Matters of Life and Death

by Douglas DD

Travis was looking up the driveway with Prekan when he saw all three boys
fall down at once, but he didn't see the net drop on them.

"Something is wrong," he said. "Let's go!"

Prekan didn't understand a word that Travis said, but he got the idea of
what he wanted. He ran up the driveway with Travis. They saw what looked
like a net that had dropped over the three boys and two Hakaanen men
grabbing two of of the boys and getting them up on their unicorns. One of
the men grabbed the third boy when he saw Travis and Prekan running up the
driveway, but he couldn't hold on to him. They rode off quickly, two of
them with a struggling boy.

Travis and Prekan ran up the driveway and found Drake lying on the ground.
Ryan and Drew were gone. They ran to the house to report what happened.


Scooter sensed something as he and Douglas turned the corner. He looked out
toward the bushes. He saw someone stand up. Douglas was a couple of steps
in front of him. Everything seemed so clear. It was like everything was
going into slow motion. He lowered his shoulder and drove it into Douglas,
sending him flying to the ground. He felt a sting in his side then
tremendous pain, and fell to the ground next to Douglas.

"What the fuck, Scooter," Douglas said as he fell to the ground. He heard a
whizzing noise and then a grunt from Scooter. Douglas turned around angrily
to say something to Scooter when he saw the arrow in his side and blood
flowing on to the ground.

"Oh my God! Scooter! Scooter! What happened?" Douglas yelled. He looked
up in the bushes and saw somebody run. He wanted to chase him but he knew
Scooter needed help right now. He started yelling. He wished he was
wearing clothes so he could put something around Scooter's wound to help
stop up the bleeding.

"Bandar!" he screamed.

Mike and Alex heard the screaming and came from in front of the house. They
stopped and stared at Scooter's bloody body. Douglas pointed to the bushed
behind the house. "It was a Hakaan man. He's about 30 seconds ahead."

Mike and Alex took off into the brush. Bandar and his dad came running out
of the back door. Bandar's dad took one look at Scooter and ran in and got
some towels. He told Bandar to call the emergency number as he put the
towels against the wound to stop the bleeding.

"Scooter, are you okay?" Douglas asked. Scooter moaned. Oh God, Scooter,
don't die on me, Douglas thought. "You saved my life," he told Scooter.
"You were so awesome brave. You're going to be okay. I won't let anything
happen to you."

Bandar and his dad, were talking. Douglas couldn't understand what they
were saying. All he was thinking was, I hope they have good doctors here.
Because I sure do see a lot of blood.


Robert Charles and Vordkan laid out their sleeping bags in the corner Robert
Charles had built for himself when he was the leader. They zipped them
together and smiled. They would be in them soon. They went back up the
ladder. The Shkah men were looking at the laser guns. Robert Charles
looked the guns over and saw that they were charged.

They went outside and set up some targets. Robert Charles showed them how
to shoot the guns. They took target practice. It didn't take much time for
the Shkah to become good. They were hitting the targets. Of course it
didn't hurt that they were shooting with a steady light that could almost be
swept from side to side and still hit a target.

The last thing Robert Charles did as it got dark was show them were the
"kill" button was.


The Shkah pulled up on the reigns of the unicorns. The boys they had were
struggling and yelling. The follower Shkah caught up to them and helped to
tie and gag them. The three of them rode off to meet the shooter who was
waiting for them at the edge of the forest.

"Did you get him?"

"No. His friend saw me or something and pushed him. I ended up hitting the
friend instead. I had a perfect shot at the bastard too. I'll get a chance

"We'll see. We better get out of here with these guys. We got one of the
younger ones, but the other one got away because his friends were coming.
But we got this bigger one. We have two. Now let's take them to the hiding

They rode off hard through the woods with Ryan and Drew tied up on the their
unicorns. They were heading for a cave up in the hills where they would
wait for the round eared boy to come back with the weapons.


Matthew loved his first day of language lessons. The Hakaan language was
not a difficult one. It's grammar was a lot like English, but the words and
alphabet were very different. Matthew was a very smart boy and was picking
things up fast from his tutor and from Enghar.

He heard a flyer go over the house. He didn't even know they had one that
worked. Enghar looked at him and said something. Matthew understood "hurt
bad." He figured the flyer must be used for emergencies if somebody got
hurt a long way off. What he didn't know was the hospital he had been in
was the the only one in the valley and they needed the flyer to get
emergencies to it.

Matthew wondered who got hurt and how. Not that he would ever know. He and
Enghar went back to work on Matthew's vocabulary lesson. Enghar knew the
flyer wasn't used much, so it must be somebody really hurt bad.


Travis, Drake, and Prekan knocked on the door of the house and yelled.
Honneg answered the door. Prekan told him what happened and he ran to get
his parents. They got right on the phone, calling the mayor's house. There
were no police in the valley because there wasn't any crime. The only
problem were the Shkah and they were given a home on a different valley to
keep them out of everybody's way. Sometimes they raided farms, but since
nobody was ever hurt the Hakaanen didn't go after the Shkah. They were
willing to lose some fruits and vegetables and an animal or two if that
meant not having to fight. The Haakenen hated fighting and the Shkah knew
it, which is why they knew they could do whatever they wanted with impunity.

The mayor's partner answered the phone. He told Honneg's parents what
happened there. They had no doubt that the Shkah were behind this, but this
went way farther than anything they had ever tried before. Both of them
were starting to get frightened. For some reason the Shkah had something
against the round eared boys, and they were going to have to figure out what
to do about the boys, because they didn't want any trouble to start.


The emergency van showed up and two medics got out. They started working on
Scooter to slow down the bleeding. They decided not to take the arrow out
and called the hospital and told them they had an emergency that needed
quick trasnportation to the hospital. The medic on the radio said they
would send the flyer.

Douglas could see that they were worried. He wished he could understand
what everybody was saying. He was scared. Scooter was on the ground with
the arrow in him because he tried to save his life. Douglas would trade his
for Scooter's if he only could. He was willing his friend and lover to

"It's gonna be okay, Scooter. You're gonna be okay," Douglas kept telling
his love over and over.

Suddenly he heard a noise up over him and saw a flyer coming over the house.
Oh shit, he thought, if they have to fly him out it's gotta be really


Mike and Alex had caught glimpses of the Hakaanen man as they chased him
through the brushy field. They saw him reach a unicorn. He got up on it,
sat in the saddle, and rode off. They did notice that his mane was a bright
green, not the usual golden one of the Hakaanen, but they didn't know what
that meant. Disappointed, the walked back to the house just in time to see
the flyer land at the edge of the field.

They saw Scooter being carried on a stretcher with Douglas beside him. They
came up to Douglas as Scooter was being put into the flier.

I love you, Scooter, you're going to be okay. Douglas sent his thoughts to
his love.

It hurts my sweetums. It hurts, Scooter thought back. I love you.

You saved my life. I love you. You're gonna be fine, my love.

I hurt so bad......

Douglas couldn't get any more as Scooter lost consciousness. Douglas went
to get on the flyer after Scooter but was stopped by one of the medics.

"You have to let me go with him!" he cried.

The medic said something in Hakaan. Douglas made a move to go around him,
but he got grabbed by the medic.

"No! No! You don't understand! I LOVE HIM! He needs me."

He tried to get on again, but was shoved aside. He pushed at the medic and
was going to try again when he was grabbed from behind and pulled back.

"Let me go! Let me go! I gotta be with him. They can't split us up. I
gotta go!"

Douglas struggled against Mike, but Mike wouldn't let him go.

"It's gonna be okay, Douglas. He's gonna be okay. Don't make it harder on

Douglas turned around and buried his face in Mike's chest. His sobs shook
his whole body. The flyer took off from the field. Douglas looked up and
watched his best friend and lover disappear from view. Then he put his face
back in Mike's chest and sobbed until all he could do was shake. He had no
more tears left.


Travis didn't know what to do now. He didn't know what was going on and
couldn't understand anybody as they all chattered away in Hakaan. Drake was
upset because his brother was gone and Travis was upset because his Rydawg
was gone. He decided he needed to find Douglas and the group. They needed
a meeting now.

The Hakaanen adults were all jabbering and talking. Travis took Drake's
hand and led him out of the house and down the driveway. He was heading for
the mayor's house because that was where Douglas and Scooter would be.


The Shkah men rode hard into the woods until they figured they weren't going
to be followed. They knew the Hakaanen would probably do nothing for now.
That was the way they were. They were too peaceful to do anything. They
would talk and moan a lot but wouldn't take any action.

They kept the boys tied and gave them some water, but no food. Tomorrow
they would take them up into the hills and to the cave. They would wait
until Arkron came with the round eared boy. What happened to the two round
eared young ones on the ground would be up to him. That would be his test.


Matthew heard the flyer coming back. He hoped whoever was on it wasn't too
badly hurt. Enghar's dad was getting ready to leave. Matthew heard him
talking to Enghar and Enghar's mom. Because it was fast he couldn't make it
all out, but he did understand some of the words. He understood "round
eared" and "hurt" and "attacked."

The doctor went racing out the door. The injured round eared boy was being
sent to him because he was the doctor who fixed Matthew. It was figured he
at least knew something about fixing the round ears.

Matthew wished he could talk the language better. He went to Enghar and
asked, "Round ears?" in Hakaan.

"Round ears?" he asked back.

Matthew pointed up to the sky where the flyer had been. "Round eared boy?"

Enghar hesitated. But if Matthew was asking the question, he thought, he
must have overheard something so he figured he might as well tell. He would
find out soon enough anyway.

"Yes," he said with a nod.

Matthew felt some tears coming up. One of his friends was found and was
hurt. He had to find out who it was. He had to go see him and find out
what had happened to all his friends. He had to let them know that he was
still alive. He started dripping tears, and tried to wipe them away before
Enghar noticed them. But it was too late. Enghar knew his lover's moods,
and could sense the tears even before they fell.

Enghar knew why Matthew was crying. At first he felt jealous. Then he
remembered how much he loved his round eared friend and walked over and gave
him a big hug. Both boys were crying and hugging together. Enghar decided
right then he would find out all he could for his Mattoo and let him see his
round eared friend if everything ended up okay. He knew that he would do
anything for his friend, because loved him more than he thought he could
love anyone.

At the hospital the doctor was looking at Scooter. He was glad he had had a
chance to examine Matthew totally. He compared the x-rays and scans of
Scooter to Matthew's insides.

Scooter had been taken up to the operating room where the doctor and his
nurse met him. He was still bleeding some and the arrow was still in him.
The doctor used the same kind of pain killer that worked on Matthew. With
Matthew he had hoped it would work, but with Scooter he knew it would. He
was feeling much more confident working on Scooter than he did working on
Matthew. And that was good, because with Matthew it was mostly a broken leg
and some injuries to his head that seemed to have healed, along with
malnutrition and dehydration. With Scooter he sensed it might be life or


Douglas was on a couch with Mike and Alex. He was scared for Scooter and
all of them. Not only because Scooter was his love and was hurt, but
because without Scooter they couldn't communicate with the Hakaanen. And
the other thing was, Robert Charles was out there somewhere. He couldn't
help but think Robert Charles was involved in all this, and that was bad
news for all of them. Once again he wished he wasn't the leader. Just
when he thought things were getting good, they suddenly started getting
worse, and everybody was going to be looking to him for answers again. All
he wanted to do was concentrate all his thoughts and efforts on Scooter.
Well, they couldn't get much worse than this, the thought. L:ittle did he
know how wrong that thought would turn out to be.

They heard footsteps at the porch and a knock. Alex answered the door. It
was Travis and Drake, both looking scared and upset. Drake had tear streaks
on his cheeks. They came into the room.

"What's wrong?" Alex asked.

"It was awful, terrible," Travis said, almost out of breath.

"What? What happened? Calm down and tell us."

"They've been kidnapped," Travis said.

"Who's been kidnapped?" Mike asked.

"Both of them. They're gone," Drake yelled.

"Now slow down," Mike said, "and tell us from the beginning. Travis, you

Travis told them about what happened in the driveway, of seeing Ryan and
Drew taken away while Drake was left on the ground by the kidnappers.. By
the time he finished he was out of breath. "We need a meeting of everybody.
Like right now."

"That's two things," Douglas said. "And you're right. We need a meeting."
Douglas didn't want to do anything at all. He wanted somebody else to do
it. He wanted to be with his love. But he was the leader and he knew they
were in danger. They had to meet before something else happened and
somebody else got hurt, or kidnapped, or (he took a deep breath thinking of
it) worse.. He had been wrong to let them be split up, and it was time to
make up for that.


The doctor got the arrow out of Scooter's side. He could tell that Scooter
had lost a lot of blood. He didn't think Hakaanen blood would work for a
transfusion, but he did a blood test on him to be sure.. From what he
could tell his blood was too different from Hakaanen blood. He wondered if
Matthew had the right kind. If he didn't, then he would have to get the
other round ears and see if they did. He didn't think the arrow itself did
any fatal damage. But Scooter would need some blood if we was going to

He left the emergency room and went to the phone and called home.


Mike and Alex went to get the other boys. They were going to meet at
Bandar's house. Bandar understood what was happening and so did his dad.
They went to the kitchen and got some food. It looked like they would be
having a house full of boys.


Enghar told Matthew to come with him. His mom made a call and something
like a taxi came and picked them up. It was a covered two wheeler pulled by
a unicorn. They got in and ended up at the hospital. Matthew's heart was
pounding. He was going to find out who had come in on the flyer. Who it
was who had gotten hurt....or maybe worse, he thought suddenly.

When they got to the hospital he was put into a wheelchair and was pushed
into the emergency area. He recognized it from when he first came in. A
nurse came and cleaned a spot on his finger and pricked it for blood. At
first it surprised him, then he figured out what was going on. Whoever was
hurt needed blood. Maybe his.

The nurse ran the blood to a lab where it was checked. The report went to
the doctor. It looked the same. But what if it wasn't? They didn't know
what the blood was really like. If their blood worked like Hakaanen blood,
then if it was the wrong type it could kill the person getting it.
According to the test it was the same type of blood, but they didn't know
what to look for in it. All he knew was, if the young one didn't get blood
in the next hour or so he would die.


Robert Charles finally got into his sleeping bag. Vordkan got in with him.
They were making out but not kissing. For Robert Charles, that was gay
stuff. Getting off was okay. And for Vordkan the wimps in the big valley
did stuff like that, but getting off was okay. When they got back to their
valley they wouldn't do it again, but here in the desert it was okay.
Robert Charles lay back and let the big Shkah boy have his way with him.
And for Vordkan, doing Robert Charles's butt was just one more way of
showing the round eared boy who the boss was.

Vordkan already knew that when they got back he was the one who was going to
give Robert Charles his test. He figured even before Robbachass knew what
he had to do he should know that whoever owned his ass owned the rest of


The boys were all at the mayor's house. Douglas took a deep breath and got
up in front of them. He'd had some difficult meetings. This was going to
be the most difficult one of all. He always felt whole and complete when
his soulmate was next to him. Now he was standing alone and naked without

"We have a big problem and we all know what it is. Somebody is out to get
us. Alex and Mike both are wondering if Robert Charles is behind this
somehow. It's Hakaanen men. They kidnapped Drew and Ryan and we don't
know why. We think they tried to kill me. Maybe because they know I'm the
leader. And if it's me they're after, maybe Robert Charles IS behind all of
this in some way. Scooter pushed me and took the arrow. He's badly hurt
but still alive. Bandar checked with the hospital. From what I can figure
from him it doesn't look good."

"Why are they doing this?" Stevie asked. "And if they were after you that
means they know you're the leader. And only Robert Charles could know that.
But who are these Hakaanen guys he is with?"

"I don't know. We need Scooter. He knows how to talk to them and I need
him to be my relay to Bandar. Something is going on here that we need to
understand and find out about. They are after us and we don't know why."

"What do we do know?" Travis asked. He was extra worried about Ryan.

"I don't know. The Hakaanen are nice. They have helped us. But they don't
seem to be doing a thing to help us now. It's like they don't care that
we're being attacked. I'm wondering if that was why we got split up, to
make us vulnerable. I'm so sorry I let that happen guys."

"We all voted for it," Mike said. "It's not your fault."

"All I know is, until we figure out what's going on we're sticking
together," Douglas said. "And we're getting Scooter back as soon as we can
if we have to march across the valley to that hospital."

"What about my brother?" Drake asked.

"We have to try to find him and Ryan. Any ideas?"

"I might have one," Jeremy said.


"When I lived on the farm we did a lot of hunting. And I learned from my, friend, how to track animals. Maybe I can help follow their tracks
and find them."

Braden's ears heard the lov, the start of lover. This was something he
didn't know about Jeremy. He knew he played around. But he wasn't his
first lover? He coughed. His asthma was getting worse and he was trying
hard not to show it. But it was getting harder and harder for him to
breathe down here in the valley. He was going to need some meds soon.
Jeremy knew how he was feeling but nobody else did.

"Okay, then tomorrow Jeremy will be with a party to see if he can track down
the kidnappers. It isn't going to be easy if they hit a road. And Jeremy
certainly isn't going alone. Who is going with him? We need two more,"
Douglas said.

All of the hands but Braden's and Jordan's went up. Braden felt
embarrassed. Jeremy knew what was up and gave his lover a big hug. He knew
it was time to tell.

"Braden is having breathing problems, or I know he would go, right love?"

Braden nodded yes and leaned against Jeremy's strong shoulder.

Douglas picked Travis, knowing Travis couldn't stay behind with Ryan gone,
and Mike because he was big, strong, and stubborn.

"I think Alex should go too," Mike said. He smiled at his friend and love.

"I'm leaving Alex in charge," Douglas said.

"Where are you going?"

"With the trackers."

"But...but...what about Scooter? What if he needs you?"

"He needs me right now. And I don't seem to be there, I'm here. I was
elected to lead. Scooter walked in front of me and saved me because of his
love for me. But he also did it because he wants me to lead us. I'm going
to try to get Bandar to understand what we're doing in the morning before we
go. And we will leave markers behind so he can find us if anything happens.
And there is one more thing..."

"What's that?" Alex asked.

"I still sense his love. I know he is alive even if he is hurting. If I
lose that, or feel anything differently before we go I won't go, and I'll
turn back if we have left already."

Mike thought that Douglas was making the wrong choice. Alex should lead the
trackers and Douglas should lead the group. But he also knew how stubborn
Douglas was. And he knew Douglas thought this whole mess was his fault for
letting them get split up, and now he was splitting them up again, right
after saying it wouldn't happen. But he also had no choice. As much as he
thought Douglas was wrong, he also knew he would stand behind him through
anything. He got up, walked up to Douglas and gave him a big hug and a long
deep kiss.

"I love you. We're tired and hurt and confused tonight. Let's make our
final decision in the morning. Let's try to sleep now," Mike said.

"Yeah. Maybe you're right. Bandar has made beds for all of us, even if
some are on the floor. I think they understand we all mean to spend the
night here together. I love all you guys. You're the best anybody could
ever ask to lead. It looks like we have one more challenge, and we will
meet it just like all the rest of them. Let's get to bed."

Drake couldn't stand it any longer. "I want to go. I want to find Drew."

Alex hugged him. "We know you miss your brother. But this is something
older ones need to do." That sounded funny to him just then, calling
himself and older one. "They'll find him. And we'll take good care of

"I don't care. I miss Drew. I want to go...I want to go!" He put his head
on Alex's chest and started bawling.

The boys went into their beds. Tonight Drake would sleep with Alex who
would hug him and cuddle him and make him feel safe and loved.

Jordan was in a bag on the floor. The lights were off. He stared straight
up. If Robert Charles was alive he wanted to be with him. Douglas's speech
was all bullshit. He meant everybody but him. It was time for him to run
away from the group and find Robert Charles. If Matthew was gone then he
needed Robert Charles. It was obvious there was nothing for him here.


Ryan looked over at Drew in the dark. They were tied close to each other
and gagged so they couldn't talk. He could hear Drew sobbing. He scooted
himself close so that Drew could feel him touching him. He wanted Drew to
know he was close to him. He struggled with the ropes, but the knots were
tight. He wished he could help Drew more, and promised himself that the
first chance he got he would see to it that Drew would get free.

Ryan spooned up to Drew, who felt better knowing Ryan was there close to
him. He missed Drake with all his heart. His entire family was gone now.
He felt so alone. He fell asleep feeling a little safer because Ryan was
touching him.

Neither boy knew that if everything went according to the plans of the
Shkah, in three days time they might lose everything, including their lives.


The doctor had taken blood from Matthew. He took all that he dared to. The
round eared boy needed more, he knew, because he was like any mammal. But
Matthew could only give so much. Hopefully what the hurt boy got would be
enough. And even more so, was it the right kind of blood? Did the round
ears have different types like the Hakaanen did? And if he got the wrong
type would it kill him like it would a Hakaanen?

All he knew was, that for now he didn't know the answers. He just knew that
the young one needed the transfusion now. He looked at the bag of blood
hanging over Scooter. He took a deep breath and put the needle into the end
into a vein. The blood started flowing in. What he was doing would either
save the life of his patient or kill him. They would know by the time
morning came.

Matthew was in the next room asleep. He had lost a lot of blood too. He
wondered again who was getting his blood. He was glad he could help, and
hoped that in the morning he could find out who it was. He was in the same
building as one of his lost friends, but he still didn't know who it was.

Douglas was tossing and turning. He was fighting himself, arguing if he
should stay in the morning or go with the trackers. Either way he trusted
Alex or Mike or Travis to lead. The question was, where would he help the
group more? And where would he help Scooter more? He closed his eyes
trying to sense the flow of love and soul from Scooter. He could feel it,
but it was so very very weak and seemed to be fading.

I love you my sweetness. I'm here for you. It's going to be okay. You're
going to be fine. I love you so much."

He closed his eyes and fell asleep, praying he would still feel the link in
the morning.

NEXT: CHAPTER 33 The Search




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