A Wild New World 9.99:

by Fur and Fantasy
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"So, how old do you think those are?" Carmidin asked Jaysa curiously, looking at a scout-drone's pictures of the region and the large drawings on the ground.

"They're older than the Fall, from what I've heard," Selia offered. "The village should be that way," she offered, indicating some small structures off to the south, next to the coast. "Near the eagle, from what Keldina's told me."

"Most interesting," Jaysa murmured as he looked at the aerial photographs and what was visible on the ground. "Creating such huge, vulnerable designs that are only visible by the air."

"Maybe they weren't vulnerable with the technology of the time they were created," Carmidin suggested. "We do know the pre-fall civilization was very advanced."

"True," the Maned Wolf nodded. "It is still amazing that these may have survived 100,000 years or more without maintenance."

"I can probably tell you why," Sancros Grendi, a geoscientist, mentioned as they touched down just outside the ruins. "I'd bet money we've got a thermal layer effect here, creating a dead-air cushion that keeps the wind from affecting anything down low."

"It doesn't make it any less amazing," Jaysa chuckled and got up while the security officers, and especially his mate, geared up for a trip into hostile territory.

"No, but it does explain the situation," Grendi chuckled, loading his own equipment. "I came across something like this on Elarran IV, and the academics are still debating the merits of the idea that it was created by some hyper-advanced civilization that seeded the planet with life, since they've lasted so long."

"I expect this one will cause the same, but if you're right, wouldn't an environmental survey find out?" Jaysa asked, waiting for Carmidin and two others to leave the hovercraft and signal it was all clear. "At least the part about the thermal layer effect."

"Not necessarily," he said, shaking his head. "An aerial survey would just pick up on the air above the layer - it's only a few feet thick, the buildings are probably protected by the calm weather even above it. At any rate, let's see what's going on," he smiled as Carmidin signaled that it was clear, stepping out and looking around.

"We can leave a few sensors out to collect data at ground level," Jaysa suggested and walked into the hot desert sun.

"We can," he nodded. As they all walked out, they realized quickly that he was probably right; up to their knees, they couldn't feel anything but still, hot air. But above that, there was a gentle breeze going on.

"I think she found her stuff in that building there," Selia said, indicating a building that had long ago been bleached a bone-white color, the roof largely torn off.

"Then let's start there," Jaysa nodded and headed for it, his eyes open for anything that might indicate what kind of building it had been.

Looking inside, it seemed to be a house... the strange thing was how utterly perfect everything was at floor-level. Carpets, furniture... there were actually dishes left in the wreckage of a broken coffee table, bleached bones along with them.

"She said the gun was in the corner," Selia murmured, indicating an area under a chair. "Maybe it fell there during the struggle that caused this?"

"Quite possibly," Carmidin nodded and walked over to examine the skeleton more closely. It was definitely a human skeleton... though it was hard to tell what had killed him.

"There's access to a basement back here!" One of the other guards called out. "Place is in creepy shape."

"Probably for the same reason the drawings are," Jaysa nodded. "Who's taking upstairs?" he asked as he headed for the basement access.

"I'll get it," Grendi offered. "If I can have a little backup?"

"I'll come with you," the rest of his pack reflexively joined their fellow while Selia and Carmidin went along with Jaysa and the others down into the basement, where it was much, much more comfortable for all of them. An ancient computer sat alongside one wall, long dead, and a vault in the back had been broken into long ago.

"I'm on it," Vince grinned, his tawny fur flashing by as he made a beeline for the computer and began setting up his portable power supply, interfaces and computer. "Let's see what's left of this baby."

"Spread out, let's see if there is anything to give us close as to who lived here and what they were like," Jaysa ordered as he headed for the safe.

The safe had been cleared out, completely. Looking around though, the labels said that it was probably a larder at one point. There was a well in the back that led down to a subterranean creek, the waters bubbling audibly down below.

"Underground water supply," Selia mused. "Wonder how far down it is."

"Computers dead," Vince called back. "Might be able to get this gadget here working, it looks a lot simpler, but no clue if it'd have anything useful on it... looks like a digital picture frame. You interested, Jaysa?"

"Always," the Maned Wolf grinned and walked over to him. "This might have been an inn, or a well-stocked home before things went bad."

"Coffee table and no signs of a business on the first floor?" Vince pointed out. "I'm guessing a well-stocked home... you'd want one, living out here." He tinkered with the frame, hooking in an adapter to feet it power. The screen flashed, flickered, and began to display images of a young couple.

"The species has changed a bit since these folk," Jaysa said thoughtfully, comparing the images with Selia.

"Well... after the time it's been, no real surprise," Vince offered. "Wonder which one is the stiff."

"Might not be either of them," Carmidin pointed out as he nosed around closer to the water before he knelt to run a quick field test on its purity. "It could be someone who came along afterwards, maybe injured, and just died there after seeking shelter."

"He has a point," Thomas nodded. "If anyone else was around, they probably wouldn't have left a viable weapon behind."

"We'd have to inspect the bones to figure it out, and even then we couldn't be sure," Jaysa pointed out. "I wonder where the other one is, myself. The pictures make it look like they were living together, after all."

"All sorts of things could've happened," Selia murmured. "Those could be old pictures, after all... I mean even for the person who was up there, of course."

"The water is clean and unprocessed," Carmidin said as he stood and inspected the walls carefully. The cut and finished nature of the stone in the basement was expected, but he could see it was still finished well beyond the point he expected it to be. "Hay, Jaysa. Want to check out how far they finished this?"

"Sure," the Maned Wolf nodded. "Somebody go check on Grendi, see if he's found anything interesting and bring them down."

"I can go," Selia offered, starting up the stairs to find the Wolfpack.

"Everyone have their lights and underground kits?" Jaysa glanced around as various confirmations came in.

"As if the answer has ever been no," Carmidin teased his mate.

"Like you don't double check?" Jaysa teased back and glanced over as they Wolves came down. "Anything interesting up there?"

"Not really," Grendi said, shaking his head. "Any signs those Knucklers are down here anywhere?" He asked, getting his lighting kit out.

"Hard to say," Carmidin shrugged, though the weapon he had out made it clear he half expected it. "The work is very old, but we don't know how old their kind are."

"It's not Knuckler stonework, but they might still be down here," Selia offered, taking out her own light rig. "It's too finished for their work."

"Noted," the Puma nodded and headed into the tunnel cautiously. "Everybody knows the drill. Non-coms in the middle. Sancros, take up the rear."

"Yes sir," Grendi nodded, taking up the position along with his packmates.

"How far along can this all be finished?" Selia murmured as they walked along, probably the better part of a half-mile down the tunnel and still carefully cemented and finished off... not professionally, but well enough that it wasn't the sort of rough-hewn stonework that the Knucklers used.

"Potentially miles," Carmidin said, his senses sharp for any sign of life. "Depending on why they built it, it could be all the way to the source."

"Any way to tell how old?" Selia asked, considering the stonework, silencing herself when she heard echoes further along the tunnels.

"Not really," Grendi said. "At least not without an incredible amount of effort. Stonework is very difficult to date."

Carmidin signaled for silence, considering the sounds as they stopped for a moment.

"Somebody else down here," the Puma warned them. "Dim your lights, not all the way yet. Narik, with me," he motion for the Black Fox to join him in moving ahead quickly and silently, leaving Thomas to take the lead as the fighting muscle.

They went ahead a ways, the sounds getting louder. As the Puma and Fox looked ahead for any sign of what was there, they became aware of a rapping passing through the stone.

Carmidin signaled the main group to keep in sight of them as they cautiously moved forward.

"Recognize the code?" Jaysa whispered to Selia.

She shook her head.

"Sis might, but I don't," she said quietly. "It is a code though, it's too regular for anything else ," she offered as another series of raps sounded and the group continued to work their way further into the tunnel.

"Almost wish we had Windancer with us," Thomas muttered quietly, adjusting his goggles so he could see a little bit further.

"Sir? I saw something move," Narik whispered.

"Allow me," Kyasah clicked and summoned a touch of magic. "Lifelight."

Several things started to glow further down the tunnel, not just lighting up what was making the sound, but also filling it with a very, very dim glow as the bacteria in the tunnel glowed as well as the more complex organisms they were looking for.

"Ree?" A confused sound further down echoed up to them, followed by a series of chatters they couldn't make out.

"Glib Tongue." Kyasah said in a language older than many of the races around him.

"Light, why everywhere?" One of the voices down the tunnel asked.

"Strangers, bring with them?"

"Light, strangers, not by them," the reply came. "Light, us, all around!"

"Light, strangers, did bring," Jaysa called out to them, his training kicking in to procure a mimicking sentence structure on reflex. "We, peaceful."

"You, who are?" One of them asked. "Language, you, how speak it?"

"Jaysa Tumrin," he introduced himself. "Gre'and Alliance, from. Magic, we speak with."

"You, here, why?" The apparent leader asked. "Weapons, put down?"

Carmidin motioned for everyone to put their weapons away.

"Explorers, we are. To make friends, here for," Jaysa said as he moved forward to the front of the group.

The people came forward warily, and Selia had to fight back a shriek when she saw them. Their eyes were filmy and clouded, their skin deathly pale, almost translucent, the thin hair on their bodies white. They were only a few feet tall, the leader of them maybe four feet, and all of them were incredibly thin and wiry.

"Gre'And Alliance, where is?" The leader asked.

"Frozen land to the north, nearest outpost is," Jaysa told him.

"You, us, wish to follow? Warrens, return to? You, Old Ones, speak to?"

"Yes, you, we follow," Jaysa nodded and smiled in his most charming manner. "You, we, thank."

The leader turned to start down the tunnels, reaching up to rap along the walls with a small hammer as he went, the two others with him turning to follow without saying anything.

"Sure it's safe?" Selia asked Carmidin quietly.

"No more than when we walked in to meet with your Elders," he shrugged. "It's likely safe."

"I just worry that we're about to find out the Knucklers have servants," she murmured.

"Knucklers, here, not near," the leader called back, causing her to start and blush at being heard. "We, them, fight off. Defenses, old but effective."

"News, that is welcome," Jaysa let out a small breath of relief. "Knucklers are bad."

"They are," he agreed. "Children, Knucklers, take many. This, you hear?" He signaled a distinctive series of raps and scrapes against the wall, and they could see his companions tense sharply. "You, Knucklers, prepare for; leader nearby."

"Understand, we do," Jaysa nodded with a glance at Carmidin to make sure that everyone did understand. "Knucklers, come, when last?"

"Turns, seven ago," he explained.

That would be a difficulty... living underground, blind, how would they measure time? The word had definitely been turns, but it could mean most anything.

"Turns, what of?" Jaysa asked.

"Light-at-night," he said. "Ground, high above."

"Lunar," Carmidin said as it clicked for him.

"Moon, we call it," Jaysa said.

"We understand," he nodded. "Name, Treysa, mine is," he said. "Yours?"

"Name, Jaysa, mine is. Race, Maned Wolf, I am," he said easily. "Name, Carmidin, race, Puma, he is. Name, Kyasah, race, Hawk, feathered mage is. Name, Selia, race, Builder, she is," he named those in front with him, then the others as quickly as he could.

"You, good to meet," Treysa nodded. "You, your friends, speaker for?" He asked politely as they reached a smaller tunnel leading off from the finished one.

"Yes, speak for them, I do," Jaysa nodded. "Carmidin, us, protects."

"He, us, would like to follow?" Treysa asked, kneeling to crawl through the short tunnel.

"He's offering for you to go first," Jaysa translated to his mate with a smile and quick nod.

"I would, yes," the big Puma nodded and shrugged off his backpack, handing it to Jaysa as the rest of the group took theirs off and got ready to get through the opening barely big enough for them.

Carmidin was devoutly grateful for his whiskers to tell him if he was getting through a place that was too tight. He had to wriggle in ways he hadn't since he was a kit to get through, but he managed it in the end.

"It's tight," he called back, pulling his pack through, "but we should all be able to manage it."

"Big tunnels, there are," Treysa offered. "Old Home, not lead to."

"Bears, not here, it is good," Jaysa chuckled and followed his mate, pulling his pack threw after him, soon followed by the three locals and the rest of the unit. "My height, they are, twice. They, built big, are."

"Very," Treysa murmured. "Knucklers, big as some. Here, time, very difficult getting. Me, please follow," he said, starting back down the tunnels once everybody was through.

As they went along, it became clear that the finishing on the tunnels had been performed with lower-grade materials, though increasing skill and familiarity with the work, and finer and finer joints between the stones as mortar had given way to expert stacking and placement, as much touch and instinct as engineering used in their building.

"You, here, long time have been," Jaysa observed, grateful for the light that Kyasah's spell created around them. "Surface, you, once lived on?"

"Legends, we, say did," Treysa nodded. "Time, us, older than. Ancestors, there, did live. Great thirst, before."

"Your home, how far?" Jaysa asked, sure they'd get more information from the 'Old Ones' he'd mentioned.

"Paces, several thousands," the tiny albino said, starting to lead the way. "We be there soon." He reassured them as they walked by, some tunnels splitting off from the one they were in. Before too long, they came across one of the underground rivers again, a rope bridge leading the way across. The natives made their way over it easily, waiting on the other side for the new arrivals.

"This could be a problem," Grendi murmured. "Don't know if it'll support all of our weight, even one at a time... tethers?"

"If we go one at a time, I can get anyone who falls," Kyasah said even as Thomas tested the bridge.

"It should hold my weight," the Panther said.

"Then one at a time, lightest to heaviest, move swiftly and softly," Carmidin said.

"That makes me first," Muku quipped, the Bat-Eared Fox making short work of the distance and barley causing the bridge to twitch at his movement.

Narik was the next to cross over, then Darmoth, the Raccoon's tail swishing as he made the other side. Selia started over next, carefully holding the ropes set up for her hands, putting one foot in front of the other as she balanced on her way over. She was half-way across, when a huge, pale tentacle lashed up out of the water, grabbing for her leg!

"Shit!" She screamed, trying to pull her leg free even as several perfectly aimed blaster shots sliced threw the tentacle from both sides.

She regained her footing, scrambling across quickly.

"You, what happened to?" Treysa asked, looking around blindly.

"There's some sort of monster in the river!" She shouted, her heart racing.

"Grabber, light wants!" Treysa shouted the warning.

"Kill the spell!" Carmidin shouted up at Kyasah, who nodded and the world went abruptly pitch black.

"Give me a moment," the Hawk called back as he began to weave a new spell.

"Darksight," he cast, allowing his teammates to see in the pitch blackness without any light.

"That is so weird," Jaysa muttered to himself as Caster, a Red Fox with security, scurried over nervously.

Another tentacle came up, searching for them, but having a harder time finding them now that they weren't lit up. The Maned Wolf went over next, followed by the rest of the team. The bridge creaked and swayed at the weight of the Wolves, but held steady.

When it was just the two felines left, Carmidin and Thomas waited for it to settle before the Puma made a more cautious way across, his eyes on the grabber.

The bridge creaked beneath his weight... and then the tentacle came towards the sound. Before it could grab him, the ropes snapped, dumping the Puma into the water and quickly washing him towards the slimy creature that had been reaching for him.

He'd only made it a half dozen feet downriver before sharp, strong talons gripped his shoulders, biting into his bulletproof vest, and pulled him up with the heavy downbeating of magic-enhanced wings.

Kyasah dodged the lashing tentacle, getting the Puma over to the ground on the other side safely.

"Will you be able to carry me?" Thomas called across, watching the monster warily.

"Yes," the Hawk answered, his sharp voice echoing rapidly in the space. "Just make sure your vest is secure."

"It is," Thomas said after a minute. "Cat getting hauled over water by a bird, what's next," he muttered to himself as he waited, tried not to tense when great talons closed around his shoulders and pulled him off the ground, and over the river.

"We can rebuild the bridge," Carmidin offered even as he shook the river water from his fur and waited for the drying spell Kyasah would offer shortly.

"Kyasah, far side, can fly it with little danger," Jaysa added.

"You, that, would not have to do," Treysa offered. "It, we fix often. You are willing, you, we thank. You all safe?"

"Yes," Jaysa nodded. "You, we thank."

"Grabber, very dangerous. It attacks rarely. Light, it likes," Treysa explained. "Home, we go. There, we are safer. You can see?"

"Yes," Jaysa said, grateful for the no-light vision spell in effect as they began to walk again. "Kyasah, spell, for that he cast."

"Mage, spells, what type?"

"Many types," Kyasah said, his sharp voice echoing more than most within the rocky confines. "Explorer-mage."

"Know, what useful, never," Jaysa added.

"That very true," Treysa chuckled, quieting down as they continued their journey.

"Must have been maddening the first several generations," Selia whispered quietly to Carmidin, keeping a careful look out. "Not being able to see, not having their ears yet?"

"Likely," he nodded. "Might have had tech to help at that point. May have been more gradual."

The rest of the trip went quietly, and peacefully, the group winding their way through the tunnels and following them as they split off and branched. They could smell more people further along, potent scents. Treysa sniffed the air, reaching over to rap on the wall, signaling the others. Heads started popping out of small holes and warrens in a broader cavern that opened up to them.

"Strangers, ancient homes, were at," he called out. "Friends, ours, wish to be!"

The people looking out at them chattered back and forth, calling out various questions and responses as the word passed along, and Treysa led them past a series of what looked like turret mounts, and then to a series of holes that were surrounded with the ancient defenses.

"Knucklers, this far, last?" Jaysa asked as he took it all in.

"Turns, very many ago," Treysa told him. "Old Ones, turrets for. Little Knucklers, there, might sneak. Rapstraps, older Knucklers, very cunning," he explained. "Old Ones, here, are," he said as he lead them into the short tunnels that led to a much larger chamber. There were several obviously aged members of his race there, along with some who looked ill, and a large number of infants still too young to get around on their own.

"You, the Great Burrow, are welcome to," one of the Old Ones said, his voice creaking out of ancient lips. Not a one of them looked to be younger than probably ninety of the Builder's years.

"Old Ones, we, thank for welcoming," Jaysa bowed to them politely. "Friends, we, would be."

Treysa quickly brought the ancient people up to speed on what he'd spoken with Jaysa about, the elders nodding in understanding.

"You, the Burrow, how did you find?" One of the three Old Ones asked them.

"Surface, tunnel to, we found while exploring," Jaysa told them. "Treysa, we heard, while following water."

"Ancient homes, you, why in?"

"Explorers, we are," Jaysa explained. "What they contain, we look for."

"Great creatures, you, did not disturb?"

"Understand, I, do not," he admitted.

"Great creatures, ground, living on," he explained. "Our ancestors, older than. Great creatures never change, never supposed to change."

It took him a moment, and all his limited talent, to work out that he probably meant the creatures drawn on the ground. "Ah. No," Jaysa shook his head. "Great creatures, undisturbed."

"That is very good," the third Old One nodded. "We, change. World, changes. Great creatures, never change. Them, we never see. Us, they always watch. You, guardians have as well?"

"Yes," he nodded, even though he knew they couldn't see. "They, to us, very important, are. Great creatures, to you, very important."

"Very," he nodded. "Families, great creatures protect. Lines, the Burrowing, reach back to. We came, turns, countless ago. First burrows, us, older than - great creatures older still."

"Great creatures, we, never will disturb," he promised solemnly.

"You, us, questions have for?" The first of the Old Ones asked, trying to direct the conversation back to business.

"Trade, we, interested in," Jaysa got to his usual business. "Interest, your warren, has any?"

"What, you, want to trade for?"

"You, from, knowledge, technology, things you create," Jaysa said. "Us, from, the same. Learn much, we do, by exchange."

"Technology... turrets, things like?" The Old One asked him with interest. "Defenses, tools?"

"Yes," Jaysa nodded. "Armor, weapons, energy storage, tools, old things."

"Repairs? Things, hard to fix. Touch, we use - eyes, were better."

"Repairs, yes," Jaysa agreed. "Trade, new tools, as well. Many things, many places, we have from."

"Here, you, wish to stay? Elsewhere, travel?"

"Here, stay, welcome would be," Jaysa said. "Trade, have, see what is available."

"Great source, you, we show later," one of the Old Ones offered. "Technology, it, may not work with."

"I understand," Jaysa assured him. "You, the people, how are fed?"

"Fish, mushrooms, we grow," the second one explained. "Hunt, we sometimes do."

"Foodstuffs, you, interested in trading for?" Jaysa asked.

"We may be," he nodded. "Type, depends on. Type of money, you, what use?"

"Goods, silver, copper, gold, gems," he listed out the most common. "We, traders are. Money, we, many types use."

"Metals... these, like?" He asked, indicating a simple metal bracelet with a number of smaller rings on it.

"Yes," Jaysa nodded. "Copper, that is."

"Copper, how valuable?"

"Copper, value, least of," Jaysa said. "Copper, silver, gold, values in order. Examples, I, can give."

"That, helpful, will be. Samples, we, you, show later. You, trade, what will not?"

"We, most advanced weapons, trade, may not," Jaysa told him politely. "Trade, most everything else, can."

"We understand... northern Knucklers, dead, we have heard. This true?"

"True, yes," Jaysa nodded. "We, them, killed."

"That, you, did how? It, you, can do again?"

Jaysa took a moment to organize the much more complex statement into this dialect. "Gas, tunnels, we put in. Knucklers, gas, could not breath. We, repeat, can."

"Everything killed," he guessed, realizing the likely situation. "Us, not work well for."

"Everything killed," Jaysa agreed. "Work, it could. It, difficult, would be."

"Dangerous, how long?" The first one asked, considering the implications.

"Gas, dangerous, until gone," he explained. "We, it, neutralize can. Days, you gone, several would need. Your home, gas, protect from, possible. It, to do, not easy."

"We, it, will consider," he nodded. "Issues, many to consider."

"Always," Jaysa agreed.

"You, Treysa, go with. You, place to stay, show."

"Thank you, Old One," Jaysa bowed and turned to go with the one they had followed in.

A Wild New World 9.99: Nazca


27 KB, Story is Complete, Series is in Progress
Written February 15, 2009 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Ayrth, Gre'and Alliance

Primary Races: Human, Maned Wolf, Puma, Wolf

Contents: Furry. Gen. Femslash (F/F). All Original Characters, Crossover, Genocide, Magic, Sci-Fi

Blurb: Carmidin and Jaysa lead the males of their unit and the Sancros pack to investigate an area where many artifacts have been recovered.

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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