War Between Worlds
by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file
Javrin San'rik'el had lost track of how many times the sun had risen over the makeshift raft he'd cobbled together from the wreckage of his master's starship. His half-finished Jedi training had helped to keep him alive, despite his having lost most of his survival gear to the unfamiliar ocean. The only survival equipment he'd recovered was the hat and sunglasses to protect him from the sun, and the filter canteen to make fresh water out of salt water. Aside from those his primary concern had been to preserve his lightsaber and his master's, not that his master needed the weapon any long but it was Javrin's responsibility to return it to the Council and report what had happened.
Of course, Javrin had no idea how he was going to do that since he was stranded in the middle of an ocean on a world he did not know. He was sure he didn't know it because the stars in the night sky were completely unfamiliar. If he could figure out where he was, he might be able to devise a way home since finding what he needed was something Javrin had always found very easy.
His musing was distracted by a life presence moving near the boat, focusing on it he recognized it as one of the medium sized game fish that often traveled near the surface in this ocean. Extending his mind outward, he used the Force to lift the fish upward and onto the raft. Part of him worried that this might be Dark Side use of the force, but then the more practical part of him pointed out that this was merely part of the circle of life and that there had been no anger or other negative emotion involved.
The philosophical issue resolved, Javrin focused his mind on accelerating the molecules of the metal plate he used for cooking so that it began to glow red-hot as he cleaned the fish. This was one of those times when his youth spent growing up in a harbor town with an active fishing community proved useful, since most city folk couldn't gut and clean a fish to save their lives.
He chuckled briefly at the irony of that statement just before he noticed a shape on the horizon moving closer at a reasonably fast pace. His breath quickened as he realized that it must be a ship, and that could mean rescue from this never-ending ocean of blue with its not-infrequent storms. As it came closer he stood carefully, holding onto the makeshift mast and waved his hat in the air hoping to be seen.
"What're you doing out in the middle of the ocean, boy?" The captain of the super-freighter asked the strangely dressed blue-grey furred young tom curiously. The boy couldn't be more than thirteen or fourteen at most, and was dressed in unfamiliar brown robes. The burly grey and white tom wasn't usually this suspicious of shipwreck victims, but there was something here that didn't seem right. For one thing, the boy's robes barely seemed wet, as if he'd just arrived and yet the look in his eyes was what the captain was used to seeing in victims who'd spent weeks or longer on the open ocean.
("My transport crashed.") He explained, as he indicated with one hand something crashing into the ocean. He didn't understand the strange feline's language, but it seemed logical to explain how he ended up in the middle of the ocean. Picking up language by mind-reading was difficult at best, and he certainly wasn't at his most calm and contemplative right now. He was also very grateful that he was wearing the feline form from his mother's side, as opposed to the large canine form that was his father's legacy to him. Being a Ti-Can had its advantages, but the sometimes involuntary shapeshift wasn't one of them. Fortunately, his mother had been a Blue Cat from the semi-tropical region of his homeworld, while his father had been Malwolf from the sub arctic regions. The warm weather and humidity had kept him solidly fixed in feline form since he arrived and with his rescuers being feline, this was a good thing.
"Crashed, huh?" The captain nodded, reading the pantomime even though he couldn't understand the boy's language. That was odd in itself since the captain knew enough of almost a dozen languages to deal with port masters on both sides of the ocean. "How long ago?" He asked, tracing an arc across the sky, hoping that would be self-explanatory.
"Many days." Javrin explained haltingly, hoping he wasn't butchering the language totally.
"Quick study at languages, huh?" The captain smiled. "Good thing to be if you're going to travel. Well, I don't know where you were going but my ship is headed for MegaKat City. Maybe somebody there can help you get home. In the meantime, Conroy, my first officer, will show you to quarters and a hot meal."
"Thank you." Javrin said, adding a polite bow. He had only understood part of what had been said, but he'd definitely understood the room and food part. Both sounded wonderful, and drove all thoughts of just what to do next out of his head.
"You're welcome." The captain smiled back, and turned to head for the bridge as his lanky tan and white first officer took their rescue below deck. "Smythers." He yelled to the comm officer, as he entered the super-freighter's bridge. "Radio ahead to MegaKat City, and ask them to have someone from Kitten Services meet us. Our rescue can't be more than fifteen and I doubt he's that. Need someone to take responsibility for him, that city is no place to leave a kit unsupervised."
"Yes, sir." The calico female nodded crisply. "Any idea where he's from, sir?"
"Not a clue, Smythers." The captain shook his head as he computed course adjustments to get them back on schedule. "And that's very strange, I can usually place foreigners right away."
"Aye, sir." She nodded.
<< ---- Eight years later ---- >>
"Sure, Dr. Sinian, I can take your car to the mechanic for you." Javrin said eagerly, as always. He never minded running errands for the doctor, and this was no different. "Who do you take it to?"
"Take it out to Megacat Salvage and Garage." She said from under an artifact. "Callie recommends them highly. You'll probably have to leave it overnight." She added. "Let me give you money for the cab back."
"No need, Doctor." The steel blue-grey grad student said with a grin. "I'll just put my scooter in the trunk, and ride back."
"If you like." She chuckled, and slid her keys across the floor to him. "If you can get back in time, I'd like you to take the discussion section for Basic Archaeology today. It'll be good teaching experience for you."
"I will be, and thank you Doctor." He grinned, as he grabbed the keys and ran out to the car.
"To have half his energy." Abi chuckled, as she turned her attention back to the passage that was stubbornly defying translation.
"Yes, Dr. Sinian asked me to bring her car to you to have it looked at." Javrin explained to the large burly tabby who'd identified himself as Chance Furlong. "There's some serious lifter noise in the engine, the steering needs alignment and spark plugs need adjustment." He said easily. "The timing is slightly off on the firing."
"You a mechanic?" Chance asked curiously.
"Strictly amateur." Javrin chuckled, as he watched a smaller tom approach the car. This would have to be Jake, the partner that Chance had mentioned. "All the Doctor said was that it's noisy and seems to be using more gas than usual."
"That'd be the way a non-mechanic would see it." Jake chuckled. "We probably can't get to it 'til tomorrow; you got a way back to town?"
"Scooter in the trunk." He grinned and got out of the car, handing Chance the keys though his attention was more on Jake. "It's not fancy or fast, but it gets from point A to point B." He chuckled. "And I can park it in a closet."
"Given the parking downtown that's a definite plus." Chance commented as he watched the athletic tom expertly unfold the lightweight scooter.
"Well, the Doctor will probably call you tomorrow about the car." Javrin smiled. "I've got to get back, got a class to teach." He chuckled. "Nice meeting you, Chance, Jake." He grinned and drove away the scooter picking up speed steadily.
"Okay, who was that?" Jake asked curiously, as he watched the scooter go faster than he would've thought it capable of.
"Javrin Rikel, Dr Sinian's research assistant." Chance explained with a grin. "And you think he's cute." He added matter-of-factly.
"Well, he is." Jake grinned back. "And smart too, from what little I heard."
"Well, you know where to find him." The burly tabby teased playfully.
"Hey, Javrin." Jake's tone was low and easy as he leaned against the wall near where the blue-grey tom was working on a translation.
"Jake Clawson, right?" Javrin said casually, as he finished the paragraph he was working on. "Something I can do for you?" He asked politely, wondering why Dr. Sinian's mechanic would be stopping by the museum to see him.
"Yes," his smiled brightened a bit. "I was wondering if you were free for dinner."
"If you don't mind waiting." Javrin said apologetically, as he cleaned up what he was working on. "I'm due at Kendo shortly, but I'll be done there about seven." He said as he quickly packed his backpack. "I really do lose track of time working on a translation." He admitted sheepishly.
That raised an eyebrow and a bit of a grin. "Will anyone object if I if I tag along and watch?"
"As long as you're quiet and stay out of the way, I don't think so." Javrin said easily as he shouldered his bag. "Tonight is just workout and sparring. If it was an instruction or kata night, I would have to ask my Sensei first."
"I can do that," Jake smiled easily and fell into step with the lithe tom that was probably about his age. "Watching can be as good as practice on occasion." He added, though he kept the rest of the thought that it would be an excellent couple of hours of watching that beautiful body work at peak performance.
Javrin blushed light under his blue-grey fur, having inadvertently picked up a hint of what Jake was really going to be watching. Sometimes it was very irritating being only half-trained, and reading people had been his strong talent to start. He stopped at a large storage closet near the back entrance to the museum and pulled his scooter out of it. "Like I said, no parking problems." He grinned as he rolled the scooter-trying-to-be-a-motorcycle out of the museum.
"You definitely have a talent for machines," Jake nodded approvingly and settled behind Javrin as the lithe kat revved the engine.
"It's what I could afford when I was an undergrad." He chuckled, as they headed across town. "I've just been upgrading it piecemeal since then. Better engine here, better tires there." He chuckled. "You make do with what's available."
"I've very familiar with that concept," Jake chuckled and settled in to enjoy an unexpected chunk of time to get a good physical feel for the guy he was asking out. The hard muscle and warmth against his chest and under his arms only heightened his appreciation for the tom he already found appealing.
"With all those spare parts around your business, I bet you are." Javrin chuckled back, as he deftly weaved in and out of MegaKat City rush hour traffic. He seemed to have a knack for knowing where spaces would open up, almost before they did, something that didn't escape Jake's notice or curiosity.
"Here we are." Javrin said as they pulled into the underground parking space of one of the city's innumerable high-rises. "Dojo is on the tenth floor." He said as he pulled up to a caged in storage area, and unlocked it with a key. "Sensei's sister's husband owns the building." He added by way of explanation.
"So how long have you been studying?" Jake asked for idle conversation.
"Eight years with Sensei Shimonara." He said easily, before locking the cage behind him. "Four years with my first Sensei." He added quietly, not quite managing to mask the pain he still felt at the loss of his Master. Eight years and he still couldn't achieve any detachment from the emotions, which made him wonder if maybe the Council had been right and he had been too old to begin training.
"You started about eighteen?" He asked curiously after a bit of quick math in his head. "What got you interested?"
"My first Sensei bailed me out of trouble with the law." Javrin explained quietly. "He said I had great potential and offered me a better way if I studied hard and stayed out of trouble. At first it just seemed like a better deal than jail."
"I bet," he chuckled softly and relaxed against the lift's wall. "After a while it was something that just seemed to fit." He added with a soft smile.
"Yes, it did." Javrin nodded. "And my first Sensei was the father I never had." He smiled fondly, focusing on the good times. "If you don't mind my saying so, you seem overly talented for what you do." He commented, hoping to change the subject from himself as he worked on calming his mind for sparring.
"I know," Jake nodded with a half-hearted shrug. "Politics got involved. Kind of got me stuck where I am."
"Ah, politics." Javrin chuckled softly, though sympathetic. "The mirror image of common sense, as Doctor Sinian puts it."
"Yeah. Not that I haven't thought about doing something else anyway, but I really don't mind the work I do." He shook his head with a bemused smile. "It may not be all I can be, but it's easy work and gives me plenty of time to keep up on my other interests."
"I'm sure it does." Javrin nodded. "And as long as you know what you're capable of, that's really all that matters." He said as the door opened on the tenth floor. The younger tom led the way to a set of double doors which opened onto a large room where about a dozen kats, both male and female, where already sparring. Some were working with wooden swords while others were sparring with actual swords. "Wait here." Javrin said politely, indicating benches around the edge of the room. "I have to go check in with Sensei." He smiled, and headed across the room while Jake complied obediently.
A short while later, Javrin came back in dressed in a white karate uniform. Noticeable was the black belt with two red marks that Javrin was wearing. A slightly larger black and white tom wearing the same uniform only with a belt with three red marks followed onto the floor. His immaculately cared for sword was as sharp as any of Razor's blades and held with the natural grip of a lifetime in his hands.
A few minutes later, an older graying black tom wearing the same uniform but with six marks walked onto the practice floor, and all activity stopped as though switch had been flipped. All the kats on the sparring floor turned and bowed to the older kat with great respect before lining up into precise rows. Showing no signs of age, the Sensei lead them in a very demanding set of warm-up and conditioning exercises before the group broke into sparring pairs.
As Jake watched, it became apparent that this was Javrin's natural element. His movements were fluid and graceful, and his opponent was hard pressed to match him even though he appeared to outrank him. What was also evident was that Javrin's focus had narrowed to the width of the blade, without losing awareness of his surroundings. Several times the Sensei picked an item from the room and threw it at Javrin, only to have the blue-grey tom either parry the object or dodge it.
It was magic to watch. A display that literally took his breath away.
Jake knew how to fight. He was damn good at it, and made no bones about it. He could take almost any opponent he met and very few of them were a challenge. But in this room he knew he'd be hard pressed to win against several of the students, Javrin definitely included.
It was an interesting feeling; to know that if trouble started his civilian companion could more than handle himself.
To watch Javrin move in him element touched every nerve in Jake's body with a mixture of pleasure, awe and comfort that relaxed him as much as it turned him on.
The highly intense sparring went on for about an hour, with the occasional synchronized switching of opponents. And then there was the sound of a small gong, and the class smoothly moved back into straight rows and performed a series of cool-down exercises before heading out through the same door that Javrin had gone through to change in the first place. About fifteen minutes later, the students began wandering out, now in street clothes by ones and twos.
Javrin came out talking quietly with his Sensei who was now dressed in an Enforcer uniform with precinct Captain insignia. Javrin bowed respectfully to his Sensei before heading over to Jake. "Hope you didn't get bored." The freshly showered, and still slightly damp, tom grinned as he reached Jake.
"Not in the least," he smiled back and stood with more grace than he thought he'd manage given how much his mind was not on the present. "It's something else to watch."
"That's what I thought the first time I watched my first Sensei and his partner spar." Javrin smiled, as he began to relax from his combat focus into the present. As if seeing him for the first time, he began to appreciate the attractive tom who had invited him to dinner.
"Quite an eye-opener too," Jake chuckled and followed Javrin as the scooter was collected and they got back on the lift. "It's been ages since I've been in a room with that many people I'd be leery of getting into a fight with."
"Advanced martial arts classes are like that." Javrin grinned as they reached the parking garage. "That was Sensei's best students, and a number of them have law enforcement or military backgrounds."
"Given his job, I'm seriously not surprised." He nodded. "Swords aren't my thing, but I can appreciate having a mentor like that."
"He's very good." Javrin nodded, and then chuckled. "He's tried to recruit me and a few of the others who aren't in law enforcement a couple of times. I'm flattered, but I have reservations about the person he takes orders from." He said simply, as they left the underground parking garage and paused at the edge of the street.
"Yeah, I know." Jake muttered darkly. "He'd be a top-notch Commander if he didn't have so much of an ego involved in micromanaging. But if he's still got it now, it'll never get beaten out of him. At least his current successor is likely to be better." He added with a bit of honest fondness for the younger Feral.
"That seems to be the general consensus, among the Enforcers in class." Javrin nodded. "Sensei is quite guarded in commenting on the Commander." He said simply. "Was there somewhere in particular we were going?" He asked casually.
"That depends on whether or not you prefer to dance or have quiet conversation." Jake all but purred into his ear.
"Perhaps conversation would be better." Javrin replied shyly. "Dance I know nothing about." He admitted sheepishly.
"All right. How about Mickey's?" he smiled easily. "Its nearby and good food without too much rowdiness."
"Sounds good." Javrin nodded. "Just tell me where to turn, I don't happen to know where it is even though I've probably driven past it plenty of times." He chuckled. "I don't go out very often." He admitted.
"This I'm used to." Jake chuckled and easily directed them to the bar and grill. "Chance may drive, but I know where to go."
"I usually make sure I know where I'm going ahead of time." Javrin smiled, as he parked in one of the motorcycle spots. "But then, I usually travel alone."
"That may be changing," he purred softly. "And I bet you'd be good at dancing. You definitely have the natural grace for it."
"Thank you." Javrin blushed lightly at the compliment, before setting the security system as they walked away from the scooter. "You're probably very good yourself." He replied somewhat clumsily, and feeling quite self-conscious.
"I like to think so," he smiled at the tom about his size and cautiously slid an arm around Javrin's waist. "So what do you do in your spare time?
"Working as Dr Sinian's assistant, along with my graduate studies keeps me fairly well occupied." Javrin chuckled as he forced himself to relax after starting involuntarily at the unexpected contact. "Kendo and tinkering on the scooter are my hobbies. Well, that and keeping up with what's going on with the space program, when there actually is something there to keep up with."
"Would you rather I didn't?" Jake asked softly, indicating his arm as they waited to be seated.
"No." Javrin shook his head. "You just surprised me, that's all." He added quietly. He carefully suppressed his embarrassment at being surprised, since he should've been aware of the movement well before contact occurred. It wasn't as if Jake had been trying to be sneaky about it even.
Jake nodded and smiled slightly as the waitress returned and motioned them to follow her to a fairly private back booth and set their menus down. "Would you like anything to drink, sirs?" She asked politely.
"Milk," Jake nodded to her and sat down, giving Javrin the opportunity to select what side of the booth he wanted to it in.
"Milk as well please." Javrin said as he considered for a brief moment. Part of him wanted to be closer to the door, and the other part wanted to be able to watch the door.
"Two milks it is," she smiled at them and slipped away.
After a brief hesitation he chose the side that let him watch the door. "Nice choice, Jake." He said looking around at the decor and clientele as he sat down next to Jake.
"Thanks," he smiled and took the opportunity to scoot a little closer. "Any idea what you'd like?" He asked, leaving it open to whether he meant the menu or more in general.
"So many choices." Javrin nodded, leaving it open as to whether he was talking about the menu or more generally. "And not a lot of experience." He admitted thoughtfully. The menu itself was choices enough, as he usually cooked his own meals at home. Many of these things sounded good, but moderation and self-control was important. "Guess I shouldn't have done all those tune-ups for Dr Sinian myself." He grinned playfully.
"Nah, you didn't do any damage." Jake grinned at him. "That was M.O.W. damage, and an easy fix."
"Yeah, but if I hadn't done it myself Dr. Sinian would've had me bring the car in sooner." He smirked.
"I have to admit, that would have been a bonus." He rumbled softly and lightly nuzzled Javrin's neck.
"But my first Sensei believed very strongly that if you can do something yourself, you should." He smiled and leaned into the contact. "But then again, Dr Sinian never mentioned how attractive a mechanic she had."
"I'm not sure she'd notice." Jake chuckled low in his throat and straitened a bit as the waitress came with their milks.
"Have you decided what you would like?" She asked politely.
"The large chef salad with ranch dressing on the side." Javrin said easily. "And a side order of french-fries." He said going with what was basically what he'd fix at home, not counting the french-fries. He could feel the surprise in Jake's body at his choice, but the cinnamon tom didn't contest the choice.
"Surf and turf," Jake told her and the waitress smiled, nodded and left them in peace again.
"Surprised you, huh?" Javrin asked with a curious grin.
"Well, yeah." He chuckled a bit. "A salad lover isn't something I would have guessed."
"Only after Kendo." He grinned. "Lunch was heavy on the meat side. Just part of my workout routine. 'Sides, salad leaves more room for dessert and I liked the look of the dessert list."
"Mmmm, and here I was hoping you'd be desert," Jake chuckled softly and ran his tongue along Javrin's jaw.
"No rule against two courses of dessert." Javrin murmured back quietly, as he reached up one hand to ran a finger along Jake's jaw line. The gesture wasn't as fluid as his normal movements, even a little uncertain. Still it found approval as Jake leaned forward slightly to brush their mouths together very lightly.
"You can say no." Jake rumbled through a tight throat. "No obligations, no pressure."
"I know." Javrin said quietly as his jaw was kissed down to his neck and across his shoulder. "This is just unfamiliar territory." He admitted quietly. "It's been a while."
"Then I'll take it as gently as you wish," he breathed in the gray tom's ear. "Dinner is going to be interesting." He added with a chuckle.
"Assuming we actually manage to notice it." Javrin chuckled, as he relaxed and let himself take in Jake with all his senses. It had been years since he'd been this close with anyone, and there was something different about Jake. The grey tom was hard pressed to say how he knew or why, but he just knew there was something fundamentally right about Jake. It was like the one mercenary his Master had introduced him to, who had insisted he was no hero and yet his actions said otherwise. "And I know you will." He said with a quiet confidence and found his mouth claimed by a soft, hungry one that while gentle was almost all consuming.
It broke only when plates were set in front of them silently and the waitress slipped away again.
"You're very good at that." Javrin smiled playfully, clearly having enjoyed the kiss.
"I get a lot of practice with a certain tabby." He chuckled and kissed him quickly again. "Care to eat so we can go further than kissing?" He murmured hotly.
"Lucky tabby." Javrin smirked, and then picked up his fork. "The management would probably get upset if we went too far right here." He chuckled softly, though it was pretty clear that kissing was about as far as he wanted to go in public.
"Yeah, I'm sure they would," Jake chuckled and went to work on the grilled fish on his plate. "Though not nearly as far as Chance'll push it sometimes." He let a slight shiver pass through him. "What that kat can do to you fully dressed is criminal."
Javrin wasn't quite sure what to make of that, though his imagination made him blush slightly before he got it under control. He began to wonder if he was intruding on an established couple, even if Jake had been the one to ask him out. It was certainly something he shouldn't be doing in that case, but he wasn't sure quite how to ask without offending. "Are the two of you a couple?" He asked hesitantly after several quite forkfuls of salad.
"We're partners," Jake said easy with a light shake of his head. "Friends with extras. Neither of us are much on the idea of settling down anytime soon. You're not going to get into the middle of anything unpleasant."
"Good." Javrin nodded, and relaxed noticeably. "I didn't think so, but I needed to be sure." He explained quietly, before getting more serious about dinner.
"Valid question," Jake nodded and relaxed himself, though it was more to actually taste the excellent meal in front of him instead of imagining what it was going to be like to have the incredible body next to him in bed and all his.
It took what little training Javrin had had to keep control and not tense up under the mixture of apprehension and excitement that were running through him. Excitement at the thought of what 'dessert' would entail, and apprehension at the same thoughts. His bedroom experience was a solid mix of wonderful and awful and he had to wonder which this would be even as he knew what he imagined it would be.
The emotions and sensations he was picking up from Jake only heightened the excitement. It was very clear that the cinnamon tom was out for mutual pleasure, it all but radiated off him. And the way he kissed and touched ... it was as much about pleasuring as well as being pleasured.
"So what do you hope to go into after you graduate?" Jake asked with a casualness that concealed just how badly he wanted to deal with the stiffness between his legs.
"Probably take the Assistant Director position I've been filling as a grad student." He smiled, wishing that he could tell Jake his real dream, to return home. And yet, he was apprehensive about returning to the world he'd left as a child. He wasn't sure how the Council would treat him; after all it was only his Master's stubbornness that had gotten him admitted to training to begin with. And now he was over twenty and still barely half-trained ... he worried how they might react. "Dr. Sinian really does need someone in that job full time, and with some of the excavations under way currently there'll be some fascinating exhibits in the next three to five years."
"Sounds like you found your niche," he smiled warmly as the fish disappeared and he began on the beef. "Do you go on the excavations very often?"
"Sometimes." Javrin nodded, picking up a few fries. "Depends on what else is going on, and whether Dr Sinian is on an excavation. We really can't have both of us out at the same time." He chuckled. "There just aren't enough of us with the organizational discipline to keep things running."
"And as I remember, she loves being out on a dig." Jake chuckled. "I think she'd prefer if she never had to stay at the museum."
"Except that there are things that she has to do." Javrin grinned. "She is much better at university politics than I am, and the museums donors much prefer to speak with her directly. So she can't be on digs quite as often as she'd like, however, she'd rather run the museum herself than have to report to someone else."
"I can so relate to that one," Jake rolled his eyes. "There is something to be said for being your own boss."
"Perhaps." Javrin nodded. "I have no complaints about my boss though." He chuckled softly.
"Yeah, but your boss is nice," he snickered. "And kinda cute in an older shekat sort of way."
"And not everyone's boss is so nice." Javrin nodded. "Guess I just got lucky."
"Yeah, not everybody does. There are worse things out there, but a good boss does make life a lot easier."
"Even if she does have a knack for attracting trouble." Javrin shook his head. "We not only need security to keep trouble out, but to keep our exhibits from breaking free periodically."
"A facet to the job I don't think they get told before taking it." Jake couldn't help but snicker. "Or you'd never be able to afford them."
"According to Dr Sinian, they're pretty expensive anyway." Javrin said easily. "You can't get anyone to be a security guard without paying extra currently. Not that I blame them, since you never know where some nutcase like the PastMaster is going to turn up."
"Especially not in a place like that," he nodded. "You've probably got all sorts of his stuff he'll want back sooner or mater."
"Either him or some more mundane crook just looking to make a buck on the black market." He shook his head. "As hard as it is to believe there are private collectors who will pay top dollar for artifacts of that nature. And the big money types who really run the city have blocked any attempt to restrict trafficking in archaeological finds." He added with a disgusted tone. "Pieces of history being lost into hidden private collections just so some rich kat can pad his or her ego."
"Nothing new to that," Jake rolled his eyes. "It's not like making it illegal would actually change anything. Money negates all laws."
"At least if it was illegal there'd be some small chance of recovering things." He shook his head. "Of course, it's an open secret that the Ferals have one of the largest private collections around."
"What else would one of the richest families in the area have?" He shrugged, though his tone was bitter and more than a little hateful.
"Sore subject, I see." Javrin murmured, ducking his head sheepishly. "Didn't realize you had a history with them." He added apologetically.
"We were Enforcer before Feral booted us to the Yard." He explained quietly and as simply as he could.
"Ah, another case of the Commander's inability to manage people with real talent." Javrin replied quietly, and then cut himself off before asking what the military was doing running a salvage yard. "I can see where you'd be pissed at him."
"Only time I've been seriously tempted to kill someone personally," Jake muttered. "It didn't do a lot to me, but it nearly broke Chance."
Javrin was tempted to say that he doubted it would've kept the tabby down for long, but without explaining things he didn't want to yet, he had nothing to back that. "It looks like you did a good job of pulling him through it." The blue-grey tom said approvingly.
"Yeah," he smiled softly. "He's really worked to see this as for the best, or at least not the end of the world. Took some convincing, and he still gets bitter more often than I like."
"A good friend can pull you through almost anything." Javrin nodded, though it had the feeling of rote repetition with any real emotion. "It's a lot harder alone." He added in a quiet and somewhat distant voice.
"Just about everything is," Jake nodded quietly, and then nuzzled his companion lightly. "How about getting to a less depressing topic? We both seem to have plenty of pain to go around."
"A very good idea." Javrin chuckled lightly. "I don't think either of us was looking for group therapy session this evening." He grinned playfully. "So what do you do with your spare time? Aside from picking up archaeologists?" He grinned.
"I fix the Deputy Mayor's car, see what I can create out of the 'junk' in the yard, play with Chance, keep up in Aeronautics, Electronics, Middle Ages History, Mechanics, Physics, Space Flight ... and a dozen other subjects." He grinned lustfully. "Definitely play with Chance."
"Middle Ages History?" Javrin blinked in surprise. "Any particular part of the Middle Ages?" He asked curiously, clearly a bit surprised.
"Queen Callista's reign and the times before and after." He smiled slightly and scrambled for an explanation other than the truth.
"Fascinating period." Javrin nodded. "A brief period of civility in a very long period of chaos. Though she had the misfortune of ruling during one of the PastMaster's active times."
"Yeah, and her descendant gets to rule in another." Jake shook his head. "Talk about an unpleasant job."
"It's fascinating that the two are so similar in appearance, based on paintings from the period." Javrin said thoughtfully. "The odds against it are overwhelming. The only good thing is that, historically speaking, the PastMaster's active periods never last for more than thirty or forty years before something shuts him back down."
"Which means we only have twenty-five to thirty-five more years to go," Jake chuckled ruefully. "Unless we get really lucky."
"Well, I think he may push his luck one time too many taking on the SWAT Kats." Javrin said simply. "Sooner or later one of his plans will backfire on him big time."
"Or one of the other Omegas will get ticked off at him and do it for us." He chuckled darkly.
"Possibly, but they seem to take turns picking on the city." Javrin shook his head. "It's like they have a schedule for whose turn it is. Gee, can't invade on Thursday 'cause Dark Kat already has the day booked." He snickered sarcastically and made Jake laughed heartily.
"Oh, gods, I could actually see that. Scary thought, really."
"Would explain why they always seem to be rushing things." Javrin chuckled darkly. "Nothing sucks like having your Master Plan run over by someone else's. Especially if they're contradictory in some fundamental way, aside from the basic fact that they all want to be the psychopath in charge."
"Which only leaves the question: If one wins, what do the others do?"
"Probably try to take down the one who won." Javrin shrugged. "It's king-of-the-hill for psychos."
"True," he nodded thoughtfully. "Some sort of bizarre code among Omegas. Don't interfere unless they've actually won or something."
"Except when Dark Kat gets it in his head to do it," Jake shivered involuntarily. "He's managed it. The really freaky part? It really was Feral that saved the day that time."
"It was?" Javrin asked curiously. "What little was reported was a bit vague. And the Mayor made it sound like the SWAT Kats did. Of course, I think the Mayor finds the SWAT Kats a useful foil to any ambitions the Ferals may have to replacing him." He said thoughtfully.
"Even Ann Gora only reports bits and pieces," Jake shook his head. "You meet all sorts of interesting people as one of the best, and most honest, mechanics in the city." He chuckled low in his throat. "You'd be amazed what we get told by the folks who were there."
"Probably as interesting as some of the things I hear in class." Javrin. "Just enough Enforcers who can't avoid talking 'shop' in the locker room. Plus I hear interesting things at the high society openings the museum holds every so often." He chuckled. "Amazing the amount of wheeling and dealing that goes on under the guise of a social event."
"Makes sense, otherwise they'd have to spend resources countering each other instead of just undermining the city." Javrin nodded. "About as close as evil gets to 'working together'."
"I'm pretty sure it's where almost all of it happens," Jake shook his head. "It's where the people with money get together after all."
"Only the easy stuff I think, the stuff where they don't need gangs of lawyers and reams of fine print." Javrin chuckled. "And only between the ones who are on good terms with each other. Synder Pumadin and Anton Feral barely talk to each other at social events at all; they only do business in business settings." He said simply. "The tension when they're within arms' length of each other is quite amazing."
"Okay so they're the exception." He smirked. "It's not like they're people I'd want to know anyway."
"Actually, they were more of an example." Javrin chuckled. "But I have to agree, having met them is quite as much as I want to know of them." He shook his head. "However, since they're two of the Museum's larger donors I have to be polite to them."
"At least you don't have to like them," he chuckled and shook his head. "I have to admit I'm not at all sorry they don't come to the Yard for their vehicle work."
"As long as I'm polite, it doesn't matter what I'm thinking about them." Javrin smirked. "And I can't see any of that crowd letting anyone see them or their vehicles near a salvage yard." He shook his head. "They're so worried about their image."
"And Miss Briggs is the only one we'd do house calls for, but she doesn't worry about it."
"She's amazingly down-to-earth for the level of politics she's in." Javrin nodded. "Dr. Sinian and she have been friends for some time, though I think they tempt fate by having dinner together." He chuckled. "Given the trouble that one of them alone attracts."
"Not to mention the field day that the press could make of it," Jake snickered. "But, damn, that it a hot thought."
Javrin blinked. "That wasn't what I meant." He stammered apologetically, and blushed noticeably. He'd certainly never meant to imply a romantic connection between his boss and the Deputy Mayor. To the best of his knowledge they were just friends who got together to have dinner occasionally.
"Yeah, I know." He smiled. "I'm just in that kind of mood."
"Oh, of course." he nodded, as he calmed down and felt the blush recede. "It's just that I didn't want to be contributing to a rumor that already exists." He explained. "Of course, anyone who knows them knows that they're solidly monogamous with their careers." He snickered.
"Oh, gods, no kidding." Jake laughed easily. "Not that Callie isn't a hell of a flirt, but it's just in fun," he purred and leaned against Javrin. "But I prefer guys."
"I think I noticed that." Javrin purred back, reaching one hand up to gently brush Jake's cheek and found one finger encircled by a tongue and then drawn into Jake's mouth while the cinnamon tom pressed closer.
Javrin moved his finger out of the way as he moved to claim Jake's mouth in a passionate, if inexperienced, kiss that quickly got even more intense that the first one.
"I think we should get out of here before they call the cops," Jake rumbled deep in his chest. "I want to touch that fur of yours."
"Good idea." Javrin agreed easily. "Your place or mine?"
"Yours," he chuckled and let his hands linger before Javrin got up. "Mine has a good chance of a very sexy tabby showing up and wanting in."
"And as attractive as he is." Javrin smiled. "I don't know that I'm ready for a threesome tonight." He said, only half-succeeding in being nonchalant about the prospect.
"And I don't want to share tonight," Jake rumbled and pulled Javrin close before walking to the small cashiers stand near the entrance/exit to pay for their meal.
Jake drew Javrin after the small apartment's door was locked and kissed him gently. "Would you like this a low and gentle first time exploration, or hot and heavy action?" He asked in all seriousness.
"Slow and gentle would be better." Javrin replied softly, as he led the way into the medium sized living room that was full of pillows of varying sizes, colors and shapes which seemed to replace the usual couches and chairs one normally found. Jake simply smiled and drew him down into the pillow collection for a kiss even more heated than before.
"That I can definitely do." Jake purred.
"I thought so." Javrin rumbled back, as he let Jake take the lead. He figured his experience would show less that way, and besides he was curious to see what Jake considered slow and gentle.
It began with just those kisses; slow and passionate with gentle hands that explored without any real attempt to remove their clothing.
Javrin lets his own hands explore similarly, though they were less sure in their movements than Jake's. It was not something that seemed to bother the cinnamon tom.
"It is your timing, Javrin." Jake purred against his neck, his arousal clear against the younger tom's body as well as in his nose. "I will go no further than you tell, or show, me to."
Javrin thought about it for a short while, and realized just how far out of his depth he was. He sighed quietly, and then claimed another kiss. "I was hoping you could show me what it can be like when it's good between two toms." Javrin asked softly. "My last experience isn't something I want to repeat." He murmured. "And I trust you." He said with far more certainty than anything else he'd said as Jake looked down at him.
"All right," he finally accepted with a soft sound and another kiss. "Ready to show a little fur?"
"That far I can certainly handle." He grinned playfully up at the older tom, as he moved to take his shirt off and found the motions mirrored as perfectly as their different clothing would allow to show off well-groomed cinnamon fur covering a tightly muscled body that saw as many workouts in combat as in the gym or training grounds.
"You are a very handsome kat," Jake purred as he kissed his way down the lean, well-muscled chest covered by dense, soft grey fur.
"You saw a lot of combat, didn't you?" Javrin commented as he admired the lean, cinnamon kat. "And you're very handsome yourself." He rumbled, as he reached one had down to gently caress one of Jake's ears.
"You could say that," he admitted quietly and worked his way down to one of the dark gray nipples that peaked out from Javrin's soft fur.
Javrin's purr deepened at the attention, and he shuddered lightly in anticipation of the touch and gentle tongue that swirled around the soft skin until it was a hard pebble in Jake's mouth and lavished with even more attention. He shuddered and moaned softly and tried to touch Jake's shoulders and ears with a matching gentleness as the cinnamon tom worked his way lower until the kisses were halted by Javrin's belt.
"May I?" He purred softly, looking up from just over the gray tom's crotch with a hunger that was undeniable, and just as tightly held in check.
While he could barely nod, it was enough for Jake to open the younger tom's belt and pants and work them down, kissing along Javrin's thighs and calves as he moved. With the fit gray body on display under him Jake smiled and stood to give his playmate a good view of his own body being revealed.
"You will be a delight to enjoy," Jake rumbled as he lowered himself for another heated kiss, this time complete with the pleasurable friction of two naked bodies rubbing together.
"Mmmm, you are very handsome." He didn't know what else to say. His hands moved along Jake's flanks, unsure of what to do but enjoying the touch all the same.
Jake broke it off and kissed his way back down the downy-soft chest until he could ghost a breath over the half-erect cock. He turned his attention to the balls in his hand, working one, then the other with his mouth and tongue until Javrin squirmed with pleasure and arousal was the only scent in Jake's nose.
Only then did he move up Javrin's body again, rumbling when the hard length of flesh that tasted of the essence he'd been smelling for hours slid into his mouth and down his throat with practiced ease. His rumble increased and worked up to his throat as he went down on Javrin, intent on bringing him off as quickly and intensely as he could.
It wasn't a difficult feat, or one that took long. Jake murred and began to hum as the body under him tightened and the sounds of pleasure shifted to whimpers of the same. Even when Javrin's self-control slipped and he started to thrust into Jake's mouth, Jake took it easily and worked the cock with his throat and tongue mercilessly until Javrin roared and threw his head back with the first heavy spurt of come that shot down Jake's throat.
All through the whimpers and cries of raw pleasure Jake continued to suckle and lick and fondle until Javrin was well and truly spent. Only then did he let him slide from his mouth and slid up the panting tom's body for a heated kiss.
"Oh wow." Javrin rumbled, recovering quickly. "You are incredible." He added, claiming another kiss as he hands resumed exploring Jake's body, clearly feeling a little more confident.
"I'm just getting started," he chuckled and reached down to gently encourage Javrin to hardness again. "Think you're up for something a little more advanced?"
"Most likely." He rumbled excitedly. He gasped as Jake stretched out and rubbed their cocks against each other, then lifted himself upright to straddle his playmate.
He looked down at the gray tom with a smile and reached back to guide Javrin's cock against his ass, then into it with a single slide and moan of pleasure.
Javrin squeezed his eyes closed, overwhelmed by the intensity of pleasure in that tight heat for a moment. When he opened them Jake's expression matched the ecstasy Javrin felt from him. Without even thinking about it, Jake was making an erotic display of slowly moving up and down the hard length deep inside him.
It took what little control Javrin had left to keep from coming almost immediately from intensity of the display, as well as from the sensation of being engulfed in Jake's body. Slowly Javrin began to move in rhythm with the cinnamon tom so that he was thrusting up as Jake was moving down.
"Oh, yeah," Jake rumbled as he brought his muzzle down a bit to watch Javrin's face. "Touch me, handsome."
Javrin reached his hands up and began to gently explore Jake's chest and abs, spending more time rubbing and caressing the lean tom's nipples through his soft fur. The expression on Javrin's face was a mixture of ecstasy and surprise, probably surprise that things could feel as good as they did.
Jake's breath hitched before he moaned deeply and gently guided one of Javrin's hands to curl around his cock to stroke it. The instruction was taken easily and Jake shuddered again and his head fell back.
"Come with me," he whispered as his body tightened around Javrin's and the first powerful spurt of pearly come arched from him to splatter across Javrin's chest.
Letting go of what little control he had left, Javrin shot his seed deep into Jake's body with the first powerful spurt. Even as the spasms shot his seed into Jake, he continued stroking Jake's cock until the cinnamon tom's last drop was drained and they were both panting and spent.
"So," Jake smiled and slid forward to lie next to Javrin and drew him into a loose embrace and kiss. "A good reintroduction to guys?"
"Good would be an understatement." Javrin murmured with a slightly loopy grin. "Incredible would be more like it."
"Aw, we'll see if that assessment holds after you've had a little attention from others." He chuckled and nuzzled his playmate. "But I'm glad you enjoyed it. Sex is supposed to be good for everybody."
"You certainly make sure that's true." he grinned and nuzzled Jake back.
"Hey buddy!" Jake called out to his partner as he came inside to check their workload after parking his motorcycle.
"Morning, Jake!" Chance's voice boomed from underneath the SUV he was working on.
"So did you have as much fun as I managed?" He ginned and reached down to cop a feel before moving to the work list.
"You managed fun, huh?" Chance teased playfully. "He's not all seriousness then I guess." He snickered. "As for my fun, well we only had her neighbors complaining about the noise a few times."
"Only a few?" Jake laughed easily. "You must be slipping."
"That was just after we got to her place." he smirked. "We started the evening at really wild party a friend of hers was holding. And I do mean wild."
"Sounds like you didn't miss me," he grinned at him. "I think mine would have been permanently freaked if you'd joined us."
"Of course, I missed you." Chance grinned back. "You and her would've been a perfect evening." He rumbled lustily. "Your friend wasn't interested in a threesome, huh?" He asked with a curious wink. "Did you ask?" He chuckled.
"It came up," Jake shook his head with a slightly bemused expression. "But more my assessment that you are not the best choice for a first time." He leaned back against a tool bench. "That was a seriously weird moment considering how hot he was all through dinner."
"His first time?" Chance blinked in surprise. "Odd he didn't seem quite that innocent, usually it shows."
"Innocent he is not," he grumbled. "As he put it, it'd been a very long time, and the guy wasn't nice. No one, girl or guy, had ever even tried to make him feel good. That showed." Jake sighed a bit. "Which makes it even more amazing he invited me home, really."
"Sounds like he had a bad run of losers." Chance shook his head sympathetically. "Which is a shame since he seems like a nice guy, if overly serious." He added with a teasing wink. "Sounds like he'd gotten far enough from the last jerk to try again, or something."
"Oh, he looses that seriousness when the clothes come off," Jake chuckled easily. "I think he'll find you interesting when he's a little more sure of himself. You are not beginner's material, you know."
"Depends on the beginner," Chance smirked playfully. "But beginner's with bad previous experiences, probably not. I'm just a little too enthusiastic." He grinned broadly. "He's definitely cute though. Like you, only in a different color. You don't see too many of that blue-grey shade around."
"No you don't, and he looks very good with pearls all down his chest." He rumbled and turned to get a pair over coveralls so he could help with the workload.
"Damn that's a hot thought." Chance rumbled lustily, as he turned back to focusing on a stubborn bolt. "Think you'll be seeing him again?" He asked curiously.
"This weekend," he chuckled and flicked his tail invitingly. "And there are much hotter thoughts I could tell you."
"Keep that up and we won't get any work done." Chance rumbled playfully as he stopped working on the bolt to watch his partner and caught and even more provocative sway of his hips.
"And maybe I'd rather be very well laid by an experienced tom right now." Jake licked his whiskers and looked over his shoulder invitingly. "The day is young, you know."
"Well, I think I can handle that request." The burly tabby rumbled, as he got out from under the vehicle he was repairing. "So, shall we take it inside?" He purred deeply, as he came up close behind his partner.
Yes," he murred and pressed back against the powerful chest before heading towards their living quarters.
"So, Javrin," Abi Sinian smiled at her aid as he ate a quick lunch break. "Am I imagining things, or do you have something going on with Jake Clawson?"
He blushed lightly, at the unexpected comment, since he hadn't figured anyone had noticed. "I've been seeing him for awhile, yes." He admitted quietly, and there was a slightly bemused grin on his face.
"And he's been treating you well?" She smiled a little more warmly.
"Yes, he has." he grinned. "He's too much a good Kat not to." He added with sincere affection.
"Good," she relaxed a bit. "Think it's anything serious? I've heard he's very tight with his partner."
"They're not monogamous." Javrin said simply. "I guess it's just best friends who play together." He added thoughtfully. "As for serious, I don't know. I like him a great deal, but it's only been a month." He said softly. "Guess it comes down to, I'm not sure I'd know serious until it ran me over. Jake's the first person I've dated for this long."
"I have noticed that," she nodded and walked over to squeeze his shoulder. "It's good for you to get out a bit. If you want to talk about something, I'm available." She added almost maternally.
"Thanks, Dr. Sinian." he smiled appreciatively. "Nice thing is, he's someone I can actually talk to. He's probably about the smartest Kat I've ever known."
"So I've noticed," she nodded easily. "It's odd that he's doing mechanic's work with all he could do well at."
"That's what I thought." Javrin agreed. "I think it's connected to him and Chance getting booted from the Enforcers, but it's a sensitive subject so I don't push."
"Mmmm, yes," she agreed and continued into the workspace. "I can't imagine that went over well for either of them."
"No it didn't." He nodded, as he finished his lunch. "But I think the city lost as much in that fit of mismanagement as they did." He grumbled quietly.
"It wasn't the first time, and it's unlikely to be the last," she shook her head with a sigh. "Just look how he handles the SWAT Kats. They are the best thing that's happened to this city in years."
"His response to SWAT looks like unrestrained territorial behavior, pretty much." He said thoughtfully. "They're inescapable proof that his Enforcers can't handle everything, no matter what he claims." The grey tom added quietly. "And there's more than a few of his officers who think he ought to be finding a way to make SWAT official, instead of harassing them."
"I'm not surprised," she nodded a bit. "I bet quite a few of them think those two are former Enforcers anyway. Or they are official, just not officially." Abi added with a bit of a chuckle. "It'd hardly be the first black project that was in the public eye before it was admitted to."
"I suppose that could be true, but it seems a strange way of doing things." He shook his head. "They do good for the city, what would be lost by admitting they are official, if they in fact are?" He asked curiously. It was questions like these that reminded Abi that her assistant wasn't native to MegaKat City even if he had no discernible accent.
"Politics work in strange ways," she shook her head. "Black projects have their own laws too. There are a lot of reasons, very few make much sense to me."
"Ah, politics." Javrin nodded sagely. "That seems to be the root of many problems." He snickered quietly.
"Unfortunately, no one's figured out how to get rid of them," she chuckled in reply. "How's the translation going?"
"Pretty good actually." The grey tom smiled. "The real trick was realizing that that odd recurring character was how they indicated a space between two words. Turns a run-on string of gibberish into something much easier to translate." He chuckled. "Well, assuming my hypothesis about it being a 'space' is correct."
"If it works, use it." Abi chuckled and turned her attention to her own work.
The last of the robot troopers fell to mini-rockets from Razor's Glovatrix, leaving the battered and scorched Kat surrounded by piles of scrap metal in every direction. Most of the scrap was from the robots the enemy had thrown at them after the TurboKat had been shot down by the swarm of drone fighters, but some of it was from the TurboKat itself. As he looked around, Razor could find no evidence of the large armored mothership that had dispensed all this destruction, but more importantly there was no sign of his burly partner, T-Bone.
He drew in a deep breath to try and calm down a bit, then clicked the Glovatrix's comm. "T-Bone? You out there?"
All that answered him was static, singularly uninformative static. The only good thing was that he knew that the Enforcers were tied up dealing with a more mundane crisis on the far side of the city. He and T-Bone had been responding to that crisis when the black armored mothership had appeared out of a crackle of blue energy and opened fire on them. On an instinctive level, it had felt very much like an ambush.
Not that it had mattered, or would it have been the first time. He shivered to work some of the tension from his body and set the Glovatrix to track its companion. The negative lock created a rock in his gut. T-Bone's Glovatrix was either destroyed, or out of range already, which meant the tabby was on that mothership. It barely mattered if it was his idea or he was captured, that was a very bad thing.
As Razor considered the battlefield, he noticed a strange insignia that appeared on all of the robots. It seemed familiar though he couldn't place it at first, and then he realized where he'd seen it before. Part of the insignia appeared on an engraved crest that adorned the highly decorative box sitting so prominently on the mantle of Javrin's apartment.
The box that called to him in the way unique pieces of working technology tended to.
"Well," he rumbled and broke off a piece of metal with the insignia. It gave him something to focus on what he needed to do instead of the increasing level of panic in his gut. "Let's see what you know about that little box." He muttered as a plan began to form that gave away the fewest number of details as possible while still getting what he needed while he made as much of a systematic search of the battlefield as he could for his partner's body or evidence it wasn't here.
Javrin's latest, largely unsuccessful, attempt to meditate was interrupted by a heavy knock on the door. Despite the extra emotion and urgency behind it, he had no doubts it was Jake.
Still dressed in his martial arts uniform, Javrin forced an outward calm on himself as he opened the door. "Jake, come on in." He said opening the door all the way. "Is something wrong?" He asked, focusing on Jake's problems instead of his own and found the kat's physical condition a very good place to start. Despite a clear effort to clean himself up, not all the singed fur or battered muscles could be hidden.
"Have you caught the news?" Jake asked quietly.
"The giant armored craft attacking the city?" Javrin murmured quietly. "No need for the news, I saw it." He shuddered. "News is still sketchy on what happened, since the news crews were tied up at the PumaDyne R&D facility. Seems Dark Kat chose the same time to attack PumaDyne, as the armored craft did to attack the city."
"Well, the cleanup crews have started dumping things at the Yard already, and that second attack had this insignia all over the remains." He showed him the piece of metal and it's insignia.
"Interesting design." Javrin muttered non-committally, though he was curious why Jake was asking him. It seemed strange that he'd be running his own investigation. "Looks like a military insignia, probably like finding the MegaKat City flag on all the Enforcer uniforms."
"Yes," Jake nodded, then paused for a moment to see if Javrin would be any more forthcoming. "It also matches something you own." He pointed out and walked to the mantle to pick up the ornate box that had always been there and tapped the engraving. His hand, however, stopped short of the box as though a short-range force field surrounded the box and kept it on the mantle. It was enough to make him very curious what was in it and where it, and it's owner, were really from.
"Yes, there are some elements in common between the two designs." Javrin allowed uneasily. "This isn't just idle curiosity, is it?" He asked bluntly. "What's really going on, Jake? I may not understand everything about city politics, but I'm sure the salvage yard does not normally run investigations."
"No, we don't." Jake split his focus between the force field surrounded box and his new boyfriend, torn about what to address first. "But I'm still loyal to this city no matter how badly it's treated me." His face hardened a bit as he shifted to face Javrin directly. "Which means that I'll turn in a collaborator as fast as anyone still in uniform. I'm giving you a chance to explain first."
"Collaborator?" Javrin shook his head sadly, and sat down on a pile of pillows. "The insignia's are different for a reason. They represent two sides of a very bitter conflict. A conflict I haven't been involved with in over eight years."
"Well it's here now," Jake said more gently. "And anything you can tell us is going to be useful."
"They won't be back." Javrin said quietly. "That was just a raid. They were after something specific, and obviously they got it. The energy and difficulty involved in getting here makes invasion costly and occupation an administrative nightmare. And to be honest, there's nothing here that would be worth the cost of that kind of operation." He said quietly, and then something clicked. "But I think they do have a collaborator here, and he was here long before I was if the stories I've heard are true."
By then Jake wasn't listening though. He couldn't stop the sick tremble that hit him harder than anything in the battle or even after it.
"Where are they from?" He demanded with what was nearly as snarl.
"Without more information I can't be sure exactly which planet, but their territory is in the Draconis arm of the Paracelsus galaxy." He said quietly, reflexively edging away from Jake. "And I know that your astronomers haven't identified Paracelsus yet." He added softly, fear beginning to show in his eyes.
"And you?" He stepped forward to close the distance again, though it wasn't meant as the intimidation factor it was coming across as.
"I can't find Paracelsus from here either, but I was never trained as an astronomer or astrogator back home." Javrin admitted miserably, as he started to curl up in a corner. He'd thought Jake was different, but he was turning out like everyone else Javrin had ever let close.
Another step and Jake found himself rebuffed by an invisible field around the gray tom. He took a couple breaths to try to settle down.
"Are you sure?" He asked much more softly, though he was no less desperate for an answer. "Those ... what they got was my partner."
"Chance?" Javrin blinked in surprise and got a nod in reply. "Jake, honestly, just how good a pilot is he?" He asked quietly, thinking he might have an idea what was going on.
"Unnaturally good," he admitted without exaggerating. "He can make a jet do things physics won't."
"Not unnatural, just using rules of nature you aren't familiar with." Javrin said quietly as the box flew across the room and landed in his hand and Jake's eyes went a bit wide. "I don't have the training to be sure, but I'm guessing he was a Force-sensitive pilot. It's not an uncommon combination back home."
"Which is where he's headed now." Jake's gut ran cold.
"That would be my guess." Javrin nodded. "Probably to the stronghold of one of the Sith Lords. I'm guessing that Dark Kat set things up on this end."
"Which means the only clue to where I have to go will be with him." Jake nodded grimly. "And probably the only real chance at a ship too."
"Actually, what you need is probably near where you were ambushed." Javrin said, as he looked at the box as if trying to make some important decision. "To move something as big as a behemoth, it would have to be. And it won't be movable for several days at least."
"Okay ..." Jake looked at him and quickly decided that he needed Javrin's help a lot more than he needed to keep a secret that the gray tom had already apparently figured out. "What is 'it'?"
"It's a Tesseract Field Generator." Javrin said simply. "It creates the bridge between 'here' and 'there', and it's powered by an antimatter generator. If I had to guess, I'd say it's probably on board a shuttle in a bunker below ground. A shuttle would be small enough for the TFG to move here without a receiving station."
"Which still means breaking into a DK base, but not as bad," he paused to consider Javrin. "Any idea how to operate one of those things, or how to get a shuttle back here?"
"I know the general principle, assuming they haven't changed the design in the last decade." Javrin sighed. "I was even a decent slipstream pilot. As for how to move the shuttle, it flies. Probably a bit over-responsive if you're not used to anti-grav craft. Problem is, the TFG needs two or three local days before it's safe to move after it's used in bridge mode."
"Move as in locally, or move as in taking it threw its own bridge?" He worked up as many scenarios as he could.
"Move as in either." Javrin said firmly. "Move it before it's fully discharged and you risk the tesseract field leaking into the local surroundings. You could end up with some very distorted local topography at least in the short term." He shook his head and Jake grimaced. "Things like walking out of your bedroom and finding yourself in Commander Feral's office, for example."
"And just after it's discharged it'll probably be out of here." Jake grumbled unhappily. "This is so not going to be fun." He ran a hand threw his hair and paced slowly as he worked over the very few options he had.
Javrin was silent for a brief moment before finally coming to a decision. "Assuming you'll trust me, I can help you with this. I might be an archaeologist now, but I was trained as a warrior first." He offered uncertainly. "And I'm even a decent thief, if such skills should be needed." He smirked.
The words took Jake off guard, even before their content sunk in. He blinked at Javrin a couple times, and nodded.
"Thank you." He accepted the offer without any real hesitation. "I'm not sure which will be of more use, but short of taking the base, it's going to be a very unpleasant couple days in there."
"Fighting the Sith is always unpleasant." Javrin said simply. "But there are few options as far as getting from 'here' to 'there'. Trust me, I've been considering them for the last eight years." He shook his head. "Problem is that even if I had full technical specs on a TFG, the technology of this world won't support building one for at least another century, probably longer." He said as he opened the box, revealing two shiny metal rods about nine inches long. Both had the appearance of being carved and it was clear they were polished and cleaned often, if not daily.
"The first sword you trained with." Jake barely had to guess and was far to wound up to care how he knew what the objects were without even having a name for them. "Which still brings us back to getting the one that is here now, or pray that you are very wrong about the technology level available to me."
"My Master's lightsaber, and the one he made for me." Javrin nodded. "As for getting the shuttle that is here...we would first need to find the entrance to where it is being kept. How long has it been since you were attacked by the behemoth?" He asked thoughtfully.
Jake glanced at his watch and began to feel the weight of the hours of battle and searching. "Nine hours."
"So we've got at least thirty-nine hours before the shuttle can be moved. If Dark Kat thinks that no one knows about the TFG, he may not be guarding it all that carefully." Javrin said thoughtfully, trying to remember how his Master had planned such things. "After all, there are probably only three people on the planet who know that a TFG was involved and he doesn't know about two of them." He smiled.
"And whatever security whoever sent it here has for it," Jake added and rubbed his temples. "Not that either means a lot with DK. Getting into his base is always the easy part. It's finding it and getting out alive that's the trick."
"Finding it won't be hard." Javrin said thoughtfully. "It's having to hold the shuttle until we can safely move it that will be." The grey tom said quietly. "And you look like you could use a hot shower, a meal and some sleep." The younger Kat said seriously.
"You know something about finding this door I don't?" Jake looked at him curiously as he tried to think how it could possibly be easy to find one of Dark Kat's bases. "Pain killers would be a plus too."
"It's related to how I do this." He said as a quartet of pillows floated up from the floor on the far side of the room and began spinning in a precise pinwheel pattern to his friend's deepening frown. "How strong do you need the painkillers to be?" Javrin asked casually, as he considered potential sources and received another blank look for it.
"Over the counter's fine," Jake chuckled after a bit and tried to stretch abused and stiff muscles. "I just took a beating in that fight."
"Those I've got." Javrin smiled. "Those followed by a hot shower should help relax that stiffness." He added. "Be back with the painkillers in a moment." The grey tom said as he ducked into the back room.
Jake shook his head in bemusement and followed much more slowly while he considered what he now knew about his boyfriend. He had to admit; confessing to be a likely Omega class warrior was a hell of a show of trust. And as much as it rankled to sleep and all the rest that Javrin insisted on, it was a good idea. It wasn't as if he had much he could do without a little more help from the gray tom. His instincts had never led him wrong about whether or not to trust someone, and he wasn't going to go against them now, no matter how much he hated the idea. He just hoped that Javrin had a way to help him sleep in that bag of tricks.
"Here you go." The grey tom said as he handed Jake a glass of water and four tablets. "Normal dose is two, but I know four is safe and works better for serious muscle pain."
"Thanks," he downed with without bothering with the water, but after the pills were gone, his throat informed him that the water would be good anyway and for once he didn't argue with it.
"You're welcome, now for the hot shower." Javrin smiled. "And I know you know where that is." He smirked.
"I wouldn't mind an extra set of hands for my back," Jake smiled back even as he walked to the backroom, and for once, sex really was not on his mind.
"I'm not surprised." Javrin agreed easily, as he followed Jake into the bathroom. "You move like you really took a beating." He added sympathetically.
"Worst one I can remember outside of a bar fight I started way back before collage." He turned on the water to nearly it's hottest and stripped down painfully to reveal that the previously visible and carefully cleaned scorched fur were not the only burns he'd suffered, only the ones he'd taken much care with. "And back before I had any kind of combat training."
The movements left little doubt in Javrin's mind that Jake was likely black and blue under his fur already, a condition that would get worse in the next couple days. He was even more disturbed that under the rain of water, a few trickles of red among the cinnamon strands marked wounds that movement and hot water reopened. Trickles that Jake didn't seem the least bit concerned about as he closed his eyes and tried to relax his objecting body so the heat could do its job.
"It's a good thing we have time." Javrin said quietly, as he helped gently clean the burns and wounds that Jake hadn't tended previously. What he knew of first aid said that Jake needed more down time then he'd probably give himself. The kat could probably use a good doctor, but that was even less likely to happen.
"Thanks," Jake murmured as his eyes began to slip closed in a mixture of relief at the lessening pain and appreciation of the gentle touch of his companion. It wasn't quite like having Chance mother-hen him, but it was enough to make him realize just how much he appreciated, and desired, someone that cared enough to take care of him despite his occasionally suicidal risks for the city.
"You're welcome." The grey tom said quietly, clearly more than happy to take care of Jake. "Lets get you dried off." He directed gently, shifting the shower to a gentle rush of warm air jets while he used hands and a soft towel to carefully work the water out of Jake's fur. He wasn't sure whether he could be grateful or concerned that Jake was being very compliant.
"I don't suppose you know how to put me to sleep in that bag of tricks?" Jake's voice was low and a little slurred.
"No, but I have some prescription grade sleep aids that'll do the trick." Javrin chuckled quietly, wishing that he was half the medic his Master had been. "But let's get you lying down first."
"That'll do," he accepted in a completely out of character willingness to be drugged. A small part of him that was still capable of thinking wondered why he was so trusting, especially with Chance missing. It wasn't something that lasted long after Javrin helped him into the soft bed and gave him something liquid to swallow.
Javrin gently pulled some warm blankets over Jake, and settled into the 'protectors' vigil' mode that he'd done often on the streets when he was young. Even before his Master had taken him in, he'd been the one to look after others when they were hurt or sick. He tried to enter the calm state of meditative watchfulness that he'd been taught but his mind refused to be quiet.
He had no reservations about helping Jake, though helping Jake meant returning home and returning home meant facing the Council. The grey tom was very uneasy about facing them and reporting his Master's death. But the fact was that their best course of action to find Chance was to speak with the Council, since the Council had far greater resources especially when there was one of the Sith involved.
The Sith, even thinking about them, unnerved Javrin more than he like to admit. His last fight against them had ended with his Master dead, and him stranded on an alien world. What he hadn't told Jake and what worried him the most was that either Dark Kat was one of the Sith, or that his ally among them had left behind a Dark Force warrior to protect the Generator.
Javrin sighed, he knew that he should be controlling his fear and not the other way around. But that was a lesson he hadn't yet mastered when his Master died, and it was difficult to learn on his own. Javrin much preferred battles against outside enemies, because he knew how to fight those. Slowly he moved into the movements of one of the more difficult Kendo katas, hoping that stringent demands of the form would help clear his mind.
Jake groaned as his abused body objected to straddling his motorcycle despite the top-grade painkillers in his system. Javrin got on behind Jake, holding onto the bike so as to not put any unnecessary demands on Jake's injured body. He had packed a number of things he expected to need into a small backpack before they headed out. It could well be a long time before they got back.
The trip out to the salvage yard was in silence and gave much less indication of Jake's condition if you weren't right behind him and could feel the way his breath caught periodically on a sharp turn. Javrin could also feel the increased tension, and sense of purpose, that came to Jake as they neared his home and pulled into the huge chunk of real-estate and the extensive pile of broken machines that had been dumped while he'd been gone.
Javrin's quick eyes spotted pieces of the TurboKat in the salvage yard wreckage along with pieces of the destroyed Sith robots. But he didn't need his eyes to know the robots were there, as the Dark Force that had briefly been imbued in them was a presence he could feel in the Force.
He blinked as he realized that the dark signature wasn't the only one there. The bits of the TurboKat, and pieces that were less identifiable, resonated deeply with the Force. Not dark, but not exactly light either. Force bent towards a manipulative purpose that had little innate nature beyond what had rubbed off after years spent with an intensely good kat.
"That explains a lot." Javrin murmured quietly, mostly to himself. SWAT being a team of force-sensitives, even if untrained and unaware, explained why they succeeded against staggering odds. It also added an element of additional risk to going up against the Sith; they would be far too eager to get their hands on technologically oriented force-sensitive.
"Explains what?" Jake glanced over his shoulder after he cut the engine on his bike.
"Explains why SWAT was so successful." Javrin smiled as they got off the bike and headed inside. "A Force-sensitive combat team, even without training, has a powerful ally." He chuckled.
"Force-sensitive?" Jake frowned at him and opened the door to the waiting room. "You're going to have to explain this better at some point soon." He added after a glance at the answering machine and noted that there were no messages with a mixture of relief and regret.
"Agreed, but it's not a simple topic so probably better to explain it when we have more time." Javrin nodded, as he followed Jake inside and was led towards the back and a hidden room with an equally hidden hatch that led to a ladder down. All of it protected by Jake's handiwork, something Javrin found both fascinating and a little disturbing. The level of paranoia it represented was not healthy.
Perhaps not healthy, but given the unfathomable attitude of Commander Feral, it was both necessary and understandable. It reminded Javrin of worlds where being discovered as a Jedi was quite hazardous to ones health.
He blinked a couple times as eyes adjusted to the dimmer light of what could only been described as a hanger, vehicle R&D lab, commander center and training zone all wrapped into one. They were immediately drawn to the huge hole where he was sure the TurboKat normally sat.
"Come on," Jake motioned to him to follow the lean tom into the depths of the base.
Javrin followed in silence, amazed that two Kats even Force-sensitive ones, had mention to construct a facility of this magnitude without anyone being aware of it. Of course, it was possible that the hanger had already been here, though that begged the question of who would put an underground hanger under a salvage yard.
Or a salvage yard on top of an underground base.
His attention was then drawn to Jake, and the heavy security on the room they were about to enter. The door didn't even have to open fully before he realized why. This was their armory.
One look around reinforced Javrin's belief that Feral had been a fool to lose this kind of talent. But such foolishness was hardly unique, as leaders more interested in hierarchy than results seemed to be a feature of the universe; even the Jedi had their share of them.
"Take anything you think might be useful," Jake instructed quietly as he began collecting his choice of gear, a much more potent selection than he normally used, but still lightweight. "Body armor is in that locker," he waved in the generally direction of a closed set of metal doors.
"Thank you, but I don't use armor." He said simply, as he quickly changed from MegaKat City Street clothes to the robes he had brought with him. Brown in color and lightweight in material they seemed to be designed for maximum speed and agility in combat.
The statement earned him a displeased look, but no actual argument as Jake pulled out what looked like a nearly-normal SWAT uniform, though it was a bit more stiff where the body didn't bend. "Are you going to use anything but that energy-sword?" He asked evenly as he suited up.
"To be honest, I've never actually used anything else." He admitted a little sheepishly.
"You ... it's enough to go into a high-tech fight we're facing?" Razor asked, more concerned than disbelieving.
"Jedi knights have been going into battle for millennia with nothing more." Javrin nodded. "And we've been a high-tech society for most of that." He explained. "If you had a combat simulator, I could show you what I mean."
"We do," he nodded, but turned to dig a slender bracer from the equipment on packed shelves instead. "Just humor me?" He offered it. "Comm, tracking, a small personal shield, cutting laser and a few other tools."
"Very well." Javrin nodded easily, putting the bracer on under the sleeve of his robes. "Though a cutting laser is very redundant. There are few materials that a lightsaber will not cut." He smiled in quiet amusement.
"I didn't build it knowing those things existed," Razor pointed out, then pulled Javrin close and kissed him with all the fear in him turned to fire. "I've lost one partner today, Javrin." He murmured and rested his forehead against Javrin's. "Don't make it two."
"Sorry, I was trying, unsuccessfully, to lighten the mood." He admitted softly. "And I do understand. The last mission I was on, I lost my Master, who was family, teacher and best friend all in one." He said softly, putting his arms around Razor.
"Sorry," he tried to chuckle. "Humor isn't my best subject. Can you fly a helicopter?"
"Not mine either, as I just demonstrated." Javrin shook his head. "And I've yet to find something I can't fly. It all comes quite naturally, though back home the helicopter is something you only find in an aviation museum."
"There's a jet too," Razor chuckled and guided him into the hallway again. "The HoverKat, Thunder Tuck and Cyclotrons too for that matter. I just figured the ChopKat would be the best choice. It's easiest to send home."
"A reasonable choice then." Javrin nodded. "It has taken some getting used to, having technology I grew up with be non-existent and tech I'm used to seeing in museums be commonplace." He smiled weakly.
"I know," Razor nodded. "Try getting dropped into the Middle Ages, or the time of the dinosaurs." He added with a bit of a smirk and led the way to the helicopter that was all sharp angles and SWAT Kat design. "I can fly, I was just wondering if you were any good at it, since you mentioned being a pilot back home."
"I'm acceptable, though I have little experience." Javrin admitted and climbed in the passenger side of the chopper. "I'm better with starships."
"Afraid those are in very short supply around here." Razor sighed as he ran the pre-flight check and powered up the ChopKat.
"I know, I've been looking for one for eight years." Javrin agreed easily. "Almost got myself admitted to a psych ward when I walked into the airport and asked where the shuttle to the starport left from."
Razor couldn't help but snicker as the roof opened above them and they lifted off. "I can only imagine. Not a normal question around here."
"It was an educational few months to say the least." Javrin said thoughtfully. "Kind of like the last month or so." He smiled fondly at Razor. "But not as much fun."
"Thanks," he reached one hand over to squeeze Javrin's lightly. "How close can you get us to that door before I land?"
"Depends, I won't really know till we're fairly close to the battlefield. And I might not get us the door necessarily. It could just as easily be an air vent or some other access point." He explained.
"That'd be better, actually." He chuckled softly as they swept over the terrain towards the warehouse district that was still smoldering.
Javrin closed his eyes and began to reach out with his other senses, looking for the traces of Darkness that would mark the shuttle's location. It was difficult, but finding what could not be seen was something he'd done instinctively without training. Suddenly he had a flash of blood and bone in large quantities. "Look for a meat packaging facility." He instructed quietly.
Razor nodded and brought up a map of the city. Three locations flashed at them. "Start with the closest one to the battle, or another?"
"Closest one to where we are now." Javrin said easily and Razor nodded again before swinging them to one side and landing in the parking lot outside an abandoned plant.
"Open search or can you lead the way?"
"There's an access hatch in the basement." Javrin explained as he got out. "They needed it to get to the communications relay on the roof."
"All right," he stepped out of the ChopKat to study the building before moving in as the helicopter took off.
The building was four stories high and seemed reasonably undamaged by the fighting, which is more than could be said for several of its neighbors. Inside it was what it appeared to be, a meat packing plant though it was currently idle. Through rows of hanging carcasses, a door labeled 'basement' could be seen.
The entire situation was enough to give Razor the creeps, but he glanced at Javrin for place the gray tom and checked the door to see if he'd have to pick or disarm it. It locked, and closer examination determined that the normal keylock had been replaced by a thumbprint scanner concealed in what appeared to be a non-functional light switch next to the door.
"Great," Razor muttered to himself and made quick work of bypassing the security system to open the door and made a quick visual scan beyond it for targets before motioning Javrin to follow him.
Javrin nodded and followed Jake down the dark, confining stairs into the basement. As they reached the bottom, he had a sudden sense of something dark and malevolent waiting below. "Watchdog." He whispered softly to Jake. "Big one." He added as the reached the base of the stairs in darkened basement.
Razor nodded and flicked his visor to infrared and prepped a trank dart for it in his Glovatrix.
The signature on infrared looked very familiar, assuming you accepted a creepling that was about Jake's height with Chance's burly build. And the malevolent red eyes that glowed in the dark were a new touch as well. It all added up to a new critter, one that got a trank dart square in the chest with enough drugs to drop a dinosaur.
"Dark Force manipulated." Javrin commented after taking a look at the strange creature collapsed on the floor. "Probably a gift from the Sith Lord." He added before looking around carefully. "Access hatch is in the boiler room. That way." He said pointing toward the far door.
"You are going to have to tell me how you do that." Razor shook his head in a bit of frustrated amusement as he headed where Javrin indicated, careful for more guards and traps along the way.
"When we're not pressed for time." Javrin nodded as he followed Razor through the door, once the cinnamon tom had bypassed another security system. Inside was the boiler room which seemed normal enough, except that it wasn't uncomfortably hot, the way one would expect a boiler room to be. "Door to the hanger is here." The grey tom told Razor quietly, indicating a plate on the side of the boiler.
Another security system, this one handled with more care for the heat, and the plate slid aside to show them a passage leading downward into the darkness. Razor took a breath and moved forward, careful for traps in the darkness that even his visor HUD might have trouble finding.
The passage opened into a large reinforced concrete bunker contained a large, bulky looking craft about the size of four large tour busses, which was connected by a large number of cables and hoses to the walls of the bunker. There was a constant throbbing hum that sounded like a large engine idling which filled the room.
Before Razor had fully taken in the room and ship, a turret dropped down from the underside of the shuttle and opened fire. In an instant, Javrin was in front of Razor deflecting the bright green blaster bolts with the glowing gold energy blade of his lightsaber.
The SWAT Kat didn't think, he rolled and fired a mini-missile dead on target. The mini-missile impacted and exploded on an invisible shield that seemed to surround the shuttle. "They've put the particle shields up." Javrin explained. "You'll need an energy weapon or a projectile moving slower than most slugthrowers."
"Fine," he muttered and dove out of the way of another series of blasts, trying to make it as easy on Javrin to protect them while still doing his best not to need protecting as a small crossbow snapped into form from his Glovatrix and was fired. A fraction of a second after it lodged in the side of the turret, both exploded from the charge in the bolt.
"Nice." Javrin smiled as he switched off the lightsaber. "I think that was an automated defense system. Entry hatch is there." He said pointed to a door on the side of the ship just beyond the smoking turret and followed Razor in.
"Nice work yourself," Razor nodded in fresh appreciation of how combat-capable his companion was.
"The TFG will be back near the engine compartment." Javrin said quietly, as they entered the ship. "Which should be that way." The grey tom added as they moved through the ship, that while high-tech beyond anything Razor had see, looked like it had been in service for decades.
"Can you tell how long we'll have to hold this thing before we can move it?"
"Once we get to the Generator I'll be able to tell." Javrin nodded as they climbed up a ladder to the next deck. "Hopefully not too long."
"Yeah," he nodded and followed the tom who had a clue about this place that made the inventor in Razor drool with the prospects of getting his paws on it with some time to look around.
"Should be in here." Javrin said as he paused at a door, before opening it slowly to reveal a large piece of very complicated, high tech machinery sitting in the middle of the room with wire, cables and hoses coming out of it. "This is the TFG." The grey tom said as in walked up to the control console. "Looks like it should stabilize in about half an hour. Maybe we ought to go forward and check the command deck."
"We need to clear the entire shuttle," Razor nodded. "Can you pull up a schematic of it from here?"
"Yep." Javrin nodded, as he quickly brought up a 3D holographic schematic of the shuttle, about half of which was cargo hold and engine compartment. "From the command deck, the internal sensors will let us see if there's anyone on board."
"Even better," he nodded and committed the schematic to memory. "Any reason not to take the direct route?"
"We should go around the cargo hold, but otherwise I think the direct route works." Javrin nodded. "Good thing is, looks like she's fully fueled and in good working order."
"Good," he nodded sharply. "Let's go."
Chance's cell might have looked like a jail cell back home, but the manacles he was wearing definitely weren't. Though lighter than they looked, he knew from experience that they became binders at the touch of a button on any remote that most of the guards seemed to have. They also sent excruciating waves of pain searing through him if he got within a foot of the bars to his cell. Though no guards were currently visible, the array of security cameras made it quite clear that he was being closely watched.
A couple of hours after his last examination by the ship's doctor, an insectoid about his height who reminded him uncomfortably of one of the cikata, the door to the cell block opened and a Coyote Kantin came in carrying a covered tray. He placed it on a shelf in the middle of the bars of the cell and it slid through the force field and then floated over to land on a shelf that slid out of the wall near the bunk. As the cover retracted Chance could see a large mug, a plate with something he didn't recognize but which smelled quite edible, and silverware.
"Meal time, Stripes." The guard said loudly enough to make sure Chance would've heard him, even if asleep.
As much as he liked the idea of being as difficult as possible, his stomach had other ideas at this point and he sat up on the bunk with only a little grumbling to eat what he was offered while he tried his best not to think about what could be in it besides food.
"Don't worry, it ain't poisoned." The Coyote laughed easily. "Or drugged for that matter. Our employer wants you alive, and she's not one you cross, unless you have a death wish."
"Sounds like the guys I've made a career of trouncing." The tabby almost smirked. As bad as this situation was, it was so far from as bad as he'd been in it was almost laughable. At least he was still on the same planet, same dimension, same time ... all that fun stuff that made it hell for Razor to find him wasn't a factor.
"I doubt you've ever met anyone like her." He chuckled. "Your homeworld showed no signs of Sith presence."
"And that's supposed to scare me?" Chance snorted. "There's always something nastier out there than what you've met."
"Pretty much true." He nodded. "And no, I don't expect it to scare you. Your psych profile says you're way too stubborn to be scared by mere words."
"So what's she want me for?" He asked almost casually between bites. "And does 'she' have a name."
"Her name is Darth Keira, and as for what she wants you for, well I've been trying to figure that out myself." The Coyote said, leaning casually against a wall. "She went to a lot of expense and trouble, hiring one of the top hunter outfits in four galaxies to grab you from the far side of known space. And she paid that local contact, Dark Kat, pretty well for his help as well."
That raised both Chance's eyebrow and his hatred on several levels all at once. "Well, it seems she has some respect for what she's after at least." He actually chuckled, more than a little amused by the amount of effort that had been described, even if he didn't believe most of it was true. "Assuming you got the right Kat, of course."
"Oh, we did." The Coyote chuckled. "Compared your DNA to the sample Dark Kat provided before we left the battlefield. We don't make that kind of mistake."
"If you trusted Dark Krud, you can," he smirked. "And if you don't know what else could go wrong, I'm not about to tell you."
"Well, physical profile and the fact that you're the SWAT pilot also matches our the information that Keira provided on the target." Coyote shrugged. "And of course, other things can go wrong. We handle them. As for trusting Dark Kat, well he's got no reason to double-cross us. We're not interested in his territory, and he can't get to ours."
Despite the words, Chance couldn't help the small, knowing smile that crossed his face. This Kantin was a real talker, and even more clueless than most. "As if he needed a reason to cross you." He chuckled softly. He couldn't help but be grateful he really was the target. It left Jake free and unaccounted for. A common mistake with a common result.
"I take it weirdness isn't the norm where you're from?" Chance continued conversationally.
"Weirdness is all relative." Coyote chuckled. "Heck, the drive system that got us to your world and back is just about solid weirdness. Most scientists can't even agree why it works. But after watching starfighters engaging in dogfights with witches on dragonback, not much seems seriously weird."
"Who won?" Chance cocked his head, more than a little amused that he'd done that.
"The witches, but it was a close fight." Coyote shook his head. "Idiot general forgot that the witches could cloud the pilots' minds. Even the best pilot can't fight effectively when he can't trust his senses."
"Idiot generals are what usually loose battles," he chuckled a bit. "Best reason out there not to follow one."
"That's why I'm a freelancer." The Coyote agreed with a grin. "It pays well, and I only have a very short chain of command to deal with."
"So what's this Sith everybody's skittish about?" Chance asked in honest curiosity.
"Aside from being highly skilled warriors, they command a power known as the 'Force' and there's not a lot of limits on what they can do with it." The mercenary explained. "Toss enemies around a room with a gesture, control minds and throw bolts of deadly lightning are just a few of their tricks. The lightsabers are nothing to sneer at either, they can deflect weapon fire or slice an enemy clean in half."
"Nothing new there," he nodded thoughtfully; even if some was, it didn't sound all that unusual. "Nasty, but not that unusual."
"They don't really come across properly in description." Coyote shrugged. "But your local fellow, Dark Kat, is a rank amateur when compared to one of the Sith."
"He's neither a warrior or a mage-critter," he pointed out and leaned back. "But I agree with the amateur part when it comes to plotting."
"No, he seems more like an inventor trying to play conqueror." Coyote chuckled. "And I doubt he'd know what to do with that city if he ever actually managed to gain control of it."
"Probably not," he nodded. "So do you have a name, Coyote?"
"Spartan." He said easily, figuring it was harmless enough. "How about you, Stripes?"
"Chance," he replied with a very curious look. "You have a psych profile and not my name?"
"I never actually saw the profile, but our data thief did." Spartan chuckled. "He told me you wouldn't believe the truth about the situation and that you were too stubborn to be scared."
"I've been in worse," he shrugged. "And I'm still around."
"I'm not surprised, since there's a lot of things worse than a jail cell where people have a vested interest in keeping you alive." Spartan grinned. "Jail cells were they don't care, for starters. I've seen a few of those."
"Yeah, there are those," he nodded and relaxed on the bunk so he could watch Spartan. "And there's being stuck in another time or parallel dimension ... or getting turned into a frog."
"So that's why there's Frog DNA in your profile." Spartan chuckled. "Now that is weird. And I've met a few planets that are as bad as a parallel dimension, and a few that seem to be another time." He shook his head. "Hephaestus 240 comes to mind. The planet has a permanent case of the Middle Ages, or at least the fantasy version. It's got knight, castles, dragons and all the rest. They also believe that anything more technological than basic mechanical devices is evil."
"I know some folks who would love it," he chuckled a bit. "The difference with a whacked out planet is it's a hell of a lot easier to get off of it. You try getting home when you weren't the one who created the portal to a time before intelligent life. Then the time he dragged us to the future to fix his mess. Getting to watch yourself die before it happened was weird," he chuckled and shook his head. "Then there was Mutilor. He was actually kinda fun, even if it was seriously freaking everyone out when he stole our water. And the Amazon chick with tech Razor hadn't made work yet. Then there was that gadget that made all technology stop working. That was so not fun. Drove Razor nuts. At least it wasn't at the same time as the giant scorpions or volcano god showed up. Or when we were stuck in that alternate dimension where we were the bad guys or when Zed attacked." He grinned at the Coyote.
"Yeah, that would be a bear." Spartan nodded, a touch surprised anyone had survived that much. "Think I'll stick with the marauding Ancient War Machines we have around here."
"I hope you get the choice," he half smirked and winked. "That kind of thing tends to find me. That was just the highlights of our second year."
"Considering you managed to attract Darth Keira's attention, I believe it." Spartan shook his head and tried not to think about what this creature was to have such a life and still be living it. That assumed, of course, that he was being told the truth. He'd worked with mercs long enough to know that most of them loved to spin a good yarn about their missions, hell he'd done it himself occasionally. But then again, it was a big universe and anything was possible. But still, he did not envy the feline ending up on the wrong end of Darth Keira's attentions.
"So," Razor leaned back in the cockpit and watched foreign stars rush by in a brilliant display that on another occasion he'd be fascinated in. "What will they do with me?"
"What will who do with you?" Javrin asked curiously, as he relaxed during real-space flight time. He'd forgotten how tiring slip-piloting could get, and this route was rarely used, so it was difficult.
"Your friends," he inclined his head at the robes the Jedi were wearing. "You've got a war going. What happens to a Force sensitive who has no intention of joining their side?"
"Actually, there are a lot of Force sensitives who aren't on either side." Javrin said simply. "Especially people who never discovered the talent until they were too old to begin the training. Both sides try to identify talented individuals when they're very young, but there's just too much space to cover."
"Not a very effective way to wage a war," he frowned, uncertain whether they were really that weird, or if they just didn't like to tell the trainees the truth.
"It's complicated." Javrin said quietly. "And the war isn't your typical war. Neither side can really win, because the whole has to remain in balance. Neither Light or Dark truly dominates for long. But the training really doesn't take well as people get older, they have to much to unlearn to manipulate the Force well."
Razor cocked his head and regarded the tom in the pilot's seat for a long time. "No, that is not your typical war." He agreed and bit his lip to keep from added that it was categorically the most stupid thing he had ever heard of doing.
"And of course, there are your typical wars occurring in the same area." Javrin shook his head. "The Jedi and the Sith aren't the government in most places, so you have the usual territorial fights to contend with."
"Politics may get bigger, but rarely any better." He sighed. "So are your friends really likely to help?"
"I believe so." Javrin nodded. "What the Sith are up to needs to be investigated in any case, which is as good an excuse for a rescue as any." He said easily. "Which is a good thing since it's a big universe to find one Kat in."
Razor nodded and fiddled with his hands, uneasy about this now that he had time to think, and think of everything that could go wrong. Especially the possibility that he'd have to choose between his partner and the Kat trying to help him. It wasn't a pleasant thought after watching Javrin in combat.
Javrin stared out into space, trying to let the streaming stars relax him as they used to when he was younger. He'd forgotten how complicated politics at home were. He just hoped there hadn't been some destabilizing political shift back home, and that the Council would be willing to help.
"How could Chance be worth all this money and effort?" Razor asked in the silence. "How could anyone out here even know about us?"
"I'm guessing Dark Kat managed to make contact with one of the Sith." Javrin hazarded carefully. "Probably by accident since I hear he's something of an experimenter."
"That he is," Razor nodded reluctantly. "And he's not afraid of anything," he shook his head and stared at the viewscreen again. "How long before we get to where we're going?"
"Another three streams till we reach Republic space, and then probably another Stream to reach Coruscant." Javrin estimated. "Time is hard to say precisely, since how long streaming takes is factor of how often the path is used, combined with the skill and experience of the slip-pilot. But probably not more than a couple days."
"Is there a library database or something in this thing so I can read up on your universe?" He asked quietly, aching at how long that was.
"Should be something." Javrin nodded, and walked over to the console. "Of course, the computer doesn't speak your language. Give me a few hours to teach it." He said, and then sat down in front of the computer while Razor settled nearby to watch ... and listen.
"Thanks," he smiled at Javrin and tried to relax and catch as much of the language as he could manage.
Thirty-six hours later, Javrin slid the shuttle into orbit around the Republic capital of Coruscant. He'd forgotten just how busy Coruscant was, with all the ships of varying sizes and designs coming and going. Not to mention all the atmospheric craft and the transport pods moving people between the ground and ships not designed for atmospheric entry. To an outsider the strangest thing was the planet itself, for Coruscant was a world-city, a single metropolis encompassing the entire planet. The only green space on Coruscant was in special parks and preserves.
"Coruscant Control to mini-freighter Askalon, please state your destination." A voice came over the radio, startling Javrin out of his reverie.
"Control, this is Padawan Javrin San'rik'el requesting clearance to Jedi Academy landing field." He said calmly, hiding how nervous using his title and real name made him.
"Please stand by while we clear with Academy field." The female voice replied in a very business like manner. After a few nerve racking minutes she came back on the line. "Askalon you are cleared for traffic pathway Obsidian Gamma fifteen to Academy field beacon epsilon-two-zero."
"Oh-Gee-One-Five to epsilon-two-zero, confirmed. Thank you, control." Javrin said as he closed the comm-link and guided the shuttle into the appropriate pattern among all the other air and space traffic. "It'll be about an hour till we set down." He said over his shoulder to Razor, who had clearly just woken up from a nap at the computer consol and was still blinking himself fully awake. "You might want to rifle through the ships stores for something more 'civilian'. No one wears masks on Coruscant." He explained simply.
The cinnamon tom nodded and stood with a stretch and yawn. "The entire outfit too weird, or just the mask?" He asked as he pulled his helmet and mask off.
Javrin considered briefly. "Without the mask, it just looks a uniform from some military operation." He said easily. "Should be fine."
"Which it is," Jake nodded and walked up to him to claim a brief, light kiss. "Just for reference, it's Jake without the mask." He paused, tracing his thumb along Javrin's cheek. "I'm going to grab a quick shower. You might want to do the same when I get back."
"Probably not a bad idea." Javrin nodded. "It's been a long few days."
"You should cut down on any concealed weapons you might normally carry." Javrin suggested, as he adjusted his robes for about the sixth time. "Carrying a single weapon openly is okay, but concealed weapons aren't." He explained, as he clipped his lightsaber to his belt. It was impossible to miss how nervous the grey tom was at they prepared to disembark from the shuttle.
"My Glovatrix acceptable?" He held up his left arm even as he began to comply by slipping a significant pile of blades and blasters and things from his uniform.
"Should be fine. It's just concealed stuff they have issues with." He chuckled. "And it's rare for them not to spot them. Really rare." He paused. "Ready?"
"If you are," Jake smiled slightly and tipped Javrin's chin up for a light kiss. "And remember a little something from my life. They only have the power over you that you grant them. You have a home without them now."
"It's not about them, as much as it is about Kenjin, my Master." He said quietly. "He did so much for me, I just want to make him proud. To prove that he was right." He said as he thumbed the access hatch release. "He trained me, when the Council said I was too old. He might've been on the Council, if it wasn't for me."
"He wouldn't want them to cow you," Jake said softly as he took in the broad open landing field in the middle of towering buildings. A quick look revealed that their landing pad was in fact floating in the sky. "You're a good person, he would be proud of that."
"Thanks, Jake." Javrin smiled, giving the lean tom a quick kiss as they descended the ramp. "I just never expected to be back here, not really." He said as two lanky Dalmatian guards met them at the bottom of the landing ramp.
"Padawan, the Council requests your presence in the Council chamber." One guard said politely, with a slight amount of deference.
"Thank you, Custo." Javrin replied with a polite nod of his head. "I remember where the Council chamber is, assuming it hasn't moved in the last ten years."
"It hasn't." The guard nodded, skilled eyes giving Jake a once over before he nodded to his companion and the two moved away.
"That went well." Javrin sighed slightly in relief, as he walked casually across the open field toward a tall tan and white building with an architectural style that combined modern efficiency with elements that were clearly ancient.
"Good," he smiled and pushed both his instinctive assessment of everything around them and his own unease at being so far out of his depth without his partner to the back of his mind. "I'm glad we cleaned up first."
"Coruscant is a place that is very much about appearances." Javrin nodded, as they passed a number of individuals of different species. They were all dressed in the same kind of robes as Javrin, just differing in their shades of cream and brown. "Not surprising as it's the capital of the Republic, and is not only the political center but the center of banking and commerce as well."
"In that it has many things in common with MegaKat City," he nodded, keeping a curious eye on everything and everyone while trying to avoid being rude about his curiosity. "I guess some things never change."
"Only it is much larger than MegaKat City." Javrin chuckled. "And has less of an underclass, since the politicians find the idea of having such a 'problem' on the jewel of the Republic something of an embarrassment." He shook his head, as they entered the large, wide open halls of the main Academy building. "But then again, it lacks some of the 'interesting' places that an underclass creates. Or at least I think it does, no place like 'Moradians' for example." He smiled.
"Now that's missing something," he cracked a grin back and resisted the urge to take Javrin's hand. "Something's just not right about a city without a bad part of town."
"The danger of utopia." Javrin shook his head, he said as a pair of wiry, twin martens wearing the same brown robes as Javrin passed them. "Somehow when you remove the 'bad' part of town, you remove part of the spirit. I was always grateful that my master didn't choose to live here. But then again, I was born on the 'wrong' side of town."
He chuckled quietly as they entered a large room with a wide window that looked out across the 'city' were air vehicles of all descriptions zipped between parts of the city hovering at different levels. On some of the large platforms, bright shiny starships could be seen arriving and departing. "While I go speak to the Council, you'll have to wait here." He said apologetically. "When they say they want to see me, that's what they mean and no more."
He wasn't surprised at the tension that rippled across Jake's frame, or the protective displeasure and increased distrust clearly visible on his face.
"All right," Jake consented quickly, knowing instinctively that this was not a battle to even try to fight. "Don't let them push you around, okay? At least not for me. I don't need their help."
"Jake, space is big and if we want to find Chance soon, we do need their help." He said quietly. "Their intel at any rate. The Jedi have better intelligence on the Sith than anyone, it could mean the difference between a search that takes days and one that takes years."
"You're going to have to trust me on this." He insisted gently, trying to explain a combination of knowledge and fears he barely understood. "The help would be very useful, but it's not worth a compromise." He gave in and brushed Javrin's cheek. "It's not worth you."
"You're not going to lose me." Javrin said quietly. "The worst that might happen is I get removed from the order. Though once the immediate crisis is past they might want me here for awhile." He added thoughtfully. "We'll have to see." He said, leaning forward to claim a gentle kiss. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
"I'll be here." Jake promised and stepped away so Javrin could compose himself before going to meet the Council.
With a brief warm smile, Javrin stepped away and headed down the hall. He was less than sanguine about this meeting, but it was one he'd known would happen as soon as he returned home.
Jake tried not to pace as he watched Javrin disappear, then gave in and let the motion wear some of his agitation away. Everything about what was happening gnawed at him. The fact that it was Chance that was taken, leaving his city unprotected for at least weeks, having to deal with this group calling themselves Jedi, the politics of a religious war that defined itself as unwinnable, the world-city.
Especially the world-city.
That gnawed at him more than he believed possible. It was as inherently wrong as any Omega. City kat that he was, this kind of city was far too all encompassing. From the air, MegaKat City was still lush and green and surrounded by the same. The waters were wide and blue and went far out of sight. From space, the world was brown, green and blue. This glittering city-world twisted his gut in away nothing else could.
Trying to distract himself from that train of thought, and avoid looking out the grand windows, landed his gaze on a lanky Tiger dressed much as Javrin did looking at him curiously.
Caught looking the young Tiger blushed noticeably and turned away briefly. After a moment to compose himself, and stop blushing, he looked back to see if the unusual Custos was still looking at him. At least he assumed that the warrior was a Custos since all the force sensitive warriors at the Academy who weren't Jedi were.
"Hi," Jake moved a few steps closer. "I'm Jake." He introduced himself awkwardly in the local language, looking for anything to deal with but his own thoughts and the view.
"Hello." The youth nodded. "My name is Tabrin. I apologize for staring, but you're unlike any Custos I've seen in my time here." He explained, rambling a little.
"It's okay, I've been staring at just about everybody," Jake chuckled weakly, hoping he was translating correctly. "I don't think I'm a Custos though."
"Oh, you're not?" Tabrin blinked. "My mistake." He blushed lightly. "I can see you're Force-sensitive, you're not a Jedi and you're clearly a warrior. Custos just seemed logical." He explained. "Master Vodonai is right, I have to stop trying to fit everything into nice, neat classifications." He chuckled. "So what brings you to the Academy then, if you don't mind my asking?" He asked politely.
"Javrin said they could help find my partner," he motioned towards the Council chambers with a jerk of his chin. "Before the Sith breaks him."
"The Sith?" Tabrin shuddered. "Yes, the Council would be the ones to ask. The Sith are a darkness that we must guard against at all times. They believe in no morality save that of power."
"I've heard the lecture," he nodded and shifted a bit. "What are you up here for?"
"Actually, I just came up for the view." He admitted. "Master Vodonai was needed in Council, and said I could spend the time as I wished." He said easily. "And there were no views like this back home." He said gesturing out at the grand window.
"No, not for me either," Jake avoided looking out the windows. "It's a very unique thing to see."
"They say it is one city from pole to pole, but that isn't exactly true." He said easily. "There is both land and sea not covered by city. Preserved for use as farmland, and for their vital role oxygen production." He said simply. "But the ocean floor communities are amazing, especially the ones in the Torus Trench." He added, and then chuckled. "I'm beginning to sound like a tour guide, probably because I spend most of my free time seeing the unique places."
"It hardly looks that way from space." Jake shivered slightly in memory of that mixture of fascination and distress of seeing a world without real life, his gaze drawn to the cityscape again.
"No, it doesn't." He nodded. "The hover-cities cover everything, the farms rely on a network of sunlight-projectors to survive since the real sunlight doesn't reach the surface. The oceans are even more dependent on the artificial sunlight."
"I expect so," he forcefully shoved the entire subject into the part of his brain that housed ideas not to think about.
"The idea disturbs you, doesn't it?" He said quietly.
"That's one way to put it, yes," he nodded.
"Thinking that everything we see is dependent on banks of fusion generators is something I find disturbing as well. Machines can, and do, fail." He said quietly. "I prefer the real sunlit oceans of home."
"I'd prefer to see it for a reason other than asking for help from a group I know nothing about." Jake shrugged. "It's not a way to like a place."
Tabrin blinked in surprise. "You know nothing about the Jedi?" He asked, rather astounded. "You must be from far outside the Republic then, but surely a Jedi must have brought you here." He stated, though it was also part question.
"A Jedi in training, " he nodded and moved around a bit to find something new to look at that wasn't window and tried not to think about what was happening with Javrin too much. "Not that the title means any more than Sith does there."
"Very far away." He nodded. "But the core of the Jedi is the responsibility of power. The power to do good, uphold justice and protect the weak." He explained. "But I suppose that might sound a bit rehearsed." The Tiger admitted. "It's true though, the Jedi Knights are respected throughout the Republic as a force for justice and good."
"And I have a background that speaks ill of any organization with power," he shrugged. "Good people rarely seem to stay that way when they start to get authority. Maybe Jedi are the exception. Maybe they aren't. I just want my partner back and to get back home while we still have a home to go back to."
"Corruption is always a danger." Tabrin nodded. "The lure of the Dark Side is strong, but it is usually the inexperienced who fall to it." He said quietly. "The Masters know the danger too well, to succumb." He added, clearly believing that strongly. "Is your partner force-sensitive?" He asked quietly.
"So I'm told," he nodded. "Something else we don't have back home."
"The Force is everywhere." Tabrin said, curious at the idea of it not being somewhere. "Apparently your world hasn't discovered it yet. The Sith will take advantage of that sensitivity, and try to tempt your partner to the Dark Side." He cautioned quietly.
"They're a lot more likely to kill him trying," Jake sighed with a shake of his head at how damn honorable that kat was. "Or if they'd taken us both to have a bartering chip. We've met our evil versions. It's not happening." He kept to himself that if it came down to it, he'd stay with his partner, evil or not.
"I hope you are right." Tabrin nodded, carefully hiding his reaction to what he thought he'd sensed from the cinnamon tom. Loyalty was a good thing, but once someone went to the Dark Side, they would never return it. Like everything else good and wholesome in the universe it became merely a tool to further their ends. "If you'll excuse me, I should get some work done on my study of political trends in the outer rim." He said excusing himself, as he turned to leave. The young Padawan felt a sudden need to meditate, due to the strong negativity he felt from Jake. He was just grateful it was dislike and distress rather than true hatred.
He nodded, though the Tiger hardly needed his permission to leave. He'd made excuses like that enough times to realize when someone was making a polite escape. Jake could hardly blame him either. He knew he must be unpleasant to be around right now.
It left him to pacing again, though. Which was not the best way to calm down by a long shot, but it was the best he had.
It also left the blue Mouse watching the sky from a place across the large room to deal with his agitation if she wanted to stay. She sighed mentally and stood with the grace of a dancer to walk over to the pacing feline a good two heads taller.
"You would benefit from calming down, Jake." She told him gently, privately amused at the way he skitted back a couple steps on an instinctive retreat from a recognized and unknown danger before locking eyes with her in a more direct assessment.
It would never cease to amaze and amuse her to how predatory races, even big ones, tended to treat her small Mouse form as one of their own kind.
She let him do his assessment and smiled faintly when he very clearly looked away and had his eyes lowered when he returned his focus to her. "I am Yamari."
"Easier said than done," he muttered quietly, his body language and tone making his words a complaint rather than a challenge of her advice.
"It can be," she inclined her head in acknowledgement of the difficulty of relaxing in his situation. "Perhaps if you would sit with me?"
Jake paused, uncertainty in his body language before he nodded. He followed her to a relaxed sitting position on the floor and watched as her outer Master's robes were set aside to reveal the soft creams that fit her rounded body for all they were unisex.
"Tell me about your partner," she smiled and spoke softly in his language.
Javrin walked tiredly through the halls back to the observation lounge. Two hours of questions from the Council had left him rather drained. The Council's questions about his 'relationship' with Jake had reminded him that Padawans were supposed to avoid such involvements since it could be disruptive to what little control they had. Of course, it was a lot too late for that lesson, about two months too late.
As he started around the corner, he recognized the other person in the room with Jake instinctively as one of the Masters and froze, not wanting to interrupt whatever she was doing. He'd never seen anyone dance with a lightsaber, but the Masters' all had their own ways of doing things. Apparently the way of the blue Mouse was dancing.
However it had begun, it was easy to tell it had improved Jake's mood considerably from two hours before. The tom was watching with the same kind of rapt fascination as he usually watched Javrin, though with less sexual desire. Maybe the Master was doing this to dispel the temperament that had built up in Jake over the past few days. If she was sensitive, it would be quite disturbing, and Jake had no idea how to shield his mind past the natural way he hid things and thought.
When her brilliant blue 'saber, a color very close to her fur, finally disappeared with the end of the dance the sudden sound of Jake's clapping startled both Jedi, though neither showed it.
"I see your companion has returned," Yamari smiled at Jake and bowed gracefully as any appreciated performer on stage might.
"Hurrr?" Jake blinked, then found Javrin standing at the edge of the room and smiled at him. "Thank you," he stood and spoke softly to the smaller Mouse with a great deal of respect.
"It was a pleasure to have a truly appreciate audience again," She inclined her head slightly and slipped into her outer robes.
"Master, I apologize if I interrupted." Javrin said politely as he walked up, with the short bow Padawans used to acknowledge the Masters. He was still on edge after his grilling by the council, despite a concerted effort to regain some measure of calm.
"You did not, Padawan San'rik'el," she informed him easily before walking away to give the pair a little privacy.
"You weren't bored while I was gone, I hope." Javrin asked with a playful wink that belied the fatigue underneath it.
"No," he chuckled slightly and brushed his fingers along Javrin's jaw as he cupped the gray tom's cheek. "Though I suspect that I gave a Padawan a serious headache. You look like you could use a nap, though."
"I wouldn't be surprised if you did. Most Padawans are still learning how to block out other people's thoughts." He smiled weakly. "And you've been thinking loudly the last few days. And you're right about that nap." He chuckled. "After this, defending my thesis at the University should be a piece of cake."
"I bet," he nodded. "So are they going to help us?"
"Yes, they're working on determining the identity of the Sith Lord responsible." Javrin nodded. "There was some discussion of why Chance. Several of the Council thinking that one of the Sith may be looking for a quick way to acquire more Dark Force pilots, and cloning Chance would be quick."
"Would that work?" Jake frowned and guided them to the lift, intent on getting him to a real bed for a few hours.
"Theoretically." Javrin nodded. "Force ability does run in families, so there appears to be a genetic component. That also means that they might try breeding him with a genetically compatible female." He explained as they walked. "Cloning is never a sure thing, but the possibility is strong enough to worry the council."
"And your fate?" He asked quietly when the lift doors closed, giving them a sense of real privacy.
"Well, I'm not in any trouble." He chuckled weakly, leaning against Jake slightly. "Beyond that, they're still considering the situation." He shrugged. "There's no real precedent for a Padawan turning up after eight years without Master or training."
"I just worry they'll kill you," Jake murmured into Javrin's soft hair. "It solves their problem quite neatly."
"That's not the Jedi way." Javrin shook his head. "There's no evidence I've gone to the Dark Side, even if I'm not really up to speed on the meditative and philosophical side of things. And I haven't broken any major rules."
"I hope you're right," he sighed and tried to believe it. "They'd have to give you a new Master for the rest of your training."
"That's the problem." Javrin nodded. "There's so much I'd have to unlearn because of eight years trying to self-train. And there's the matter of finding a Master who doesn't have a Padawan currently. It's strictly a one-to-one relationship."
Jake closed his eyes briefly and pushed thoughts of the logical answer to that problem from his mind. "How long are we likely to have to wait for them to make their decisions about us?"
"It's a matter of determining which Sith Lord it is, and collating the available intel on that person." Javrin said simply. "We should find out who were dealing with in a day or so. At that point the Council will decide what the appropriate resources for the mission are."
"And hopefully include us in that mission," he murmured as the lift doors opened into one of the huge, airy main halls. "And that Chance holds together long enough for us to get there."
"He will." Javrin said confidently. "And they will. I kind of pointed out that we'd probably include ourselves one way or the other." He chuckled weakly, as he paused. "They assigned us quarters here at the Academy, unless you'd rather sleep back on the ship." He offered, clearly okay with either choice.
"True enough," Jake relaxed a bit as they found a small sitting alcove off the hall. "Which is going to be nicer?"
"The Academy ones, since they put us in guest quarters." He smiled. "Actual water bath and shower." He grinned at Jake's shiver of raw, completely out of the blue arousal.
"I hope they shield those quarters too." He rumbled with a wicked grin. "We both need a little stress relief."
"Shielded primarily by distance from the Padawan quarters." He chuckled, as he turned to lead the way. "Accidental pick-up is fairly short range, maybe 10 or 20 meters. Beyond that, it's deliberate mind-reading only."
"Well, we're just have to hope the shower is far enough from the hall to avoid rattling anyone's calm." Jake winked, though he held back from the affectionate nuzzle and hug he would have given back home.
"If they're in the guest quarter area, they're probably full knights at least." Javrin chuckled and turned to claim a quick kiss from Jake, not caring who saw or felt what it did to his lover.
Javrin's rest lasted much longer than Jake's willingness to stay in the bed, which left the kat to find something to entertain himself. There was plenty, and the computer-like console in their quarters quite cooperative in suggesting things to do.
The gardens looked appealing, but the opportunity to see full Jedi working out was too much to pass up. He made a quick note for Javrin and headed out, dressed in what he had, though the rich black, red and blue uniform made him feel a bit self-conscious walking threw the halls full of people in creams and grays.
In one of the wide open areas of the Academy, one of the Jedi Knights was sparring with a trio of spherical hovering orbs that zipped about and fired bolts of blue energy at him. The deep reddish-brown Wolf leapt and dodged the bolts agilely, and the few he didn't dodge he deflected with his bright red lightsaber. The fluidity and grace of the exhibition was made more impressive by the fact that he was doing it while wearing a helmet that obviously blocked sight and probably blocked or impaired hearing as well.
It caught Jake's breath; the grace and skill the display represented gave him a good perspective just how much of a beginner Javrin was.
As the demonstration ended, the group of Masters and students broke up and went in different directions. The Wolf put his lightsaber away, and took off the helmet as he left the courtyard. "I'm guessing you were impressed." He said with wry smile, as he reached where Jake was still standing, watching him.
"It was impressive," he said simply, though he felt the heat in his cheeks.
"You could learn to do it." The Wolf said easily. "It's not easy, but you've got the potential." He added, watching to see Jake's response as the surprise wore off and his words were considered by a sharp mind too used to adapting and strangeness not to fall in with the new rules he was being presented with.
"So that's not a Jedi-only skill?" Jake cocked his head a bit in honest interest and a bit of surprise.
"It's a force-sensitive only skill." The Wolf smiled. "And you appear to have tapped into your abilities already, at least on an instinctive level." He explained. "I'm Jedi Knight Vintakrin D'talrishan, however most people call me Vince or Vinnie." He shook his head in amusement.
"Jake Clawson," he responded, warming up to this idea considerably. "What do you prefer to be called?"
"Vince is preferable." He shook his head. "There's really only one Vinnie is my family's history, and he was a very colorful personality." He grinned. "Jake? So you'd be Padawan Javrin's companion then?" He asked, though it was really just for confirmation.
"Yes," he nodded and shifted into a relaxed but ready stance without thinking.
"Why don't we find a more private location?" He suggested, and began leading the way without any concerns about whether or not Jake would follow him. "It's best to start this training without too many outside distractions."
"It usually is with any kind of combat skill." Jake agreed with a light chuckle.
"But even more so, when one of the big things to learn, is how to focus on the non-physical senses." Vince nodded.
"I bet that's a tough one for most," Jake nodded, absently wondering if it was any different from how he 'talked' to machines.
"It is." The Wolf nodded, as they entered a smaller practice room. "And the older the student the more difficult, normally." He added as he closed the doors.
"And from what I've seen, I'm one of the oldest around," he actually chuckled and took in the simple room completely devoid of anything but the central practice circle painted on the floor.
"Very true, but then most students start here around five." He said easily. "The very basic level of this training is that you are learning to sense the energy flow that connects everything on a very basic level. Different cultures have different words for it, we call it the Force."
Jake nodded; it wasn't far off from various theories that made sense to him based on his experience, even if his education denied it. "I've done something like that with machines most of my life, but not with everything."
"Really?" Vince said curiously. "Master Kastoris also works with machines. Does the most amazing things with them really. Most Jedi can only lift, move and manipulate machines on the large scale, Kastoris does things on the very small scale. Sometimes it seems as though he talks to them." He said in quiet amazement. "But the idea behind blindfighting is that you let go of your physical senses and let the Force guide you. Though Jedi practice it primarily with the lightsaber, the theory applies to ranged weapons as well."
Jake nodded, then chuckled. "If he's anything like me, he does talk to them, and they talk back after a fashion." He considered the Wolf thoughtfully. "If this the kind of training that starts with weapons?"
"If you'd like I could introduce you to him later." Vince offered, as he walked over to a wall panel and retrieved a lightsaber that looked like it had seen a lot of use and a small sphere. "Yes, it does start with weapons." He said handing Jake the lightsaber. "You might want to take a few practice swings just to get a feel for it."
The lean tom nodded. "I would like that. I haven't actually met anyone who does what I do." He admitted and relaxed into a loose combat stance that was better suited for weaponless or staff combat. He shifted a bit, picking up from the weapon itself, even dormant, how it was used to being handled.
He took a breath and let the tension go against before the blue 'saber flicked to life and held his attention in a similar fascination as he'd held for watching it in use. There had been nothing in his life to prepare him for feeling this weapon in his hand: the instant connection and sense of purpose and protection that flowed from it.
"Wow," Jake whispered, his eyes still a bit wide as he processed the concept of a weapon who's purpose was protection more than destruction.
"Yes, a lightsaber's first purpose is defense." Vince nodded approvingly. "Remembering that makes the training easier, since you should never be focusing on attack but on defense. Let go and let the Force flow between you and blade and let it guide you." He explained calmly. "A properly wielded saber can deflect any attack, and is only blocked by either another lightsaber or a force field."
Jake nodded, though the language and concepts were difficult to figure out without any real idea of how. Still unsure if what he was doing was what the Wolf meant, he focus on how he understood the object in his hand that was different from how he knew other people understood object and followed the trail from there.
The room, the emptiness, held only three things for him: his 'saber, Vince's 'saber and the orb the Wolf was still holding. Then the walls and floor finished the box and he pulled back a bit as he began to trace the computer network and other machines that spread out from there.
"Now this is where the exercise gets challenging." The Wolf said as the orb began to hum. "When I release the orb, your task is to deflect the bolts it will fire at you. It's on low intensity to start so while it can't injure you, it will sting seriously." He said as he stepped back and tossed the ball into the air. Swiftly it began dodging about, and then after a few passes it fired a small bolt of bright blue energy.
Jake nearly yelped in surprise as his hand flicked the lightsaber's blade in the way, complying with the desire not to be hit and his weapon's understanding without him being part of the loop. It was enough to break the connection for a moment long enough to give the orb a hit.
A snarl from deep in Jake chest lashed out with the self-preservation instinct that came very close to turning the orb into fried circuits.
"Calm, Jake." Vince reminded the startled kat gently. "Anger will cloud your connection with the Force. You're doing good though, just return to the connection you made." He added encouragingly as Jake settled more quickly than he'd expected.
"Okay," Jake murmured and let go after a reluctant moment for the exercise to begin again.
Vince watched the mixture of formal training in several combat styles and a lot of field experience struggle against the intuitive reactions and trust in the Force needed for the exercise. The kat had potential, he had no doubt of that even this quickly, but the self-trained life he led would severely hamper his eventual limits. The strange way he contacted and perceived the Force would not help in that either, though it did produce amazing results when he trusted the item he was taking guidance from.
"Very well done, Jake." Vince said with honest approval, when he thought Jake had enough for one lesson from the way the kat was breathing and sweating. "For someone who's never used a lightsaber before, you're a natural." He said as the remote returned to his hand and shut down. "A real shame we didn't find you when you were younger."
"Fate had other plans for me," he chuckled slightly and wiped his forehead with a sleeve. "Besides, there's a world that wouldn't be around any more if you had."
"Looks like Fate decided to get you a few Force lessons at least." Vince chuckled. "Assuming you'd be interested in doing this again, while you're here." He offered easily.
"Definitely," Jake nodded easily and surrendered the lightsaber as his breathing evened out. "It's not like I have anything else to do until we have a target."
"After dinner, perhaps." He offered as he put the equipment away.
"Sounds good to me," he actually smiled at the Knight. "When would that be for you?"
"About five hours from now." He said. "Seven to be exact, though I'm not usually. But we can meet here about eight if that works for you."
"Sure," he nodded, remembering that artistically concealed clocks were scattered about most of the Temple that he'd already seen. Six more hours was a lot of time to nose around too.
"I'll talk to Master Kastoris and see when he has time to see you." He added, as he opened the door of the practice room and they walked out. "I'm sure he'll be interested in talking to another Force-sensitive who talks to machines."
"It would be interesting," Jake nodded before they went separate ways in the huge practice room.
Jake was sprawled on his stomach, breathing in the smell of earth and grass as one hand lazily played in a small brook that graced one of the numerous gardens he'd found. It was almost enough to make him forget he wasn't back in his kittenhood back yard when a chirping beep brought his head up to look at a green and gold robot that remained him a lot of round-top trashcan.
"Master Kastoris?" He took a moment to place the name among the dozens he'd heard today. "Oh, right. Sure. Lead the way."
The robot led him through the Academy to a workshop/laboratory that was out on a far wing. Inside the lab looked like rather like Jake's, with numerous projects at various stages of completion and lots of spare parts. There were two more of the round top robots apparently monitoring projects and a wiry dark brown ferret in Jedi robes moving around the room in what seemed a downright hyperactive speed compared to the rest of the Academy. Unlike most Jedi robes his seemed to have an unbelievable number of pockets, which contained tools, parts and something Jake guessed was edible.
"Yes." The Ferret said over his should when Jake's guide chirped for attention. "Ah, welcome Jake." He smiled at Jake. "I'm Jedi Master Kastoris, but Kastor will do. Vinnie tells me you talk to machines through the Force." He said jumping right to the point.
"So I've gathered," he nodded and watched the projects as much as the Jedi he was talking to.
"Very uncommon gift, my boy." He chuckled as he 'told' a sensor unit to adjust its bandwidth. "Force-gifted inventors are often overlooked, simply acknowledged as rather eccentric geniuses."
"Probably because only a few of the eccentric geniuses are like us," Jake chuckled lightly. "I've only met one that might have been, but he couldn't talk or hear. He could do some amazing things that made me think he might have, at one point."
"And some of them can only talk or hear to machines, so we don't see them." Kastor nodded, and then looked at Jake more seriously even as Jake puzzled the meaning of his words out. "You're the same Jake that Javrin told the Council about, right?" He asked simply.
"Yes," he nodded as it occurred to him that these people were used to being about to tell gifted people on sight.
"He spoke very highly of you." The Master said, easily working with his hands and holding a conversation. "Did he seem happy with his life, back on your world?" He asked with genuine interest.
"I think so, even before we got together," he nodded, thinking back to the shy but smiling tom from a few months before.
"That's good." The Ferret nodded. "I wouldn't want him going back, if he was going to be unhappy."
Jake nodded slightly, not quite sure what to think of that statement as it was filed away to go over later.
"Like me, you're prone to getting wrapped up in a new device, I see." Kastor chuckled, noticing where most of Jake's attention was.
"It's not like I have very long to pick up as much as I can," he admitted, meaning both on technology and about his gift.
"That's hard to predict." Kastor said a bit cryptically. "But then predicting the future is an uncertain talent at best. So difficult to tell probable future from possible future, and there's always the possibility that the prediction itself alters the probabilities." He shook his head, even as he picked up from Jake's confusion that the tom had meant something very different from literally looking into the future.
"Either I have very little time, or the rest of my life for lack of a home to return to," he shrugged quietly as he leaned back against a sturdy table, trying not to show how much the second possibility hurt. "I'm going to stick with assuming the first."
"Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by a little." He shook his head. "I'm quite sure you're going home though."
"If this lasts a month," he shrugged, living the rest unsaid but easily known. "But going home isn't the same as being able to stay." He added quietly. "Even if it takes years here, I'd go back, just on the small chance something survived."
"It won't take years." Kastor said reassuringly. "But it also probably won't be the day after you find your partner."
Jake nodded, not taking the statement with the same credence as someone who knew Jedi, but not dismissing it completely either.
For a moment, there was silence as Jake worked out how to ask what he hadn't found out on his own yet.
"Kastor ... what's so attractive about the Dark Side?" He asked a little clumsily, trying to understand what the risk to Chance actually was.
"It's an easy way to power, because it doesn't demand as much self-control or discipline." Kastor explained, trying to be careful not to preach. "This makes it attractive to those who seek power, but also to those who need power, or think they do."
"To protect something they care about?" He asked, trying to work his brain around the concept of using a talent for good somehow being evil. Hazardous to your health, sure, but so was being a hero and that was simply what they were.
"Yes." He nodded. "The danger is that the dark side can twist things, especially if fear or anger are your guiding emotions. Anger can give you access to greater strength than you have normally, but at the cost of control so there may be harm done that wasn't intended but happens. And then that anger can begin seem like a normal way of doing things. The extra power can be addictive."
Jake nodded slowly. That much he understood. Not in the same context or with the same apparent dangers, but the he did understand it.
And Chance had a temper to start with.
If his practice with Vince was any indication, these people's definition of 'anger' fell under what he'd always considered survival reflexes.
It was not a good combination.
Of course, they'd both been this way all their lives and through a hell of a lot of shit and not had trouble.
"Not good." Jake murmured to himself, as much as assessment of himself as his partner.
"When one first realizes the power is there, is when the danger is the greatest." Kastor nodded. "That unsteady ground before self-control is learned. Javrin has similar concerns because he missed most of his training."
"You have no idea," Jake murmured as it settled in just how easily it would be for half-decent manipulator to have Chance all the way there before he even realized what was going on, if he ever really did. "Javrin's not at much risk," he shook his head. "He may not have all the training, but what he got he took to heart in a big way. But if this Sith is half as good a manipulator as the average politician, Chance isn't that likely to even notice he has power to use when he's using it. Everything we've been through will tell him it's not real."
"That is why Intelligence is working as quickly as possible on finding where your partner is." Kastor nodded. "We have lost enough inexperienced Jedi to recognize the risks. And it's also a matter of not wanting to have to deal an army of force-sensitive pilot clones led by your very talented partner." He admitted. "Our interests aren't totally selfless here."
"Frankly, I prefer it that way." Jake shook his head with a strangely amused chuckle. "I don't like things I can't understand."
"More comfortable with enlightened self-interest?" Kastor asked with an amused smile.
"It's something that makes sense," Jake shrugged with an easy acceptance. "People who claim they are just doing something because they should ... it rarely sits right. I'm sure a few are out there, but I haven't met anyone who's met one I know about."
"We have a few idealists who do claim that they do things just because it's the right thing to do." Kastor nodded. "Javrin's Master was one of them, and a great loss as well." He said quietly, and it seemed that the loss was perhaps not just to the order but to the Ferret personally.
"Yeah, I've got a partner like that." He smiled faintly and tried not to think of the loss he was facing. "But he really loves being the hero. Doing the right thing is just a common by-product of it."
"It does seem to be." Kastor nodded, thinking that there was no real point to arguing the difference. Jake's opinion was the product of years of living in a particular place and time, and all the Jedi Master was likely to accomplish by arguing was to put Jake on the defensive, a result he do not want. "The universe does seem to benefit from them, regardless."
"That it does," he agreed easily and smiled a little distantly. "The world could use more of them like him. It'd be a better place for it."
"Very true, but its really something someone is or isn't." Kastor said easily. "Besides, if heroes were common it would cheapen them I think. It's partly the rarity that makes them so special."
"It's part of the definition, I think." Jake chuckled a bit. "When heroes are common, the standards just get higher and higher to be considered one."
"Applies to being exceptional at almost anything, as everyone improves it gets harder to be exceptional." Kastor nodded.
"And that much harder to be exceptional," Jake added quietly. "So many never see their full potential because they aren't noticed among the throngs. Something you probably face more than I can even imagine." He chuckled sheepishly. "I still think of MegaKat City's millions as far too many."
"Well, we have significantly more resources as well but you're right that much potential is lost." He nodded. "Not to change the subject, but have you eaten dinner yet? It's about that time." He chuckled.
"I don't think I've gotten to lunch yet." He managed sheepishly, responding more to his past than the current situation. "I probably should get something before another workout with Vince."
"Definitely a good idea." He nodded. "And Vince will come looking for me, if I don't go get something to eat." He chuckled. "Something about my needing to not neglect little things like eating."
"Sounds like what Chance likes to tease me about." Jake smirked and turned to leave. "Sounds like you have as much of a mother hen as I do."
"A former Padawan of mine." Kastor chuckled as he gave a few last instructions to the droids before heading out. "He got into the habit of pulling me out of the workshop for meals every so often."
"And we wouldn't have it any other way," Jake grinned at the Ferret. "Not that they'll ever find out from us."
"Of course not." The Ferret chuckled back and felt Jake relax a little more about him. "Who doesn't enjoy a little attention now and then."
The cell door opened and the Coyote walked in carrying a package that he slid through the bars to Chance's side. "We'll be arriving shortly. This is a change of clothes for you. Sancresti Redoubt is far to warm for those coveralls." He explained. "Average temperature is about 85, and during the summer it gets a lot warmer."
"About like home," the tabby nodded and accepted the shorts and flower patterned short sleeve shirt. "How hot is 'a lot warmer'?"
"115 to 125." He said after a moments' thought. "There are places where it gets to 140, but nobody lives there but a few research scientists in specially constructed bunkers."
"Toasty," he nodded and wrinkled his nose and quickly changed clothes.
"We're landing in one of the less oppressive zones. Ocean breezes and white sand beaches, so today's high of 95 won't seem quite so hot." The Merc shook his head.
"Very much like home," Chance chuckled a bit and leaned against the wall. "I take it I won't be staying on the ship much longer."
"No, this is your destination." The Merc said simply. "You'll be meeting Darth Keira today."
"Planning on saying goodbye to Her Nuisance too."
"I doubt it, but keep up the attitude." The Coyote chuckled softly. "Just remember, Sith are sneaky bastards. If they can't scare you, they'll try and corrupt you."
"Corrupt?" He raised an eyebrow, his thoughts more towards the genetic mutation end of things.
"They have a way of offering you things, things they know you'll really want." The Coyote said quietly. "And it looks like a really good deal at first, but what they're doing is slowly getting you to think like they do. Turning good Kats into people like say, Dark Kat, is something they specialize in."
"That's just seriously screwed up," he rolled his eyes. "She'll be lucky if Jake doesn't find her if that happens."
"It's why I'm glad that I can't feel this 'Force' thing." The Merc chuckled. "Neither side of the conflict is interested in me. Except as a blaster-for-hire."
"Sounds like you lucked out." Chance chuckled a bit. "Not that I have a clue what it's about anyway." He rolled his eyes. "They want me to use it, they'll have to explain what it is first."
"Not necessarily." The Coyote shook his head. "I watched the tapes of you and your partner taking on our drones. You may not be doing it consciously, but you use the Force to take your piloting to levels a non-Force user can't touch." He said, clearly being very on the level.
"I'm still just a dumb pilot," he shrugged, not really getting what was so special about it. "Jake's the one who actually makes stuff."
"Dumb pilot?" The Coyote shook his head. "I've yet to meet any good pilot who qualified as 'dumb', and you certainly don't." He said seriously. "You just happen to have a galactic-level genius for a partner."
That made the tabby laugh. "Sweet Bastet, he'd self-combust he if heard that one."
"Yeah, the profile worked up on him suggested as much." The Merc chuckled.
"He'd be cute as hell though." Chance chuckled. "It gives this great shade to his fur."
"I can imagine." The Coyote grinned, as he flipped through a few of the mental images he had from the surveillance team's workup on the pair. He blinked, as he caught a change in the pitch of the ship's engines. "We're about to set down." He said quietly, as he turned to go check on the rest of his team.
"Right," Chance muttered softly and settled in to wait for the Sith everyone was so afraid of.
A short while later the Coyote and his team, a group of very military looking canines came in accompanied by the doctor and a large dark green lizard morph in black robes. The lizard pushed a button on the small remote he held and the bracelets that Chance was wearing on wrists and ankles returned to handcuff and shackle mode. "Bring him out." The lizard ordered imperiously.
A wiry, athletic fox in dark camo gear turned off the cell force field letting the Coyote go in. "Time to go." He said, indicating the cell door.
The tabby nodded and complied, knowing that this wasn't the right moment to try anything. On a lot of levels, it was like when they'd been captured by the Enforcers after meeting their screwed up versions.
The lizard led the way out of the ship and onto the beach followed by the doctor, and then the mercenaries who were escorting Chance. It was the first view that got Chance's attention; the ocean was a copper red and there were two suns in the sky.
"That's different," he murmured with a curious glance around that didn't break the slow progress his shackles allowed him.
"I wouldn't reccomend swimming." A red Wolf walking next to him murmured. "That red is from a bacteria that'll have you 'drunk' for a week if it gets in your system."
"Sounds like fun," he chuckled just as quietly.
Ahead of them Chance could see a bunch of tents that would've looked right at home on any of the beaches near MegaKat City. A large black and gold sun umbrella shaded a lounge chair where a female figure could be seen reclining. A powerful figure that was probably a Lion from the mane was standing to one side of the chair waving a large fan.
"Master, I've brought the pilot you required." The lizard announced as the procession stopped ten paces from the lounge chair.
"Excellent, Apprentice." A sultry female voice replied, as the figure in the lounge chair stood with graceful movements. As she came out of the shade she was revealed as a jet black panther who stood a good eight feet tall. The black and gold two-piece bikini she was wearing only served to accentuate her exceptional figure. And though her movements were as graceful and fluid as an exotic dancer, there was something in them that hinted at something much more dangerous. "So this is the pilot that Karsoris thought would fill my needs. We'll see." She purred as she looked Chance over appraisingly, her eyes having all the subtlety of a strip search and got the same apprizing gaze right back.
Only from the tabby there was a mixture of dismissal right along with the acceptance of her powerful effect on his libido.
And something even more surprising to her. Amusement.
Keira had seen many reactions in her time, but that was not one of them. The Pantheress was not amused, but she was too cool to let it show. "Bravado as well, not unexpected in a pilot." She rumbled in amusement, and snapped her fingers. "You know what to do." She said dismissively to the two burly Lions who appeared at her summons.
Without speaking the two Lions led the tabby away to a concealed entrance in the nearby jungle, while Keira considered her next move.
"Hay," Jake smiled to see Javrin up and doing simple stretching exercises that were probably a good idea for him to join in, given the workout the Wolf had put him through. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah." Javrin smiled at Jake. "I'd forgotten how tiring slip-piloting is, and then to have the Council session on top of it was just too much. Hope you weren't bored while I was sleeping like the dead."
"Not at all." He chuckled and settled into his own cool-down stretches. "I had an interesting chat with Master Kastoris and a couple serious workouts with a lightsaber and a very nasty little training orb courtesy of Knight D'talrishan. The gardens are nice and the computer network quite cooperative."
"So Vinnie's giving you lightsaber lessons." Javrin grinned. "I'm not surprised, and that nasty little orb is what I learned from too. Jedi have been using it for as long as anyone can remember." He chuckled. "I should've known you and Master Kastoris would end up talking. He's technical expert of the Council. He was the only one who was really familiar with the concept of the TFG."
"I can't say I'm too surprised," he chuckled. "Though I am a bit surprised that he doesn't have our ship's TFG directed by now. I know it's not going to stay intact any longer than required when it's not needed any more." He cocked his head at Javrin. "Master Kastoris seemed to be of the opinion that you'd be returning to Aristal with us. He wanted to know if you were happy there."
"The only life I know is there." Javrin said quietly. "As crazy and chaotic as MegaKat City gets, its home. 'Sides, I don't know that I could deal with watching you leaving, knowing I probably wouldn't see you again." He admitted softly. "Master Kastoris was my Master's teacher, and my strongest supporter in the Council."
Jake paused and looked at him uncertainly. "Just how old are you?"
"Twenty-two, a couple of months ago. Why?" He asked curiously.
"You coulda corrected me when I mentioned thirty," he shook his head with a chuckle. "So you were barely a teenager when you crashed."
"I got by early on by not correcting people, it's a hard habit to break." He chuckled. "I was fourteen when I arrived, and spent what seemed like a lifetime floating in the middle of the ocean."
"Well, it'd kinda appropriate to tell your boyfriend your actual birthday," he reached over to caress Javrin's cheek. "We could have celebrated a little."
"My birthday fell between dates one and two." Javrin chuckled. "When I wasn't entirely sure there'd be a date two." He admitted sheepishly, leaning into the touch.
"Mmm, probably for the best," he murmured and leaned forward for a kiss. "I don't usually date people that much younger than I am."
"That's the sort of thing that taught me to never volunteer my age." Javrin whispered quietly, before claiming the kiss.
The amount of freedom the Sith gave him was starting to actually get on Chance's nerves by mid-morning. He'd explored his quarters, finer and more comfortable than anywhere he'd ever stayed, the variety of clothing she offered. The food was good. The buildings, or carved living spaces really, were cool, varied and mostly open to him.
He'd even found the boarders to his turf, all well out into the jungle and along the beaches, and further into the copper-red water than he cared to venture.
The only real limit was the collar the Lions had fitted him after removing his shackles. It was a lot more comfortable, but it was also a lot more effective at making him stop when he did something that wasn't permitted.
Near the western border was a large rock face that that jutted up to tower above the very large jungle trees. Chance could a petite figure examining the rock face closely, completely wrapped up her study. He also spotted the glint of sunlight reflecting off a collar that looked much like the one he was wearing. The other thing he spotted was a spotted lion-sized canine approaching her unnoticed, its motions clearly that of a hunting predator.
"Hay!" He yelled at her, moving even before he'd fully processed the scene. "Move it girl!"
She hadn't seemed to hear him, and then he recognized the absolute focus on something ... it was like Jake when he really got focused on a project. The world could go by and he might not notice.
Which left this to him to deal with and he shifted the angle of his approach a bit to give him an angle on the predator, still yelling, though now with the intent to inform the beast that he wasn't sneaking up anymore.
The predator turned to look at the noise approaching him, and decided it needed to deal with this competitor first. Teeth bared it charged at the approaching tabby.
Chance skidded to a stop in the sand and instantly assessed both his opponent, which was going to be one hell of a fight, and a something to throw at that shekat to get her the hell out of the area. A dirt clod provided the second, and a lunge, curl and throw sent it right for her head as he leapt up to avoid the charge.
"Hey, who did that?" The shekat demanded looking around for the person who'd pelted her with dirt. "Oh, my." She said spotting the predator, and then she did something that Chance had seen one too many non-combatants do one first faced with danger: she froze.
"Ah fuck." He muttered before his full attention was taken up the predator's last minute swipe ripped open the side of his shirt without actually catching flesh. The frustrated predator turned and crouched, watching the tabby with wary, but hungry eyes as Chance crouched himself and settled in for the fight of his life.
He suddenly remembered something that the merc had said about the sea water and started working the animal towards the shoreline where he could hopefully get it good and drunk.
There was only the barest of advanced warning before the canine sprang leaping straight at Chance, intent on sinking its large teeth into his neck only to find his target had ducked and rolled under him to come to his feet with his shirt in his hands and a grim expression. It wasn't long enough to think, much less for the beast to turn around, and Chance was on it's back with his shirt twisted around it's neck in a tightening garrote.
The predator became frantic in its attempt to dislodge the creature from its back. It rolled across the ground trying to scrape Chance off its back, eventually rolling into a large pile of boulders. In the end Chance's determination to stay on last a little longer than its determination to stay conscious and the creature eventually lay still with Chance's shirt still wrapped around its neck.
"Oh my!" The petite shekat exclaimed as she came rushing over. "Are you okay?" She asked looking him over. "I'll help you to medical." She offered, though it was clear that she was unfamiliar with the kind of combat damage Chance had from all the rolling and bouncing across the terrain and all but being squished by a seven hundred pound predator.
"Just move," the tabby all but grabbed her and headed back towards the complex at as much of a run as his battered body would oblige him with. "That thing won't stay down for long."
"It's not dead?" She asked, keeping up with him.
"Not likely." He said after a breath into his aching lungs.
"Let me show you to medical." She offered, once they were inside the building and Chance stopped them to catch his breath and make a quick internal assessment of his injuries and their severity.
He nodded and pushed himself from the wall to follow her before his body began to stiffen up and really start to feel what had happened to it. She didn't know much about medicine or first aid, but she knew where everything was and he was grateful for that much.
He was grateful too that he'd taken and cared for enough beatings and battle damage to have a decent idea who to do with the supplies. At least the few he recognized. As much as a painkiller sounded great, he wasn't about to play hit and miss when he couldn't even read the name, much less any directions.
So he stuck with cleaning the blood and dirt from his fur with the cloth and sink there.
"Does it hurt?" She asked looking at the medicine bottles. "There's a couple things for pain here." She added reading one of the bottles carefully.
"Not much, but it'll be hell in the morning." He told her with the kind of straightforward acceptance of someone who'd been through it several times and expected to face it several more. "Mostly bruising."
"This one is good for muscle pains and soft tissue damage." She said, obviously reading the bottle. "That'd help wouldn't it?" The young shekat offered. "Says take one for every 50 kilos of body weight."
"Yap, that's what it is." He turned to accept the pill bottle from her to regard it in a fair amount of annoyance. "Pity I don't know what I kilo is, much less how many I am."
"You're about one fifteen." She said confidently after giving him a professionally appraising look. "Which would be take two, or probably three cause you're really beat up."
He considered her, then the bottle, and finally decided that if he was going to be drugged this way, so be it and quickly swallowed two pills before stuffing the bottle in his pocket for later. If they were anything like the ones back home, he'd need them a few more times before his body stopped bitching at him for it.
"Thanks," he offered her, uncertain about a lot of things but not willing to be impolite if it really was what it looked like.
"Actually, I should be thanking you." She smiled a bit sheepishly. " For saving me from my own obliviousness. Father said curiosity would be the death of me, and he was almost right."
"Given that thing," he motioned to her collar, "our host is more responsible than you. That's a hell of a critter to miss coming across the boarder and poor security that let it get so close."
"I'm sure somebody will be in trouble for it." She said easily. "Our host has a low tolerance for failure, or so I've heard."
"Except her own, no doubt." He actually chuckled, though he filed her response under 'highly suspicious behavior' for her story. "If she's anything like the others of her kind I know."
"Probably." She agreed. "Not that I've really run into anybody like her before."
"You're lucky," he told her quietly and rolled his shoulders with a wince before heading out of the small medical room.
"I think the word is sheltered." She sighed, following him. "Which is safe, but rather boring."
"You don't have the instincts for much more exciting," he pointed out as gently as he could without mincing the point as he headed for his quarters here. "Learn to like boring. It'll keep people alive."
"Like I have that option." She groused. "Being one of Keira's hostages isn't exactly safe."
"Except for the wildlife or getting way too drunk on the ocean, I haven't found much to be worried about."
"As long as my father doesn't disobey Keira." She sighed. "And I know he'll have to eventually."
"So enjoy what you have," he advised her simply. "Maybe you'll get out before then."
"Maybe." She sighed. "I just remember what one philosopher said, 'The gilded cage remains a cage'." She shrugged, and then looked at Chance curiously. "So who's good behavior are you guaranteeing?"
"Nobody's," he shrugged, paused at the door to his room. "She wants something else from me."
"Doesn't she always." She chuckled. "It's no coincidence that she keeps all those buff guys around." She shook her head.
"It'll be a cold day in hell before that happens voluntarily." He muttered darkly and clicked the door open, really not in a mood to deal with anyone for a while.
"Well, I'll see you around." She said and then realized something. "You know I never introduced myself. I'm Carly, and you are?" She asked curiously, though polite.
"Chance," he supplied before going into his room.
Looking for Jake for lunch led Javrin to one of the small practice rooms where the tom was engaged in a strange kind of sparring with a low-grade combat droid. Though he seemed to be simply circling it, Javrin could sense the Force being manipulated. It was this unusual manipulation that had the attention of a mixed group of eight Masters, Knights and Padawans watching the strange match. A brief look at the force manipulation didn't really tell Javrin anything but it did give him a headache.
Knowing better than to interrupt a sparing match he put himself out the edge of the practice circle and watched as Jake avoided the droid. He'd seen Razor fight often enough to realize that whatever he was doing, defeating the droid physically wasn't the point.
Javrin still wasn't sure what was the purpose of the match was when the droid crackled and sparked, then shut down and Jake breathed a sigh of relief and shifted his focus from the Force to the world in general. He inclined his head in thanks to Master Kastoris, then smiled at Javrin.
"I haven't a clue how you did that." Javrin admitted with a smile as he walked up to Jake. "But it was impressive all the same."
"Thanks," the lean tom wiped his brow. "Lunch time already?"
"Yes, thankfully." Javrin nodded. "Did you want to grab a quick shower before we head to the meal hall?"
"If you don't mind," he nodded and headed for the locker room. "It's not easy work."
"Force exercises never are." Javrin said as he followed Jake. "Heavy workout for mind and body."
"That should become easy enough to be practical with some work," he chuckled and turned one of the sonic showers on, still finding it rather strange to 'shower' dressed.
"We can take a shower more to your liking later." Javrin purred suggestively and felt the spike it sent through Jake's body. "That trick will be useful against those mechanical things Dark Kat likes to come up with."
"And the next time the Metallikats show up." Jake chuckled and turned the shower off. "And I am definitely ready for lunch."
"You think they'll show up again?" Javrin asked curiously, as they headed for the meal hall.
"It's almost a given," he shrugged in displeasure. "They're programming is still intact. They just need new bodies."
"Would someone be foolish enough to give them new bodies?" Javrin asked, clearly baffled by the idea of giving the two psychopaths new bodies.
"It's happened three times already, I don't see any reason it wouldn't happen again."
"Some droids just have to be wiped." Javrin said simply. "And those two definitely qualify."
"They aren't droids, Javrin," he said softly as they entered the dinning hall. "They're the minds of two mob bosses that got transferred into robot bodies. They're people."
"Really? I didn't know that." Javrin admitted, as they got in the food line. "Then what do you do with them?" He asked curiously.
"Put them back in prison," he shrugged, though none of his words settled well. "Kill if I have to."
"Would the MegaKat City system recognize them as being 'people'?" He wondered aloud.
"I don't know." Jade admitted. "The last time they were captured they were put in the evidence lockup. But that was only their heads and I don't think anybody really knew they weren't just robots then."
"Well, I guess that's just something to deal with when we get home." Javrin said easily and then shook his head in amusement.
"So how'd this round of meetings go?" Jake asked as they found a seat.
"More like a round of tests." He shook his head. "And it was very demanding. They haven't said, but I think they're trying to determine if my skills are advanced enough for the trials. Which is strange 'cause I'm not sure they are."
"If you can pass, you won't need a Master, and they'll have a full Jedi to keep an eye on me." He pointed out quietly. "You might not be as far from what they're looking for than you think."
"Perhaps not." Javrin nodded. "I just don't feel ready. I had barely four years of training; most have a decade or more. But the Masters wouldn't promote me, if I wasn't ready." He said, mostly trying to convince himself.
Jake reached over and squeezed Javrin's hand. "No, they wouldn't. They don't want you to go out there not ready to face the darkness." He stopped himself from any of the other displays that came to mind and simply held his hand. "And you've been on your own for eight years. He trained you well for the little time he was with you."
"Being a street kitten helped." Javrin chuckled softly. "Amazing the survival skills you pick up when all you have is yourself."
"And yet you didn't go back to the street when you hit MKC at fourteen." Jake pointed out. "You went to school and are making a very respectable future for yourself. It's not what many could manage."
"That wasn't easy." Javrin shook his head. "Had to convince a judge that I was really sixteen so he'd let me be emancipated. But I didn't get away from streets right away...there are only so many ways a fourteen year old can make enough money to support himself." He admitted softly.
"I know," Jake lifted a hand to brush his cheek gently. "What you do to survive is nothing to be ashamed of. You made it out. You used your smarts and your training to make something of yourself that the world would be a little poorer without."
"Thanks, Jake." Javrin smiled gratefully. "I always worry about people finding out, even if I don't have an actual record. You're actually the first person I've told." He said with an affectionate smile and leaned into Jake's touch, much less conscious of those around them than Jake was.
"Thank you," he murmured and rested his forehead against Javrin's. "We're going to make this work. It's all there is to it."
"And Feral thought the SWAT Kats gave him a headache." The blue-grey tom chuckled. "One thing my Master's teaching taught me is that stopping evil isn't something you just leave to law enforcement." He grinned mischievously.
"I knew there was another reason I liked you," he chuckled softly. "We might actually make some headway with you helping."
"Especially if we take some tech home." Javrin grinned. "Imagine how much you could improve the next TurboKat."
"That is almost beyond description." He chuckled with a shake of his head and took a bite from the food that tasted good for all it was largely unrecognizable to him. "Even without any examples, it's kind of boggling."
"That's right, you haven't really had a look at the fighters here, have you?" Javrin grinned even as Jake's breath caught. "Though I bet you could improve them."
"Now that's just a given," Jake smirked a bit. "Probably only a handful of people in the entire Republic that could fly one though."
"That I wouldn't bet on." Javrin chuckled. "The Republic is a very big place, lots of worlds. Even if there's only one Chance-grade pilot per planet, that's still quite a few."
"I can actually build something not even he could fly," Jake chuckled a bit sheepishly. "That's what happened to the first jet I made. I could handle it, but no pilot could."
"Well, that would reduce the number pilots capable of it." Javrin grinned. "A few Jedi Knights and Masters I expect."
"And it'd be so pilot specific it wouldn't be funny." He chuckled self consciously "I've had to scrap so many plans because no one could handle them it's not even funny. It'd be nice to see some of the really advanced designs see reality." He added much more softly. "But it's generations between pilots of Chance's caliber. There may never be one that could handle some of what's designed."
"It's generations when you've only got one world." He agreed. "You'd have the big corporations fighting to get you to work for them." He grinned. "You'd be dangerous with the backing of multi-stellar corporation."
That raised Jake's eyebrow. "They don't know me, do they?" He murmured as it hit him he wasn't blacklisted out here. At least not yet.
"No, but I'm sure they'll want to." Javrin smiled over Jake's uncertainty. "Especially Sienar Systems."
"I'm rather hoping not to have that much free time," he sighed. "Chance probably doesn't have much time."
"I was thinking after we get Chance back." Javrin suggested. "We'll probably have some time before we go back. Though if he gets into one of the new starfighters, we may have to bring one along to get him to go home." He chuckled.
"Javrin ... more than a few weeks and there won't be a city to go back to." Jake reminded him quietly. "Remember, Dark Kat knows that SWAT is out of commission, and he probably knows we're both gone."
"Well, we might have to kick his tail when we get home." Javrin nodded. "Like you guys haven't done that without my help."
"I know," he swallowed. "It's a matter of how many good kats die in the meantime. He wants to decimate the Enforcers even more than he wants to take over the city. The city might never really recover from a blow like that. At least not in any form I'd want to see it in."
"Jake, there's nothing to be done about it now." Javrin said gently, reaching up one hand to touch Jake's cheek gently. "We do the best we can. Maybe the psychopaths will fall to fighting among themselves over who gets the city." He suggested wryly.
"We can hope," he leaned into the contact, then forward to claim a lingering kiss to ground him in the present. "And we'll deal with it." He promised himself as much as anyone. "And that Sith is going to regret katnapping my partner."
"Most definitely." Javrin agreed easily, then shook his head. "I'm going to have to come up with one hell of an explanation for disappearing without warning." He said thoughtfully. "Dr Synian gets very agitated when students disappear."
"Just tell her got caught up in a SWAT Kats adventure," he chuckled. "It's the truth after all."
"And it's not like that sort of thing doesn't happen to museum personnel." Javrin chuckled. "She's certainly had her share."
"Mmm, yes she has." Jake actually blushed.
"Now that's interesting." Javrin teased lightly. "Interested in my boss?" He asked with playful curiosity.
"Not much," his blush deepened. "But stuff happens out there, you know."
"I'll bet it does." Javrin snickered playfully as Jake's blush deepened even more.
"How are you feeling?" The buff Black Lion asked Chance politely as the tabby soaked in the hot tub, letting the hot water soothe aching muscles. "You did well defeating a narthos without weapons." He said in honest admiration.
"Sore as hell, but not bad for having that critter roll on top of me." He chuckled a bit and glanced up at the male.
"You were fortunate to avoid the teeth and claws." He nodded. "From what we have heard, it seems that narthos slipped through during a brief interruption in boundary screen." He explained, dropping to floor laying on his stomach. "But because narthos are quite stealthy the technician who repaired the breach, was unaware that the creature got through."
"Have they all been tracked down now?" He asked simply.
"There was only the one." He said easily. "The breach was only open briefly, and narthos males are solitary hunters who stake large territories." He explained. "I'm Terasin." He said by way of introduction.
"Chance," the tabby responded, though he doubted he needed to tell the Lion that. "Looks like you're here on your own." He motioned at the intertwining ropes of silver and a reddish bronze material that composed the Lion's collar.
"I don't know how things are on your world, but here there are far worse places to be then the entourage of a powerful Warlord." He said simply. "Many males compete for such positions."
"Not my kind of gig." Chance chuckled, though it wasn't directed at the Lion. "I'm the kind that takes the Warlords down."
"Very different worlds." The Lion nodded. "Though not all call themselves Warlords, and some are more powerful than others. But it is just the natural order of things for females to rule." He said simply.
"Yeah, that's different," he nodded and tried to wrap his brain around what things would be like in that kind of world and shuddered a bit at a few of the mental images. "Had one gal that thought that, but she was really out there." He shook his head. "So you guys like it with her?"
"She can be demanding and moody." He admitted. "But she is also a good provider and protector. None of the other warlords dare to make war on her, so we know our kin are safe." He said easily. "But she is also ruthless to her enemies and to those who threaten what is hers."
"And willing to go to a lot of trouble to get what she wants," he added with a nod. "You have a clue what she wants a pilot for?"
"No, but she doesn't discuss strategy with us." He admitted. "Only with the robed outsiders." And then looked at Chance thoughtfully. "We had thought she'd brought you here for kittens." He said simply. "That is what she talked about."
"Great," he muttered darkly, his ears flat against his skull for a bit longer than was really good news. "She better not be expecting cooperation for it."
The look the Lion gave him was one of distinct confusion. "It is not an honor to be chosen to be the sire of powerful warlord's kittens where you come from?" He asked curiously.
"No, there is no honor in being a sire." He shook his head, his voice a low rumble. "It's a crime to katnap someone, to hold them against their will. Rape is almost as serious a crime as murder. I wasn't asked to come, you know," he tapped his collar. "I'm not about to forgive that."
"I wondered about the wisdom of going into another culture." The Lion said thoughtfully. "But here it is common for a warlord to take a highly desired male from another warlord." He explained, accepting Chance's anger but clearly not understanding it.
"No one is free here, are they?" He asked more quietly.
"Warlords rule. Lesser warlords follow greater warlords, and everyone follows some warlord." He said simply, clearly seeing it as the natural order of things. And it was a very good description of a feudal system of government. "Some warlords are better to their people than others."
"Well, this one's about to get rattled," Chance told him just as simply. "She's crossed somebody she'll loose to with this."
"She has survived many challenges, this will be no different." He said simply, though clearly something was disturbing him.
"I guess we'll just see," he shrugged. "The possibility doesn't sit well, does it?"
"It would mean looking for a new warlord, who needs males." He said simply. "Or going back to more difficult lives, and the danger of invasion by another warlord when we are without protection."
"I guess that's the down side of being dependent on someone else," Chance said quietly, a bit sympathetic. "You don't know if they'll do something that takes your world out from under you."
"No you don't." He said quietly. "But no gain is without risks." He said as he stood slowly. "I know you may not want the attention, but you do make an attractive addition to our company." He said quietly, before walking away clearly lost in thought.
The tabby watched him go and shook his head. "Your attention I don't mind so much. Just hers." He said softly, not really intending to be heard.
"So what do you think of paradise island?" The White Lion asked as he sat down near the edge of the hot tub. He sounded younger than the other Lion, and there was a distinct note of sarcasm in his voice. Like Chance he was wearing a high tech color. "Jackson LongClaw." He said by way of introduction.
"Gilded cage that's going to get rattled," the tabby looked up and took this Lion's measure. "So what got you 'volunteered' to join this lovely harem?" He asked with a matching sarcasm.
"The latest golden boy of Sienar Systems Fighter Design division." He grinned. "Keira's got me designing a new space fighter for her. I hang out here in my time off. The guys are good company, even if I don't buy into their culture."
That raised an eyebrow. "What's she got on you that you'll design a weapon for her?"
"I'm not interested in dying, that's what." He shook his head. "And with her, dying means you got off easy."
"Basic terrorist," the tabby rolled his eyes. "Gods, as if there weren't enough of those nut-jobs in my life already."
"Nah, actually she's planning on conquering this world and then using as a base for further expansion." He chuckled. "She'd be less dangerous if she was just a terrorist."
Chance flicked a confused look at the White Lion. "I think whatever they did to make language work didn't translate that right. You just described a basic terrorist."
"At least in my understanding, terrorists don't want to rule worlds, build empires and expand societies. They just want to spread fear and chaos." The White Lion clarified. "Maybe we just define terrorists differently."
"I think so," the tabby considered thoughtfully. "They're all classified as Omegas back home, and they're the trouble I take down. Most of them want to take over, though."
"Ah, our terrorists are usually just interested in tearing down society for one reason or another." He chuckled. "What's an Omega, by the way?"
"They're criminals that have powers or things that make them much more dangerous than normal people." He worked through the salient points for now. "Most want to either take over or blow everything up, but some just want money one way or another. Time mages, super-tech users, a variety of geniuses that mutate everything in sight, animated giant mummies and volcanoes. They're all different, they just have a basic immunity to standard law enforcement in common."
"Well, I think we've got all of those in the Republic, and then some. But there's hundreds of worlds involved so that's to be expected." He said. "Except maybe the volcano, since I've never heard of a natural disaster with terrorist behavior. But the Sith would qualify since they definitely have powers that normal people don't. "He explained.
"Well, the volcano came to life and decided to march through downtown," Chance shook his head. "It was one of the weirder ones." He admitted. "So what can a Sith do that's so dangerous?"
"Well, mind control for starters." He said easily. "Though that doesn't work quite as well if you're stubborn and know its a Sith you're dealing with. The ability to manipulate objects with simple force of will. I've seen Keira casually move starfighters with a gesture." He shook his head. "I've heard that that can put to more damaging uses but I've never actually seen it. And supposedly the more powerful ones can throw bolts of highly destructive lightning, but I haven't seen that either. Problem is a lot of the info on the Sith is cloud in myth and legend, so you have to try and sort fact from fiction."
"And with individuals, what one can do another might not." Chance nodded, more familiar with the concept than anyone had a right to be. "Stubborn I've got down," he chuckled with a bit of a smirk. "She'd hardly be the first critter I've taken down that could do special effects either. At least once this stupid thing comes off." He tapped his collar.
"Anything's possible." The White Lion nodded. "Though I've been trying to find a way to bypass these collars for six months with no luck. Don't know who designed these for her, but he or she was very, very good."
"No one is as good as my partner," he chuckled dangerously. "He's the one she pissed off taking me, and he's coming. It won't be long before things start to go boom."
"Does your partner know which planet you're on?" He asked curiously. "We're in kind of an out of the way part of this galaxy."
"We've crossed time and alternate realities," Chance shook his head. "Space is nothing. He's coming." He said with the calm certainty of someone who knew the truth in his very soul.
"Any possibility of hitching a ride when he gets here?" Jackson asked with a wise-ass grin, though the question was serious. "Unlike the locals, I'm not enamored of our gilded cage."
"I don't see why not." The tabby shrugged. "I don't know what the available destinations will be, but I doubt he'd turn down someone who wanted to leave."
"Hey, I'll settle for a destination of 'not here'." The Lion chuckled. "And if your partner is half as attractive as you, I'll have traveled in worse company." He smirked playfully.
"I'm handsome, he's cute." Chance winked. "And sexy as hell."
"Cute is something this place could use some of." Jackson said wistfully. "We're just brimming at the seems with buff and handsome, courtesy of Keira's obsession." He shook his head. "She has no appreciation for the value of cute."
"Yeah, I noticed." He nodded with a sigh of his own. "Big and buff is nice, but I like'm small and cute. Of course, being partnered with it for ten years has kind of prejudiced me to it too." He chuckled.
"My ex is small and cute too." Jackson sighed. "Unfortunately, he went and got married to a fem who's not into sharing."
"That's just not right," he shook his head. "I can see not wanting to share with just anybody, but not sharing with someone who also cares about him? It's just not right."
"Some people are just very solidly into monogamy." Jackson shook his head. "Not something I really get, but it seems common enough."
"They should stick to each other," Chance said even as he tried to comprehend it being common. "But I guess that's how it goes sometimes, hu?"
"Pretty much." He shrugged. "My ex was always kind of monogamous, so I never worried. Didn't take into account his folks' desire for grandpups." He sighed. "My mistake."
"Yeah, family can do quite a number on you," he nodded. "Not sure if I'm happy or not to not have to worry about it."
"Haven't had much to do with my folks since I bailed the Academy to be a designer and inventor." He shook his head. "My folks were, to say the least, a bit disappointed."
"Yeah, I bet." He nodded. "Nothing like going against their wishes to tick them off."
"Please be seated." The statuesque Borzoi female sitting behind the large wooden desk indicated two chairs as Jake and Javrin entered her office. "I'm Jedi Knight Tasha Sergenski, and the Council asked me to brief you on what we've discovered so far, regarding your Sith attacker."
"Thank you." Javrin nodded politely and sat down in one of the wooden chairs that faced the Knight.
"Excellent," Jake nodded and took the other chair, looking forward to having some forward momentum back again.
"We traced the medallion you brought back to one Keira'tana Shinowara." She began. "She's the strongest of the warlords on Sancresti Redoubt, with ambitions to ruling the planet. What's interesting is that while she is indeed a darksider, she appears to be self-taught with no actual connections to the Sith. This doesn't make her any less dangerous however." She cautioned. "About a quarter of the planet is currently under her control and indications are that she's revered by her people."
"But the medallion includes the Sith crest, why would she use it if she isn't one?" Javrin asked curiously.
"That's one of the reason the Council has decided to said in a covert strike team, Padawan." Tasha explained. "Historical records in that sector are sketchy prior to five hundred years ago, but stories suggest that there may have been a Sith fortress on Sancresti during the height of Sith power."
"So she might be using what she found, or she may have made connections with them since she started training." Jake nodded, as much to himself as here. "When do we leave?"
"Or there might be the spirit of long-dead Sith Lord guiding her." Tasha cautioned. "We've seen that happen before. In any case your mission is not to confront her directly. This is a rescue and intel mission." She said firmly. "Master Li-quan Tran will be in charge of the mission, and there is a briefing scheduled for seven tomorrow morning in briefing room 27. You'll receive the rest of your mission details then." She finished. "Any further questions?"
"No ma'am." Javrin answered politely, thinking that it would be better to ask questions during the briefing.
Jake considered her for a moment, then inclined his head. "No, ma'am."
"Very good." She nodded. "Dismissed."
Javrin nodded, stood and left the room with Jake at his side. "Not exactly what I expected them to find." He said quietly, once they were down the hall out of earshot.
"What were you expecting?" He looked over curiously.
"I was expecting it to be an actual Sith Lord." Javrin said simply. "Not a self-styled one."
"Oh," he nodded. "I guess it makes sense to me. Everybody that messes with us is the self-styled kind of megalomaniac."
"True, but around here we have an organization that recruits, trains and promotes megalomaniacs." He chuckled quietly.
"And I thought MKC was screwed up," Jake shook his head with a bemused sound. "So how much do you have left to your day?"
"Just an exam after dinner with Master Kastoris." He said after a moment's thought.
"Then grab a meal, and I'll see you in our quarters?" Jake rumbled softly with more than a little promise of pleasures to come.
"Sounds good to me." Javrin purred back, as they headed for the meal hall.
"Are you sure about this, Master?" The dark robed lizard asked Keira worriedly as they walked through the quiet halls of the fortress complex. "We have lost many in vitality, it is far too untested."
"He's too stubborn and paranoid." The Panther growled in annoyance. "It will take too long in the real world to get him where I need him. Virtuality gives me the control over reality that I need." She explained. "The temper and the anger are there, I just need to be able to push the right buttons."
"It could permanently damage or kill him." The lizard cautioned. "Like it did the engineer."
"The tabby is far stronger than the engineer." She shook her head. "And I need pilots soon, not in years."
"Yes, Master." The lizard bowed. "I'll have him transferred at once. We should be ready in a few hours."
"Excellent, Apprentice." Keira nodded. "It will work this time."
"Yes, Master." The lizard nodded, not entirely convinced as he walked away.
"Gambling again, my Apprentice?" A hollow shadowy voice asked, as a spectral figure appeared next to Keira. "Your luck has not been good, thus far."
"A necessary risk, my Master." Keira replied subserviently. "We don't have a lot of time."
"Less than you think." The shadowy figured nodded, and then disappeared leaving Keira alone with her thoughts.
"I'm not sure that's possible." Keira muttered, and strode purposefully toward the control room of her virtual universe machine.
Already in the room when Jake and Javrin arrived was Tasha, Vince and another Knight that neither of them had met, as well as a wiry trio of Lynx Custos.
"Morning Jake, Javrin." Vince smiled as the Knights walked over. "I know you've met Tasha, so let me introduce Jedi Knight Myles Sunbright." He nodded indicating the lanky greyhound knight.
"A pleasure." The Knight said politely. "I wouldn't disturb the Lynxes." He whispered to Jake and Javrin. "They seem to be concentrating on being the strong silent types." He chuckled wryly.
"If everyone will have a seat, we can get started." An authoritative voice said suddenly from the front of the room. Standing on a table in front was a small raccoon, wearing the robes of a Jedi Master. "For those of you who haven't met me, I'm Master Li-quan Tran."
Jake nodded and moved to sit next to Javrin and Vince without a thought to how he was falling into this chain of command so easily from his Enforcer training.
"Thank you." He said, as the lights dimmed and a computer display was project on the front screen. "Our mission is two-fold; first objective is to obtain intel on the activities and background of the darksider calling herself Darth Keira; secondary objective is to retrieve a captured force-sensitive pilot by the name of Chance Furlong." He explained displaying first a picture of the regal but still very predatory Pantheress in black robes, and then a picture of Chance working on the engine block of a truck at the garage. From the tilted angle of the shot, it looked like the camera had probably been palmed by the photographer at the time.
"The tabby will probably not be wearing those overalls or working on a primitive land vehicle, so remember face and stripe pattern." He added, pausing before chuckling lightly at his own light humor. "Sancresti Redoubt is a hot world orbiting a binary star, so be prepared for glaring sun and temperatures around 100 or so. Recon satellite intel indicates that Keira is using an underground fortress as her center of operations, here." He said displaying a map of the planet that slowly zoomed into an area on the western side of the largest of the planet's eight continents. "There is a good possibility that this fortress is leftover from the last Sith War, so be on the look out for the usual traps."
"Any indication what she is doing to ensure he is still there?" Jake asked politely in the break.
"Our inside intel is limited at this time." The diminutive Master acknowledged. "However sensors detect what appears to be an electronic boundary around the fortress grounds. It seems likely that she may be using some sort of control collar. There is little evidence of organized patrols, but then the people of that region revere her, and will likely protect her position without being told to."
"So we have to avoid any contact with the locals then?" One of the Lynxes asked curiously.
"Yes, since we can't discount that she may be communicating with them telepathically." The raccoon nodded. "From what we know about her, she has most of the abilities one would expect of a thoroughly trained knight. There is also the unconfirmed report of her using force lightning, so we have to be on our guard."
"How debilitating will this collar be to him when we find him?" Jake asked quietly. No one present was surprised that his focus was on his partner and not much else.
"Depends on the design." Vince answered, being the technical person in the group. "Some cause pain, some induce unconsciousness, and I've even heard of the occasional kind that explodes if you cross a certain line." He explained. "It's a technology that's heavily research by both sides of the law, since it's used in correctional facilities as well as in slave camps."
"Any way to tell what this one does before it does it?" Jake focused on the Knight. "Aside from Chance being able to tell me."
"Only by examining it." Vince shook his head. "Though usually the explosive ones are larger, but you can't count on that. They're tricky to disarm too, so we really want to get a hold of one of the control boxes."
"I can take care of that much." Jake set his jaw, ready for contention that his Force-gift wasn't controlled enough for that yet.
"Just be careful, Jake." Vince cautioned gently. "You don't want one of those zaps of yours being conducted into your partner."
"We will make a point of capturing a control box." The raccoon said calmly. "It is likely that one or more guards will have one, so that should not be difficult."
Jake nodded to the Master, though no one present doubted that he'd deal with the collar himself if he thought he needed to.
"We'll be using a stealth equipped light freighter that's been equipped for combat." The Master continued. "That will allow us to land close to the base perimeter, and go in on foot from there. The heavy jungle surrounding the fortress is home to a number of large predators, so remember your lessons on controlling non-sentients." He detailed. "We embark in two hours."
Jake swallowed and nodded, the edginess about him settling as he mentally prepared for the mission.
"So how are you guys feeling about this, first mission and all?" Myles asked Jake and Javrin, making light conversation.
"It's not really first mission for either of us." Javrin said easily. "Especially not for him." He chuckled at his boyfriend. "He's probably seen as many missions as any of you."
"First real time Chance hasn't been here," Jake admitted quietly. "But this isn't that different from a lot of what we've handled."
"Don't worry, we'll get him back." Vince said, with easy confidence. "Has everybody eaten breakfast?" He asked casually, since it was still early.
"We have," Jake answered for Javrin without thinking.
"Good." Vince grinned, as the others nodded agreement. "Don't want anyone going on a mission on an empty stomach."
"We should all probably go pack." Myles suggested gently. "And those who don't spend much time in jungles should probably visit the supply section for appropriate clothing and gear."
"That would be us," Jake chuckled a bit and guided Javrin out of the room.
"We left home without enough changes of clothes." Javrin chuckled as they walked. "Actually, I think we forgot to pack anything." He grinned.
"It's not like we could bring much sneaking into that base," Jake reminded him. "How long a flight is this one going to be?"
"Probably a few days." Javrin hazarded. "It's on the outer rim somewhere."
"Not worth wearing the uniform on board then," Jake nodded as they worked their way to supply.
"Probably not." Javrin agreed. "Good thing it's only the nine of us. Those light freighters aren't exactly the roomiest things ever built." He chuckled and found himself drawn into a hard, hungry kiss right in the hallway as Jake tried to placate his fears.
"Not much privacy either, I expect." He said after letting Javrin go, his nerves almost on visible display. "Sorry," he whispered as he leaned his head against Javrin's.
"For what?" Javrin asked quietly and got a soft chuckle for it.
"For being a mess." Jake's voice was a bit shaky. "I know I must be a bear to be around right now."
"It's not so bad." Javrin smiled and kissed Jake gently on the cheek. "And I kind of expected it. I'd be worried if you weren't, considering how important Chance is to you."
"And I just don't work in groups," he let out a breath and tried to settle himself enough to be presentable. "It's almost the hardest part of this. I don't ... I just don't know how to work with that many people."
"It's weird that they're sending so many." Javrin said thoughtfully. "Someone is more worried than their letting on." He wondered aloud. "Maybe we'll break up into smaller teams once we get there. There's a lot of ground to cover."
"Just know, whatever team I'm with, we're going to Chance." He said softly, meaning more than just his focus. "I don't know how, but I can find him."
"Maybe we can manage to grab Vince and make it the three of us." Javrin suggested. "I know they're not gonna let the two of us take off on our own." He chuckled and got nuzzled for it.
"I bet they already know that I'm headed for Chance as soon as I have land to move on. It'd be poor planning not to assign someone to tag along."
"And they know damn well, that I'll be right behind you." Javrin chuckled. "I just figure Vince is a good choice, 'cause you seem to get along with him."
"Yeah, I do." He nodded and let a breath out. "Let's get those supplies."
"Ah crap!" Chance's sleep was broken by the sound of a distant, but large explosion that shook his bed slightly and loosened dust from the ceiling, sending him to his feet and scrambling for clothing before his brain had even begun to really click on line. He also thought he could hear the sound of a klaxon going off, but it was very faint as he rushed out the door and headed for the disturbance.
Out in the hallway, it was easier to hear which way the klaxon was coming from. Another distant rumble caused the lights to flicker and dim, before they went out. After a brief moment, red emergency lights came illuminating the hallway dimly.
It was all so familiar it was easy to forget he was a prisoner on an alien planet as he made quick work of the dim halls. As he got closer to the klaxon the red light became hazy with a mixture of smoke and haze. He could hear a pitched sound which sounded like the blasters the robots that had attacked MegaKat City had used, and then he heard a far more familiar sound; the sound of mini-missiles launching from a Glovatrix.
"Knew you'd find me," the tabby smirked and worked his way towards the battle, his heart pounding in his chest even as he reminded himself he was unarmed.
As he turned a corner, he saw that the hallway widened at the far end becoming double-wide as it reached what appeared to be a storeroom, judging from the boxes he could see. There was the high-pitched scream of a blaster, followed by small form in SWAT colors flying backwards into a stack of boxes, which crumbled and collapsed.
That was the end of thought as Chance bolted foreword to the collapsed boxes and started to tear through them, seeking his partner without getting hit himself.
Just before Chance entered the storeroom, a thick transparent door slammed across the hallway cutting him off and leaving the pile of boxes mere yards away but still out of reach.
"What the fuck?" He snarled even as he felt for an edge or anything he could use to pry it open.
There was an edge, but it resisted his efforts at brute force without striating. Then he remembered passing what looked like a janitor's closet, and a toolbox in there and he twisted around to go for a bit of serious leverage.
When Chance got back he could see a foursome of armored Mastiffs standing around the boxes. One of them reached into the pile and pulled out a limp, unconscious figure and tossed it over his shoulder.
"Great. He's out." The one Mastiff grumbled. "How we gonna question him?" He said as they started walked toward a door on the far side of the storeroom from Chance.
"Just poke him with the shock stick a couple of times." A darker marked Mastiff chuckled darkly making a crudely suggestive gesture with what looked to be a high-tech police nightstick. "That always works." He chuckled.
"I don't know he don't look so good." The first one commented. "Might kill him."
"And this is a problem how?" The second one said. "It's not like we have to question him."
Chance felt the rage flair hot inside him, a familiar warmth that eased thought and fear into action he rarely remembered much of afterwards. Flashes of the next few moments burned into his brain though.
The shock on the Mastiffs faces as he exploded onto the scene.
The crack of a neck being crushed as he dealt with the one holding his partner and claimed what was his.
The snarl of another Mastiff that came after him to a certain fate that wasn't remembered.
The feel of Razor's limp body against his chest as he bolted after the fourth Mastiff fell.
He knew it was really bad before his feet stopped in the medical room he'd gotten his painkillers from. Even without looking he knew this wasn't just unconscious. Jake was too cool, too limp ... and the smell.
That smell of burnt fur and flesh would stay with him forever.
Chance groaned past the tears and blood he could taste through his receding sleep.
The bed was familiar. Not of the nightmare of the last week, but from when life made sense. When life was worth it.
"Hey, Tiger." The calico said, gently from next to Chance. "Having that nightmare again?" He asked quietly, one hand on Chance's shoulder, as he lay on one side facing his old friend.
"Nightmare?" He looked up over his shoulder without really moving and finally placed the where and who he was with.
"Well, maybe not a nightmare exactly." Erik said quietly, in light of the approaching dawn. "You've been reliving Jake's death in your dreams for the last two weeks." He said sympathetically. "Not surprising, given how close you two were."
Chance started at him dumbfounded.
"He's not dead." He shook his head stubbornly, not knowing why he was so sure of it, only that he was.
"I wish that was true, Tiger." Erik said gently. "But we were both at the funeral."
"He's not dead," the tabby snarled, his tears and tone sounding more like a denial than the truth he felt in his soul.
"Tiger." Erik said gently, putting his arms around the tabby. "I know you don't want to believe it." He said sympathetically. "But he wouldn't want you stop living 'cause he died. You can't begin to heal, until you can accept that he's gone."
"Erik, cut the psychobabble." Chance muttered, though he didn't resist the embrace and let his head hang down. "What happened?"
"Dark Kat happened." Erik said quietly. "I don't know all the details but he got his hands on nuke material. Tried to blackmail the city into surrendering, again. You and Jake found out where the bomb was hidden and went after it." He said quietly. "Then Dark Kat attacked the city in one of those flying fortresses of his. Jake took one of your Cyclotrons to go disarm the bomb, while you went after the fortress." He sighed.
"Jake got the first bomb, but while he was on his way back to rejoin you, a second bomb that no one had known about went off." He paused. "The high-tech boys called it an enhanced EMP bomb, but whatever the case, it wiped out 95% of electronics across the city and about 20 miles out. According to Enforcer who saw it, the shockwave slammed the cyclotron into a bridge abutment." He paused quietly. "But it wasn't the crash that killed him, it was Nightside, some Omega assassin who'd teamed up with Dark Kat. Caught him while he freeing himself from the wrecked bike."
"And the Omegas?" Chance asked quietly, numb inside despite the part of him that was screaming how wrong this was. How it wouldn't have gone down like that. Like this.
"You took down the flying fortress. Everybody saw it crash into the bay. I don't know whether Dark Kat was on-board or not. The Enforcers have the crash site cordoned off, and they've had divers there since it went down." He explained gently, though it was clear that it was a question he was used to answering.
"From what I've heard, when you headed back to Jake something fired from the ground ripped through the TurboKat. You said it was like Turmoil's ray, only it actually ripped things as well as scrambling your senses." He said, remembering Chance's description. "Felina had a squad in the area. She got you and Jake to Serenity. They were able to patch you up, but there wasn't anything they could do for Jake. He lived about long enough for you to come around and say good-bye."
That was the first, and only, thing the tabby could really believe. It was very much something Jake would manage.
This time he didn't fight the tears or grief that washed over him in a numbing wave as he curled back up and tried to comprehend being T-Bone without Razor.
Erik just held Chance close and let him cry. It was the first time that the tabby had actually accepted the loss enough to cry, and grieve. It was a good sign for the long run.
Chance knelt by the fresh grave, his vision too blurry to read the inscription past his partner's name. He couldn't take reading the dates, and the words below, some meaningful phrase he was sure, was a lump in his throat as he started to break down again. He knew he should be humiliated by sobbing like a little kitten and clinging to the gravestone like some kind of security blanket, but he couldn't make himself care. It hurt too much to care.
It was still sinking in how much of his world was defined by Jake's presence in it.
How much of his life now had to be redefined by something other than the absence of his partner.
And the almost comforting knowledge that he had no real desire to do so.
"How perfectly delicious." A sneering female voice with a strangely familiar accent commented. A statuesque female in black leather and a long black leather coat could be see lounging against a large headstone in the distance. "Your partner, your jet, your city and now it appears your sanity. Ilyana will be pleased." She chuckled maliciously.
"Nightside." Erik murmured in surprise.
The name spun Chance around and to his feet, his claws leaving three long gashes in Jake's headstone. He barely saw the person as the rage rushed up inside him, no longer held back by a lack of focus. He saw a kill and rushed forward across the uneven grown and headstones without a thought for tactics. All he wanted to rip her apart with his bare claws.
Nightside expected this and grabbed a black metal pole from the ground swiftly, leaping backwards as she did so. "Think you can take me?" She sneered disdainfully at the charging tabby and the mindless fury he represented. "Come on, then."
All Chance did was snarl as the distance closed and it became a fight of skill and agility against rage and mass. If he'd bothered to think, Chance would have realized that it was one of the dumbest things he'd ever tried.
He was in no state to think, though, and the rushing power that came with embracing of his rage only served to fuel his state. That rage fueled not only strength but speed as well, and the fight became one of endurance and attrition.
She was good, very good, but she was used to being able to take down opponents with a few precise and deadly strikes of her staff, or at range with her rifle. The preternatural rage fueling the tabby allowed him to ignore the pain that her staff strikes caused, and made his strikes that much more painful when they connected. Something that happened far too often and far too deeply for her confidence.
The fight ranged across the graveyard with Nightside generally in retreat until fatigue and injury caused her to miss her footing on a gravestone and fall on her back, her staff clattering out of reach. She didn't even have long enough to curse, much less reach for the weapon before Chance was on her, fags and claws and unnatural strength tore into her body as an enraged tiger might.
By the time he calmed enough to remember to breath and look around all that was left of Nightside were bits of flesh, cloth and shattered bones. Not even her head had survived in one piece.
"Erik?" He eventually called out.
"Oh wow, Tiger." Erik said, clearly stunned by what he'd seen as he caught up with the wide ranging fight. "Guess Felina had the right idea when she asked you to head Hunter Squad." He said looking in stunned amazement at the destruction his old friend had wrought.
It only sort of registered that Erik had mentioned something else he didn't remember. It was starting not to surprise him.
"You'd better call them." He said quietly without moving from the middle of the blood and guts he'd created of a shekat. "Murder's still a crime." He added as he started to feel sick at what he'd done. At what Jake would think of him for it.
"Not in this case, Chance." Erik said quietly. "Nightside was never going to make it to trial, and everyone knew that. Her bomb killed at least a dozen Enforcers when their choppers went down, she crippled Commander Feral, and she killed Razor." He said softly. "You weren't the only one out for blood, Tiger. Not by a long shot."
"I promised him," he whispered, his eyes closing against the tears that were threatening. "I promised I wouldn't become a real vigilante. That Feral wouldn't be right."
"Chance, one slip doesn't make you a vigilante." Erik said quietly, putting his arms around Chance. "Tiger, you've obviously got a lot of anger to deal with, so why not put it to good use?" He suggested gently. "Take Felina up on her offer, and the take the Omegas down for good." He encouraged. "With her support and the tech Jake left behind, you could finally put an end to it." He said softly. "I think he'd approve of that."
"He'd want me to not get my fool hide killed," he murmured and leaned into the contact, absently surprised that anyone but Jake would be willing to touch him when he was this messy. "Why not," he sighed. "It's all I'm really good for anyway."
"You were a good officer before Uly Feral booted you." Erik reassured his old friend. "That hasn't changed, you've just gotten stronger. Personally, I think you've got a good shot at the second-in-command position." He grinned. "But lets get you cleaned up." He said, helping Chance stand. "You've made quite the mess of yourself."
The comments left him a bit bewildered, but he wasn't in a state to care either. "Somebody needs to tell them what happened," he motioned to the gore.
"We'll get you cleaned up, then we can tell them." Erik said simply and urged the tabby to stand and come with him. "It's not like this is going anywhere."
"No ..." he admitted, though he was still torn between what he knew he should do and the sense his friend made.
When it came down to it, Chance did what he'd always done when he was lost. He followed the person he trusted and let Erik lead him to the car.
"Come on, Tiger." Erik encouraged gently as they entered his apartment. "Let's get you cleaned up." He said, gently steering Chance toward the bathroom. As out of control and destructive as the big tom had been in the graveyard, he was now as submissive as a kitten and allowed his lifelong friend to guide him, help him get his blood-soaked clothing off and turned on the water till it was hot.
As strong and alive as he'd been in the fight, Chance was now completely drained, even more than usual.
"In you go, Tiger." Erik said gently guiding Chance into the shower, and his fur thoroughly wetted as he stood in the spray without really moving, only soaking in the warmth as most of the blood ran from his fur and down the drain. "Want me to do your back?" He offered gently, careful not to presume too much on a role that had probably been Jake's.
The question earned him a blank look for a moment, then hesitation as the question was processed.
Erik was almost ready to leave the tabby to clean himself up when Chance's voice stopped him.
"Yeah," the tabby murmured. "Come in."
Erik stepped in behind Chance, picked up the shampoo and began working it slowly but thoroughly into his old friend's fur starting at his broad shoulders and working his way down. His touch was cleansing with a light kneading of the tabby's back to help him relax. In all the years he'd known Chance, he couldn't remember him seeming quite so lost. That in and of itself was a testament to just how central Jake had been to Chance's life.
Deep inside, Chance still couldn't believe his partner was really dead. He could barely believe what he'd just seen himself do.
But the hands on his back were comforting. The touch of a friend he'd known much longer, but not as well, as the tom he spent his adult life with. It felt almost right in a warped way. Someone that would be home for him when he came back from a fight. He couldn't do it alone, he'd known that his whole life, but there were few friends left in his life.
Maybe Erik could never be his partner, but he could be a gentle touch and warm bed after another hard day.
Erik gently turned Chance so he could rinse out the shampoo he'd just massaged in. As he worked the shampoo out, he hoped that Chance would take Felina's offer. It might not be SWAT, but it was still a way for him to be the good kat he always wanted to be and to protect the city against the Omegas. The calico had to admit to himself that it was partially a selfish wish, because he didn't want Chance going solo against those threats. And deep in his heart, he didn't think Chance would be able to ignore an attack on the city, even without Jake. Or worse, Chance might be more reckless solo.
Erik shuddered slightly inside thinking of that possibility, and even more, just how likely it was. The tabby was always at his worse when he didn't have someone to come home to. Someone he cared enough about to be careful for.
It was a hell of a roll to fill, especially after who had been there before.
He was startled into freezing when he felt Chance's mouth against his. The calico let the kiss go on for a little while, before gently breaking it. "Let's get the front of you clean, Tiger." He said gently. It wasn't that he wasn't attracted to Chance, hell it was well established that he was and under just about any other circumstances he'd jump at the opening. But he knew his friend was on autopilot, and he didn't want to take advantage of that. He'd accept filling the roll Jake had to a point, but he couldn't and wouldn't take Jake's place. Assuming that was even possible, which was an assumption Erik didn't consider likely.
"I'll get it." Erik said getting up from the couch where he and Chance had been hanging out after the long day. With the city still in the process of rebuilding the electronic infrastructure there still wasn't a lot to do in the evening. Basic electricity had been restored, but extras like television transmitters were still under repair. A few radio stations had been restored, mostly in case they were needed for emergency announcements.
"Hello, Commander." Chance heard Erik say, just out of sight at the front door.
"Is Chance around?" The tabby heard Felina ask, in a voice that sounded fairly exhausted.
"Yeah, he's here. Come on in." Erik said closing the door.
"Hello, Chance." Felina said, as she followed Erik into the living room. She did look a bit tired which meant, if she were anything like her uncle, that she was downright exhausted. She was still in uniform too; only it was the full Commander uniform that Chance was used to seeing on Ulysses Feral. "Good job on Nightside." She said with a smile. "Maybe a little overkill, but she had it coming. Just wish I'd been there for it."
"I'm glad you weren't," the tabby said softly, only just managing to look up at her. "I probably would have killed anything that moved right then."
"Have a seat, Felina." Erik offered.
"Thanks, Eric." The tall shekat said easily. "I know this may be a bad time to ask, but have you thought about my offer?" She asked Chance politely and waited as his blank and panicked look passed after a moment.
"Hunter Squad?" He asked uncertainly.
"Yes, I left the paper work here for you." She said looking around.
"I know where it is." Erik nodded, and went into the bedroom.
"Callie and I decided that we have to get more aggressive about the Omega problem." Felina said quietly. "Fifteen years of reacting, instead of acting have brought us to this." She gestured out the living room window where only a small fraction of the lights that should've be visible could be seen. "Too many good kats have died. It's time for us to go after them. Hence, Hunter Squad." She said firmly. "Next to my uncle, you have the most experience fighting Omegas. I know you're not big on authority, but I'd like you to be in charge of the Squad." She asked quietly.
"I donno," he admitted with a soft sound. "I'll fight for you, for the city," he continued before she could say anything, "but I don't know about leading anyone." He glanced up. "It's not really what I did."
"I can respect that." She nodded understandingly. "I just wasn't sure how you'd feel about following someone else's orders."
"Not great," he shrugged. "But I'm not about to be responsible for others when I can't even control myself."
"Well, the person I've got in mind shouldn't get to you quite as bad as my uncle used to." She said with a smile. "Lieutenant Commander Silverblaze, you might remember him better as Havok."
"Yeah, I remember him," he actually chuckled softly. "Had a real talent for pushing things right up to the point of getting booted, but not quite. Still like that?"
"Pretty much." She shook her head. "The rank has calmed him down a little, but he still gave my uncle headaches right up till he retired." She chuckled lightly, half of it being the bizarre concept of Ulysses Feral actually retiring. He hadn't wanted to, but retiring was more dignified than being removed by the medical officer. "He's a good squad leader."
"If he'll take somebody who's got no business on active duty, I'll go." Chance shook his head, still a bit disturbed by the idea that no one seemed to care what he'd done.
"Chance, you went overboard on an Omega who'd killed your partner." Felina said quietly. "You're not the first officer to do that, maybe the first to be strong enough to take an Omega solo, but nobody who's ever had a real partner, would blame you." She said firmly. "But the number of people who are willing and capable of taking on Omegas, isn't huge. The city is vulnerable now, we need every fighter we can get." She said simply.
He nodded even as he looked at her, dead serious. "Commander," he stressed the rank, "I didn't go off on the person I know killed my partner. I went off based on a name she never confirmed was hers from a story I heard of what happened." He ran a hand through his hair in distress. "It could have been anyone standing there for all I knew. I got lucky this time. But I don't remember any of the last three weeks. It could be anyone next time." He said softly. "I'll fight on your squad, Commander, as long as you understand just how screwed up my head is right now."
"We're all screwed up right now, Chance." Felina said quietly. "City in a shambles, at least a third of the force should be on grievance time, but we need them more than ever." She said quietly. "We're keeping an eye on everyone right now. Check in with Havok, when you're ready." She said standing. "My uncle wouldn't agree with me, but I'm glad to have you back."
"Understood, Ma'am." He straightened, old training kicking in at the odd moment but uncertain without being in uniform himself.
"And Chance, she did take credit for killing Jake and for shooting down the TurboKat." Erik reminded his old friend quietly. "If she wasn't NightBlade, she wanted you to think she was."
The tabby glanced at him, then nodded in acceptance of the details on what was largely a blur. "What shift is he on?" He asked Felina.
"He's on Delta shift currently, though you can usually catch him at the Tower near the end of Gamma, and the beginning of Alpha." She said after a moments thought. "Beta shift he teaches fundamentals of flight at the Academy."
"You reworked the shifts on me," Chance muttered slightly. "The new ones detailed somewhere in that paperwork?"
"Yes, they are." She nodded. "And they aren't new, we just haven't needed them in a long time." She shook her head. "Their war-footing shifts, six hour shifts to keep troops fresh. Midnight to six, six to noon, noon to six, six to midnight."
"Gotcha," he nodded and rubbed his face. It had been a seriously long day and was only getting longer. "I'll catch him at the Academy in the morning." He said quietly as he worked out when and where would be easiest to track him down.
"Sounds good, and good to have you back." She said, extending one hand. "See you in uniform."
"Yes, Ma'am." He accepted the handshake, though his wasn't nearly as sure as hers.
"Well, good evening Chance, Erik." She said, as she left, with Erik letting her out.
"Good night, Felina." Erik said easily, as he closed the door. "For what its worth Tiger, I think you're doing the right thing."
"It's better than sitting here and slowly going crazy," the tabby nodded with a wide yawn. "It's going to be an early morning too." He added and got up from the couch.
"Doing nothing probably would drive you crazy Tiger." Erik nodded. "You've never been one to let the world happen around you."
"Whether or not it was a good idea." He sort of chuckled and turned towards the bedroom. "I'm gonna try and get some sleep before I have to get up and hunt down my new CO."
Javrin shuddered under the intensity of Jake's emotions as he was pushed against a bulkhead and kissed with more fire and need than he'd ever felt before from his lover. It was almost out of control as Jake's hands moved along his body even as he rubbed against Javrin's body, unheeding of the clothing they both wore.
The grey tom didn't mind the attention, but he was feeling more than a little self-conscious since they hadn't made it to anywhere private this time. Giving in to the passion of the moment, he began running his hands over Jake's body while carefully avoiding removing any clothes. It was a strange combination to feel from Jake; the raw, demanding need fueled by something other than desire. He could feel the fear at its core, the loss so intense it made Jake want to cry. Even the distant knowledge that Jake knew this wasn't right and couldn't do anything about it.
He wasn't sure what to make of it all, but knew that the best thing was to just get Jake off as soon as possible since that seem to calm him, at least for awhile. Gently he shifted his tactics to rub and caress Jake in all the sensitive places that would bring him to orgasm, while he still had his clothes on. He felt the lean tom groan into his mouth as his touch began to work on him, the shudder and increased force against his body as Jake sought the release that would cool his body and mind for a while.
Suddenly Jake broke their kiss and pressed his clenched teeth against Javrin's shoulder. He clutched his lover against his body tightly as he came with a groan and trembling body.
Javrin held Jake close as the lean tom panted and came down from his orgasm, mentally and physically. A very small sound caused him to look up, and he blushed brightly beneath his fur when he realized that Tasha and one of the Custos had walked in on two of them.
"I believe we're needed on the command deck." Tasha stammered, trying to ignore what she'd seen as she dragged the much less inhibited Lynx back toward command with her. She couldn't deny that they were attractive felines, but she really, really shouldn't be having thoughts like that about one of the Padawans.
"Gods, I'm sorry." Jake whispered, as embarrassed as his lover but too sated to actually react much.
"It's okay, Jake." Javrin said gently, as he worked on settling his rather unsettled mind. "But I think we just embarrassed Tasha, and probably gave Rynce ideas." He chuckled weakly.
"Normally, I'd think that was a good thing," he chuckled weakly and nuzzled him. "Right now ... I just don't know what's wrong with me."
"I really don't know Jake." Javrin said honestly. "Though it felt like some of that was coming from someone other than you." He admitted, more than a little concerned. "I think you should talk to Master Tran." And then he spotted the time. "And I'm supposed to be relieving Vince at piloting."
"Go let him wonder around for a while," Jake smiled slightly and gave him a gentle, chaste kiss. "Unless you want to duck into a room for a quick blowjob to deal with what I started."
"Maybe later, Jake." Javrin grinned, and kissed him playfully. "It's a great way to work off the tension from piloting." He smirked.
"Anytime, lover." Jake claimed a last kiss before they separated; Javrin to the cockpit and Jake to the sonic showers.
"We need to talk." Master Tran told Jake firmly, with an expression that brooked no argument. "In private." He said, dismissing the rest of the team from the small forward cabin.
"You have been having some difficulties, since the mission began." He commented to Jake, once the others had left and the uneasy feline was paying full attention to him. "Do you know why?" He asked, though it was clear that he wasn't seeking information but was in fact wondering if Jake knew something that he had discovered.
"No," he glanced away, embarrass by what had been happening, and even more that he'd embarrassed Javrin by his lack of self-control.
"I don't know how, but you have a mental link with your partner." He said gently. "And that is causing you to receive emotional bursts from him, when he experiences very strong emotions. These bursts are enhancing any feelings you already have...so you're feeling of loss at his absence becomes a fear of loss." He explained without reproach. "So you feel a need to keep what you do have."
The lean tom nodded. It was an accurate description of what was going on to be sure.
"That's how we can find each other so effectively," he almost stated, his gaze still down and submissive.
"Yes, it would facilitate location greatly." The Raccoon nodded. "It's nothing to be ashamed of." He said gently. "You have no experience or training in controlling what is happening, and if I read the pulses correctly they are very strong." He said quietly. "Even a trained Jedi would have difficulty dealing with them."
"He's in a lot of trouble then," Jake whispered as he translated the impulses he could identify from when he felt out of control. "Grieving, suicidal, so much rage ..." he shuddered. "Someone is dying."
"Something you should remember." Master Tran said gently. "Not all these things are necessarily real. The Sith have always been good at manipulating perceptions. They may be holding him in an illusion, trying to goad him to the dark side." He said quietly. "Would you say your partner has a temper that could be prodded into serious anger, rage even?"
"Yeah, he does." He nodded slightly. "He's got a good heart, but he's not hard to anger either. With illusions ... it wouldn't be hard, honestly. He's not difficult to understand."
"Then that is probably what they are doing." He said gently. "But it also means that we have no time to waste. It is much easier to get addicted to rage, then to give it up." He said simply.
"I know," Jake shivered. "He'll probably take some serious TLC to get his head back on right." He sighed. "And we are not heading into a situation that's going to make it easy either."
"Is there some situation aside from his current predicament that I should know about?" Tran asked, a little concerned. "And we have treated rage addiction before, it happens to Custos occasionally."
"The two of us are pretty much all that stands between our homeworld and being concurred by an Omega, our version of the Sith." He said quietly and leaned against a bulkhead with his eyes closed. "Since the most powerful of them was in on the plan to capture Chance and probably knows I'm gone too since that shuttle we came in disappeared from his base, he's not going to waste any time. If we don't get back quickly, we won't have a home to go back to."
"I understand." Tran nodded simply. "Unfortunately, there is only so much we can do to speed things up." He said gently, and then paused for a moment. "What can be done, will be."
Jake looked at him seriously, then nodded and smiled slightly. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, Jake." The Raccoon said, with a gentle smile. "And thank you, for what you did for our Padawan."
Vince had spent the first thirty-six hours of the trip trying to decide how to bring up the subject that Master Kastoris had asked him to discuss with Jake. It was important and Vince could understand why the Master had asked him to do it, but it was still a very sensitive subject and there was really no good way to discuss it. In the end he waited until Master Tran and Javrin were on the command deck handling flight operations, to track the lean cinnamon tom down.
"Jake, you got a moment?" He asked politely. Normally, it would be an unnecessary question given that none of them really had anything to do, if they weren't piloting, but Jake had been extremely distracted since the trip started.
"Yeah, sure." He looked over his shoulder from the prime star-watching spot of one of the main turrets before swinging up to out of it to join the Wolf on the deck.
"Oh, no need to get down." Vince smiled. "The turrets do give a good view." He said easily. "Jake, have you given any thought to what you'll do if your home isn't there when you get back?" He asked gently, clearly bothered by the idea of a world being lost so thoroughly.
Jake stared at him for a while, his expression going foreboding and hurt.
"Depends a lot on what happens to Javrin," he started quietly, his gaze distant. "But it'll involve finding something to do with ourselves in your known space."
"I don't know your partner, but I can see two options easy enough." He said, trying to be reassuring. "You've got the ability and the training to be a Custos, especially if Javrin gets promoted which I think likely." He started, answering two questions at once. "And from what I hear, you could probably make it as an inventor, designer or both. Probably even do it freelance, if you wanted to."
"Yeah, that and we really could do anything we set our minds to," he nodded. "And there's what we've done our entire lives. You've got enough trouble to keep us busy for a long time."
"That's certainly true." Vince nodded. "There's certainly never a shortage of work in the mercenary or private shipping industries." He nodded, then looked at Jake curiously when the feline chuckled with a shake of his head.
"Nobody clued you in on what we did back home, did they?"
"Javrin said you were in law enforcement, and freelance because of a local military commander who had issues with talented people." Vince said simply. "We didn't get into details. But Master Kastoris says you are probably one of the most talented inventor-designers in the Republic."
"I am on Aristal," he nodded without a bit of doubt or conceit about it. "And he was being nice about the description," he chuckled a bit. "SWAT Kats aren't mercs, we don't fight for pay. We were real vigilantes. Good guys, but really outside the law." He glanced out the turret for a bit. "We did what we did to protect our city. To keep our oaths. If the city doesn't exist ... I don't know. It's all we've ever been." He rambled a bit, trying to think even as he was talking and trying to deal with the intense sense of loss and failure just thinking about it caused.
Eventually he stilled, staring at the stars streaming by. "Chance is a fighter pilot. Maybe we'll find a new home to protect. Maybe it's not possible. We'll probably end up going wherever we're needed where he can fly as a good kat. There's a lot more out here for me than him, for all he'll probably adjust better."
"Just remember to give yourselves time to adjust, if it comes to that." Vince said sympathetically. "And the universe can always use good people, and it seems like it's becoming more true." He added quietly.
"That one's pretty universal." He sighed and closed his eyes briefly. "A lot depends on Chance and Javrin, really. I've got a lot more options than either of them."
"Inventive geniuses usually do." Vince nodded. "Just remember you're not alone." He said supportively and got a weak smile for it.
"I kinda doubt this chat was your idea either."
"Not entirely, no." Vince admitted. "Mostly Master Kastoris' idea. He was worried that you weren't thinking beyond." He said quietly. "Well, Javrin was worried, it came up during the exams."
"I'm trying to focus on it not being necessary." Jake said quietly. "Things are bad enough without inviting the universe to make it worse."
"A logical approach." Vince nodded approvingly. "After all, our thoughts do make the universe." He said easily. "Or at least they influence the shape of it."
"Sometimes more literally than others," Jake managed to chuckle at memories of what he managed in various vehicles and weapons.
"Basic Force lesson." Vince chuckled. "Convincing the universe that there's no reason that starfighter shouldn't float across the lawn to where you want it." He grinned, vastly simplifying the art of levitating things that your mind screamed you couldn't move.
"Or my specialty; convincing the universe that there is no reason that said starfighter can't have a cargo bay capable of holding several of the same class of starfighter." He smirked. "I don't make things float, but I do make them hold several hundred times what they should be able to."
"I'm not even going to try and think about that one too hard." Vince shook his head. "But it'd have to involve constructing tesseracts without realizing it. Internal pocket dimensions." He shook his head. "You realize you really revolutionize the cargo industry with that. Or make a killing in the smuggling market." He chuckled.
"Or what I usually use it for, self defense." He held up his arm with the Glovatrix. "Only trick is that I have to build it. It never works the same if they just use plans, for all those are good."
"Yeah, sounds like unconscious tesseracting alright." Vince nodded. "Master Kastoris knew someone a few decades ago who did that, only he did it with houses. He was homebuilder who managed walk-in closets in the damndest places. Hid an entire biochemical lab in a broom closet."
"I've managed that too," Jake snickered. "Bit I'm much better with machines and equipment. The more personal, the better the results are."
"That was true for him as well, his best works were for the home he built for himself. The outside was one bedroom apartment, the inside was a mansion with all the luxuries." He chuckled. "Including swimming pool and tennis court. Unfortunately, the tesseract collapsed when he died. They found bits of the mansion appearing over a hundred mile radius."
"Mmm, well, I haven't died that I know of, but I've had plenty of them blown up without anything too weird happening."
"Well, he did have a lot of mass compressed into a very small space." Vince chuckled. "I suspect it required a lot more maintenance that say a few stacked starfighter."
"Not if you listened to the TK," Jake snickered. "But any girl is high maintenance. Especially one you have to count on for your life, and has 'died' for you a few times."
"Given my inexperience with both females and starfighter, I'll take your word for it." Vince grinned. "I can see where the 'died' part could get you some backtalk though."
Jake paused, looking at him seriously for long enough that the Jedi began to wonder if he'd said something very wrong.
"That's almost to much to think about really," he finally murmured. "The TurboKat as a starfighter."
"Oh, she wasn't?" Vince blinked in surprise. "My mistake. The way Javrin talked, I got the impression you'd gotten a few generations ahead of your planet and built the first starfighter."
"Oh, she was generations ahead alright. She could go into space with difficulty for low orbital battles, make it to the moon and back if you were willing to spend the time on a trip to see nothing, but she wasn't a starfighter by any stretch." He said softly. "You're talking about a world that barely has practical satellite technology and has yet to put anything into space and get it back in one piece."
"Somehow, I see that changing now that you've had a look at actual starships up close." Vince smiled. "Just remember to get a good long look at the slipstream core if you plan to built FTL ships."
"Already did," he chuckled. "I had three days of total boredom while Javrin piloted us to this chunk of space."
"I should've known." Vince grinned. "Just don't stick a slipstream core inside one of your spaces that are bigger than they look." The Wolf cautioned. "As you've seen, tesseracts and slipstream interact in an interesting way and that's under specially controlled situations."
"And that advice assumes I actually remember I do things weird," Jake shook his head. "Which is more of a trick than doing it most of the time. It's as natural to me as breathing."
"A few times ending up in the wrong galaxy might help." Vince snickered, teasing, and got a tongue stuck out at him. "Slipstream drives are temperamental on their good days. There's a line in the basic textbook on slipstream mechanics: Slipstream isn't the best way to go faster than light, it's just the only way."
"Oh, now you just don't say things like that around the psycho-engineer." Jake's eyes lit up and glittered at the challenge in the first real sign of what he was normally like since Vince had met him.
"Find another way and you'll have every university from Coruscant to the Capella arm lined up trying to get you to teach there." He snickered. "Assuming they could get past all the multi-stellar companies wanting to buy the rights to produce the new drive."
"Assuming anyone but someone like me could build the thing." Jake chuckled, though there was a note of sadness too. "The down side of things. I can only build prototypes of things that'll never see production."
"Who knows." Vince shook his head. "Maybe somewhere in the Republic is someone who can translate your prototypes for production use."
"Maybe," he consented, long past the point where he doubted that anything was truly impossible, even someone who could make his impossible creations common. "It'll make for a hell of a power shift to whoever has them."
"New inventions usually do that at least for awhile." Vince nodded. "Then the other side catches up and it starts all over again. Over the long run, the universe stays in balance. Sometimes it just doesn't happen fast enough for us mortals."
"And sometimes it happens far, far too fast." He said softly.
The street was dark; it wasn't the best part of town and it was far too late for anyone sane to be out and about, much less looking for a bar and playmate. But this was where Chance felt at home too. It was only a few weeks, but it was worlds away from anywhere he'd have been with Jake, and that made it comfortable. He'd also point out that he was about as far from 'sane' as anyone had a right to be and still walk the streets.
Yet even here, where the value of a kat's life was minimal, many recognized him as the Omega-killer of Hunter Squad. He didn't even object when even his official call-name started to shift to 'Killer'. And in this part of town, bars tended to open later, if they ever closed. Sure enough, a loud rowdy bar presented itself without too much searching. The clientele was distinctly lower-class and bit rough around the edges, but that suited the tabby's mood.
So did the muscular black and white tom that would have made a good wrestling match for the tabby if he'd been an Enforcer, or if Chance had been in a mood for something other than getting nicely buzzed and fuck something very much like the offering at the bar senseless. He licked his whiskers and moved in, jostling the regulars with the best of them and accepted the bear laced with catnip that was about all that was offered as he appraised the black and white a few seats down.
The appraising look he got back from the black and white was pretty clear indication that his interest was returned, though Chance wasn't the only kat in the place who was interested. It was obvious that the black and white planned to go home with someone, but he just hadn't made up his mind yet. It was all the reason tabby needed to move in.
"So what's your name, handsome?" Her rumbled as he stepped just inside the other tom's space.
"Rick." He said easily. "You'd be Chance Furlong, the Enforcer's top hunter." He smirked. "What brings a star to the wrong side of town?" He asked in mixture of curiosity and playful invitation.
"Looking for something that's not likely on the right side of town," he returned the smirk and leaned forward, sure he'd read the tom right. "Company that likes things a bit rough and has the endurance to make my time worth it."
"Sounds like the evening I'm looking for." Rick rumbled deeply and felt Chance's hand run up his chest with a possessiveness that was unmistakable.
"Good, cause unless they're stupid, I'm off for the weekend." He grinned and moved his hand lower, across Rick's abs and up his side.
"Sounds very good." Rick rumbled, leaning into the touch while running one large hand along Chance's chest and found his mouth claimed by a hungry one that left nothing of the tabby's intentions or authority in doubt.
"Then let's get to someplace a little more fun to play in."
"Sounds good to me." Rick rumbled in agreement. "Your place or mine?"
"Mine," the tabby told him without hesitation and moved to guide his night's entertainment to the door.
"There you are, Rick." A deep voice rumbled, annoyed. "Leave you alone for a second and you'll follow anyone home." The muscular orange and black tabby, a good six inches taller than Chance, growled possessively.
"What part of 'just one night' don't you get, Malken?" Rick shook his head, reflexively retreating to put Chance between him and the orange and black.
"The part where he is smart and avoids getting the tar beat out of him apparently." Chance snorted, not even blinking at Rick's submission to his protection. The entire city did that after all.
Malken turned his attention to Chance, and it was pretty clear from his movements that he was hopped up on something. "I think you're the one who better butt out." He growled low. "Unless you want a world of hurt."
"Right," he snorted and moved in for a first hard strike before the fight was actually declared. After taking out Omegas with his pare hands, slamming this kat into the wall with a fist to the chest was pathetically easy. "Try me."
Malken was tougher than he looked, and he hit harder too. He was up quickly, and threw a solid punch that only connected with Chance's shoulder because Malken was quite intoxicated. "Don't even think you're gonna one punch me." He growled aggressively.
"That's fine," he grinned as the excitement of a serious fight started to work him into a good mood with the adrenaline and power it promised. "Definitely fine," Chance licked his lips and sank into the combat crouch not many survived seeing directed at them before connecting with a solid blow to the bigger kat's face.
There was something to be said for Malken's intoxicated state, as he kind of naturally rolled with Chance's punch. After a moment on the floor, he staggered aggressively to his feet and charged at the much better trained tabby with a roar reminiscent of both an outraged bull and a drunken tiger.
It was also left him less than the most observant opponent, and he all but ran right into Chance's full power kick to the chest that made the entire bar echo with the crunch of bones.
There was a kind of stunned silence in the bar as the large orange and black hit the floor with a thud, and didn't move, though he did appear to breathing, if painfully.
"Oh wow." Rick muttered in stunned amazement. "That was incredible." The black and white rumbled appreciatively.
"Might want to call an ambulance for him," Chance called back to the bartender and pulled Rick close to walk out.
"That was seriously intense." Rick rumbled, his arousal heavily evident in his scent. "Is everything with you that intense?" He asked curiously as they stepped into the night air for the walk to the tabby's car.
"Yap," he rumbled and nuzzled Rick's neck with a light nip.
"Good." Rick rumbled excitedly and accepted the passenger side seat Chance offered him and all but melted at the demanding kiss he got before the door closed and Chance got in his side to drive. "Very good." He murmured as the engine rumbled to life.
"It's going to be a fun night," the tabby grinned at him and pulled out into the street to head home.
Rick took in the upper middle class apartment with a glance as Chance closed and locked the door after entering first. What really struck him, besides the rather grizzly trophies from each Omega Chance had taken down and the most kick-tail entertainment center Rick had ever seen, was that the place was seriously under-personalized. Lived in, definitely, but not a hell of a lot there said anything about the tom living there that hadn't been in the news in the past few weeks.
"Awesome entertainment system." Rick said, a bit enviously. "And they really let you take trophies." He said noting the Omega trophies. "Intense decorating style."
"I never asked," the tabby chuckled low in his throat and grabbed Rick to slam him against the door and press him there with his own mass. "I don't ask anyone's permission anymore." He rumbled in his ear even as Rick felt a claw slice the ass of his jeans open and the sound of a zipper coming undone.
"Why would you?" Rick murmured breathlessly, his arousal saturating his scent and soaking his fur. "Strength means you can do what you want, take what you desire."
"And right now, what I want is screwing you senseless." Chance growled and closed his jaws around Rick's scruff before driving into the tom's unprepared ass with a single, powerful thrust.
"Oh, yeah!" Rick moaned excitedly as the pain of the sudden penetration shot through his body. It was the most intense opening he'd had in weeks. "Fuck me, Chance. Fuck me hard."
In response the big tom behind him grabbed both his wrists and pinned them to the door along with his body and thrust even harder, his sharp teeth an undeniable control on his scruff as Rick was taken as hard as anyone had in his life and the tabby's growls promised so much more to come before the weekend was out.
The sheer intensity of it was more than he could take, and he shot his seed inside his pants, while his ass clenched and released around the invading cock, milking it as it pounded into him relentlessly. Pleasure bordering on ecstasy reduced Rick's voice to moans and groans of satisfaction mixed with enjoyable pain.
Rick almost whimpered when his scruff was pulled tighter and the body behind him tightened with ever increasing force before Chance roared his completion and flooded Rick's ass with his seed.
"Oh, you are mine tonight." The tabby rumbled hotly and pulled Rick away from the door even as he pulled out of the tom's body. "I'm going to ruin you for anyone else." He promised lustfully.
"Promises, promises." Rick grinned, loopily, as he slowly came down from the high of the opening fuck. "But definitely the best I've had in a long time." He rumbled encouragingly and found himself silenced by a kiss as demanding and consuming as the fucking was. It wasn't anything he resisted as he was hauled to the bedroom and pushed over the edge to be taken again as soon as Chance pulled his jeans out of the way.
The only resistance Rick put up was trying to grip Chance's cock with his ass muscles and hold the punishing spear of flesh inside him longer on each stroke. Other that he just dug his fingers into the bed with each powerful stroke that brought him closer to another orgasm.
"Hold." Rynce said quietly, from the lead position. "We're at the force field boundary." He said, indicating the humming sound and shimmering curtain in front of them. "We'll need to locate one of the generator pods and disable it."
"This is my job," Jake broke from his surprisingly compliant behavior since landing and made a beeline through the foliage.
"Cover him." Rynce said to one of the other Custos, who quickly followed Jake to one of the generator pods. Without hesitation, Jake quickly opened a hidden panel and made a couple tweaks and cut wires, and the field shut down.
"They won't know it's down."
"That's a good thing." The Lynx nodded. "Keep any auto defenses from hassling us." He said noting the gap in the barrier.
"This way," Jake motioned to him and headed through the jungle, homing in on his partner's distress with a confidence and acceptance that it was trustworthy that he'd never dared have.
Javrin came up quickly behind Jake, as the rest of the group formed in behind, silently keeping watch around for opposition. It was opposition that never materialized, and then they were at a secured door on one side of the plateau that overlooked the red-bronze ocean close by.
Another panel came off, more wires messed with and the Glovatrix was hooked in. Then the door was open and Jake off again, trusting his companions to keep up, though he wasn't counting on them to spot the security ahead of him either.
Jake spotted a fair bit of security that seemed both advanced and ancient, but more importantly was disarmed. There seemed to be more security designed to keep people in, than out. Overall there was a distinct arrogance to things that was faintly annoying.
"A Sith outpost to be sure." Tran commented quietly. "Though the current owner is not taking advantage of the available defenses."
"Movement ahead." Tasha noted suddenly, as shadows on the wall of the intersection ahead indicated two large individuals approaching the intersection.
Jake nodded and let the Jedi move ahead. For all he didn't doubt he could take whatever it was, he'd rather save his energy for dealing with his partner and whatever was causing the emotional rollercoaster of the last week without pissing off the Jedi with him.
The movement turned out to be a pair of male Lions dressed in lightweight clothing, neither of whom was at all combat trained or inclined as evidenced by their freezing at the sight of the group of warriors.
Tasha quickly stepped up to the pair. "Either of you seen a tabby around here?" She asked in a very no-nonsense tone with her lightsaber visible at her belt. "And where?"
The pair looked at each other and then at the group in front of them. "Lower level." The one said quietly. "Virtualizer room."
"Thank you." She said simply. "I suggest the two of you make yourselves scarce."
"Yes, ma'am." The pair said taking off at a run.
"Pleasure slaves." The Borzoi shook her head. "Pretty, but not good for much. Look for stairs down." She said to Jake who'd been leading the search. "There's probably an elevator, but we shouldn't use it."
"Stars are faster anyway," he spread his fingers on the wall and focused, trying something new. Trying to see if he could literally make the walls talk to him. Or at least the wiring inside them. The walls didn't talk so much as whisper ,and there was a dark cold feeling to them as well.
"This way," he nodded after a moment and took off again, still taking reasonable care for traps and people as his heart began to pump faster.
"Something remains of the Sith in this place." Tran said quietly as they located a set of downward stairs, and descended to the lower level.
"It's in the walls even," Jake added to her and let the Jedi lead the way down the stairs and fell further back in the group as they entered the lower level and a group of darksiders came rushing around the near corner.
The battle was an odd contrast between the precise, flowing martial style of the Jedi, the more close-quarters commando style of the Custos and the impassioned, almost berserk aggression of the darksiders. The darksiders were wielding what appeared to be metal swords, and yet they were able to parry the deadly energy blades of the lightsabers.
Master Tran held back, a look of stern concentration on his face as the Force flowed around and through him. If any took the time to look in the Force, they could see a bright shell of Force energy emanating from him and surrounding the battlefield, repelling a dark crackling energy that battered at its edges.
Javrin stood next to the Master, holding off any darksider who got close enough. The first one who managed got the surprise of the battle as Jake entered the fray to entangle him with two bolos from his Glovatrix and lost his sword to the cinnamon tom. Then it was business as usual as the darksiders fought and gradually lost, and Javrin and Jake protecting Master Tran by holding attackers off until one of the others could finish them.
"You do that good," Jake commented with a smile for Javrin as they assessed the aftermath.
"Eight years of practice had to be good for something." Javrin grinned. "Don't think I've ever seen anyone looking quite as surprised as the one you took down with the bolos did." The blue-grey tom smiled.
"Ten years of using almost all non-lethals has to be good for something," Jake grinned back at him.
"You both fought well." Master Tran said approvingly, as he relaxed from his defensive position. "There is definitely as Sith spirit still active here." He added, before turning to Jake. "We should keep moving. Which way?"
Jake paused for a moment, then nodded and motioned them to follow as he took off down one hall.
The group followed closely, staying watchful for any further attacks as they followed Jake deeper into the fortress.
The remaining guards weren't Force trained and fled at the sight of ignited lightsabers, leaving an open route to the door that Jake was sure Chance was on the other side of. The door was thick, reinforced metal as was the wall it was in. The lock was of an unusual design and looked very complex, but not half as complex as the alien machinery Jake could feel humming and pulsing in the chamber beyond.
"Cut it," the lean tom growled, his heart pounding like never before. "He's hooked into something in there."
Master Tran nodded and ignited his lightsaber, as he began slowly cutting through the thick metal, he realized that it was reinforced by Sith alchemy and was going to be time consuming. But the lock was likely to be no easier, since it looked to be part of the original fortress.
He saw Jake move foreword, apparently no happier at the speed cutting was going, and kneel in front of the lock to insert a small spike from his Glovatrix as the Force coalesced around him to focus in much the same way as it had at the security fence. However, unlike like the fence, the lock remained stubbornly locked and Jake could feel a dark presence inside the electronics defying him and taunting him.
"Careful Jake." Javrin said quietly. "There's something distinctly 'wrong' about that lock." He cautioned, having felt that dark emanations.
"You have no idea," the tom said quietly and stepped back with a frustrated growl. "Dark Kat times ten, and he's still active."
"One of the more annoying Sith habits." Tasha commented, as Master Tran continued to slowly cut the door. "They refuse to let death keep them from causing trouble."
"So how do you get rid of one?" Jake asked, his armed crossed as he glared at the door in annoyance and forced himself to be patient.
"Usually takes a Jedi of equal strength, or multiple Jedi acting in concert." Vince said quietly. "It's a difficult task at best, because of the strength of will and in the Force that's required to defy death. These spirits are why we generally stay clear of Sith ruins, a Sith Lord can lure even a dedicated knight away from the light, if he or she is not very careful."
"That is why so many of you are here now?" He asked, though he was fairly sure of the answer.
"Yes." Tasha nodded. "Jedi missions aren't usually this large, but where there's a chance of a Sith wraith, we go in heavy." She explained, watching for trouble while the Master worked. "Keira's taking of a Sith title and abilities suggested that she'd either found a large Sith library intact, a Sith holocron, or a Sith wraith. The first two would be trouble enough, the third possibility warranted extra firepower."
"A good idea," he nodded slightly. "I'm sure it's the last. Something here is very much 'alive' and fighting us."
"I agree, as does Master Tran." She nodded at the Raccoon who was getting close to finishing with the door. "It's got us all a bit on edge. This much darkness is uncomfortable." She said quietly.
"Yeah, it's not fun," he agreed quietly even as he caught a whiff of intense male musk from the other side of the door and shivered as his self control was sorely pushed from all sides. "Though it makes Dark Kat's fortress seem like a cakewalk in comparison."
"Unless this Dark Kat was a Sith Lord, his fortress is a cakewalk by comparison." Tasha nodded, as Master Tran finished and stepped away. The Master motioned everyone to position themselves to the sides of the door, just in case.
A gesture from the raccoon pushed the door open and revealed a dark room lit only by an intricate web of light beams that held a very battered looking naked tabby who was breathing heavy, and judging from the rock hard erection and the heavy male musk in the air was trapped in some sort of sexual illusion.
"Careful of the light web." Vince said as the group entered the room. "We don't want anyone else getting sucked into that virtual reality."
It was under debate whether Jake heard him. At the first sight of his partner and the kat was in the room, skirting around the light web to the darkness beyond it and up a flight of stairs to where the controls where hidden. Javrin followed quickly, thinking Jake should have someone to watch his back, in case the darksiders were not entirely gone.
"Everyone stay watchful." Master Tran directed as he walked the outer perimeter, carefully examining the tendrils of darkness that were interwoven with the light strands. "Tasha, get ready. He will need a medic once the web is deactivated."
"Yes, Master." Tasha nodded, sheathing her 'saber and unslung the advanced medic pack she carried.
The controls were to as complex a computer system as Jake had ever seen, his own designs included. One monitor indicated massive amounts of data being transferred to and from Chance, along with infusions of drugs, fluids and a concentrated nutrient mixture.
He took a deep breath and touched his hands to the controls without pressing any and began the work of integrating and understanding this device enough to shut it down; or to know he'd have to simply pull his partner out by force.
The system was actively uncooperative, rerouting activities around him and pushing back when he tried to push in. Even understanding it was difficult, as the system seemed designed to conceal parts of its operation. As annoying as the system was, and as dark and cold as it felt, it was impossible to ignore the brilliance behind the design.
It was a brilliance that triggered a destructive hatred deep inside Jake he didn't even realize was there, much less the ego that fueled it. In the time it took him to realize the first emotion the control center had faced his full destructive potential and shattered in a shower of sparks and fire.
"Shit." Jake's eyes went wide for a fraction of a second as he realized what he'd done and he spun on heal to charge down the stairs to his partner, not at all sure what would be there.
Downstairs was carefully controlled chaos with Vince and Master Tran shielding the rest of the group from exploding energy supplies and projectors while Tasha began checking Chance out to see how he was doing.
"We need to get him back to the ship." Tasha said calmly, not liking what she could see both with her own trained senses and with the portable diagnostic equipment. "And he's definitely not up to walking on his own, and probably won't be for at least a day, probably more."
"Right." Rynce nodded, as the Custos set to constructing the collapsible stretcher they'd brought. One of the other Custos handed Tasha a large, warm looking blanket that she wrapped the tabby up in as Jake came to a skidding stop next to his partner.
Though he tried not to get in the way, Jake couldn't stand to not touch his partner, to claim, and may give, a little reassurance that they were both still alive and would be getting out of this mess like they had every other.
"Shu, relax." He murmured with a touch when Chance tried to move against the Custos' putting him on the stretcher. "We're getting out."
The tabby mumbled something, neither particularly conscious nor coherent, and let the Lynx move him.
"You can ask questions, Jake." Tasha said gently as she tended the battered tabby gently. "I'm quite capable of answering while working. His condition is serious, but not critical." She said after about an hour of Jake watching her working intently, with a need for questions very clear in his mood and face.
"Can you tell if his mind is intact?" He asked quietly, addressing the core of his fears first.
"Intact, yes." She nodded. "But he's going to be very disoriented when he comes around." She began as he came up and moved around to the other side of the bed Chance was laying on so he could touch his partner without being in the way. "I'm sensing a lot of uncontrolled anger and rage, and he's been using that anger and rage to tap his Force abilities." She cautioned. "There's a very strong possibility that he's become rage-addicted."
"As long as Chance is still in there, the rest can be dealt with," he almost smiled as he brushed his fingers along the tabby's face. "We've dealt with worse with a lot less help."
"He's still in there." She nodded and smiled to herself that Jake had finally accepted them as something more than a necessity to get his partner back. "The Sith were trying to corrupt him, which means that destroying him was something they were careful to avoid." She shook her head. "Just understand that he probably has no idea that he's been anywhere but the real world. The illusions are very complete, drawing on his own knowledge and perceptions to maintain their realism."
"We'll just have to see what they did to him after he wakes up," he murmured. "Though I've got a pretty good idea of the basics probably where."
"It's also going to be at least a week before he's physically up to traveling." She cautioned. "And I'll be very surprised if he's up to walking before we arrive on Coruscant."
"Just don't tell him that," Jake managed a weak smile for her. "He's more stubborn than I am about defying docs."
"I won't have to." She smiled softly at the light touch and how much it calmed both of the toms to be in physical contact without either being aware of it or why it happened. "His body will. I can't be completely sure without more comprehensive tests than I have equipment for here, but I'm fairly certain that the simulation had him existing at an accelerated rate. The week he's been missing may have been months for him."
"It's almost a requirement," Jake actually chuckled, but it wasn't in mirth. "Nothing could break him in a week. At least not as much as you're talking about."
"I'm sure they figured that out fairly quickly." She nodded. "Even with the confusion and rage, there's still a very stubborn personality in there." She smiled softly. "Which means he should rehabilitate well."
"He's a good kat too." Jake smiled down at his partner and brushed unkempt sandy hair gently with his fingers. "He has a temper, but he's not the kind that enjoys it."
"Rehabilitation will be helping him to remember that." She said gently. "And I expect he'll have an easier time remembering himself with you around." She added with smile.
"I hope so," he nodded, though his attention was on Chance. "How long are we talking about, before he's safe to be loose in combat again?"
"That's a very individual thing." She said honestly. "A week at least, though very few recover so fast. He's strong willed so two wouldn't be unreasonable. But some have taken months, and others never feel comfortable in combat again." She admitted softly. "Part of the rehabilitation is that he has to understand that there is a problem. That can be the most difficult step, as with any addiction."
"Yes," he murmured, and brushed Chance's hair from his face. "Will it affect his ability to fly outside of combat?" He asked very quietly.
"No, it shouldn't affect his ability to fly at all." She said confidently. "The problem is that he will tend to respond with inappropriate amounts of anger and aggression in any situation where anger or aggression occur. People who annoy him will tend to get hit, often without warning."
"So pretty much what he was like before, without the grumbling so I could stop him." Jake nodded, more relaxed now that at least Chance would be able to fly. "It's probably a good thing we'll be somewhere that most people can dodge that punch."
"He'll also tend to hit harder than he might have otherwise." She warned. "And he's had a fair bit of practice in using the Force to enhance his strength, when he's angry." She explained. "But yes, it is a good thing."
"Something that'll be useful, once he's in control of it," Jake said simply. "And he will. He can't stand to let something else control him."
"A useful trait in a situation like this." She nodded, fully aware that it was a trait they shared. "Anger controlled can be useful tool." She admitted.
Jake went from sound asleep next to his partner to wide-awake in a heartbeat as the naked tabby began to move. For a disoriented moment he thought they were back home and he'd had just fallen sleep in his clothes again. Just the idea, as fleeting as it was, was enough to turn him on and respond to the arousal behind him, holding him, breathing against his neck as in a decade of memories that may well have belonged to another kat they were so far removed from reality right now.
Still, it was his partner holding him, wanting him, and it felt better than any orgasm could right at that moment.
He knew he should remind him that he was supposed to be taking it easy. That there was a ship full of Jedi just outside the door that would get a head full of their play. That Javrin was sleeping not three feet away on a second bunk.
Then Chance sleepily got his hands under Jake's shirt and all thoughts vanished but to get undressed as quickly as he could so those hands could roam over his entire body. He moaned, already mostly hard when the nipping kisses along his neck began and he shuddered. After two weeks and with no lube, he knew it was going to sting and he couldn't make himself care as their morning ritual began to play itself out. It was a last vestige of a normal life as he knew it and he embraced it fully.
In another heartbeat, that all changed.
Lovers' hands grabbed him and pushed his to his stomach with far more force than was even remotely required as their light blanket slid to the floor.
Chance's feral growl, a sound familiar from other circumstances, echoed in his ears as his scruff was taken forcefully, nearly tight enough to choke him and his legs were forced apart while he was too startled to cooperate.
The panic settled in when it registered that there wasn't going to be any prep. That this wasn't his partner. Chance wasn't like this. This was what the Sith had made of him.
"No!" Jake cried out, desperate to get through before either of them got hurt. Even though he struggled, he knew that once he'd been pinned like this the tabby didn't need enhanced strength to keep him there. "Chance, don't."
The tabby's arms and legs were abruptly restrained by invisible hands, which while gentle were strong and unrelenting in holding him back.
"*Chance!*" Javrin's mind-voice lanced through the storms of rage of aggression seeking the true-Chance somewhere within. "*See who you are hurting.*" He projected, forcing Chance to see the fear and desperation in Jake and hoping that it would trigger enough response in the core personality that mind control wouldn't be necessary.
It had an effect all right, but not the one anyone was hoping for. Jake's scruff was released and the lean tom instantly started to squirm his way our from under Chance's hands. The hate and pain filled snarl that echoed through the room next caught the full fury of a mind ready to snap as Chance tried to lunge and rip the person apart who'd put such a thought in his head about his dead partner.
"Chance!" Jake's voice rivaled his partner's in volume as he stopped trying to get free and used the shift in Chance's body weight to twist to his back under the tabby and grab his face in both hands. "Chance. Open your eyes. I am alive. I am here." He said with as much authority as he could muster.
Everyone in the room all but held their breath as blind rage and grief intense enough to kill warred with the order and presence of the one whose loss had created it.
"I'm here," Jake repeated more soothingly, caressing the tabby's face with his thumbs and holding his attention. "I'm always going to be here for you." He promised softly and felt the tension begin to melt away even before Tasha released her hold on Chance's body and the tabby sank down to the bed, exhausted and nearly unconscious.
"That's right," Jake murmured with a gentle kiss. "Rest. There'll be time to play later."
Chance mumbled something apologetic to the affirmative as he sank to his side so he didn't crush the smaller tom and was out cold in moments.
Jake wasn't nearly so lucky. He was very much wide-awake and trying to process what had just happened before he got sick, all while he tried to remember where he could get sick without making a mess.
"C'mon, Jake." Javrin said gently, putting his arm around Jake's shoulders and easing the naked tom out of the bed. "Bathroom is this way." He added quietly, quickly guiding Jake to the safe and more private place to be sick. "Tasha will look after Chance." He added reassuringly, as Tasha got Chance tucked back into bed.
"Thanks," he managed to mumble and held himself together until the door was closed behind him. He was only superficially aware that Javrin held his shoulders as he threw up more stomach juices than food and began to shake for real as the reality of what had just happened started to sink in.
Javrin wasn't sure what to say, so he worked on helping Jake clean himself up while keeping at least one hand on him at all times. The one thing Javrin was sure about was that touch was very important to Jake, and probably now more than ever. "Did you want to lie down?" He asked gently when Jake seemed to be past any danger of throwing up again.
It took him a long time to answer, his jaw working to say what he was still trying to form the words for.
"Dressed, with you." He finally managed.
"Okay." Javrin agreed easily, still holding Jake as they walked into the room and Jake made very short work of getting dress again, an uneasy look at the sleeping tabby and another a Tasha. Still, he didn't object when Javrin guided him to the second bunk and gently pulled him down and held him close under the blanket.
"How long will he be like that?" Jake asked no one in particular as he tried to push the events out of his mind.
"I don't know, Jake." Javrin said quietly. "Once he integrates the fact that you're really alive back into reality, you shouldn't have to worry. No one expected that they'd have him believing that you were dead."
"I did," he murmured, his body trembling. "It's the only thing that'd make him break in less than years."
"He'll get better." Javrin murmured reassuringly, as he held Jake close. "Even if we can't do anything on board, the healers at the Temple will be able to help him."
"Can they make it go away?" Jake asked softly, his eyes closing briefly with the comfort of Javrin's scent in his nose before they snapped open with the warning that no one could be trusted that much.
"Make what go away?" Javrin asked quietly, thinking there were at least a couple of things Jake could be referring to.
"What just happened," he shuddered. "What turned him into ... what happened to him."
"With time, maybe." Javrin said quietly, not really sure what the Healers could or would do. "But a lot of the healing is going to be Chance taking control of himself again. Organic memory isn't like a computer, you can't just erase the sectors that are bad."
He felt Jake nodded against his chest as the lean tom tried to accept living with the last half hour and still be as supportive as Chance needed him to be.
Jake walked next to Javrin from the Jedi transport after it set down on Coruscant. Despite that their physical contact was very light, barely fingers touching as they passed by each other, no one there missed how Jake leaned on Javrin for support psychically. Even those who didn't want to pry could feel how badly the mission had scared Jake's mind. The Kat still didn't know how to shield well and he all but broadcast his state despite Javrin's attempts to minimize it.
Those who knew of Jake from his previous visit looked a little closer when he didn't follow his partner's sleeping form to the Healers. Most looked away and tried to mind their own business when he pressed a little closer to Javrin, unsettled by the way he reacted to anyone looking at him.
"You want to go straight to quarters?" Javrin asked quietly as they walked. "Get out of sight for awhile?" He suggested.
"Probably be best for everyone," he nodded, his voice low and shaky. "I'm unsettling everybody out here."
"Because you're unsettled." Javrin said sympathetically. "And with good reason. I'd suggest you learn how to shield, at least the basics, but you need to be able to calm your mind to do it. That may take a while."
"I need to learn a lot of things," he murmured as they made short work of the distance to their guest quarters without running, for all Jake really did feel like running and hiding from the eyes watching him, seeing far more of him than he wanted. "And if it means being calm first, I have to learn that too." He sighed. "It doesn't come that naturally, you know."
"I forget that." Javrin admitted sheepishly. "Calm was something that was easy for me, because my father, before he died, was big believer in the power of calm, cool intellect. For all my Jedi training, I still can't match the glacial calm that he came by naturally." He said quietly. "But you're right, can't build a house without the tools." He smiled as they entered their guest quarters and found himself wrapped in a trembling Jake as soon as the door shut with its illusion of privacy.
"I'm scared." Jake whispered, his face buried against Javrin's neck as the last of his self-control that had held him together when there was no privacy for three days unraveled completely with a low sob.
Javrin gently led Jake to the bed so they could sit down and held him close as the cinnamon tom curled up against him. "I'd be surprised if you weren't." He said very gently. "Chance is a very big part of your life, and now he's not what you're used to, what you depend on." He said understandingly. "But he will be again." He added reassuringly.
"The real question is whether or not we'll have a home to return to when that happens." Jake shuddered.
"One concern at a time, Jake." Javrin said gently. "You won't go home without him, and he can't leave until he can control himself again." He said quietly. "Focus on the present, the future will be, what it will be."
"I know," he murmured, more resigned than accepting it. "I've just spent my life changing the future, sometimes literally. Wait and see isn't how we do things."
"Jake, have you really slept since that incident?" He asked gently, knowing that sleep deprivation would only make things worse and not wanting to get into a conversation about the future and possibilities.
"I haven't really slept since he disappeared," he murmured. "That just made it worse."
"I'm not a big one for drugs, but you might want to consider a sleep aid for a night or two." Javrin said gently and felt the tom tense for a moment before he relaxed into acceptance again. "Being overtired makes everything more difficult."
"Promise to stay till I wake up?" He asked quietly, the difficulty in trusting anyone to that level too easy to read in his voice even without feeling it directly.
"Of course, Jake." Javrin nodded and nuzzled him reassuringly. "And maybe when you're more rested I can try and teach you something about calming your mind." He smiled gently. "I think you could really use it right now."
"No argument there," he murmured and let his eyes close, though sleep was well beyond him without help. "Think about a threesome with Chance too, when he's better."
"That's easy." Javrin chuckled lightly. "I've thought about that more than once since we started dating. Did you want a hot shower before bed to help relax you, or would you rather skip right to the sleep part?" Javrin asked gently.
"I think just sleep," he murmured after a moment and snuggled a little closer. "Shower in the morning."
"Okay, I'm going to in the bathroom and get the sleep meds." Javrin said, as he stood up from the bed. "I'll be right back."
"All right," the lean tom murmured, his gaze following Javrin until he disappeared. By the time the grey tom returned, they both knew it was Jake testing his own self control, and that he felt he'd won. One small victory that gave him strength for the next test.
"Here you go." Javrin handed Jake a glass of water and two pills. "These are a little stronger than normal, but I thought that maybe a night of deep sleep without dreaming, might be just what you need."
"It would certainly be welcome," he smiled slightly and regarded the pills for a moment before going through with it and swallowing them dry, then took most of the water for hydration. With a soft sound he shifted and made quick, if slightly uncoordinated, work of getting most of his clothing off. His underwear stayed on though, a testament to how much those few moments of fear still affected him.
Javrin helped Jake get nestled in under the covers, and lay next to him, waiting and watching while his boyfriend finally got the sleep that he desperately needed.
Chance drifted into a new dream, one that he liked less than when he'd had Jake in his arms like last time. But it wasn't hurting either, which was an improvement, and no one was restraining him either. Another plus. A soft bed, clean, comfortable clothes and good smells ... food smells.
He licked his lips before he even opened his eyes and worked his way to a sitting position to take a look at what reality looked like this time and took in a room that looked and felt very much like a private room in a hospital, if the hospital was the equivalent of five-star hotel. The colors were soft, muted pastels mixed to be calming and soothing. His bed was far softer and more comfortable that a hospital bed, hell, it was nicer than his bed at home. Sitting in a padded chair near the door was a tall golden and black Borzoi female wearing brown and white robes.
"Feeling up to a meal, Chance?" She asked politely, watching him discretely. Her movements as she stood were not those of a nurse, but more those of a trained warrior. It was an intriguing mix to the tabby.
"Always," he grinned at her, putting up his habitual bravado to cover his uncertainty. "You have a name, gorgeous?"
"Tasha Sergenski." She said easily as she rolled the meal tray over to him.
It definitely did not look or smell like hospital food. He blinked couple times, then grinned at the steak and baked potato, heavy on the sour cream and cheese. "All right," he grinned a little wider and dug in with relish. "So where is here this time?"
"You're in the infirmary of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant." She said simply. "Though I can appreciate why you'd be skeptical."
"You cook better than any of the other spots," he chuckled. "Care to fill me in on the current version of my last few weeks?"
"Actually, it's only been a little more than a week." She said calmly. "You were abducted from your homeworld during a darksider raid and transported to a world on the edge of the Republic known as Sancresti Redoubt. We don't have all the details, but most of the remaining time you spent trapped in a virtual reality net." She explained.
"And Jake?" He asked, feigning near-indifference poorly.
"Your partner is fine." She said easily and got a raised eyebrow and the first warning flicker in the Force that his anger was about to show. "He's finally getting some long overdue sleep. I expect he'll be over once he's awake."
"Jake ... not ..." He hit the answer even before he finished his statement and guilt squished his burgeoning rage. "He's with Javrin?" He asked almost submissively and picked at the food he didn't have much of an appetite for anymore.
"Yes. He wouldn't sleep unless Javrin promised to stay in the room till he woke up." She explained easily.
"Yeah, I bet." He murmured, mostly to himself. "I bet a pretty good tranqu was required too, even if he hasn't slept in over a week."
"Prescription sleep aids were required." She nodded. "The Doc wasn't happy about it, but Jake wasn't going to sleep without them. At least he was willing to take them."
"Testament to how badly he knew he needed the rest," Chance sighed softly and gave up on trying to eat. "Any idea how long he'll be out?"
"Not exactly." She admitted. "It's really up to his body, now that his mind is sleeping and not forcing it to keep going. I'd say at least twelve hours, maybe as much as twenty-four."
He nodded slightly, accepting is as quite likely. "And how long am I stuck here?"
"Depends on how long it takes for you to recover from the damage done by the virtual world." She said, simplifying something fairly complicated. "Physically, you'll probably be up and around in three or four days." She said and then paused. "The psychological damage will probably take longer to heal."
Chance winced as he was remained of just what he could do. "Yeah, I bet." He muttered quietly, words not really meant for Tasha. "So what are you guys getting out of helping us?" He asked.
"Javrin is one of our own." She smiled. "And we needed intel on Keira's operation, so combining a rescue mission with the intel mission was not a big deal."
That caught, and held, his attention. "So what are you, that's he's one of you?"
"We're an order known as the Jedi." She said simply. "Depending on who you ask we're anything from a force for justice and peace in the Republic to a bunch of do-gooder busybodies who stick our noses in places that don't concern us." She chuckled lightly. "The truth is that we try to be the former, but being far from perfect we also end up being the latter."
It cracked a grin on the tabby's face, and the first actual sense of approval from him. "That sounds so familiar." He shook his head with a chuckle. "No wonder Jake fell for him so hard."
"And why Javrin fell for him as well." She nodded with fond smile. "And why both of them have been worried about you."
"And if I know Jake at all, he started being worried sick about getting home while it's still there as soon as he got his hand on me." He chuckled, but it was a strange mirth; the amusement of a warrior who'd seen and done too much to take bad news any other way least it break him completely. He sighed and lay back down in bed to close his eyes, suddenly exhausted and wanting little more than to escape reality and the insanity it had become for a while.
Jake murmured sleepily and stretched in place with a big yawn and feeling calm and normal for the first time in far too long. "Good stuff," he mumbled with a loopy grin and looked down at Javrin, who was looking back with a smile. "Morning."
"Good morning." Javrin smiled warmly. "Sleep well?"
"Seriously," Jake murmured and shifted to lay against him for an affectionate nuzzle and hug.
"That's good. You seriously needed it." Javrin smiled, as he nuzzled Jake back. "Chance is awake too, in case you were interested." He added, clearly engaging in some light teasing and stopped Jake from the kiss his was about to go for.
"Good," he grinned for real and hugged Javrin tightly, kissing him on the side of his neck in thanks. "How's he doing?"
"Well, he seems to be accepting that this is really reality, though Tasha thinks that he's still waiting for something to prove it before he fully accepts it." Javrin said, going on what the knight had reported. "Her guess, and I agree, is that he's probably waiting till he sees you."
"Touches, more likely," he nodded and gave Javrin a quick kiss before he got out of bed. "I know it's what I'd be going on after something like that. Come shower ... a quick one," he added with a grin.
"Can you do a quick shower?" Javrin teased playfully as he followed Jake. "When there's someone else around?" He smirked, since he enjoyed playing in the shower as much as Jake did.
"I think so," he chuckled and stripped, his tail uncharacteristically tucked down between his legs. "When I have a good reason too."
"Well, I'd say this probably counts." Javrin smiled, stripping quickly as Jake turned the water on and got the temperature set. He decided better of saying anything about Jake's uncharacteristic modesty for the time being. After what had happened with Chance, it wasn't all that surprising.
"Yes it does," he turned and caught Javrin's hand to pull him under the hot spray for a heated kiss that was as much about a simple affirmation of life as it was for desire.
Javrin's response was to pull Jake close and continue the kiss while his hands gently caressed his boyfriend's back. He welcomed the moan and returned caresses as Jake began to unwind.
"Gods, I've missed this," he whispered into Javrin's rich grey fur while his fingers made small furrows for the water to run in.
"Makes two of us." Javrin agreed softly, grateful that Jake was starting to unwind. He'd been worried that the last two weeks might just push Jake over the edge before they were able to pull things together, especially with the incident with Chance. The healing for both of them was far from over, but at least Jake wanted that normalness back enough it was what he chose when he wasn't thinking too much.
Another kiss claimed his mouth and Javrin willingly surrendered to the slowly riding pleasures of touch and gentle desire that had been so absent from their lives since leaving Aristal. He moaned softly as Jake slid a hand between them to gently caress his velvety balls and sheath.
Javrin moaned softly in response, as his hands slowly caressed their way down Jake's back to the curve of his ass and felt the lean tom's pleasure at the touch and willingness for more, even as it brought back a nasty memory of what had almost happened that was shoved down ruthlessly.
"Want in there?" Jake offered with a rumble.
"If you want it." Javrin rumbled heatedly, teasing a little but leaving no doubt as to interest. His stiff cock left little doubt about it either.
"Remember how to prep?" He breathed in his ear hotly and gave his cock a squeeze before reaching back for a small tube.
"Hasn't been that long." Javrin chuckled quietly and felt Jake draw his body away a bit. "Any position you'd prefer?" He asked gently, giving Jake as much control of the situation as possible.
Without a verbal answer, Jake relaxed with his arms against the side of the shower and spread his legs a bit with his tail up and looked over his shoulder at Javrin with hunger in his eyes.
Taking the tube of lube, Javrin liberally slicked up his cock, and then put more on one finger and gently pressed it against the furless pucker of Jake's ass, until his finger worked its way in to Jake's moans and soft sounds of pleasure at the welcomed intrusion. Gently, he worked that finger back forth letting his lover get used to its presence before working a second lubed finger in.
He felt through his fingers as well as saw the shudder that passed through Jake's body as he moaned and arched back into the contact, eager for the familiar pleasure to come.
"Oh, yeah," Jake rumbled and squeezed down lightly around Javrin's fingers.
Slowly, Javrin removed his fingers and placed head of his cock against the well-prepped opening and pushed it in slowly until he was inside Jake up to the first barb hairs. "Been too long." He rumbled heatedly, as he paused to let Jake get used to the presence and felt the lean tom press back, taking him in more fully.
"Oh, yeah," Jake moaned. "Godda let you top more often. I forget you don't get any without me."
"It's not like I complain." Javrin rumbled, as he pushed in to the sheath, and then began thrusting, slow at first, but gradually building in tempo at his lover's encouragement.
"Mmm, no, you don't." Jake agreed and arched back in pleasure, his body squeezing Javrin's gently in rhythm with the thrusts that made his cock achingly hard. "Oh, yeah. Fill me up." He groaned deeply.
"Oh, yeah." Javrin rumbled, and reached around to gently stroke Jake's cock as his thrusts increased in urgency. The jolt of pleasure that shot through Jake's body echoed right into his without warning. Suddenly, he roared as he began shooting his seed deep into Jake and felt him clamp down around him as Jake seed sprayed against the shower wall.
"Ohhh, kats, I needed that." Jake mumbled as he relaxed against his arms, coming down from an orgasm that was only part of what settled him so much.
"I think we both did." Javrin murmured as he slowly withdrew his cock and rested with his arms around Jake while they both began to relax for real.
"Just to let you know, he's a little wound up at the moment." Tasha said quietly when she met Jake and Javrin outside Chance's room. "And I'm guessing its something the two of you were up to a little while ago, since there was activity on the link he shares with Jake, as he was getting wound up."
"I'll take care of it," Jake promised, even as he flushed a bit at forgetting about that facet of things.
"I'll go in with him." Javrin told Tasha simply.
"Very good." Tasha nodded. "I'll be out here, in case you require assistance." She said, settling into a chair next to the door.
Good," Jake nodded and opened the door to his partner's room and suppressed a shot of uneasiness with uncharacteristic ruthlessness.
"Hay, buddy." Jake smiled at his partner as the door closed behind him and Javrin, leaving Tasha outside.
"Hay," Chance's smile suddenly became very real as part of him finally relaxed. "Where have you been hiding?" He half-demanded with a grin.
"Looking for you," Jake grinned, his tone teasing as he sat down on the bed before leaning foreword for a light kiss that ended up confirming every word of Tasha's warning about how riled up the tabby was. "Mmm, feels like you could use a little relaxation." He rumbled and reached down under the blankets to rubbed the tabby's full erection.
"Ohh, yeah." He groaned and thrust his hips up into the contact. "You ...."
Jake cut him off with a kiss and slid down the bed, pulling the blanket, and then Chance's loose pants, down as he went. He nuzzled the full erection, licking it to the tabby's shivers and moans before he took it easily into his mouth and down his throat.
"Oh, gods," Chance moaned and caught Jake's head in his hands as his hips thrust up into the hot, wet pleasure. He managed to keep it loose enough to let the kat do what he was good at, but it was hard to miss the controlling nature of his grip either.
Still, Jake accepted it, even to Javrin's senses, as Chance was quickly worked to an orgasm that left him panting and weak in bed.
"Better?" Jake grinned up at him after licking him clean.
"Yeah," he grinned down loopily as Jake pulled his pants back up and accepted being pulled alongside his partner for an affectionate nuzzle and a real breath of relief. "I was beginning to believe you really were dead," Chance admitted painfully.
"I know," Jake murmured and nuzzled him, relaxing into the embrace more than he expected he could.
"Feel up to trying to learn calm now?" Javrin offered the afternoon after Jake and Chance had spent most of the day in each other's arms, reassuring themselves that reality was as it should be. He figured things were about as settled as they were going to get, at least until they got home.
"It wouldn't hurt," he nodded, liking the idea more and more.
"Calm is mostly an exercise in controlling what goes on in your own mind." Javrin said, as he sat down on the floor in their quarters in a classic lotus position. "Ordering a space that is inherently disorderly, to quote my Master."
"That I can believe," Jake chuckled slightly and copied Javrin's position with less grace.
"Part of that ordering is learning to accept the flow of events in the universe. Most anxiety comes from trying to change things that one can't." He said trying to remember everything he'd been taught, most of which he didn't think about anymore. "Ocean waves are a good metaphor for the events of life, and most people experience anxiety because they constantly paddle against the waves, trying to stay where they were." He said simply. "Calm comes in accepting the change, and floating with the waves." He said quietly. "Or for the more dynamic it's like surfing, you still go with the waves but are a little more active about it." He said, and then chuckled. "I bet it's painfully obvious that I've never taught anyone before."
"I guessed as much," he chuckled softly and tried to relax. "I like the surfing analogy."
"My homeworld is 85% water, so most of my analogies involves water, boats or fishing." He chuckled. "But the real trick to calm is in letting the things you can't use go. No surfer can use all the waves in the ocean, and it doesn't help to worry about the ones you don't." He explained. "But the first step in calm is quieting your mind, quieting all the noise and activity that fills it normally. Different Masters teach different ways, but my father taught me what he called the 'ripple in the pond'. You create a single moment of quiet in your mind, and that becomes the stone that creates the ripple. You then let the ripples of quiet spread outward, pushing away the noise and confusion. Behind the ripple is left the still water of calm."
Jake considered that. The theory made sense, but applying it to his own mind left him at a loss. Finally he looked up at Javrin.
"Define 'calm'." He asked in complete seriousness.
"Quiet is usually the best definition, though highly ordered works better for some people." Javrin said after thinking a bit. "Calm could also be compared to a machine working exactly the way it's supposed to."
"Quiet," Jake murmured, thinking back though his life for when he felt that way. "Peaceful?"
"Yes, peaceful is also commonly associated with calm." Javrin nodded encouragingly. "Another technique for achieving calm is to take an image of a place that makes you feel at peace and relaxed and overlay it over all the noise and chaos in your mind.
"It's a start," he said quietly and closed his eyes to let his mind drift back to the various streams and ponds he'd relaxed by in his life and smiled softly.
Javrin kept his reaction to the incredible stillness that spread through Jake's mind so quickly to himself. The tom did know how to do this, he just considered it an incredibly guilty pleasure he rarely indulged in.
"That's very good, Jake." Javrin said quietly. "That calm is the first step to learning how to use the Force consciously, in addition to the unconscious way you do naturally." He said encouragingly, letting Jake know that it was okay, not anything to feel guilty for.
"So how do you think like this?" He asked, sounding almost sleepy as his mind relaxed from it's naturally hectic pace.
"Using the Force isn't about thinking." Javrin explained. "It's about instinct, and about trusting the Force. Thinking too much actually gets in the way of using the Force." He said simply. "For example, do you actually think through the 'how' of how some of your really incredible inventions work? Or do you just do them?"
Jake opened his mouth to say of course he thought about it, then stilled as he realized that when it came to real details on the special parts, it was just rough sketches and built.
"I just build them," he answered, a little surprised.
"That's very much the way the Force works. Best when you let the Force guide you, even if you don't realize it." Javrin nodded. "For example, lightsaber combat works best when your mind is calm, and you trust the Force to guide your blade. According to the personal journals of some of the greatest Masters, they could go through an entire combat without consciously thinking about it." He explained. "Most of us have to think a little more than that, but that's the ideal." He said.
Jake processed that slowly. "I think I can relate to that," he nodded. "When things are really flowing, we don't have to think about the fight, we just go through it."
"Exactly." Javrin nodded. "Chance probably flies much the same way, it's not anything he thinks about he just does." The blue-grey tom said easily.
"On the good days at least, or when he's dealing with a completely new craft, like when I first gave him a TurboKat."
"Everyone has off days." Javrin said easily. "My slip-piloting on the way here was a good example." He chuckled.
That raised an eyebrow as Jake opened still tranquil amber eyes on him. "When did you mess that up?"
"It shouldn't have been as tiring as it was." Javrin shook his head. "But I was trying too hard, and not flying the stream on instinct like I should've. Back when I did it regularly, I could've shaved a day or two off the trip out."
"Given you were eight years out of practice, getting us where you wanted was an accomplishment." Jake pointed out easily. "That is not a simple skill from what I saw of it."
"It's easy for some people, and impossible for others." He nodded. "There are even a few races who can't, and at least one who won't." He chuckled lightly. "Of course I don't blame the H'tari for refusing to do it. H'tari slip-pilots routinely end up in the most unexpected places, including the occasional accidental time travel."
"Sounds like one might be a relative." Jake rolled his eyes, his mind a bit active but still calm overall. "So I could actually work better like this?" He asked, both curious and a bit disbelieving.
"Quite possibly." Javrin nodded. "Though you might not always get what you were aiming for. The Force doesn't always give you what you want, but it usually gives you what you need." He smiled and got an amused chuckle for it.
"Half the time I'm not sure what I'm building till it's finished anyway." Jake grinned and shifted into a more comfortable position. "I'll take what I need over what I want any day."
"Telekinesis is the talent where you really have to stop thinking though." Javrin chuckled. "Accepting that you just think something the size of starfighter into the air can be difficult. I know it was for me."
Jake cocked his head, about to say something when he snarled and lunged to his feet, his mind a hurricane of rage that he shoved out of the way to focus on finding his partner as fast as he could.
Chance walked through the grand halls of the Jedi Temple, alternately amazed and unsettled by the huge place that made cathedrals look like ramshackle sheds. Everything was so bright and airy and there was an incredible sense of self-assured safety about the place and people. This was there world, and nothing would intrude upon it.
It was both comforting, and a bit galling.
The looks he got, however, those where irritating. Superior looks. Scrawny creatures that thought they were better than him.
But one, a Mouse of all things, seemed to look right through him like he wasn't even there.
It was just too much to stomach and he lunged with a snarl of pure rage.
The blue female Mouse sidestepped the lunge with ease such as to make it appear that she'd hardly bothered moving, leaving Chance to encounter one of the very solid walls. She contemplated simply restraining the enraged feline telekinetically, before realizing that he didn't need to be merely stopped, he really needed to be beaten in a way he'd understand.
He ricocheted off the wall, taking a couple backwards steps before he zeroed in on her again, oblivious to the fact that she had stopped all others from interfering, and closed with her, trying to get close enough to get his claws on her.
This time she let him get so close he taste it, before vaulting effortlessly over him and out of his reach once again. She had no intention of laying a hand on him; she was simply going to let him charge himself into exhaustion. She was very certain that he needed the demonstration that all the rage he could summon would avail him nothing.
Her intentions shifted in an instant as the Darkness erupted inside him, granting him at least as much speed as she had, and reflexes sharp enough to make dodging a risk, even for her.
With a moment to spare before his next strike Master Yamari relaxed into the Force and committed her defense to the Light.
"Oh, fuck." Jake's terrified voice greeted the sounds of battle and the palatable feel of the two sides at work.
"What's wrong, Jake?" Javrin asked, as he kept close behind Jake. He could feel a conflict that shouldn't be going on within the Academy grounds, but it seemed Jake had more info on it.
"Chance ... the Sith won." He whispered deep in his throat as they caught a glimpse of the battle between the enraged tabby and the blue Mouse who blocked or sidestepped his every attack.
"It's just a setback, Jake." Javrin said gently. "It's to be expected with rage addiction, a few steps forward a couple back. This fight should actually help, since Master Yamari can beat him, without actually hurting him." He commented quietly, as the blue Mouse gracefully blocked an attack, and then gracefully sidestepped the follow-up strike.
"This ... this ... is what rage addiction does?" Jake shuddered as he watched something he could barely comprehend.
"It causes irrational behavior, yes." Javrin nodded. "His natural reactions have been shifted toward anger-driven ones. Something that he might not have noticed before becomes annoying, something annoying becomes enraging." The grey tom explained. "This is why we can't rush returning home. Can you imagine him encountering Commander Feral as he is now?" Javrin suggested softly.
"A little too well," he nodded and took a deep breath as he forced himself to watch, and accept, both sides of the fight and what they could do. "He's capable of being an Omega like that."
"Yes, and a very dangerous one if he managed to tap any other Force abilities unconsciously." Javrin said quietly. "Possibly worse than Dark Kat."
"I'm beginning to really not want to know." Jake shook his head slightly, seriously unnerved as he comprehended just how outclassed they were in the big picture. It made him ache for the simplicity of just a city to defend and nothing much worse than Dark Kat to face. Life would never be that simple again. He and Chance had both unlocked something that couldn't be ignored, something that took any possibility of 'just going home' and having life be normal again away.
"I wish it had stayed simple too." Javrin said gently. "Nothing more to worry about then what would chase my boss home from the latest dig, and whether my boyfriend would get himself killed saving the world." He said softly.
"I'm too stubborn to die," he chuckled a bit, trying not to think about what he was watching and why he wasn't in the middle of it already. It was only after he saw the way a couple Jedi looked at him with a hint of worry that he realized that it wasn't the reassurance it was before. "I didn't mean it that way."
"I know what you meant." Javrin said reassuringly. "Doesn't help the worrying part any, especially back when I wasn't supposed to know." He chuckled quietly.
"And I would have not reacted well if you'd shown any sign of knowing," Jake shook his head and drew Javrin close.
Chance's head abruptly snapped around to lock onto the pair and a feral snarl echoed in the hall as his rage found a new target and a fresh source of power: jealously.
"Chance!" Jake's eyes went wide even as he ordered the kat to stop without effect.
Javrin wasn't the true combat master that the Mouse was, so he resorted to put a strong telekinetic wall between himself and Chance, to give Jake time to calm the tabby down. It was something the lean tom was not going about in the safest manner as he move forward, closer to the furious kat.
"Chance, calm down." Jake put all his authority behind his words and reached out to add the reinforcement of his touch to the order. He met invisible resistant for a moment, then found himself with an armful of enraged kat trying to get to Javrin. He gritted his teeth and focused on what he's learned about them in the last two weeks to force the tabby to submit to his authority and calm down as he always had.
It earned him an irate growl, but he could feel the shift in Chance's body that marked acceptance of a disliked order.
"I'm here, Chance." Jake said more softly as rage began to give way to panting. "I'm never going to leave you."
"Perhaps it would be best if you are not standing there for a time." Master Yamari told Javrin quietly as they both watched the unusual dynamics of the pair play out. "Meditation would be of benefit."
"Yes, Master." Javrin nodded obediently, and turned to head back to his quarters. "*Jake*" He thought carefully to the cinnamon tom. "*I'm going back to quarters. My presence is just agitating Chance right now.*" He finished, as he turned a corner out of sight.
"*Understood.*" Jake's much less skilled reply came back with a warm mental hug of both appreciation for his disappearance and apology that it was such a good idea.
Then Jake turned his full attention to his partner. "Let's get you back to your video games." He suggested and urged the tom to come with him to the quarters they were assigned.
"Right," he mumbled, still quite disoriented but willing to go with his partner's very reasonable-sounding idea.
"You wanted to see me, Master Kastoris?" Javrin asked as he entered the small, private garden that served as the Master's meditation area.
"Yes, Javrin." He nodded. "The Council just finished reviewing the reports from your mission to Sancresti Redoubt. According to the Master Tran and Knight Sergenski you acquitted yourself very well."
"Thank you, Master." Javrin blushed at little at the praise.
"In fact, the Council has decided to accept the mission as your final trial, when considered in conjunction with your interviews with the members of the Council."
"It has?" Javrin blinked at the very unexpected decision. The Council was certainly allowed to do that, but Javrin worried that it hadn't been enough.
"Yes." Kastoris smiled. "Despite not having a Master for most of the years you were a Padawan, you have stayed true to the Code and your skill with the lightsaber makes you competitive with Knights who have been in the order as long as you have." He grinned. "Which is appropriate, since the Council has decided to bestow on you the rank of Jedi Knight. Congratulations, Javrin. Your Master would be proud."
"Thank you, Master."
"With that rank comes what may be a difficult assignment." Kastoris cautioned. "You still intend to return with Jake and Chance at such time as they return home?"
"Yes, Master." Javrin said certainly. "It's been my home for eight years now. I feel more at home there, then anywhere I've been since my parents died."
"The Council's concern is that, since Jake and Chance are Force-sensitive the ability may be beginning to emerge there." He explained. "The Council needs someone to monitor the situation. That will be your job."
"Of course, Master." He said, thinking that that wasn't that difficult really.
"The other consideration is that should either Jake or Chance have kits, they will likely be sensitive as well." The Master continued. "You will need to keep an eye for any who may be candidates for training."
"I could not train more than one, Master." Javrin objected softly.
"It is only a week from there to here." Kastorin noted. "Should this come to pass, contact us for further instructions."
"So primarily I'm to watch and report back." Javrin asked, wanting to make sure what he was supposed to do.
"Yes, and stay in touch." Kastoris grinned. "We'd like to hear from you, more than every eight years."
"Of course, Master." Javrin grinned back. "Will the Council be constructing other ships with TFG capability?"
"Discretely, but yes." Kastoris nodded. "For the time being, we don't see a need to bring the Senate in on matters. This new world is completely outside Republic space or even the Rim."
"Understood, Master." Javrin nodded. "Is there anything else?"
"Yes, one more lesson before you leave." He said simply. "Assuming that your Master did not teach you how to construct your own lightsaber?"
"No, he didn't Master."
"Then I will, and if Jake should ask, you may show him how." He smiled. "He'll probably figure it out on his own anyway, but it would hurt him to actually know." He chuckled, amazed at how capable the cinnamon tom was at building things without entirely knowing how he got the results he did.
"Understood, Master. When are lessons to begin?"
"Tomorrow is soon enough. I suspect Jake would like to have you back now." He chuckled, thinking how like a teenager Javrin was in many ways, especially where dating was concerned. "You may go."
"Yes, he probably would." Javrin grinned, and turned to leave. "Thank you, Master."
"Hay Jackson," Chance grinned at the White Lion standing behind his partner. Hew as still a bit loopy from all he'd been through but coherent again and feeling much better. "Good to see they got you out too."
"They didn't, you did." He smiled warmly even as Jake turned in his chair to see who had snuck in and blinked a couple times at the translucent White Lion standing there.
"Umm, Chance ... who is this guy?" Jake asked cautiously, still more than a bit paranoid by the whole lesson on Sith ghosts.
"One of the other prisoners, an aerospace engineer like you." The tabby answered his partner by habit before looking at Jackson again. "How'd I get you out?"
"You said I could grab a ride when your friends came." Jackson smiled. "So I did. I apologize for not pointing out that I was already dead, but honestly I just wanted out of that place." He explained, a bit sheepishly.
"Already dead?" Both toms repeated in unison; one in confusion, one completely freaked.
"Yeah, Keira wanted more than I was willing to give her." He sighed. "So she put me in the virtualizer. It didn't quite work as planned, and my spirit and body had a parting of the ways. Unfortunately, there's just no easy way out of that fortress for a ghost, and I knew I wasn't up to tackling that Sith head on." He shook his head. "I'd learned that much before I bailed from the Academy."
"So you had to sneak out with a live mind?" Jake half guessed, still very much on edge, though his partner's acceptance did a lot to calm him down.
"I needed cover." He nodded. "Kind of like hiding a message on a sub-frequency. It gets missed in the noise of the main transmission." He explained. "Actually, I meant to explain but Keira lost her patience with him before I could."
"Somehow, I'm not surprised," Jake chuckled and ruffled the thick fur on Chance's chest. "He's got the thickest skull ever known."
"Hay!" The tabby in question objected, though it was almost playful. Almost.
"You know I love the way you are," Jake murmured soothingly and shifted to kiss his partner, willing the tabby to calm down before he found out what it felt like to get slugged by him hyped-up.
"Mmm, yeah," he smiled and caught Jake's head for another kiss that wasn't resisted at all.
"So what now?" Jake asked as he relaxed his head against Chance's chest, more concerned about the very real tabby that was getting possessive of him than the non-corporeal creature behind him.
"Not sure exactly." Jackson shook his head. "Go talk to one of the Masters I guess. Fortunately, pretty much everyone around here is sensitive enough to see me." He chuckled. "But I wanted to thank you for getting me out of there." He smiled at the tabby. "I know it's not much, but your being there did rescue one person." He grinned, though the tone was quite serious. "I'll leave you two alone now." He smirked playfully as he disappeared into the ceiling and Chance's full attention focused on his partner with a demanding kiss.
"Chance ..." Jake pulled away a bit, trying to keep how badly freaked he still was under wraps. "Not now."
The tabby frowned, clearly unhappy, but his grip loosened and he stroked Jake's cheek with a thumb. "Sorry, buddy." He mumbled as it sunk in why Jake was so tense and fought down the intense self-loathing it brought to realize he was capable of that, much less against his partner. "Gods, I'm sorry buddy. I ...."
"You weren't in control of yourself," Jake murmured and turned his head to kiss Chance's palm and brought his hand up to keep it there. "I know. It's not something you'd ever do if you knew what was happening. I'm just ... not quite there yet."
"And I'm not quite myself yet." The tabby finished for him. "Not enough not to be afraid of." He brushed his thumb over Jake's mouth when he began to object. "Jake, I'm not so completely self-absorbed that I haven't noticed." He paused, then sighed. "Hell, Jake. I couldn't blame you if you never wanted to be alone around me again."
"I know," he murmured and closed his eyes briefly. "You're still my partner, Chance. We'll make it though this like we have everything else."
"Yeah," Chance smiled slightly. "Yeah, we will."
Jake murmured in the intoxicating pleasure of having Chance back and completely himself at the controls of an agile, powerful aircraft. It no longer mattered, for these few hours, that they were stuck in a different galaxy among strange people with strange customs and beliefs that had all but destroyed them both.
"There's the park," he pointed out the floated chunk of several hundred acres of green grass, carefully sculpted rolling hills, a scattering of trees and groups of trees. What caught Jake's attention was the large pool fed by a small waterfall and he guided Chance to it without even thinking he was.
When the small craft set down, Javrin was the first one ready, as he was the only one not actively involved in guiding their wild canon tag adventure that was sure to bring many complains and neither of them could care about it. He waited and followed Jake out and sat down by the large pool that reminded him of his first home, a home he hadn't seen in almost a dozen years. Not that he really wanted to go back, since it just reminded him of the parents he'd lost very young.
"You found a good spot," Jake smiled at him as he put out a blanket and handed out plates so Chance wouldn't start to eat without them.
"I had a little help." Javrin chuckled. "Tasha gets stir-crazy if she's cooped up too long. Something about needing space to run in." He said thoughtfully. "It's a Borzoi thing apparently."
"I know Cheetah's get like that," Jake chuckled and snagged some of the fried bird, creamy potato salad and one of the slices of desert from the basket before Chance got to it all. "Grab what you can. He's insatiable." He grinned at his partner.
"The food's good." Chance countered with a grin. "And you've got some work to do. That thing is hot for a transport."
"Well, it's technically a military drop craft." Javrin grinned as he helped himself to bit of everything. He didn't usually eat large amounts of anything, just some of everything offered. "Designed to get below enemy sensors before they notice something came down. So it's all engine and control systems."
"And she flies sweet." Chance grinned around a big bite of fried meat. "Oh, kats, does she fly sweet."
"You'll have better when I'm done rebuilding the TK." Jake promised with a grin.
"Sienar Systems builds the best." Javrin grinned. "Most of the major developments in starfighter technology come from them, along with the top of the line civilian craft. Of course they're limited by only having access to garden-variety geniuses." He smirked at Jake. "Not super-geniuses."
"Ah," Jake blushed and ducked his head.
"Now that we can use more of." Chance licked his lips and grinned. "He is so cute when he blushes."
"Very true." Javrin grinned playfully. "The blush goes well with his fur." He added appreciatively.
"Okay, so you two have something in common," Jake mumbled, his cheeks burning.
"Yeah, we both are seriously hooked on you." Chance smiled, something in his voice making the statement a very serious one despite the teasing words. He reached out to gently brush Jake's cheek. "You're where we're at."
It took Javrin a moment, and some measure of telepathic sensitivity to realize what Chance meant. "Very true." He nodded with a warm smile as Jake's color deepened. "Basically what I told Master Kastoris the other day."
"You really are coming back with us?" Jake looked at him with a smile even as he shifted a little closer to Chance without thinking.
"Yes, I am." Javrin nodded. "I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about it, and for all its problems, MegaKat City is the closest thing to 'home' I've had since my folks died. And I really don't like how I feel when I think about watching as you guys leave." He admitted quietly. "Only a masochist would set himself up for that much pain."
"Or someone who has another reason to stay," Jake said softly. "But I'm glad you aren't staying here. I'd miss you."
"I'd have to have a pretty big reason to stay." Javrin said simply. "And I don't, and I'd miss you too, a lot." He added quietly.
"You know, I'm glad you aren't a pilot." Chance shook his head after a bite of the fried bird. "Or I might think you're trying to be more than his boyfriend."
"I prefer to fight with my feet on the ground." Javrin chuckled; deciding to leave unsaid the fact that he was a pilot. Even if he wasn't as good as Chance he really didn't want to create the perception of competition. "Besides, who'd handle Abi's paperwork?" He added with a wise-ass smirk.
"I don't even want to know," Jake snickered. "Probably her again."
"Sure as hell won't be me." Chance puffed up his chest again.
"Oh, gods, only if she wants it to look like your room." Jake snickered and shot Javrin a reminding look that this was meant to be a 'make friends' outing when Chance was actually in a good mood.
"Exactly, you fly and I do paperwork." Javrin grinned at the tabby. "Better for everyone that way. 'Sides, I don't think anybody but you can handle the stuff Jake builds."
"Especially after we get back," the tabby rumbled eagerly and pulled Jake close for a near insistent nuzzle that wasn't resisted, but wasn't quite returned either.
"You have that much right." Jake grinned despite being a bit uncomfortable and uncertain about how this was working.
"Yeah, antigrav will give you a whole new range of maneuverability to play with." Javrin smirked. "And the inertial compensators will let you pull significantly more G's."
"No more blacking out for you," Chance teased his partner. "We are going to be so unstoppable."
"At least we'll have the tech edge for a few years." Jake chuckled slightly.
"I should hope more than a few." Javrin chuckled. "I haven't seen anything that indicates that anybody on Aristal is even close to a working antigrav unit. Should we throw a starfighter in the cargo bay, so you have it to study at home?" He asked Jake, his tone mostly teasing but partly serious.
"If you can get away with it," Jake all but lit up with a grin. "And at least two Omegas have them, and Blackie had a partial system, but nothing like what you've got here."
"Now you've done it," Chance laughed easily and shook his head. "He'll be no good for conversation or playing for days now."
"But just think of what you'll have when he's done." Javrin smirked at Chance. "That flyer there is nothing compared to a military spec starfighter." He chuckled. "And I think I can swing it." He said, fairly confident that the Council would back the request. If for no other reason than to avoid having it vanish anyway.
"Yeah, yeah, but you have no idea what it's like living with him like this." He made a general motion towards his partner, who was clearly absorbed in other things than their conversation.
"He forgets to come out of the lab, and you have to go check on him every so often and make sure he does things like eat?" Javrin asked with a knowing grin.
"Eat, sleep ... remember that there is life outside his shop," the tabby rolled his eyes. "He's impossible to distract."
"Abi says that about me when I get my nose buried in a translation." Javrin chuckled.
"Bastet save me," Chance groaned, though it was in good humor. "I have two of you now?"
"If you want to." Javrin winked, teasing playfully. "I don't think Jake'll object."
The tabby blinked a couple times as his brain made sure he'd actually heard what he thought he'd heard. "You're into that?" He asked a bit uncertainly with a glance at Jake as if he could discern where this had come from from his distracted partner.
"Not with just anyone." Javrin clarified, wishing Jake was paying attention. "And you're far from being just anyone." He smiled.
Chance regarded them both for a while, then focused a bit more on Javrin. "Jake's idea, or yours?" He asked, really just curious.
"Jake asked me to think about it, but it wasn't a new idea." Javrin smiled. "You're too attractive for me to not at least have that fantasy once in a while."
"A fantasy is quite a bit different than reality a lot of the time," he cautioned gently, remembering Jake's assessment of Javrin's sexual experience and the likely extent of how far Jake would have taken it in a few months. "But you'd be welcome to play with us."
"I know it is." Javrin nodded. "But I trust Jake's judgment. He wouldn't ask if he didn't think I could handle it." He said simply, but the level of trust it implied went much deeper. "And thank you , I'm sure it'll make Jake happy." He added, and it was clear that making Jake happy was very important to him.
"No, no he wouldn't," Chance nodded as he considered his partner. "Think we should get his attention back to the real world?"
"Any suggestions on how?" Javrin asked curiously. "You've got more experience than I do."
"Well, how pissy are they about fooling around out here?" He grinned devilishly.
"We're far enough inland to avoid being scene." Javrin chuckled. "Well, you know what water does to him." He grinned impishly.
"Oh yeah," Chance's grin turned absolutely wicked as he got halfway up. "I take him in, you get ready to kiss the squawking away?"
"I can do that." Javrin grinned playfully, as he stood up gracefully and made his way to the water's edge.
Chance waited until he was close, then went for a rushing roll that tumbled him, and the kat in his arms, right into the pond. Jake's squawk of outraged surprise and confusion came out over the splashing, then the gurgle as he got a mouthful of water.
Javrin waited until Jake had surfaced to claim a playful, yet passionate kiss. He'd never have pulled something like this on his own, but it sure seemed like a fun idea when Chance suggested it. He felt the startled tension in Jake's body, the conflicting desires of returning the kiss and demanding what was going on.
Then Chance surfaced behind Jake to nibble on his neck and everything become crystal clear. Without any more hesitation Jake pulled Javrin against him and returned the ravaging kiss and wondering hands.
"Told you I'd think about it." Javrin whispered playfully, as his hands caressed Jake's body through his clothes.
"Yes, you did." Jake shuddered at the gentle, teasing touch of his boyfriend and the much bolder and no less loving touch of his partner. "And you two know you've got me." He moaned as Chance kissed his neck, his words only half finished but easy to discern.
"Yes," the tabby murmured and rubbed his full jeans against Jake's rump. "I was thinking of a reverse Jake sandwich while we do."
"I'm game." Javrin grinned, glad that he'd surfed the 'net for pictures and stories. He always preferred to have some idea what was going on, especially when he was a complete novice at something.
"Ohh, the tabby is getting experimental on me," Jake grinned and shamelessly rubbed back as his shirt was quickly removed despite the way it wanted to stick to his body.
"And this waterfall just happened to be nearby to get things moving." Javrin smirked, as he playfully undid Jake's pants and lightly fondled the already hard tom while Chance's hands moved over Jake's chest, teasing his nipples and indulging all the touch-hunger they both had built up despite having other partners. The blue-grey tom then claim another passionate kiss as one hand gently fondled Jake's already hard cock.
It didn't take long before Jake had gotten him undressed. Chance had tossed his clothes to the shore at some point before the tabby claimed a surprisingly gentle kiss from Javrin and closed a hand around the grey tom's cock to pump it a few times while Jake worked on Javrin's balls.
"Mmm, or maybe something simpler." Chance grinned and urged Javrin into shallow enough water that he could sit without drowning the tabby who nuzzled his groin.
"Ohh, that works," Javrin moaned and leaned back into the shallow water as his cock was taken all the way down Chance's throat.
"It means you can watch me." Jake rumbled hotly as he slid a hand under the tabby's tail to check if he was ready and murred at the low moan his fingers received. He didn't waste any more time and pressed into his partner's body with a heated growl of pleasure, his eyes locked on Javrin's pleasure as the rhythm built with their pleasure.
Javrin shuddered first, his body pushed to its limit quickly by the skill and desire of both his partners. He felt Chance's arms come up to support him as he came hard, his seed shooting down the tabby's throat.
He was still panting when he felt a shockwave of pleasure from Chance and opened his eyes to see Jake's open-mouthed pleasure and feel the moaning against his groin as Jake stroked Chance's cock to come in unison. Chance's grip on him slowly loosened as his breath shortened and Jake's thrusts became more erratic.
Then it exploded with Chance's roar as his body clamed down around his partner's to draw the last moment of control from Jake. The water under them turned a creamy white as each kat surrendered to the moment.
Slowly they separated and moved up to collapse in the shallow, lapping water next to Javrin.
"That was fun," Chance grinned at the pair.
"Sometimes reality is better than the fantasy." Javrin grinned, still feeling a little loopy. "This certainly was."
"Good," Chance smiled a little more warmly as he made the effort to begin to let Javrin into his heart and the small circle of people he truly cared about. "Maybe you'd stay in our room tonight?" He offered with a gentle kiss even as Jake nuzzled along Javrin's shoulder to steal one for himself from each tom.
"I'd love to." Javrin replied with a smile, and a gentle kiss in return.
"Then why don't you entertain him," Chance grinned and gave him a gentle push against Jake, "while I dry off."
"He wants a real bed." Jake snickered and claimed a heated kiss.
"Damn straight," the tabby laughed and got up. "Water turns him on, but I like a nice soft bed."
"So you think we can drag him out of that workshop long enough to get him on the ship without having him take it apart again?" Chance smirked at the shorter tom next to him as they walked through the halls that had become familiar over too many weeks of having his head put back together.
"Well, we could literally drag him." Javrin snickered to the burly tabby. "Between the two of us we've got enough leverage."
"Oh, yeah," he laughed easily. "But that assumes none of his new toys object to him being dragged off."
"That's what Master Kastoris is for." Javrin chuckled. "He talks to stuff the same way Jake does. Might not be as strong on the inventing end, but he's very good at commanding stuff."
"Ohh, any chance we can katnap him to get Jake out of the shop on a regular basis?" The tabby grinned eagerly.
"I think the Council will object if we try to walk off with a Council member." Javrin chuckled. "Still it'd be fun to watch the fireworks the first time he caught one of Feral's anti-SWAT Kats rants on TV." The blue-grey tom snickered.
"Oh?" He grinned, a rush of fire spiking his heart rate at the idea of the Commander getting seriously hurt.
"Oh, just longest lecture on the stupidity of his way of doing things that Feral's ever had." Javrin chuckled. "From someone he couldn't ignore or order out of his office. Feral'd be lucky if he didn't find himself resigning at the end of the day." The lean tom smirked. "Feral's no match for a Jedi Master, not even on his best day."
"I doubt he's a match for you." Hew smirked, though he meant the words.
"If I was trying to kill him probably not." Javrin murmured as he blushed brightly at the compliment for a little while, before he got enough control to force the blush to retreat.
"You're almost as cute as Jake when you blush too," he chuckled and ghosted a finger down Javrin's neck.
"You've got a talent for making both of us blush too." Javrin grinned with a tiny shiver of excitement. Playing with Chance was still new enough that it excited him more than it should, kind of like the first few weeks with Jake. The two had such different ways of playing too, for all they were both gentle and saw to his pleasure as well as their own.
"Hay, the muscle has to be good at something to put you geniuses off balance." He smirked.
"I heard that!" Jake called out to them from where he was sitting cross-legged on the floor and literally up to his ears in a disassembled something. "Time to eat already?" He asked as he started to unwind and stand up.
"Yap," Chance grinned at him and all but hauled him out of the pile with a bear hug. "But they finally let me go today."
"Let you ..." Jake's eyes went wide as he stopped his playful struggling. "We get to go home?"
"Whenever you're ready." Javrin nodded. "Master Leona thought it would be soon, so I've been prepping the ship the last few days." He smiled.
"Now!" Jake rumbled even as he kissed Chance with all the passion he had, proud beyond words of the recovery.
"So anything in here than needs to get lugged along?" Chance rumbled, his breath quickened by the attention and intensity he saw in his arms.
"No," Jake shook his head and got his feet under him when he was set down. "You got everything packed from our quarters?"
"Yap." Chance nodded easily and kissed him back, much more lightly. "Let's get the hell out of this place."
"Then we better get moving before the universe comes up with something else." Javrin chuckled lightly, only about half joking and got a pair of matching looks that understood the statement a little too well.
"Any idea on an ETA to Aristal?" Jake asked as they dropped into the utterly barren real space between galaxies. He tried not to be too edgy about it and put even more pressure on the only slipstream pilot they had, but it wasn't easy for him to be cooped up with so little he could really do.
"Difficult to say." Javrin admitted, as he deactivated the slip-piloting console. "Time in slipstream travel is largely a factor of pilot skill and experience, as well as the amount and frequency of travel on the route. And using TFG-slipstream just complicates estimates." He shook his head. "Probably six to ten days from Coruscant to Aristal. Not bad for crossing half the universe."
"No, it's not." Jake admitted, reluctant about being hyped up that long about being so near and so far. "Right now, you look like you could stand a break and some TLC." He said softly and knelt next to the chair to nuzzle him.
"How about giving me a shot now." Chance grinned at them from where he was leaning against the bulkhead. "You know I can do it."
"I wouldn't be surprised." Javrin grinned as he got out of the pilot's station and had it clamed by an eager tabby while Jake settled into the background to be out of the way. "The theory is fairly simple; the pilot simply chooses from diverging pathways as they occur. According to most theorists choosing the pathway usually means it's the right one, as long as you're not overthinking the decision. The only reliable way to pilot the slipstream is to trust your instincts, and don't let the speed and number of pathways intimidate you."
"Nothing intimidates me," Chance grinned at him and relaxed completely into the pilot's chain.
"That much is true." Jake chuckled and watched in fascination as Javrin showed him the simple controls and they dropped into the slipstream again under his pilot's guidance. He couldn't help but smile at how this both relaxed and energized his partner.
Javrin had to admit that the tabby did seem to have the gift for piloting the slipstream, though confidence in one's abilities was half the battle in successful slipstream piloting. "Your destination is Dragus Proxima in Reticulum Galaxy." He explained, standing to one side of the pilot's station. "It helps to have an idea where you're going before entering the stream."
"I'm going home." Chance told him evenly and simply. "I know where it is." He added, not even questioning that it was impossible for him to know.
"Come on, Javrin." Jake smiled warmly and slid his arm around the other tom. "Let's get you a meal and rest. We're in good hands."
"There's a very good reason for the indirect route." Javrin said quietly once they had left the bridge. "A direct course would pass through a galactic core, and that's just a bad idea."
"Trust Chance," Jake kissed his cheek. "No one is better at what he does, and that's getting his ship through things in one piece."
"Sorry, I've just heard the story of Suliman's Glory one time too many." Javrin shook his head. "A ship that tried to slipstream through the heart of the Draconis Galaxy, and got caught by a black hole. When they finally pulled free of the event horizon, a thousand years had passed."
"Javrin," Jake stopped and stepped ahead to face him and tipped his face up. "I understand. But either trust Chance with a shift, or go take him out of the cockpit. Don't worry. It doesn't help."
"No it doesn't." Javrin admitted. "It just disturbed me when he brushed off the navigation instruction I tried to give him. And if I didn't trust him, I wouldn't have left the bridge." he pointed out as he kissed Jake on the cheek. "But as the person with the most space experience, I feel somewhat responsible for getting us home safely."
"He didn't brush you off," Jake smiled at him gently. "That's just Chance in the pilot's seat. He heard you, and he paid attention. He's just got this macho-kat thing going on the outside."
"Ah, yes the macho-kat thing." Javrin chuckled and shook his head. "I do tend to misinterpret that one, always have actually." He admitted sheepishly as Jake drew him close into a gentle hug.
"Now lets get you fed and rested, and maybe a little wound down," he winked, "so you can take a shift after him."
"You think he'll willing give up the pilot's station?" Javrin grinned playfully. "Though actually he probably will. First time slip-piloting is always exhausting, no matter how talented you are."
"And I can offer him an alternative he won't want to turn down." Jake chuckled and guided Javrin to the galley.
"Satellite count correct," Jake softly counted off his personal checklist as they approached Aristal's blue and brown orb. He was paying nearly as much attention to trying to keep control of the near-panic level terror that gripped him as the readouts. "Katsat-3 made it into operation." He added with a slight smile. "Transmission level is good. Encoding unchanged. We've been gone for a hundred and thirty two days, just shy of three months."
"Switching to stealth mode." Javrin said from the command station. "Stealth fully operational, visual cloak engaged. We are now completely invisible to detection. Where do we want to land?"
"Well, we still have a city in the right place," Jake said with a real breath of relief. "And it looks right too, minus MegaKat Towers, again." He chuckled nervously. "Head for the Yard. If it's still intact, it's our base of operations."
"You want to take her in, Chance?" Javrin offered.
"You know I do." The tabby grinned broadly and efficiently swapped places with Javrin.
"Enforcer bands sound normal." Jake added as they swept over the city. "And the Yard is as we left it. Logging into the security system now." He commented, his heart pounding in his throat as everything that could have happened in the three months they'd been gone ran through his head.
"Setting her down out back," Chance reported to Jake without really thinking about it as they began to synch up as they usually did when co-piloting.
"System intact," Jake's voice began to tremble in relief, his body not far behind in surrendering to the release of tension and fear that had build up over far too long. "Hanger is unbreached." He added as information came in far too slowly. "We're as safe as it can be to check on foot."
Javrin sank into the soothing calm of pre-battle meditation as he unclipped his lightsaber without igniting it as the ship settled in the dusty ground. He could feel relief at being home in both of them, and the cautious paranoia that was very well warranted with their lives.
"Let's go," Jake took charge without thinking. They picked up a Glovatrix each and surveyed the familiar terrain of the home, searching for anything out of place before they moved forward to enter the building and begin a formal search.
Javrin nodded quietly and followed the two of them out of the ship. He could feel Jake reach out, touching the base he'd done so much conversion and work in with a conscious intent he hadn't known was possible when he'd last seen the place.
He saw in Chance the knowledge, a moment before he caught it, that the area was clear according to Jake. He knew without asking that there would still be an inch-by-inch inspection of the Yard, home and Hanger and followed them through their home to learn it as they assured themselves it was still theirs.
War Between Worlds
NC-17 for M/M
Het Level is None Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Low Femslash Level is None Herm Level is None
360 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written November 22, 2004 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Todd McCall
Setting: Star Wars (Furry), SWAT Kats
Primary Races: Feline, Kat
Contents: Furry. Slash (M/M). Admittance Story, Alternate Universe, Crossover, DarkFic, Non-Con (M on M), Rape Recovery, Romance (Teen), Sci-Fi, Sex (First Time), Sex (Kinky), Sex (Public), Sex (Rough), Slavery (Legal), Violence
Pairings: Jake Clawson/Chance Furlong, Jake Clawson/Javrin San'rik'el
Blurb: All healing must begin somewhere. Sometimes it is by being hurt. Sometimes it is by following your instincts and opening yourself up to it. For Javrin, stranded on a world far from home and alone, it is by facing the demons he holds inside.
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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