A Wild New World 3:
The Builders

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

Jaysa and Carmidin looked at the massive, billowing plumes of smoke rising from the small town they were approaching.

"Hope those are intentional," the Cougar murmured. "Steam tech, it's likely enough, but with all the weapons the probes picked up on we couldn't be sure. It didn't look like there was an attack recently, though."

"If they have been, they'll either be very grateful for a helping hand or they'll attack on first sight," Jaysa shrugged, glancing at their team of scientists and special ops. "We've faced worse and won."

"True," Carmidin nodded, looking over the wooden palisades around the town, surrounded by expansive plains. They had to get the wood from somewhere... maybe they traded for it? Good cattle land though. They'd seen occasional livestock; huge, shaggy beasts with large heads that grazed on the tough grasses they'd been walking through... they hadn't seen any herders though. Apparently they trusted them to stay in the large fenced regions they were given.

Or they just didn't worry too much about them wandering off, though that seemed unusual for a place with a wall like the one they were looking at.

Two people, a male and female, stood up above the palisade and looked down, angling huge crossbows at the new arrivals. They were both of the local type ... dark skinned, a bit taller than Jaysa, furless and with almost completely flat faces.

"Who are you?" The woman demanded. "And what is your business here?"

"I am Carmidin Sul," the Puma called out. "We are here to trade goods and knowledge if your town is so inclined."

"What village are you from?" The man asked, looking them all over. "You don't look like any tribe we've seen before."

"We call it Maric Fort," Carmidin said. "We have not come this far south before."

"You're from the Lost Wastes?" The woman asked, blinking in surprise. "We didn't think anybody had been there for generations."

The male slipped down from his post, presumably to go report to a superior before deciding whether or not to let them in.

"If you mean the frozen land north of the sea," he motioned in the correct direction. "Yes."

"No wonder you've got fur of your own." She looked down, then nodded. "The Elders are willing to meet you," she told them, before disappearing behind the wall. A moment later, the large gate opened to let them in, a small band of additional warriors on-hand, armed with cumbersome weapons that looked like mixtures of low technology and burgeoning steam-power.

Without so much as a look, the PEF team moved forward with their leaders and shifted to place the scientists in the middle and the warriors on the outside.

"We are pleased to hear that," the rusty furred Maned Wolf took over the lead, now that it didn't look like a fight could be immanent. "I am Jaysa Tumrin, the lead merchant of this expedition."

"I am Keldina Longstriker," the woman said, inclining her head to Jaysa. "And this is my husband, Jorn," she added. "Come with us; you may bring one bodyguard to meet the elders, for now," she explained to him.

"Thank you," Jaysa inclined his long, slender muzzle and glanced at Carmidin to be sure the Puma didn't want to stay with the group. A fractional nod in return and the two males followed her into the village while the rest of the team took in what they could from where they were.

"We don't get many visitors out here, not who we don't recognize at least," Keldina observed, making conversation as they headed for a large stone building in the middle of the compound.

"Travel can't be that easy if you are going any distance," Jaysa agreed. "Have you managed to build any vehicles?"

"We have carts and carriages... where are your goods for trade, by the way?" She asked him. "It's not safe to leave them untended outside the walls, the Amza are dangerous enough for your people, let alone your goods."

"They are in our main ship, off the coast," Jaysa explained. "We did not want to bring anything that would slow us down or make us more of a target when we did not know what kind of reception we would have. We have a few samples in our packs. More will be brought if we are invited to trade."

"Who are the Amza?" Carmidin asked politely.

"The people to the northeast, madwomen and slavers the lot of them," Keldina muttered. "They attacked some weeks ago, taking everything they could take. We never see our men again after they take them, especially not the warriors."

"They are slavers ... but are not willing to sell your men back?" Jaysa asked, trying to figure that one out.

"They take slaves," Keldina explained. "When they raid, they take the goods they can, whatever children aren't under cover, and all the men they can. The menfolk are used for the pleasure of their warriors before the victory feast, along with the male children. The girl-children are raised as servants, warriors if they prove themselves. The lucky ones manage to get away and get eaten by the river."

"Definitely a group we want to avoid," Jaysa said softly, suppressing a shudder. "What other groups are in the area?"

"They are," Keldina agreed darkly, breaking her mood when Jorn reached up to squeeze her shoulder lightly. "There are other Builder villages near here, though we're the largest for at least a week's travel. Most of them are along the Gold Coast, farther from Amza territory."

"If things go well, perhaps we could have a map of where they are, and a message of good intention?" Jaysa suggested.

"That would be up to the Elders. Several of our Engineer families live in those villages, and we're very protective of them. If the Amza ever found them...."

"They could destroy you," Carmidin said understandingly. "Believe me, we sympathize... we have technology of our own that we're careful about who we share it with."

"Yes, we do understand, fully," Jaysa backed him up. "You have little reason to trust us yet."

"The Elders are waiting," Jorn offered, opening the door to the stone building.

"That's a hint to take it up with them," Keldina chuckled lowly. "Follow me," she said, leading the way into the dark structure, and down stairs that led into the ground.

It was a path that both PEF officers memorized on reflex, taking in every possible location for a trap, ambush or secret passage. They weren't surprised, really, to find that there were plenty of choke points, and places where an ambush or flanking maneuver could be pulled off by somebody who knew the place well, against somebody who didn't have the sharp senses of their kind. On the other hand, they were reassured by the fact that none of them seemed to be in use just now.

After a few minutes walking, Keldina led them out into a larger room, where a group of three men and two women, probably in their late fifties, were waiting for them.

"You are the leaders of the traders who arrived today?" One of the male Elders asked them.

"Yes, sir," Jaysa inclined his head respectfully.

"What have you brought to offer us, and what will you want in exchange?" The oldest of the two women asked him.

"We have medicines, metals, crystals, jewelry, dried meat and fish with us. We have knowledge of how to use animals and build things that you might find useful. More items are on our ship off the coast," Jaysa began. "Right now, we are most interested in maps, knowledge of the local land and peoples, and a good word to others of our dealings as traders. We will be interested in local technology, metals, gems, art and knowledge, and possibly local animals and foodstuffs in time."

"Your medicines," the other woman spoke up. "What are they for, and are you willing to demonstrate their effectiveness?"

"Yes, we are willing to demonstrate their effectiveness," Jaysa said. "The most effective medicines we have are for the fourth death, to relieve pain, stop the bleeding of a woman's monthly time when it has lasted too long, and reduce the first death. Some help with the second and fifth death, though it is much more difficult to find the right one sometimes. Do you have someone who would be helped by one of the medicines that usually help?"

"We may," she responded, glancing at one of the men. Jaysa felt a strong mental pressure, somebody trying to get into his mind telepathically. They weren't being rough about it, but they were clearly surprised at his defenses.

With a glance at the man who was trying, Jaysa in deliberately lowered many of his shields, though he kept the important ones for his safety firmly in place.

"*You are also a mage?*" The elder's mind-voice asked him.

"*No, sir. I am a psi; an empath and limited touch-telepath,*" Jaysa explained, including information on what that meant.

"*I see... your powers come from within, not from the spirits,*" the Elder decided. "*I am Elder Reclin. Forgive my impoliteness, but we wished to be sure before testing your medicine that you believed in its effectiveness. I can see that you do.*"

"*I understand fully,*" Jaysa said silently with honest acceptance. "*I would have offered to show on one of our group, but none had been injured in our travels here.*"

"Psi?" Carmidin glanced at his mate.

"Mage," Jaysa said.

"Noted," Carmidin nodded.

"Keldina; take our guests to the Hag, and tell her that we want her to let them help with Corsein," the Elder told her. "We will see how well their medicine compares to ours."

"Yes, Elder," she bowed to them and turned. Jaysa and Carmidin followed her without a word needed.

"Corsein was injured in the last raid," Keldina explained quietly as they got above the ground. "He has passed far through the fourth death; the Hag has been preparing to take his arm if she has to, but we all know he will likely pass to the seventh if she does."

"We will do our best," Jaysa promised. "May the Healer in my group join us? While Carmidin and I are competent enough to use the medicines, she knows far more than both of us combined."

"Of course," she nodded as they came into view of the rest of the team. "I suspect the Elders thought one of you was the healer of your group."

Carmidin made a quick series of hand signals over his head and a female Ring Tailed Lemur nodded from within the group, grabbed her pack and another smaller one and made a purposeful line for her leaders.

Some of the guards moved to stop her, but a command from Keldina stopped them.

"It would be best to give your commands verbally," she told Carmidin. "Then people know what you've just said. The Hag is this way."

"I'll remember that," he said a little sheepishly as they were joined by Tealia Railmos. "I forget not everyone knows what our hand signals mean."

"So what is the damage?" the Ring Tailed Lemur asked as she fell in with the group.

"A male named Corsein was injured in a raid and has a badly infected arm," Carmidin said. "They are considering amputation, but it would be likely kill him."

"How long ago was he injured?" Tealia asked Keldina politely, her manner all business.

"About three weeks," she said. "Are all of you from the same tribe?" She asked, looking at the widely varied species she was meeting.

"No, but we are from the same Alliance, a group of tribes who have gathered under a single leadership for mutual protection and advantage," Jaysa explained.

"And you'll be wanting us to join this Alliance?" She guessed.

"While you would likely be welcome, it is not why we are here," Jaysa shook his slender head. "It is as I said. We came to expand our knowledge and trade with those who have what we do not."

"You'll likely find that many of us are a bit paranoid," she apologized. "Old habits, so to speak. The Hag is in here," she said, knocking at the door. It was soon answered by a young woman who hardly deserved the name she'd been given. Probably no older than 30, and aging well for it, she had a stern look on her face, irritation at being interrupted clear.

"What do you need, Keldina?" the woman asked pointedly.

"These visitors claim to have medicine that can help those injured as Corsein has been," Keldina said politely. "The Elders wish to see if they speak the truth."

The stern woman looked over the three very different looking animal-people for a long moment before she stepped back with a slight nod.

"You may come in," Keldina said, entering the stone hut in front of them.

"Whatever it is, if it'll take more than two days to start working you might not have time," the Hag said bluntly. "I've already warned his family to prepare for the worst; even my grandmother would have done that by now."

"I do not know how long it will take to help," Tealia said politely as she knelt by the badly injured man and examined him. "Fever, infection ... I can make no promises, but it seems to be the kind of injury that my supplies can do well against. What chance is there that poison is involved?" she asked as she began taking out medical supplies.

"If it had been, he'd be dead by now," the Hag said bluntly. "The Amza poisons are typically fatal, at least by this point in time. Are you going to want to talk to him?"

"Then the antibiotics should help him a great deal," Tealia said as she loaded a syringe and injected the contents. "No need. I can leave painkillers and the rest of the antibiotic treatment with you."

"What are you going to be giving him, and how does it work?" The Hag asked her politely, recognizing another trained healer.

"The infection, the fourth death, is caused by invisible creatures that get into the body. They cause damage in reproducing and their waste products. The injection, and the antibiotic pills that will finish the treatment, make the body a very inhospitable place for the organism by interfering with its ability to feed and reproduce. They do not live long, so without replenishing their numbers, the fourth death does not last long. The full treatment takes ten days, and it is critical that all the pills be taken, even if there are no more signs of infection."

"Very well," she nodded. "The spirits have certainly caused illness enough in people. Will they cause trouble with the treatments I have already given him?"

"It is unlikely, but if you would show me what you have done, I can be more certain," Tealia said as she stood and offered two small bottles to the Hag. "These are the antibiotic pills. He should take one each time the lid flashes white and red. Timing is very important. If he has difficulty waking up or swallowing, I will show you how to convert the pill into an injection like I just gave.

"These are painkillers; he can take one or two at a time, depending on how much he is hurting. They will make him more comfortable if he is awake and hurting, but no more than six a day. People have been known to be come addicted to them if they have too many or for too long," she warned.

"I will be careful," the Hag nodded. "Maybe we can take a few days, trade treatment options?" She offered hopefully.

"We can stay up to a full turn of the seasons, as long as your leaders agree to it," Jaysa said.

"I would be very pleased to trade treatments with you," Tealia smiled at her local counterpart. "I am Tealia Railmos, my title is Medic," she added by way of introduction.

"Everybody just calls me the Hag, these days," the woman chuckled. "Ever since I inherited the title from my grandmother. I'll show you what I've got, we'll see if I have anything worth trading with you."

"We'd best be going, ourselves - if yours is anything like ours, they'll be at it as long as you let them be," Keldina whispered to Jaysa.

"Agreed," he grinned back. "Have fun, Tealia," he added as they turned to leave the two healers already deep in conversation. "That will be interesting when they remember to come up for air."

"For both of us," Keldina agreed. "We'll have quarters prepared for you, and your companions. You can go anywhere you'd like, except the building facilities. Just don't go anywhere with one of the smokestacks, and you'll be fine," she said, indicating one example of a small factory near the middle of the town.

"We understand, and will see that our teammates do as well," Carmidin nodded. "Thank you for your hospitality."

"Best to keep your trading partners happy," she chuckled slightly. "If you need anything while you're here, we're willing to take trading credit, within reason."

"Thank you," Jaysa nodded as they walked back to where the rest of the team was still relaxing politely where they had been left.

"Up and about!" Carmidin called out to the team. "We have quarters inside the walls. Let's be good guests."

"Yes, sir!" the female of the two Wolves, her fur a rich glossy black with the white blaze of a long scar across her face hopped up with a cheerful grin. "Anywhere off limits?"

"See those smoke stacks?" he motioned towards them. "Don't even think about getting in those buildings. We are free to roam everywhere else."

"Cool," she grinned. "That where they make their toys, I'm guessing?" She asked casually.

"Most likely," Carmidin nodded. "And I don't want to see how effective those 'toys' are," he added seriously, "so everybody has to steer clear."

"Yes, sir," she nodded again. "Rations while we're here?"

"Unless you trade for local ones," he nodded. "At least for the time being. Come on, Keldina is showing us to our quarters while we are here."

"Where's Tealia?" A fluffy red, black and white Red Panda male asked.

"With the Hag, their local healer," Jaysa chuckled. "Don't expect to see her for a few days."

"Right," he chuckled, following the warrior to their quarters with the others. "New medicine, a few days and we'll be lucky."

"Hay, it'll give you more time to check out how they make pots and cloth and all that domestic whatnot," a sleek black shewolf with the long white blaze of a scar across her face grinned at him.

"While I'm sure you'll be trying to convince their warriors to spar with you," Xyanre Ko'Pa rolled his eyes, his long cream and red striped tail waving lazily behind him. "

"What else do warriors do with their down time?" the second Wolf in the crew, a muscular tri-colored female, grinned at him.

"Around here, probably a fair amount," he laughed. "You realize that the odds are that most everybody around here is a warrior to one level or another?"

"Maybe, but not at the level that Keldina is," Blaze pointed out. "Full-time, professional warriors."

"I'll give you that one," he admitted.

"While you're at it, see if you can get a demo of their crossbows," Carmidin suggested. "I bet that it's pretty much the bleeding edge weapons system."

"As long as it's not at us," Jaysa added quickly.

"We won't tick them off that badly," Blaze promised, before they were shown to a large building and their rooms inside. They were reasonably well-appointed, though nothing like their quarters back home ... still, good for local tech, from the looks of it, and much better than camping outside the city walls.

Before long, they split off to look for whatever interested them in the area.

Xyanre Ko'Pa was the first to find something interesting; a young, strong woman weaving with metallic and brightly colored thread that looked to be far too fine for the time. While not as fine as the silk he preferred to show off with, it was well beyond what most of the locals seemed to wear on a day to day basis.

"Hello," she said cheerfully, not looking up from her work. "A good day, isn't it?" As he got closer, he saw that the threads she was working with seemed to be, in part, actual gold. Well, this would be of interest to the base.

"It is a beautiful day, ma'am," he smiled politely, though he wasn't entirely sure she could understand the expression on his much-different face. "You are weaving much finer cloth than I see anyone wearing."

She looked up at the odd accent, noticing his unusual form and fur color as she did. Her face was a perfect mask of surprise and polite curiosity as she looked him over briefly.

"It's a special request from further up the coast," she explained. "A pattern requested by the head of an Engineer bloodline. Do you like it?" She asked him easily as she wove one of the delicate golden threads into the loom and slid it down snugly with the ones next to it, following it with a thread of another material.

"Yes, it is lovely, and a real skill to weave gold into cloth like that. It is nearly as fine as the silk I work with for special garment," he said, letting his amazement show. "I did not think there was anything so fine here."

"I have my trade secrets," she winked at him with a grin. "And it helps to have an Engineer buying your supplies. You weave as well, then?"

"When I can, yes," he nodded. "It is one of the reasons I was chosen for the expedition. I can assess the quality of cloth, rugs, pottery, featherwork, fur and leather curing and a few other products. Silk weaving is my favorite, though."

"I've heard about silk before; I've worked with spider silk, but it's not quite the same thing as what I've had described," she admitted. "This could wait for a bit, if you'd like to see some of my finished materials?" She offered.

"I would love to," he smiled warmly. "I brought a couple examples of silkwork if you would like to see those. One of mine, and one by a master weaver."

"Do you have them with you?" She asked him easily, setting her loom up aside and standing up to show him into her small shop.

"Yes," he nodded, patting the side of his backpack, now relatively light with only a few examples of crafts, and followed her inside.

"We can compare our work then," she smiled. On the shelves around them, he could see numerous examples of her work, laid out for anybody who was looking for cloth. Most of them were the sort of thing he'd expected - coarse cloth, browns and greens and blacks, some attempts at camouflage.

But then there were her more unusual examples. Exquisite flights of fancy in bright colors, with loops and patterns that he rarely saw in hand-woven materials outside of the more advanced silkwork. While none of them he was looking at had gold worked into them, he could see that several had silver, copper, and other flexible metals.

"How long have you been training?" he asked, truly impressed at what he was seeing from someone who looked younger than most walking around.

"Since I could start working on the looms," she said easily. "My mother was a weaver as well; I came to this village three years ago, when I'd finished my training with her."

"Why did you move?" he asked even as he unpacked two examples of the native silk cloth of his homeland. One was a shimmering black with purple, blue and white butterflies flitting about the three-foot square with trimmed edges. The other was solid gold with a fine geometric design of single white threads with circles of complex designs, animals, flowers, geometric and stylized designs in distinct circles scattered about the sample.

"No prizes for figuring out which is the work of Master Lyaxa," he grinned and offered her the two samples. "I have completely forgotten my manners," he added, blushing under the black fur of his face. "I am Xyanre Ko'Pa. I came with the trade expedition that came in today."

"Lovely work, both of them," she said approvingly, looking them over, her fingers touching the silk with feather-soft care. "And I understand," she smiled. "My name is Reina Gold, for my work. I moved because, to be honest, I didn't particularly want to have to compete with my family's work," she admitted. "My older sisters stayed behind to inherit the shop when mother passes away, so I was better off finding somewhere new to start up."

"That makes sense," he nodded. "In a way, it is why we trade. It allows us to weave far more silk than we can sell at home."

"Not too much, I hope," she chuckled. "I need to earn my own keep, after all."

"Considering the cost of making and shipping fine silks, I doubt you will loose that much business," he smiled reassuringly. "I expect a costume made by Master Lyaxa would fetch several times what you demand for what you were weaving just now. Such is the way with trade to distant places. It also means that if someone takes a fancy to your work, it could fetch higher prices for you."

"True," she nodded. "Though I only make the cloth, I'm not much of a seamstress," she admitted sheepishly. "Would you like to watch me work for a while, maybe see how I work with metallic thread?"

"I would," he smiled warmly. "It is always a pleasure to watch a skill crafter work."

"Good," she smiled back, leading him back out to the loom and getting back to work. "When you think you'd like to start working on something yourself, just let me know and I'll pull out a second loom," she said easily.

"I would prefer to watch you for a while, but perhaps later I will put on a show for you," he grinned with a playful wink. "Do you have a mate or pups?"

"No," Reina said, shaking her head. "I was being courted by Corsein for a while, but I've been too focused on my work to really worry about a family so far. It's one of the prices of getting as good as I have as young as I have," she said, more matter-of-factly than as a matter of pride.

"Is it true," he nodded as she set up to weave again. "Have you forsaken all company, or only those who would start a family with you?"

"Oh, I haven't entirely forsaken company that does want a family, just that wants it right now," she chuckled, looking over at him with a sly smile. "Is there a particular reason you're asking?" She asked him as she worked more thread into her shuttle and began to work it through the upright strands of her loom.

"Well, learning about your society and its ways are something we are doing as well as setting up possible trade routes," he smiled. "My usual company is well and truly occupied with the Hag...." he let it drift off a bit. "I always miss the company when she's distracted like this."

"Ah-ha," she chuckled. "I assume she's okay with you finding company elsewhere?"

"Yes, just as she is welcome to find company elsewhere when she wishes. I can be wrapped up in my projects as easily as she," he nodded. "As many villages as I have visited, I never have gotten used to figuring out if it is okay to ask."

"As long as whoever you're asking doesn't have a jealous mate standing next to them, you'd be fine," Reina reassured him. "The worst that happens is that somebody would tell you that they aren't allowed. Worrying too much about who's with who isn't good for our lines - some people marry and love deeply, but cannot have children, others whose children are always cursed by the spirits."

"Cursed in what way?" Xyanre cocked his head slightly, watching her movements both professionally and personally.

"Born deformed, in mind or in body, without any gift to go with it," she explained. "It's a sign of the spirit's displeasure with a couple, so when it happens we try to keep them from having more children." She worked as she spoke, her hands moving with grace and ease, her attractive chest emphasized by the position of her arms.

"How do you deal with the cursed children?" he asked, fascinated by her stout body so at odds with his own build and fluffy appearance.

"It depends on how badly they've been cursed," she said easily. "If they should be able to get by on their own some day, we leave them be. Otherwise, it's up to the parents what to do. We can't all afford to raise a third person for all their life who can't contribute to the household."

"If they can not?" he asked, going over the various ways he knew to get rid of unwanted children in his mind.

"Unless somebody else in the village wants to take them, they're taken into the fields and lowered into a sinkhole for a few minutes. We bring them back up for burial after it's over," Reina said, though she seemed less comfortable with this particular topic.

"What's in the sinkholes?" he tried to move away from the subject while still getting the information he knew would be expected. "We should probably stay clear, but I'll be asked why."

"We're not sure, but whatever it is the aurochs have been known to lay down in them to sleep and they never wake up," she explained. "Whatever it is, it seems not to hurt them, so it's suitable for a child being punished for its parents' deeds."

"While I'm sure that Tealia will have an absolute fit when she hears about this, thanks for the warning," he kissed her on the cheek. "She's not much of a believer in spirits causing such things. Much more into science and logic as a reason for anything and everything."

"We were like that once too, according to our legends," she mused, reaching up to run her fingers through the fluffy red fur along his neck lightly. "Then the dragons and demons awoke, and destroyed everything because of our hubris. But that's not a matter for right now," she smiled, standing up to kiss his cheek lightly. "Why don't we put this aside for now, hmm?"

"I would like to hear of the dragons and demons, but I like your idea for the now," he rumbled lightly, rubbing into her touch as he slid his arms around her, feeling the muscle and warmth under the varying layer of fat that gave many of her curves. "Should we go inside?" he asked as his hands moved upwards to brush against her breasts.

"Trust me, it'd be best," she giggled, pressing into his touch as she started to pack up. "My living quarters are in the back of the shop; make yourself comfortable," she smiled.

"I'll be waiting," he nuzzled her neck and caressed her as he moved his hands away.

"Good," Reina smiled, watching him disappear into her room as she packed up.

While she collected and put her things away, he took a more leisurely time examining her work, her home, and what personal items she had out.

It was small and lightly furnished, surprisingly bereft of wall hangings. In their place, she had some small statues. One of them, a small stone frog if he was right, had a few small coins beneath it. Another, made out of wood, was much easier to decipher, and decidedly more erotic in its intent, depicting a pair of women entwined in an intimate embrace.

"Do you like the Sisters?" She asked him with a chuckle when she joined him.

"Yes," he smiled at her. "What is the story behind it?"

"It's an infertility charm," she explained. "The Sisters were warrior-lovers, whose families expected them to settle down and continue their lines. Instead, they remained faithful to each other, and while they never had children of their own, they took in the children of their fallen comrades to continue their family."

"An effective compromise," he smiled and drew her close. "Family is traced through the mother here?"

"Unless there isn't one," she nodded, running her fingers through his fur. "You have a lovely coat," she said appreciatively. "When two males raise children, it's whichever one of them spends the most time raising them."

"Thank you," he nuzzled her neck, running his hands down her back before he worked them under the shawl and loose shirt covering her smooth, bare skin. "That system always made more sense to me than trying to work out who the sire is."

"Most places did that once, but these days it's too difficult to do that," she shivered as his fingers worked up her back, before she took off her shawl and set it to the side, leaving him to work out how to undo the cloth wrap around her chest. "They were more worried about families than villages and tribes back then."

"I think it causes less jealously and aggression among males when whether or not their lover could have slept with anyone else doesn't matter to their family," he murmured and knelt, nuzzling the thick fur on the side of his face against her skin as he found the point where her breast-band tucked in and slid it loose. "Maternal families seem to be more stable cultures."

"Mmm ... the Amza excepted," Reina murmured, sliding her shirt off, pressing her bare back against his muscular body. "Is everything down there pretty much like normal?" She asked, reaching back to cup his crotch lightly.

"You'll have to tell me," he nuzzled his way around to lick her nipples playfully. "It is for my tribe, but I haven't seen a naked male of yours."

"We'll have to find out then," she grinned, her nipples hardening at his attention as she slid her skirt to the ground and laid back on the thick mattress that made up her bed. "Join me?"

Xyanre licked his short whiskers back and undressed, giving her a fine display of his thick, immaculately groomed and cared for black, russet and white fur and long, black and white ringed tail.

"So am I much different, beyond the fur?" he cooed softly and knelt onto the bed. He began to kiss, lick and nuzzle his way up the inside of one leg.

"Oooh... can't tell, your fur's hiding it," she giggled, reaching down to scratch his head lightly. "What about me? Like what you're used to?"

"It won't be for much longer," he promised as he nosed against her crotch, and tasted her with a single long lick. "And yes, very similar."

"Mmm ... good," she groaned, pressing up into his broad, velvety tongue as it lapped up her entire sex. "That's different," she murmured. "Good, but different... want to turn around, so I can return the favor?"

"Sure," he rumbled and shifted around, using the new position above her to rub their bodies against each other as he worked her clit with his tongue, immensely grateful that she was so similar to a female he was used to. When they had colonized Kao-Kaia'da, getting used to the local avian races was far stranger by all accounts.

Reina gasped when he licked her clit just like most girls he was used to - and, when she took his long, aggressively curved cock into her mouth, it felt like he couldn't be that different from what she was used to either! Her tongue flicked around the tip, then she pressed forward, his balls against the bridge of her nose as his shaft curved down her throat.

"Oh yes," he moaned encouragement and added his fingers to caressing her slick sex as he worked her clit. Slowly he pressed two fingers into her hot sex and began to rub them back and forth, in and out of her body in time with the movement of her mouth along his shaft.

She squeezed down around him, deep-throating his cock as she fondled his furry ass-cheeks, seeming to revel in the difference between bare skin and his thick, luxuriant fur. She pressed her hips against the sides of his head, tilting her hips up to fuck his hand as he felt the walls of her sex starting to flutter.

Xyanre grinned and closed his mouth around her clit, flicking his tongue as quickly as he could as he pressed a third finger into her sex, trying hard to get her off. It was such an appealing thought to sink his cock into the hot, slick, tight space occupied by his fingers.

Reina moaned around his cock, her body squeezing down around his fingers as the sensitive pads of furless skin on them pressed against a swollen rough patch inside of her. She quivered, coming hard as she suckled his cock and tried to get him off too. It wasn't an effort he managed to resist and he let out a barking whine, his hips thrusting down to press his groin against her face as his balls tightened against his body and his seed shot down her throat.

She swallowed it all, licking him clean before he slid form her mouth as he gradually softened.

"Mmm ... very nice," she sighed happily. "Can I see your face again?" She teased him lightly.

"Happily," he grinned and turned around, settling so his softening cock was pressed along her swollen, slick sex. "You know how to get a guy off," he nuzzled her before trying for a kiss, not entirely sure how it would work with her incredibly flat muzzle.

He could tell she wasn't entirely clear on that either, but as she shifted to press against his groin, she took his face in both hands and kissed the tip of his muzzle lightly, licking along his lips.

"Thank you," she smiled. "Mmm ... not pushing to go again right now, but how long will you need to rest?"

"A few minutes," he murmured and lowered his head to kiss her again, this time opening his mouth invitingly when their mouths made contact.

"Mmm ... faster than most guys around here," she grinned, exploring his mouth with her tongue, his body with her hands, feeling the hard muscle and the relatively high amount of fat on him given what she thought was a very fit man under the thick fur.

It helps protect me from the winter cold," he nuzzled her affectionately. "I am fit, but a lack of a fat layer is unhealthy for my tribe."

"I understand," she smiled. "It's not a problem, it was just a little surprising." She reached down, stroking his sheath lightly. "This is different," she murmured, slipping a finger in to tease his flaccid cock.

"I'm surprised we're so similar, given the different appearance," he said, then moaned softly as her touch began to arouse him again. "It will feel very good inside you."

"You're much like one of the ringtails in the south," she smiled, kissing his neck lightly. "I had one as a pet, when I was little... though I never did this with it, of course!" She giggled. "I think the spirits were kind to you."

"Thank you," he murmured, rubbing against her sex and fingers to arouse himself again. "Are there any other ways you particularly enjoy with a lover?"

"Mmm ... not for a first night," she admitted, kissing him again lightly as she pressed against his touch. "We'll see how long your usual playmate is distracted, before we get there," she winked.

"All right," he nuzzled her, still absently amazed at how similar this race was to his own. Slowly he began to rock his hips, rubbing the tip of his cock against her slick, swollen lower lips to encourage himself to harden and press further into her body with motion.

"Oooh... you're going to feel so good inside me," she moaned, squeezing down around him as he slowly sank further into her, his cock curving up against her inner walls.

"Good, because you already feel good around me," Xyanre shuddered and he slid to his full length inside her. "You feel so good," he moaned and kissed her, rocking his hips to meet hers as she lifted them.

"Mmm... thank you," she groaned, kissing him back hungrily, working her sex around his shaft as he started to thrust, his cock curving up around that swollen patch inside of her.

As he buried his face against her neck, under her long hair, nuzzling her as his hot breath caressed her skin. "Long and slow, or bring you to the peak quickly?" he asked, exploring her expanses of sensitive skin with his hands and brushed his long fluffy tail along her body.

"Mmm ... whatever you want," she moaned, wrapping her arms around his neck as she shifted to press his cock up against her most sensitive spots, whimpering as he felt her juices flowing liberally down her smooth thighs and matting his fur.

Xyanre grinned against her neck and shifted slightly to a slow, smooth rhythm he knew he could keep up for a long time, and should drive her pleasure up gradually, only reaching her peak after he had plenty of time to explore her smooth body and the variety of sounds she made.

She whimpered and moaned, whining as he worked her body, his balls slapping against her ass, his fur rubbing her clit as she worked around his cock and he showed her just what kind of endurance the spirits had blessed his kind with.

"Please, let me come," she whimpered after almost an hour of increasable pleasure as he pushed her to the edge and packed off.

"Of course, lovely," Xyanre murmured and shifted to give himself a little more leverage to thrust into her deep and hard. His back arched up, pulling his head away from her. He let it hand down, panting and moaning as his deep thrusts shifted to include fast, circular rubbing of his groin against her swollen sex and erect clit. "I'll fill you as you come," he promised hotly.

She let out a sharp, keening cry of pleasure as her body tightened around him, hard and fast. He started to come inside of her, filling her body despite the flood of juices he felt running down the fur of his balls - then she tightened again, her body actually pushing him out of her sex, making the rest of his seed spray up onto the short, curly hair that covered her sex!

Xyanre panted, trying to catch his breath as his hips continued to thrust against her thick pubic hair, and was soon able to press into her body again with a deep groan of pleasure at being inside her fluttering walls again as he stilled.

"Wow," he breathed, kissing her mouth before he continued to kiss his way down her neck and chest to where he could suckle on a nipple.

"Mm ... definitely 'wow,'" she sighed happily, nuzzling his furry head lightly. "Thank you."

"You are welcome," Xyanre smiled and licked her nipple playfully before settling in to relax next to her, holding her. "I hope I haven't just spoiled you too much for others," he chuckled affectionately.

"Mmm ... not at all," Reina smiled, scratching the back of his neck affectionately. "However, I certainly wouldn't object to keeping you company any time you're in the area," she winked, pulling a light blanket up over their naked bodies as they snuggled.

"I think I would enjoy that," he smiled and nuzzled her. "Are folks always so eager to bed a stranger?"

"It depends on the person and their circumstances," she said easily. "Honestly, it's been a while... and I like the way fur feels," she smiled, kissing him lightly. "Traders usually don't have a hard time finding company though - it's the easiest way to meet somebody new without having to worry about it if things don't work out."

"Nice to know," he slid his fingers up her body lightly before resting his hand on her right breast. "They tend to be good providers if it does work out too. It is rather sexy to have so much of your body bare skin. I only have that kind of sensitivity on my palms and penis."

"Mmm ... and not these?" She asked with a grin, licking a whisker lightly. "I remember they were sensitive on the pets I've had."

"Not to pleasure," he chuckled. "They are sensitive to motion; either from wind or contact. They're good for sensing the world around me."

"Good to know," she giggled, running her fingers through his fur. "Mmm ... what about you? Are all of your people as eager for company too?"

"Most," he murmured, kissing her. "Some are happy with their mates and not inclined to wander, but most of us enjoy varied company when it's on offer."

"Mmm ... how long do you plan on hanging around?" She asked him, rubbing her cheek against his lightly as her hand roamed down his back, massaging him lightly.

"Somewhere between a few days and a year, depending on factors I have little to do with," he said, rumbling in pleasure. "How sure are there you won't have furry young when I come back this way?"

"The sisters have never failed me before," Reina pointed out. "And it's a bad time of the month for children. If I do have any, I can care for them," she reassured him. "I just may have to spend more time on fast work than on learning-work."

"Good to know," he nuzzled her, his fingers trailing down her belly. "Though it would be very strange to me not to help raise any young I have."

"That would be up to you, though I don't expect it to be a problem. Do you have children of your own?"

"Not yet, I'm still rather young and I move around a lot. It is common for the males of my clan to do most of the childrearing once they've been weaned. It's not that the females don't care for them, but back when we were hunter-gatherers, they gave up so much energy to bear and nurse the child that the father would take over for several years so she could focus on replenishing her body to be ready to bear again."

"For us, we remained the gatherers while the men hunted in groups," she said easily. "Of course, when the Engineers developed more advanced weapons, that began to equalize. Our legends say that it was a woman who wanted to be a warrior who first started to do that," she smiled.

"Somehow, I am not surprised," Xyanre smiled. "Meat wasn't much of our diet until very recently; what we did get was usually scavenged or from traps. We were all gatherers, so there wasn't that division to start with. Wah have long avoided conflict rather than faced it."

"Wah? Is that what your tribe is called?" She asked him curiously. "And I can't blame you - it's much safer, when you're avoiding people who won't force the issue."

"Wah, or Red Panda, depending on who you're talking to," he nodded. "Most of our tribes are called by what animal we look like. Jaysa is a Maned Wolf. His mate, our mission security chief, Carmidin, is a Puma or Mountain Lion. Cayto and Blaze, two of the security officers are Wolves, and our Medic ... Hag ... is a Ring Tailed Lemur." "

"Your lover?" She guessed. "You're part of a nation then? Many tribes, working together?"

"Yes, though we call it an alliance, the Gre'and Alliance," he nodded.

"We have never heard of it before - where is this Alliance?" She asked him.

"Our closest stronghold is across the northern sea, in the land of ice," he smiled at her surprise. "Yes, there is life there."

"We knew about the seals and penguins, and the great fish, but we didn't know about anything like your people... no wonder you need fur!"

"It is handy," he admitted with a nuzzle. "Though I expect it is easier for you to keep biting pests off your skin. They like to live in fur."

"Well, you don't look too worried about fleas or mange, so I'm not going to worry about it either for now," she smiled, pressing into his nuzzle. "Mmm... is there anything else I can tell you about?"

"Well, back to what originally drew me to your home," he smiled. "What materials do you use? How far way do you have trade connections? Do you use animals to ride or haul vehicles?"

"Me? I use mostly what you saw outside - dyed auroch fur and plant fibers, as well as the metals you saw. How I make this is a trade secret though," she said, hoping he'd understand. "We have trade connections throughout Builder territory; we'll probably be calling for traders and Elders to come here and meet you soon, if you stay. And we do use the aurochs for hauling, as well as for food. We have other animals for riding, but this village doesn't right now - the Amza raid," she said, by way of explanation.

"They steal those too," he grumbled with a nod. "Have you managed to put the steam power I see around to power a vehicle?"

"Small ones," she said, rubbing his side lightly. "I can't say too much more about that without permission," she admitted. "It's very new, and we've only tested it in the field once, it wasn't even finished then."

"It's okay," Xyanre assured her. "I'm not trying to pry secrets. I'm just trying to understand your people and area better," he offered with a kiss. "Now my nose tells me you bathe regularly," he caressed her side. "I don't know about you, but cleaning up would be pleasant with affectionate hands to help."

"If you live in the Wastes, then I'm sure you'll appreciate the Baths," Reina grinned, sliding out of bed and wrapping a long swath of cloth around herself, tucking the wrap together carefully so that it made a good makeshift dress. "I'll show you the way - one of the benefits of everything using steam."

"Hot water," he grinned and dressed. "I bet Tom already found them. He loves warm water."

"What does he look like?" She asked him curiously as they started out. "And I can't blame him. Most people around here don't hit the Baths as often as I do, but it's more because of time than anything else, and because it can be a problem for the hunters sometimes."

"He's a large black feline, a Panther, and quite the hunter himself," Xyanre smiled.

"He'll be popular here," she smiled. "Just so you know the Baths are pretty much anything goes for what people wear, or don't, and what they do there."

"They'll be very popular with him," he laughed. "And the Silvercrest sisters; the two Wolves. They love little more than an appreciative audience. Why would a Panther be popular?"

"Good hunter, good warrior, built like a panther? They're considered very attractive animals by most people around here - one that's on two legs and talks, many people wouldn't mind trying it out," she giggled.

"We might have to drag him away by the tail," he laughed brightly, the mental image of the two Wolves pulling an irate Panther out of town a giddy one. "They'll probably love his endurance too."

"Oh?" She chuckled. "Better than yours?"

"Much. Cats can do it a dozen times an hour or more for days," he nodded. "At least when the female's in season and pheromones are heavy. Even without that, a dozen or more times an hour is quite possible."

"If my sisters come for the celebration of your being here, I think I should introduce him to Meda," she grinned. "She's complained about guys who couldn't do what you guys can for years."

"We'll just give her good reason to complain, unless she cares to travel with us," Xyanre kissed her cheek affectionately. "Which I expect would be welcome. It's usually nice to have a local or two when visiting a new land."

"We'll keep it in mind," she chuckled as they reached a large wooden building, smoke pouring out of a chimney on the top. "Come on, let's go inside - you can undress as soon as we're in there," she said, leading him through the door and back towards a room with a number of boxes stacked against a wall.

He nodded and followed her, quickly stripping down in the outer room where other folks had stashed their clothing in boxes. "I hope you don't expect me to live up to the example Tom's giving in there," he added with a grin.

"Of course not... though if you're up for another round, I'm not about to complain," she grinned, kissing his cheek lightly as she folded the cloth wrap she was wearing and put it in an empty box.

"We'll see," he chuckled and joined her as they walked into the steam filled room.

"Hay Xyn!" A powerful, midnight black Panther grinned at the pair before roaring, thrusting a load of seed deep into a local male's ass. "Still have good taste, I see."

"Mmm ... thank you," Reina grinned. "You must be Tom... so, how is he?" She asked the guy beneath him.

"Mmm ... different, but good," he grinned up at her. "I see you haven't been wasting any time either."

"What can I say, he walked up and started to talk shop," she grinned back, catching a good look at the conical shaped penis with it's rubbery protrusions on the feline.

"Now ... anyone else want to do more than look?" Tom grinned at the crowd.

"Mmm ... well, do you do girls too?" A dark-skinned redhead lounging against the edge of the pool asked him. "I could show you a few things most of the others here probably couldn't, if you don't mind a little trade for an incredible time."

"What kind of trade did you have in mind?" he raised an eyebrow to her.

"Mara's one of the working girls in town," Reina smiled as she slipped into the water. "Though with what you've got, that's a good question.

"Enough for dinner and a room for the day," the woman chuckled. "However you set that up with the inn is up to you."

"If I have a good time," he agreed to the terms. "Show me something new, and you'll eat well for three days."

"Thomas, paying for sex?" Xyanre raised an eyebrow sharply. "That's a new one. By the way, Mara, good luck on surprising him. It hasn't been done yet that I know of."

"Oh, it happened once," the buff Panther grinned at his smaller, brightly colored teammate.

"This I have to hear!" the Wah squeaked as Reina pulled him under the water.

"Hay, who isn't at least a bit surprised their first time?" Thomas winked at him.

"True, true," Xyanre chuckled and pulled Reina in for a hug and wet kiss.

"Well, be ready for a second surprise," Mara grinned, standing and walking over to him, water dripping from the neatly-trimmed red hair above her sex. "Just one rule - I have until you squirt," she winked, kneeling in front of him and reaching down to fondle his cock, washing it clean with her hands.

It raised a surprise eyebrow, and a nod.

"Now you've done it," Xyanre snickered. "You just riled feline curiosity."

"Hush, you," Thomas gave the Wah a fake snarl. "Let the woman do her work."

"I can handle distractions," she teased lightly, sliding him up to the side of the pool so his cock was exposed, bending down to lick it from sheath to tip while she fondled his balls, playing her tongue around his barbs, experimenting with what made him respond best. It didn't take much to track it down to the tips of the rubbery protrusions and the smooth, pointed tip.

"Mmm, not a bad start," he rumbled deeply, relaxing against the side of the pool with his arms braced on the top of the edge.

"I should warn you, cats are designed to come quick, but often," Xyanre teased. "Twenty times an hour he can do. Last five minutes is a tougher trick."

"Anybody want to place a wager on a half-hour?" She grinned at the Wah in challenge, rubbing her cheek against Tom's conical shaft. "How do you want to come, when I let you?"

"Inside your sex," he rumbled, more than a little curious at what she clearly thought she could do.

"I'll buy your dinner if you can keep him hot, hard and from coming for that long," Xyanre took it. "It's so going to be worth it for that story."

"All right," she grinned, swallowing his cock and working it with a very, very skilled throat, reaching back with one hand to press a finger against his anus lightly as she fondled his sack, tugging it down a little. She felt a little bit of relief when she felt his body willingly let her in, and no displeasure at the tugging. Some guys would be so difficult that way.

She crooked her finger up, massaging his prostate as she worked his barbs, wanting to at least work him through the first surprise before she really went to town on him.

Above her, he moaned deeply and began to thrust, his balls tightening in her hand quickly.

"Close," he warned her, though he made no effort to make her stop what she was doing.

She grinned up around his cock, working him to the very edge... then pulling his balls down and back, keeping them from pulling up when his body tried to come, giving him a meager orgasm, but forcing his balls to hold their precious load.

Precious to her tonight, at any rate - three days food for one session, even a long one, was damned good pay!

"Neat trick," Xyanre murmured, watching in fascination as she manipulated his teammate's pleasure with exquisite control, shocking the Panther each time he came ... without a drop coming out. "Jaysa and Carmidin are so going to want to learn how to do that."

"I can teach them, for a price," she offered, leaving Tom's cock alone. "Does anybody have a bit of leather lace I could borrow?" She asked, looking around at the people there. A young woman climbed out of the baths, heading to the changing area and fetching some.

"I expect you may have a few takers on that," Xyanre chuckled, watching in fascination.

"Hope you don't think this is cheating," she grinned up at him, taking the lace and tying it around his cock, then back around his balls, and further back around the base of his tail, forcing his balls down so he couldn't come too easily. "So... ready to see my knots outlast you?" She winked, standing and spreading her legs.

"Not as long as it still feels good," he moaned lowly, shuddering as she brought him to the edge again, over it, and still kept his balls from emptying.

"Just as soon as I win my b-bet," she groaned, rippling the walls of her sex around his cock. She kept her back to him for now, letting him see the curves of her back and ass, and keeping him from seeing the expression of mild discomfort on her face. She had a feeling he would care more than most of her customers.

Thomas began to pant, his body on full rebellion at this unnatural extension of coming. His jaws grabbed her the crook of shoulder as his hands grabbed her hips. With a deep, reverberating roar that echoed through her bones he came hard, thrusting as even the bindings around his balls and cock lost their battle with primal need.

She tightened down around him as he came inside of her, spilling the seed of several denied orgasms into her body as she milked him until he was finished, then leaned back to kiss his cheek.

"So, I win?" She asked him with a grin.

"Yes," he panted, unlocked his jaws as he ran his hands along her body. "I will make arrangements with the innkeeper."

"You didn't quite make the half hour though," Xyanre chuckled, though he had an odd look on his face. "I must admin I'm surprised he didn't get you off."

"Mmm ... in this line of work, you get used to it pretty fast," she admitted, slipping off of Tom's cock and relaxing in the hot water. "It's no biggie... though I did enjoy these," she grinned, teasing his barbs before she removed the lace and returned it to its owner.

"Good, though now I remember why it's not as much fun to pay," the Panther admitted, looking around for another playmate. "I like hearing my partner moan."

"I think that if you'll find that lace, the girl who loaned it to me will be more than happy to oblige," she winked, relaxing as he got up to hunt up a new partner.

Jano looked up with a broad smile as his new guests arrived back at the inn for the night.

"Welcome back," he said cheerfully, looking the mixed band of traders over and hoping he had the right rooms for them. "Ready for dinner?" He asked Jaysa as the Maned Wolf walked up.

"In an hour or so," Jaysa suggested with a grinned that mostly managed not to look dangerous. "Once everyone is here. We have something of a celebration for tonight. Would you like to settle our debt each night, or when we are ready to leave?" he asked politely.

"How long do you plan on staying?" Jano asked him easily, not really concerned by the many sharp teeth he could see. He knew by now that if they were going to be trouble, they were going about it all the wrong way.

"Likely a month, possibly two," he said after a moment of thought. "We would like to know Aecra's Bluff before we leave."

"Well, why don't we handle it when you leave, then?" Jano suggested. "Except for extraordinary expenses, of course."

"That works well for us," Jaysa agreed easily. "Tonight's party may well fall under that," he added with a grin. "And one of my officers, Thomas Carbrin, the male Panther, made a deal with one of the local women, a Mara Redstack. Good meals for the next three days, and a room tonight. I will pay for that as well, as part of our total. From what I've heard, you can expect a few more meals and rooms for the night for her before we're gone."

"He must have liked her," he chuckled. "And that will be fine, we know her well around here. As for your party, it sounds like you're right... how much meat do the lot of you eat, compared to plants?"

"She showed him something that blew his mind," Jaysa grinned. "That is not easy to do. For meat, we do prefer it, but our diet seems much like yours. One of those aurochs could provide the twelve of us with meat for four to five days of eating well; or a full sevenday if the bones and such were stewed and mixed with plants and we ate more grain and vegetables than meat."

"Good to know," Jano nodded, doing the math in his head. They sounded like they'd eat more than his average guest, but most of them were bigger than his average guest too. Especially the two Bears; they were downright giants that he barley came up to the waist of. "Well, if you hunt something up, we're happy to cook it for you for free if it's available to the house, and just a small charge if you want it for your group in particular. As for dinner and your party...." He considered the twelve of them, and how many guests they were likely to have. "Do you want to trade, or do you have money to pay with?"

"Trade is preferable to me," Jaysa said. "Though I expect I can convert some of what I have with me to local coin quickly enough if you prefer."

"Trade is fine," Jano reassured him. "It's faster for some things, it just means I can't necessarily quote you a price. Why don't you bring in what you have, and I can propose something for you for tonight?"

"Sounds good," Jaysa nodded. "I'll go grab the packs. Do you have things you are interested in, or do you want to see everything we brought?"

"Precious metals or gems are always handy... any unusual food, drink, or cooking supplies you have might be good too, though," he added. "If you've got a good cooking oil, I'd be interested."

"All right," Jaysa nodded, putting those supplies together in his head. "What about recipes?"

"If they're for things I can make with food around here, or that you can trade, they'd be good too," he nodded. "I don't suppose you have any cedar powder?" He asked hopefully.

"Not with this batch, but I can get it for you," he said before going to pull the interesting supplies from various packs and returning to Jano with two full packs of potential trade goods. "Where would you like to look?"

"Right here is fine - nobody tries to rob the man whose wife cooks the best meals in town," Jano winked, clearing off the bar. "Go ahead and spread it out."

Jaysa nodded and began to unpack a selection of dried and cured meats and fruits, pickled vegetables, three kinds of salt, several small jars of cooking oil, ten different bottles of alcoholic beverages ranging from beer and ale to wine to fine, aged drinks of several makes, cut and uncut gems, gold, silver, copper, bronze, iron and steel ingots and a small book. "What we brought are just samples. The main shipment will arrive tonight. We didn't want to risk it without knowing if we'd be welcome. We can ship fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, and live ones, if we know they will be bought."

"Makes sense," Jano nodded, looking over what they had there, picking up one of the jars of oil. "May I?" He asked.

"Yes," Jaysa nodded. "That is one of the finest oils we produce. It is best used for flavor just before the food is eaten."

He opened it and sniffed it, taking in the sweet, fruity flavor without actually tasting it.

"Good... you only have jars this size, for the moment?" He asked, closing it and putting it back down.

"We typically sell two sizes. That one is for a household where only a handful of people are going to be using it. We also have a five liter jar; it is ten times that size," Jaysa explained.

"Thank you," he nodded. "One of these jars, to see how it works with our cooking, and three of the copper ingots?" He suggested. "For tonight, at least. I expect I'm about to run through quite a bit of wine," he chuckled.

"No doubt," Jaysa nodded and concealed how surprised he was at the price. It was on the low end of a fair finish price from what he'd seen. "Deal. The ingots will arrive with the rest of the shipment late tonight."

"And we'll sort out the rest of the month as it comes up," he nodded. "Good to have your business, Jaysa," he smiled, offering the Maned Wolf his hand.

"It is good to have yours, Jano," he smiled and shook his hand firmly. "I will bring the oil and ingots when the shipment arrives."

"Good to hear," he told them, putting the small jars aside and letting Jaysa pack. "Good luck with your work here, and a good stay under my roof."

"I'm sure both will go well," Jaysa smiled and finished packing. "We'll be down in an hour or so."

"I'll see that my staff, and the roast, is ready," Jano said.

"Okay, are we the only ones who managed not to bed a local?" General Carmidin Sul spoke in Alliance Standard and looked over the returning PEF officers as they gathered in the large room their leaders shared on the second floor of the in. Everyone was dressed, but most hadn't found the baths. Only Tealia Railmos was still missing, and no one was surprised.

"Well, they're friendly," Xyanre offered with a sheepish grin. "And Tealia probably hasn't, unless the Hag got frisky."

"Hay, I heard Tom actually paid for it," Blaze teased the big Panther.

"I paid for a mind-blowing orgasm," he countered with a grin. "She earned her pay."

"Okay, okay, go get Tealia," Jaysa rolled his eyes in tolerant amusement.

"Yes, sir," Xyanre chuckled and stood to go fetch his lover, who no doubt hadn't remembered to eat too.

"You've got to admit, it's better than the Searin 4 contact," Carmidin chuckled.

"Yeah," Jaysa groaned in memory of the heavy beating he'd taken before they'd successfully pulled him out of the 'discussion' the clan leaders were having with him. Despite the technological and numerical advantage the Alliance had, it had been deemed not worth the investment to take over.

"Besides, we probably could have found a local or two if we'd wanted," the Puma smirked, leaning over to kiss his cheek playfully.

"Yeah, yeah, especially you," Jaysa chuckled and pulled one of Carmidin's ears. "So what did folks learn?"

"I'll skip the obvious comment," Tanya, their Polar Bear linguist snickered. "Except to say they're friendly. Their language is an interesting one, but we've already been over that - what we haven't been over is that their Engineers use a different alphabet, and I shouldn't be surprised if they use a different language with each other. I managed to sneak a peek at some of their work that was visible through a window today," she explained.

"I wouldn't be surprised if they were a separate species, or at least subspecies," Silvercrest Cayto piped up. "They're really nervous people."

"It's hard to tell without having more to do with them, but you're probably right," Carmidin nodded. "On their way towards a separate species at the very least. So, everybody's assessment of their value?" He asked, looking around the group as Xyanre and Tealia took their seats again.

"Technologically primitive," Thomas Carbrin said. "But that was expected. They are innovative and curious."

"Medicine is an unusual mix of the superstition and herbal that we expected, and a knowledge of science that they have grown to believe they were punished for believing in more than the spirit world. While I haven't seen any proof that this spirit power exist here, I can't discount it yet either," Tealia said.

"General beliefs follow suit," Xyanre agreed. "They know they used to believe in science without any spirits involved before the disaster, and don't object to science. They just believe that the spirits were angry at being ignored completely. Crafts are at a good level, and seem to be well-respected. Economy is a mixture of barter and coin."

"Baseline assessment: if we can't make this work well, we need to give up exploring," Silvercrest Blaze said. "They're friendly, open-minded and agreeable to different folks and beliefs. It doesn't get much better."

"We should also be able to make them into allies easily enough," Silvercrest Cayto offered. "They commented on the Amza and their raids several times. While we don't want to piss off the neighbors, we could probably make a lot of progress if we can establish a truce between them, or at least enhance their ability to defend themselves. Hell, just replacing that palisade with a good set of duracrete bunkers would do the job."

"You know the rules on getting involved before we know both sides," Carmidin sighed. "As much as I'm inclined to agree with you. If nothing else, we can keep them safe while we are here."

"No rules against blasting folks who shoot at us first," the shewolves grinned viciously.

"Just don't go using the big guns right away," Carmidin chuckled lowly. "Scaring them off would be better than hurting them seriously, if possible. Besides, there's a good chance they won't hit here again for a while."

"Should we consider putting together an all-female team, either as a separate FCT unit or a split from this one?" Tanya suggested. "I'd be willing to go."

"Once we're better settled with the Builders," he said firmly. "The last thing we need is to loose what we have because we approached an enemy too soon. Even as traders we aren't immune to politics. I'll take you under consideration when we're ready. Jaysa and I definitely won't be leading it."

"So, are we up for new topics?" Tealia asked, waiting a moment for any objections before she continued. "I was able to pin down a few specifics that could be useful for us. Several of the plants in the area are potential oncological treatments, and one type of fungus the Hag identified appears to be capable of producing a low-grade fuel oil. They don't realize its real potential yet, but they'll probably be there in a few more generations."

"More or less the usual spectrum of local useful bio-products?" he asked and got a nod. "Good. They open to trade?"

"Definitely, and quite open with their knowledge as long as we offer something of value in return," Tealia added.

"In most fields," Xyanre agreed. "They have their trade secrets, but so far the crafters are willing to talk shop in detail if you offer the same in return, and show that you have skills to offer. They are very eager for knowledge and value it much as we do."

"Speaking of trade secrets, anything from your weaver?" Carmidin asked him curiously.

"'Your' weaver?" Tealia teased lightly.

"You weren't around and she was quite interested," he rolled his eyes at her in their long-standing exchange. "Well, she doesn't know how to do anything we don't, but she has a fine grasp of how to use local plants and minerals to dye wool, and by extension, other things. They really do have quite a variety of dyes, and they do know how to weave with metal thread."

"Impressive," Jaysa nodded. "Any idea how they make it, or where their source is?"

"That one she is guarding very carefully," Xyanre said. "However, given the relatively low quantity of precious metals in general, I doubt there is much of a local supply."

"Which means she must trade for what she gets," the Maned Wolf nodded again. "Has anybody gotten a feel for their transportation technology?"

"I've seen carts and those big shaggies pulling them," Muku Sa'stay, a male Bat-Eared Fox and the team material engineer and architect, piped up.

"They're called aurochs, and Reina mentioned they use equus as riding animals, though they don't have any after the last Amza raid." Xyanre added.

"I haven't seen any tracks or roads that would indicate anything more than what you've seen," Vince Rango, the Improvisational Equipment Specialist agreed. "They have the technology to create a primitive train and other powered vehicles, though they may not have had the idea, or the resources, to create them yet.

"There was something else that she hinted at," Xyanre said, thinking about what they'd talked about. "She didn't want to give details though; I got the feeling it was confidential. Possibly something like that, or a steam-powered war engine of some sort. She said something about them having tested it once."

"Given the lack of rails, the latter's more likely," Carmidin murmured. "Did you get the feeling it was something she shouldn't have told you that much about?" He asked the Wah seriously.

"Yeah," he nodded. "I don't think we should ask about it, not unless an Engineer mentions it or something."

"I expect we'll have a very plausible opening to ask once the trucks arrive," Sata Rango suggested. "After that, they can see that we aren't likely to be interested in stealing their tech."

"Point," Jaysa nodded. "They should be here in a few hours. Anything in particular anybody wants us to trade for, besides good will?"

"Biosamples," Tealia Railmos grinned at him.

"You always want those," he rolled his eyes playfully. "Anything unusual?"

"Not yet," Sata Rango shook his slender, tan head. "The usual seems it. Meat, hides, samples and good will."

"All right," Jaysa nodded. "Then let's go downstairs and make a few more friends."

Keldina rolled her neck lazily as she climbed the ladder up the inside of the palisade walls.

"Hey, Rekk, go on in and have some fun - the new guys are buying," she grinned. "I'll take your place for a half-hour or so."

"Thanks," the youth grinned, shrugging off his crossbow's gear and helping Keldina into it before he climbed down himself, leaving the more experienced warrior to watch for any sign of an attack.

Her eyes caught a glimpse of movement in the night sky just a minute after she came up, but she expected this ... mostly, at least. She hadn't expected their vehicles to be flying, or coming so fast!

"The caravan's coming!" She shouted down to the village. "In from the north, flying fast!"

"How fast?" someone below her called.

"Faster than anything we have!" she shouted back before turning to focus on the approaching craft. Why had the first group arrived on foot when they had these kind of things to haul trade goods? No wonder they weren't that afraid of raiders.

A small crowd started to gather as the word spread, some people hurrying out of the pub, others out of houses as she saw that the craft was actually flying a few feet from the ground. Just in case they turned out to be horribly wrong about the new arrivals, she flipped the catch out of the steam-chamber on her crossbow, starting it building up a charge. She didn't really think it would help, but years of hard experience had bred a good paranoia in most of the guards, even during a party.

If not especially during a party.

"Keldina, we heard the trucks are here!" Jaysa's distinctively yippy voice called out to her. "Three of them?"

"Three of them," she called back down. "Will you need help unloading, or finding a place to keep them?"

"They can park anywhere you're willing to let them be, including outside the walls if they make you too uncomfortable," he called as he climbed up to join her and check out the small column of vehicles that were slowing down to a the pace of a fast walk. "Good, it's what I was expecting to show up," he nodded with a bit of relief as he got a good look at the transports and the slender, fluffy Red Fox vixen in a uniform matching his that was waving at them from the top of the streamlined box of a hover tank transport. "Unpacking can wait for morning, when folks are ready to trade and daylight to see the goods in."

"That would work ... what sort of security does it have?" She asked. "People are likely to be curious, may poke around, need to know if it's likely to hurt them."

"A couple guards will be awake at any given time to keep an eye on curious folks, and they lock," he told her and waved back at the vixen. "The more serious defenses, the ones that could hurt the curious, are not typically turned on when we are in a city. They're pretty hard to be accidentally hurt by, unless you're under one when it settles. That would do some serious damage," he cracked a bit of a smile.

"I can imagine," she murmured, reaching over to start the gates opening. "How do you make something so huge fly? The boilers would have to be enormous to do it without a balloon."

"I've been told, but I honestly don't understand the tech," Jaysa admitted as the transports slowly, smoothly and silently came inside the gates. "Cars and aircraft I can explain, those things ... not so well."

"Understood," she nodded, climbing back down. "The Engineers would love to see it, I'm sure."

"I expect they will get the chance," Jaysa smiled.

Carmidin Sul greeted the vixen as she leapt down from the transport roof with a forearm shake. "Good to see you again, Teli. I trust there was no trouble?"

"Nothing but a dull drive," she grinned up at him. "I wasn't expecting to be called in so soon. Scruffy must like this folks."

"Who's Scruffy?" Keldina asked Jaysa quietly.

"It's what she likes to call me," he grimaced. "Not a favorite, but she can kick my tail with one arm."

"We're all going to," Carmidin grinned. "From what we've seen already. Come on, let's get all of you to the party," he said, turning around as he heard things quiet down further in the town. He saw two people walking from one of the central buildings; small, slender people with abnormally large heads. It was clear from the quiet of the civilians around them that they were highly ranked individuals here.

"Who are they?" Jaysa nodded towards the two different-looking people.

"Two of the Engineers," Keldina said quietly before she walked up to the young man and woman, inclining her head respectfully to them.

"Rama, Roma - how are you both?" She asked them.

"Fine, thank you," the two answered, almost as one.

"We heard the newcomers brought one of their vehicles," Rama, the woman, added as she looked over at the hovercraft.

"Three, yes," Keldina nodded. "Jaysa and Carmidin are in charge of them," she motioned for the Engineers to follow her to the strange-looking visitors.

"Hello," they said as they approached the two much larger furs.

It was a fairly novel experience for Jaysa - having to look down at the two people, each coming up to Keldina's waist at eye-level, their heads extending almost half a foot above that. It was quite an odd look, but it did remind him more than a bit of the Stonehead reptile clans of Sedurinom IV.

"Would you mind if we looked over your vehicles tonight or tomorrow?" Roma asked.

All of a sudden Jaysa wasn't so sure it was a bright idea to let them. He glanced at Carmidin, who nodded.

"In the morning," Jaysa told the brainy pair. "Would you care to join us while we celebrate a good contact made here?" he motioned towards the inn where they were staying.

He could tell as soon as he suggested it that they weren't entirely comfortable with the idea. Rama glanced over at the inn, like she was considering just how many people were likely there - and how many more were likely to come through - while Roma looked up at Keldina like he was hoping for her to explain something.

"It'll be mostly our people there, and Joran's still inside - he'll make sure you're all right if anything goes wrong," Keldina promised them.

"All right," the twins nodded slightly, heading off to follow another of the locals in.

"Their people don't leave their shops very much," Keldina explained to Jaysa briefly. "You might let your people know; they're good people, but not used to dealing with strangers."

"It would not insult us if you do not come," Jaysa offered to the pair.

"If you don't mind," Roma said, the two of them breaking off and heading back towards their buildings quickly.

"Thank you," Keldina nodded. "It's probably for the best, right now."

A Wild New World 3: The Builders

NC 17 for M/M, M/F sex
Het Level is HighHet Smut Level is High
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Very Low
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

80 KB, Story is Complete, Series is in Progress
Written December 19, 2008 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Ayrth, Gre'and Alliance

Primary Races: Canine, Feline, Human, Maned Wolf, Panther, Puma, Wah (Red Panda)

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). All Original Characters, Prostitution, Relationship (Cross Species), Relationship (Established), Romance, Romance, Sex (First Time), Sex (Public), Steamtech

Pairings: Carmidin Sul/Jaysa Tumrin (M Puma/M Maned Wolf), Xyanre Ko'Pa/Reina Gold (M Red Panda/F Human), Thomas Carbrin/female (M Panther/F Human), Thomas Carbrin/male (M Panther/M Human)

Blurb: Jaysa and Carmidin lead the first PEF team to make contact with an indigenous group on Ayrth. At least at first look, the Builders seem to be good allies.

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.

Page Hit Count from December 19, 2008    1380