tackle first; finding Taelon or finding a genius, inventor Technomage to stand in for the local Jake when Gemini moved him off-planet He punched a series of requirements into the computer, routed it through the personnel system for all of ITA and then let it do its job.

He decided finding Taelon wouldn't take nearly as long as sifting through personnel files, though talking him into field work might Of all the Avatars, Taelon was the most resistant to fieldwork Of course, his gift for identifying, classifying and archiving recovered artifacts made it not really important.

Rafe wandered through the maze that was the Archives artifact storage area According to the system, Taelon was working late cataloging some new artifacts Eventually, he located the black on tan fox morph sitting on top of a half wall carefully dusting off a metal plaque.

Rafael cleared his throat quietly.

The fox looked up, and then down at him. "Hello, Archangel What brings you to my dusty corner of the past." He said in a quiet, slightly amused voice.

"Taelon, I need you on a field assignment." Rafe said simply.

The fox jumped down, and stared up the significantly taller tabby. "Why? I'm an archivist and researcher, and occasional architect I can't imagine you need those in the field." He said, with fear and agitation tingeing his scent.

"You're also the only expert we have on the Darshar."

The fox sighed "Aye that I am This involves them, does it?"

The black on silver tabby nodded "Apparently, along with a great many other metaphysical elements And though its not listed in your personnel jacket, I know your skilled with magic as well."

"That's just part of who I am, nothing spectacular Is the mission so important?"

"I gave it to Gemini." The tabby said matter-of-factly.

The fox sighed, resignedly. "Important, indeed Do you know the extent of the Darshar involvement?"

"I'm afraid not, they're or maybe its just he is being discrete, for the moment."

"Of course, he will wait until action is required."

Rafe could tell the fox wanted nothing to do with the assignment, and it would serve no purpose to send a sulking fox "Don't worry, Taelon You don't have to go, I'll dispatch someone else."

"Someone who will know little of the Darshar." He said quietly "You would not have asked me, if you did not have to." He bowed his head "You and the ITA have given me home and family when I had neither, it would be unworthy of me to refuse because of my discomfort with the presence of Darshar I will go."

"I'll arrange it with Janus."

"Unnecessary, I am a master of space and time I will get myself there."

"I'll have Janus get you the coordinates." Rafe said, lifting his wristcom.

"Unnecessary, if I know where you are then I know where Gemini is." The fox said simply "They are expecting me?"

"I told them I'd send you if I could find you."

"Then I will go, after I take a moment to prepare."

"Okay, Taelon If you're sure..."

"I am." The fox said with complete surety and finality.

"Okay, contact Major Clawson when you arrive."

"Of course."

A few minutes after Rafe left, Taelon stood in the middle of the archives looking around He had hidden in the past for 3 millennia, give or take, perhaps too long he thought He gathered forces of time and space around him, causing loose papers to stir in an unfelt breeze, then he raised one small arm and as previously unseen runes on it flared to life a dark oval formed in front of him.

"Here goes nothing." He said before stepping through the portal, to appear in the conference room of the BlackSun Five, in the uniform of an ITA Captain, Engineering Division.

He looked around. "Major Clawson?" He asked quietly.

"Captain Taelon," The lean tomkat smiled in a mixture of surprise and appreciation as he poked his head in the room "I'm glad you came."

"Archangel said you had a situation involving Darshar and heavy metaphysical activity What's the present situation?" He said evenly, as he remembered to close the portal with a thought In a corner of his mind, he wondered how 'noisy' he was being as they walked back to the control room of the shuttle.

"We have a male Darshar, Prince Soron, who's 'visiting'. Two local females, Heron and one I still haven't found a name for The Triad of Felsinor At least two powerful TechnoMages, one our Focus and Nathan's LifeMate, the other his CO, and I strongly suspect at least eight others A couple Jedi, a CyberWizard, a couple score of various other kinds of Mages of varying power levels, and at least three times that many Psis of note.

"The main concern is that our Focus, and his LifeMate, must return to Alliance space, and soon, and our Focus is pregnant He's also the local version of me, and has a very bad temper at the moment, particularly towards Chance."

"A veritable microcosm of metaphysical talents." The fox said quietly. "But largely of no consequence, given the major powers present The Darshar Prince and the Triad overshadow the other powers present, with the exception of the Focus and the Anchor."

The fox turned and stared at the center of the room He raised one glowing hand and inscribed several runes in the air seeking understanding of the Pattern which had come to rest in this place The runes flickered briefly with a yellow-red light as though on fire Suddenly they dispersed into flame leaving a glowing image of a lens, a tripod and nebulous glowing sphere.

The fox hummphed. "As I thought, without the Anchor the Focus is aimless and wanders unable to direct its true power. Without the Focus, the Anchor is stable and yet accomplishes little However, a Focus must focus *something* and this is missing currently A magnifying glass may produce great heat when held stably focused on a given spot, but without the sun to provide light it is little more than a display piece There is something missing here, you have found the lens and the frame but the sun is still missing."

As the images vanished, Jake thought he 'saw' the runes returning to shadowy, leather wings behind the fox.

"Okay, so they're meant to be a triad, like most Felsin?" Jake regarded the Fox curiously "And the third member hasn't joined them yet."

"Perhaps." The fox said thoughtfully. "Though the Pattern suggests that the third is present, but also suggests a problem may exist."

"The obvious choice, on a lot of levels, would be just that: this world's Chance He and Jake, our Focus, broke up, with what is apparently some serious bad blood The other likely one, Felina Feral, is female, which brings up a few problems with Nathan." Jake shook his head and took a seat "Any idea whether the Darshar and the Triad are going to be angry with us for taking Nathan and company off-world?"

Taelon wandered around the table drawing glowing runes, when he finished he sat down.

"Intellego Vim Pattern."

A glowing web of lines and symbols spread across the table For almost fifteen minutes the Fox studied them "The missing element has a definite 'male' feel to it, so I think it unlikely that it is Felina Feral Is there a connection between this world's Chance and Nathan, who is the Anchor?" He asked quietly.

"Nathan seems to have joined SWAT before it broke up," Jake nodded, "and from what I understand of Felsin, and Felsin Medics in particular, that's a rather strong tie for him."

"I see nothing in the Pattern that suggests that the Triad will object to us return Nathan home, and I see strong signs that they approve of Jake as Nathan's LifeMate."

"As for the Darshar, Prince Soron is the one to be concerned with." He hesitated. "I can not read his intent clearly, but that is because he is a stronger Darshar than I, even though I am the more skilled Mage, at least in some areas."

He leaned back and the Pattern web faded. "I'm afraid that the only way to determine Prince Soron's intent or opinion will be to ask him."

"Easier said than done," Jake sighed "He's not making himself very obvious."

"I am not surprised." Taelon said quietly "High ranking Darshar are usually somewhat secretive, which is why I'm surprised he's here at all Though my magic may garner his interest."

"That won't be hazardous for you, or anything, will it?" Jake asked with sudden concern.

Taelon hesitated. "I do not know." He said quietly "I haven't seen a Darshar in a very long time, I don't know how he'll react to me But if he's hostile for some reason, I can shift back to HQ easy enough Archangel can handle him, one or another, I'm sure." He said uncertainly The fox-mage felt some trepidation at the thought of a member of the Court, but he didn't think anyone would care about one architect.

"Sounds like our next stop should be to see what's up with the local Chance." Major Furlong added.

Taelon stared at the patterns in the table for several minutes. "You should be careful in how you handle him Both the Anchor and the Focus care for him, though the Focus is in deep denial To harm him, would draw both their anger."

"Right," Jake nodded "Harming him wasn't in the plan, but we'll be extra-careful with him."

"I'll check in on the local Chance." Jake said quietly as he walked back to the main bathroom on board after picking up a small kit from his things.

Canard looked curiously. "From the bathroom?"

Chance shrugged, and decided to throw a video game onto the shuttle's computer while Jake did whatever he was doing this time He didn't pretend to have a good grasp of magic, he just knew Jake did He also knew to usually stay out of Jake's way when he was doing magic.

Taelon sensed some strange, yet powerful magic at a distance and decided to examine it He turned to Chance. "I will be back shortly." He said before opening a portal and stepping through.

The lean Major rolled his eyes "I can't let him see me looking like his partner, now can I?"

"Urr, well, I guess not."

"Make-up usually does a better job on looks than magic when it's possible Places like this it pays to save the Tapestry-tweaking for when nothing else will work I'm a good mage, but I'm also outclassed by far too many here for my comfort is relying on it At least if one of them decides to strip the make-up, I'll have time to make myself scarce before it gets unpleasant."

Chance nodded from the main console "Yeah, especially if my counterpart is as stable as yours Maybe you better take Canard with you just in case, Jake Taelon will be back here shortly, and I don't think anything is gonna happen here for awhile. Besides, I don't think my local counterpart is going to be up to seeing someone who looks just like him."

Canard reviewed the world data they had from Apollo "I don't know, according to the world survey most of the planet has never met an alien in a positive context; excluding the staff of Cathedral I'm not sure this is a good time to introduce the local Chance to the concept of non-hostile aliens."

"Who says you have to look alien?" Jake commented off hand "I can get away with make-up, but it's easy enough to magic you to look like a Kat It'd probably be good for you as well."

Canard look a little uncertain. Magic was one of the things about ITA that he'd had the hardest time accepting, considering that magic was pretty rare on PuckWorld and most of it was controlled by the Saurians "Your mission, Major, your call." He said evenly.

Jake chuckled softly before shutting to door to deal with making himself look different.

"Taelon, isn't it?" A deep, male voice asked with a mixture of curiosity and surprise when the Fox was alone.

The fox looked up from the pattern of light and shadow he'd been studying on a wall He could sense the power present, and restrained a brief cringe "Yes, that would be me." He turned to look at the highly tattooed Darshar Prince. "You're Prince Soron, correct?" He asked politely.

"Prince?" He arched an eyebrow "Well, I suppose on a technicality I am I am Soron." He nodded "We'd all but given you up as dead."

Taelon quirked an eyebrow "Somebody actually noticed? Didn't figure anybody would notice one missing architect." He said curiously "Actually, I thought I was dead at one point."

"Since the Queen was reborn, we've made as detailed an accounting as we could." His voice was a little sad "There aren't many to account for, really Did you hear her call?"

Taelon pondered. "About a century ago, maybe a little less?

Soron nodded.

"I thought maybe I heard something, but I wasn't sure I was deeply involved with a major archiving project and wasn't paying much attention to anything outside my Library I hadn't seen anyone in three millennia, so I wasn't really sure if there was anyone to hear." He looked distant for a moment. "She was here on Aristal briefly recently, wasn't she?" He asked curiously.

"Yes," Soron nodded "So you have found a home?"

Taelon smiled "It took a long time, but I finally think I have ITA accepted me without asking about the past I didn't want to talk about, and gave me a sense of purpose I'd been trying to find for a long time Amazing the number of buildings and monuments I've built all over the multiverse trying to find somewhere to 'fit in'."

Soron nodded, a sad understanding in his eyes "Few have been lucky enough find a home until She was reborn and the new Capitol built."

"Archangel even indulges the nostalgic building style I've been in for the last two centuries I reproduced some of the buildings from the Capitol on the ITA Headquarters' world, gave it a more distinguished feel I thought.

"Soron, I know it's been almost a century but do you think it would be acceptable to answer Her call after this mission is over? I should at least pay my respects to our new Queen." The fox asked uncertainly.

"I think she'd appreciate it." He smiled as he phased out "Don't be a stranger in the Capitol You've been missed."

Before Soron phased out, Taelon remembered. "Soron, before you go there's something I need to ask you Before we end up tripping over each other's missions, what brings you to Aristal?" He asked, since as with other things the Pattern was unclear on Soron's objectives.

He chuckled and drifted back solid "I'm clan-building Jake Clawson is the center of a new clan the Queen says is important, and sent me to make sure it happened."

Taelon laughed broadly. "I'd say he's got a good start on it; he's pregnant At any rate, we've got a major Pattern disruption in progress, along with a potential chaos eruption and we have to get Nathan back where he's supposed to be."

"Is relocating Jake going to cause problems with your clan-building? I'd really prefer to keep this cooperative, or at least non-competitive."

Soron leaned back again the wall for a moment to consider "As long as he wants to leave, I don't see an issue with it I was rather expecting to have his squadron be most of the Clan's base, but these things take time."

Taelon considered the Pattern and flow of things for a moment. "I'm seeing a strong desire to leave forming around him, though it seems focused on Nathan But I don't see any indication of the squadron leaving, except for the two members closest to Jake Maybe the clan base is not here on Aristal, or maybe only a portion of it."

"Just about anything is possible." He shrugged "These clan-building missions usually take a few decades."

Taelon considered "Going to be a rough ride for them They're going to be going face to face with something very dark." He suddenly wiped the pattern and sat down shaking visibly "Soron, both of our missions have a very serious problem." He said quietly, concentrating regaining his center.

"The Betrayer is involved." His wings flared in rage before he controlled himself "I know She was who had Nathan brought here, to kill Jake."

Taelon shuddered. "Oh. Yeah, it appears she doesn't like loose ends." He said somewhat distantly "Guess I'd better brief ArchAngel, his immediate presence may be needed."

"Hopefully, she will stay in the background long enough to draw Queen StarFire into this, as well as the Triad."

Taelon shook his head. "We need to get this fight away from any inhabited planets. The collateral damage is going to be frightening."

"Easily done Just get Jake into space." Soron regarded the Fox curiously "I doubt it will be as bad as the last time tempers flared to this stage."

"I don't know that it will be that easy, the mortal powers are not eager to let him go Indeed, I think the leader of this place views him as something she controls, something she can barter and trade."

"That makes it easier," he chuckled "Such prices are always easier to pay than when there is true emotional attachment as a priority Though it would be unadvisable to underestimate how much she cares for her pet He is worth more than most to her, given what she's done so far."

"True, though I think her 'pet' has found a new owner ... so to speak. Though, said 'owner' would be horrified at the suggestion." He shook his head "First field mission I take in fifty years and I walk into a Celestian War in the making."

"You're lucky," Soron chuckled "I've fought in three of these things since the Betrayal, and this is likely the most one-sided of them We weren't the only ones angered by The Betrayer's actions, then or now."

"So, have you actually spoken with any of the Triad, yet?" He asked casually.

The tall Darshar nodded "All three."

Taelon nodded "They're just looking after Nathan, aren't they? So they'll likely not mind if we give him a ride home?" He asked curiously As an archivist and architect he felt somewhat out of place in all this, or would have if didn't also happen to be one of the more powerful mages of time and space.

"As long as he wants to go." Soron shrugged "Though they've adopted Jake and Chance as well, from what I've seen." He shook his head "Facilitating a ten-something hour Joining Ceremony is a rather impressive act, even for Felsira."

Taelon nodded "Ten hours? That is amazing I'm not surprised that they have adopted Jake and Chance after all, its merely a reflection of their own triad; Healer, Warrior and Inventor "But I do not think Nathan will willingly leave the pilot behind To paraphrase something I heard once, better check his luggage for tabbys.

"Of course, I think the Dracon involvement is almost a given Prince Morin, grandson of Queen Starfire is Cordraki to Nathan, and I think has taken a liking to Jake as well, if I read the Pattern correctly And he's her favorite in the current generation."

"Which is to our benefit." The Darshar nodded before his head snapped up "Lovely If you'll excuse me," he inclined his head to the fox, "it is good to know you survived, and found a home."

The fox nodded. "Thank you, nice to know we're on the same side in this."

"Well, what do you think?" A lean, black on light gray tiger-stripped tomkat with a fluffy face and tail in local civilian clothes walked onto the control bridge of the ITA shuttle.

Canard was impressed "Wow, that's some disguise."

Chance looked at his partner. "Very nice, Jake. Amazing that you don't need magic to pull that off, the coat's extremely well-done." He walked up close. "So does the color change cover everywhere?" He purred seductively, with a playful wink.

"Why don't you find out?" Jake crooned back in his new voice "Put it to the test."

"Wonderful idea." Chance rumbled quietly as he slowly undressed his partner, gentle hands intimately examining the new fur patterns, while he inhaled the new scent "Amazing." He said quietly.

"Yes," Jake murmured agreement as he closed his eyes and braced backwards, more than content to let his partner lead.

Canard rolled his eyes, and headed for another room as he realized that Gemini's reputation wasn't entirely an exaggeration He chuckled, wondering what Tabrin, with his ideas about sex and teammates, would think of this, since he usually kept the sex to before or after missions, not during, except maybe long ones.

"Ready to walk as a Kat for a while, Canard?" Jake gave few hints that not five minutes before he was roaring his partner's name.

Canard nodded. "Sure, be interesting to be able to look around without being stared at You'd think they'd never seen a Duck before."

"I don't believe many of them had." The mage spoke softly as he studied the form he had to work with, and calculated the most effective way to change it, and what would be the least traumatic "Undress This will be easier on both of us if I can see what I'm doing."

Canard raised an eyebrow, and then undressed He still wasn't sure about 'magic', but it had been a team of mages who had pulled him out of Limbo, so he'd give this a try "Any time you're ready." He said, trying to sound more certain then he was.

"Just relax," Jake spoke soothingly as he began to run his fingers systematically through Canard's feathers, leaving a whitish, fur-like texture in their wake "This will take a while."

Jake stepped back to examine his work "It will do Not perfect, but it'll stand up to most examinations."

Canard quickly found a mirror, and examined the results closely His height and build hadn't changed, but his beak was now a short feline muzzle, fangs, lips and all, and triangular ears poked up from the top of his head "No tail?"

"It's a bob-tail," Jake chuckled "Turn around, you'll see it, and try to move it That and the ears were the tough parts All those nerves and muscles you don't have I added as little as possible to make it believable Bob-tails aren't common, but they aren't unknown either, and you'll stand out almost no matter what I did."

"Wow, and this is reversible ... right?" He said beginning to see the advantage of this magic stuff.

"Of course," Jake nodded "It's only minor cosmetic alterations Most mages at HQ can undo it, if I'm not around to for some reason Hell, Medical probably could to with cosmetic surgery if it came to that."

Canard chuckled. "I think magic is preferable to surgery Now, that we've covered disguises we go find the local Chance Did we get a location on him that's reliable?"

"Yes, we do But you need to learn how to speak with lips though." Jake regarded him critically "You're understandable, but it looks *way* weird Your body language is ... unusual, as well And a little of the tweaking I did on myself wouldn't hurt." He turned to leave "Practice moving your lips when you talk, I'm getting my kit."

Canard turned to the mirror and started 'talking' to himself, paying attention to making the lips move It felt way weird at first, and sounded even weirder He was still practicing with the mirror, when Jake returned with his kit.

"Keep that up, particularly 'm' 'u' and 'y'." Jake nodded as he set the small case down and pulled a few tubes and brushes out, "while I touch your fur up."

As the light yellow, gray, steel and brown shading made Canard look less like an albino Jake finally worked out a plan, if a few things were true "How good are you at fudging the truth?"

"Better than I was before I joined ITA that's for sure I take it we need a new version of the truth for this? What's the story?" He asked eagerly.

"A personal history you can be convincing at while occupying Brandy so I can deal with Chance." He sighed "If a magic touch will help with this, I'm using it, and I need her *out* of the room for it One warning though, try to stay out of bed, okay? The alternations are accurate, but it's not perfect enough to sustain that kind of scrutiny."

"I don't see any difficulty staying out of bed, I think I can keep her occupied with out resorting to that." Canard said evenly.

"Okay, so what is your story going to be ... and a new name too She may well know 'Canard' is part of the visiting off worlders, and it's not a common enough name here to be brushed off."

"Okay, what passes for a reasonable local name? I've never worked this locale before, and they didn't give me enough notice to pull up background material Brandy was the Cathedral recruiter, right? If my story is pilot looking for work that'll lead to questions about who I flew for previously, won't it?" Canard was clearly willing and trying, but his unfamiliarity with MegaKat City was a definite drawback in concocting a story.

"Jayson, Mark, Erik, Will, Sam ... something normal on Earth would probably sound normal here First and Surname is common, middle names aren't Though as a pilot, you'll probably have a call-name already Even the civilians around here have them."

Canard thought about it and decided to work in names from home. "Hmm ... Mark Ducaine, callsign 'WildWing'." He said looking to see what Jake thought.

Jake chuckled softly "You don't have quite the accent, but it'll work What's your story going to be?"

"Umm ... you're more familiar with MegaKat City, what's a good reason around here for a talented pilot to be between assignments, so to speak?" He looked a bit sheepish "I can handle telling stories, no real practice at inventing them."

"Well the most common reason leaves too much paperwork The Enforcers are a bureaucracy, after all." He considered a moment "Probably the best story would be along the lines of a small airshow stunt pilot looking for better work Mostly experience taught on small craft, but you've flown a few bigger ones when the show was moving about and for extra cash You grew up traveling all over the world, and don't really have paperwork for most of it." Jake nodded in satisfaction "That will work It's not uncommon on most Aristal's, and that gypsy-lifestyle without birth certificates and such is well known enough not to cause too many problems, especially with your odd looks."

Canard nodded. "Experience, and non-existent paper trail ... good combination. Even if they can check the story, it'll take long enough that it won't matter by the time they do. The 'WildWing' handle even works decently since sideshows and daredevils go together, from what I've seen." He looked at Jake. "So what's the plan?"

"The first things is you need to get Brandy away from Chance." Jake plotted as he explained it "Or rather, you need to keep her busy after I introduce you so I can check in on Chance If a little magic will make things go smoother, I'm using it, and I don't need questions from someone that perceptive."

Canard nodded "Okay, so once you handle introductions I play 'sideshow pilot looking for better' and keep her attention Sounds simple enough, at least my end does."

Chance smiled from where he was sitting. "Rookie, it always sounds simple to start with, but it never stays that way This mission didn't sound complicated at the beginning But then again we did end up here so that blew any possibility of uncomplicated."

Chance thought about it briefly "Odd though, this is the first time, I think, that we haven't had Felina, Callie or both right in the middle of things." He said quietly.

"Just wait, they'll show up." Jake muttered softly, then turned to Canard "Oh, and while look like this, the name's Kar Silvertail."

"Kar Silvertail, got it." Canard responded, committing carefully to memory All he had to do was get his fake name, Jake's fake name, and this fake history right ... should be easy enough Just like a complicated play in hockey.

"Hi, Brandy." Kar waved the Brown Hyena down as she walked by herself in the halls of Ameliorate.

She turned, blinked at them, then smiled and met them half way "Hi Kar What you been up to?"

"Oh, the usual," he chuckled "Find this person, 'fix' this problem You know the drill."

"That I do." She chuckled with a glance at the big cream male behind him "So what brings you to Ameliorate, and who'd you're friend?"

"Hathin and Janet thought it might be good if I tried to talk to Chance," he answered carefully, "and he's Mark Ducaine."

"Looking for a job, sweetie?" She crooned at him.

Mark smiled casually "Well, Kar tells me you might have work for a traveling show pilot who's flown some of the bigger stuff, and is looking to move up in the world Any chance he's right?" He said trying to have half the flair that Duke seemed to have without trying.

She regarded him critically, long enough that he shifted under her gaze "I'd say we do, if you can survive the tests." She shifted her attention to Kar "I hope you can help him He needs an understanding ear ... and a careful kick in the tail." She shook her head "I'll introduce you, and this play with your boy." She grinned at Mark.

"Thank you," Kar nodded easily "I hope I can help him too."

"Hay, Chance." Brandy walked into his quarters with a breakfast tray as Kar and Mark stayed outside and out of sight.

The tabby sat up to look at her. "Morning, Brandy." He looked at the tray "Bringing breakfast? What's the occasion?" He asked curiously.

"An apology, mostly." Her smile matched her words "I've got a new kit to run through the system, so I can't stay An acquaintance of mine wants to talk to you too."

"Wouldn't happen to be Nathan would it?" He asked, still wondering what was up with the tom Even with what Keltin had said, Chance still figured his friend would've found some way to talk to him The last time he'd tried finding out where Nathan was, the computer said he was 'busy', whatever that meant.

"No, it's not." She sighed "Want me to ask? I've got more clearance."

Chance thought about, whatever Nathan was in had to be important if it was tying him up, it had to be He shook his head slightly. "Nah, he'll get back to me when he's able to." Then he thought about something that might prevent Nathan from seeing him "Well, just see if he's okay, Brandy? Something strange was happening last time I saw him." He said quietly.

"Sure," she set the tray on the bed next to him and flipped the computer terminal on After several log-ins and attempts, she raised her eyebrows at the screen "Well I'll be Whatever he's up to, Ms. Dyne herself is in on it It's her personal lock on access."

That statement pulled Chance's attention away from breakfast "Huh? Is he in trouble or something?" He asked with some concern, especially given what Keltin had said about him being entangled for a while.

"Not likely Kellra isn't on it, so Security isn't involved." Brandy shook her head "Pakitra's involvement usually means it's very high tech, and very important Probably something you'll be test flying."

Chance shook his head. "That doesn't make sense, Nathan's a medic not an inventor, that was ... well, not important." He stopped "He said he flew a little before he became a medic, but I've seen him work on aircraft, he sure doesn't design them." The tabby said quietly.

"Maybe he learned something in that timeframe?" She offered "Whatever it is, it's of planetary importance."

Chance shrugged "Guess I'll have to wait till he's got time to tell me." He sighed, feeling left behind again "So who's this friend you mentioned anyway?" He asked indifferently.

"Kat named Kar Silvertail," she smiled "You have some things in common, thought you might get along."

"Another pilot?" He asked, thinking there was much else to have in common that he wanted to talk about. "As long as I'm not supposed to be doing anything else, I don't see why not." He said quietly, figuring it was as good a way to pass the time as any.

"Yes, he's a pilot." She smiled "I'll show him in."

Chance nodded absently, as he made short work of breakfast He figured he'd see Nathan soon enough, and he didn't want the Medic to think he'd hadn't been taking care of himself Nathan worried about the smallest things.

"Chance Furlong, Kar Silvertail." Brandy introduced the tabby to a lean, black on light gray tiger-stripped tom "I hope you two hit it off." She smiled one last encouragement before leaving.

Kar smiled at the bigger tom "Mind if I have a seat?"

"Go ahead." He said indifferently "Caught me kind of early in the day." He said as he finished breakfast.

Kar smiled and pulled a chair over to where Chance was sitting and straddled it backwards With a silent, invisible touch of power he skimmed the tabby's surface thoughts and general state He forced back a reflexive swallow at the numbness and damage the passive scan revealed.

"So what did you think of Cathedral so far?" Kar hoped for a general opening to start weaving the healing magic through Chance's mind, a little jealous at how easy it would be for the tabby, compared with what he'd gone through with Shadraxus.

"Better equipped than the Enforcers." The tabby said simply, though he was having slight doubts because of all the secrecy around Nathan, which made him feel a little insecure He realized it had only been a couple of days, so he shouldn't be worrying; the Medic could take care of himself Chance felt that maybe he was the only one who couldn't.

Kar nodded easily as the first strands of his mind-healing magic found a hurt to sooth, and cracks and spider web paths into much greater hurts "There's some impressive stuff in the R&D hangers Have you found out what group you're going to be with yet?"

"Just test piloting, nobody has said anything more specific. I just got hired yesterday." He said quietly, thinking about the position he'd turned down, and why.

"Still have a life before Cathedral?" Kar asked carefully, and tried not to show his growing frustration.

"Not that I really want to talk about." He said tersely, then thought about the Medic. "Well, one friend, but he works for Cathedral too." He said quietly "Brandy said you're a pilot Do you do test piloting for Cathedral too?" The tabby asked trying to turn the discussion away from him.

"Many around here leave their pasts behind when they join," he smiled slightly "And I occasionally fly Mostly I do other missions Finding folks, lost items, protecting this VIP or that It's a good life overall, though not a lot of free time."

Chance nodded quiet agreement He began to think the Kat he was talking to was more of a secret agent type, rather than a pilot He wasn't really sure what to talk about anyway His past he didn't really want to deal with, and there wasn't much else Part of him wanted to go look for Nathan, but he didn't know where to start, and it seemed that somebody didn't want him to know anyway.

"Is there anything you want to know?" Kar offered softly.

"Only one thing, and if Brandy couldn't find out, I don't imagine anybody not involved can." Chance said, feeling a little frustrated. Brandy had said Nathan wasn't in trouble, but the rest didn't make sense Everything else he needed to know had been covered by orientation, it wasn't like there was much he needed to know.

Kar nodded, stalling to give his magic a little more time to work, and to get over the sick shock of seeing Chance this broken He swallowed and made a choice he knew he'd hate himself for, but he just couldn't walk away.

Chance yawned widely and shook his head before his eyes unfocused.

"Why don't I leave you to your nap." Kar spoke softly as he stood, though the tabby was flat on his back on the bed, snoring lightly before the gray tabby got that far.

With a low sigh Kar settled next to the unconscious Kat and slowly gathered power, feeding into the mind-healing spell and using a little of it to get the tabby's side of things.

Jake drifted awake to Patrik welcome warmth against his back and Nathan's Felsin form against his chest.

How much can happen in one day, anyway?

I'm married ....

Still not real sure how that happened.

Pregnant ... I can feel her soul ... I must be.

My life's all about the impossible, why not this? I've wanted a daughter for so long, we've wanted a SwiftClaw kitten even longer ... honestly not much more bizarre that breaking up SWAT or finding out Nathan loves me.

Gods, he actually loves me.

He loves me.

Nathan 'woke' before it actually hit his body that he was awake, as he caught Jake's repeated thought, and the amazement behind it He gently inserted his own thought. "*Yes I do, Jake.*"

He still felt a little dizzy, and more than a bit confused He sat back trying to process the incredible and surreal realization that his mate was pregnant The thought turned medical science on its ear, a pregnant tom.

Nathan felt a surge in his mind as the 'pregnant' thought triggered some buried response He quickly focused on the fact that Jake was still a tom, pregnant or not, and was relieved when the surge backed off.

"*Hi, Dad.*" Storm said cheerfully.

Nathan jumped a little, and then grabbed his son into a hug. "*Hi, sport.*"

"*What's wrong, I heard something but I couldn't make it out.*" The kit asked, concern clear on his face.

"*Not wrong, just a bit confusing.*"

"*About Jake?*"

"*Why do you think that?*"

"*Jake's what you think about mostly lately.*"

Nathan mussed the kit's hair. "*Imp, but you're right.*"

"*So what's wrong? He's my father, I want to know.*" Storm said looking directly into his father's eyes.

"*Okay, its complicated. Like both of us, Jake's unique, created.*"

"*That's kind of what I got from Ashley.*"

"*Okay, well ... simply put, Jake's pregnant. You're going to have a sister.*"

"*No way, that's weird Tom's aren't supposed to get pregnant.*"

"*They aren't supposed to have wings either.*" Nathan said, in a lightly teasing voice.

Storm thought about it for a moment, then laughed. "*I guess, what's her name?*"

Nathan shrugged. "*Beats me, I only found out a day ago, more or less.*"

"*Tell me when you figure it out, okay?*"

"*Of course, she might be 'born' before you.*"

Storm shrugged. "*It's easier that way.*"

"*Okay Imp, run along and play.*"

"*See ya.*"

Nathan stretched and really woke up He leaned over and kissed Jake gently as the Kat watched him with curiosity shining his eyes Then he noticed that somewhere along the line, his fur had turned deep black.

"*Feeling better, Nate?*" Jake's mind-voice was soft, buffering the tom's own shock at the weekend's events.

"*I think so, but looks like my system still sorting things out ... I'm the wrong color.*" He said quietly "*Slight headache though, feels kind of like when I woke up Monday morning A fair amount of confusion about anything after I turned into a tiger, though.*"

"*You're a fair amount shorter too,*" Jake chuckled softly and slid their bodies together to demonstrate "*I think I'm the taller one now.*" He kissed his mate gently, his desire keep solidly in check, but there "*As for confusion, I think that's about normal right now.*"

Nathan kissed Jake back, then shook his head "*Okay, this is getting silly. Wrong color is one thing, but being a good foot shorter than I was I do not like It's like I've got a short circuit in my shapeshift ability.*" He hmmphed "*Except that now I've got a widening number of forms ... that definitely shouldn't happen.*"

"*Just Cazi coming to the surface.*" Jake purred "*Nothing bad about it at all.*"

"*The lack of control is definitely not good I don't like being out of control.*" He groused "*Besides, I was short for a Tiger already.*"

"*I don't care.*" A wash of affection and honesty flowed with the words.

"*Something else weird is going on, like that's needed right now.*" Nathan said, then chuckled slightly. "*Oh, I told Storm he's getting a sister. He seems okay with it, though I caught some concern that us having 'real' kits might make us forget him.*"

"*Not going to happen.*"

Nathan smiled. "*That's what I told him But I think the fact that there's a kit who's happening more 'normally', and I use the term loosely, makes him a little insecure He figured he'd be our first, and now I'd have to perform a miracle to make that happen.*"

"*I told you I'd show you the real labs,*" Jake crooned with a kiss "*Might not be as much of a miracle as you think.*"

Nathan looked startled. "*You did?*"

"*Yes, I did.*" He licked the startled Black Tiger on the nose "*Though you were kind of out of it Everything I have is at your disposal, Nathan ThuaFaren *Everything*.*"

"*Real labs? Sounds fascinating.*" He rumbled deeply "*But *everything* sounds fascinating too.*" He said, nuzzling Jake's cheek ruff affectionately, right before he became a 7-foot tall, black on bright orange Tiger Felsin "*Oh, Storm suggested a name: Rain. I think he was trying to make a pun or something.*"

"*He's still doing better than us.*" Jake sighed softly "*I can almost hear a name from her, but it's not ... I wonder if females feel like this I can feel, hear, our daughter, even this soon.*" There was something akin to awe in his mind.

"*Don't know Jake, I have no experience in this area But you're exceptional in every other way, why would this be any different?*" He thought tenderly, holding the tom close "*I'd bet money it means she's going to be telepathic though After all both parents are, and so are two grandparents Though I've never heard of a kit telling the parents what his or her name is.*"

"*Our daughter ...*" Jake hugged Nathan tightly and buried his nose against the glossy red and black neck, almost dizzy with amazed joy "*Sweet Bastet, we are going to have a daughter.*" The intensity behind the thought was even stronger than when the lean tom realized he was unconditionally loved.

Nathan smiled as he got seriously jazzed on the joy coming from his mate "*Yes, love, we are.*" His thought reflecting the joy in Jake's For himself, he was still amazed and how strongly it was affecting the lean tom He'd seen his share of newly expecting parents and couldn't remember any who seemed quite this happy He shrugged, not caring as long as Jake was happy.

"*Want to see those labs ... or check out something a little closer?*" Jake purred.

"*Labs can wait.*" The black on orange tiger rumbled as he claimed a passionate kiss from his mate, while his hands absently traced patterns in soft cinnamon fur as he quickly stripped the lean tom, then himself.

Jake purred softly and rolled to his back, stretching sensually to display his body for his mate "*Still a tom in every way that counts, Nate.*"

The tall Felsin nodded as he ran an appreciative hand down his mate's chest, then froze as he felt a second presence, dim but insistent, as his hand pass over hard abs.

"*You feel her, don't you?*" Jake smiled as he stroked the tiger's face "*You can feel our daughter.*"

"*Yes,*" Nathan said amazed. "*It's amazing that she's a discernible presence so early.*" The tiger chuckled. "*I think this first one is gonna be a real handful.*" He thought in a pleased mind-voice.

"*Like there was a doubt?*" Jake laughed, delighted "*Between her parents and conception, what chance did we have of a quiet kit?*"

Nathan grinned. "*Very little And I expect Cazi going to get great amusement pointing out how not-quiet I was ... especially the first two years.*" He said grinning happily A moment later he sighed quietly, and an old sadness resonated quietly at the edge of his mind.

"*What hurts?*" Jake asked softly.

Nathan sighed. "*Thinking about kits made me realize how much I wish Ebon and Mom were around Mom especially, she'd be overjoyed at the prospect of being a Grandmother.*" He kissed Jake gently. "*It's not hurt in a bad sense, I just miss them, that's all.*"

"*They won't be forgotten,*" Jake smiled gently, "*and I'm sure she'll find out soon enough.*"

"*Umm, Jake. I don't forget anything, so that's hardly an issue What do you mean, 'she'll find out soon enough?*" The tiger seemed a little confused.

Jake sighed and shook his head with a chuckle "*Put it down to different beliefs, I guess There's an old saying, 'as long as one is remembered, they are not truly gone.' I intend our kits to know who their grandparents are, so they are remembered even after our death.

"As for her knowing, you have proof spirits are real and exist beyond the death of the body Surly she has some idea what is going on in the physical world She'll know that you Joined again, and about the kits eventually.*"

Nathan smiled uncertainly. "*I guess, I just never thought about it really The after-life was something I never gave much thought to. Actually, religion is one of my weak areas ... its tough to pay attention to formalized religion, when you're on familiar terms with the beings in question.*"

"*Guess I chalk it up to being raised by very solid world oriented commandos, and a adopted father who had little use for anything he couldn't dissect or otherwise study scientifically.*"

"*It's a comfort, but not the same.*" He nuzzled Jake tenderly. "*Sorry for being morose when happy is more appropriate And I am happy, really.*"

Jake smiled, then cocked his head "*Have you considered asking Felsira to at least tell you mother she is a grandmother? Or have Nareena's spirit come by for a few minutes?*"

Nathan grinned, the chuckled. "*Well, there's something I hadn't thought of Won't hurt to ask if it's possible Felsira always said I could ask anything.*"

The tiger turned and concentrated on his link with the Triad. "*Mother, I needed to ask you something important, if you've got a moment.*"

Felsira appeared sitting on the bed. "Nice to hear a call that isn't complete panic." She glanced at Jake "Congratulations, Jake Assuming you want to be pregnant that is."

"Pregnant, not really, but I want the kit, so it's good news." He smiled up at her "Thank you."

She said smiling. "So what can I do for you, Nathan? Don't tell me the two of you wanted twins?"

Nathan looked startled as Jake's ears swiveled forward in real interest. "Umm ... something related but not quite so directly It actually was more 'after-life' related."

"After-life, huh? Just who's spirit are you interested in, Nathan?" She asked quirking an eyebrow.

"Mom's, she should know she's going to be a grandmother, and I was wondering, if there was anyway to let her stop by, even briefly." He asked tentatively.

"It's an uncommon request, but one I've granted before There's just one small catch, Nathan."

"Which would be?" The tiger looked anxious.

"She's not dead. Can't bring in the spirits of the not-yet-dead." She said easily.

"What? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Some questions I can't answer, unless you ask." The Lioness said calmly "But Nareena has never crossed from the realm of the living."

"And Ebon."

"He hasn't either Unfortunately, I can't tell you where they are In fact, I've told you what I'm allowed to We all have our limits."

"I understand. Thank you, Mother." Nathan hugged the Healer tightly.

She kissed him gently on the forehead "Your welcome, Nathan And once again, congratulations on your Joining." She faded softly into golden light.

"Well, Damn." Nathan said, lying back, completely stunned.

"That puts a new spin on things," Jake sprawled against his mate "Mind if I call Cazi and Rik in? I think the four of us need to talk."

"Think you'd better." Nathan said, eyes still a bit glazed over "Cazi's not gonna believe this, you realize."

"He's going to have to I will not accept that she lied." Jake shivered and rolled off the bed to get dressed, then regarded his mate "Would you try to get back to your primary form, please?"

"She wouldn't, not to me I'll try." He rolled of the bed and focused on restoring his 'normal' form. After a series of false starts with a variety of felines primitive, Kat and Felsin he finally hit his normal form, and then got dressed.

"I don't know how Cazi does it so casually." He muttered, a bit winded.

"A lifetime of practice You might want to ask him for lessons, or at least pointers." Jake smiled and kissed his mate chastely "*Cazi, Rik, would you come to my quarters?*"

"*Coarse.*" The mutual curiosity rang through the reply, and the arousal that went with what Jake had interrupted.

A little while later the two Kats walked in.

"What's up, Jake?" Alex asked curiously.

Nathan looked at him. "Dad, you probably should sit down for this one."

"Something bigger than the new kit?" He arched an eyebrow and complied, sitting at the table while Patrik found his spot and curled up on the bed.

"A lot bigger." Nathan said, remarkably calm considering, though he was still a bit shaken by the realization. "Umm ... Felsira was here just now, and I, well what I asked wasn't really important, but she just told me that Ebon and Mom are still alive."

"What?!" Cazi slipped from his calico form to his Lion one "Nathan, that's impossible. I felt the LifeBonds shattered, I barely survived that day They can't be." He was shaking visibly as he remembered the feeling of the bonds breaking.

"Alex," Jake dropped his head to Cazi's shoulder, "she wouldn't lie Not to Nate, not about this."

"It's just not possible." The Lion shook his head in denial "The bonds ...."

"I understand how hard this is, Cazi," Jake hugged him, "I really do, but I can think of a couple ways it could happen."

Nathan caught Cazi looking at him questioningly "Dad, I know its hard to believe, and I know how much we think the bonds can't be wrong, but looks like just this once they are."

Cazi swallowed hard. "Okay, but how?" The seasoned commando looked very lost, and confused But behind that was a look of wanting to believe.

"That I'm not sure about. Jake, you said you had some ideas?" Nathan prompted quietly.

The lean Kat nodded and sat opposite the shaking Felsin "I'm still sorting through Ashley's memories, but two things come to mind almost immediately.

"One is a prototype weapon Some kind of psychic disruptor The SG was fond enough of testing them in the field Given no bodies were ever found, it seems possible that a strong enough disruption could 'kill' a bond without directly killing them.

"The other is that they did die, long enough for the bonds to break, and someone brought them back before their spirits left."

Cazi considered. "Well, the first is certainly possible given the SG propensity for field testing the weirdest weapons anyone ever heard of The second ... I guess, though I'm a little skeptical that'd take the presence of damn skilled spirit-mage, and those are pretty rare."

"But they exist, so it is possible."

Cazi looked at Jake curiously. "Sorting through Ashley's memories? How'd you end up with somebody else's memories? And who's Ashley?"

"*I didn't explain the whole multiple past-lives thing He didn't already know, and I wasn't sure just how widely known you wanted that.*" Nathan explained quickly.

"Okay, this is a little complex." Jake settled in "I'm a shapeshifter of sorts I change my genetic structure and everything else changes I was created about three hundred years ago, by a rouge Darshar named Tartirin as a super-spy/ living weapon In her service I 'lived' several lives, including a friend of yours, Ashley Terrell After a mission was over, the personality and most memories involved in it were put in a mental box and saved in case they were needed again.

"Then the base personality, V'Feri, rebelled and came here They decided to create a black slate and new body that would eventually absorb them, after it had grow and become it's own individual.

"That 'blank' was me.

"In the Joining, I accepted what I am, who they are, and we're beginning to merge in a very real way." Jake took a breath and watched Cazi for his response.

Cazi blinked a couple times and then shrugged "You mean you're Ashley, sort of?"

"Yes," Jake nodded.

"Fascinating, and I thought I got carried away with my mission identities." The lion nodded. "Nice to know what happened with Ashley, I kind of wondered what happened when she disappeared after Nate and Rhymar got joined Aren't too many who can lose me when I'm trying to keep track of them." He winked knowingly at Jake.

Cazi leaned back. "Okay, what do we do with all this? I'm pretty sure we're not gonna find 'em locally."

"Now," Jake growled determinately, "we go to Lake Maxwell and see what I can find."

Nathan looked at Jake. "Just like that? I can see one small problem ... you're not supposed to leave the base. Hathin will have a fit if you go and leave the galaxy. And that doesn't even get into transportation problems I'm not sure if Morin's on the way, much less where he might be."

"Morin? You mean your Dracon boyfriend?" Cazi asked curiously.

"Yeah, he and Jake met during Joining They get along reasonably well ... at least on one level." The tiger said grinning.

"I'll bet Why would he be coming here, much less how?"

"Why is me, how is probably with a ship he 'borrowed' from the Mephits."


"There are other ways to travel," Jake spoke softly "And once I leave, Hathin can scream all she wants I'm not coming back."

Cazi looked a little confused, but Nathan just nodded. "What we discussed during Joining?" He asked quietly.

"Yes," Jake looked at his LifeMate with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

Nathan nodded slowly. "Jake, I agreed then but remember I can't just up and vanish I can't abandon a teammate in trouble, that's not the way I was raised and it's not the way NightBlades operate." He looked into his mate's amber eyes. "I know you can't face him, but I can't abandon him either."

Cazi looked around. "Former teammate? Chance Furlong, right?"

Nathan nodded tiredly. "Yes."

"So just what happened, Nathan?"

"It's long, complicated, and unfortunately not all the details are clear Short summary: somebody hurt Chance bad, Jake can't deal with him and I can't leave him hurting."

Cazi nodded. "I can spot an 'I don't talk about it' easy enough, Nathan. You do what you have to, Nathan I don't think a little extra time will make that big a difference."

The Lion paused. "Okay, Nathan. Standard NightBlade procedure then: Healer handles the wounded, covert and combat handles the enemy Tell me who did it, I'll make sure it never happens again." There was a deadly look on the Lion's face.

Jake looked away from the pair, defeat slumping his shoulders slightly and sent only to his mate "*Do what you have to, I'm finished fighting on this world.*"

Nathan put his arm around Jake's shoulders. "*I'm not interested in fighting. My only interest in healing a wounded friend I forgot that Cazi would react this way; it's been a while Aside from my friends, I honestly don't care Truthfully, that's all I ever did care about.*" He thought sincerely.

He turned to Cazi "Dad, leave it alone It's taken care of; I just have to look after a friend. That's all."

"You're sure?" Cazi raised an eyebrow.

"I'm sure. Please just let it go Let's not get tangled up unnecessarily."

"Well, as long as you're sure I guess old habits die hard."

Nathan chuckled. "Tell me about it, Jake had to talk me down from doing just what you were just talking about doing."

Cazi chuckled. "Family trait, I think." He smiled "Okay, aside from the medical issue you've got to deal with, how much is involved in leaving?" The Lion asked as he slid into planning mode.

"That depends on how paranoid Nathan is going to be about our daughter, how much energy I can get ready access to once we're there, and how long we're going to wait to leave." Jake shifted to face them.

Nathan looked at him curious. "How long? I wish I knew I don't know how bad the damage is, and I don't know how much recovery has occurred."

"That probably takes out any need for it." Jake murmured unhappily.

Nathan shook his head in frustration. "Maybe, Maybe he's already shaken it off and I'm just worrying over nothing." He said tersely, clearly not believing it.

"How paranoid? What do I have to be paranoid about?" Nathan asked, curious. "And as for energy, what kind are you talking?"

"The energy would be anything I can draw on, mechanically created is best." He looked away "And there's plenty for you to be paranoid about The first method is fairly untested, though it is safe The other requires a shapeshift for me."

"Sounds like we'd better not arrive directly at the Lake Maxwell site then." Cazi said quietly. "I don't think there's much left, but I know a couple of industrial sites that should work well A good friend of mine owns a manufacturing concern on the Northern Continent."

Nathan looked at him. "Given that your shapeshift operates on a genetic level, I'd have to say it's a bad idea to do during pregnancy You've never been pregnant before, so you have no way of knowing how the shapeshift will affect our daughter And that's not paranoia, that's simple medical commonsense."

Nathan looked at Cazi "You said Xander brought you here, any chance of getting a lift from him?"

"I don't suppose you have his phone number, Nathan?" Cazi asked sarcastically.

"Okay, so much for that idea."

Nathan thought a moment "Jake, in one of the vague fuzzy spots from the last day I remember something about some agents wanting to 'take me home' ... do I have that right?"

"Yes," Jake nodded wearily "Those agents also look like me and Chance."

Nathan shuddered. "Right ... now I remember, you tried to tear out the throat of the one that looked like Chance Maybe that's not a good route of transportation after all." He chuckled "Maybe Morin's nearby." He said hopefully.

"Any way for you to check?" Jake asked a little hopefully.

Nathan thought about it and nodded. "Should be possible, I remember that Cathedral sometimes damps psionics, can you make sure that's not being done at the moment? I'll need a clear 'open line'. He said as he laid back and began focusing on his link with the Dracon.

"*Clear Nate's psi-path, Cathedral.*" Jake caught the base's attention.

"*Done.*" She came back a moment later "*Nice to hear you back to normal.*"

"Everything should be clear."

"Okay, don't be surprised if I zone out for a bit Long distance is not something I'm experienced at, so it may take some time."

Nathan closed his eyes and focused all his attention of his link with Morin He wished it was a LifeBond, but he'd have to work with what he had He drew energy until he felt himself moving along the link.

In the real world, numerous light objects hovered above the surface they were on, glowing with a silver light.

Nathan 'shouted' mentally. "*Morin! Can you hear me? I need to talk to you.*" He let the call repeat for some time.

There was a chuckle. "*Can hear you just fine, which is kind of surprising Guess married life agrees with you.*"

"*Yes it does. Look, I don't suppose you're on your way to Aristal are you?*" Nathan asked hopefully.

There was a deep booming laugh. "*How'd you know? It was supposed to be a surprise gift Grandmother even approved my use of her marines.*"

"*Intuition, love What's your ETA?*"

"*Best guess, about 2 weeks Exact trip duration in TLD is hard to gauge.*" He said and then paused. "*Love? So, is there a chance of making a Triad, this time?*"

"*A chance, maybe. But it doesn't matter, Jake said he didn't object if I had you as a LifeMate He's got one too.*"

"*I like him better and better So what his LifeMate like? Small and furry?*" The Dracon asked hopefully.

"*You're incorrigible, really. But he's smaller than Jake, and furry to the point of almost fuzzy.*" Nathan said laughing. "*I'll talk to you when you arrive. Now go clean up the drool.*"

There was a chuckle from the Dracon.

Nathan sat up, tired and sweating. "Yes, he's coming. ETA is around two weeks, but TLD is hard to guestimate."

"Two weeks," Jake nodded, rapidly calculating what he'd need to do "And when he arrives I can leave? TLD travel isn't forbidden, doc?"

"Two weeks, approximately. And I don't see why not, there aren't any effects of TLD that should be dangerous either to you or our daughter Besides, there is anything the medical facilities here can do, that the ones on-board can't." Nathan shifted sadly "Should be long enough to either take care of what I need to, or discover that I can't." He said quietly.

Jake smiled gently and stood to embrace his mate "Take care of your friend," he gave the tiger-tabby a gentle kiss "I'm going to deal with Pat and breaking my ties as gently as possible." He leaned back a little and tapped Nathan's nose with a finger "And remember, you have the same authority and access as I do Don't hesitate to use it if it will be useful."

Nathan nodded, and kissed Jake gently back. "I will." He said quietly. "And I'll keep it in mind."

He paused quietly. "Jake, those ITA agents might still be around Can you control yourself, if you see them again?" The tiger-tabby asked worried, about letting Jake out of his sight.

"Cathedral will see to it we don't cross paths." He smiled "And if you have any energy left, I'll show you the genetic labs over in SeaCrest tonight."

Nathan nodded. "I expect I will, since I've slept recently." He paused. "Cathedral may, I just hope Pat figured out from that first 'meeting' that a second one would be a bad idea."

He paused momentarily. "What time is it anyway? With all the zoning, passing out, and what not I'm not sure what day it is, much less what time it is." He chuckled.

"It is twenty-two hundred Tuesday June 18, 2046." Cathedral's feminine voice answered.

"Wow," Jake blinked "Maybe the labs first Didn't realize it was that late."

"Yea, I think the labs first It's too late for anything else." Nathan said, mildly relieved, then blinked. "Tuesday? How time flies and what not."

"So much for your ten minute ceremony," Jake chuckled as he turned to look at Alex and Patrik "You two coming with us, or do you want to go back to what I interrupted?"

Nathan laughed broadly. "Ten minutes was for two normal people, what does that have to do with us?" He said grinning broadly.

Alex looked at Patrik and simply raised a questioning eyebrow, leaving it up to the petite tom.

"Umm, we'll tag along," he nodded.

Jake nodded and reached for his wrist-com and froze as his fingers brushed his engagement collar "What a mess." He sighed and shook his head before putting the wrist-comm on and walking out.

As they entered the tram Jake flopped into a chair and sprawled his arms along the top "Take a seat, guys It takes a few minutes."

Patrik quickly claimed the seat next to Jake and snuggled in close.

Nathan smiled and casually sat down next to Patrik Alex grinned and took a seat across from the three of them.

"And when were you planning to include me in this discussion about leaving the planet?" An annoyed female voice was accompanied by a shimmer as a translucent black shekat with flame-red hair, eyes and tail appeared, facing Jake over the back of the seats in the next row.

"Hi Amee," Jake nodded at her "You mean you have a concern about going to the stars?"

"Well, no, but when were you going to mention it?" She flicked her hears back.

"You already knew." He shrugged "When were you planning to tell me you had a girlfriend?"

"What?" Her voice squeaked as all her fur fluffed.

"That pretty Panther Xanith on the Veritech project," he grinned at her "The one you changed your colors for."

"Well, I never ..." she fussed and vanished.

"I love that jet," Jake shook his head, laughing in amusement.

Nathan chuckled quietly "Well, that explains who Amerith is ... I'd been kind of wondering. Hmmm, well guess I'd better contact Morin and make sure the ship he's bringing has space for a jet."

"Nah, she can download to a datacard so I can build her something a little more keeping with Alliance tech." Jake smiled indulgently.

"Really? That's fascinating, so she's not tied to the specific body?" Nathan asked curiously.

"None of them are." Jake chuckled softly "All the AI's start in the main system, and download to whatever they want to fly Amerith's one of the newest, and most advanced I've learned with each one we develop." His eyes went serious "Speaking of her, you should realize this 'no AI with weapons rule' you guys have is not going to be popular."

Alex considered an odd conversation he'd had with a Dracon TechnoMage back home "May not be an issue It'll have to be certified by a Master TechnoMage back home, but I think that Amerith meets the standard for being a Digital Sentience, or DS in common usage." He smiled. "I know it sounds like semantics, but the important difference is two-fold: One, DS are considered sentient beings with all rights, privileges and responsibilities thereof; Two, DS are allowed weapons same as any other Alliance citizen."

Nathan looked at his father. "That's either new, obscure or both I've never heard of that."

Alex shrugged. "I'm not surprised it's the Certified Digital Sentience Exclusionary Clause that was added to the Darthan II Pact on Intelligent Weaponry maybe ten years ago Very few people outside of the TechnoMages, some of the CyberWizards and a few military designers are really familiar with it." He paused. "But I'm fairly sure it applies to Amee."

"Cool." The individual in question hugged Alex from behind, though her arms and body weren't quite solid enough not to phase through him partway "I'd download to a bio-body if it got really irritating, but that's *much* better."

Alex turned to look at Amerith over his shoulder. "It took some time to get the law amended, but when a nebulous energy race joined the Alliance it caused some rethinking of what the term 'sentient life' meant." He smiled. "Depending on the ship that Morin's bringing you might even have a chance to try on a starship for size."

"Oh," she stood and shifted to one hip as she considered it, a little less than enthusiastic "Sounds ... big."

"Don't worry, Amee," Jake chuckled at her as he hugged Patrik playfully "I'll build you something more to your liking Maybe something in nanmetal?"

Her eyes went wide "I though that didn't work yet."

"It's not compatible yet I can't retrofit anybody," he chuckled, "but starting from scratch, I'm pretty sure I can."

"Oh, that would be *so* cool." Her eyes glittered as she bounced, then phased out again.

"She's happy." Patrik chuckled.

Alex chuckled. "I kind of noticed."

Nathan grinned. "A much more pleasant encounter then I would have imagined from a few things Caito told me." He said chuckling.

"Oh?" Jake raised an eyebrow "Just what rumors about my old team has the Trickster been passing on to you?"

Nathan grinned sheepishly. "Apparently, a certain jet didn't think I was good for you. I'm glad that the phrase 'kill that damn Felsin' turned out to be an exaggeration from an agitated jet though Caito thought I should know before I got too close to heavy weapons He's funny that way." He chuckled.

"*Amee, just when did you threaten to kill Nathan?*" Jake asked calmly.

"*Oh, back before you two really bonded He was hurting you.*" She mentally shrugged "*He's okay You're way happy.*"

Jake chuckled "Oh, she was serious, till circumstances changed She's a touch defensive of me."

Nathan laughed broadly "Well, it figures Caito left out a detail or two He likes teasing me when there's an opening Actually, he'll tease anybody if he thinks it'll be taken well Or Felsira help them, he doesn't like somebody." He grinned at Jake "Not like I can be mad about someone being defensive of you."

"Not like anyone's nearly as defensive as Nathan." Alex quipped quietly.

Jake led them quietly through eight security checkpoints, some with live guards, some electronic He opened a non-descript door with a combination hand, voice and face check.

"This is the best genetics lab available right now." Jake turned to Nathan as they entered "Anything you need, describe and it'll be made."

Nathan carefully lifted a small gold medallion from under his shirt He smiled as it glowed with a soft golden light He walked around the room in a semi-trance as light tendrils streamed around the room After about fifteen minutes he walked back to the others.

"It could work." He said smiling quietly. "So if I describe some fairly advanced equipment in detail, it can be produced?" He asked quietly, holding hope in check.

"As long as it doesn't require the Materials Lab to play atomic shuffling, fairly quickly." Jake cocked his head "Though I'm curious what's not good enough This is where Rik was created He took six months, four years ago."

"It's not really about 'not good enough', its what I'm experienced with; and for what I'm going to be doing ... I don't want to be learning equipment procedures Besides, I need equipment specifically that can handle zero-matrix nano-manipulation, that's a very particular combination of equipment."

Jake nodded "The familiarity I understand, but this lab is for what you call 'zero-matrix' creation That's what Rik and the others are."

"More important question, Jake You seem to be in a hurry to leave, would you be able to handle a delay longer than the original two weeks?"

The lean tom flinched "Didn't think about that I'd really rather not."

Nathan leaned back against a random piece of equipment. "Jake, what's bothering you? I know *something* is, it's why I asked ... I had a feeling six weeks instead of two might cause a problem." He asked, more than a little worried about his partner's edginess.

"I have doubts that I'd still want to leave." He shifted uneasily "Right now it's very clear staying on this world isn't healthy for me I doubt I'll remember that after settling back into a routine."

Nathan nodded. "Then I'll wait till we reach Alliance space, I won't have any trouble getting the equipment there Storm's waited this long, a few more months will not be a burden; and I would never suggest you do something that wasn't healthy for you."

Jake nodded slightly, a mixture of regret and relief in him.

Nathan considered for a moment "There might be a way to shorten the trip up for Morin, but I'll have to wait until sunrise." He paused for a moment "Does Cathedral have a good geography database?

"Best on the planet." Jake regarded his mate curiously "What'cha' need?"

"I need to locate a rocky sea cliff, ideally at the edge of an open plain." He said, though he wasn't entirely sure why "And it can't already be developed, construction-wise." He amended, feeling a slight warmth from the burn on his arm.

"I can think of a couple places that might work," Jake nodded and turned to leave "We'll go through the database on a V-Skimmer."

"Excellent." Nathan said, as he turned to follow Jake.

Alex just shrugged and followed the two LifeMates, he sure wasn't going to try and make sense of what was going on From late night genetics labs, to sea cliffs at sunrise, he was sure it meant something, but wasn't sure *what*.

Jake led them deeper into the high security zone to a small, empty room After the door was shut he placed a hand on the barely visible control panel.

"Clearance confirmation NightRazor Initialize transport to V-Skimmer Hanger."

A soft hummer grew around them, then the world went dark and numb for a moment before the lights came on again.

Nathan looked around unnerved. "What the Void was that?" Though his voice was fairly even, a strong trace of panic tinged his scent.

Jake looked more than a little startled "It's a site-to-site transporter We've had them almost twenty years They're quite safe."

Nathan calmed considerably. "Fascinating, I think ShadowBox is working on something similar For a minute there it felt like the SG's time displacement unit."

"Urr, no." Then Jake snickered "Though we do have one of those."

"So where are we now?" He asked evenly.

"The V-Skimmer Hanger," Jake explained as the door slid open and he lead the way out to the nearest ship The small, matt black jet bore a strong resemblance to a TurboKat crossed with a corporate jet As they neared the door it opened on it's own and extended a short ramp for them "Thanks, Amee."

"You think you're getting off base without me?" She had an incredulous ton in her voice.

"Wasn't planning on it." He chuckled back and took on of the luxurious seats and motioned to the other five "Pick a spot."

Nathan sat down where he could get as much 'window' or other view as possible He seemed distracted or focused depending on how one looked at things.

Alex sat where he could keep an eye on both Jake and his son, since they both insisted on behaving strangely.

None of them felt any movement for about fifteen minutes, then Amerith came over the loudspeakers as the door opened to the earliest pre-dawn "Spot number one The Keshatii Cliffs of Angren."

Nathan didn't wait for anybody else, but hopped out to get a look around, and see what it looked like, and what it 'felt' like Alex looked at Jake briefly as the tom followed his mate, and then followed them outside.

The dim light revealed a golden-green grassy plain bordered by a dry evergreen forest that dropped off abruptly to a dark, rough sea A sharp wind blew out to sea, whipping their hair with a mixture of evergreen, dried grass and sea scents.

Nathan inhaled deeply and looked around He looked back at Jake and smiled. "This will do."

He walked toward the cliff until he was fifty yards from the edge Then he closed his eyes and concentrated As a golden light surrounded him and began to build in intensity, the others could feel a strange prickling as though a strong static charge was present, and the outline of a castle started to become visible Atop the battlements, five stone Gargoyles could be seen.

"Wow," Jake whispered as Patrik pressed back into his gunner's arms nervously.

Alex made a small gesture invoking analysis magic, and then smile. "This has to be the oddest application of sympathetic magic I've ever seen He's using the 'essence' of a place that was 'home' for a while, to draw forth something to take him 'home' At least as best I understand what he's doing."

The Lion shook his head. "Wish I knew how he was doing it I wasn't aware he knew any magic."

The 'Castle' became translucent, clearly an illusion or holograph until Nathan walked through the open gate and into the castle interior.

A few minutes later, shortly before the sun rose Nathan appeared on the top battlement standing next to the largest of the Gargoyles.

As the sunlight touched the castle, those below could hear Nathan's voice deeply intoning "By the power of the sun that heals and holds, I call across the vastness of space Let mighty Phoenix guide my Dragon love faster to the Dragon of this place."

There was a mighty screech, as flaming red phoenix came diving across the castle, seemingly appearing from the rising sun It swooped around the tower Nathan was standing, briefly touching a strange red on green two-legged dragon which lay sleeping on the tower.

The phoenix swooped seven times around the castle creating a ring of fire before it shot upward, out of sight and into space The ring of fire slowly shrank until it was a ball of fire surrounding the top tower.

Several minutes later, Nathan walked out of the Castle and sat down on the grass As the gate closed Nathan lay back on the grass looking up "Well, that was noisy Probably got the attention of anyone sensitive who ever had any connection to Wyvern Not that it should be a problem, there isn't anyone closer than 2 weeks away."

"So ... what just changed in our situation?" Jake asked cautiously as he sank down next to the tiger-tabby.

Nathan hesitated. "Assuming that worked like I think it should, it should give Morin a clear path, and bring the ETA down to closer to a week, though 2 is possible...whereas before 2 weeks was the low ETA, with the higher being not clear TLD is a very uncertain place unless you've either been where you're going before ... or you have a beacon to follow I was trying to create a beacon.

"Of course, given what I don't know about magic ... exact results are hard to be sure of." He said quietly.

"Oh," Jake rested his chin on Nathan's shoulder "So ... what now?"

Nathan gently hugged the lean tom. "As far this goes, nothing. Either it works or it doesn't Which I guess leaves us trying to straighten things out before we leave." He said quietly, making no real move to get up.

"Mmm, probably should get back before Hathin finds out I took off, and no one stopped me." Jake chuckled softly "I think I'm going to make her life interesting in the next couple weeks."

Nathan smiled weakly "Just try not to do anything that will make my life interesting also She may be in charge of Medical at Cathedral, but I share her concerns." He sighed. "Things will be interesting enough, as is."

"I'll behave," Jake rolled his eyes, "as much as makes sense But you," he tapped his mate on his chest, "don't buy all her restrictions, or I wouldn't be out here I don't want her hurt either."

He smiled. "You're right, I don't buy all of them, especially if I'm with you I think the confinement to base was a bit much, especially this early on."

"She's just trying to make sure she can find me." Jake chuckled "I have an extensive history of being a terrible patient when I'm still capable of walking."

Alex looked back at Nathan from where he'd been studying the magically constructed castle He didn't like the way Nathan said that, though he was having a hard time deciding 'why'.

Jake shifted to straddle his mate's chest and grinned down at the Felsin "So ... home, or play under the stars?"

Nathan chuckled. "Playing sounds fun, but under the stars would be somewhere else ... since sunrise just occurred." He pulled the lean tom down into a passionate kiss.

"*I like your priorities.*" Jake purred as his hands slid down to undo Nathan's belt.

"Busted!" Patrik whispered as the hatch opened to reveal Hathin, hands on her hips and tail swishing in irritation Jake promptly put himself behind his mate.

Nathan managed to force an instinctive cringe out of sight as he faced the Lioness "Morning, Hathin." He said cheerfully, as though nothing were out of the ordinary.

Alex kept his face neutral, but shot a thought to Jake and Patrik, and chuckled mentally. "*You're about to see the routine that sent Generals on vacation Nathan doesn't back down, not easily ... especially not when something else is bothering him.*" He sent with moderate amusement.

"*If he wins, it's be a Cathedral first.*" Patrik smirked back "*No one beats Hathin.*"

"Morning, Nathan." She eyed them critically "Which one of you is going to be taking responsibility for my patient breaking his instructions?"

Nathan suddenly felt no tension at all, completely relaxed "Given the early stage of pregnancy, the patient's stable condition and vital signs, and the fact that excessive restriction isn't good for the patient's mental condition; restriction to Cathedral is excessive and counterproductive at this time." He said in absolutely level and completely professional tone of voice "Excessive restriction when it is unnecessary, makes it unlikely that the patient will comply when the restrictions do become necessary Furthermore, the patient was under medical supervision the entire time."

Alex thought back to Patrik. "*Yeah, but Nathan's used to dealing with 10 foot tall Dracon Generals Furthermore, as far as far as Nathan's concerned Jake's his patient ... Hathin's consulting.*"

The Lioness arched an eyebrow and glanced between the two of them "Does this mean you're taking responsibility as his primary physician?" He tone was almost hopeful behind its professional irritation.

Nathan fought back a few responses that jumped to mind.

Alex recognized the tension, and thought to Jake "*Jake, unless you want this to get decidedly unpleasant you might want to say something When you added Nathan to your little three-man team without telling him about the larger reality ... that made him, as he understood it, SWAT's Medical Officer Right now, Hathin's challenging him in a very sensitive area ... and he's spoiling for a fight.*"

"Hath," Jake put a hand on Nathan's arm "Nathan is."

The tiger-tabby relaxed at touch of his mate's hand, accepting that Jake was handling this A small corner of his mind was disappointed at the missed fight, but only a very small corner.

"Since when?" She focused completely on the lean tom.

Jake fought to not take a step back to answer her "Since he joined SWAT Medic ..." his voice trailed off at her look.

"Jake, Nathan, there is a damn good reason I gave each and every one of those orders, including staying on base." She relaxed slightly "If Medic SolGardin is going to be your primary physician for this, he needs to see the rest of your medical record."

Nathan nodded quietly and calmly, as he forced the adrenalin response back, and put the shapeshift back into waiting mode He was curious, in a clinical sense, why his body had responded to the situation in such a combat-heavy fashion.

Alex relaxed, grateful that the looming fight had been avoided No sense making things more unpleasant than they were going to be anyway.

"The rest?" Jake suddenly went tense as they joined Hathin on the floor of the hanger "He knows ...."

"Yes, the rest of your file." She offered Jake a sympathetic glance "There's a few things that never made it into the electronic copy you keep breaking into to read over my shoulder."

"Some times you don't want the patient to know everything." Nathan said quietly, worried because he knew the kinds of things that were hidden from patients that way.

"*Caito, have Fel nearby I may need her quickly.*" He thought on the shielded Triad frequency to the small winged jaguar lounging in one corner.

"*Sure thing, Nate.*" The jaguar thought before disappearing.

"*Nate ... what kind of things would be hidden?*" Jake asked with a trace of fear as they rode in silence back to Cathedral "*I didn't think she left anything out ....*"

Nathan projected reassurance before anything else "*The two that are usually hidden are terminal illness, and serious mental illness If you didn't know about your genetic instability, I suppose that probably would be.*" He paused "*Doesn't matter, whatever it is we'll deal with it together If she can handle it, so can I ... besides I've got Felsira to back me up.*" He thought with complete confidence "*This does not affect our plans. If it could be handled at Cathedral, it can be handle elsewhere as well.*"

Jake nodded, not completely reassured as he leaned against Nathan for the rest of the ride, and followed in silence through the extensive Medical division.

"Nathan," she inclined her head, indicating *only* he was welcome into her private office.

Nathan followed reluctant to leave Jake behind, but willing to respect Hathin's decision, until he had enough information to make his own judgment.

He carefully broadcast to Alex. "*Dad, look after Jake while I'm in with Hathin.*"

"*Of course*"

She shut the door, sealing them from the outside world, and walked to the single, locked file cabinet in the room She pulled a thick paper file out and handed it to Nathan "I expect some, even most, of this you already know We have never kept many things from him."

She sat down at her desk and motioned for him to pick a comfortable spot "The key points are he's the product of from-scratch genetic engineering, which we can not, and I am of the firm opinion, should not, be stabilized to a single form I've confirmed three separate, and apparently independent, personalities, and a very strong tendency towards disassociation in general His ID as Razor is well on its way to becoming more than just a secret identity.

"On a related front he is capable of switching gears at very high speed, and is rarely aware of it As creative as he is with equipment, he's at least as creative in manipulating his own mind.

"Something you should be aware of, both as his mate and his physician, is that 'kill focus' he can get in sparing, while it doesn't usually show up in real combat, it has been documented at the oddest of times, and as far as we've figured unprovoked I don't buy the 'unprovoked' part myself, but a pattern has yet to be found Details are in there." She nodded at the folder.

Nathan nodded "The mental situation I've got a very clear picture of, since the Joining gave me a detailed walk-through of what's going on It's not classic MPD at all, and it's actually beginning to stabilize."

"That is good news, but what is it, if not MPD?" She arched an eyebrow.

Nathan sighed. "It's very complicated, and I'll need Jake's permission before I go into any real details, since its not a medical condition ... certainly not one that can, or should, be treated."

Nathan gently touched his link with Jake. "*Looks like Hathin thinks that V'Feri and the rest are actually a form of multiple-personality disorder You want me to clear things up for her a little, or would you prefer to keep it quiet? It's entirely your decision.*"

"*You can tell her,*" Jake answer was laced with nervous curiosity "*She already thinks I'm too weird to explain.*"

"*Okay I don't know if she'll believe me, but I'll tell her.*" He chuckled mentally. "*Hell, if I hadn't met them I don't know if I'd believe it.*"

He turned back to Hathin. "Okay, Jake said its okay for you to know The additional personalities all come back to how Jake came into being You know he was created from scratch, but the truth is he wasn't really created by anyone from this planet."

Nathan paused. "There isn't a simple explanation of this really, but then again I don't know that there's anything about Jake that is simple to explain." He chuckled in amusement, one matched by the other doctor.

"The explanation starts around three hundred years ago, more or less, with a gray dragon named V'Feri who was created as a super-spy and who had fairly remarkable shapeshifting abilities At the direction of those who created him, he created 'mission-specific' personality/genetic profiles that were stored for later use The genetic profiles were what drove the shapeshift.

"Eventually V'Feri and the others revolted and decided to create one last 'shift', one that would eventually incorporate all of them and would have a real life, not one driven by mission parameter That's why they created Jake, as a blank that would grow up.

"During the Joining I met five of the still awake mission personalities, one of which was a Felsin Medic who I'd met before The only way that makes any sense is that the 'Masters' had access to time travel."

He chuckled. "Of course, none of this can be confirmed medically Except for the fact that Jake's shapeshifting ability is fairly unique and you have noticed personalities.

He leaned back "If you need any more detail, I'll answer questions as best I can."

Hathin blinked several times before nodding "Thank you for confirming what I suspected Though I didn't suspect he was quite that unusual in origin, it does explain quite a few things I've noticed over the years." She smiled softly "I've been his primary physician since he had a vet, not a doctor, and there are some things that only made sense if he'd had a 'life' before Pakitra got a hold of him."

Nathan nodded "The from-scratch I figured out on my own, before he told me Based on some personality details, I'd agree with the fact that stabilization is not something he should undergo again.

"As for the 'kill-focus', I'm familiar with its showing up in strange places, though I'd be curious to see what you've discovered about it." He said quietly picking up the folder.

"Unfortunately, very little." She shook her head "It bears every hallmark I know of being a biochemical reaction, but we haven't been able to pinpoint it, much less control it What I do know about it is that it's most commonly triggered when he's not already combat aroused and he perceives a threat to his mate, mostly Patrik I rather suspect that we're dealing with at least two separate conditions, one combat oriented and one not The part I have the most difficulty figuring out is that he just doesn't kill focus in real combat."

Nathan nodded "Sounds like a defensive reaction caused by the Bond he has with Patrik, combined with his 'perception' on one level, that Patrik can't protect himself Jake knows, intellectually, that this isn't true but there's a part of his mind that doesn't understand.

"I got a fairly detailed demonstration of how the mindset works during Joining It's strange, but makes sense on a somewhat 'primal' level.

"Based on the way Jake seems to operate, I'd say the reason it doesn't happen in real combat, is that one drive has already taken over and the other just doesn't become active Sparring on the other hand is a very focused one-on-one activity, and I expect the 'kill-focus' occurrence there is in fact an extreme case of stress release He does build up stress fairly easily and to high levels, dangerously high levels at that.

"In short, there may be a biochemical process but its all coming from some peculiar mental processes."

"That makes sense, in a Jake sort of way." Hathin chuckled "Leave it to him to be completely convoluted about something as basic as a kill reflex I don't suppose you've met his death-wish yet?"

Nathan shivered. "Encountered something like that, a kind of programmed shut-down due to absorbing enough of his past-lives that he was 'too old', but that response has been eliminated Unless, of course, your referring to something else ... in which case it didn't surface ... exactly what does this death-wish entail? Best to discover these things while Felsira is still nearby."

She nodded unhappily "I wasn't aware of what you encountered Jake goes through cycles of extreme depression, some event triggered, some not, that have about a fifty-fifty chance of sending him into a state where he rather actively seeks to die honorably by doing something heroic By reports, you met him during one such cycle, and partially snapped him out of it."

Nathan sighed. "Oh that, yes we talked about it Apparently, he'd reached a breaking point as far as Chance not reading his mind At least this time he just broke up the team.

"You should know that he left, instead of hunting DarkKat again, because he at least believes you made him promise to live."

Nathan nodded "I don't recall ever making him promise anything, but honestly if it kept him from going after DarkKat again I'm glad he thinks I did Anyway, I can keep an eye on his mood easy enough That level of depression shows very clearly in a LifeBond."

She nodded "Still, please be careful Even a strong bond doesn't give much warning with him sometimes I realize this will likely be hard for you believe, but he's capable of lying to a telepath through a bond as strong as yours I'm not saying he will to you, but he does know how and has demonstrated a willingness to do so when he wants to."

Nathan pondered "I'm sure he knows how, but I don't think he will However, I have no intention of being anything but careful I came too close to losing him during Joining too many times The Bond I have with him though, is different then any you've seen before While it is the LifeBond that he creates, it's also a Felsin LifeBond Before Mother and I healed a very old psychic injury of his, he couldn't accept a full, true LifeBond There was a very old, shattered Bond that hadn't healed, and he shied away from that sort of LifeBond, and created his own idea of one."

"Sounds like you rewrote at least half his mind over that last few days." She shook her head "I have to admit I'm rather grateful I won't be doing the main work figuring him out this time."

Nathan chuckled. "Half of his mind, and I think a good half of mine." He shook his head. "If it wasn't for what alcohol does to my psi-abilities ... those two would drive me to drink, heavily But I guess love does that to you."

"You would not be the first, and unlikely the last, to have that distinction." Hathin chuckled softly "Having lived with him a year, I'm sure you're aware of his insomnia, but did he explain what causes it?"

"Yes, nightmares, and based on the last 24 hours I think they've subsided For some reason, he's decided that he trusts me enough to guard him while he sleeps, and this seems to actually let him sleep." He said calmly. "On top of that, there's a telepathic skill my mother taught me that I discovered makes him feel 'safe', and that helps a great deal."

"I don't suppose you could make time to teach at least one of my staff that?" She perked up quickly "Anything capable of calming Jake down would likely be very useful on other warriors."

"I'd be willing to try, but it'd have to be a staff member who's both strongly empathic and telepathic." He sighed quietly "When, depends how much repair work I have to do on Chance's mind."

"The first, you'll have your choice of several." She inclined her head "The second I don't have as much control over, but I wish you the best of luck and you have what assistance I can give.

Nathan nodded. "Thank you, and hopefully things aren't as bad as I think they are."

"But back to your LifeMate ... and my main concern." She locked eyes with him "Perhaps it is not uncommon in the Alliance, but we have found it is rarely advisable to have someone close to a patient care for them, especially a patient as manipulative as Jake can be I do have concerns about your detachment when this comes to him."

Nathan looked back steadily "Because Medics often operate in small groups which are Bonded, we are used to caring for those close to us. And as for detachment, when it comes to patient well-being, especially him ... there are few who can be more detached He can manipulate Nathan all he likes, but Medic doesn't fall for it."

Hathin smiled in real amusement "I suspected as much, but he was a little too eager to have you as his primary."

Nathan sighed. "Jake knows I'm still a bit upset over both the way the unit broke up, and the fact that he never told me a fraction of what was really going on I think he was trying to stop me from getting angry about being challenged on the one certainty I had left.

"Of course, I'm not quite as upset as he might think I understand the realities of military secrets, even if I don't always like them."

"Odds are good he was trying to protect you," she shook her head "He's said it more than once that Cathedral wasn't the place for 'normal' people Though how either your or Chance qualified as 'normal' is rather beyond me."

Nathan laughed broadly "Normal? I'm almost as far from normal as he is." He said shaking his head "If anything I'm likely to be more protective of him then I would of someone else, as long as I see there's a concern Given the unsettled nature of things, and the number of powers present, even if I wasn't his primary I'd have to be ready to step in at any moment ... given how fast circumstances could change.

"But maybe for a while a more cooperative approach to Jake may be advantageous, especially since I have another patient to divide my attention over With regards to this morning's excursion, perhaps you could tell me why you feel Jake needs to be restricted to Cathedral Honestly, I saw no medical risk based on his condition and vital signs, but if there's something else I'd be interested to know what it is." He said in a casual tone of voice.

"The medical risk is mostly from his temperament, and inclination for disappearing for months at a time." She inclined her head "While I agree the pregnancy is at little risk from general wondering around, his ability to attract, if not invent, trouble is legendary even around here and that is why I don't want him far At least on base we have some capability to keep things from getting too far out of hand." She looked decidedly displeased "I realize you were keeping an eye on him, but he's managed to get himself clinically killed on three separate occasions while under watch While we've revived him with no apparent long-term effects after over three hours when there wasn't much physical damage, I don't want to risk his body shutting down like that when it's supporting another life Even if it doesn't affect him long term, I don't want to be the one to find out if an embryo can do the same."

"Well, I can't disagree that he's good at finding trouble, I don't think he'll be inventing any right away Being a parent is very important to him, and I can't imagine he'll do anything deliberate to endanger that other life."

Nathan paused. "I guess my concern is that he also doesn't take confinement well, and some leeway now may make it easier to keep him confined to base later in the pregnancy when its more important I bet he's more than capable of leaving the base if he gets stir-crazy, regardless of who's ordered him to stay Better an occasional, planned and accompanied outside trip, than a solo departure where he's essentially breaking out."

"That I agree with completely, and the key there to me is 'planned and accompanied' Even if he was accompanied by you, you lacked the tech to revive him, and no one here knew to be ready in case something happened."

Nathan hesitated. "Actually, I could have revived him fast enough if that had been necessary I've got some very special support, and she's at least as capable as any tech.

"In any case, I was talking more future planning I'll grant I didn't handle this morning the best, and I apologize for not notifying you."

"Accepted," she inclined her head "We're on the same side for this one We both want him to stay as healthy as possible."

"In any case, I won't be taking him out like that for a while, since I have to see how Chance is doing; and right at the moment I don't think them being within sight of each other is a good idea." He said quietly, utterly frustrated and more than slightly annoyed.

"That I hope you can change." She sighed "You've pulled off enough miracles recently, you may manage this one too."

Nathan nodded. "I hope so For two Kats who care about each other as much as they do, they sure cause each other enough grief."

"It happens," she shook her head in agreement "It still amazes me they lasted this long without either figuring things out, or doing serious bodily harm."

"According to Jake, that was only narrowly avoided Thursday As for not figuring things out...that's not hard, Chance doesn't read minds and Jake doesn't ask for what he needs." He chuckled quietly "He's convinced that Chance rejected him, and Chance doesn't even know he had the opportunity Did you know that Jake proposed to Chance?"

"I'd heard, I didn't particularly believe it was done outside Jake's mind." She shook her head "Jake has an amazing capacity for fitting delusion into reality, and it didn't seem like the thing Chance would refuse."

Nathan sighed "Jake 'proposed' by leaving an engagement collar and a note for Chance sometime Friday morning Unfortunately, Chance had been through a serious trauma the night before, and was unconscious drunk Truth is, he never saw it I think if he'd been asked, he would accept."

"I hadn't heard that one," she cocked an eyebrow in surprise "About five years ago Jake supposedly asked Chance to marry, and was told no."

"Based on what I 'saw' psychometrically, Chance has no idea that Jake wants anything that permanent And as much as I love Jake, his dating habits do not lead one to expect that."

Nathan paused. "Hathin, does your authority as Cathedral's MO include Ameliorate and the test pilots?"

"Yes, and the other bases." She nodded easily "I have final authority throughout the organization What did you have in mind?"

"In case, you hadn't been briefed ... Chance Furlong is a test pilot at Ameliorate, and he was raped recently, I'm guessing probably late Thursday night or very early Friday Jake already handle the 'legal' end, but as MO you should know when you have someone that traumatized It was the rape that kept him from seeing the engagement collar at all, and now he thinks Jake abandoned him." He shook his head. "And I though fixing sector wide problems was tough Though being hired as a test pilot has probably made a world of difference in his state of mind. Right now, the only self-confidence he has is attached to his ability as a pilot."

"Lovely," she nodded "I knew parts of that, but not that neat a summery."

"No idea per se, just notifying you as a professional courtesy." He paused "Given that Chance is not at Cathedral, I'll have to leave to see to him And given that there is a Chance look alike here currently I'd appreciate it if you'd keep an eye on Jake I don't think it would be good for him mentally if he actually succeeded in harming the look-alike." Nathan said seriously.

"All of Security, among others, is quite aware of that The visitors do not have free access, and at this point, neither does Jake." She nodded "Making sure those two don't meet again is rather high on the priorities list."

Nathan relaxed visibly "Well, there's that at any rate To be honest, his lunge at the look-alike still doesn't make any sense Strange thing is, even he doesn't think it makes sense I'm just glad I've got some of my Jedi abilities back."

"Yes, Kenra said that was rather odd all the way around, though the ITA Chance had a rather possible comment on it, considering everything else That Jake reacted like a female he knew did towards her mate during her first pregnancy.

"While it's admittedly not common, I have seen it, particularly aggressive females that were having relationship problems Especially those from less social bloodlines."

"A possibility, I grant Well, I have every intention of finding a solution to that problem Though I think Ashley's solution of locking them in a room together until they sort things out, is clearly not a viable one."

"Not any more," she shivered "Though on principle it's not a bad one, and it has worked on him before."

"Besides, its been done once this week already." He said grinning.

"Though if it could produce half as good a result, it'd be worth the risk With three Jedi and the various Greater Powers trying to make it work, it might actually still be a decent second plan."

The tiger-tabby nodded "Plan A is still I try to get them both to see, what they're not seeing I already started on Jake, during Joining Now I have to work on Chance, which should be easier ... I hope."

"He may well be more difficult." Hathin said with a cautionary tone "Jake is accustomed to rewriting his view of reality, Chance does not have a history of being so quick to discarded 'the truth'."

"I know." He sighed deeply. "But he still trusts me, and maybe that'll be enough It's not going to be easy though, with any luck it won't be too physically painful."

"*Nathan ... I'm going to talk to Pat.*" Jake's slightly board mind-voice came across their bond "*Might as well get it over with while you're busy.*"

"*Okay, Jake.*" He sent firm, quiet support and reassurance. "*Just to let you know, there isn't anything 'hidden' that didn't show up during Joining She just didn't know that I'll catch up with you later on, though if you need me I'm just a thought away.*" He said, sending the mental equivalent of close hug.

"*Thanks.*" Real relief flowed with the thought before Jake put a light shield over their bond; not enough to block his mate, but enough that little would leak through unless one of them was trying.

"I would hope it's not physically painful at all." Hathin spoke seriously, and with some concern "Male rape may be one of the most difficult hurts to deal with that I've run across, but it should not hurt either of you."

"The rape isn't what I'm worried about, though I'd prefer if you kept that out of the record, since Chance hasn't actually told anyone. If I wasn't a psychometrist, I wouldn't know."

"We know," she said softly, "and not just on your word Brandy suspected, and got a pretty good confirmation, from him Plus the legal evidence It has to be in his record, though as with all such sensitive material, it is sealed."

"What worries me, and what I have to be very careful about, is that Chance has always believed to some extent that I cared less about him then I did about Jake This is actually one of the things that clued me into how he really felt about Jake After Jake started seeing Felina, Chance started 'competing' for my friendship, as though I was only going to be friends with one of them."

Nathan shook his head "The last time I talked to Chance, I hadn't even admitted to myself that I loved Jake, or him, and so I was still very carefully balancing between them I didn't say anything I didn't mean, but if he finds out what's happened between me and Jake ..."

He sighed deeply "I just have to hope he doesn't, 'cause it'll kill any credibility I've got ... and probably get me punched as well 'Cause it'll make everything I said over the weekend seem really phony."

"That is a difficult place to be," Hathin nodded slowly "If I may offer a suggestion, talk to Janet, our top mental trauma counselor, and keep Brandy involved Brandy's already quite attached to Chance, and she's very good at reading people, and getting them to see the shade of truth that is most advantageous She may well help your credibility."

Nathan smiled "Probably not a bad idea I'm still adapting to the idea that there's more to SWAT then just Jake, Chance and me But first I've got to run back to my apartment, there's something I need, plus I've had this nagging bad feeling ever since I saw those two ITA agents that look like Jake and Chance."

"Understandable," she nodded easily.

"Talking to Janet is probably a good idea, I'll do that after I get back from my apartment How busy is she normally?" He asked, moving into a 'planning' mode.

Hathin brought up something on her terminal and scanned through it for a moment "She has a couple appointments today, but like me, she's mostly a supervisor and only takes on critical cases, like this."

Nathan nodded. "Okay Hathin would you mind giving her a heads-up on what's going on, I'll contact her when I get back But right now I need to do something This problems been nagging at me for days, and I'm feeling a little stir crazy What's the fastest way to get back to MegaKat City?" He asked, suddenly seeming perhaps a little hyperactive.

"I'll fill her in," she nodded and stood "The fasted way is by skimmership." She placed a steadying hand on his arm "But you'll need a certified pilot."

"Right And I haven't had a chance to bring my pilot certifications up to date here." He paused, and thought "Okay, how do I get a pilot?" He smiled "Assume I don't know much about how this place works, 'cause outside the ExoFrame Lab ... I don't." He said, carefully keeping in mind what Jake said about using what resources he needed to help Chance.

"You get a pilot by asking for one." She led him to her terminal "You can log in and just put in a request for what you need, and the reason/ timeframe Or you go with someone who's authorized to take it out, like Jake did this morning I'd recommend Janet as a pilot, as you need to talk to her anyway." Hathin smiled "It's part of the requirement for upper management We have to be able to use all the common equipment, especially the vehicles."

"What a handy way to cover two things at once, since you just looked at her schedule did she have anything on it currently?" He smiled as she tapped several things in. "I feel as disoriented as the day I got my promotion to Major. Whole new world it seemed."

"Not right now, and what she has the rest of the morning can be rescheduled as necessary." Hathin guided him outside to where Alex and Patrik were waiting "I'll show you to the nearest skimmer parking lot Janet will meet us there."

"Thank you, you've really made this a lot easier." He said quietly to Hathin, as he followed her.

He switched to a mental frequency with Alex and Rik. "*Guys, I've got a medical errand to run so I'll be busy for awhile Jake will probably be out of his meeting first, so try to keep yourselves busy and out of trouble till then.*" He thought clearly teasing.

"*You stay out of trouble too.*" Alex thought back, not teasing at all.

"You are welcome, just try to remember to breath correctly." She smiled gently at him as they walked through the hall "You're getting very wound up."

Nathan carefully pulled out a couple of his Jedi exercises and slowly brought himself to a calmer state. "I guess I am. I carefully buried all my worry about Chance before the Joining started, but it didn't really stop me from worrying it just kept me from seeing that I was. But I can't help him if I'm all bent out of shape."

"As hard as it is, a Healer must care for them self first, or there will be no one to care for the patient." She chuckled and smiled at him motherenly "You did know we have Jedi on staff? I know Master Khan would welcome the opportunity to talk to her own kind She may be good for you too, when you need a break."

Nathan nodded. "A lesson I've been hard pressed to remember at times, I often forget to care for me at all, much less first." He smiled "Master Kahn and I met in Joining, when she was helping with a small problem that came up I was planning on talking to her, there's a great deal I have to relearn since my memories were suppressed for so long."

"Sounds like you have a lot on your docket," she spoke softly "Please don't hesitate to ask if assistance would be helpful."

"I will, thank you And as for having a lot going, well considering that five days ago I wasn't even dating, and now I have a LifeMate ... I'd say things are actually pretty calm." He said smiling; still quiet amazed and how radically things had changed.

"Yes, and with probably the most difficult male on the planet to get to commit no less." She chuckled "And belated congratulations on your Joining I wish you both long, happy lives."

"Thank you." He said politely "But difficult to get to commit? I'm still not sure exactly, but I'm fairly certain he asked me." He said grinning "It was quite confused, I believe my mother had a phrase for it ... whirlwind romance."

"It's fitting somehow," Hathin chuckled.

"Hi Pat," Jake greeted her as he shut the door to her office.

"Morning," she smiled up from her desk and pushed her work to one side "Congrates with Nathan."

"Umm, thanks." He shifted uneasily "About that ... it changes a couple things."

"Not doubt," she nodded "What do you want?" She asked easily.

"Surname change ... to ThuaFaren."

Pakitra grinned and chuckled before bringing up a message blank to the Legal Department "Spell that."

"Capitol T lower H U A capitol F lower A R E N."

"And where for the honeymoon?" She arched an eyebrow.

Jake hesitated briefly "Felsinor." There really wasn't any good way to put it.

"How ... long ... do you plan to be gone?" Her voice was very low, and more than a little shocked.

"Indefinitely." He said quietly as he drew reassurance from his Bond with Nate, expecting things to become unpleasant since she wasn't going to be happy about his announcement.

"Whatever he's promising you is worth the destruction of this world?" She growled low in her throat.

Jake backed off, and his ears flattened. "Do whatever you would've done last year, if he hadn't saved me." He growled quietly "He didn't promise me anything, I'm just tired of fighting With him I've got a chance for a life beyond the battlefield." He said quietly, ears still back.

She stared at him in disbelief for a long time "You're serious."

Jake nodded, and his ears unflattened "Completely, I'm tired of fighting I want something different, and with Nate it's possible." He said his voice quiet, but no longer growling.

"There's no need to leave the planet," she spoke in some confusion "You never had to fight ... you asked for those posts Just step down from them."

Jake sighed, and shook his head "I was trying to avoid mentioning this, but when Nathan got abducted and brought here ... he was separated from his son Nathan doesn't know what happened and I promised to help him He didn't ask, he wouldn't.

"Once we're there I don't know how long it might be ... so indefinite was the only fair way to put it I was just trying to avoid revealing something that Nathan doesn't want anyone to know.

"Now that we're LifeMates, his son is my son We have to find him." He looked up at her, worry and concern tingeing his scent.

"I see," she sighed "Will you at least play the part of a concerned defender so we have a shot at getting some support from the ITA?"

"I'll play along." He said easily "I know the timing's lousy, but there are some things that just can't be put off." He said apologetically.

Pakitra nodded and stood with a tense grace, clearly unhappy but not combative as she walked up to him and brushed a hand through his cheek ruff "Before you leave ... spend a last night with me?"

Jake nodded with a pleased smile "Gladly."

"How much do you and Nathan need to do, personally, before you leave ... and what kind of timetable did you have in mind?" She shifted to a more business-like tone, though softer than most saw.

Jake considered "Me, well I need to talk to the squad, I owe them that Aside from that, nothing much Nathan mentioned he had to talk to someone before he left, didn't say who.

"Time table, we're waiting for a friend of Nathan's to show up with transportation; probably two weeks." He said quietly.

"Two weeks to change the world?" She chuckled and shook her head as she sat down "We've tried crazier, and won Is there any reason you have for not calling in your favors to put the Council in charge of things, and out in the open?"

"None that I can think of Think the Council is ready to be in charge of things?" He asked casually.

"Not particularly, but we are." She growled softly as she began activating the system "And face it, a united world government is about the only prayer we have at this stage without you around The resources freed up might make enough of a difference."

"Okay, then I'll do what I can to help set things up before Nate and I leave Do you have a meeting set up with the ITA to try and get support out of them?" He asked, being as supportive as he could.

"Not at the moment Considering your reaction to the last attempt, we both thought it a good idea to get a little better grip on the situation, so you wouldn't have to meet them again." Her fingers never stopped moving as she spoke "Making sure MegaKat City, Kahn Industries, and ShireTek cooperate with us is more useful right now ... and drop as much as you can of the stuff in your head into the database I have you have more than a few ideas on how to make things work that haven't been sorted out yet."

He nodded "I'll drop stuff into the database later in the day. Best to get a start on the big three right away." He said switching to operations mode.

"Thank you," she smiled and stood before he turned to leave "For luck, and a good future," she whispered before kissing him gently.

He kissed her gently on the cheek. "For all of us." He whispered before he left her office.

Go to Part 1         Part 2         Part 3         Part 4         Part 5         Part 6         Part 7        

A Triad Through Fire, Darkness and Death part 7 of 7

NC-17 for friggen Everything
Het Level is Low
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Medium
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

192 KB, Story is Closed-Unfinished, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written April 1, 2001 by Rauhnee Ranshanka, Todd McCall, Vorex and Lailokos

Setting: Galactic Alliance, SWAT Kats

Primary Races: Darshar, Felsin, God, Kat

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Abuse, Betrayal, Death, Mpreg, Violence

Pairings: Nathan SwiftClaw/Jake Clawson/Patrik Celest and many others.

Notes: Part of the infamous STD set of stories that began the monster that is Fur and Fantasy. This was the first spin off, and second story we ever started.

Once upon a time, on a list called SWATKats_Adult, a conversation resulted in Vorex posting a snippet to the effect of 'Chance as requested; fucked, abused and a little confused' and invited me to add the Jake parts to the series that would become Secrets Too Deep.

Around pt 7 of that, a nut case going by Todd McCall joined the fray and created a divergent timeline with me, which became this beast, Variant B. Known elsewhere as 'Secrets Too Deep: SWAT Kats Three' and 'STDB', among others.

Now the six of us involved in writing various variants have taken over our own list for it, because we chatter too much.

Originally released in 41 parts, it's now compiled for archiving.

Blurb: With the third SWAT Kat away at a medical conference, all hell breaks loose at the Yard, and getting his partners back together are the very least of Nathan's concerns soon enough.

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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