Copyright © 2004 ANTIcarrot
Chakats and named cubs copyright Bernard Doove
Don looked round cautiously at the listless cubs. The Swiss Family Chakat had once again railroaded him into cub-sitting for a day whilst they went shopping. Unfortunately it was proving to be a very hot day. Far too hot for the chakats or other novas to go outside and play in the sun.
At present they were all lounging around in the living room, none engaging in a more strenuous activity than swinging their legs. It couldn’t last. Don knew that. He was also getting thirsty and hungry; chakats not being the only creatures affected by hot temperatures. Yet any movement could conceivable disturb the delicate tableau that lay sprawled across the room.
Don sighed as the mantra was taken up.
"You could always play a game?"
"I dunno," Don admitted as he accessed the central computer. "You’ve got lots of computer games on file."
"Those aren’t worth playing!"
"Oh sure they are! You’ve got lots of fun games here!"
"Chakona Monopoly, Catch the Pigeon, Galactic Barrier, Super Mega Ultra Mario World, C-3, Extinctioners…" Don trailed off as it became obvious he didn’t have the cub’s attention. Frowning slightly he continued. "Global Thermonuclear War. Ultra-Vixen 12. Eden 2 Fun Factory. Find the slipper…"
"Those are all boring games!"
"Hmm. Boring. Yes, quite. So what do you want to do?"
"How about a story?"
"Yeah - a story!"
"Tell us a story!"
"Yeah Uncle Don - tell us a story!"
‘Uncle Don’ for his part looked over the cubs, wondering if there was a simple way out of this and trying to remember when exactly he had become ‘Uncle Don’. He knew he could use the implant to do so, but he was doing less and less of that nowadays. Marvellous and intricate as it was it had become out of date decades ago, and was now little more than a souvenir. He had considered getting rid of it, but never did though, always clinging to he slim hope of getting Sharpie’s old body up and running again…
"A story?" He repeated, as if he’d never heard of such a thing.
"Yeah! A story!"
"Tell us a story!"
"Well children, I’d love to but…"
"But you don’t remember any stories!" The children chorused back at him as they laughed.
Despite himself Don couldn’t help but smile back.
"Exactly. So I couldn’t possibly tell you any." He yawned and rubbed his belly. "In any case the old get tired and hungry easily. You’ll have to excuse me a moment." He began to move towards the kitchen.
"Anyway you’re not old!"
"Tickle him! Then he’ll tell!"
Don quickly danced away from the first probing fingers, bowling the more aggressive cubs over with long-won skills, before picking up a chair and brandishing it’s legs at the crowd of 12 cubs.
"You can’t get all of us…" Iris piped up. Don glared at the puma-taur.
"You’ve been listening too much to Ember again haven’t you!"
The cubs as one grinned as he mentioned their grand-mother and grand-aunt, who was one of the few members of the extended-family that could regularly beat Don at his own games. They began to advance on him again.
"Alright! Alright! I’ll make you a deal. I’ll try and remember a story to tell you if you let me get something from the kitchen to eat!"
"But right after!"
Don shook his head and put the chair down, letting the cubs scramble close and jabber and jump around him excitedly as he went to the kitchen.
"Uncle Don, can you make me a sandwidge?"
"There’s the replicator; make your own."
"But I want you to do it!"
"Do I look like a babysitter?"
Don rolled his eyes and started taking orders. It was another twenty minutes before they were all satisfied and could even think about moving back to the front room, at which point he reminded the cubs that he hadn’t had anything to eat yet! Oh, he could have made them get it themselves, but at the end of the day they all wanted to get it from him, even if he’d gotten it out of the replicator only seconds before.
"So what kind of story do you want?"
"No!" Don exclaimed in mock horror. "And there was me thinking you’d want a bad story!"
"Yeah - tell us an adult story!"
Don sighed. He knew what they meant by an adult story.
"When was the first time you made love to a chakat!"
Only the cubs didn’t really mean it like that. They wanted to hear as much about the relationship and courting much more than they did about the sex. As far as they were concerned it was just another romantic fairy tale, but without the curtain call at the end to save the author’s blushes. Don had no intention to save his own blushes however - as far as he was concerned doing so indicated a lack of fore-sight on the part of the story teller.
"That would be difficult."
"Can’t you remember that far back?" Whitepetal asked with a poorly concealed grin on hir muzzle.
"Watch your tongue!" Don order with a warning finger.
"Or I’ll bite it off!" The cubs just laughed at him. He sighed and rested his head on his hand. "You knew that used to impress Goldfur much more than it does you lot."
"You knew Grandma Goldfur when shi was a cub?!"
"No," he corrected. "Shi was much older when I first meet hir - shi just wasn’t much smarter."
They giggled at that for a moment.
"So when did you first make love to Goldfur?"
"Yeah - tell us about that!"
"What is it with you lot today? You keep asking for stories I can’t give."
"Uncle me nothing! There is a very good reason why I can’t tell you about the first time I slept with Goldfur and that is because there isn’t a first time I slept with Goldfur! If I did shi’d break me."
The cubs looked at him with a mixture of confusion and disbelief as they tried to understand his last comment.
"Shi didn’t break Grandpa Boyce."
"Oh really? That’s not what it looks like to me! Fetch this. Carry that. Lie back and think of Star Fleet." He paused and clamped down on a treacherous smile as the cubs figured it out and began laughing. "Have you ever seen him talk back to any of them?! Oh no, he was broken in long ago."
As he finished the cub’s laughter was joined by another, deeper adult chuckle.
"I’m going to tell him you said that."
Rolling his eyes the human turned to face the newcomer. Shi was every inch the image of hir mother Midnight, save for hir eyes, which shone emerald green instead of crystal-blue. It was almost enough to make Don wish he was younger.
"Uncle Don’s being mean again!"
"Oh no children!" Shadow proclaimed as shi came forward to hug some of the cubs melodramatically. "What’s mean old Uncle Don been doing to you now?"
"He won’t tell us a story!"
"He says Grandpa Boyce is broken!"
"He isn’t really is he?"
"He’s being mean!"
"I haven’t fed them either," Don muttered sarcastically from his chair.
"Yes you have!" A couple of the cubs corrected him automatically.
"Why’d you say you hadn’t when you had?"
"Wait now children! Uncle Don is being naughty again!" The cubs turned to Shadow for an explanation. "He’s trying to change the subject…" The cubs frowned, then grinned and turned back to Don. "I do believe there was a story in the planning?"
"Story!" Shadow repeated petulantly, slamming hir paw-hands down on the floor. The cub giggled and began to copy hir.
"Story! Story! Story! Story! Story! Story! Story! Story! Story! Story! Story!"
"All right. Okay. ALL RIGHT! I’ll tell you a story!"
The cubs cheered as some of them leapt forward to hug and lick him.
"Ew! Stop that! Hey! No, I mean it! Onemorelickandnostory!"
Instantly the cubs leapt back to gather around Shadow and copy hir expression of patient expectancy. Don snorted at hir, remembering a time when shi was not much older than the other cubs.
But then how old does that make me? Too old. Far too old…
He made them wait as he pulled out an immaculate handkerchief and began wiping away the worst of the slobber. As he finished he watched them as they watched him neatly fold the cloth up and put it away.
"So, you want an ‘adult’ story do you?" Don let all emotion drain out of his eyes as they swept over his audience. "I know a few of those. Stories of daring and bravery, and of death, pain and suffering. All things far beyond the understanding of young cubs like yourself."
"Not quite that adult a story," Shadow firmly said.
"Oh," Don said in a mildly disappointed tone. "Well, it’ll have to be an older story then. And I might have difficulty remembering…"
"Claws out girls!" Shadow ordered.
"All the details," Don quickly added with a glare at the only other adult in the room. The cubs giggled. "In which case I’ll just have to tell you a story I know better than most. One of you asked when was the first time I slept with Goldfur. I never have, but I can tell you of another first I did with hir."
"Like the time you took hir for that flying lesson and forgot . . ."
"Which Will Not be the subject of today’s story!" The cubs had no idea what either of them was talking about but giggled anyway. "As I was saying, the first I’m talking would be the first time I meet Goldfur. Unless of course you want to hear another story?"
"That is a long time ago," Shadow admitted in a surprised tone.
"How long," Iris asked.
"Longer than Shadow here has been alive."
Iris’ eyes widened as shi looked from Don to Shadow and back again.
"Was that the first time you came to Chakona?"
Shadow smirked and made brief eye contact with Don, who returned hir wry glance.
"Oh no little one. This is a good . . . eight years before that. This is long ago, before any of you were born. Before the Empire or the Borg attacks. Back when Goldfur wasn’t the head of the family and they all still lived on Earth."
"Before the Furrduration?"
"Not quite, but close. About a year afterwards to be exact. That in fact was one of the reasons I was out there. Contact with another stellar power had shaken the military up, and I was helping field test new equipment. This is back in the days when I was young and Sharpie was my mecha instead of just being the AI behind my cyber-pet."
That awed them. They’d all met the big emotionless faux-jaguar who seemed to miss nothing, and had seen pictures of the old war-mecha he was trying to restore.
"It all began long long ago in a sector far far away, halfway between Sol and Barnards Star and at the end of the Federation’s Golden age. A Orient Express class passenger transport had been returning home when its port nacelle suffered a catastrophic plasma vent, and everyone had to be desperately evacuated to the life-boats. The nearest ship was the Christopher Cockerell…"
"Was that Grandma’s ship?!"
"No, Goldie’s ship didn’t get there until three days later. The Cockerell was my ship; a Caspian class frigate in the Damocles Self Defence force...."
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