Somerset Farm 

                                                                                        by Jamie Haze

 

 
Chapter 68



Tara Bani sent Taras Peter and Squeak a very private mind-speak communique
just before the Cat Mobile that was packed with boys and Kermit the Trenton
jet transporting Peter and Freckles, met at Newark's Liberty International
Airport. Freckles and Peter were rushing back to New Jersey and Spot,
Freckles' twin was in the Cat Mobile to meet them. The problem Bani foresaw
and was concerned about was the siblings' reunion. Bani suggested that the
brothers meet INSIDE the Trenton hanger, as far away from any prying eyes
as possible because of the inevitable two Great Cat family reunion in the
form of an epic rough and tumble. He further suggested that any of the
white warriors who didn't wish to become involved should stay in their
respective vehicles until the Cats were done.

Peter and Squeak agreed, but then Squeak made the announcement in the bus
with his eyes twinkling, by saying that if anyone was `chicken', his exact
word, they should definitely stay aboard the bus. Bani rolled his eyes; he
knew that none of the guys, perhaps including their guards, could refuse
the obvious challenge.

"Well, if any of you are wearing any cloth coverings you wish to save,"
Bani warned the guys, "you should take it off now."

Surprisingly, Doug, Buck, Bani himself, David, Noah, Kad and Sidi began to
strip. When they got down to their underwear, the others realized enviously
that they were wearing their new Ancient golden suits of body armor, it was
the underwear that they didn't want damaged so they took it off and
redressed. There were instant pleas to Spot to provide everyone including
Squeak; with the same protection although Squeak, the little clothes horse,
thought the Ancient armor was pretty.

Squeak had David actually drive the bus from the security gate, once inside
the airport; to inside the hanger while Spot sat at the top step that led
down to the door and Squeak had one arm wrapped around one of the Great
Cat's front legs. David didn't want to think about who was going to drive
when both Great Cats were onboard together or which was to occupy the
sofa. He hoped Bani would forbid another rough and tumble in the confined
space as the sibling Cats fought for `driving sofa' supremacy and the
steering wheel.

Tracy opened Kermit's hatch and Squeak managed to do the honors for Spot on
the Cat Mobile. Then he shook a little finger up at Spot as a silent
reminder or warning while Peter did the same to Freckles just before he
exited Kermit. The Great Cats ran at each other, but just before they
collided, they managed to skid to a stop, to sit and begin a war of tongues
to see which of them would groom the other's face first although their
tails twitched violently and their fur covered hides rippled with bursts of
suppressed energy.

Bani and Squeak followed Spot while blue tinted Peter, wearing just his
shorts and shirt, followed Freckles. Peter picked up Squeak for a brief,
formal first time greeting as Bani introduced the two newest Taras
verbally. That was the time that the twin Great Cats took all three Taras
down to the concrete floor to begin roughing and tumbling them as if they
were Cat toys. The Taras protested verbally between bursts of laughter as
they fought back with their hands and feet uselessly. It seemed that being
extremely ticklish was a minor prerequisite to becoming a Tara.

Back on the bus, Kad and Sidi, the remaining Cat warriors allied themselves
with the human troops led by Doug and Charlie. Their united intention was
to take down the unsuspecting Great Cats and perhaps actually win a rough
and tumble for the first time. Of course they hadn't considered the
numbers. They had never won a united bout against a singular Cat; they had
no hope at all of beating two.

The rough and tumble was concluded within 10 minutes. The Great Cats won
without the advantage of thumbs and proved in passing that human cloth
coverings could not hold up to the rigors of roughing and tumbling for any
great length of time or even 10 minutes by human standards.

During the bout, Freckles perfected his newly discovered cloth covering
disabling measures as he taught them to Spot. Buttons popped open or off,
zippers failed and snaps unsnapped permanently. No boy or warrior of any
age could hope to prevail with their pants around their ankles or removed
completely, while pulled up shirts blinded eyes and sleeves could be made
into temporary handcuffs with the flick of a tail or barely extended claw.

The one sided battle ended when most of the protagonists who made the
mistake of wearing clothing, literally ran out of their wardrobes in defeat
as they struggled to get back into the bus with a modicum of dignity or a
few scraps of cloth. No one noticed that Squeak left the melee early when
Spot, thinking ahead, sent him to claim and secure the driving sofa for him
just before he suggested a race to the bus to his brother Freckles. The
first to the sofa got to drive; who sat in the actual driver's seat didn't
matter.

Freckles allowed Spot to take a first step before his tail lashed out,
grabbed Spot's hind leg and pulled himself ahead. The race ended when
Freckles got to the entry steps, effectively blocking the door. He used his
tail again to boom Squeak off the sofa and neatly placed the boy on his
shoulders so Squeak could rest his head on Freckles'. Freckles already
agreed to share driving responsibilities with Tara Squeak, so he was happy
to keep his place and job of driving; so much for loyalty.

Peter had no competition for the driver's seat. He was more intent on
picking up the missing semitrailer's trail and the treasure at the docks
although he still was unsure how he was going to accomplish that feat just
like he didn't know how he could see the gold deposit or know about the
cache of rubies or...

The bus hadn't gone 50 feet inside the hanger before he manually stood on
the brakes and the bus rocked to a stop. He was out the door in a flash and
running back toward Kermit while naked, blue tinged Tracy was running
toward him encumbered with a large reed basket equipped with lids and
handles, in each hand.

"Hurry up and get these on the bus," Tracy commanded, "Oscar already called
Customs for an inspection; they could be here any time."

"Where did you hide the cuttings?" Peter asked Tracy from over his
shoulder. He was already running back toward the bus with the baskets.

Tracy giggled, "I put them in the fridge; don't worry, they won't be
noticed; they look like alfalfa sprouts," he assured Peter.

Peter nodded. "After you clear customs ask Oscar to fly out to the new
airport. My truck is parked there; use that to get the sprouts to Trenton
Hall and in their green house. I'll see you later!"

Peter was about to carry the baskets into the bus, when he thought of a
better, safer place. He willed the closest storage bay under the bus to
open and placed the baskets there.

"The human part of you is so forgetful," Freckles chided Peter after he
resumed the driver's seat.

"And Great Cats are no help at all," Peter chided back. He suddenly felt or
sensed a Cat warrior or Spot touch his mind and he quickly snapped blocks
in place. He knew it wasn't Freckles because he knew energy fruit filled
the baskets and the cuttings were to become energy fruit bushes after they
rooted, if they could be rooted and live in this cold inhospitable place
even in a greenhouse without realizing that the pyramid was a greenhouse.

"What is a greenhouse?" Bani asked innocently, revealing that he was guilty
of touching Peter's mind in his quest for more information than he heard of
Peter's conversation with Tracy. The Great Cats and Cat warriors heard
every word of his brief conversation with Tracy and they were snoops.

"It's the big bunch of glass huts near the drive," Buck explained and when
he saw frowns, he elaborated, "My mother grows flowers, and plants for the
house, you know, the ostentatious hut we live in. In the spring they grow
all the little flowering plants that are set outside for the warm summer
months."

"When can we expect to experience these warm summer months?" Kad wondered
sarcastically.

"After a very great length of time that grows longer every time you bitch,"
Doug warned him once again. The guys, who owned a set, donned their Ancient
armor while the others smoothed on Stuff since the bus was unlikely to stop
anywhere where they could buy clothes. More importantly, they couldn't stop
for food either.

Squeak drove unerringly to the Port of New York container shipping facility
and was about to turn into the wide access road when Peter grabbed at the
steering wheel after looking down that road and then up the highway they
were already on. "The treasure was in that mess of containers somewhere,
but now it's on this highway again going that way – I think recently."

"Tara Peter drives from now until we recover our treasure," the Great Cat
brothers announced together so Squeak would relinquish control to Tara
Peter the Finder. Everyone onboard started to ask David the same question
in different ways; "How do you do what you do to be named an Ancient Tara?"

David got tired of saying, he didn't know any more than the Great
Cats. Freckles changed the topic of conversation at the mention of Cats. He
said to Peter; "Tell everyone about your Great Cat friends."

Peter frowned at the side of Freckles head that was resting on his
shoulder, "Damn it Freckles, you promised you wouldn't go there," he
accused.

"You said Cat friends, plural, how many do you have?" Bani was amazed. He
was still amazed that somehow Freckles was his Cat friend, and he still
didn't understand the mechanics of choice; who chose or adopted who to be
interspecies friends.

Peter sighed although he kept his eyes on the busy eight lane highway they
were following north, out of the City. "Did you see me getting molested by
five kittens when the Great Cats gathered to meet and greet me?" He didn't
wait for an answer. "Well those five kittens are two sets of twins and one
single guy who seems to be the group's leader. Each of them individually
somehow got the notion in their heads that he was my Cat friend, and they
were going to fight each other to the death so the victor would become my
friend with no further competition. So..."

"So to keep them from fighting...," Bani guessed, he was already giggling
and had no need to complete his thought.

"Exactly," Peter confirmed, "I now have five Great Cat friends. Fortunately
for me, they're too young to travel for at least another year or until
they're taught what they need to know about being useful Great Cats;
Ancient history and about Great Cat abilities. Angus just gave them their
communicators and now they all talk at once, so that's the first lesson;
just holding a conversation with Cat people and humans."

Peter looked up at the sky and suggested that Snoopy should be sent ahead
to definitely identify the semi so the distinctive bus could stay way back
out of sight. Freckles blinked and the big flat screen TV that was built
into the ceiling lowered and the small backup screen in the dashboard came
to life so everyone could watch Snoopy's progress as he zoomed down on
individual trucks so Peter could identify the one that was loaded with the
treasure.

Spot and Squeak had Snoopy looking for shipping containers that were
mounted on flat trailers that were specifically designed to transport them
and barely glanced at trailers built with fixed permanent boxes. The Cat
Mobile was 10 miles behind where Snoopy was snooping and had just checked
out a ship container that was passing a new bright red more common
tractor-trailer, when Peter suddenly sat up and pointed. "That's the one we
want!" He announced excitedly.

Since Freckles was better friends than Spot was with Snoopy, he sent Snoopy
into the trailer to explore the contents. Peter was correct; everything
that had been delivered to Penguin so far, that and a whole lot more that
had been on display that was owned by others and about to be auctioned was
in that trailer. Strangely to the warriors and Cats, all the pieces were
loose and appeared to be floating, buried in snow so nothing was touching
and the trailer box was half full of snow.

Charlie rolled his eyes before he explained in his own way. "You goofy
motherfuckers; you've lived with humans long enough to tell the difference
between snow and Styrofoam peanuts some people still use as packing.

Kad and Sidi looked blank. "What is Styrofoam?" Asked Sidi.

"What are peanuts?" Kad demanded and went a step further, "And if you
insist on calling us motherfuckers we will take offense. That is a rough
and tumble you will not win and it will take you a great length of time to
recover from before you are able to fuck anyone," he warned.

Sidi explained the truth as he saw it; "We are father fuckers, cousin
fuckers and friend fuckers, but mothers are completely safe although they
will never know what they are missing," he informed Charlie imperiously.

"All three helicopters packed with guys AND Mom and Dad are on the way to
take turns shadowing that truck as soon as they get up here," Buck
reported. He added surprising information that Will discovered from his
intensive Internet search. Evan's and Anton's highly regarded and long
trusted German buyer, the suspected thief, bought a large property in
Maine, right on the Penobscot Bay and the deed was in Evan's name.

"Is it possible the asshole stole all that junk to keep for himself, and
that's where that truck is headed right now; to Evan's house in Maine, that
he didn't know he owns?"

Peter agreed, "Maybe they drove the junk to the docks to hide it in plain
sight. They had to assume that the cops would be called as soon as the next
guard shift came on duty if not before. They couldn't know that Bucky and
his, um, contacts work faster without the cops nosing around. Now since
there's nothing at all on the morning news; it's safe to travel again."

No one could think of or suggest an alternative explanation, so, since
they'd identified the truck and its most likely destination; Freckles sent
Snoopy for a look see, also called `casing the joint' in Maine. The joint
resolved into a large stone house that was sighted on a fenced off
peninsula so it would have a commanding view of the bay. The house was
built by a wealthy family as a summer vacation retreat sometime early in
the last century and in 21st century dollars it would cost many millions to
replace.

Most noticeable was an addition attached to the back of the house that was
at least twice the size of Paul Wilcott's field house. The wing had a
pitched roof that was dotted with skylights, a solar display and stone
walls that matched the original house but there was not a single window,
and considering the view, that was more than somewhat strange – and
suspicious.

"That son-of-a-bitch built a personal museum with Falconburg money!" Evan
raged. "If that building is furnished with stuff he stole from Grandfather
and me, I'm taking him on a fishing trip that will be the last thing he
remembers."

"Not so fast," Bani countered, "that evil fiend and his minions stole
treasure from us, so we have priority. These Great Cats will play a white
warrior game with this fiend called tug-of-war, and then you can take what
is left to fish."

"But he's been stealing from us for years," Evan protested, "so I have
first dibs on his ass."

"I already said you can have his ass as soon as we finish with him!"

The argument over which of them would dispatch the fiend continued as the
bus was overflown by all three helicopters on their way to shadow the
truck. The choppers were planning to leap frog between local airports as
they needed to land to refuel. They knew about the truck but the truck
driver didn't know them, so they would pass the truck and drive straight to
the fiend's (or Evan's) house as fast as they could go, Squeak promised. If
the fiend was there, he would be caught and they all would wait for the
truckload of treasure. If he wasn't in residence, they would still wait for
the truck and the evil fiend. Peter didn't think he could resist enjoying
the latest fabulous acquisitions to his collection that actually cost the
villain nothing since he stole and sold Evan's new Castle Falconburg
kitchen to finance the subsequent Penguin theft.

Squeak pointed up at the big TV, "Look at what Snoopy has found in that big
hut!" Snoopy began to scan the newer building without instructions, just
as Freckles taught him.

What looked like a one story warehouse from the outside was actually a two
story, magnificently decorated, windowless home on the inside with a full
basement. While Snoopy couldn't `see' the flat artwork hanging on the
walls, he could see the tops of frames and he definitely could see
sculptures and rooms decorated with period furniture that was sitting on
nearly priceless Persian carpets.

"Get up here Evan," Peter called out, "We're about to pass the truck, see
if you recognize the driver."

When the bus came abreast of the trucks' cab, Peter paced it as long as he
dared but Evan didn't recognize the driver, however he wouldn't forget the
face. The driver was added to the fishing tournament's guest list while the
individual warriors had already counted him as a valid `kill'; of course
the actual claimant was yet to be decided.

Peter looked at his watch and yawned as he looked up at the interior view
mirror to see Edvard staring back and grinning. A private mind-speak later,
Peter said, "You can drive now Squeak." He stood and pulled off his
tattered tee shirt and added, "We've got about four more hours on the road,
so Edvard and I are going to rest for a while." That was such a good
suggestion; everyone manufactured a yawn and once again stripped off their
clothes if they still had any to wear. Of course the queen-size bed
couldn't accommodate everyone, just the guys that got to it after Peter and
Edvard. The rest had to `make do' on the sofas, lounges and the
carpet. Freckles assumed responsibility for the bedroom and Spot took
charge of the recreational activities in the lounge area.

It was then that Squeak realized that he'd been tricked so he grabbed a
sofa seat cushion and a pillow and stacked them on the driver's seat before
he scrambled up to his command position wearing someone's cap and someone
else's sunglasses. Everyone knew when he experimented with the steering
wheel because the bus tended to tip and lurch wildly.

Once Evan, Buck and Doug got comfortable on the bed with Peter and Edvard,
Peter quietly rooted into his cargo shorts pockets to display a number of
small yellow fruits. He shared them out while Freckles watched and waited
the brief time until the energy fruit took effect. The next four hours for
the boys on the bed, seemed to fly by as they attempted to wear out their
couplers with Freckles' expert assistance.

"We are almost there," Squeak announced from between Doug's legs, not from
the driver's seat.

Doug lifted his head to see that Squeak had resumed his ministrations. "Hey
Squeak, thanks, but why aren't you driving? We're going to get caught," he
warned and added, "Hopefully, that would be after you finish," he said with
a moan.

Squeak resorted to mind-speak. "We are on a two lane road with nothing but
trees to see that Snoopy is driving. He is almost as good as this warrior
at driving," he promised. The bus lurched violently as soon as Squeak said
`almost'. Squeak pulled away from Doug, he looked up at the ceiling, "I am
sorry," he apologized to Snoopy, "I meant just as good," and went back to
work while Freckles studied the ceiling almost innocently and Doug winked
at Freckles.

Everyone had congregated in the front of the bus by the time it did stop
finally only there was nothing to see but trees, natural rock formations
and half buried boulders protruding from the ground randomly among
evergreen trees. They were parked on the two lane road, blocking one lane
since there were no shoulders or any trails wide enough for the bus to be
hidden.

Freckles had Snoopy inspecting the property's security system and
displaying what he saw on the big screen TV. The ever helpful satellite
identified remote TV cameras placed high in tall trees, out in the woods
and more obvious cameras on towers overlooking the electrified fence and
gates. There were still more on trees inside the property and of course
more mounted on the building itself. The guys agreed that there were far
more surveillance cameras outside than any one person could monitor, not
counting the number that had to be inside the building proper or those
watching the bay on the other side of the house. They had to assume that
there was also motion detectors, heat sensors and perhaps trip wires and
possibly anti-personnel devices set to catch unwary intruders.

Doug suggested that the Cats reconnoiter while Freckles countered that he
and Spot would just look around without being seen, turn the security
system to their advantage and disable any booby traps on the way into the
building, "Well, alright then, just do that," Doug agreed with the roll of
his eyes, without laughing.

They discovered that Squeak was ready to accompany the Cats when they heard
the distinctive metallic `snick' his rifle made when he chambered a
round. That reminded everyone else that they needed to ready their weapons,
which didn't take long since all they had were handguns; except Buck, he
still preferred his little fully automatic Uzi `squirt' gun that he carried
in a small gym bag. They weren't expecting to participate in an
invasion. Evan watched Squeak mount up on Spot's back and asked Freckles if
he could ride on the Great Cat's back since it appeared that most of the
furnishings were either stolen from him or his grandfather, Anton, while
the treasure was still concentrated in the semi that was an hour behind
them.

Freckles thought that over before he declined. Evan was small enough, but
he didn't have a Cat warrior's reflexes, heightened senses or a tool that
he didn't know how to operate anyway, so he might be a liability if he was
in the first wave of invaders. Then as a salve to Evan's ego, Freckles
suggested that Evan, Hans and Herman accompany Bani and the warriors in the
second wave while Peter, who was still too human, would drive the bus full
of white warriors into the compound on the third and final wave.

The Cats and Squeak were so eager to begin, they forgot something
important. "Great Cats are so forgetful," Peter began, wearing a huge grin,
"If I was planning to assault that fortress, I believe I would have used
Snoopy to see how many evil fiends are in there first and where they were
located relative to my route. But then I'm still too human."

Freckles frowned at Peter before he looked up just like he always did when
he was communicating with Snoopy. "For your information," Freckles
announced, "there are only four minions and they are in the old part of the
house, in what you call the great room that faces the water. There is no
one in the control room watching the monitors."

"Exactly, now would be a good time to get in there while no one is
looking," Peter rubbed his gut wistfully; no one had eaten since breakfast
or morning food. There was never any food in the Cat Mobile and they didn't
want to risk stopping and lose their time advantage.

Squeak and Spot were first to react by opening the door and leaping out to
the nearest boulder. Spot held Squeak in place while he disappeared into
the forest by jumping from boulder to boulder. Freckles followed without
further comment. Kad and Sidi cupped their hands and used mind-speak to
warn the first wave of the invasion; "Do not eat all the food before we get
in there!"

######

Doc was convinced that he bypassed his death and went straight to
archeological and sensual heaven, although not necessarily in that
order. The order depended on what he was doing at the moment. Doc thought
Freckles was a giant Cat and he didn't believe it when Freckles told him a
fully grown Great Cat was twice his size until he met Fang. That was when
Fang had just arrived unannounced at the first welcoming orgy inside Angus'
hacienda.

At first Fang wasn't lying on his belly beside Doc and one of the warriors,
and then suddenly without warning he was there and looking down on Doc and
the young warrior. Fang's body at rest, excluding the tail, reminded Doc of
a sleek sports car that had a supercharged engine. The image of a classic
Jaguar XKE came to mind and he laughed out loud.

"Thank you very much for that white warrior Doc," Fang said using Angus'
voice. It was obvious to Doc that his mind had just been `touched' by the
Great Cat. "Although this cat is longer and will never require those black
things on his feet." With that said, Fang used his longer, stronger tail to
separate Doc from the Cat warrior for a formal greeting, then he took a
moment to thoroughly sniff the entire length of Doc's body. Fang determined
that Doc hadn't been properly coated with paste and set about correcting
the problem using his tongue.

Doc was breathless during Fang's ministrations because a typical cat's
tongue is constantly close to his teeth and Fang was an atypical cat with a
set of atypical teeth and he hoped that Fang wouldn't make a mistake and
discover that he liked the taste of archeologist if a mistake drew
blood. Fortunately Fang was distracted by the entire band of young Cat
warriors who felt free to climb the Great Cat in an effort to get him to
rough and tumble with them and include the other white warriors; the twins,
Pablo and Paulo. Once begun, the rough and tumble quickly included Doc and
Angus with no holds barred. Doc didn't begin his promised tour until the
next morning. He was surprised to find that he wasn't tired although he
didn't get a wink of sleep but no one could tour before morning food, which
they would find waiting at the communal cook hut.

During the short trek, Fang suddenly broke from the group to disappear in
what appeared to be impenetrable undergrowth. The birds continued their
calls and the monkeys continued their chatter that was interrupted five
minutes later by a blood curdling roar and a brief squeal of ultimate pain
and a briefer period of silence before the early morning jungle noise
resumed. "Fang an' two of his cohorts are enjoin' a bit of fresh mornin'
food," Angus explained to Doc and the twins with a shrug.

Doc was stunned by the first farms they encountered on the path to the old
village. Before the Nazi, the People were hunter/gatherers, after the
Nazi, with stocks of food animals; they became agriculturists with hunting
and gathering only to vary their diet, never for sport. The farms they saw
were magnificent, with the only fences made of stone that were built to
contain the domesticated herds of cross bred swine. Doc discovered that the
word domesticated did not include the swine as friendly pets. While the
swine considered the Cat People to be an alternate food source.

Angus explained that the farms were so highly maintained and prosperous
because the People didn't sleep, they could see at night as well or better
than anything else, including humans, as they could see in daylight. They
had superior senses and pound for pound, unusual strength and they were
tireless; they got things done at any hour of the day or night and they
were always ready to help a neighbor. It was then that Doc realized that he
was in the midst of a truly utopian society; at least as ideal as any
population was likely to achieve.

All the Cat People were waiting to meet and greet Doc as a close relative
of white warrior Pettie as anyone could see from his height to the length
of his flaccid coupler, plus there was a band of proud young warriors who
attested to his stamina and the length of his coupler when it wasn't
flaccid. Since Angus was Doc's interpreter in Fang's absence, he took the
liberty of accepting any and all proposed couplings for Doc including
Tonga, Carb and toddlers above age three.

Through all the formalities, Doc managed to eat breakfast until he could
eat no more, even though he had no idea what he was eating and had the good
sense not to ask. He loved the home grown dark roasted, ground coffee and
suggested that if there was a sufficient supply it could be exported since
he thought it was superior to Hawaii's Kona coffee variety. He also
appreciated the fruit juice he was served until Angus suggested that he go
lightly on the booze so early in the morning. Angus also informed him that
Cat People could and did drink `juice' in quantity and they never became
inebriated but humans didn't fare so well.

"Angus," a twin called, "what are these kids asking us to do?"

"The whole tribe was fascinated with the twins, Toby and Terry when they
were here. An' now that you two are here they want you to couple while they
watch. They think that you twins couplin' is like fuckin' oneself. It's a
thing they can't do. I'll just tell them no." Angus substituted `no' for
`later' with a grin.

The twins did accept the opportunity to play soccer or football as the
sport was called in most other countries except America, but the match
never got started because Fang accompanied by two of his cohorts arrived
and invited everyone to visit the Valley of Ancients. They would leave as
soon as mid-day food was packed even though some warriors were still eating
morning food. The Cat people were dedicated `chow hounds'.

Just as the party began the trek, Doc and the twins discovered that the
kids knew about piggy backing and the first boy to reach the shoulders of
anyone who could carry them, got to ride without further arguments. The
newest humans also discovered an ulterior motive; all the young riders
enjoyed humping the backs of their pony's hair covered heads whether they
were old enough to ejaculate or not.

Pablo turned his head and looked up, "Don't you dare to come in my hair,"
he warned a boy of 13 years, with a friendly smile.

Ever helpful Angus signed the warning to the boy and added, "As you're
about to spill, swing around so warrior Pablo can finish you properly."
Angus looked up at his own rider, "Understand?" he signed. All the riders
understood that they were about to receive light couples if they were fast
and accurate. Pablo became aware that his rider's dry humping became
frantic until the boy suddenly swiveled around with is legs still locked
around his host's neck and his pulsing cock was perfectly aligned with
Pablo's mouth.

Pablo accepted the invitation and a minute later said "Wow, thank you
little buddy."

While the not-yet-a-warrior teenage boy didn't understand what Pablo said,
the three musketeers did; white warrior Pablo liked his rider so much, he
favored him with a name; he was Buddy from that moment on. Then Paulo named
his rider in much the same way; by thanking his new friend for his generous
offering. The boy named Friend nearly strangled Paulo when he gave his
rider an affectionate hug, using his legs, with the power in his
thighs. Buddy and Friend began steering their mounts by simply turning
their heads in the correct direction.

Doc began the trek apprehensively. He was most used to being met at his
airplane and driven to an archeological site because of his status in
academia. Previously he had always been fully dressed and supplies had
already been delivered. That day, he was just wearing shoes and a light
application of paste to ward of biting insects and prevent sunburn and his
only burden was a delightfully cooperative boy riding proudly on his
shoulders. He was definitely not looking forward to slogging through the
jungle and swamps wearing a boy, paste and shoes. So he was more than
surprised when the whole party entered a cave that was not far from the
village.

Doc became depressed when the cave ended abruptly but was quickly overjoyed
when the 100 ton door swung open. All the Cat ways into Cat City in the
vicinity of the village had been left open since the People had been
invited to use the City as if it was theirs. Fang had closed this door
earlier because he wanted to impress the new first time visitors, and
impress them he did.

Doc was ready to spend the day looking for tool marks in the stone that
might identify the tools used. The door was just like the stonewood box he
was shown; there were no visible hinges and he discovered that the 100 ton
block of stone was so perfectly balanced; it could be moved with a push of
one finger.

Tonga and Carb showed Doc their tools and attempted to explain that they
were the tools, but Doc was disbelieving. He just knew that nothing that
looked like a crudely made clarinet that they held with the mouth piece
carefully pointed away from anyone and the flared bell end held toward
their bodies could possibly be anything but a musical instrument that they
obviously didn't even know how to play.

Buddy and Friend had a mission in mind but they needed their twins to be
alone with them or risk having their `rides' usurped by other eager
not-yet-warriors in the party without rides; they needed to dismount. They
turned the twin's heads toward the Cat way that spiraled down into the
earth and jabbered away without result until Angus translated roughly that
the younger boys wanted to be the party's guides, therefore they should go
first. Angus didn't bother to say that the boys wanted to give the twins
light couples in return for the same services already rendered to them. He
doubted that the twins would object to being serviced by two very
experienced boys. The twins started down the ramp after a quick glance down
the center well created by the spiral. It seemed they were entering a
bottomless, blue tinted pit.

In order to get Doc to leave off inspecting the door, Fang used the
expedient of closing it and after it was closed, Doc began inspecting the
stone walls to discover the source of the blue light. That was when he
discovered the ramp, the Cat way, and started down on his own. He even had
the audacity to advise everyone including the Great Cats to stay close to
the wall if they were afraid of heights!

There was a brief pause halfway down when Doc's rider suddenly swung his
body around to present Doc's mouth with a second load without regard to the
danger of falling into the well when Doc stumbled as his vision was blocked
by his rider's body that was wrapped over his head and convulsing.

"My word, you are certainly a prodigious lad," Doc panted after the
fact. There was no way the boy or any of the Cat People could ever
pronounce prodigious, so the boy announced that Doc had named him Lad
although he wished he could say prodigious without spitting on anyone.

When the twins, Buddy and Friend reached the bottom of the Cat way, the
Twins were astounded to find that they were back in the jungle, somewhere
where a wide path, wide enough to be a single lane road had been
cleared. The only thing they noticed that made the path something other
than a jungle trail was the total absence of sound. When the twins stopped
and reached out to touch a tree trunk that wasn't there, Buddy and Friend
executed neat back flips and backed the twins against a glass smooth wall
that comprised a continuous, wall, ceiling and floor, 3-D diorama.

Of course the twins quickly lost all interest in their surroundings in
favor of the mouths that were providing them with quick couples. When the
boys finished the twins, they took the time and liberty to liberally anoint
them with extra paste so they would proudly remain erect during the rest of
the trek. That is, Buddy and Friend were proud that they rode such
magnificent stallions while the stallions were far less proud and wore red
faces from being caught in the `act' when Doc, Fang, Angus and the rest of
the mob caught up. Then they had to wait again while Doc was assured that
he wasn't in an underworld jungle. He was looking at a pretty picture to
keep travelers walking the hallway from becoming claustrophobic when they
inevitably realized that there were millions of tons of rock over their
heads.

While Doc had no expertise in the fields of Botany, Zoology or
Paleontology, that minor point didn't stop him from slowing the pace, to
give him some idea of how ancient the Ancients were. He was looking for
plants and animals in the continuous diorama that were thought to be
extinct even though he wouldn't recognize a pterodactyl if it crash landed
on him.

After a short length of time, an hour in this case, Buddy and Friend turned
the twins' heads into a smaller unadorned tunnel lighted only by small
glowing discs that sloped upward sharply and ended abruptly at another
closed rock door. This door also looked to be new like the smaller
tunnel. Wonderful warm bright daylight flooded the tunnel when one of the
Cats opened the door. Fang announced that they had reached the Valley of
Ancients that was also brand spanking new.

Doc looked down the valley from a treeless, rock plateau, and then looked
up at Fang as if he was being pranked, as the boys called joking. He
expected to see 13, 50 foot tall golden effigies to represent the 12
ancients, plus Bani just like those he'd seen on video. Instead, there was
nothing but virgin forest to see, rather, just the tops of the trees. It
seemed that no one else in the party expected to see more because no one
else was looking; they were all opening heavy packs and net sacks to get
their lunch or mid-day food ready to eat while the kids gathered to be fed
like starving chicks.

"Is this some sort of joke?" Doc asked Fang. The adult Great Cats were more
serious than their offspring unlike teenage Cats, Freckles and Spots' age
and he didn't think they would carry out a prank of this magnitude; hiking
through endless tunnels just to look at some trees. He looked around for
Chief Tonga and his right hand man Carb, but they were no longer with the
party. He saw that Fang was seated and had his attention fixed on the sky.

Without looking away, Fang said, "The view of this Valley must be hidden at
times because there is a new sky eye that looks down on our lands as it
passes. Friend Snoopy is working to break this machine or change the
course of its direction. It will be a short length of time before the
valley can be seen."

Angus managed to distract Doc with a long flatbread wrapped sausage and
wedges of yellow melon. The juicy melon substituted as a tasty, nutritious
non-alcoholic drink that resisted spillage during a trek or hunt. Doc knew
about the energy fruit but thought it was only used in combination with
paste and now was the time to expand archeology and earth's and perhaps one
or more other world's known histories, not sex.

"These yellow melons are delicious," Doc commented, "What are they called?"

Angus rolled his eyes skyward in disgust while Fang nearly sent him skyward
with a slap on his back with his tail and even managed something that
resembled a laugh through his communicator. "These yellow melons, white
warrior Doc, are called YELLOW MELONS!" Fang managed to say while further
refining his electronic laugh to imitate his human friend Angus. "Are all
these white warriors thick?" He asked Angus. It was obvious that Angus had
used the word `thick' in Fang's presence, and the Great Cat figured out the
word's meaning.

Red faced Doc back peddled, he thought, and asked Angus another dumb
question; "Angus old chap, would you happen to know the Genus and species?"

Always dour Fang actually rolled over onto his back and kicked the air
along with almost breaking his communicator because of his laughter. Angus
shook his head at Doc in mock despair, "You ain't exactly holdin' up the
human end of this discussion Doc, ye bloomin' idiot; the answer to your
dumb question is the same as your first question. The Genus an' species IS
YELLOW MELON! These melons are unknown anywhere else in this friggin'
world!"

Fang once again looked up and seemed to be listening before he gave Doc a
toothsome smile that was far more disconcerting than a younger cat's
because of the size of his teeth. In the wilds, Great Cats tended to gorge,
so since the Cats had shared morning food, they `nibbled' whole yellow
melons at midday food, rinds and all and weren't too proud to beg small
foods from the warriors. Doc noted that small foods included the melon
rinds so there was no debris when the meal was concluded.

"Look on the Valley now Doc," Fang said.

Doc turned and once again bemoaned the fact the cameras were
forbidden. What appeared to be a blanket of trees had disappeared to reveal
13 heroic sparkling golden statutes. One was Bani and the other 12
represented the original Ancients who built their City here and populated
it with the Cat People, a new matchless civilization considering their
range of abilities and frightening potential if someone from the human
civilization pissed them off.

Once the screening trees were gone, Doc saw that the actual vegetation was
a solid carpet of paste vines crawling hither and yon since there were no
host plants to climb and the vines seemed to avoid the statue bases. Doc
saw that there were a number of Cat People, some young warriors, boys
grouped by age, women and girls of any age in what actually was a large
field of carefully tended paste vines.

Mature leaves were dark green with a blue cast whose upper surfaces were so
waxy they appeared to be `wet' to twinkle in the bright sunlight when moved
in the light breeze. Large red flower panicles were held above the leaves
by stiff stems, which, if the vine was allowed to climb, the stems would
hold the flowers and future berry bunches out away from the host plant and
vine leaves unlike bunches of grapes growing on their vines.

The women and girls worked together in close proximity for no better reason
than they could talk together and incidentally be an audience watching the
boy's antics. Mothers could keep an eye on their rambunctious sons and the
girls eyed up individual boys as future potential mates. Frequent erect
couplers were also evaluated although the boys were more intent on
impressing other boys in the group.

The boys were all born gamblers so to be fair, they sorted themselves out
by age, and so picking contests were always fair with the winner's prize
being the use of the loser's body for a certain length of time. Some boys
who wanted to be best friends with certain other boys who were most often
winners in their age group would pick as few as one berry or none at all
which did nothing to speed up the harvest and everything to do with
becoming best friends sexually and perhaps mates like Kad and Sidi.

Those two young warriors became orphans by accident. Their fathers were
best friends with their mate's, the boy's mother's consent. When the boys
were mere toddlers, their fathers out of the blue, decided to investigate
the persistent rumor that there was more land out beyond the horizon. The
warriors invited their mates on what was expected to be no longer than a
two day canoe trip out to the horizon to confirm or debunk the rumor. The
two couples packed food for the journey and left their sons in the care of
the women on cook hut duty, which no child ever strayed very far from a
minimum of three times per day.

Two weeks later the stonewood canoe was found drifting toward shore in the
delta. The tragic adventure did nothing to encourage the Cat People to
become ocean explorers or even fishermen with whisker fish in the lake
being the only fishing exception. And so Kad and Sidi became orphans and
the sons of the entire Cat People and life mates long before they were old
enough to become warriors.

Doc thought he was seeing things when he saw Bani the statue begin to sink
into the ground while Tonga and Carb had reappeared near the base and were
pointing their clarinets (Ancient tools) down. The Cat People present for
the harvest stopped all production to watch the unusual goings on and Tonga
took the time to explain the reason in the Cat People's native language
that was so difficult to speak it was almost painful to listen to.

Tonga ended his speech by pointing with a finger, not his tool, to a spot
directly across the narrow valley that caused the People to race each other
to the spot and look down expectantly.

Fang explained what was happening before Doc could ask. The 12 Ancient
Taras and Bani had been aligned together. The Cats assumed that Bani was to
be the only reincarnated Ancient Tara and suddenly there were two more;
Squeak and Peter. Therefore Bani was being relocated to opposite the
original Ancient Leader, and eventually Squeak and Peter's effigies would
appear from the ground opposite two other corresponding original Ancients;
the original Finder and the Guardian.


Doc was unaware that Fang's use of the word `eventually' was a measure of
time even more ambiguous than a `short' or `long' length of time. In this
case, eventually meant as soon as Tara Bani's likeness finished sprouting
from the spot across the Valley that Tonga had designated. After the 50
foot tall golden Bani disappeared completely to leave a bald spot on the
side of the field, Tonga and Carb joined the audience; once again with
their Ancient tools pointed at ground zero, where Bani was going to be
reinstalled. Doc wanted to get closer but permission was denied. Then he
wanted to go underground to see firsthand what was happening there, but
that too was denied and when he thought about sneaking back into the
tunnel, the massive door thunked closed in his face. He had to be satisfied
with being one of four white warriors to witness this singular other
worldly event. After Tara Bani in solid gold finished his reentrance into
the world, Tonga and Carb moved to another spot and a golden Squeak usurped
some paste vine's space in scale with the adult Ancients; innocent cherubic
expression on his face at no extra cost.

"What about..." Doc began.

Fang cut him off in mid question, "As Tara Squeak grows to be an adult
warrior, his likeness will also grow," he said, but of course how that was
to be accomplished, wasn't explained. Then Fang made a comment that was
almost a complaint; "These Cats and brave warriors have had to raise the
ceiling and lower the floor in the new chamber where all these Tara's past
and present will reside in a short length of time because of Tara Peter's
excessive height."

"Do you mean that there's a chamber under construction now to hide these
magnificent statues?"

"The 12 and Tara Bani were to be temporary, placed here for you to view and
then removed to become raw metal, but after they were finished these Cats
decided that they should be preserved so they might be properly remembered
and honored. These can be viewed from the sky if they remain here so they
will reside in a new chamber in a short length of time." Fang pointed to a
third Tara that was emerging from the ground; it was Tara Peter who towered
over the other Taras, living or Ancient with his neighbor Squeak, barely
above Peter's knee.

Doc commented, "Do you realize that except for his height, he looks just
like the Ancient Taras and all the Cat warriors?"

Fang sort of agreed; "Tara Peter is still much too human, but in time
perhaps that problem will pass as his knowledge returns."

"You know Fang old chap, that observation was not exactly a compliment to
we humans?" Doc questioned the slur that bordered on insulting. Fang led
the way down into the Valley for a close inspection while further
perfecting his laughter.

######

The gang that remained on the bus was laughing about Squeak, in his role as
the `Enforcer', a title that Doug had changed from Guardian because
everyone knew what a mafia enforcer was, but Guardian made Squeak sound
like a pussy. Squeak had disabled to first surveillance camera in the woods
that the two Cats and one boy Ancient advanced invasion force encountered
by using his rifle to shoot out the lens rather than simply looping the
recording so they wouldn't be seen. Naturally the Cats scolded the boy for
being over-enthusiastic. Squeak apologized for that goof and when he was
first to spy a second camera, he merely redirected it up into the sky at an
invisible point exactly where Snoopy was located and watching their
progress in return.

Of course he was scolded a second time for not looping the recording. "I
will do as you Great Cats suggest in the future if you will explain what
looping is," Squeak retorted. Once he understood the basics, he sent his
mind questing for the place where all the recordings were concentrated; the
most likely culprit, a computer.

Of course Squeak knew that Great Cat Freckles always developed friendships
with anything that required so much as a dribble of electricity, to the
mighty turbines that powered Sea Song or the incredible Snoopy system. Even
better, if the machine was controlled by computer then the Great Cat could
influence that machine's performance and by suggesting improvements, make
him and the computer into bosom buddies. Squeak found the house computer
but needed the knowledge of how such friendships were established so he
touched Freckles' mind so quickly the Cat didn't have time to raise his
shield.

Freckles first suspected Peter who was rapidly becoming more and more
Ancient and had touched Freckles' mind previously but the newest Tara had
his shield up to prevent the nosey Cat warriors from learning about the
energy fruit; the contents of the two baskets stored under the bus. When
Freckles frowned at Squeak, the only remaining suspect, that Cat warrior
and Tara was busy studying the cloud formations and once again looking like
an innocent cherub, so he was the guilty party.

Meanwhile, Squeak only looked distracted; he had already made first contact
with the enemy house computer. The machine felt neglected and ignored and
someone had denied it the ability to make automatic Windows updates so
there was a cache that would take upward of two hours to install. Helpful
Squeak switched on automatic updates and then suggested that the
overworked, abused machine shut down all its systems and refuse to restart
for the time required to gobble in the newest updates or until Squeak
contacted it later.

The Great Cat brothers knew exactly when all the cameras became inoperative
when the tiny heat bloom each one radiated, dissipated to cold. Innocent
Squeak asked, "What are games? Those four minions inside that hut play
games constantly and neglect their computer so it has rebelled."

Freckles frowned at hearing `games' mentioned. He explained that their
white warrior friends would not allow him to play their computer games with
them because they suspected that he manipulated the outcome of battles so
he always won. It was Freckles' turn to look like the ultimate innocent
before he broke into Buck's laughter while Squeak giggled naturally.

The Cats were about to disable the electric fence and open the gates to
invite the second and third waves of the invading forces into the compound
when Snoopy showed them that a truck like Big Foot had parked behind the
bus and a man was standing outside the driver's window talking to Peter
while he sat in the driver's seat and everyone else remained out of sight,
alternately looking down on the man from the heavily tinted windows and
Snoopy's view on the big TV.

The man just advised Peter, needlessly, that his damn big bus was blockin'
one lane of a two lane road and he really needed to `git' along outten' the
way, `acause' he was the Constable and otherwise he might have to fix Peter
up by writin' a 25 dollar coupon, plus court costs payable instantly since
the man also served as the local Justice of the Peace an' he just found
Peter as guilty as sin of blockin' a lane of traffic without bein' broke
down. Peter resisted the impulse to question the man about a conflict of
interest; he couldn't be a cop and the judge. Further, in his position as
Constable, the man wasn't interested in writin' nothin', standin' out in
the cold, cause his hands were about froze off due to the heater in his
truck bein' broke.

"We're lost," Peter stalled for time, "we're looking for a great big house
near here somewhere."

The Constable looked suspicious, "That foreign asshole a friend of your'n?"

"Nope, the asshole owes us a lot of money and we've come up here to
collect, or take it out of his hide." Peter hastened to add, "That would be
after we remove him from your jurisdiction so we don't have any legal
problems. Do you know where he lives?"

"Just down the road apiece on the right, I'm sure he won't mind if'n yo'
just bust down the gate. You know that foreign asshole can't speak nary a
word of the kings English? The dumb ass told the town, he was goin' into
farmin' an' he built him a big ass barn, an' even went so far as to attach
it to a mighty fine old house, BUT," the Constable raged suddenly, "the
asshole didn't bother to build him nary one barn door! If he got him
animals in there, they somewhat warmer than me in my damn broke truck!"

"That sounds like the asshole we're looking for. Say, since I'm a master
mechanic, maybe I could fix your truck heater and avoid you having to write
me a coupon?"

"You most certainly are not a master mechanic!" Freckles sent from
afar. Peter also heard laughter in the background that was nearly drowned
out by real laughter inside the bus.

"If you don't help me out here, you have to pay my 25 dollar ticket!" Peter
countered silently.

"Plus court costs," Buck added further incentive.

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"Well, if I have to fix that human's truck you have to get off your ass and
go back and open the truck's bonnet. At least make a show of doing
something," Freckles ordered.

"Well alright, but just so you know, American cars and trucks have hoods;
English cars like Austin Healy have bonnets, and boots instead of trunks."

Freckles didn't respond to that advisory; there was too much laughter. The
Constable released the truck hood and Peter opened it. At first the gang in
the bus relied on the backup camera to watch Peter fake the repairs, but
when all they saw was his back, they decided that they would join him
without regard to what cloth coverings they were or weren't
wearing. Everyone was well covered with Stuff.

The man only blinked when he saw Peter dressed in shorts and torn tee
shirt, standing in front of his truck with his helpless hands on his hips,
staring into the engine compartment. He was trying to ignore Peter's
slightly blue skin that didn't appear to be caused by the cold; he was that
color when he exited the warm bus. But, when Peter was joined by a gang,
mostly undressed and/or holding up the pants or shorts they were wearing
and also sporting blue skin, apparently everywhere, he just had to ask.

"You boys part of one of them there cults I heard about? You all painted
blue an' you ain't cold, least while you ain't actin' cold."

Bani surprised everyone by telling some of the truth concerning Stuff's
unusual properties, of which one was warding off cold. He sent Kad back
into the bus. When he returned he offered the Constable a squatty golden
jar full of Stuff, concentrated Stuff, and he encouraged the man to take a
sniff after he inhaled deeply to prove it wasn't dangerous or
poisonous. Then Bani stepped back and pointedly looked down at his torn
shorts to see that something obvious was pointing back.

It was too late for the Constable; he'd taken more than a cautious
sniff. He looked down at Bani and then down at himself. "That's right,
that's another property that your wife will enjoy too," he assured with a
leer.

The Constable looked at Peter suddenly. Peter hadn't moved his hands from
his hips and by then he was watching Bani with everyone else. "Damn boy,
you ain't much of a mechanic; watchin' ain't goin' to do the job, I got to
git home, fixed heater or no..."

Just then the truck started. Peter closed the hood and made a point of
dusting his clean hands together. The Constable didn't see his heater
switch turn on or the comfort dial spin over to maximum heat but he felt
the blast of heat when he opened the door with one hand while clutching his
jar of Stuff in the other. His parting words were; "Just so you know, I
expect to be off duty for the rest o' the day. Meanwhile, get that foreign
some bitch outta my town an' your damned bus off my road!"

"Can we proceed with the invasion now?" Freckles asked sarcastically while
the rest of the mob had fun congratulating Peter for is miraculous
mechanical ability without the `laying on of hands'. After he received an
affirmative answer, he laid out his plan.

He, Spot and Squeak would enter the estate from the bay since they already
knew the four men or minions inside were in a waterfront room playing video
games. Rather by then they were trying to figure out why the current game
quit without notice and pounding on the game box didn't help re-acquire the
lost signal at all. The Cats assumed correctly that all attention inside
the house would be riveted to them emerging from the bay, while everyone
else in the force would actually enter the house using the front entrance
located on the landward side.

"What will you do if there are weapons shown? We don't want you to be shot
at and Squeak doesn't have Ancient armor," Sidi warned with concern.

Squeak lifted his tool to his eyes and sent out a video before he said, "I
am the Enforcer!" Squeak liked being called the Enforcer, it was far better
than being the Guardian, which sounded passive like he would be waiting for
trouble before he acted, while as the Enforcer, he would act preemptively;
`Don't even think about touching a weapon if you want to live', he planned
to say before he activated his tool if there was time. If there wasn't
time, he would apologize to whatever metal the enemy carried.

The Great Cats made their way along the fence to the water before they
encountered a small problem. No humans on the bus knew about the drastic
tide changes in the far northeast of their country and the Cats and
warriors lived very close to the equator where tides were minimal. The tide
was racing out when they entered the bay and the rocky coast was growing
fast. The Cats had to work to swim against the tide at a depth at which
they could use their tails as periscopes so they dove to the bottom to
`water walk' using rocks for purchase to push their bodies forward. Spot
encountered the first lobster.

While Spot hadn't ever seen a lobster before, Freckles had. He'd eaten two
dozen, three pounders at one dinner. That evening, no one in the Trenton
kitchen considered how Freckles would get his out of its shell and there
was no way Peter could work fast enough to clean two dozen with a hungry
Great Cat literally breathing down his neck. He ate the first one whole,
including the shell. Of course Peter had an aversion to any crunching
sounds at the dinner table and apparently so did all the other diners at
table that evening.

Hamilton the butler whisked Freckles' tray away out from under his nose, a
very daring, risky move, straight back into the kitchen almost before his
first whole lobster reached his stomach. His lobster dinner was returned 10
minutes later in the form of three dozen hastily prepared lobster rolls;
perfect tail foods, along an apology from the chef for not thinking in
advance.

Unlike the Cats, the lobster had no difficulty swimming against the tide
and it disappeared into the distance in the crystal clear freezing water
faster than a Cat – in reverse by using its tail as a flipper. "What was
that?" Spot sent.

"That was a live Maine lobster, cooked ones are red, and they are
delicious." Freckles displayed his food knowledge although to date he
hadn't eaten any white warrior food that wasn't delicious. "We should have
a hunt while we are down here where they live."

"What about our mission?" Squeak asked from Spot's back. Spot was using his
tail to keep Squeak in place.

"A hunt will not take long," Freckles assured to dismiss the matter. "I
will circle around up current. You approach the next lobster slowly to
keep his attention and I will pounce. We will share the kill and then
switch places." That plan sounded simple and efficient since the Cats had
no hope of out-swimming a lobster. Freckles just forgot to tell the
lobsters that they should wait around to be caught and eaten.

"Can I snack on these lobsters too?" Squeak's question was accompanied by a
rumbling stomach and implied that he thought they would easily catch
several.

"Probably not, your meats must be cooked. Then there is the hard shell. We
will bring the last one we catch to shore so it can be cooked for you."
Spot consoled Squeak.

It was obvious that the first lobster that Spot and Squeak encountered
didn't know Freckles' game plan. It did an end run around the Great Cat
before Freckles' tail was in range. "You are too intimidating; dangle me in
front. Perhaps it will think of me as food," Squeak suggested. That sounded
like a much better plan.

Fifty yards further away from the forgotten target house, they encountered
a behemoth of perhaps seven or eight pounds. Spot dangled Squeak the bait,
and the bait waved his hands to get the lobster's attention. The lobster
turned toward Squeak with raised wide open toothsome pinchers. It seemed
interested in taking a nip from the bait at first, but apparently it
reconsidered and began to jet away at speed, just like the first lobster.

Squeak raised both hands and aimed his middle fingers at the fleeing quarry
in total frustration. "Take that you fucking fast lobster!" Suddenly and
instantly the water temperature around them rose drastically while the area
immediately around the lobster boiled. The heated water dissipated with the
tide quickly and one bright red cooked lobster began drifting away in the
same direction.

Spot `water walked' Squeak to overtake the lobster and Squeak happily
clutched his prize to his chest. "How is it that you dared to use your tool
under water?" Spot asked cautiously.

"I did not," Squeak protested, "I was frustrated and shot this beautiful
lobster a double bird; both middle fingers. It appears it cooked
itself. Let us get to shore and scare those motherfucking treasure stealing
minions to death, then we will share this food," he promised. "After we
recover our treasure we will return to catch more, now that we know how,"
he added confidently and hoped that the Cats would forget how the lobster
came to be caught and cooked simultaneously.

When the Cats and boy warrior agreed to hunt, they naturally raised their
mind shields so they wouldn't be distracted by mind-speak calls to check
their progress or interrupt the impromptu hunt. So when they thought to
lower their shields as they walked out of the water onto the very rough,
rocky shore, they received a barrage of less than complimentary calls.

The bus was parked on the driveway in plain sight and everyone was standing
outside the front door where they could be seen if the minions weren't so
preoccupied with their game machine. They were waiting for some sort of
signal from the diversionary force that had not been forthcoming for nearly
30 minutes.

"There was a very strong tidal current," Freckles said but of course that
didn't explain why the threesome was out of mind-speak contact for so long.

Freckles stopped at the verge where the high tide met the lawn. He looked
to the right and left. He rolled his eyes but said nothing about the
electrified fence that necessarily stopped abruptly well short of the high
tide mark. They could have walked around the end of the fence without
getting wet.

Squeak giggled before he said, "But if we did that we would not have all
this delicious lobster food." He was careful to be out of tail range.

Freckles could only frown at the very dangerous imp. "You know touching a
Great Cat's mind without permission is very rude." Freckles was shocked to
discover that Squeak had just touched his mind and just like Peter, and
when he did it, Freckles didn't feel the touches.

Squeak moved another 30 feet away from the Cats before he suggested, "Now
would be a good time to shake off to get the minion's attention. None are
armed if you discount a screwdriver one is holding."

When the twin geysers erupted from out on the lawn, the brief but
impressive show did indeed get the minion's attention that was quickly
followed by shock and horror at seeing what caused the geysers. Two smiling
Great Cats held their attention as the four men were frozen in place
staring through the leaded glass window, immobile, while Squeak, still
clutching his lobster cradled in one arm rushed ahead to hold open a French
door so the Cats could enter the big room uncontested.

"It is safe for you to enter now," Squeak sent after the fact, to the mob
waiting impatiently outside, before he very kindly suggested to the four
men; "If I were you I would clasp my hands behind my head to avoid becoming
mid-day food for these hungry Cats, um, on your knees would also be very
nice."

As the rest of the invading party burst into the room, Freckles and Spot
were holding up two of the men by one leg each, using their tails. They
were discussing the probable quality of the meat they were likely to find
inside such pasty human skin. One of the men was bawling like a baby while
the other had passed out and hanging lifeless.

"I think they are ready to tell us everything they know about the missing
treasure," Squeak informed the group.

All eyes fell to Squeak, "Where the fuck did you find that humongous
lobster? Did you guys raid the fridge already?" Buck demanded.

"Um, you might say he was already cooked in the bay before I ever touched
him." That was the truth and was attested to by the Great Cats, which was
no endorsement at all. "Did you hide the bus?" Squeak thought to change the
subject.

"Duh, we would but there's nowhere to hide it," Peter countered.

"Pull it under some trees and then you hide it with camouflage to match the
background like the Ancients painted the walls in Cat City. You are Taras
like me and if I can do it..."

"Yeah, yeah, come on Bani, let's see how we do, but first let's look in the
fridge," he sent via tight mind-speak. "The early bird catches the worm I
always say," Peter added still in mind-speak mode.

"What has bird food to do with looking in the fridge for people food?" Bani
asked out loud, which started a mass migration including the Cats to find
the kitchen.

The four hapless minions suddenly found themselves alone and
unguarded. They whispered about the possibility of escaping until Squeak's
high pitched voice was heard clearly in their minds, "If you run, the Great
Cats will find you in minutes and this is what you will look like." He
sent the image of a very untidy pile of body parts that featured blood red
as the primary color. "However if you cooperate and tell the truth you
could continue to live," Squeak sent to all four minds while he deftly
dissected his prize lobster and shared it with the Cat's as he promised. He
and Spot found the meat so sweet and delicious, boy and Cat were ready to
return to the bottom of the bay to catch more and Squeak could further
perfect his double digit lobster catching by boiling technique.

Since the kitchen in the old house was crowded, Hans and Herman took Evan
into the huge new wing where there was not just another kitchen; it was
also where all the furnishings stolen from Anton at first and then Evan
when he took over after his grandfather's passing were located. Not just
located but designed into beautifully decorated rooms that were both a home
and a museum to display the overflow, the result of ongoing thefts for so
many years and not yet including the treasure that was on its way.

Both Hans and Herman thought the kitchen was strange. Any appliance that
would function by natural gas sat unused beside its electric counterpart
and they already knew that the enormous roof area was covered with
photoelectric panels so apparently the gas appliances were backups if the
roof panels were damaged and the electricity failed. Then Hans discovered a
basement door that revealed a basement that was lined with rows of floor to
ceiling shelves that were packed with every type of food and all basic
supplies that would require a family of five, years and years to
consume. There was also a huge propane powered generator in its own room;
another power source.

"This new building is a doomsday shelter," Herman declared, Hans nodded his
agreement.

Evan looked blank, "A what?" he asked.

"If we are to come to the end of the world as some people are always
forecasting, those who can afford them and want to live longer, will lock
themselves into shelters like these and hope for the best."

"For what purpose," Evan wondered. "I would prefer to join the rest of the
world and allow assholes like Henrik here to try eating my worthless
valuables like a diamond and gold salad with Rolex watches as crackers."

"That is the other point of view, plus I imagine that there would be bands
of people with nothing, constantly trying to break into these fortresses."

"Well Henrik won't have to worry about any more invaders, we're already
here. Let's go find out if those guys know when Henrik is going to show
up. Now that Squeaky and the Cats have them so softened up, I think they
might have a meltdown at any minute."

The four captured men, Henrik's minions, turned out to be nothing more than
furniture movers. At least the five men (including the absent truck driver)
were long time Falconburg Limited employees, and were currently paid by
Evan. Since they started work when Anton was alive, almost nothing they
were told to do was out of the ordinary. They frequently even traveled the
world as they accompanied whatever they were moving and they in turn were
accompanied by men with weapons. Presently they were waiting in what they
thought was just another Falconburg residence to unload a truckload of
valuable `stuff' that they'd retrieved from an art gallery who Henrik told
them, stole it all from Evan Falconburg. They knew it wasn't nice to steal
anything from a Falconburg. People, who crossed Anton Falconburg and now
perhaps his grandson, Evan, only did it once in their very limited
experience that was acquired from company gossip and rumors.

Surprise of surprises, the weapons they carried into the Penguin gallery
were only intended to intimidate the guards; they couldn't be fired,
because they weren't loaded. The men were never asked to do any `wet'
work. In Penguin's case and previously, occasionally, others in Anton's
organization treated Falconburg enemies including thieves to a one way trip
to nowhere, but they knew nothing more about that and didn't want to know.

It was Hans and Hernan's turn to look like, try to look like, innocent
cherubs, but they couldn't pull the look off as easily as Squeak. Obviously
the men didn't know that Hans and Herman were the `travel guides' that
arranged the one way adventures for Falconburg's enemies, if they didn't do
it themselves. Obviously the men had never seen Evan before since he was
asking the questions.

There was a flurry of mind touches including by the Cats before the
mind-speakers agreed that the men were mostly innocent; perhaps guilty of
being gullible but otherwise valuable Falconburg employees since they were
able to keep their mouths shut considering what they must have seen and
heard over the years.

Evan offered his hand to the closest man. "Hi there, I'm Evan Falconburg!"
That man was the same one that Spot threatened to eat while he was dangling
from his tail. He fainted again and after Freckles picked him up and dusted
his clothing off, the man opened his eyes saw what was providing the
service and promptly fainted for the third time. Evan completed what he
wanted to say to the rest of the crew. "I just want you to know that none
of this was your fault. You still have your jobs if you want them and your
first task will be to drive the truck back into the City, to the gallery
you took the treasure from and then help unload it. Oh, one more thing;
would you happen to know where Henrik is now and when he plans to be here?"

The most talkative guy, the one furthest away from the Great Cats and who
hadn't experienced being dangled by one leg, shrugged. He elaborated when
he saw Evan frown while the Cats actually were smiling but he obviously
didn't know that. He hastened to add; "He could be at any one of your
homes here in the States, the only one he doesn't ever stay at is Somerset
Farm. Maybe that's because it's your principle residence and he doesn't
want to intrude."

Everyone including the Cats began laughing at Evan while his mouth moved as
if he was talking, perhaps shouting, but nothing came out. "Why is Evan
rendered speechless from this information?" Innocent Squeak asked Buck in
passing. He laughed with everyone else but didn't know why. At that moment
he was more interested in resuming the hunt for lobster, since one,
although huge was not enough when sharing with his hunting partners, Spot
and Freckles.

"Well, maybe because he didn't know that he owned any other homes in the
United States. He's never mentioned any and he loves to brag about what he
owns. If he owned more homes than we do, you can bet he'd have let us
know," Buck presumed accurately.

Evan began searching a desk until he found a legal pad and a pen, which he
handed to the most talkative man. He ordered him and his three compatriots
to write down the address of every one of the Falconburg residences they
knew about, whether they delivered anything to any of them or not.

When Squeak noticed Peter laughing with the others he was inspired. He sent
his inspiration to Spot and Freckles who ambled over to Peter to tell him
that they needed his help, but first they helped him by carrying him
outside, out of sight of the windows before they stripped him and began
grooming him so well, he began to look like a member of the `Blue Man
Group' (with hair).

While this was happening he began protesting that he didn't require
grooming until a giggling Squeak appeared between the Cats with a large
wire dog cage he found in the house, balanced neatly on his head. The cage
would be splendid for storing their anticipated catch. "We need your help
Finder, to find us more lobster and for that you must be warm while you
point them out to us, so we can catch them. We will share the delicious
meat in return," he explained his inspiration to open negotiations.

Peter was careful not to laugh, but he had to decline as diplomatically as
possible to avoid offending the irrepressible, always happy little boy who
also possessed frightening Ancient powers who had yet to discover his
limitations. "I'd be most happy to help your hunt by playing bird dog,
Squeak, BUT, I think you've forgotten at least one very important thing. As
you know I am not a Cat warrior and I am certainly not a Great Cat. While I
may be a Tara as everyone but me seems to think; I'm not sure that this
white warrior Tara can hold his breath long enough to be helpful."

Peter turned away and began to return to the house so he didn't see Spot
grab Squeak who was holding the former wire dog crate, but he felt Freckles
tail wrap around his waist and he was whisked aloft while both Great Cats
ran at the water. "Inhale deeply," Freckles instructed while in mid
leap. It seemed that there were two contests; one was a race to the water
and the second involved which brother could leap farthest into the bay

"FRECKLES...!" Peter had time to scream before splash down as the hunting
party of four disappeared under the water.

The twin splashes, sight and sound, and Peter's scream both aloud and in
mind-speak brought everyone out of the house just in time to wave down all
three helicopters together since there was room on the lawn overlooking the
bay.

"Why are you trying to drown me?" Peter demanded of the Great Cats by
mind-speak when Freckles' dive leveled off at 10 feet, so he could surface
Peter quickly if the experiment failed.

"You must will yourself not to inhale, to make it so, and then you can swim
under the water as long as any Cat warrior," Freckles replied. "I hope," he
added, which was not confidence inspiring.

"I liked it better when I was your executive assistant; now that I'm a Tara
I get no respect at all,"

"You will note that I am holding you around your middle and not your neck,
that is a sign of respect,"

"Big deal, you're holding me 50 feet underwater trying to drown me," Peter
sulked from being mishandled. Freckles corrected the over-estimated depth
and hoped Peter would adjust because swimming was difficult with Peter in
tow and he wanted to sink to the bottom so he could walk instead of swim.

After five minutes, Freckles asked Peter "Do you feel the need to breathe
like a human yet?"

"No not yet, but that doesn't mean I won't. What's Squeak doing with that
dog kennel? Do you want me to look for dog fish, if there is such a thing?"
While Peter was bitching, Freckles sank to the bottom and water walked
beside Spot while Squeak was being held out in front playing at being a
delectable lobster bait or tasty lure. Peter stopped bitching when they
actually reached the bottom, about 50 feet down. Squeak explained the use
for the wire dog crate and laughed at Peter for hunting dog fish.

"Sorry no dog fish today, but there's three fair size lobster out there,
there and over there," Peter pointed out at the three so far unsuspecting
prospective prey and then took charge of the kennel so Squeak could do his
thing as an acting bait with both hands free, although catching didn't
explain how the first lobster was cooked.

Spot moved toward the first quarry but stopped when Squeak raised just one
hand not two, with two middle fingers extended as before. The first time he
was angry and frustrated, but this hunt, he was deliberate. "Don't get
cute," Spot warned.

"This is called an experiment," Squeak informed everyone who could
mind-speak, as, just like the first time, the water grew noticeably warmer
around the hunters, and boiling around the lobster. Spot walked forward and
bent Squeak down to collect his drifting, perfectly cooked lobster that he
handed off to Peter.

"That demonstration of power was scary," Peter sent to Freckles
confidentially.

"Hurry, the other two must have felt the temperature change, they are
fleeing." Freckles said to contribute his two cents to the hunt. Squeak
raised his hand again, started the second lobster cooking and merely moved
his arm over to bring down the third that had been moving away from the
danger zone at speed.

The gang that was riding in the choppers was just as hungry as everyone
from the Cat Mobile and with Bucky and Victoria on the ground at last,
Bucky once again challenged Victoria to find a local pet friendly (or
service `animal' friendly) restaurant that could and would accommodate them
all for a real `down east' lobster dinner with the number of dinners and
wine to be adjusted up accordingly to accommodate two Great Cats and four
warriors this time, in addition to the regular gang.

Ten minutes later Victoria returned to Bucky with her hand out, palm
up. Bucky counted out $1000 and asked when his wife wanted to collect the
second part of the bet, even though they hadn't made a bet this
time. Victoria believed like Bucky; if one could throw enough money at a
project, one would eventually succeed. She whispered in Bucky's ear,
"Somehow the restaurant got the impression that our service animals are
dogs so we will need the taller boys to screen them in the back, just like
before, until we are being seated."

That comment brought previously silent golden Fang to life from inside the
bus with considerable ever changing laughter borrowed from the boys. These,
as the Cat warriors still on land were rolling around on the lawn. Fang's
laughter increased as he or it left the bus and drifted slowly through the
house. He paused to look at the three moving men who had just revived their
friend, which was enough to cause the fourth man to have another
relapse. "The big red thing with nasty black things on its feet has
arrived," he said to Bucky.

"Do you mean the semi-truck?" Sidi risked asking as a joke. He had just
regained his feet after laughing at Victoria's whisper. Fang turned his
bulk to face Sidi and Sidi promptly tripped over his feet somehow to fall
flat on his face. Bucky couldn't help laughing at Sidi and incidentally at
Fang who was imitating Bucky's gravelly laugh perfectly. "Our younglings
only learn the hard way," he observed before he returned to being an inert
golden effigy sitting at Bucky's side.

Bucky looked at his watch and asked, "Can someone call the hunting party to
the surface? We're all hungry and cold."

Bani answered for the group, "Sorry Chief Bucky, no can do; they have their
shields up."

This caused Fang to activate once again and turn to face the water. No one
overheard what he said in mind-speak except the last word was, "NOW!"

Fortunately for Fang's progeny, the Great Cats had been moving against the
tide, further up into the bay. The tide hadn't turned yet so they went
shallow and by swimming to control direction, they were able to get back to
the rocks that fronted the house in near record time. The group on shore
was able to monitor their progress because the Cats had to lift Peter
and/or Squeak's head above water occasionally to `see' where they were
going with their tails.

Peter had no trouble carrying the dog kennel that was over half full of
lobster until he was able to touch bottom and the cage was no longer
buoyant, so Squeak happily took over as if their catch didn't actually
weigh nearly 200 pounds. Peter grinned and shrugged sheepishly but stayed
close to Freckles, Spot and Squeak, because when Fang called them to shore
he battered their mental defenses as if they didn't exist and he wasn't
interested in being punished separately. He forgot that the golden Fang
couldn't move its paws or there was no doubt that the twin Great Cat sons
at least, would have gone flying without their helicopter and he didn't
want to be collateral damage.

"Now what do we do, they caught enough lobster for everyone so we won't
need the restaurant reservations?" Bucky said to Victoria.

"Nonsense darling, the restaurant I chose didn't have a private dining
room, so I booked the entire place, paid in advance. Those lobsters can be
reheated, the Cats will have lobster rolls, and we'll need side dishes and
of course, wine."

Bucky brightened, "Well then, let's get this show on the road. Do we fly if
there's somewhere to land? We certainly all can't fit on the bus."

Victoria looked the boys over before she decided, "None of the boys from
the bus can possibly go into a restaurant dressed as they are, they all
look like rather unsuccessful rag pickers. They will take our helicopter
and visit L.L. Bean in Freeport to buy suitable clothing first while we
will use the bus. There will be room to land all three helicopters in the
restaurant parking lot since our party is their only customer this
evening."

"You heard the boss lady," Bucky said to the boys, "let's move out!"

Evan sent his five moving men in the semi-truck, back to New York. Then he
gave Will the hand written list of addresses and ordered contingents of
Trenton security men to occupy those, what he assumed to be residences that
he didn't know he owned and if one happened to find Henrik in residence
then they were to take him in custody and deliver him to Somerset Farm.

Will had a problem with that, he wanted Henrik's photo, which Evan didn't
have, nor were there any known photos of Henrik anywhere in the Falconburg
organization. If there were any, they had been removed. Describing him as a
German National who `looked' German and spoke English with a heavy German
accent was insufficient identification, he explained. He pointed to Hans
and Herman as two examples who could find themselves in handcuffs for the
return trip to Somerset Farm.

Herman grinned, "We will go peacefully without handcuffs after lobster
supper," he agreed, "but not before," he declared as he and Hans patted
their weapons array lovingly, daring any of the boys to try to take them
down.

###

All five of Evan's `furniture movers' were finally and very thankfully in
the truck and on the road back to New York City, and most importantly, they
were all still alive. None wanted anything more to do with any species of
cats or even one cat, especially one that outweighed any two of them.

The man that drove the truck to Maine, asked, "Are you guys sure that we
shouldn't call Henrik like we usually do if he isn't there to meet us to
place the junk?"

"Fuck no, in case you don't remember, the little kid we just met, was Evan
Falconburg himself and he just found out that Henrik has been ripping him
off with our help, even though we didn't know it. Too bad you didn't
experience being held upside down by a giant cat's tail, being discussed by
the same cats as if we were on the fucking menu!"

"I thought we were. On the menu I mean. Can you believe talking cats?"

"You didn't think shit; you kept fainting just like a pussy. That cat could
have eaten your ass and you wouldn't have known..."

"...until the next time you tried to take a shit!"

"Fuck all you guys! Seriously, where do you think those cat's and those
little native kids came from?" Three of the five men pointed up; the first
driver hadn't thought about it.

"That's what I thought too. Maybe Falconburg's' got him his own personal
space ship since he has a bunch of personal satellites?"

"Maybe, at least that's something Henrik hasn't stolen yet; and now that
the kid is looking for him he won't have the chance."

"He must already know something's wrong since we didn't call."

"I bet he's got him a hidey hole somewhere; somewhere we've never delivered
to."

"If he does, it better be fucking deep because when the kid finds him; well
remember that photo of a pile of picked over bloody bones, we were shown?"

"I remember seeing it, but when I looked again, it wasn't there."

"Well, I remember that littlest kid's warning about that happening to us if
we ran, and, um, that picture."

###

Victoria had been almost completely honest with the restaurant management;
the party would arrive in three helicopters and one RV bus. She guaranteed
the astronomical dollar amount with a platinum credit card and even waited
patiently while the transaction was confirmed so it couldn't be
canceled. The only area she did not elaborate on was the `service animals';
she allowed management to presume that they would be dogs. She didn't think
the restaurant would be too upset since they would make three times their
normal daily gross and the Cat warriors, Peter and The Cats were supplying
most of the lobster.

When Victoria really looked at the assembled gang who was about to re-board
the bus for the trip to Freeport and the L.L. Bean store, she revised the
travel plans. The bus, the gang and the Cats would proceed directly to the
restaurant with Bucky aboard to keep order. Meanwhile, she would take
mind-speakers, Will and Joe with her, flying in Great Cat or Black Widow
and descend on L.L. Bean to do the shopping. There was just no way such a
large group of `rag pickers' could be seen in public before they were
properly attired. Most of the grumbling stopped when Bucky reluctantly
boarded and all of it from the warriors stopped when golden Fang followed
Bucky.

Strangely, Bucky wouldn't allow Squeak to move the Cat Mobile until the
helicopters had lifted off. Then he asked Evan; "Would there by any chance
be anything to drink in your new house, and maybe a pound or two of butter
and a pot to melt it? I was thinking that a cocktail party with lobster
hors d'oeuvres would be in order until Victoria returns with your clothes."

No further suggestions or questions from the gang were necessary. Evan
didn't touch the ground or floor until they were all deep inside the new
wing. There was a fully stocked wine cellar with only the best vintages
from around the world while bottled beer was more limited in brands and
quantity because unlike wine, it didn't age and there was insufficient
cooler space. But there was enough for the impromptu party, a picnic in the
parking area alongside the camouflaged bus that was only spoiled by the
open storage bay where the lobster were stored in their dog crate. Peter
stood around guarding the closed bay that concealed the hampers packed with
energy fruit.

The time to reveal the Ancient fruit's effects was in a bedroom. Peter was
also unsure of the fruit's unique effects on the Cat warriors. There was no
way to keep them away from the fruit so he thought it would be best if they
tried them the first time, behind closed doors.

The warriors had resorted to using large stainless steel bowls from the
house to clean the lobster because they were disappointed to find from
Peter that bananas didn't grow in the land of snow and ice, hence there
were no leaves to use as serving plates.

When the gang returned from the house, they each carried a case of wine or
a particular brand of imported beer. Freckles found a box of the new
plastic trash bags that refused to tear that the gang used on Sea Song to
move the Cat People's currency instead of the special Ancient folding
storage boxes and had the warriors fill them with ice cubes from the
icemaker. (That was a machine that would soon be on the list of things to
have back home in Cat City.) He and Spot carried those heavy, bulky bags.

None of the gang could find a corkscrew to present to Bucky so he could
uncork the wine and there wasn't one on the bus. The Cat's hadn't bothered
to look because they didn't know what a corkscrew was. Freckles disappeared
back into the bus while Bucky described the essential tool to
Spot. Although Bucky wasn't looking forward to opening dozens of bottles
necessary to satisfy two Great Cat's appetites.

Spot asked the boys to open the wine cases and be sure to stand the bottles
upright before he stared at the bottles briefly and corks began flying,
randomly at first until he perfected his aim at anyone whose back was
turned. That was when Freckles emerged from the bus carrying his travel
bowls in his tail.

"Where did you get those bowls?" Peter asked suspiciously. "I know they
weren't on the bus, there wasn't enough room to store them."

Freckles looked down his nose at Peter. He answered in his most haughty
tone, "You yourself suggested that I make these travel bowls, so I made
them. A travel bowl that refuses to travel when required is just a bowl."

"Somehow I knew I shouldn't have asked."

With that cryptic explanation, the nested bowls separated. Two were for ice
cubes and wine and one was devoted to lobster meat that the Cats would
share. Fortunately there was no shortage of towels and unfortunately there
was no fresh fruit to be found.

The party was messy but fun and entertained the gang and the impetuous
Great Cats and Cat warriors. Bucky was stuffed and just a bit tipsy when
Will mind-spoke the group that Great Cat was in the air and would touch
down at the restaurant in 30 minutes after being stuffed with new cloth
coverings for the few and clothing for the many `rag pickers'.

The gang loaded all the unopened consumables for use during the return trip
to New Jersey, and returned bowls and other household items, which left a
small mountain of debris; bottles, boxes and lobster shells, but no meat or
whole lobster. "What do we do with the trash; we can't leave it here?"
Bucky asked.

Fang's eyes came to life briefly and everything of questionable value
disappeared.

Bucky rubbed his eyes. "Where did all that stuff go?"

Peter hiccupped and offered Bucky a lopsided grin. "Fang sent it all into
nothingness," he explained. "Even I can do that, now that I know how,
although the warriors and I have to use our tools." When he saw that Bucky
wasn't satisfied with that explanation, he elaborated somewhat; "Any trash
or debris of any kind can be reduced in size as big as dust. Then it's
transported by will to somewhere else. If it's dry it looks like so much
dust and very fine sand but if it gets wet, it turns into muck. That's how
the river delta came into being. Simple," he added and tried to snap his
fingers.

Golden Fang anticipated the boys and his progeny as the bus neared the
restaurant by gliding from beside Bucky to the door, and then turn to face
the mob who expected to race each other out the door. The statue dared
anyone to try to squeeze past him without speaking a word.

The bus arrived three minutes before Great Cat the helicopter touched down
as close to the bus as Devin could safely get to the building. Will sent
Victoria's orders to the Cat Mobile; they needed assistance in carrying the
new clothing from the chopper to the bus, however only those most decently
clad; the guys wearing the new golden long underwear needed to help. Will
and Joe followed the guys onto the bus to disperse the new clothing
according to size. They also carried one very full bag each, which they
presented to little Squeak, since Victoria knew his exact sizes.

The next half hour on the bus was like early Christmas that the Great Cats
and Cat warriors knew to be some sort of white warrior religious holiday
that they could have been celebrating annually had they not eliminated
every robed missionary that intruded into their territory hundreds of years
earlier, accompanied by the warriors wearing those ridiculous iron suits or
alone. Those early intrusions could be smelled and heard from miles
away. However, since they always enjoyed holidays, at least one every week,
they felt they got the better of the two worlds without having to kneel
down to strange effigies made from stolen property that the white warriors
first saw in the People's treasure cave.

Since Squeak suddenly had another new wardrobe, he decided to go for the
`layered look' without knowing there was a layered look until Doug noticed
that he could barely walk. Doug pointed out that the layered looked did
not include three pairs of cord pants, four flannel shirts, a leather
jacket and two ski parkas, complete with all manufacturer's and store
tags. The boys ganged up on him, and tickling made him defenseless so they
soon had him `dressed down' with the promise that he could always change
his cloth coverings whenever he wanted to; NOT including inside the
restaurant. They made him leave the clothes he wasn't wearing behind, in
Fang's safe keeping.

While Freckles and Spot wore their eyeglasses and neckties, the boys
extracted their promise not to smile, frown at or talk to any humans they
encountered inside. The twins still looked fearsome since their incisor
teeth never quite fit inside their whiskered lips since the day of their
birth, and in fact continued to grow with the rest of their bodies as they
matured. Witness their sire Fang; even his statue accurately resembled a
saber tooth tiger (with much shorter incisors), an effective and highly
efficient killing machine at first glance. While the Cats agreed, they
still noted the server's fear and no small amount of wonder; they still
didn't exactly resemble any kind of service animal the restaurant ever saw,
glasses and neckties notwithstanding. Victoria made a sincere effort to
change all that, at least a little bit.

She intentionally entered the restaurant after everyone else, because she
had surprise presents for the Great Cats; more human stuff that she thought
they could actually `wear' in the Cat's never ending quest to fit in with
their human friends. She bought the Cats two of the largest backpacks that
L.L. Bean had for sale. Both were rush monogrammed; Spot's was powder blue
and Freckles was wine, his favorite dinnertime color.

Will produced a second plastic sack; black nylon web strapping and
industrial Velcro to match the back pack's straps. The extra items were
purchased from Lowe's since they had the most vacant parking space where
Devin could land Great Cat, although under protest, and only if Joe and
Will were very quick shoppers in the very large box store.

Joe bought the straps and Velcro while Will purchased special epoxy glue
that would adhere to the straps and Velcro so the backpacks could be
modified and worn on the Cat's shoulders and be removed with the flick of a
tail, although they would need help to don the new human accoutrements that
nearly every student wore or carried constantly.

The Great Cats were excited and vied with each other to be fitted first, by
pushing each other's shoulders. When Victoria saw that they were about to
start a rough and tumble, she raised her voice just like she did with her
son, Buck. "You two stop this at once; if you don't, you will not receive
your back packs!" she warned. The twins immediately prostrated themselves
with their front legs stretched straight out with their heads on their
legs. Their expressions changed subtly so both Cats managed to look
contrite after being scolded.

"Apology accepted," Victoria said as she bent and patted both massive
heads. "Now, first we will order our dinner and wine, then the boys and I
will see about getting you both fitted at the same time," she decreed. The
restaurant staff watched the impeccably dressed lady manage the two service
cats, definitely not dogs, with open mouth wonder and also wondered which
of the dinner party required so much four legged help.

Since Victoria took over the whole restaurant for the evening, the party
enjoyed the service of the entire wait staff despite the presence of two
very special `service animals' that turned out to be giant cats. An 18%
gratuity was automatically added to all large party checks so they knew
they would all receive a minimum of that surcharge and if they proved to be
efficient and friendly, there was always the possibility that they might
receive more at the customer's whim.

Of course the group who had been on the bus, the one's most stylishly
dressed in the latest L.L. Bean winter fashions, ordered steak while those
who had flown on the helicopters, including Victoria, looked forward to
enjoying the lobster that Squeak, Peter and the Great Cats had caught, as
their entrée. The growing row in which some boys called others pigs (a
killing offense in some secluded regions of the world), ended when one
innocent waiter asked Squeak if he would like to sit on a booster seat that
fit neatly between the arms of his classic captain's chair in the typical
rustic `down east' bay front lobster house.

There was a flurry of mind-speak pleas and reminders for Squeak not to be
offended but he had already answered, "Yes please," and, "Thank you," after
he plopped his little butt into the perfect size chair so he was at the
perfect height to eat and of course tend to Spot's needs with a stack of
extra napkins that Peter had already asked for. Peter also had two place
settings cleared, and the corresponding chairs removed on his and Squeak's
right; two places where the Cats would sit on the floor.

Squeak touched the waiter's mind and said, "You can scratch him if you want
to, his name is Spot." That worthy bent his head helpfully and raised it
under the waiter's hand. "I think Spot would like to have his ears
scratched." Then he added, "You can use both hands to scratch both ears at
the same time." Spot began his motorboat purr while he rubbed his head
against the waiter's body. "He likes you."

"You could scratch my ears too," Freckles sent to Peter in open mind-speak
that caused all the mind-speakers to laugh suddenly for no apparent reason.

"I could but I have to go out to get the travel bowls someone, not
mentioning anyone's name, forgot."

"Perhaps, that human opening the wine would like to scratch my ears,"
Freckles suggested.

"I think he would, but he won't ever have time. Bucky ordered four cases or
48 bottles to start. Opening wine is a pain in the ass," Peter countered.

"No problem," Freckles sent back to Peter, just before Peter heard his own
voice tell the waiter; "If you step back, or maybe scratch this Cat's ears,
I will show you a trick with those wine bottles."

The waiter promptly left the serving trolley, handed Peter his corkscrew
and began scratching Freckles' ears. The waiter knew that Peter's lips
hadn't moved, but if he was a magician, he could also be a really good
ventriloquist who could `throw' his voice perfectly while frowning at the
docile giant cat sitting at his side. All the remaining corks popped out
at the same time and flew to hit the guys who were laughing at Freckles the
hardest. Unfortunately there wasn't enough ammunition to make them stop
completely before the second motorboat started in harmony with the first
and Freckles' detractors were forgotten.

Peter left the restaurant wearing a frown, shaking his head and mumbling
dire threats but when he returned with the travel bowls, he was
laughing. He told everyone that what looked like the whole town turned out
to see the three helicopters and the elegant bus that someone, without
mentioning names again, had forgotten to de-camouflage before it left
Evan's new estate. Also, less remarkable but entirely predictable; one of
those residents just happened to be none other than the towns' Constable
and Justice of the Peace, with his wife, who seemed to be a very happy
wife, on his arm.

"Someone from inside this restaurant called someone outside and mentioned
that there are two giant spotted cat's in here to have dinner with a
private party!" Peter announced with a laugh and rapidly touched servers'
minds. He felt a guilty young man who was scratching Spot and was near his
age squirm mentally. Then a girl, two more guys and one of the owners; all
made separate calls, to tell someone about the helicopters, the RV and the
cats. He pointed to the first guy and said, "Can you help me in the
kitchen? I need to fill these bowls with ice and maybe get some fresh
pineapple if you have any."

Once in the kitchen, the waiter admitted that he called his parents to tell
them about the cats' presence. He defended his action by saying that
nothing happens in the small town of 1200 permanent residents in the
winter. He said summer vacationers bring most of the interesting activities
that the townsfolk see and talk about and the transport and cats were a
lucky winter diversion. The result, news spread and the residents came out
to see for themselves and no one was about to leave, despite the increased
cold after sundown or the snow when it began to fall; everyone wanted to
see the two cats.

There were only six pineapples, but the kitchen also had oranges, lemons,
limes, lots of apples, and the bar contributed a gallon jar of cherries and
two quarts of vodka, so Peter created fortified sangrias. Everything went
into the bowls with the ice in the kitchen except the red wine that would
be added in the dining room.

The helpful waiter wanted to know who was going to drink two punch bowls
full of sangria; he would place extra glasses. To answer, Peter asked if
the waiter could remember the recipe, since at least one and possibly two
more refills would be required before dinner was finished because the two
bowls were drink bowls for the Cats; that would be Cats with a capital `C'.

The kitchen had plenty of freshly baked rolls to serve the traditional
lobster rolls, so Peter instructed the chef about substituting lobster for
steak that would be served to the Cats for dinner; start with a dozen each
and be prepared to grill more. Of course the restaurant certainly didn't
have gold serving platters or trays, nor did they have silver, so the Cats
would have to suffer through dinner being served on aluminum trays, if they
wanted to eat dinner. He checked via mind-speak. The food on the tray was
more important than the inferior metal serving tray, just as he thought.

Once Peter and the waiter placed the incomplete drinks in front of the Cats
and each Cat waited impatiently for them to top off the bowls with a dozen
bottles of wine, the helpful waiter had questions. "Is it legal to serve
alcohol to animals?" and, "Do you want to use our house red wine, instead
of this stuff that costs $125 per bottle?" Something smacked the back of
the waiter's head that caused him to say, "OW!" and look back while Spot
studied the ceiling.

"Would it surprise you if I told you that these Cats understood what you
said, and they also have prehensile tails? You'll find out about that when
you serve them their steak sandwiches and Spot just used his to tell you to
stop with the questions," Peter answered questions with one of his
own. Spot followed through by pouring the first bottle of the expensive
stuff, which started a race between Spot and Freckles. Peter and the waiter
helped and just about the time the bowls were full and the Cats were about
to dive into Peter's sangria concoction for ice cubes and fruit, Victoria
stopped them.

"Oh no you don't, if you want to be fitted for your backpacks now,"
Victoria told the Cats.

Peter had his back to Freckles when someone, not mentioning names, used his
voice to ask Victoria, "Can the Cats stand up to be fitted, AND drink their
drinks at the same time?"

The waiter saw Peter shake a frustrated warning fist at Freckles but didn't
know why, just before he pushed the Cat roughly so he would move to the
side slightly so there was room to place the backpack high on the Cats'
shoulders so he and Victoria could figure out how to arrange the straps
around, and behind the Cat's legs and another between them to join yet
another around his neck without interfering with his necktie or his
communicator.

While Peter and Victoria worked on Freckles' pack, Squeak and the boldest
waiter did the same for Spot. When it was time to cut the new strap
material to the required lengths, Squeak pulled Peter down to his level,
below the tabletop so they couldn't be seen. Peter held the strap and
Squeak drew his finger over the imaginary lines to do the cutting and melt
the cut ends slightly so they wouldn't fray with use. When they saw that
the special adhesive required 24 hours to bond properly, they simply
squeezed those areas where the Velcro needed to be attached so the bonds
were made by `welding' without using the adhesive at all.

The work was finished just about the same time as the sangria. The modified
backpacks became the first ever `Catpacks' as the Velcro tabs were
closed. Peter and Squeak wiped Cat faces and everyone gathered to see the
result while the Cats posed. Peter sent the helpful waiter and a helper
off to the kitchen to make two fresh drinks, before he suggested that the
Cats make a quick lap around the restaurant to make sure the packs would
stay in place.

Big mistake; vague instructions were far worse that no instructions in this
case. Spot grabbed and seated Squeak on his back and both Cats raced to and
out the front door before anyone could stop them. Fortunately it was dark
and the outside lighting was poor, so just a few local residents only
thought they saw something before two happy Cats and one very happy boy
returned. Unfortunately the same residents pointed down at huge animal
tracks in the powdery snow to confirm what they thought, before the tracks
were obliterated by more falling snow.

Frustrated Peter rolled his eyes and his head. "I meant take a lap around
INSIDE the restaurant," he said.

"OOOPS," the Cats and Squeak replied in unison.

"This new pack is like a saddle," Squeak said happily, "I am Marshal
Rooster Cogburn, from the old American west! High-Ho-Sliver!"

"Sorry Rooster," Doug said to Squeak with a laugh, "You've got your movies
mixed up." He explained the great time difference between the half hour,
black and white TV show and the more recent movie starring the great white
warrior, John Wayne.

While the boys and warriors discussed TV shows, motion pictures and games
played on televisions, dinner was served. While Freckles and Spot
demonstrated their tails' dexterity eating their steak sandwiches, when
their tails were not otherwise engaged both held them up so they could
study themselves wearing their unique Cat packs. They agreed without false
modesty that they were two very handsome Great Cat students. Of course the
Cat conversation was conducted in open mind-speak so everyone except Bucky
and Victoria heard and agreed with the Cats' opinion.

Buck finally asked a question, "Now that you've got packs, what are you
going to put in them? You don't need to carry books; you can read any book
without disturbing the pages and you remember every word." He reminded
them that they always used the closest printer if they needed to write
anything so they had no need of notebooks, pens or pencils. Further, no
teenage Great Cat could ever hope to carry enough food, even for a snack,
in one of those little packs, so the original question remained.

"I know what I will carry," Spot was first to answer while he gazed
lovingly down on his little Cat friend. Squeak, the friend in question,
jumped up to stand on his booster seat before he jumped to the floor, well
out of Cat tail range in the direction of the door.

"Oh no, you will not stuff this brave warrior in your Cat pack," he
declared from a safe distance, "If you try, I promise the fur will fly as
your new pack disappears into nothingness!"

Doug broke up laughing. "Can we assume that was a definite NO?" He asked
Squeak out loud.

The restaurant staff looked at Doug strangely before they glanced at each
other and shrugged. They knew that friends and relatives who were shivering
outside would ask and continue to ask far more questions about this unique
party than they could make up plausible answers to already, so some of the
commentary would simply be left out.

Spot moved in a blur of speed and when everyone looked to see where he
went, they saw that he had Squeak clutched in his tail was and grooming his
face while he apologized profusely for the affront to Tara Squeak, The
Enforcer.

"Speaking of manners," Peter sent to Freckles while touching his head to
Freckles' side so what he said would remain confidential between the two
forever. That was a new trick Peter didn't know that he knew until that
moment. He didn't know why this intimate form of mind-speak worked or how
he knew about it; he just suddenly knew. "Have you thought of a way to
thank Victoria properly for your new packs and cloth coverings, and
Victoria and Bucky for allowing us to almost take over their ostentatious
hut?" he asked, but didn't wait for an answer. "If you haven't, I have a
suggestion."

"Bani planned to gift Victoria and Chief Bucky with his stonewood tree and
any other works she chooses. He will make others smaller and different for
sale, but the first tree is very special; it is the only tree that will
ever contain the Council of 12," Freckles answered. "Did you have something
else in mind?"

"I was thinking that it might be very nice to give them a mini-holiday. If
you can keep everyone busy in here, I will go out to the bus, remake the
bed and stock the sleeping space with a nice bowl of energy fruit and a jar
of paste. I will drive back to Trenton Hall and you will officially assist
me to drive and unofficially assist Bucky and Victoria to have a very good
time in the closed resting place during the five hour trip. We will give
them a unique, lasting memory of this adventure, while everyone else will
return in the helicopters," Peter concluded.

Freckles didn't agree or disagree with Peter's proposal, he merely said,
"My honored sire Fang will assist you to drive the Cat Mobile after you
teach him how."

Freckles started his diversion by using Peter's voice to request a drink
refill and a `few' more delicious steak sandwiches. This order prompted
Squeak to request a similar order for Spot, and another steak dinner for
himself. Then, not to be `out eaten' by little Squeak, the warriors ordered
three more steak dinners, before they would be ready for dessert; apple and
blueberry pie(s) alamode.

Before Peter excused himself to go to the restroom, he instructed the
helpful waiter in keeping Freckles' face wiped after each drink from his
bowl and as necessary, while he ate his sandwiches. Once safely alone in
the men's room Peter took out his precious tool and pushed the clicker on
one end. No one saw him exit the building and had to assume that a rogue
gust of wind blew open the door somehow even though all commercial doors
open out, not in.

Outside, he grabbed one whole basket of energy fruit from the storage bay
and found himself and the basket inside the bus in the blink of an eye. He
slowed to make the bed carefully and when he went to hide the soiled linen
in the stacked washer he laughed at what he found already hidden there. The
new Cat packs would be the perfect places to store Kad and Sidi's tools
that could be used in an emergency if a Tara wasn't present and he didn't
think that the Cat's would object, although Bani might since he considered
his bodyguards to be somewhat impetuous, also termed flakey.

Golden Fang came to life to say that Chief Bucky looked forward to an
un-interrupted interlude with his mate and he would order wine and small
foods for the journey. Peter was completely surprised, apparently
confidential mind-speak messages were not confidential to mature Great Cats
with direct line telephones, "Honored Great Cat Fang, you listened in on
our conversation and you asked him already?"

"Yes, we will have great amusement. You will teach this Cat to drive and
then this Cat will teach you how to drive like a Great Cat."

"Oh boy, I can hardly wait," Peter tried to sound enthusiastic.

If Fang noticed, he didn't comment, he had Peter's future as Tara Peter the
Finder to discuss, or rather inform. Peter would need a proper human
mate. He suggested Edvard. Then he was to seek Chief Bucky's advice in the
purchase of another Kermit flying machine for use by him and the Cat People
to journey to and from the Cat lands. Next Peter needed to hire is own
replacement as the Great Cat's Executive Assistant.

"How about Tracy, he's Kermit's present steward? As you know he was with me
almost everywhere I went when I was there. Did you like him?" Peter knew
that he was actually talking to the living Fang through the statue and the
real Fang had met Tracy in some frantic rough and tumbles in Angus' home
and in Cat City and was in fact reluctant to depart the Cat lands so
quickly. Freckles had also rough and tumbled he and Tracy often enough on
Kermit during the flights in both directions, so there were few personal
secrets between them. Fang approved of sky warrior Tracy and suggested that
Tracy also find a human friend or a mate who would be prepared to assist
Tracy in his position of Executive Assistant to Great Cats, and now three
and perhaps more Taras should more be discovered.

Then Fang asked if Peter knew of uses for any of the other Ancient plants
that were growing in Cat City. The statue watched Peter's mind click on as
he searched hidden recesses, latent knowledge that only a true Ancient
might possess. Peter cupped his chin, deep in thought before he said,
"Well, do you know of the small tree that develops white round fruit?
They're about the size of softballs when they're ripe, the white turns
crystal clear and you can see through them because they're full of a clear
liquid. If you squeeze one they feel like a water balloon."

"Show an image in your mind so I may see this softball tree." Fang
directed, then said, "Yes, I know this tree; they grow close to the
Ancient's throne. Great Cats do not squeeze a thing more than once."

Peter laughed, he could imagine why a Great Cat, with needle sharp claws
could not squeeze anything as fragile as a water balloon. "That's the bunch
of trees I mean, growing close to the throne and the resting places so they
were always close for the Ancients to pick for themselves."

"You know that Great Cats and Cat People can drink alcohol without getting
drunk; well the Ancients weren't affected by alcohol either so they
introduced these softball fruit that I guess contain something else. If an
Ancient picked one that was ripe, meaning completely clear with the stem
attached, the juice inside turns blue in minutes and it's ready to
drink. To drink the juice the Ancient would carefully push the hollow stem
into the fruit and suck the juice out. If a Cat warrior, an Ancient or
probably a Great Cat drank too much of the blue juice you would get drunk
just like humans do from drinking alcoholic drinks. If I'd remembered these
softballs while I was there, I would have tried one to see what happens.
If the juice tasted good and had a kick, we could grow them in groves and
pick the ripe ones year-round but I don't think they would ever be as
profitable as paste is going to be."

Peter took the rare opportunity to be alone with Great Cat Fang to discuss
something that had been bothering him. Freckles hired him away from the
Trenton's while he was working as the steward on Kermit, and Freckles
doubled his salary to work as the Great Cat's Executive Assistant in part
because he had thumbs and he wasn't afraid of Freckles from the very
beginning. However there was never any discussion about how and when he was
to be paid. He was living in luxury but he still had truck payments that
he'd been making from his savings and he'd like to provide for his mother
so she didn't have to work. He didn't dare use a credit or debit card to
purchase anything for himself; he was just about flat ass broke.

Golden Fang's emerald eyes flashed briefly. He said, "That was what humans
call an oversight. It has been corrected." Of course Fang didn't say what
he'd done; Peter would just have to wait and see.

"Thanks Great Cat. I've got to get back inside before I'm missed. Freckles
just ate the last of the restaurant's blueberry pies without help! He's a
mess!"

Peter had no sooner appeared in the dining room when he was all but
assaulted by JC and Edvard. Edvard was laughing but JC was frowning. "Your
name will be added to all the Katz family accounts by tomorrow morning," JC
announced. "You should have said something about not being paid. Great Cats
know nothing about paying wages regularly, so from now on, Tara Peter, you
can pay yourself."

Edvard wrapped his arm around Peter's neck so he could whisper his good
news in Peter's ear. Great Cat Fang just ordered him to resign from Evan's
employ because he was just made Peter's official mate and with his computer
skills, he was made the Katz Family's Chief Financial Officer. Edvard was
so happy; he even sent his tongue into Peter's ear to seal the deal in
preparation for the ride home on the Cat Mobile with Peter. They would
trust Fang to do the driving.

It was Peter who announced that everyone would fly home. The gang from the
bus cheered as the pilots rushed from the building to begin their preflight
checks and apparently no one thought about the Cat Mobile, although if
asked, it could have driven home without anyone's assistance.

Peter rolled his eyes when he looked at Freckles and Spot, blueberry purple
and dripping vanilla ice cream up to their emerald eyeballs was not very
attractive and wet towels wouldn't help much. Squeak wasn't much help
either, he was laughing at Spot too hard. Peter sent the Great Cats with
Bani and Squeak outside with instructions for the Cats to clean themselves
in the snow before the four exotics held a brief meet and greet with the
local citizens to satisfy their curiosity.

"Why didn't you just eat apple pie?" Peter grumbled in mind-speak.

"We did, we ate them first, they were delicious too!" Freckles sent back
on the way out the door in the company of the entire gang. There was
obviously going to be a rough and tumble in the fresh snow to burn off some
dinner calories, although Victoria screamed warnings about any more torn
clothing OR cloth coverings, she hastened to add for the warrior's benefit.

Victoria added a generous tip and signed the check without looking at the
charges as Bucky put a stack of Ben Franklins under his wine glass while he
ordered two bottles of wine and two wine glasses to go, and all the guys
that had any cash also left generous tips. That December day was to become
a local annual holiday.

The small party that was to take the Cat Mobile waited inside until the
choppers lifted off with the rest of the gang and Spot aboard. When they
looked out they saw that the locals had remained and seemed to be looking
at a snow bank that was adjacent to the sidewalk from the building to the
parking lot.

"I'll bet you a buck that damned Cat is under that pile," Peter guessed as
they left the building, "and he'll pounce as we walk by." He had barely
offered the bet when the top part of the snow pile pounced just as he
predicted.

Freckles took the whole party down into the snowbank including Victoria,
regardless of her one of a kind, designer original pants suit although he
was careful not to damage those cloth coverings; but he made sure they were
just as wet as everyone else's.

Peter began laughing before everyone else when he realized the Great Cat's
motive; even undamaged wet clothing would have to be removed for comfort.
Freckles treated Bucky just like he treated the boys earlier; his suit was
a total loss but he was laughing too hard to care. While he didn't harm
Peter or Edvard's clothing he made sure they were wet; even though those
two boys already had sufficient excuse to get naked; they were planning to
consummate their new relationship once in the bus, and on the road; no
clothing required.

The Freckles inspired rough and tumble ended as quickly as it began.
Freckles shook off and grabbed Victoria to whisk her off to the bus despite
the townsfolk watching. He left Peter and Edvard behind to assist Bucky and
some of his cloth coverings in boarding the bus. Peter took that time alone
with Bucky to whisper instructions concerning the bowl of energy fruit he
would find in the resting place along with a container of paste. The
instructions were simple; eat only one each and then wait and see what
happens, eat more as necessary.

The bus started moving before Peter got to the driver's seat, and had
exited the parking lot before he remembered to grasp the steering wheel for
appearance sake. He looked back to see Freckles seated in front of the
resting place door. He was waiting until the sounds of love making began
before he entered, by then the couple wouldn't care and after he began
`assisting' them, in all likelihood, they would invite him to be of
assistance every time they went to bed.

Long after the bus disappeared up Main Street on the way to the Interstate,
the townspeople noticed that the restaurant driveway had been cleared of
snow along with a single lane the bus traveled on Main Street. Not plowed,
but cleared in some way that left the pavement wet and steaming. That
strange phenomenon was yet another item of gossip for many years to come.

Peter gave up the pretense of driving before they got out of town. He began
stripping and laughing at the same time while golden Fang moved forward to
sit beside the driver's seat close to the windshield. "What the hell..." he
thought. He blinked experimentally and the pop outs, popped out to provide
the interior space necessary for the Greats' driving sofa to become a
double bed.

He pulled Edvard down on the bed before he said, "Honored Great Cat Fang,
you are an excellent driver but there are some things you should remember
whenever humans are around to see this bus. The bus engine should really be
running when the bus is moving, and the wheels should be turning and
touching the road surface at the same time, meanwhile we are enjoying this
ride." He looked up into Edvard's adoring eyes and whispered, "And I will
enjoy this ride after we enjoy some energy fruit."

"To hear is to obey, Honored Ancient Tara Peter," Golden Fang and Edvard
responded in unison.

######

Once again Friend Emoe saved this chapter for me from MS Word's capricious
actions. Word seems to know that I am electronically challenged and takes
every advantage. Thank you Emoe, THE EDITOR!


Happy reading!

Jamie Haze


 

 

 

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