Somerset Farm 

                                                                                        by Jamie Haze

 


Chapter 63

JC and John managed to take the lead in escorting the new students, Bani,
Charlie, Kad, Sidi and Freckles, all of ten feet toward `Homo Hall' before
Freckles, became the guide. While his head moved right and left, looking
around, his tail was erect, bent at the tip in the periscope mode and
scanning the following pack of students. Peter walked by Freckles' shoulder
with a hand casually on the Cat's head or neck and apparently was talking
silently with himself as he alternately laughed and/or nodded at
nothing. It was obvious to those following that Peter was Freckles'
trainer, and very good at his job

As the following mob watched, it seemed that the entire `in' crowd; both
residents of, and guests at the Hall had all acquired the same mental
disability or disease since they were all laughing or occasionally nodding
at nothing as well, and there were no conversations to overhear to explain
the sudden late semester appearance of four new students and one well
trained wild cat who had also been registered as a student somehow,
evidenced by Head Master Smithe's reaction. He was unknown to mumble
obscenities in public and was usually a very affable fellow, unless one was
summoned to his office for some alleged rule infraction that the Dean of
Students couldn't deal with. Dealing with the scions of the very rich was a
very taxing job.

"At last," Freckles commented via mind-speak, "Snoopy lives here on the
second level of this very secure hut."

"That's right," Evan agreed from somewhere, "he's in my room. It's where
Edvard will be when we're on campus, so I imagine that's where you guys
will hang out too," he surmised correctly after Freckles, once inside the
front door, headed up the old restored, sweeping marble staircase in three
bounds.

"WEEE!" Freckles obviously loved the staircase since he could avoid those
annoying little human steps and right angle turns. The second floor
security door clicked and he was inside, sitting in front of the control
room door, which opened within seconds. Two guards boiled out with drawn
weapons, and completely forgot they had them when a great big cat gave them
a most toothy smile before he introduced himself and identified them as if
they might not know their names. He advised them that they could `stand
down', a proper Admiral sounding term, whenever he was on campus as he
would address all security issues when present.

The boys caught up to Freckles in Evan and Billy's room. All the monitors
that comprised most of one wall were on and he was just fluffing the fourth
bed pillow and stacking it atop three others arranged across his paws as a
place to rest his chin as he stared at the monitors from the comfort of the
bed. "Getting ready for a little catnap are we?" Peter asked with a
challenging grin.

Freckles rolled his eyes in Peter's direction, "It just so happens that I
will improve Snoopy's eyes this morning, you very impudent Executive
Assistant and Admiral. You and Edvard should go to your other airport to
get Big Foot and bring him home. You should also visit your honored mother,
and collect all your cloth coverings. There will be a very bad storm in one
day and all aircraft will be grounded."

"How do you know I call my truck Big Foot, and what storm are you
forecasting?" Peter demanded.

Before Freckles could answer, JC asked, "How are you going to improve
Snoopy's eyes? I assume you mean his lens; that would be difficult to do;
Snoopy is over twenty-five miles up."

Freckles answered JC first by explaining that any one sky eye could only be
asked to look at one thing at any one time, meaning that a satellite could
only be focused on a region, area or object to the exclusion of everything
else within his surveillance sphere; Freckles planned to add more facets to
each eye, or lens, to make him more versatile in observing several things
at the same time.

JC could envision the advantages but laughed. "While you are doing that, it
would also be useful if Snoopy could overhear individual conversations, if
desired," he suggested without really believing that Freckles could make
any real improvements to the Snoopy system beyond those he had already put
in place, like amazing extreme close ups and infrared images that appeared
to be taken in daylight; the difference being the presence or absence of
shadows.

Freckles nodded without answering before turning his attention to Peter,
"Snoopy is now friends with other worldwide sky eye networks. They have
been talking and envision the storm in the American northeast while the
American weather watching system insists we should expect only rain. Our
conveyance, or truck has enormous tires or very large feet and four wheel
drive that can be equipped with a devise for pushing snow, we will have
much amusement clearing the paths around Chief Bucky's hut. Chief Bucky
will have fun driving his Mean Green Grading Machine to help."

"In other words, you've been peeking in my mind," Peter accused, "You know
my truck's name and that I also bought a plow. If I hook up the plow and
drive up to Trenton Hall; it damn well better snow or I'll look like an
idiot," he warned. "Will you be alright if Edvard and I leave you, meaning
you promise to stay out of trouble for a couple of hours?"

"These brave warriors will assist you," Sidi volunteered the three Cat
warriors' and Charlie's services to Peter. While they were eager to get to
school, two out of four, Kad and Sidi, were less enthusiastic about
attending classes.

"Oh no you won't," JC contradicted, "you four need to take your placement
tests."

While Charlie and Bani frowned, Kad and Sidi were horrified at the prospect
of taking examinations before either attended their very first ever
class. Sidi protested; "These two brave warriors do not know American
reading and writing, we have never been to school before, that was the
purpose of coming here, to gain knowledge. How can we demonstrate our
knowledge before it is gained?"

"I will assist you two brave warriors," Freckles promised. He collared and
stared into JC's, John's, Peter's, Edvard's, and for good measure Bani's
and Charlie's eyes before pulling in Sidi and Kad in turn to transfer
whatever knowledge the boy's acquired in school to the brave, intelligent
but ignorant warriors, not the least of which was reading and writing
specifically, and other data haphazardly.

Kad and Sidi immediately began quizzing each other, but not about reading
or writing; they questioned the merits of one computer language versus
another in writing code, before switching to math, science, history and
literature. "No fucking way," Charlie protested directly in front of
Freckles, "give Bani and me the same information you gave these two
assholes," he demanded.

Charlie's name calling promptly evoked a rough and tumble in the form of a
tag team wrestling match where assorted curse words were bandied about by
Kad and Sidi, in assorted languages with minimal accents; yet another
unexpected benefit of knowledge transferal. Freckles tail swooped in to
remove Charlie and Bani from the contest; touch their foreheads and stand
them upright after giving each a neck squeeze as a warning not to fight
among themselves. The four left Homo Hall arm in arm, intent on arriving at
Trenton Hall, the Administration building, to take their placement tests,
there was no need to ask directions and they could even picture the printed
examination as well as John and JC's written answers, which they didn't
need since both had already taken or were taking courses relevant to the
questions.

The happy foursome was stopped suddenly by a taller, older boy, "Where are
you pussies from anyway?" He asked using a belligerent tone of voice. The
warriors already each had a hand in their coat pockets and clutched their
blowguns in the event of need. Charlie had already suggested that the
killing darts be replaced with the more diluted form that merely paralyzed
game to keep it fresh until it reached the stew pot. Kad and Sidi stepped
in front of Bani as his bodyguards while Charlie took up a position in
front of them. He was well aware that Cat warriors never engaged in hand to
hand combat as long as they had a weapon that would bring down an enemy
from a distance without fuss or muss and if, in the unlikely event they
should be disarmed they would prefer to die rather than endure the
humiliation of living with defeat.

"What's that to you asshole?" Charlie challenged. Charlie was an
experienced and successful street fighter who only fought if there was no
other way out. When he was forced to fight, he did so to win and used every
advantage available for his diminutive size and baby faced appearance. In
this case, he raised his fists intentionally as a diversion and stepped
closer to his adversary. The unfortunate boy's eyes fixed on Charlie's
fists so he failed to see Charlie's foot connect with his balls, but he
certainly felt it. He dropped to the cold sidewalk and began to wail
something about an unprovoked assault until Sidi beat Kad in sending a dart
into the exposed neck which silenced further accusations.

Noah, dressed in his school uniform, was across the quad and had stopped to
watch the confrontation from the beginning. While he couldn't quite hear
what was said, he noted the four boys' defensive postures and wanted to see
the outcome before he stepped in. He was pleased to see that his
intervention was unnecessary and thanked all gods great and small, for
Freckles' absence or the offensive boy would not have been screaming in
pain, ever again. "What happened guys?" he asked as he ran up to the boys
while the three little warriors were discussing the bully's fate and a
laughing Charlie was agreeing with everything they said.

"He called us pussies; that is untrue," Sidi explained before bursting out
in laughter, "at least not all the time," he added. "Bani thinks we should
nut him as an act of kindness, so he is unable to reproduce future
generations of bullies. I think we should hide the body in some bushes so
he can freeze to death slowly."

"Wait just a fucking minute here, guys," Charlie intervened, "he's my kill,
the rule is; I get to decide. I think we should get him to the infirmary to
sleep his problem off after we warn him that if we so much as see him on
campus being an asshole, ever again, then we make him disappear on some
dark night, without witnesses."

"Can he hear us?" Noah questioned silently.

Charlie shrugged and looked a Bani; he answered in kind; "Oh yes, he will
be paralyzed for eight to twelve hours before he can begin to move and
should almost be up and walking within a day."

Noah nodded, "Charlie's right, there should be no unexplained deaths on
campus, your first day here. David is on his way, we'll get him to the
infirmary, while you guys get to wherever you're going. And please stay out
of trouble," he warned.

Before they left, Sidi bent down to retrieve his precious yellow feathered
dart. He waved it in front of the stricken boy's eyes. "See this," he
asked, "the next time we meet under these circumstances, the last thing you
see will be a flash of red just before you have a fatal heart attack."

Freckles had been idly watching `his' boys on one monitor as they walked
across campus while he pondered Snoopy's lack of multiple vision, when he
saw the brief scene unfold. He immediately cleared all screens and
consolidated them into just one; an extreme close up of Charlie and a
strange, aggressive boy. He could, if he chose to, teach Snoopy to read
lips, but while he could see Charlie's lips clearly; he couldn't see the
boys' and one side of any conversation wouldn't be useful and could have
disastrous consequences. Further, he doubted that he had the ability to
devise some electronic form of surveillance system that could actually
eavesdrop on a conversation.

Freckles used intrusive mind-speak to overhear the last of the conversation
after Noah arrived, through Bani's mind, via his ears. He blinked in
surprise. He already knew that he could communicate somewhat with human
built computers, no matter how unsophisticated; such as an elevator
controller or a door lock so that they were all quasi-sentient and had
developed a special language similar to one the Ancients used to direct
their machines, that he used to make friends of modern human machines. He
wondered if Snoopy, who was the most sophisticated machine he'd dealt with,
could be taught mind-speak; if so, then it would be simple to provide him
with a voice box to relay `overheard' conversations to humans.

His thought process was interrupted when the rooms' printer began its soft
chatter and it started emitting printed sheets, "Not here," he scolded the
printer aloud, "my placement examination is supposed to go to Headmaster
Smithe's office printer." The small machine chirped, perhaps an apology,
and blinked to show its readiness for other work.

"It is well known by humans that talking to oneself is the first sign of a
progressive mental debilitation," Spot observed dryly as a way of saying
good morning to his brother from warm sunny Venezuela.

Freckles snickered in return, "It is also well known that feasting on too
much fish will cause existing blemishes to spread, such as the one on your
nose and soon you will be appropriately named; you will be one great Spot,"
was his prompt retort. Freckles was alluding to the conquest of the fish
stealer's self-contained factory, or mother ship that was the Cat Peoples'
first victory at sea for their less than one day old navy.

#######

When Bani and Freckles on Sea Song, first contacted Spot, the rest of the
Cat Clan, Carb, Marta and Angus, regarding the identity of the fish
processing ship, the positive reply took only seconds, but the Cat Nation's
response required nearly an hour. Everything that floated and had an engine
needed to be assembled, fueled, stocked and warrior marines to be, selected
to fill but not over-fill each boat. Tonga used the simple expedient of
first warriors to arrive at the fuel dock, became marines, and boarded each
boat until Admiral Angus felt that it was adequately staffed before it
moved away to assume its assigned place in the small flotilla idling in the
river.

There was no question that the six newest and youngest full-fledged
warriors; Nip, Tuck, Booger, Athos, Porthos and Aramis would go because
they were the only experienced pilots aside from Tonga and Angus. Since
Tonga and Angus would direct the battle, the six would be paired and drive
the three boats that they were already familiar with; Tonga's and the two
war boats, which were the only three boats equipped with radios. Angus
would command one gunboat, Carb the second and Tonga, with Spot aboard
would bring up the rear of the armada to direct maneuvers generally. Of
course the heavy machine guns on the two war boats were manned by Angus'
band of twelve.

Much to Spot's disgust, he was not allowed to sit on the bow of Tonga's
boat as he planned, because as Tonga pointed out in Tongue; he would
present too tempting a target from the enemy ship. At first, Spot refused
to budge from the bow until he received a warning, a long distance growl
from his sire, Fang, who was already high in his favorite lookout tree at
the river's mouth that was also festooned by all the other Great Cats in
the immediate area. Tonga softened the blow to the eager young Cat's ego by
explaining that his ability to scan minds would be vital after the ship was
captured and boarded because he was sure that some fiends would attempt to
evade capture, and their certain fate, by hiding among the crew and the
unknown number of factory workers held below decks and forced to process
the stolen fish and sea food. The Cat People already knew that the Sea
People, the actual fishermen, were a ready source of free labor and brief
random kidnappings occurred frequently all along the coast. Before
acquiring the gunboats, the Cat People were powerless to defend their
friends and their source of seafood.

Spot read the frustration and rage in Tonga's mind and wrapped his tail
around the Chief's body as a way of consoling him and much to Tonga's and
Spot's surprise, Tonga's Cat's head, Chief's amulet's, emerald eyes glowed
with an intensity never before seen, and suddenly Tonga's mind was
inundated with jumbled words from unknown mind-speakers. Spot frowned
hideously and removed his tail only to see the eyes dim. Another touch and
they brightened again.

"Quickly," Spot demanded, "Give this Cat your communicator. This Cat
believes it is malfunctioning; this Cat will investigate and complete
repairs."

Tonga understood Spot's mental words clearly until he offered the heavy
pendant to the Great Cat's tail and physical contact was broken. "Could it
be that this symbol was the problem for all these years?" Tonga wondered
aloud.

Spot nodded since Tonga couldn't `hear' his answer. He placed the artifact
face down on a seat and stared at the tightly packed micro-fine gold
wiring, the circuitry, that Tonga and previous unnumbered generations of
Chiefs thought of as merely backing. Booger's little head intruded in
Spot's view briefly before Spot pushed him rudely away. It was Tuck's turn
at the wheel so thus rebuffed, he had nothing to do. The fleet was still in
the river but moving at maximum speed and he wouldn't change places with
Tuck until they were halfway to the enemy ship. The ten warriors onboard
were all intently watching Spot from a respectful distance so Booger
decided he would enjoy a bottle of ice cold water stored in a large cooler
in the stern.

########

Squeak's mother burst into the room in the Community Center where Marta was
seated in front of the snoopy monitor and keyboard. "Has anyone seen
Squeak?" she asked hopefully, "He went missing just after the call to arms
and all warriors hurried to the fuel dock. I just looked away for a
moment," she added weakly.

Marta smiled knowingly and pointed out the window to a view of the river
and the rapidly passing Cat People's Navy, "If I was to wager, I would
venture that he is there. Should I ask Spot, Angus and Carb to search their
boats?"

"I think not," the mother sighed in resignation, "if he was ingenious
enough to get on one of those boats and he was discovered now, he would
never forgive me for preventing him the chance to become a warrior."

#########

While Booger's attention remained enviously on the backs of the taller,
older warriors, he opened the cooler and absently began to fish for a
bottle when one was thrust into his hand and the lid was pulled from his
other hand and closed by itself! Booger grinned, glanced forward again to
see that no one noticed how cooperative the cooler was, before he turned it
completely around so when opened again, no one looking back could see the
contents; only the top of the lid.

"Ouch, what are you doing out there?" The cooler asked in a younger,
higher, muted voice.

"Shut up or you will be discovered and dumped on the dock in front of our
new Community Center. We are still in the river." Booger hissed in a reply
that was masked by the roaring engine. At that moment Booger joined the
stowaway in conspiring to help the far younger boy become a warrior, at
least to give him a chance. Booger opened the cooler after looking to see
that he wasn't being watched and immediately ducked down below the height
of the cooler lid so he could giggle without being seen. "Squeak, your
brother and his friends will beat the shit from me if we are caught," he
warned.

Squeak shrugged, "Quick, serve all the warriors and Chief Tonga water so
they do not come back here," he instructed hurriedly from amid bottles and
ice cubes taken with permission from Tara's hut.

Neither boy noticed that the tip of Spot's tail lifted from its repair task
to seemingly look all around before returning to work. The Cat warriors
would someday discover that Great Cats had even more superior hearing than
they did. Meanwhile the boy called Squeak just acquired another
conspirator, who thought hiding in an icebox a very good but perhaps very
uncomfortable joke.

Booger was most solicitous in serving Chief Tonga and his brother warriors
and quickly used a combination of signing and eye blinks to appraise Tuck
of the presence of a wannabe warrior hiding in the depleted contents of the
ice chest. Even this `conversation' was brief, and carefully masked by
Booger's back to the other warriors. Of course Tuck just had to see for
himself, so he loudly expressed his overwhelming need to take a piss, which
the new warriors and pilots discovered early on, was always done on
powerboats, with their dicks pointed downwind.

When Tuck returned to his post from the stern of the fast moving boat, he
was bursting with laughter as he blinked and signed his observations; "He
used paste for warmth, and it is beginning to wash off and turn the water
to foam, if we are unable to engage the enemy within an hour, that box
could explode! That will be a very good show!"

The boys' mutual laughter was interrupted and masked by Tonga's scream,
"CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?" both out loud and via mind-speak as Spot returned
his repaired amulet to its proper place; around Tonga's neck. The warriors
couldn't hear the other mind-speaker's responses but they saw Spot use his
tail to lift their Chief off his feet and give him a hearty shake.

It didn't take an hour for the flotilla to reach the slow moving mother
ship. It was apparent that they were observed because the huge lumbering
boat attempted to flee. The first thing they did was to cut the two strings
of five smaller tender boats free before they increased speed. Tonga
climbed to the cabin roof to frantically sign that four of his boats should
end the chase and capture the drifting tenders. He planned to gift these
boats to the first ten coastal Sea People villages. Next he sent
excessively loud mental orders for the two gunboats to approach from the
stern, peel off right and left (Or starboard and port, Angus helpfully
interjected.) and open fire at anything that might be a weapon that was
pointed in their direction. Meanwhile, he and his warriors would approach
the stern, the lowest point where there were ladders attached for ease of
boarding the tenders and where booms extended to load each stolen catch.

The defending fiends thought they were safe behind solid steel, chest high
bulwarks that protected each exposed weather deck, and badly underestimated
the marksmanship of the naked savages using what were assumed to be,
outdated weapons of questionable accuracy. As far as the Cat warriors were
concerned, picking off fiends who only exposed enough head to see to fire,
was much like killing half yellow melons at their practice range. The heavy
machine guns were used judiciously in short bursts only because no one
wanted to damage the ship more than necessary since it was to shortly join
the Cat People's navy. There was also the problem of eventual cleanup, if
no fiends survived to accomplish that nasty task before they joined their
fellows in the afterlife.

As planned or rather hoped, the fiends rushed forward along the decks,
keeping abreast of the two gunboats. This left the stern undefended,
exposed and ready for the advance boarding party: Tonga and his boat load
of warriors. Of course Tonga took the lead and was first to jump to the
fixed catwalk that was just above the boiling wake of the moving ship. Tuck
and Booger were left behind to man the docking lines and protect their
command from counterattack, so they found themselves alone with Spot.

Spot was supposed to stay on board and out of sight; an order he chose to
misunderstand, until the ship was thought to be secured so he waited until
Tonga and the warriors were out of his sight before he deftly plucked
Tuck's nice new .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle from his grasp along with
the bandoleer of ammunition clips from his shoulders. He stepped aft,
placed the borrowed weapon aside and popped open the cooler.

Tuck was correct in predicting that the paste foam would build up some
pressure. It boiled out of the box to almost cover half the deck and a
small ghostly apparition suddenly appeared that paused after standing to
paw the foam away from its eyes.

Squeak squeaked when he saw Spot peering down on him but quickly
recovered. He thanked the Great Cat for releasing the cooler's latches,
then turned a venomous stare towards Tuck, who studied the sky most
innocently. "My belt is hidden in the bag of yellow melons," he advised
Spot imperiously, "hurry or we won't get a kill," he ordered.

The foam dissipated quickly in sunlight and Spot dutifully found the little
boy's belt, pouch, knife and blowgun but allowed Squeak to equip himself
before he added the ammo bandoleer over the boy's shoulders and presented
him with Tuck's weapon. Thus warrior equipped, Squeak ran forward and began
to scramble in his little boy way up to the cabin roof and hence to the
bow. Here Spot assisted without being asked or ordered since their goals
were the same.

Spot wrapped his tail firmly around Squeak's torso and leaped directly to
the bow. Their boat was tethered to the ship by two straining lines since
the ship was still underway and had been allowed to drop back about twenty
feet to reduce strain. The distance to jump was questionable to Squeak; but
he was intent on trying, although he knew that failure meant certain death
in the churning propeller wake. Tuck engaged the engine to move the bow
closer but he didn't have time. Spot leaped for the protective gunwale with
the boy clutched firmly in his tail although neither could see who might be
hidden behind the barrier.

Fortunately Spot landed deftly with all four paws on the wide steel, scared
and dented rail, which was a very good thing since there was no real deck
below them where they landed, it was a wide gaping maw; a steep chute that
fed directly into the heart of the ship. It was obvious to both boy and Cat
that the chute was a way to load fish in quantity into the processing
portion of the ship.

"All the easy targets have run forward or inside and closed the metal
barriers," Squeak observed, "But there might be some fiends hiding down in
that hole and I don't hear any gun fire coming from there. Should we enter
that way?" He asked the silent Great Cat while suspended over the Cat's
head as four eyes and one tail tip assessed their surroundings.

Spot agreed with Squeak after he heard his little weapon chamber a round
with a solid snick. He jumped to begin the brief wild ride while Squeak
provided the voice; "WEEE!" he sang despite the danger, as the duo
disappeared in unknown darkness.

Spot actually stumbled at the end of the funnel shaped chute because slick
steel changed to some strange black composite material that was perfectly
flat, wide enough for a mature Great Cat to walk, that stretched off in the
distance like a very handy path that would facilitate their movement into
the very bowels of the fish stealer's ship.

Obviously no Great Cat or Cat warrior had ever seen or heard of a conveyor
belt, functioning or not. The strange area in which they found themselves
was not completely dark; there were regularly spaced lights on both sides
of the path and they could see smaller paths that paralleled the one on
which Spot cautiously trod. These were at a slightly lower level and
separated by continuous, and no doubt, slippery, sloping, gleaming metal.

Since Spot still held Squeak in his tail and needed his tail to see from
the advantage of height, the boy enjoyed a wild ride as the Cat scanned the
area for evil fiends in hiding before Spot took a deep breath and calmed
down. "Do you know Great Cat Spot, that if these lights were put out, we
could see the enemy quite clearly, but with no windows they could not see
us?" Squeak questioned in a whisper.

Spot froze in mid-step, lowered Squeak and turned him around until the two
were eye to eye but Squeak was still suspended so Spot bumped foreheads,
rubbed noses and then really stared into the boys' eyes; "This Cat was
thinking the very same thing," he said clearly in the little boys' mind.

Squeak responded in kind, "If that is so, why don't you do it; shut off the
lights!" he demanded, nonplussed by the revelation that he could mind-speak
a Great Cat. He dearly wanted to get on with the business of becoming a
full Cat warrior and they were wasting time and loosing kills.

Spot searched ahead with his eyes for the light control and put them in
total darkness with a blink when he interrupted the warmest electrical
circuit. He wasn't sure he could do it but had learned how, tentatively,
from his brother Freckles' conversations with the Sea Song boat's inner
workings. He put Squeak down briefly, to rearrange his tail on the boy's
body, so when the boy was hoisted aloft again, his all-important tail tip
was positioned over Squeak's head from back to front so the tip ended just
above the boy's forehead. The boy saw what the Cat saw with that
arrangement and the tip even became a telephoto night sight for Squeak's
little rifle. They had become a symbiotic team!

They encountered the first two evil fiends beyond a closed hatch, as the
two nervously stood guard outside another hatch in a brightly lit
companionway. Spot used a paw to move the locking dogs and pull open the
barrier just wide enough to insert Squeak and his ready rifle. The first
guard looked their way, saw a little boy suspended in air and after a
popping sound, managed to acquire a small red blemish in the middle of his
forehead before he fell. The second guard took one look at the strange
Cat-boy combination that closely resembled a giant scorpion with the
stinger held directly over its head that was approaching fast. The fiend
forgot he was well armed and began to run away. Spot brought him down with
a leaping push and ended his fears with a single chomp on the back of the
enemy neck and two rakes from his claws across deceased's back for good
measure.

Great Cat and boy looked through the closed and locked hatch the fiends had
been guarding and saw that it was the dormitory and living area where all
the enslaved factory workers were kept. It was obvious from the jumbled
voices that the workers had heard some of the heaviest gunfire, but they
decided that while the battle raged, these Sea People were safer inside
their quarters since they were not warriors. And, bringing a hundred filet
knives to a gun, tooth and claw fight would not be all that useful.

The impossible duo cleared the factory level and the next highest level
where the crew quarters were located, and those off duty were also locked
safely away. The fiends either died by fatal confrontation or ran from
fear, as the rumor of a vicious monster aboard, spread among the
superstitious Hispanic fiends who fled to the higher decks in terror. These
fiends were relatively safe as long as they remained inside but while a few
sought the protection of the bridge and their supposed superiors, the
majority thought it prudent to abandon ship in the lifeboats and
rafts. These found themselves in harm's way between fire from the gunboats
and Tonga and his band of warriors on the decks.

All firing ceased when the attackers on board first encountered fiends
directly. The gunboats couldn't fire and the onboard Cat warriors slung
their firearms in favor of firing darts at those fiends who remained even
slightly belligerent. Others who dropped their weapons and prostrated
themselves became prisoners, after Tonga continually reminded his warriors
of the need for a cleanup crew. He would later discover he had superior
foresight in this regard.

Tonga remained unaware of the carnage Spot wreaked below decks as he got in
the habit ensuring that none of Squeak's kills returned to life by using
his teeth or claws or sometimes both, in artful (he thought)
combination. He assured Squeak, that he would be credited properly for his
kills because Spot was judicious in avoiding .22 caliber head wounds and he
was the only warrior aboard using a rifle in that caliber, while all the
other warriors used heavier rounds, so they would all have to share their
kills.

Tonga and his warriors looked forward to the last battle with the officers
and crew that remained on the bridge and as they entered from the port and
starboard wing deck doors, they froze in astonishment. They were greeted by
Spot's enormous toothy smile and little Squeak's giggles. While Spot was
covered with blood, Squeak was perfectly clean, although still tinged with
blue since he had remained in the clutch of the Great Cat's tail and had
been held well above the carnage.

Squeak had regained his feet and was negligently pointing his weapon at ten
vanquished fiends who had been made to stand upright on their knees with
their hands clasped firmly behind their heads (Curtsey of a DVD, possibly
starring John Wayne, the Black warrior, Squeak had watched, where enemy
prisoners were held in that uncomfortable posture.) amid a deck awash with
blood provided by three very dead fiends; two with un-mutilated heads and
the third, Spot's last kill, was unrecognizable as human. The duo was ably
assisted by three men armed with fiends' weapons that Spot had scanned and
found to be impressed against their will as officers to actually navigate
and manage the ship's movements.

One very foolish fiend thought to protest their capture by pointing out the
ships' Panamanian registry and their position in international waters. He
continued his harangue in Spanish with growing confidence, which all
listened to politely but no one understood since Angus hadn't come aboard
yet and the three former captives understood Spanish but of course couldn't
speak Tongue. His speech ended suddenly when he attempted to stand up,
emboldened by the warriors' silence. He received eleven darts about his
face, one small caliber bullet just to the right of center in his forehead
and three more fired into his person randomly from the three freed sailors.

"That shot does not count," Spot scolded Squeak in mind-speak, "it was way
off center."

"These warrior's darts made his head jerk," Squeak protested in both Tongue
and mind-speak.

"Spot, or someone," Admiral Angus interrupted from his Flagship gunboat,
"shut the fuckin' ships' drive down so's we can board," he demanded.

"Should the engines start again?" Spot queried Angus.

"You silly kitty, of course they will be needed to move the ship again! Is
it a rough an' tumble you're askin' for?" Angus shot back in response.

"This Cat was just asking," Spot returned, "there is no need for threats,
which you would lose very badly."

"I think we should not disable the ice cube rooms where all the fish are
stored, they smell delicious," Squeak suggested and rubbed his tummy. Spot
agreed absently and set about making friends with the ships' `inner
workings' exactly as his brother had done on Sea Song boat. Soon, the
propellers stopped and the engine sounds dropped to idle.

Marta had been listening to the mind-speak from afar with a growing smile,
"Squeak, is that you, you naughty boy?" She asked with laughter in her
voice. While Squeak was adept at mind-speak without the aid of a
communicator, it was obvious he hadn't learned control, so he was
broadcasting all his thoughts to everyone, including Marta on shore.

"Marta, honored mate of Chief Tonga and honored mother of Tara Bani; is
that you?" Squeak thought some serious ass kissing was in order as he
backed to between Spot's front legs seeking Great Cat protection and peeked
out looking for Marta to appear, quite possibly accompanied by his angry
mother. He'd spent hours hiding in the ice chest and didn't know who was on
board the other boats.

"Yes, do you know that your mother is very upset with you? She asks if you
know what a hot seat is." Marta asked.

Squeak looked way up at Spot's chin, he whispered and unknowingly sent,
"Can a mother spank such a brave Cat warrior? She no longer spanks my
warrior brother who only has three kills; she throws things, but she is
very slow and inaccurate, so I would prefer that punishment."

Spot snickered in Squeak's mind, "You should not ask that of this Great
Cat; this Cat's honored parent cannot throw things but he is very free with
his huge paws whenever he becomes upset with a son."

Just then Angus burst onto the grisly scene and with a Spanish speaker on
board, soon had the captive fiends hard at work removing and dumping bodies
and scrubbing decks and bulkheads wherever there was a trace of red. Below
decks, the carnage was horrific and even the hardened evil fiends tossed
their cookies until they were made to clean up those messes too. Angus
released the crew and made them the offer of freedom ashore or staying
aboard to be free and to work for generous wages, while Tonga made the same
offer to the captive Sea People. All, crew or factory workers, could move
into newly vacated cabins or occupy many others that had remained
unoccupied and used only by the fiends for storage of personal wealth. Of
course whatever was found in any cabin became the property of the new
occupants including long guns and side arms to be used in the event of need
if the previous owners took umbrage at the loss of a profit center, and
attempted to reclaim their property. The large rooms used as holding pens
had actually been intended as lounges so these would be restored as soon as
the ship reached JC's docks in Columbia, and the packed freezers could be
emptied and the catch sold around the world to JC's established
customers. Profits, after expenses, would be shared among the Sea People's
villages. There was one last bit of work required of the factory workers;
they were given the task of disposing of the surviving fiends as they saw
fit, after the entire ship was returned to its original pristine condition.

During Angus' tour of the facilities and accommodations, he discovered that
the seafood processing areas were state of the art, that nothing was
wasted, nothing was tossed overboard as garbage including offal; guts,
heads, tails, shells, etc. The freed Sea People men and boys led their
naked charges into the factory area. The fiends went willingly. They
thought it would be a case of role reversal; they would be the slaves and
work at processing the fish and be supervised by the Sea People that would
include beatings with bamboo sticks if they were deemed too slow, or just
for amusement, but at least they were alive.

One and all began to hesitate and rethink their futures when they were led
into a side area where the lights were up and the conveyor belt from the
processing room was moving up toward the single hatch at the top of a
tank-like structure with nothing on it. The Cat warriors, Angus and Spot
were puzzled by the machine's purpose until the first fiend had his throat
cut and he was placed on the belt feet first while still alive. He was
whisked to the top of the machine and expelled into the hatch. The
machines' high pitched whine changed suddenly as it encountered the body.

"This machine for chopping no good fish parts into small pieces," the
laughing Head Man of the Sea People explained, "from there it goes in pipe
to cooker for very long time. From cooker, it is ground very fine like
stew, dried very fast and comes out in bag room. Very good animal feed," he
assured his audience.

"That's a bloody meat grinder," Angus declared when he realized what he was
being told in halting Tongue.

Of course the fiends rebelled at seeing one of their number used for
demonstration purposes, but were overwhelmed by numbers and flashing filet
knives and were actually professionally dismembered to ease the strain on
the grinder motor, the Head Man explained proudly.

"Remind me never to upset the Sea People," Angus whispered to Tonga, who
agreed with several enthusiastic nods of his head.

The room, the Sea People and the machine were quickly but carefully
sanitized. "You need a bath while that hose is in use," Squeak told Spot,
"This brave Cat warrior will wash you," he promised and fished out his
small jar of paste and then removed his warrior regalia, which he blithely
presented to Tonga to hold in safekeeping.

Until then the Sea People had maintained their distance from the legendary
Great Cat although they recognized him as a friend and ally of the fearsome
Cat People. Squeak ordered Spot to lie down and stretch out for ease of
washing and they whispered among themselves when Spot complied with the
little boys' commands. Squeak took charge of the hose and had great fun
wetting Spot and anyone else who didn't appear to be paying attention until
Angus claimed the hose after he was soaked by the laughing boy.

Squeak had just started to work up a billowing lather on Spot's head when
he paused to invite the Sea People to help. By then Spot was purring and
smiling brightly which included most of his teeth. None of the Sea People
were interested in being the main course of evening food until Squeak
explained the tilt of a Great Cat's ears, forward was a smile, but back
meant a frown and flat back meant something was in danger of dying a
horrible death. Some of the younger Sea People boys decided to help by
washing Spot's back half that they thought safer while Squeak asked for a
brush to clean Spot's teeth since they were fully exposed.

"Do you know you should rinse your mouth between kills?" Squeak asked
innocently, "You have very bad fiend breath," he assured and held his nose.

That comment was cause for a rough and tumble as far as Spot was
concerned. By then he had all but disappeared in billowing suds along with
the boys washing his pelt. Spot rose to his paws, shook his body free of
suds and swept all of Squeak's helpers along with Squeak, off their feet
with his tail in one fluid motion. "You dare to call this Great Cat, fiend
breath? This Great Cat will introduce you to tickle torture learned from
white warrior friends for that insult," Spot promised Squeak after he
separated the littlest, youngest boy from the pile of wreathing older boys.

Paste was already beginning to affect the boys pleasurably while they
washed Spot, but intimate body contact with friends and a busy Cat tail
completed the process and they quickly lost interest in being tickled while
buried in potent paste foam and no one could see what they were doing. "It
appears that the Sea People are unused to paste," Squeak sent to everyone
through his laughing screams of delight at being molested by a Great
Cat. "As the news spreads among them, paste will become very good for
trading," he observed.

"We best get out of here while we can," Angus said to Tonga, "We'll set a
course for home and tonight, have a fish fry for evening food. Let's leave
our friends here some paste to enjoy their freedom; I'm more than certain
that Spot will teach them how to use it while he keeps our newest and
youngest warrior safe from harm. And both deserve a reward for their help
during the fight."

########

Headmaster Smithe entered the testing room unexpectedly and was very
pleased to see that the four boys were well separated and busy pondering
their examinations. The school's honor system had been explained to them
and they were following the rule to the letter, at least so far as they
understood the policy. Kad, Sidi and Charlie only used mind-speak for
spelling questions of Bani, if newly acquired word images weren't quite
clear in ones' mind. That didn't seem like cheating since they weren't
asking for answers to questions. Bani finally blocked them after explaining
that there should be differences between their tests and spelling errors
wouldn't affect the correct answers.

"Excuse me for interrupting Lord Bani," Headmaster Smithe loved titles,
"Mr. Springfield (Charlie) and Misters Katz; I wonder if any of you might
know anything about this entrance examination that arrived a minute ago on
my fax machine?" Headmaster asked, and showed them the first page of the
exam which was just a title block that included the name and address of the
student author.

The three Cat warriors only glanced at the document before a flurry of
mind-speak was exchanged. "What is a fax machine, Sir?" the Katz brothers
asked together to stall in the hope of giving Bani time to think up a
plausible answer.

Mr. Smithe was an educator, first and foremost; he couldn't resist
answering a question, asked most respectfully by two innocent students,
newly arrived from the jungles of Venezuela, so he took the bait and
lurched off into an explanation of facsimile machines as he understood
them, which wasn't much so a good deal of repetition was in order.

"Freckles," Bani sent, "what did you do? How did you get a copy of our
first examination, and how did you manage to write answers to the
questions? You even had the nerve to send this document to Mr. Smithe's
office! He is with us now and he asks these questions."

Freckles replied; "I saw the examination and answers in Love's mind. Do you
know that, that Master of Machines cannot forget anything he sees or hears?
He is a most clever human." He assured Bani happily.

"You used John's exact writing? That will be discovered as cheating!" Bani
was clearly exasperated.

"Of course I did not use Love's human writing. That would be cheating; I
merely converted his human words to the Ancient's Tongue and replied in
their way. Headmaster Smithe will never know the answers are the same. Now
you must finish your examination while I work with Snoopy to improve his
hearing, I cannot be disturbed unless there is danger. Spock out!"

"You watch too much television!" Bani hoped for the last word.

"Beam me up Scotty!" Freckles returned with a mind snicker.

"Well Sir, the name on that examination," Bani began, "appears to be
Freckles Katz's chop, or, I should say it is the symbol that all Great
Cats, a very rare species of Jaguars use to represent their names." The
chop or signature was the body of a cat in profile with all four legs and
paws, the tail held erect with the tip bent forward. The head was shown
full face with ears up, slanted eyes and over-sized incisors. The whole was
sprinkled with dots to represent typical spots.

When Bani saw Mr. Smithe frown at the pictograph, he hastened to add; "No
one has ever seen a Great Cat write, but obviously they can or someone does
it for them, because that symbol appears on several ancient structures in
our lands."

"That all sounds good so far," Charlie sent as some encouragement.

Mr. Smith offered the first page to Bani to inspect more closely, "I see,
and what of the address, do you recognize that?"

Bani was stunned, the address Freckles wrote or drew were the same glyphs
carved in stone over the portal into Cat Place, which was really the main
entrance into Cat City. He answered honestly, "This appears one time that I
know of, over the entrance to a huge cave. Perhaps this cave is the place
that Great Cat's consider to be the home of their species," he ventured
with a perplexed look. "We think that at one time there was an ancient
civilization that flourished in our lands but disappeared somehow much like
the Mayans or the Incas. The Cats obviously didn't do the carvings
themselves. That is the only explanation we, the Cat People, can think of."
Bani continued to hold his breath.

"Yes, I see," Mr. Smith seemed to agree just before he revealed the second
page of the mysterious exam. "I have just one more question. Have you any
idea who wrote these answers in the here and now?"

The true and false and multiple choice questions were answered with an `X'
in the appropriate, and Bani hoped, the correct boxes, but the answers that
required writing were all a finely drawn series of detailed
pictographs. "Blame Peter," Sidi suggested silently.

"Yes," Kad agreed with a giggle, "that will be a very good joke when he
tries to explain his knowledge of the Ancient's Tongue."

Bani was at a loss for an alternate explanation, so he did as Sidi
suggested. He explained Peter as Freckles' Executive Assistant, who had a
great facility for ancient languages and was a scholar who specialized in
those writings and had mastered both reading and writing using Ancient
glyphs. He did not mention the difference between ancient and Ancient with
a capital `A'. He went just a bit further by saying he did not know how
Peter and Freckles communicated, but apparently they could and did,
evidenced by the completed exam since Freckles couldn't write; another
handicap for those not having thumbs. He suggested that Mr. Smithe might
ask Peter to read any of Freckles' answers that Mr. Smithe couldn't
decipher himself.

"I cannot believe that you threw my personal Executive Assistant under the
wheels of my very own Cat Mobile," Freckles intruded into the
conversation. "Now I must teach him the Ancient Tongue and writing before
Headmaster Smithe summons us to his office to read my answers."

"Well fuck you, Mr. Freckles Katz," Bani raged back silently, "you could
have avoided the coming confrontation by not submitting this fucking test!"

"Do you know you said two `f' bombs in the same sentence? You, you potty
mouth you!" Freckles returned meekly and ceased further communication.

"EAVESDROPPER!" Bani accused.

The first morning, for the new boys at least, was consumed by placement
testing and since the test, evaluations and class assignments would require
the rest of the day, the boys were told that they could spend the afternoon
in the schools' field house learning basketball or hockey or individual
sports such as tennis or they might visit the pool. First however, it was
lunch time and food for Freckles was something that everyone forgot about
-- everyone that is, except Freckles.

Freckles, Peter and Edvard arrived in the dining room early, before the mob
of students. The kitchen staff, like all other non-students on campus had
heard about Freckles, who someone had registered as a student, no doubt as
an expensive practical joke, but didn't really expect to see him actually
partake of all the benefits such as eating lunch or any other meals in the
dining room. Peter rushed ahead to view the noon buffet and was relieved to
see that the bill-o-faire included fried fish or chicken sandwiches served
on long soft buns. Both perfect for Freckles to begin demonstrating the use
of his versatile tail.

All activity in the kitchen ceased when Freckles first appeared in the
dining room as everyone was interested in getting a glimpse of the huge
well-trained cat by peering through the pass-through or pushing open the
swinging doors. Freckles noticed the swinging doors and thought them an
excellent human invention and simply had the try them out. When the workers
saw him approaching, they allowed the doors to close, but then they
couldn't see where he was, or what he was doing, so one brave soul pushed
one side open and peeked out. Freckles pushed back with his head and peeked
in, very careful not to frown or smile since newly encountered humans
couldn't tell the difference. The man giggled and tried the other door and
of course met the Cat, nose to nose in the middle of the opening. The man
fell backward in surprise as Freckles advanced on him, righted him and used
his tail to dust him off indiscriminately, meaning he was tickled.

"Freckles," Peter called aloud from the dining room, "leave those people
alone or you won't have lunch. Tell me where you want to sit and I'll try
to find you a heavy chair!"

Meanwhile, Freckles had seated himself in the kitchen just inside the
doors, which he kept in constant motion by batting them alternately while
he assessed the sights, sounds, humans and the all-important smells. He
also made friends with the kitchens' machines like the computer controlled
deep fryers, that raised and lowered baskets of food without human
assistance, and assorted thermostats. "This room smells delicious and all
the humans are very nice too," Freckles answered Peter silently.

The man Freckles befriended, timed his exit into the dining room carefully
in sync with their constant swinging. "Hi there young man, I'm Sam, I'm
just a line cook, but I've worked here thirty years and kind of run the
kitchen while the Executive Chef sits safely in his office, if he knows
what's good for him," the man introduced himself to Peter and Edvard. "Can
that cat really sit in a chair to eat?"

"Oh yes he can, if we can find one big enough and sturdy enough to hold
about five hundred pounds and counting," Peter assured Sam after
introductions.

Sam thought for a moment and snapped his fingers, "I've got just the
ticket. Clear a space at any table you like and I'll be right back." Sam
spun on his heel and crashed into the cat under discussion who was sitting
directly behind him. Sam laughed and backed out of reach after a quick
mental warning from Peter to Freckles to allow Sam to go if he wanted a
chair to sit on.

Freckles sniffed the air before deciding on one specific table and one
chair by the windows, facing the room. "This is where Chief Bucky always
sat; no Chief worth living would ever sit with his back to a room full of
other joke players," he told Peter and Edvard out loud with a snicker.

"You mean practical jokers," Peter corrected.

Freckles rolled his eyes, "That is what I said."

Sam soon returned leading four of his helpers, carrying a chair that was
almost as ornately carved as the one Doug appropriated for Freckles' use in
Bucky's hut.

Sam answered the obvious question before it could be asked, "This came
directly from the chapel; it will never be missed; no one ever goes in
there and the Chaplin has another if he wants to sit down while he talks to
himself."

Sam elaborated when he saw the two trainers frown. The school was always
non-denominational from the day it was founded in the mid-1800, and to
attract the widest range of students, the first administrators made the
mistake of not making chapel compulsory. The first students, left with
options, decided that since they all belonged to one denomination or
another, they clearly weren't heathens, and attending church was optional
for the first time ever; they would leave worship in the school chapel to
any so called `non-denoms' who showed up and professed that strange
faith. He laughed as he concluded that the joke had been ongoing from
generation to generation and succeeding administrators still hadn't caught
on.

Sam blinked and laughed when he noticed the chairs' placement, "You know
Bucky Number Three always sat there? Number Four sits anywhere but he's got
a dozen or so bodyguards to watch his back," he assured. He laughed harder
when he thought of something. "You know what Number Three and his merry
band of henchmen did to the Headmaster one time, just before he was
discovered as being a man with a taste for the grape," he winked, "if you
know what I mean."

Freckles looked to Peter, "I think he means the guy was a drunk and
probably drank wine in his office," Peter answered silently.

"If this guy stayed on campus for dinner, he had us deliver a tray, which
meant he was too drunk to drive and would be staying all night. The little
lords had been planning this for months I guess. I gave Bucky a nod when I
returned here with my tray and they went into action around midnight. One
of those telescopic cranes pulled in behind Trenton Hall where the
employees park. The Head, the Dean and all the other bosses have offices in
front and the building was empty except for the dead drunk Headmaster. The
crane and some workmen hoisted the single remaining car up to the roof and
cabled it fast to some eyebolts that had been attached to a couple of
chimneys about two weeks earlier," he winked at Freckles, who was listening
intently. He frowned slightly when Freckles winked back.

"It seems a roofing company showed up to do some warranty work about then,
and since there wouldn't be any charge for the work, they were allowed to
proceed. Not one of the idiots in that building questioned a warranty still
in effect on a 150 year old slate roof. That's what I meant about advance
planning." Just then the bell in the clock tower struck the three-quarter
hour.

Sam glanced at his watch, "Shit, I've got to get back to work, what does
the cat like to eat, or what will he eat? I've got fifteen minutes before
the hungry horde arrives."

"His name is Freckles and he'll eat just about anything. Today he has his
eyes and nose on those fried chicken breast and fish filet sandwiches,
maybe a dozen of each?" Peter stopped to look at Freckles, who was standing
at the windows looking at the Trenton Hall roof. He made the small mistake
of asking aloud, "With or without all the trimmings?"

Preoccupied, Freckles answered in kind, "All the trimmings please, except
feathers; I do not care for feathers."

Sam turned pale and was suitably shocked, "I thought he understood what I
was saying somehow, but how is it that he can talk?"

Freckles answered, "I am a Great Cat named Freckles Katz. I listen and
understand everything; but I only speak to friends."

Sam grinned slightly as the import of that message sank in; Freckles the
Great Cat had accepted him as a friend. Freckles leaped into his chair, as
usual, from the rear, over the chair back. He frowned at the aluminum
serving tray placed before him. "Do you have a platter, even the breaking
kind?" he frowned at the offending tray.

"Nope, no serving platters that big, but we have a vault full of sliver,
that we break out for special occasions to impress parents or when the
trustees meet. Would antique sterling silver be acceptable to his majesty?"
Sam dared to joke despite the toothy frown until Freckles switched to a
radiant smile and Peter hurried to explain that the difference between the
two expressions was the tilt of the Great Cat's ears and added that his
frowns weren't to be taken seriously anyway -- if witnesses were about.

When the clock tower struck twelve the `hungry hordes' began to flood into
the room and while most stared from the rapidly moving buffet lines, a few
of the most enterprising or brave rushed to the table where Freckles sat
and tipped chairs up on the table after asking Peter for permission to join
them. Edvard joined Evan in line where the rest of the Family waited their
turns to fill their trays.

"How's the morning been going so far for you guys and our furry friend?"
Evan asked.

Edvard shrugged, "I think it was unusual, which over time will be the usual
around Mr. Freckles Katz. He has forecast a blizzard that will begin
tonight and thinks the northeast will be shut down including this school
tomorrow. In that regard he sent Peter and I to Newark to get Peter's four
by four truck and attach its plow. Then while we were gone he began
teaching Snoopy to hear, oh and while he was doing that he obtained a copy
of the boys' placement examination, completed it and sent it by fax to the
Headmaster."

"That's a good thing, isn't it?" Evan was already laughing at Edvard's
matter of fact reporting.

"No to the blizzard, yes to teaching snoopy an invaluable trick and no to
taking the examination," Edvard advised, "He taught your computer to write
in the Ancient's Tongue, a truly dead language and used that language to
write out his answers. Mr. Smithe asked Bani how Freckles could write and
he replied that Peter was the Great Cat's Executive Assistant and he wrote
whatever Freckles dictated. Peter and I are now the only two humans who
read and write Ancient hieroglyphs in the event we are asked to translate
Freckles' answers."

"Utoh," Evan intoned.

Edvard giggled, "Yes indeed, but all is not lost. Freckles is beta testing
Snoopy's newest skill and reports that Mr. Smithe, the first target subject
has placed several calls to friends and scholars around the world looking
for a knowledgeable Egyptologist. It seems he wants a real translation
before he challenges Peter to provide his, since he thinks whatever Peter
says will be bullshit. Mr. Smithe and all other Headmasters before him have
been the butts of practical jokes by their students and not coincidentally,
the name Trenton occurs frequently in the schools' history of known or
suspected jokesters."

The big room quieted briefly when the swinging double doors parted for Sam,
like the Red Sea parted for Moses although Sam was carrying a silver
platter piled high with sandwiches that were nearly buried in French
fries. "What would you like to drink?" Peter asked Freckles silently.

"Wine, that Merlot we had last night was very good, although the bottles
were very small."

"Nope, no wine at school," Peter demurred and stretched his neck to see
what was available. He listed all the typical drinks and ended with, "They
also have Coke, Sprite or Root beer in the soda fountain, or there's
water."

"Is Coke normally served in the little red and silver, inferior metal
containers?" Freckles asked. "All the boys on Sea Song boat drank from them
frequently."

"Yup, that's Coke, but here it comes from a spigot and I can fill your
bowl," Peter assured.

"I would like to try that Coke drink, with lots of ice cubes please."

When Peter returned with Freckles' bowl of Coke, he saw that a half dozen
sandwiches had disappeared and Freckles was busy meticulously stacking
French fries like cord wood into a neat pile before encircling the pile
with his tail and they too followed the sandwiches. Also, he saw that the
boys at their table held sandwiches midway to their mouths, but forgot to
eat. "These root vegetables prepared this way are very good. Friend Sam is
a very good chef."

Freckles' attention was diverted to the bowl of Coke, and after a test lap
his entire muzzle disappeared into the bowl, and the level dropped
unusually fast, to the boys at the table who hadn't seen a Great Cat drink
before. While they were fascinated, they had resumed eating their own
lunches almost as fast, limited by smaller mouths and the need to chew
before swallowing. Freckles finished his drink by lifting his head and
crunching ice cubes with his head turned to Peter for a quick swipe of
Peter's towel. "That Coke drink fizzles delightfully on my tongue," he
reported in mind-speak and looked at Peter hopefully. While the boys at the
table hadn't heard the hint, they could see the Cat's expression.

"If he wants a refill, I'll get it for him," one boy surmised and
volunteered. The boy had just picked up the empty bowl when Freckles
emitted a tremendous belch, which started a burping contest, at first
around the table, before it spread around the room and the boy ran off to
fetch Freckles another bowl of carbonated ammunition.

"Three guesses as to who started that," Doug sent to all mind-speakers
followed by his own less than stellar contribution to the contest. "I guess
you win Freckles," he judged from somewhere in the room.

"Should we try breaking wind next?" Freckles sent.

Peter jumped from his chair, apparently without reason. He warned Freckles,
"Don't you dare fart in here! I know cat shit stinks, so I imagine cat
farts do too, and yours would be times a hundred or so of a normal cat."

"What the hell is going on out here?" Sam demanded of the dining room as he
burst from the kitchen, exactly at the time Buck submitted his entry to the
belching contest in the suddenly, nearly quiet room.

"I think we have a new winner!" Doug declared helpfully from beneath the
table he and Buck had been sitting at with the Cat warriors and Charlie.

Sam had his back to the table and rolled his eyes, "Mr. Trenton Number
Four, why am I not surprised that you're involved, along with
Mr. Henderson?"

Sam was answered with a mighty belch in three part harmony, "Did we do this
correctly Buck? Swallowing air is very difficult and unnecessary; if we
were to do this on a hunt, we would have our arms removed and sent to play
with girls."

Sam spun on his heels to stare down on the rumored exotic new boys who
arrived with Freckles, the talking Great Cat. Sam misunderstood; he bent
down to talk to Buck in a whisper, so the new boys across the table
couldn't hear, "What kind of people are these who would remove a boy's arms
just for belching? That's a terrible thing, you keep them safe while
they're here at school, Bucky, and show them the ropes."

"I think you misunderstood Sam, the arms they were referring to, were all
their weapons," was Buck's gravelly, whispered response so all their
tablemates and some of the closest students seated around him at other
tables heard. Sam cupped his privates, hidden behind his apron, in his
trousers protectively and looked quite ill. "Not those weapons either, Sam,
real weapons like rifles and handguns, or bows and arrows, knives and
blowguns."

Sam sighed in relief and winked at the little Cat warriors, "I guess I
would have figured that out for myself eventually, but it's just as well, I
don't have to." He went back to the kitchen with a warning, "Okay, you so
called young gentlemen, just remember if there are any more burp or fart
contests or other rude noises above the usual noise level, the dining room
will be closed immediately after lunch until further notice." There was a
chorus of, Yes Sir and Thank You, issued to Sam's back.

During the many years that Sam had taken unofficial charge of the kitchen
and dining room, he allowed boys to remain after lunch and until just
before dinner if they didn't have classes so the room became a favorite
informal lounge. There they could kick back and do whatever boys do, plus
of course there were also soft drinks and all kinds of snacks and a soft
serve ice cream machine available during that time and once again after
dinner until just before official lights out. The only real enforced rule
was that the boys had to clean up after themselves. In appreciation, the
boys were careful to police themselves and each other and weren't afraid to
physically eject any classmate who thought themselves `above' the simple
rule, and there were always a few.

Pettie had no afternoon classes, so he shepherded the newbies to the field
house and when he explained what the field house was, Freckles declared a
play time and chose to accompany his boys. Students only had one, two hour
structured physical education period during each week; the rest of their
free time, they were expected to choose and practice individual sports,
join intramural sports teams, join a school team and work on that sport,
and/or simply work out regularly in the well-equipped weight room out of
season. All students were mindful of future college applications and
athletics were an important part.

Pettie thought the safest place to start was the ice rink. With the
warriors' aversion to cold and cloth coverings, that they would just watch
the pickup game in progress. He led them to the second story bleacher
entrance where fans bundled up to stay warm in the near freezing room. He
and the boys sat in the top row of seats while Freckles sat in the aisle
steps that led straight down to the opening in the side boards that was
closest to the home team locker room on that side of the rink and the
narrow player access door was left open.

The boys and Cat watched the match with growing interest; hockey was much
like the soccer and American football games they'd played at home and
apparently was just as rough. The only real difference was ice, skates, and
thick, padded cloth coverings; head hugging hats, handy sticks - real
weapons, and the ball had been replaced with a small round black
thing. Strangely both teams wore hard hats that made use of the sticks much
more challenging, because these would need to be removed before an opposing
player could be properly beaten. They noted that the sticks had to be used
to move the black thing because everyone was wearing cumbersome cloth
coverings on their hands that would even prevent using hands to throw the
black thing or do much damage in holding or battering an opponent; of
course that's why everyone had a stick.

"I will demonstrate how to play this game, Cat warriors!" Freckles declared
as he raced down the steps and out onto the ice to immediately slide all
the way across the rink, drop his claws just enough to stop with a spray of
ice splinters, turn before crashing and look for the black thing. With his
claws still extended, he bounded twenty feet and pounced on the passing
puck and once stopped, used a swipe of his tail to send it back down the
ice, directly at the goal and the wide eyed defending goalie. He managed to
block the puck with his body and send it to the closest human, teammate or
not. Freckles determined that the game had become all the humans united
against the Great Cat, amid extreme laughter.

"I COULD USE SOME HELP DOWN HERE!" Freckles sent to his warrior troops.

"But we cannot move on the ice like you," Sidi returned, "we have no
claws."

"No matter, I will slide you if you make like balls; we will have much
amusement."

The three Cat warriors left Charlie holding their belts, pouches and
blowguns after he accused them of being dumb mother fuckers for being
sucked into a game where a crazy Cat made up the rules in order to win a
totally new kind of game. All three stopped running when they reached the
ice and slid to where Freckles could stop them at center ice. They squatted
down and hugged their knees while the joined opposing teams formed a tight
defensive wedge in front of their goal that was already protected by both
goalies.

"Be sure not to hurt any of them guys!" Pettie called down to the ice.

"Don't worry Mason, we won't!" One of Pettie's friends among the opposition
shouted back.

Pettie giggled, "I wasn't warnin' you idiots; let the games begin!"

"You Sidi will take that side and I will send Kad into the other. Capture
as many of their weapons as you can." Freckles explained his strategy, "I
will take the middle course with Bani and deliver him to the goal with the
black thing."

"Pettie advises that the black thing is named Puck," Kad injected.

Freckles held the puck up to his eyes for a closer inspection, "Why give it
a proper name when it has no intelligence at all and none can be instilled
without much work?" he wondered, and added, "Humans!" before giving Puck to
Bani to hide on his person.

Without warning, Freckles dropped his claws for purchase tipped the boys
onto their backs and used his tail to whip Sidi and then Kad's bodies down
the ice at the opposition with incredible force and speed. Then he grabbed
and held Bani aloft in his tail and launched his own mass forward, but
sideways. He retracted his claws at once and slid into the mass of bodies
much like a bowling ball knocking over many more than ten pins and pushing
the disordered mass of laughing hockey players toward the goal or aside
like a tidal wave. Then, as the wave approached the goal, he threw Bani
between the heads of the crouching goalies. Bani smashed into the
surrounding net, which forced the poorly attached goal backward into the
back wall. Bani fished Puck from his pocket and waved it over his head
while sitting cross-legged, comfortably on the ice.

Hockey changed to curling when the players wanted to be flung down the ice
just like the Cat warriors, while on their backs by Freckles' tail and he
began aiming at the distant goal. Once they began to arrive they stayed
where they stopped sliding and the Great Cat had to use subsequent bodies
to bump them out of his way. Thirty minutes later, with the ice deeply
gouged and the resulting chunks and shards too numerous for safe skating,
the games ended when Pettie suggested that they move on to the basketball
courts to see how much damage the Cat and warriors could do there.

The two games in progress ceased when they arrived but started again when
Pettie joined one team to both show and tell the boys, with one very
interested Great Cat also watching and listening intently, how the game was
played. After five minutes the boys wanted to try. Basketball was a game
that required accuracy in getting the ball into the small goal called a
hoop or basket with no bottom so the ball would fall through, that was
located ten feet above the floor. The ball could be delivered to the hoop
by running while bouncing the ball, dribbling, or it could be thrown by one
player to another, or best of all, the ball could be thrown at the hoop
from anywhere within the marked boundaries. The boys quickly mastered
dribbling, but why bother; they asked Pettie, when the target was so large,
and a marksman could reach it successfully from anywhere. The games stopped
once again when the boys began to demonstrate their accuracy skills, and
the amazed players began suggesting any one of the four hoops from any
place on the two courts.

Pettie stopped the fun when some of the players wanted to see the eager
little guys doing layups; there was no way that anyone could see how far or
high the warriors could actually leap or jump. Pettie claimed that they had
to go while he looked at his watch and Kad, Sidi and Bani protested that
they didn't. The growing argument ended as Pettie was about to plead via
mind-speak, when a coach stormed into the gym.

The coach glared and pointed at the hapless Cat warrior's feet, "What are
you little assholes doing on my floor wearing street shoes?" he
demanded. "Get out," he relented on seeing their stricken expressions, "and
don't come back until you're wearing gym shoes," he added.

The boys and Freckles turned toward the exit. Bani still had the
ball. Pettie used mind-speak to give him a suggestion, "Show that grumpy
some bitch how yo' can do it without lookin'."

Bani paused in the doorway facing away, "Here is your ball Sir," he said,
tossed it with two hands over his head at the most distant basket. No one
except Freckles looked back to see it arch high toward the lights before it
found the desired hoop unerringly without touching the rim. When the coach
looked back the boys were gone, but Freckles was there to offer him one of
his worst stares.

"There, you grumpy some bitch," he said clearly using Pettie's voice and
Texas twang.

One of the two tennis courts was vacant when they got to the courts. There
was an ample supply of rackets available and a rolling, wire cart full of
balls so Pettie began the first lesson by serving after admitting that he
wasn't very good; he tended to use too much power and he hadn't played much
since there were no courts in the little Texas town he came from. He kept
smashing balls while he talked and the boys watched, so Freckles went to
the opposite side and began to throw them back. The boys forgot about
Pettie's instructions and lined up across the court to return the balls to
Freckles. Even Charlie was allowed to whack an occasional ball without
being aware that Freckles was including him since he couldn't see his eyes,
while the warriors could easily, so they were always ready.

Pettie decided that this kind of tennis was fun and everyone could
participate so he stopped temporarily to equip Freckles with an over-size
racket and he resumed serving additional balls despite the growing number
flying back and forth over the net at the same time. "This game is most
amusing," Freckles sent happily.

After watching for a while, Pettie decided that the maximum number of balls
in play was six so if a warrior missed or a ball was returned above
Freckles' tail reach (he refused the indignity of jumping), Pettie served
another ball so there was always six in play. Lines were forgotten along
with bouncing; line drives were much preferred and Pettie wasn't too proud
to duck when Freckles sent an occasional ball at his head, just to keep him
awake, Freckles explained later. Finally, Pettie glanced at his watch and
reminded everyone that they had to be at the helipad in an hour, or be left
behind. He and Charlie needed showers and while he knew Cat warriors didn't
sweat, that human trait would leave a scent trail, showering was a pleasant
way to end the afternoon and a way that they could leave their despised
cloth coverings behind for a brief length of time. Of course there was one
unnamed Great Cat who enjoyed the pampering of a whole body shampoo as
well.

They collected all the forgotten balls with surprising speed since Kad and
Sidi declared a contest; which of them could collect the most balls. Just
as they were about to leave the courts one of the two boys who had been
playing when they arrived, piped up; "Man just wait until these videos hit
the Internet, no one will believe what they see!" Both boys were waving
cellphones and obviously had used them to record the wild tennis match.

Bani waved back and laughed cordially while he sent Freckles instructions
to `make friends' with their primitive communicators. "Done," Freckles
returned with a backward glance. The two forgotten boys began shaking their
flashing phones and listening to a series of clicks, buzzing and a final
chirp before they fell dark and silent forever.

They stopped in the corridor along the way to the ice rink locker room and
showers, where they left their coats. There was a glass wall that looked
into a smallish room that Pettie explained, was the practice wrestling room
and it was in use. There were only four boys and the coach in the room and
two were on the mat attempting different holds while the coach gave
instructions concerning both offensive and defensive movements of the
contestant's hands, arms, legs and bodies. The three warriors found the
exercises erotic and were quick to respond within their tight cloth
coverings, popularly called jeans.

Charlie noticed, "You horny bastards," he accused with a giggle and a
pointed finger; fortunately, the area he pointed to was below the window.

"Is this a contest to decide who is superior when they couple?" Sidi asked.

"It must be," Kad guessed, but questioned, "If that is so, why do they wear
even those brief cloth coverings, only to have them torn by the victor?"

"You're watchin' free style wrestlin', and no, they ain't gonna couple any
which way no matter who wins, the idea of the sport is to force your
opponent's shoulders flat on the mat before he can do it to you, or you win
by gettin' points somehow if you can't pin the other guy before time runs
out." Pettie explained hastily to calm the warriors down and get Charlie to
stop laughing and pointing at their reactions to seeing nearly naked boys
their size, wearing really tight, revealing one piece singlet's, grabbing
and holding each other almost anywhere with impunity, while others watched.

"Could we try this sport Pettie?" Bani asked hopefully.

Before Pettie could offer an opinion, the coach opened the door and smiled
at them, "Are you guy's wrestlers? You look like you could be. I heard you
were starting today; it's too late to join the team this year but you could
work out with us the rest of the season so you'd really be ready next
year," he invited.

Freckles already scanned the coach's thoughts, and found that while he
appreciated a finely chiseled, young male body, he was more interested in
training them to develop a winning team; this was the reason he worked with
potential members in the afternoons when he didn't have to. "You should try
this sport if you wish to, if you can forget that the goal is not
coupling," he stipulated, "remember that not all boys enjoy coupling with
other boys," he warned silently. He didn't mention that there were two boys
in the room, who were interested in other boy's bodies, but the warriors
would discover them on their own and it was important that his boys make
new friends at school; it would make them look less different, and more
accepted.

One boy was already smiling and waving as the coach ushered them into the
room, but not at the boys, he was excited to see Freckles again. Freckles
explained that the boy, Hayden, sat at his table to eat mid-day food and
even served him more of the fizzing Coke drink. Everyone was introduced and
they shook hands after which the coach advised that they needed to suit up,
including shoes, he disappeared into the adjacent locker room and expected
them to follow, but Bani, Kad and Sidi only understood that they were to
wear one of the little tight suits that were far less confining than what
they were wearing at the moment, so they stripped where they stood and once
again offered Charlie their cloth coverings since he'd already declined to
participate. He'd told them silently that he had a temper problem and
enjoyed hurting people if annoyed. Case in point, the asshole that morning
would have been hurt much worse if they weren't out in the middle of the
quad.

The coach returned to see where they were, and expressed the opinion that
at least two other boys already held, "Holy shit, how'd you guys develop
those fine bodies already? Did you work out every day when you lived at
home?" he asked.

"Our home lands are very dangerous to the unwary," Bani began, "and as soon
as we walk we learn warrior skills to protect our persons and our lands. We
must be very physical, it is our way," he concluded.

Kad joined the explanation by flexing his muscles proudly and explaining
further; "I am the greatest of warriors charged by our Chief to protect his
son Tara Bani at any cost while also training my younger brother, Sidi, in
warrior ways." Sidi was perhaps a month younger than Kad, but in America
they were safely accounted as twins because they looked so much alike. Age
was a point that Kad enjoyed taunting Sidi with and Sidi's reaction was
guaranteed. Sidi jumped Kad as he barely finished bragging, the rough and
tumble that ensued was a thing to behold. Fortunately the room was fully
carpeted with wrestling mat and not so crowded that the others couldn't get
out of the way.

Fists flew, between choke holds, reversals, more punches, cock pulls and
nut lifts. Arms, legs and sometimes both were bent at impossible angles and
through the entire fight the two little warriors laughed and cursed in
Tongue, English and in several other newly acquired languages. The two made
a point of remembering the curse words if not the exact
definitions. Finally, Kad had Sidi on his gut, one arm around his neck and
the other around both thighs and appeared to be intent on folding Sidi's
body up backward when Freckles' tail intervened at Bani's request.

Freckles tossed Kad against a concrete wall and then lifted Sidi by his
neck until his feet dangled two feet above the floor and in front of
Bani. "Must you two start rough and tumble at inappropriate times like
these?" he asked while trying to hide his amusement. "These strangers do
not know our ways of making jokes and having fun and they certainly aren't
interested in seeing your erect manhood's," he scolded.

Freckles noted that Bani was incorrect about that; the boy he'd had lunch
with, Hayden Banks, sat on the mat and had gathered his legs to his chest
with his arms, to hopefully hide his uncontrollable response on seeing the
two hard warrior cocks that adorned a pair of magnificently sculpted
bodies, he was also pleased to note theirs were the same size as his. He'd
wondered about comparative sizes, and pornography wasn't helpful since the
actors appeared to be excessively well endowed.

The coach finally found his voice, "That was some wrestling display
gentlemen, it was a perfect example of what not to do in freestyle
wrestling, unless you wanted to be thrown off the team, get the team thrown
out of the league and most likely get me fired," he warned
matter-of-factly. "Now if you will follow me, I'll find you something
proper to wear."

The three warriors spent most of the next forty-five minutes, seated on the
mat; watching and listening to the other boys perform holds in slow motion
while the coach explained how to get an opponent in a hold and how they
might escape Finally, the coach invited Bani to the mat to grapple with
Hayden briefly before the group had to go or risk missing the first
helicopter ride back to Trenton Hall.

As soon as Hayden and Bani shook hands, Bani sent; "This Hayden wrestler
wishes that we could lose our cloth coverings and compete with no one else
about. He wishes it with all of us, even Pettie, but I am to be
first. Would Chief Bucky become angry if we invite him to his hut to take
food with us and return tomorrow morning?"

Pettie giggled out loud without thinking, but answered silently, "Nope, I
expect he'd be pleased that you guys are makin' friends from your first
day, an' there's always room at the dinner table, but you'll have to ask
him if he's restricted to campus. If he is, you'll have to send Peter to
sign him out overnight."

"What does this restricted mean?" Sidi asked.

"Some guys are out of control when they first come here an' don't want to
go to any school at all, so once inside the fence, they can't get
out. Others have parents who don't want them to be taken by bad guys, or
fiends to you guys, to be held for ransom while they could be hurt or
worse. I think Doug was taken that way by accident, the fiends thought he
was Buck. Then there are guys like us; we can come and go as we please."

The friendly match started slowly; both boys had been listening to the
coach and tried to follow his instructions exactly, but the thrill of
competition and being able to touch another boys' body set in, and they
began to move faster, seeking any advantage. Their goal changed subtlety
from pinning to being pinned without appearing to want to lose; each was
struggling to be on the bottom.

Oddly, the two managed to appear equally experienced and skilled. The coach
looked at his watch and halted the match. "You've both been paying
attention guys, you did really well." He looked down on Bani, "Since you
haven't even worked up a sweat, do you think you could go for another
couple of minutes with someone else?"

Bani, glad of the praise, agreed after he almost explained that Cat
warriors didn't sweat. The coach called another boy onto the mat, who was
actually the most petite of the four; even an inch shorter than Bani and he
also seemed to be intent on losing, being pinned. "Justin Winters is the
second boy who would couple with you if he could," Freckles sent to Bani.

"How is it possible that both Hayden and Justin are on the same team and do
not recognize each other?" Bani asked as he allowed himself to be thrown
and pounced upon by eager Justin who then attempted to roll Bani over so he
was on top.

"Maybe, because in their imaginations, they have a harder more muscular
body in their minds for their first times," Pettie suggested.

"I think you are correct Pettie," Bani agreed as the coach stopped the
match and sent them all to the showers, "I will invite both boys to Bucky's
hut and we will see what happens."

"You guys might think twice about you callin' Victoria's big old mansion a
hut, she appears a mite prickly about that every time one of you do it."
Pettie warned.

Freckles rushed into the shower room and turned all of them on while the
guys undressed and wondered together silently why so many of these new
sports required wearing difficult to remove, protective hats. An opponent's
head was a perfect primary target in Cat lands. Hayden grinned when he
heard the showers running, "What's Freckles doing in there, he's going to
get wet if he isn't careful."

"That is one Great Cat that we call a down right pampered pussy," Pettie
was interrupted by a ferocious roar that echoed, "an' y'all can help if yo'
got any shampoo; we didn't expect to shower," he finished as if he hadn't
heard Freckles' protest. He was instantly presented with bottles of
shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and bars of soap.

Both Hayden and Jason conspired to have Bani between them when they
stripped. "Are either of you on what Pettie calls, restricted?" Both boys
shook their heads. "That is very good. I wonder if you would like to go to
Trenton Hall with us tonight. We could gain more experience in wrestling
after evening food or whatever you wish to do."

Hayden made a face, "Should we bring our workout gear?"

"We will stay overnight in a place called the Residence where our friends
stay. The place is very private and no cloth coverings are required
anywhere in the very large place, it is where Pettie lives with his
friend."

Mention of Pettie caused Hayden and Justin to turn his way; they'd been so
interested in the warriors and Charlie's bodies, they forgot that he was
there and would shower with them, meaning that by then, he was also
naked. It took a few rude seconds for them to raise their widened eyes up
to his smiling face while he looked down on them. "Come on guys, times'
wastin' and so's the hot water."

In the shower room, it seemed that Pettie forgot that there might be some
payback for his comment about a certain `pampered pussy'. Pettie just got
within range of Freckles' tail when he found himself flat on his back and
being held there with a dinner plate-size paw on his chest. The free tail
sought and found the largest plastic bottle rolling around on the
floor. Freckles held the bottle high over Pettie and squeezed. The squirt
top wasn't open and the plastic ruptured. While some of the freed shampoo
spattered Freckles and all the boys, most plopped down onto Pettie's
midsection where the tail managed to spread the mass everywhere, which
combined with water, turned it into concentrated lather.

There were only brief glimpses of Pettie's resulting erection during his
frantic, although futile attempts to free himself from the Great Cat's
clutch, and/or his busy tail until Freckles held it up and Pettie stopped
his useless struggles and moaned as his body stiffened and bucked up off
the floor in response.

Even the two straight boys couldn't help growing and showing sympathy
erections barely hidden in foam. Although they did have the presence of
mind to turn away from the show for the short length of time it took for
some speedy self-gratification and then hold each other up companionably
until their weakened knees recovered from their exertions.

"I don't believe what we just did," one boy whispered to his new-found
buddy.

"Man, me either," his friend replied while panting. He smiled slightly and
allowed his hand to wander suggestively, "but since we did it the first
time..." he didn't need to finish his thought when he received a lecherous
grinning nod, and a return caress. They shared the most distant shower to
rinse off hurriedly with several covert glances back at Pettie, Freckles
and the six other boys, but only grinned at what they saw, when just a few
minutes earlier they were sure they would have been shocked and outraged by
such blatantly gay behavior. `Each to his own', they agreed with shrugged
shoulders as they hurried to dry off, (each other, intimately for the first
time), dress haphazardly and depart the locker room; they still had over
two hours before dinner and fortunately, they were roommates.

Hayden impulsively kissed Bani his thanks with closed eyes, for being
included in the impromptu circle jerk, while Justin thought he was being
just as polite. Both boys smiled through their first ever kiss when they
thought to open their eyes to discover that they had lip locks on each
other and ground their hips together happily. Pettie's nearly limp body
separated them rudely as Freckles lifted and dragged him to the nearest
showerhead to rinse him off.

After Pettie rinsed his mouth out several times, he grinned down on Hayden
and Justin who were staring at him openly as his cock deflated to
normal. "Come over here, you two little goobers," he ordered, "'an' I'll
just help yo' rinse off." Freckles removed choice by using his tail to push
them into Pettie's thighs. He giggled, "That was somewhat wasteful but it
sure broke the ice and you two are better friends than ever," he sort of
explained while he rubbed them down with his big hands that were quickly
joined by four more pairs until the two newbies were almost purring louder
than Freckles.

Hayden suddenly opened his eyes to look up at Pettie, "You planned this?"
he asked with a smile and an arm around Justin's neck.

"Nope, not me, but you have Freckles to blame or thank; it was his idea for
some light rough an' tumble to see what all might happen, an' it all worked
out fine. Even them two straight boys lit outta here like they were on fire
to get somewhere private," he glanced at Freckles, "although Freckles is
still one big pampered pussy."

"I am not," Freckles protested out loud with a Buck style giggle, "I am
loved by all humans I encounter. I cannot be blamed if you all wish to
assist me in the shower bath." He cocked his head and his ears twitched,
"Chief Bucky's helicopter has just departed his home place, we must hurry,
I must help Coach Bill teach some very slow humans to swim faster, don't I,
Marksman Pettie?" he asked with a malicious smirk; a cross between a frown
and a smile, with one ear cocked forward and the other back.

Hayden and Justin were shocked, Haden looked up at Pettie to whisper a
question; "Did you know that Freckles just talked?"

Freckles was sitting under the next shower rippling his pelt to rinse
off. He collared the goobers together for the first time without looking
and lifted them to in front of his eyes, "I am a Great Cat who can hear far
better than any human and also now speak several languages if I choose. Do
either of you goobers have a problem with that?" He returned the boys to
the floor so they wouldn't choke and could answer.

Justin recovered first, "Why no Freckles," he assured. He rolled his eyes
to the side at Hayden, "I knew you could talk all the time, it was Hayden
who's unconscious," he accused with a giggle and attempted to evade
Hayden's punch by stepping away. Freckles helpfully took him down and
placed Hayden on top of his body.

"Stop this instantly!" Bani ordered. He shook his head in mock disgust and
complained, "Now, not only do we have to put up with Katz brothers, Kad and
Sidi, we now have the Goober brothers!"

While Kad and Sidi weren't sure what they were being accused of doing, or
not doing, they understood that they were being joined by two American
brothers, and welcomed the new brothers by assisting them to stand and
`dust' them off most solicitously until they achieved the desired result
and stood back to review their handiwork.

"Do you see what I mean?" Bani asked Pettie with a helpless gesture.

Kad ignored Bani and promised, "Tonight we will introduce you to paste..."

"You mean Stuff, not paste," Charlie corrected, "Why do I have to keep
reminding you?"

Kad and Sidi looked at each other and sang "But that is what we just said!"

Freckles assisted all the guys to finish rinsing when he shook off to dry
his pelt but everyone still had to dry themselves. Then Hayden and Justin,
with Sidi and Kad to assist them, raced to their rooms to pack an overnight
bag and their uniforms for the next day of classes. Hayden had a private
room, a more costly choice, while Justin had a roommate who turned jealous
when he discovered that Justin had been invited to overnight at the fabled
Trenton Hall although the invitation made him a suspect of being gay. The
resulting rumor would be worth the trip, he would see the house and the
pool complex and maybe see the new prep school that would be finished and
open in the fall. Both Hayden and Justin had already been independently
agitating their parents to transfer as soon as applications started being
accepted.

The first chopper trip was for Family members, guests, residents living at
the pool and as many swim team members as they had room for. The rest of
the team, all campus residents, would follow on the second trip. Total
weight, not body count was the safety criteria and no one minded a bit of
over-crowding. Everyone noticed that clouds had rolled in and the wind had
increased as soon as they left the field house and everyone but Freckles
was surprised when the chopper pilot advised of a sudden freak northeaster
storm that was moving into the region and rainfall estimates were being
expressed in inches, blown by winds approaching 60 mph. If these estimates
turned out to be fact, students would have to get to school via ground
transportation the next morning.

As usual, they landed in the empty parking lot at the pool end of the
building, piled out and ran to the entrance with the rotors still
turning. The chopper had lifted off again by the time everyone was safely
inside, of course with Freckles in the lead. By the time the boys got to
poolside, Freckles had greeted Coaches Bill and Scott and was in the water,
happily motoring to the other end of the pool in his typical submarine
mode, with only his long tail up to mark his progress and to keep track of
everyone.

"Hi guys," Bill welcomed, "it's play time until the rest of the team gets
here," he grinned and added, "and please don't hurt my new assistant
coach."

"What do we do?" Hayden questioned the group while he and Justin watched
everyone strip, pile their clothing on benches and begin to dive into the
pool. Both were goggle eyed at seeing the growing amount of eye candy, no
matter how briefly before it disappeared into the pool.

Sidi, Bani and Kad never came up after they dove. Hayden and Justin watched
them form up and almost streak toward Freckles; way too fast for any human
to swim under water and apparently not bothered by the need to breathe.

Doug and Buck were intent on catching up to Freckles in lane four the easy
way; by running along the pool. "The first thing you need to do is get out
of those clothes unless you want to get them wet," Buck shouted over his
shoulder, "No clothes allowed in this room!"

Bill blew his whistle and shouted, "What are you two birds doing? This is
not track practice. Get in that pool and swim if you remember how, after
your long, restful vacation!"

Buck dove and Doug just dropped in the water head first; his Douggie
dive. The two newbies to the group watched them carefully and were relieved
to see them surface and swim normally toward the growing number of splashes
that Freckles created by flinging swimmers, not just away, but several
lanes away from where he still swam strongly and unperturbed, toward the
other end of the pool. Suddenly his tail disappeared briefly, only to
reappear with Bani held firmly by his ankles to be whipped away even
further than he tossed the white guys. Kad followed next and Sidi soon
after. Bill, Justin and Hayden were amazed by Freckles display of accuracy;
he seemed to be aiming for Bani and he was returning to the Great Cat
underwater.

Justin and Hayden heard Scott say to Bill; "Now you understand why the Cat
warriors can't join the team."

Bill nodded but wondered, "What about teaching them conventional strokes?"

Scott shook his head, "They just don't need to breathe like we do. Snoopy
watched Kad and Sidi, ah, really get it on with each other, if you know
what I mean, on the damn river bottom, and when they finished they swam 900
yards back across the river without surfacing. If we put them in
conventional races and they faked breathing, you'd have to explain a bunch
of world record breaking times by three South American teenagers who never
even saw a racing pool before, until today."

"I guess you're right," Bill lamented, "still, I wonder if they could be
useful if they were attached to the team in some other way, maybe as
trainers or managers, or maybe they could help by being starters and
statisticians. Patrick is way too busy with the twins' business and unlike
him, they certainly can swim. Do you think they could handle the video
system?"

"Excuse me Coach, I'm Hayden and this is Justin," Hayden interrupted, "we
couldn't help hearing what you were saying about the guys, and, well, we
were kind of wondering if we could help out like Bani, Kad and Sidi, oh,
and Charlie too, but we think he's completely human or normal," he laughed
and pointed, "as you can see, he just caught up to Freckles since he just
turned and is about to run Charlie down, while Freckles just gave the Cat
warriors their second flying lessons..."

Hayden's offer to help was interrupted by the venues' speakers, "Okay all
you water rats, out of the pool! Chief Bucky's helicopter is landing and
practice must begin!" The timers clicked on and the giant screen flashed to
life with it divided by as many cameras as there were above or below the
pool.

"Did you know our screen could be split that many ways?" Bill asked Scott.

"What can I say," Scott laughed, "Mr. Fixit strikes again!" He saw Freckles
turn on a burst of speed as the boys who lived on campus filed into the
pool area and of course stopped to watch Freckles leap from the pool to the
deck.

"FRECKLES NO!" he shouted already running, "They have to go back to school
after practice and this is not the day to do it in sopping wet clothes," he
warned.

"I was just about to make them ready for swim practice; no one likes wet
cloth coverings," the Cat answered, clearly disappointed.

Scott nodded and shouted to the new arrivals, "You heard Coach Freckles;
you have thirty seconds to get into the pool warming up, with or without
clothes!" Freckles nodded. The electronic starting gun sounded and the
scoreboard began blinking down from thirty. Everyone ran from the starting
area while pulling off their coats and clothes. Freckles allowed everyone
to escape him into the locker room and return before he shook off to show
them what they missed while the adjacent wall ran with water and the pool
deck drained into scuppers. From that day forward, the team stripped and
left their clothes in the lobby before they ventured into the pool area and
immediately dove into the water.

After the team began warm up laps Bill asked the Cat warriors and Charlie
if they would be interested in helping the team out as managers or general
gophers and of course, they were delighted to be included along with Hayden
and Justin, the newly christened Goober brothers. Freckles gave the Cat
warriors special instructions that required them to be in and under the
water while Charlie, Hayden and Justin would do whatever was required using
regular breathing.

Bill arched an eyebrow at Freckles, "What are the little guys going to do
under there?"

"They will be additional cameras to look at boys swimming wrongly. If you
ask or point at slow pokes, they will give very good close ups for
correction of their movements," Freckles explained and pointed his tail at
the big screen. It flashed to show three views of Pettie; one of his upper
body; arms, hands and head; a second showed his powerful legs and
feet. Unfortunately the third view was an extreme close up of his cock as
it was buffeted by his bodies' forward movement and as they watched, a
small hand reached into view to stroke it lovingly.

"SIDI," Freckles roared out loud through the PA system and in mind-speak,
"DO NOT MAKE ME COME IN THERE!" he warned. The last third of the screen
blinked to show an innocent view of Doug pacing Pettie in the next lane.
The rest of the practice went better, after the swimmers got used to having
a Cat warrior pacing them effortlessly, unannounced, and the coaches
suddenly had hours of detailed never-seen-before recordings to review that
also included what came to be called a `Sidi view' that identified each
swimmer despite the caps and goggles, which made everyone look the same
otherwise. If asked, Sidi could reveal a fairly accurate estimate of how
many pubic hairs an individual sported on his scrotum; he was disappointed
when no one did.

There was one other point of significance that marked that first special
swim team practice; everyone, all the humans, noticed that the forecasted
northeaster had arrived when they exited the building, but the anticipated
rain had already turned to snow. Peter timed his arrival at the pool
complex perfectly and Doug and Buck turned green with envy.

Buck looked up at Doug; Doug looked down on Buck. Doug answered the unasked
question, "Don't look at me, I never heard of a snow plow store and if
there was such a store, by now they must be over-run with last minute
business like our Hummers."

There was a flurry of mind-speak as Freckles made himself comfortable in
the bed of Big Foot; Peter's Ford 250, 4X4 crew cab that already was
equipped with a plow. "Not a snow plow store," Peter sent, "a tractor
store, you know like a place where they sell farm equipment? That's where I
got mine."

Doug ran back into the residence and up to their apartment; he'd learned
from Bucky and Buck that money talked louder than words, and to circumvent
any waiting line to buy two plows for their Hummer's, a raised voice might
be required. When he returned to the parking lot, Buck, who already looked
like a miniature snow man, was putting away his cellphone and
smiling. "David and Noah are on their way to drive us to Tractor Supply,"
he reported to Doug who was clutching a fat manila envelope, "we'll have
first priority as soon as we get there." He added, "I forgot that Dad has
been buying up farms around us and we're already their best customer."

"You better call your mom and tell her we'll be late for dinner," Doug
suggested. It was clear that both boys were excited by the prospect of a
new adventure, even one as mundane as plowing snow and had been
broadcasting their thoughts.

"That won't be necessary," David intruded, "unless you really want to go
along for the ride. Noah and I can get the plows hooked up, but there won't
be enough snow to push for a few hours anyway. Plus your father is already
chopping at the bit on the office helipad; he wants to get home before he's
stranded and has already told the mechanics to have the Green Machine ready
to go. Everyone needs to coordinate what roads and parking areas you guys
are going to clear."

Meanwhile Peter had gotten out of his truck, had the back door open and was
trying to coax Freckles from the truck bed by assuring him that there was
room. Freckles agreed finally but ran off into the nearby woods first to
take care of business, before he dove into the back seat, managed to turn
completely around several times to find his most comfortable position, so
his head was facing forward right at Peter's shoulder. The last thing they
saw of Freckles was his tail that protruded from the slightly open split,
sliding back window, already up in the periscope mode, while Scott and
Pettie waved from the passenger side window. Scott was happily ensconced on
Pettie's lap.

"We need to call our contractor to get him in to install some kind of Cat
crapper in places where Freckles might be," Doug suggested, "like in the
dorm, the community shower next to the lounge might work somehow. In the
residence we could give Freckles a vacant one bedroom apartment and we
could modify the bathroom in there as well. In the house, I'm sure there
are bathrooms with toilets that have never been flushed."

"Touch base with Harm and Spencer, those two snoops have been all over Cat
City, maybe Angus showed them what a Cat crapper looks like," Buck replied.

Freckles suddenly entered the conversation; "If you show me these bathing
rooms, I will create proper places for my use," he volunteered, "but I will
need certain supplies from Sea Song that is docking now at the safe place
Chief Bucky provided."

"In this weather," Buck wondered, "how did they manage to get into the
pier?"

Freckles snickered, "You forget that Snoopy is assisting."

"Fucking yes," Gregor reported gleefully, from Sea Song in Port Newark, "he
is not just assisting; Snoopy has control and is allowing us to watch his
flawless maneuvers from monitors in clear weather with no fucking snow. We
will unload very quickly while the storm rages and there can be no
inquisitive eyes to watch us, except for fifty armed guards."

Buck frowned slightly like is father, "Freckles, after they get unloaded,
could you scan the guards? They wouldn't be there if they weren't trusted,
but after they see the cargo, some might be tempted by a billion or so
dollars in gold and artifacts just sitting there for the taking with some
planning," he requested silently.

"Whoa, you scare me when you frown like your father," Doug observed, "are
you concerned?" he asked.

"No, not really, I'm just taking a page from Evan and Charlie's
playbook..."

"About time too," Charlie agreed, "there's suddenly a whole warehouse full
of portable junk that wouldn't be missed before it's inventoried. Even that
dumb asshole that snatched your watch collection and planned to sell them
for 50 bucks apiece would realize the value of one little gem covered
statue or cross. If I was one of those guards, I'd start bringing my lunch
to work in a big canvass bag or backpack, I'd include a gallon jug full of
something to drink, and even throw in some old clothes to cushion the
loot. Then I'd make a big show of everything at lunchtime and sometime
during my shift I'd lose all the unneeded shit and refill the bag. I bet
Evan or me could walk out of there with a million bucks, each, per night,"
he assured them with a giggle.

Charlie, Bani, Sidi, Kad, Hayden and Justin were busy packing themselves
into the back of Buck and Doug's Hummer, the one that wasn't registered, so
normally, it couldn't be taken off the property; the seats hadn't been
restored since Freckles' brief tenure, but the boys were happy to stretch
out and even lay on top of each other in the interest of space
conservation. David was driving the boys to the house while Doug and Buck
rode shotgun. Noah was following in the second truck.

"Excuse me," Hayden began, "but what are we talking about here? One minute
we're all laughing and messing with each other, and the next you guys start
getting serious, talking about stealing a million dollars' worth of junk
per night from a warehouse. What gives?"

Bani honestly explained that the junk wasn't really junk; it was gold
bullion and gem--encrusted gold artifacts that was to be converted to cash
and invested for his People's use to move their small tribe into the
twenty-first century. They had just learned that the treasure had arrived
and was being guarded by men who might think of stealing some, since it was
mostly very portable and not known to be stolen, at least not by the Cat
warriors in any recent century.

Surprisingly, Hayden laughed and thumped Charlie on the back, "Well
Charlie, if I was guarding the junk with you and you showed me how easy it
was to snitch some, I believe I'd invest in one of those big lunch
backpacks too, and just like that," he snapped his fingers, "we'd get our
whole shift involved to make shopping for the best junk easier."

Peter parked his truck, Big Foot, under the portico where he, Pettie, Scott
and Freckles waited for the others to be dropped off. It became apparent
that Freckles had been listening to the boy's conversation when he asked
Hayden; "If someone was stealing from you, what would you do?"

Hayden turned serious, "Well, to give you a strictly hypothetical answer,
I'll tell you a story; a few years ago I was playing with my Legos in my
father's study. I liked to think I was helping him out while he worked at
his desk and I guess he liked having me around because he never asked me to
leave, even when he made really private phone calls. Dad called someone and
said he had a problem with the president of one of our subsidiaries. The
division was reporting huge grosses but my dad always looks at the bottom
line and in this case profits kept falling. He said he had an audit done
and discovered this president guy was cooking the books and his personal
spending was way out of control; you know, like houses, yachts, cars, huge
parties, all plural. Dad asked whoever he called if something could be done
without any adverse publicity. Dad smiled at me after he hung up the phone
and we even played with my Legos.

"I remember that nothing happened for over a month and suddenly Dad
mentioned that this guy just disappeared off the face of the earth. Of
course the police and the FBI got involved and they discovered that this
guy left his family penniless, he sold everything before he disappeared, so
what the cops thought at first, was foul play, turned out to be a case
where this guy took some hooker to somewhere in South America, where he was
spotted several times, living large with the hooker.

"Now that I'm older, I think the sightings are all bullshit, and
hypothetically of course, I don't think this guy is living anywhere, or, at
all. So to answer your question, hypothetically, I'd ask my dad for that
phone number." Hayden concluded; Justin agreed with a definitive nod.

Justin whistled in the middle of the grand foyer, "Wow this is sure some
house!" he complemented Buck.

Freckles agreed, "Yes, it is very ostentatious."

"Freckles," Buck whined as he looked around frantically while Doug laughed,
less than helpfully, "please never use that word if my mother's around to
hear you," he begged.

"Why not, it is a word that you use to describe this huge hut, that I will
now call a mansion, thanks to Pettie for the correction."

"Well, that's just my personal opinion, but to say it in front of my mother
would be like using the `f' word, understand?"

A short while later in the library, after the boys were served drinks in
the Ancient's goblets, and Freckles was chasing cherries and pineapple
wedges in his bowl, it was Hayden's turn to whistle after he saw that they
were alone. "Is this the kind of junk we were talking about earlier?" After
nods of agreement, he looked at the Cat warriors, "I think I need to change
my hypothetical answer; I wouldn't call anyone; I'd load up and do the job
myself." The Cat warriors agreed with giggles.

Bucky and Victoria arrived with the second round of drinks and were
introduced to Hayden and Justin. "Are you Hayden junior?" Bucky asked.

Hayden laughed and shook his head, "No Sir, there are no juniors, twos,
threes or fours in our family. There's a Hayden in each generation so far,
but we all have different middle names."

"See Dad, the Banks clan did it right, why couldn't you and granddad do it
that way too?" Buck complained once again.

Bucky giggled, "Okay you silly kid, I'll let you change your name, ah, your
middle name only. If you're still unhappy with your first name just check
the size of the trust, my father, your grandfather, set up for you. If we
named you anything else, you'd actually have to work for a living after you
get out of school, IF, you ever get out of school."

Bucky ignored Buck's additional sputters and turned back to Hayden, "I
remember I had my security division do some work for your father a couple
of years ago. It was something about a corporate officer disappearing, and
your father wanted him found for the sake of the family he left behind. As
I recall, the missing dude was spotted several times in South America, but
he was gone before my people showed up. I'm sorry we couldn't be more
helpful. After all this time, I doubt if the man will ever be found."

Later, after Bucky turned away to talk with Freckles and the warriors,
Hayden grinned at Buck and whispered, "I guess I'll never need to ask my
father for that phone number, I'll just call you and you can relay the
message."

Buck didn't respond except to smile and nod.

#######

My thanks once again to Emoe for his tireless efforts in editing my junk:
THANK YOU!

HAPPY READING!

Jamie Haze


 

 

 

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