Tauna had requested a holosuite for the day to practice her hunting skills; she didnt want to be too out of practice when she returned from Chakona with Vanessa. As she hadnt specified the terrain nor the beasts, she spent the first few hours learning the lay of this new land and where and what her potential targets might be. The area looked a bit overgrazed so some culling would probably be in order to help rebalance the land. Deer and wild boar tracks were plentiful, as were rabbit and squirrel. Deciding on bigger game, Tauna began following the tracks of a small herd of deer. Half an hours travel brought her in sight of the herd. A good-sized buck with eight does and three fawns made up the herd, but what caught Taunas eye was how badly one of the does was limping. Tauna moved slowly downwind of the little herd as she strung her bow and prepared to take down the lame doe. She was about to loose her arrow when the herd scattered, the buck thrashing wildly as blood poured from an arrow wound on his shoulder.
"This ones what Neal would call a walk in the park," Tess assured her. "All we have to do is trade out one cargo pod with another. Neal confirmed the inventory before he left, and were just getting back an empty."
"A surprise package for Weaver and Holly just came in. What do you think theyd do if I hid it for a few days, say until the Rakshan fertility festival is over and shes no longer in heat?"
"It would be interesting to find out what hes been leaving out," Kestrel agreed with a matching grin. "For starters, I am just of his mates, and Firestorm here is just of his adopted daughters."
"About that," Quickwind, the larger of the two adult chakats said, "whats with that comm badge you gave him? We were trying to buy tickets for one of the cruise ships, when one of the managers of the line came up and asked LongSock if he was connected with the . When he showed her the badge, she changed the economy room we were trying to get for a first class suite. Not only did we end up at the captains table more than once, the captain actually had a competitors ship delay its departure so we could make the connection!"
Shadowchaser and CalmMeadow had started to hurry after Neal when he turned the corner, only to stop when they heard what he was doing. Shadowchaser signaled to CalmMeadow to wait there, shi then went back into the lobby. Some of the bodies were still being tended to or removed as shi went to one of the small shops that lined the lobby walls. Reaching into a shattered display case, shi removed two bottles of water, from another a tube of toothpaste and a brush. The brush was a bit large for a human, but it was the smallest undamaged one shi could see. Returning to CalmMeadow, they waited until Neals sobs had died down, then they slowly came around the corner. Pushing a water bottle into his hand they got him to rinse his mouth, shi then handed him the brush, already loaded with paste. After he cleaned his mouth out, Neal managed to drink some of the water, both to help rinse the stomach acids from his raw throat and to try to settle his stomach.
The nurse turned in time to see a human appear in the middle of the room. His red hair a filthy tangle, his face wild looking and his body smelling of spent gunpowder. Blood stained his pants past mid-thigh, but his bloodshot eyes were what terrified hir. They and the emotions that seemed to hang around him like a shroud sent hir running for the door, only to find it would not open for hir. The guards had let go of Shadowcrest and reached for their weapons, only to find them missing.
Neal slowly looked around the room, then nodded his head at Shadowcrest. "Get Firestorm," he growled through his raw throat. "Then you can tell me whats going on."
Neal was so busy shooting at the main group, that he never even noticed Shadowchaser and the crews from the other ships. They started taking out the smaller groups at the other entrances to the lobby. They had quickly discovered their beam weapons werent up to the task, so Shadowchaser had requested shotguns from Tess. There were a few minor injuries while they relearned what action-reaction was all about, but then they started clearing the entrances so the local authorities could get in to help.
Shadowcrest just looked at him in shock. "What easy part?" shi demanded. "What we just went through at the spaceport One of the Rakshani is dead " shi said as events started to catch up with hir, and shi started to break down and cry.
Still holding Firestorm with one hand, Neal reached out and pulled Shadowcrest to his side with the other, and then he held hir close as shi cried. "The easy part is whats already done. For Stormy, this is hir first meal and look at all we had to go through just to get that. As far as the hell you and I just went through, its behind us and we survived." Tightening his hug he added, "And we didnt lose Dessa." At Shadowcrests stare, he gave hir a small smile. "Tess will have her back on her feet in no time."
Looking to Shadowcrest, Neal said, "Well? What do you think? Is shi a keeper, or do we throw hir back and try again?" At Shadowcrests confused look, Neal chuckled for the first time that day. "You picked Stew out of all the furs wanting a ride off that station. Im learning to trust your judgment on these matters."
"The three rules of a happy life," Neal explained, as he tried to work some feeling into his left arm. It was still a bit numb from the abuse the shotgun had given it. "Fill whats empty, empty whats full, and of course, scratch where it itches."