On The Road Again 1:
Change of Scenery

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M, M/F
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Vinnie woke to a feeling that distinctly resembled a bad hangover. His head hurt and his mouth was dry, and on top of that he wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing. He was lying on a very soft pile of pillows in a well-lit room that spoke of money and luxury. And there was a petite tan female feline setting a tray with food and drink down on a table near the end of the bed.

The mouse moaned softly, ever slow to awaken. His eyes widened as he took in the surroundings, the furnishings demonstrating a degree of opulence that had only been a dream back on Mars. When his eyes found the feline, however, it jerked him out of his stunned amazement, scrambling backwards with a wary look on his face.

"Hello, pretty one." The feline dressed in a light blue silk robe said quietly. "My name is Myra. I have brought you food and drink."

"Myra," Vinnie repeated, his eyes ghosting across the tray she held. "Where am I?"

"The StarShine Place." She said simply. "You should at least drink some water, morphos will dry you out." She said pouring water from the simple porcelain jug into a glass. She walked over next to him, and held the glass where he could take it.

He took the glass and sipped at the water cautiously before downing the whole thing in two large gulps.

Myra smiled. "Would you like the food now?" She asked gently.

Vinnie gave her another searching look and then nodded.

She brought the tray over, and set it on a short table near Vinnie. "What's your name, pretty one?" She asked as she uncovered the meal.

"Stop calling me that," he snorted as started in on the bite size finger-food, eating with both hands.

"Well, I don't know your name." She said simply. "And you are very attractive." She smiled.

"I'm Vinnie," he said shortly, ignoring the flattery.

"Well Vinnie, I'm here to answer questions. They figured you'd have many when you awoke." She said levelly.

"No fucking kidding. Where are my clothes?"

"You weren't wearing any when you arrived." Myra said quietly. "And slaves whose role is undetermined do not wear any. When you decide what role you will take, then you will be given clothes to fit it."

"Slaves!" Vinnie pushed the tray of food away. "Lady you've got another thing coming."

The shekat smiled gently. "I'm not a Lady, I'm as much a slave as you are. The only difference is I've accepted my chosen role." She said patiently, pulling the edge of her gown down to reveal the simple golden collar she was wearing around her neck.

"Vinnie Van Wham isn't anyone's whipping boy," they white mouse snorted.

"Whipping only happens in extreme cases of disobedience." She said gently. "Besides The Twins like your appearance, their unlikely to mar it with random violence."

"The twins?"

"Dalia and Corina, the co-rulers of Maltera." She said simply. "Your owners now."

"Owners?" Vinnie shook his head. "Not in this lifetime."

"I'm sorry you feel that way, but it is true." She said gently. "But they have given you a wide range of choices in what role you will play. It is simply a matter of what lifestyle you prefer."

"The kind where I don't wear a slave's collar," the mouse retorted.

"That would take many years of good behavior, and pleasing the Twins to achieve." She said gently. "But it is possible."

"Years?" Vinnie shook his head. "I can't hang around here for years. I need to find me bros."

"If you were to gain the Twins favor, they might assist you." The shekat suggested gently. "They have considerable influence and contacts."

"And just how would I do that?" Vinnie asked, still on guard.

"You would need to choose a role that keeps you in the Palace to start with." She said gently. "Pleasure slave would give you the best chance of gaining their favor. And assuming you like females, they are considered quite beautiful."

"Pleasure slave?" The remains of his face were screwed up in disgust. "Like a whore?"

"No, whores service whoever pays their price." She smiled tolerantly. "You'd only be required to be with the Twins."

"And that's the only difference? What else is there?"

"Inside the palace? Little considering you lack the specialized skills many positions require." She said simply. "But there are various positions on the grounds you could take, grounds keeping would probably be your next best bet. It's hard work and you don't get as good accommodations or privileges as the pleasure slaves, but you'd at least be where the Twins would see you occasionally." She softly. "It would take considerably longer to earn the Twins favor in that position."

"But the other option is being a fucktoy?" The mouse shook his head. "There's no guarantee they'd even help me anyway."

"Life has no guarantees." She said gently. "However, they are known for being very generous to those who serve them well."

"What else is there?" he asked, dissatisfied with the options so far.

"You could always be a gladiator. It would certainly keep you in the Twins sight. It's only till one combatant yields, so it's not as dangerous as on many worlds." She said softly.

"I can take care of myself in a fight," Vinnie nodded. "Gladiators, huh?"

"Yes, though I've heard the gladiators have an interesting social structure. You may fight that not all your fights are in the arena." She said quietly.

"That's not such a big surprise," Vinnie smirked. "Get a group of skullbusters together and that sort of stuff just tends to happen."

"Yes, I suppose it does." She said curiously. "Is that your choice then?" She asked, with no indication of approval or disapproval in her voice.

Vinnie thought about it a little more and then nodded. "Yeah. Better than being some bedtoy."

She nodded. "I'll let the Master of Gladiators know." She said simply. "A guard will be around later to escort you to the gladiator barracks." She said as she headed for the door. "Probably not till after lunch sometime though, so you should rest while you can."

Vinnie nodded, returning his attention to the food.

Hours later, Myra came in with lunch, leaving it in the same place as the breakfast tray. "The Twins are not entirely pleased with your choice." She softly.

"I thought you said I could choose whatever I wanted."

"That's true, some choices just please them more than others. I didn't say they'd countermanded it, you'll get to be a gladiator like you asked." She said quietly.

"They'd prefer I be some pretty boy-toy for them."

"Yes. You're attractive and you don't present the danger of kittens." She said softly. "That's a very attractive combination."

"Well that's tough luck for them, isn't it? I was told I could choose."

"Yes, you were." She smiled, as she took the old tray away. "If you change your mind at some point, I'm sure they'll let you."

Vinnie chuckled softly. "They shouldn't hold their breaths. I can take my share of knocks."

"I'm sure." She smiled as she opened the door to leave. "Farewell, Vinnie." She said as she closed the door behind her.

The mouse sat, watching the door expectantly and wishing he had something to wear. If he was going to be going into a group of rough players he didn't want to do it naked.

About an hour later, an eight foot tall broad shouldered male Lion came in. He was wearing a royal blue tabard with a lion and a unicorn rampant on the chest in gold. "It is time for you to go to the barracks." He said in a deep, no-nonsense voice, as he walked over to Vinnie and swiftly attached a chain to the collar the mouse was wearing. "Attempting to escape would be extraordinarily foolish." He said, as he urged the mouse to his feet.

"I don't intend to," Vinnie answered easily.

"Then come with me." He said leading the mouse out by the chain leash attached to the collar. The collar gave Vinnie enough slack to stay about three feet behind the Lion as they walked through the Palace. As they did so, many of the varied felines, male and female, stopped to look at the buff white mouse.

He couldn't help but smirk. Before too long most of these people would probably be coming to the arenas where the gladiators fought to see him kick the ass of his latest opponent.

As they crossed the broad open square in front of the Palace, it became evident to Vinnie that this wasn't a very high tech world. Horses seemed to be the major form of transportation, and there was no real sign of technology. The square was busy with people, a mixture of felines, canines and even a few lizard types. One of the lizard types, stepped in front of the Lion and made a series of hissing noises that Vinnie couldn't understand.

"A generous offer, citizen, but this one is a fighter not a pleasure slave." The Lion chuckled. Undaunted the lizard held up a large gem and made a series of gesture toward Vinnie. "Yes, you probably could. But that is not the Twins' decree. He has chosen to be a gladiator, and so he shall." The Lion chuckled, and the lizard gave up and walked away hissing under his breath.

"Can't have me for any money," Vinnie crowed after the lizard.

"You are fortunate that you did not arrive here under the Twins' predecessor." The Lion commented as they resumed walking. "He was not nearly so enlightened."

"I doubt I was anywhere near here back then. Coming here was pretty much an accident."

"No accident." The Lion chuckled. "The Agents are most deliberate in those they select." He said as they reached a large stone building four stories high, from which the sounds of combat could be heard.

"The Agents?"

"Agents of the Starlight Monarchy." He clarified. "They serve in various ways. But the ones in question are specially trained to search the dominions for those who will please the Monarchs, without arousing too many problems by their disappearance."

"Fuckers," Vinnie swore, though not particularly forcefully. "It's not like I don't have other things I could be doing."

"Most do." The Lion commented neutrally, as he stopped on knocked on the door to the large stone building. A muscular black and orange tabby tom wearing a leather loincloth answered the door

"Yes, Guard Toval?" The tabby asked politely.

"I have a new gladiator for Master Seldrin."

"Please come in." The tom said stepping to one side. "I will fetch the Master." He said, after raking his eyes across Vinnie's body and licking his lips. "Please wait here." He said, as he walked away.

The inside of the building was comfortably warm, and the smell of three things permeated the air: sweat, male aggression and sex.

"He earned his promotion fast." The Lion commented as he leaned against the stone wall.

A few minutes later an eight and a half foot tall Tiger came out from a side passage. He was dressed in a sleeveless leather tunic, and leather shorts. He was very heavily muscled, but still moved with lithe and deadly catlike grace. "Guard Toval, I'm told you have a new gladiator for me."

"Yes, Master Seldrin." The Lion nodded politely, as he nudged the Mouse to stand in front of the Tiger. "His name is Vinnie, and he'd rather fight than join the harem." He chuckled.

"Well, he's certainly equipped for both." The Tiger said appraisingly, as he walked around the Mouse. "Very well, I accept him."

"The Twins thank you, Master Seldrin."

"My thanks to them." The Tiger said as the Lion departed. "Very well, Vinnie. Follow me." He said, not bothering to pick up the leash as he led the way back. In one room they passed, Vinnie saw a black tomkat fucking a black and tan male canine, while a bunch of other males watched. "Okay, let's get that silly gold collar off you, you're not a toyboy." He said once they reached a large workshop, muttering something softly he touched the collar causing it to open. He took the collar and leash and tossed them into a them into a barrel. "Warriors wearing steel." He grinned as he swiftly placed a chrome replacement collar around Vinnie's neck.

Vinnie snorted softly. "It's an improvement I guess."

"Yeah, yah don't like it." The Tiger nodded. "Tough, yer stuck with it. Just like the rest of the roughnecks here." He said gruffly, sizing the mouse up again. "So ya got any actual combat training or is that just a lot of time in the gym?"

"Front line in one of the dirtiest wars I heard of," Vinnie replied, refusing to be intimidated. "Busting heads with the best."

"Wars are fought with weapons." The Tiger said disdainfully. "How about barehanded, no weapon but your body and what you can do with it?" He demanded, towering over the mouse by a good foot and a half.

"Seen enough of it," Vinnie replied, holding his ground. "You only fight with weapons if you actually have enough of them to go round."

"Think you're good enough to take an opponent down without killing him?" He demanded again.

"Depends on the opponent," Vinnie smirked. "You'd be a challenge."

That drew a deep, booming laugh from the giant tom. "You're a long way from challenging me, rookie. But ya got spirit which is good. Now I doubt Miss Myra told you much of anything. So, any questions?"

"About a zillion," Vinnie admitted. "Where can I get clothes?"

"She really did leave you clueless didn't she?" The tiger rumbled in amusement. "A gladiator earns his clothes. Five arena victories get you the loincloth like you saw the cub who answered the door wearing. And yes that means you fight in the fur, most of the matches end up that way anyway."

"Less for them to grab onto," Vinnie nodded, "Although I can think of some times where I'd rather they grabbed my clothes."

"Yes, and that's a valid tactic so watch for it." He chuckled deeply. "In fact anything that doesn't kill or maim is valid. Going for the eyes, however, is strictly forbidden." He explained.

"That's allowed?" Vinnie asked skeptically. "I'd have thought you had more respect for yourselves than that."

"It's allowed, though your better fighters don't use it. It's kind of like admitting you're not as good as the guy you're fighting. Rookies usually try it once or twice, though they get taught just what the other roughnecks think of it." He chuckled darkly.

"Yeah, that sort of thing usually works itself out that way. I know I'd be looking to bust head if anyone thought they could pull that on me and get away with it."

"Yeah, the roughnecks handle stuff among themselves mostly. Top dog is a combination of toughest fighter, and most arena victories." The Tiger explained. "You ever spent any time in an all-male setting where there weren't any females available?" He asked gruffly.

"No," Vinnie shook his head. "We took anyone who was willing to fight."

"Well, when there aren't females around some things change to fill needs that don't change." He rumbled. "If you take my meaning."

"I think I do," Vinnie replied, though he seemed less than happy about it.

"You've never been with a male, have you?" The Tiger asked bluntly.

"No, not that way," Vinnie replied, just as frank.

"Then it is something you will have to learn." The Tiger replied simply.

"Like hell!" Vinnie was obviously not timid about disagreeing with the much larger male. "Anyone thinks they can put a hand on me is gonna find out differently."

"That is basically how it works." The Tiger said casually. "If someone desires you and you refuse them, they can challenge. If you win, nobody can touch you for that night. If you lose, you're expected to submit, though usually if you lost you're opponent can probably take what he wants anyway."

Vinnie narrowed his eyes. "I'm not rolling over to play puppy for anyone," he said softly. "And I don't mind backing that up with my fists."

The tiger chuckled. "I think you're going to be very popular in the arena, with that much spirit. Any other questions?"

"Where do I sleep?"

"In the rookie barracks, which I'll show you once you're out of questions." He smiled. "Until you get five arena wins you stay in one of the large rooms that hold sixteen roughnecks. After that you move to a room that's only shared by eight. With each advancement, you share sleeping space with fewer."

"Got it. What about when I'm not in the arena? What do I do?"

"Sparring to improve your ability. Training in new hand to hand techniques. Workouts to improve strength and flexibility, as well as to tighten muscular definition. Fighters are not only expected to fight well, but to look hot doing it." He said simply. "Time that you are assigned to be doing something in is your own, though you're not permitted to leave the grounds, unless escorted by one of the guards. Many of the roughnecks watch the battles they're not in, to study future opponents."

"Makes sense. Is there betting?"

"Extensive." The Tiger nodded. "And a warrior who wins his match gets a small cut of the official bets on that match." He smiled. "A skilled warrior can do quite well, especially if he has enough style to become popular. Warriors are not allowed to bet against themselves however."

"For obvious reasons," Vinnie smirked. "What about the matches we're not in? Can we bet on those?"

"As much or as little as you like." The Tiger nodded. "It's a fairly popular hobby."

"No surprises there either," Vinnie nodded. "I think I'm going to fit in okay."

"I think you will indeed." The Tiger smiled. "Want to see your room now? Or did you have other questions?"

"No, I think that's all for now."

"This way then." The Tiger said leading the way out of the room, and upstairs. The gladiators of various ranks and species stopped to look Vinnie over both as an opponent and as a bedmate. The hunger in some of the eyes was unmistakable. "This is the north rookie barrack." The tiger said as he led Vinnie in. As they passed each cot in the room, Vinnie noticed there was a metal plate with a symbol on each one, a different symbol on each one. "Put your hand on that plate." The Tiger commanded.

Vinnie did as he was told, setting his right palm flat against the metal.

There was brief but noticeable shock, and when he pulled his hand away the blank metal plate had a 'V' on it. "That is your cot now." The Tiger said simply. "The footlocker underneath is yours as well. Being new you have no duties for today, so you may explore the building and the grounds as you wish. Tomorrow you will be given your schedule of training. In three days you will be informed as to your first arena match. After that, Arena schedules are posted in the morning for the following days fights."

Vinnie nodded. "Got it. What about food? When can I eat?"

"Meals are served regularly in the mess hall. First meal is after morning exercises, lunch is at the noon hour which is about an hour from now, and dinner is after the gladiators return from the days combat, usually around seven." The Tiger said easily.

"Right then," the mouse nodded. "I guess I'll take a look around 'till then."

"See you at lunch then, Vinnie." The Tiger said as he left.

"Okay Shade, follow me." The giant Tiger said in deep voice, turning to led the way back. The smells of sweat, male aggression and sex permeated the air of the building. As they passed one open room, Shade could see a powerfully built lizard roughly fucking a smaller tan and black feline. The room they stopped in was a large leather working shop. The Tiger turned to look at Shade. "First thing we do is get you properly collared." He said, removing the silver collar and chain and replacing it with steel one.

"So you actually have combat training, or is that all the result of hours in the gym?" The Tiger demanded gruffly looking the dark gray mouse over appraisingly.

"Hasn't been a gym on Mars in a couple decades." He snorted, glaring right back with dark gray eyes.

"So any hand-to-hand no-weapons combat?" The Tiger challenged.

"Plenty." He chuckled darkly.

"Think you're good enough to take an opponent down, without killing or maiming him?"

"If I've got a reason to." He shrugged. "It's been a while since I bothered."

"Well you better bother." The Tiger said gruffly. "Arena combat is till the opponent yields or is unconscious, not death."

"So what's the point?" Shade challenged. "That's practice, not combat."

"The point is that its entertainment for the crowd, and more importantly the Twins. Death does not entertain them." The Tiger said simply.

"Brother." Shade muttered in disgust. "I can put on a show. This place'll ruin my skills at this rate."

"If you intend to win, you'd best keep your skills sharp. But there's training and sparring to help keep them sharp." The Tiger explained.

"Mister, unless you actually have someone that good in my fields, this half-assed concept of combat is going to trash my edge." He shrugged. "I'm sure I'll think of something that won't put too much of a dent in your profits."

The Tiger chuckled. "We have some of the finest warriors around. Many made similar comments at first."

"I'll believe it when I feel it." Shade snorted.

"Oh, you will." The Tiger smirked. "Speaking of feeling it, have you ever been in an all-male environment with no females available?"

"Why in the ..." Shade cut himself off and held up a hand. "Never mind, I'm not going to ask. But I'll look forward to introducing you to a couple of my mates. I've been with guys before."

"That's good, 'cause that's the only outlet around here for roughnecks. And if you turn somebody down, they can challenge you. You win, nobody bothers you the rest of the night. You lose, and you're expected to submit." The Tiger explained casually.

"Lovely." Shade rolled his eyes in disgust. "Ritualized rape. Well, I've dealt with worse."

"The system works." The Tiger shrugged. "It certainly inspires personal improvement."

"So do beatings, death matches and rewards." Shade snorted. "Doesn't make it any less depraved because it works." He cracked a small smile. "But I'm not one to talk about not using depraved tactics that work."

"Oh, we have rewards too." The Tiger smiled. "A portion of the betting on a match goes to the warrior who wins it."

"Oooo, money." Shade's voice dripped mockery. "Doesn't buy anything worth having. Not on this world at any rate."

"If you're good in the arena and a smart gambler, you could parley winnings into your freedom. If that's what you want." He suggested, though it was pretty clear he didn't care if the mouse liked the system or not.

"What for?" Shade shrugged. "Not going to get my pack back, or me home. Not even decent luxuries on this misbegotten world."

"Please the Twins sufficiently, and they might be able to get you home." The Tiger suggested, very seriously.

"What pleases them?" The black mouse returned the tone, shifting moods as fast as he breathed.

"Putting on a good show in the arena. Taking your defeated opponent there in the arena when the crowd demands it. And pleasuring them when they ask for you after a win." The Tiger said easily.

"That's not much." He considered, then shrugged. "Can't be worse than Plutarkians."

"I don't know what a Plutarkian is, but the Twins are considered quite attractive, if you like females." He said simply.

"Are you an attractive male here?" Slade asked bluntly.

"Considered so, yes." The Tiger smiled. "But then so are you."

"Then they can't look that bad." He sort of shrugged. "Any other mice here?"

"Funny you should ask." The Tiger smiled. "We got another mouse in, about an hour before you. Kind of unusual since we haven't had any mice previously."

"Who?" The black and charcoal mouse asked expectantly.

"His name's Vinnie. All white, a real pretty boy." The Tiger smiled. "Twins wanted him as a pleasure slave but he turned them down to go gladiator. Serious issues with male-male sex."

"Metal mask on the right half of his face." Shade nodded. "Biker Mouse. This'll be interesting. Especially finding out what he got promised not to take your head off."

Seldrin chuckled. "Nobody promised him anything. He just thinks he's the toughest customer here, and that nobody can touch him. Pretty boy is in for a serious learning experience."

"Not really." Shade chuckled and shook his head. "It'll never get through Vincent Van Wham's thick skull. We've been trying for years, including his leader and Bro."

"That'll just attract some of the roughest of the roughnecks. The ones who prefer an unwilling bedmate." Seldrin said quietly.

"Then they're going to have a problem, unless someone already broke him." The dark mouse shrugged. "And you'll be short a few gladiators, including him."

"We've handle difficult cases before." The Tiger shrugged. "Might mean he spends some time with the Acclimators though."

"Good luck." Shade's voice said anything but. "Anything else?"

"That about covers it. You get the first day here free to explore. You'll get your schedule of training tomorrow, and in three days you'll get your first arena combat time. After that, the combat schedule is posted each morning for the following day. Meals are after morning exercise, at noon-time, and after the gladiators return from the days combat, around seven. If you have no further questions, I'll show you to your sleeping quarters and then you can get lunch."

"How are matches determined?" Shade asked, actually a little curious.

"Mostly by relative skill. Opponents who are close in skill provide the best show. After that, its other factors like who's had the fewest matches in the last week, and how good fur and scale coloration look together. We also get requests for matches between certain wrestlers, which we occasionally accommodate."

"So I shouldn't have to worry about seriously hurting someone because they don't know how to fight." He watched the Tiger sharply.

"I do not send out gladiators who do not know how to fight." The Tiger said sharply. "That would produce a brief fight of no entertainment value at all, and it would displease the Twins."

"Let me rephrase that. That don't know how to fight well enough to roll with a strike or block a snap-kick." He maintained the stead gaze. "I realize you are used to braggers with inflated egos, but I haven't been in non-lethal combat for twenty years. You put me in the ring with someone I'm not closely matched to they will get hurt before I realize they aren't up to pare."

The Tiger met the gaze steadily. "I know how to recognize braggers, and I make sure to take them down a few notches by embarrassing them in sparring so they realize they have a lot to learn. By the time I let someone into combat, they can handle themselves. Besides, I've got enough proven warriors, that I don't have to put you against the ones I'm less sure of."

Shade nodded. "So where'll I be sleeping?"

"The north rookie barracks." The tiger said casually. "Follow me."

With a tightly controlled, graceful shift the charcoal mouse dropped in just behind and to one side, his eyes taking in everything and everyone as they walked.

Everyone was a cacophony of fur and scale colors, with a variety of species including several lizards. The other gladiators stop to look in curiosity and attraction at the second buff mouse to join them.

"North rookie barracks." The Tiger said opening the door, and leading Shade in. There were eight cots on each side of the room, with engraved metal plates on the end of each bed, with several of the plates being blank. "Place your hand there." The Tiger said, indicating a blank plate.

Shade complied, placing his hand on the plate. After a brief electrical shock he drew away to see an eclipsed sun on the plate.

"Cute." He chuckled. "Shanna'd have a fit."

"Oh?" The Tiger raised a curious eyebrow.

"It's our pack insignia." He explained. "She always insisted she was the black sun, not me."

The Tiger smiled. "The plate responds to how you think of yourself." He explained. "Many just end up with the first letter of their name."

That subdued that mouse significantly. "That's fitting too." He nodded.

"The bunk is now yours, along with the footlocker underneath." The tiger explained. "You have the rest of the day to explore, and if you wish you may catch with Vinnie. I believe he's down in the Mess Hall."

Shade nodded. "Definitely need to catch up with him." The V in Martian on the next bunk caught his eye. "His spot?" He motioned to it with his hand.

"Yes, it is. I figured you might like having adjacent spots." The Tiger said easily.

"At least I prefer it." Shade nodded with a fraction more respect before heading off, following his nose to the mess hall.

The gladiator mess hall was noisy to say the least. Though Vinnie couldn't get an accurate count it looked to be hundreds at least. The food line moved quickly, and soon Vinnie had his meal which while not terribly imaginative, smelled good and the portions were good sized.

"Ah, you must be the new boy." A deep, yet friendly voice said from behind Vinnie as he looked around deciding where to sit. The voice belonged to a Wolf who had a good foot of height on him, and probably a hundred pounds of muscle. He was wearing a sleeveless red cloth vest and tight leather shorts. "My name is DreadClaw, though everyone calls me Dread. What's yours?" He asked in an abrupt yet friendly manner.

"Vinnie," the mouse replied, running a wary eye up and down the wolf. "And I am."

"Care to join me for lunch, Vinnie?" He asked, still quite friendly.

"Sure," Vinnie said with a shrug. "I guess I've gotta eat with someone. I was surprised there's so many of us ... the matches must never stop."

"This way." Dread smiled, and led the way to an open table. "There are three main arenas and four smaller arenas in the Capitol, and we supply gladiators to all of them. The idea is also to keep warriors from having to fight everyday. A warrior performs better if he has a day off between matches. It also covers injuries, illness and other things we're leased out for." He smiled as they sat down.

"Leased out?" Vinnie asked as he sat. "The tiger never mentioned that."

"He won't till he thinks you're ready." The wolf said simply. "Only some of us are, those who don't mind a little sextoy work on the side. Or getting a cut of the stud fee a rich shekat will pay to have one of us sire her kittens. And occasionally a rich citizen will pay to have a private match at his home."

Vinnie rolled his eyes. "I came here so I wouldn't have to be a sextoy."

The wolf chuckled. "Seldrin won't put you on that duty unless he thinks you'll enjoy it. Sextoys who don't like what they're doing don't fetch high fees."

"There's no problem then," Vinnie said with a nod. "No-one puts a hand on me without my say-so."

"Did Seldrin explain the challenges to you?" The wolf asked between bites.

"Yeah, but I'll take the head off any guy that tries it on."

The wolf smiled. "I'm sure you'll try. But you're hardly the toughest guy here."

"I'm not a pushover either," Vinnie replied. "And I'll fight a hell of a lot harder to get some asshole off my back than to win in the arena."

"Oh, I can see you're no pushover." The wolf smiled. "And there aren't that many to worry about. Most of the gladiators prefer willing bedmates."

"That's good to know. Rapists never got far in any group of skullbusters I ever saw."

"Oh around here, it's accepted 'cause that's what the rules say. But some of them are seriously tough competitors, probably take you if they decide they want you." He said bluntly.

"I might surprise you," Vinnie said, flashing the wolf a smirk. "And them."

"Anything's possible, Vinnie." The Wolf grinned back. "You might even decide to give being with guys a try."

"If I do it won't be because some ass decided I look like good meat."

The Wolf shook his head. "And you're going to tell me that you've never had a female come on strong, just because your hot." He smirked. "And that you've never had a one-nighter based just on physical appearance."

"Of course not," Vinnie chuckled, "But never with a guy." He made a show of looking over the mess hall. "And I don't see much to make me consider changing that."

The Wolf chuckled. "That's cause you may have your eyes open, but your mind is shut. But that's your loss, if you decide to pass on that half of pleasure."

Vinnie gave the wolf another smirk. "Or maybe you're just upset I'm not on the floor licking your cock."

"I don't recall that I ever asked you." The Wolf smirked back. "But honestly, I prefer bedmates who know what they're doing."

"Hey, you're the one talking about physical attraction and one night-stands."

"You're the one who suggested there was something wrong with being sought for simply being attractive." He chuckled.

"There's a difference between 'You're hot' and 'Fuck me or I'll beat the crap out of you'," Vinnie replied.

"But most of the ones who say 'You're hot' aren't going to bother, if you turn them down, they're just asking because you're hot. And it's entirely possible that they'll want you to fuck them."

"Whatever," Vinnie said with a shrug. "I don't see it happening in a hurry."

"Neither do I, honestly." The Wolf shrugged back. "Guess you'll get a lot of practice pawing off."

"I've been alone before," Vinnie told him, turning his attention back to the food.

"As have we all." Dread replied quietly, focusing his attention on his food. Sometimes, he thought, it just didn't pay to try and help the rookies understand.

"Hi, Vin." A medium voice was accompanied by the distinctive feel of a mouse's tail crossing his shoulders before a charcoal black mouse sat down next to him.

Vinnie was visibly startled, and then stared at the dark mouse for a few moments before he could respond. "You're Shade," he blurted out.

"One and only." He cocked a grin at the Biker Mouse. "I got the bunk next to yours, too."

The Wolf smiled politely at the new mouse. "I'm DreadClaw, usually just Dread though." He said by way of introduction.

"Shade of Death," the dark mouse extended his hand across the table in greeting. "I'm usually Shade, unless you're being formal."

Vinnie didn't seem to hear the wolf, just staring at Shade. "What are you doing here?"

"Pleased to met you, Shade." The Wolf said, shaking the hand with a strong, sure grip that mouse detected a few weapon calluses on.

"Same as you I'll bet." He shrugged, only a slight rumble of his true feeling making it to the surface. "Kidnapped and very politely blackmailed. You did damn good work on that last mission. Fishfaces still haven't recovered." Real respect underlayed each word.

"Are the others ... have you seen them?"

"The other Biker Mice?" Shade shook his head. "You're the first one I've meet."

Vinnie sighed and turned back to his food, much of the energy going out of his frame.

"Things that bad?" Shade asked quietly.

"I haven't even heard anything. Most places have never even seen a mouse before," Vinnie said softly.

"Well, we are on the wrong side of the friggin galaxy."

"And not getting any closer," Vinnie grumbled softly.

"At least there's bashing involved to take it out on." Shade tried to sound at least a little more agreeable than he really was.

"Yeah." Vinnie made no such effort. "I'm not hungry anymore, I'll see you round Dread."

"Take care, Vinnie." The Wolf said casually.

"So how long have you been here?" Shade asked as the white mouse took off.

"Almost two years." The Wolf said easily.

"Like it?" He asked between bites.

"Better than being stuck on the front line of war that hasn't moved in two generations." He said. "Decent food, good sex, and I've racked up quite stash so far."

Shade nodded. "If my pack wasn't still fighting for their lives, it sounds pretty decent for slavery. Need a female around to make it worth not going back, though."

"Female mouse, or female in general?" The Wolf asked curiously.

"Female mouse, a breeding partner." Shade chuckled, though there was no humor in it. "Otherwise I might as well die for what's left of Mars."

"If there's one in the Dominion, then the Twins will know of it." Dread said confidently.

"There are a couple dozen good ones in their reach. Same place they grabbed me from." Shade couldn't keep a trace of the anger from his voice. "What little is left is high quality stock."

"If that's true, then there may be one or more of them somewhere here." The wolf said quietly. "The Agents do not grab males only."

"Nothing left these days that's hot a spitfire." Shade chuckled. "If you don't let them fight, what do warriors do? Particularly ones that could deck anything in this room."

"Oh, they do fight." The Wolf nodded. "Just not in the Capitol. Some nobles in other provinces find fighting females entertaining. It is simply that the Twins do not. They have as little interest in females, as Vinnie has in males."

"Ah," he nodded. "Who could I ask about them, that would know?"

"You would need permission from Seldrin to go into town." He said simply. "Zargos the bookmaker is said to know who is fighting in every arena on Maltera. Other than him, you would need to speak with Mara, Secretary to Chief Agent Tarson."

Shade nodded and filed that away under 'things to do when I have a better feel for this place.' "Are you from this world?" He asked curiously, never taking a break from eating.

"No, I'm from considerably spinward and edgeward of this world." He said easily, between bites. "Out on the edge of the galaxy."

"Other side of the core, on the edge." Shade said quietly.

"It is odd how the Dominion touches so many places." He said quietly. "It is almost as if its territory is not contiguous."

"Wouldn't be the strangest thing I've encountered." Shade shrugged. "Teleports and alternate dimensions do all sorts of interesting things to the concept of space and time."

"Teleports, I think." The Wolf said quietly. "This world has not discovered space travel as either of us knows it."

"Haven't discovered most things that make life nice, either." The mouse grumbled. "Unless they just like playing primitives to give a bad impression."

"Depends on what you're looking for, I suppose." He said quietly. "Okay, I'll admit they do take the still keeping horses around a bit far. But they've got electricity, and modern sanitation. What were you looking for that you don't think they've discovered?"

"Let's see, decent medicine, cybernetics, computers, AI tech, cyberbikes, anti-grav, force fields, anything that can go fast." He quickly gave up counting on his fingers and just listed stuff, clearly just getting started. "Basic technology that makes free time fun, and the rest a little more than bearable."

Dread chuckled. "Granted their medical approach is different, but it works very well. I've seen them reattach a severed limb, in the field, and have it working as good as new in minutes, which kind of eliminates the need for cybernetics. As for Anti-grav, you haven't seen the floating city of Aranor. Force Fields they do, quite easily in fact. They do have computers and AI, you just haven't seen them. And maybe you should ask Seldrin if he'll let you look at his cyberbike." He chuckled. "They do tech differently, and a fair amount of it is a mixture of magic and technology."

"That really isn't a comforting thing to hear, you know." Shade shuddered. "An entire planet that insists on making itself that vulnerable." He shook his head. "At least I'll probably be gone before it's noticed."

"Vulnerable?" Dread laughed broadly. "Not hardly. This system is better defended than many with traditional technology. Nothing like dropping a worked up Lycanthrope brigade onto the bridge of hostile starship." He chuckled. "The history tapes are quite interesting. Especially their ongoing conflict with the planet Plutark."

Shade's full attention snapped to the Wolf, his fur bristling as a hatred much greater than any at being here became brilliantly clear. "They're fighting Plutark?"

"Have been for about a generation now, I believe." He said simply. "Plutark attempted to move in on some Dominion territory, and they've been at it ever since. I believe it's a mineral rich system, so neither side will yield. Currently, the Dominion holds it and has for about twenty years."

"What's it take to get to that front line? Special ops." Shade focused intently.

"You'd have to be a free citizen for one thing." Dread said quietly. "Dominion law forbids the use of slaves as troops of any sort."

"And?" He rumbled softly.

"I suppose it's like getting into special forces on any other world." He said quietly. "I never really looked into it myself. I'm not interested in putting my life on the line for them."

"I don't give a damn about them." Shade snorted. "But it's the closest thing to doing real damage to those fishfaces as I'm likely to get. Probably can't match the damage they did, but I should still be able to give them a bloody enough reminder that taking Mars was a mistake." He abruptly mellowed, looking at his food with little appetite, though he continued to work through it. "Aren't enough of us left to rebuild, really. Even if we won."

The Wolf looked at Shade closely for several moments. "I think things aren't as bleak as you think." He said quietly, though with a cool certainty.

The dark mouse sighed. "It's a nice dream to keep the resistance alive, but there aren't a hundred mice left, only sixteen of them female." He closed his eyes. "There are fewer by now, probably. But maybe you're right. Maybe enough others got scattered to keep a viable population, if we can find each other."

"A great many more." He said firmly. "But I can not explain here."

That earned a strange look of comprehension from Shade and a nod. "Where, when?" He asked with the respect he usually reserved for Seers and spell weavers.

"If you are done eating, come with me." The Wolf said as he stood, command in every line as he gestured to the mouse to follow. He left the room with a purposeful stride, the sleek, deadly mouse only a hair's breath behind him, taking in everything as they moved through the complex.

Dread led Shade up several staircases until they reached a blank wall in the currently unoccupied seventh floor. Looking around to see if anyone was looking, he stepped forward and through the apparently solid wall, a single dark gray paw beckoned to Shade to follow. It was an unnecessarily move, as the mouse was completely comfortable with the idea.

The other side of the wall was a natural cave, with elaborate diagrams traced on the floor. The Wolf was standing in the middle of the diagrams, stripping down to the fur. Each item of clothing was carefully set down outside of the diagrams as the dark mouse watched with a level of recognition.

"I can show you a great hope for you and your people, but there is a price for this knowledge." The Wolf said calmly.

"What is the price?" Shade asked just as calmly.

"Silence." He said simply. "You must not reveal the things you learn about me here. I am trusting you a great deal in revealing myself this way."

Shade nodded. "My word and my honor, DreadClaw, as a son of Mars and Solar. I will tell your secret to no one."

The Wolf nodded. "That is a Garou oath. Are you Garou or Kinfolk? My word before the depths of Time and the halls of Fate, no one shall learn from me that truth."

"Kinfolk." Shade said with some pride. "Son of Whispering Wind and Patrick Borni and member of the Black Sun pack."

"Then I need not explain the Garou and their shapes to you." The wolf said softly. "Know that DreadClaw is a name earned, my real name is Sight of Stars, son of Walks in Shadow and Autumn's Mist. I am the last survivor of the Winding Road pack, and its Seer." He said formally, as he gathered his rarely used power.

Shade inclined his head in formal acceptance, understanding his instinctive attraction to being around the Wolf. There was ripple through the wolf's large frame as his shifted to a nine foot tall Crinos form with the spiraled horns of a Martian Garou, though his form was clearly wolf-dominant. Power crackled between the gold and silver spiraled horns and the room went black and they appeared to be hovering about the galaxy as it slowly rotated.

"Six generations ago, all but two tribes of Garou left Mars. This action was prompted by prophecy." He said in a deep booming voice. "A dozen worlds they settled traveling by the bridges of light." He said as a dozen glowing lines spread out from single glowing sphere of red. "Over the generations that followed they have prepared to return to Mars in force, to reclaim it and restore it. Now they are ready, but they lack a crucial element." He paused for a moment. "They have forgotten where Mars is. If a mouse born on Mars could reach one of the colonies, he or she could provide the coordinates necessary."

Shade had dropped to his knees during the display, reflexively taking the position of respectful submission. "Do you know were any of these colonies are, Seer?"

"I know of one of them." He answered after a pause. "But it will require a starship to reach. And though this world has none, one is coming. The last son of Death Angel brings it, in search of his lost Bro."

Shade's gray eyes went wide at the name, and the cascade of information attached to in from his lessons. "I understand, Seer." His breath was fast, both eager and stunned. "That is truly a great hope for our people, and us."

"But you will need to forgo immediate vengeance if you are to see the final battle for Mars and its rebirth." He said softly. "And Vinnie will need you here. Flexibility and adaptability are not numbered among his strengths." The Crinos said with surprising gentleness. "The son of Death Angel has suffered enough losses, he does not need to find his Bro broken." There was a sudden crackle of light, and the cave abruptly returned to normal, as the giant staggered and shifted back to Wolf, as he collapsed against one wall.

"I understand Seer." Shade said with absolute, calm certainness as he moved to support the Wolf. "Thank you, DreadClaw Sight of Stars. For more hope than I have had in my life."

"You are welcome, Shade of Death. I am pleased to finally meet kin from Mars." He said tiredly. "I so rarely shift or see these days that both are tiring. Would you please stay with me while I regain my strength?"

"I would be honored, brother." The mouse said softly and settled to support the big Wolf affectionately. "I will protect Her son's Bro, and myself. Vengeance can wait, or be set aside."

The big Wolf rested quietly for a time before speaking. "There is a way to protect him from those who find his refusal intoxicating and would take great pleasure in humiliating him." He said quietly. "But he would still have to accept the attentions of one male."

"He will find that much more agreeable, even if he'll grumble." Shade said softly. "Who?"

"Me." The wolf said softly. "As one of the senior gladiators I have a right to claim lesser ranked gladiators for my attentions alone, unless I chose to share." He explained. "At my current position I can have three such lessers, and I have none. I could claim Vinnie and while others would grumble in disappointment, that would be all they could do. But I would have to take him, since it is my scent on him that proves that he is mine." He paused quietly. "I could do the same for you, if you did not wish to be bothered with the challenges."

"I would be honored to be yours, DreadClaw." Shade said with soft sincerity. "I will try to convince Vinnie." He shifted to kiss the naked Wolf softly, invitingly. "Warriors can be together, without loss of rank." He repeated an ancient tenant of The Way.

"I am honored to have you as mine, Shade of Death." The Wolf said accepting the kiss and pulling the mouse close. "I will be honest, I found you attractive when I first saw you. That you are Kinfolk and run with a Garou pack makes you even moreso." He said softly. "I can be who I truly am with you, without fear of being revealed."

"That is a precious thing." Shade murmured, claiming another kiss, which was passionately granted.

"It is indeed." Dread rumbled, as their lips parted briefly. "You have a few days to convince Vinnie." He said gently, his hands gently exploring the mouse's buff body. "A warrior can not be challenged until after his first arena combat."

"I will do my best," he rumbled. "I would rather not wait."

"I know you will." The Wolf rumbled, brushing his hand across the mouse's cheek and up to gently caress on large ear. "Your antennae, is it pleasurable for you when they are touched, like ears, or do you prefer they not be touched?" He asked with gentle curiosity.

"Much more intense," Shade murmured. "I like it, some do not."

"Something normally reserved for mates, or do you allow it with more casual bedmates?" He asked, not wanting to cross any limits by accident.

"Reserved by trust." Shade explained softly with another kiss. "I trust you."

"I am honored." The Wolf rumbled deeply as he claimed a gentle kiss. "Trust is a precious thing, especially in the barracks."

"You have earned it." Shade smiled slightly, his swollen sheath pressing against the Wolf's dark fur.

"That is good." The wolf smiled, as he nuzzled the mouse's neck, while the tip of his cock slid out of his swollen sheath to rub against the mouse's fur.

"How are you at seduction?" Shade murred deep in his throat, his tail wrapping around to stroke Dread's body.

"It has been a while since I had occasion to." He rumbled quietly. "My status here means I do not lack for company when I want it."

"I'm guessing, but if Vinnie's going to accept any male, it'll be for more than just a fuck. It's how he reads to me at least. He's not that naturally attracted to them."

"So he said." The Wolf chuckled. "We had a most interesting conversation on the subject before you arrived."

"Seldrin found it concerning enough to mention it to me." Shade shook his head. "I don't think he comprehends just how little we thought we have to loose."

"He probably doesn't." The Wolf said gently. "This has been his world since he was sixteen. He just doesn't get why some males have such a problem accepting the attentions of other males. But he probably mentioned it, hoping that you would be able to help Vinnie adjust. Despite what it may look like, Seldrin does look after his warriors." He paused, while he ran his hands gently through the mouse's fur. "But I think it's the aspect of simply being sought as the night's fuck that bothers Vinnie the most, or at least it bothered him enough to mention it."

"Dread ... my people have a rite during the ceremonies for the dead." Shade spoke quietly. "It's called Remembering. It takes at least two mice who knew the dead. To be denied the Remembering, is to be condemned to wonder forever, denied the right to pass on to your next life. And by the time we could buy our way out of here, the last of those on Mars would have fallen. This isn't just about what happens in our life here, it doesn't matter what we do, we are condemned for eternity, as only the worst of criminals are. There is very little that can frighten someone who knows that no matter what they do, death will be an eternity alone."

"Would it help Vinnie any to know that there are more Mice than he thinks? That there is a chance to be Remembered?" He said quietly. "And it is a rite my people use as well."

"Probably. Maybe." Shade sighed. "I only know him by reputation. It doesn't bode well for his adaptation to this place. But I don't think it will make a difference in his accepting being a night's fuck."

The Wolf nodded. "I'm no longer suggesting that he should." He said quietly. "But I'm not sure he will believe that what I'm offering is more than that."

"That's what I get to work on." Shade murmured, reaching up for a kiss. "But it can't hurt to try to seduce him."

"I hope not." The Wolf smiled as their lips parted. "But I think I can handle rejection by one pretty boy." He chuckled as he ran his hands across the mouse's ass caressingly.

"When you have another eager for your bed." Shade rumbled, rubbing their bodies together. "Does being yours, mean I don't get to ask for pleasure from others?"

"No, you may ask for pleasure from others, as long as you let me know so that I know it was your desire." He said quietly. "And as long as you don't spend the majority of your nights with others." He smiled, as he adjusted his position so their hard cocks rubbed against each other, and between their hard bodies.

"Not a problem." Shade rumbled, eagerly adding to the motion and friction. "There are just a few delicious looking prospects walking around."

"That there are." The Wolf rumbled. "But then gladiators are expected to look good, as well as fight good." He chuckled. "That's how some of the real money is made for this operation." He said as he slipped his hand under the mouse's tail to brush gently across the furless pucker of his, drawing an eager moan from him.

"How do you like it, Shade?" The Wolf rumbled lustily, as his finger pressed more firmly against the entrance to his lover.

"Slow, gentle, intimate." He breathed sharply, moaning at the slight intrusion.

"Face-to-face?" He asked, his breath hot in the mouse's ear.

"Oh, yeah." Shade moaned in anticipation.

Dread gently rolled the mouse on to his back, with the wolf above him. He reached up to pull a jar from the wall, unscrewing the top he slicked up his fingers with the slippery blue gel before pressing one of them against the mouse's hole till it slipped past the first ring of muscle.

The cool, tingling sensation of the gel drew a deep moan from Shade, spreading his legs further as he wrapped his tail around Dread's balls and the slight swelling in the canine's sheath.

The wolf moaned at the mouse's attention, before adding a second finger to stretch the tight hole properly. Satisfied with the preparation, he positioned himself, and slid his cock into the dark furred mouse. He pressed forward slowly and gently until his sheath brushed the mouse's ass. The wolf then leaned forward to claim a passionate kiss Shade almost couldn't match as he whimpered and moaned in pleasure into his lover's mouth.

Dread then began thrusting slow and deep into the warm, wet passageway. After bending his head briefly to lick the mouse's nipples, he leaned forward to give the thick red antennae a tender, loving caress with his tongue. Almost instantly Shade arched with a shudder, drawing the wolf deeper into his body as he moaned needily.

The wolf moan and grunted as he continued his slow passionate thrusting, slowly shifting his angle as he sought to discover if Mice had the same kind of special spot of pleasure that other's he'd been with did. His answer came with a passionate cry as his cock brushed against a spot that felt slightly different.

Dread smiled between moans and grunts to change his thrust so his cock merely brushed the spot, with a light teasing touch. At the same time his cock brushed the pleasure spot, he leaned forward and licked the mouse's antennae with slow, tender strokes of his tongue. It drew a strangled cry as Shade thrust his hips up, forcing much stronger contact with his spot as his body contracted, his tail wound tightly around the Wolf's knot as cum drenched their dark fur.

The Wolf suddenly howled as his hips jerked, burying him deeper into the mouse as his seed filled the warm passageway in spurts. As he came down, he rolled to one side pulling the willing mouse close against him. As they lay panting, Shade snuggled close, relishing the feel and luxury he hadn't had time for most of his life.

"And to think I thought the sex here was good before." The wolf rumbled appreciatively, as he caught his breath, holding the mouse, and stroking his hair gently.

"Mmm, sometime I'd like to tie with you." Shade murmured, reflexively licking at sweat-soaked fur.

"I like the sound of that." Dread rumbled softly. "Have you ever taken a knot before?" He asked curiously, since not many non-canines did.

"I've never had that kind of time." He sighed softly. "It's been too dangerous to try since before I came of age."

"Perhaps next time." He rumbled, kissing the mouse gently. "Time is not an issue here."

"That'll take some getting used to." Shade said softly, snuggling close. "I think it'll be nice."

"It can be, with the right person to spend it with." The Wolf smiled softly, as he snuggled against the mouse.

"Oh, does the 'other can't take me' cover the arena too?" He looked up. "I don't want hurt another's chances."

The Wolf chuckled lightly. "Not normally no. That would be more like an exclusive mating outside, and that doesn't officially exist in here. Though some warriors do limit their attentions to each other." He said softly.

"Not something I'm interested in." Shade smiled softly, nuzzling the Wolf. "I like you and all, but I like my playmates."

The Wolf chuckled and nuzzled him back. "Nor am I, at least not now. I have buried mates enough, it will be awhile before I seek something long term again." He said sadly.

"At least more long term than a steady playmate." Shade murred softly. "I already miss my pack."

"You will see them again." The wolf said confidently. "And yes, more long term than steady playmate."

"Can I sleep with you?" Shade asked softly, a lonely longing in his voice.

"Of course." Dread said gently. "Any night you wish to. That is one of the benefits of being mine. You will share my quarters instead of the rookie barracks."

"Oh!" The dark mouse blinked and looked up and back at him. "How many do you share with?"

"As a Senior Gladiator, I've earned the right to my own room only to be shared with those I claim." He smiled gently.

Shade blinked again. "Cool, I guess. A little weird though. Sounds lonely."

"I'm no more lonely than in a room full of others." He sighed. "I just have the privacy to remember."

"If kinfolk is not too weak to accept, you don't have to be without a pack anymore." Shade offered with more than a little private hope. "Even a pack of two is good company."

"I do not think you weak, Shade." The Wolf said gently. "Perhaps you can not match a Crinos for raw physical power, but the greatest strength is that of spirit; and there you shine as bright as any Garou." He said sincerely. "I would be honored, and grateful."

"As would I, Dread." He smiled and pressed close. "I do not know the loneliness of being without a pack, and I do not want to."

"Then we are a pack, and can both avoid that loneliness." He said fondly, stroking the mouse's hair. "The Seer who taught me said that everything happens for a purpose. Until now, I could not see what the purpose behind the loss of my pack and my slavery here were." He said quietly.

"Yet by it, Mars will be reborn." Shade smiled softly. "And Her son will need me to keep his packmate sane, and be ready for the reclamation of our home."

"Yes, I see that now." He smiled. "I find it strange to have such a role to play in the rebirth of a world that my ancestors last walked six generations ago."

"It's strange to realize it isn't just a beery-dream of old wolves, and it has begun." Shade murmured. "I saw him once, with his pack. Her son is a magnificent mouse, even after they mutilated his body."

"He may be healed before you see him again." The Wolf said softly. "I sensed a powerful healing force accompanying him. More powerful than any I have sensed before."

"Mars itself will need her." Shade said softly. "Even those not injured in body, are injured in mind. Garou, Kin and Kine alike."

"Perhaps that is why she is coming." He said quietly. "And perhaps to find healing herself. She suffered the loss of her pack, like myself, though she has made some strides in rebuilding."

"It is long past time for healing, for everyone."

"Agreed. Healing and rest, too things that all of Mars is desperately in need of."

"I can't even think of what that word means." Shade sighed softly. "Beyond the rest of death and being Remembered on."

"I would try and show you, in the time we have here." The Wolf said gently. "If you are willing to learn."

The made the mouse fall silent for a long time. "I don't know. I just don't know if I'm there yet."

The Wolf nodded gently. "You've had a hard road to where you are now. Unlearning the lessons that are no longer needed, will not be easy. But it is part of your own healing process." He said with calm certainty.

"I know." He nodded slightly. "I'm not ready to heal yet. My duty has neither been completed or passed on."

"I understand." The Wolf said softly. "Perhaps I will be there when you are ready to heal." He said quietly.

"I hope so." He smiled up at the wolf. "My pack has not had a Seer in many years."

"I would be honored to serve as such, if they will accept me." He said quietly. Sole survivors were often viewed as unlucky among his people, and found gaining acceptance difficult when even possible.

"We're all sole survivors, Dread." Shade murmured. "Those of Mars are long past such things. If you can fight, you're welcome. My pack isn't even all one tribe, much less one family. Kinfolk stand next to Garou as equals. Two packs have even accepted Kine. Outsiders."

"Fighting is something I know all too well." He chuckled softly. "Five years on this world alone."

"What did you do here before being a slave then?" He looked up curiously.

"I was a gladiator in a different province." He said quietly. "The Twins took a liking to me, and bought me from the lord of that province. They were generous to let me keep the rank I had earned there."

"So not just the Twins can steal people?" He asked, the hatred was rising in his voice again.

"The Agents bring people to the Imperial Market." He said quietly. "There's bidding but the Twins are the richest people on the planet, so they generally get what they want. Unless they aren't watching a days bidding, which happens."

"Maybe I'll come back, just to watch this sickness crumble." Shade growled low in his chest.

"That'll be awhile, Shade." The Wolf said quietly. "The Dominion is ten thousand years old, and its as strong now as it was a thousand years ago. And some slaves brought here are grateful. The ones snatched from planets in their last moments, from death camps on truly horrible worlds. Most who come here have few or no connections to the world left behind. There are exceptions, but no system is perfect."

"Technomagic is unnatural." The dark mouse rumbled, his disgust bright in his soul. "A sickness. Just point Mayth or Tunnith this way and watch things stop working."

Dread shrugged. "Maybe. I will not speculate what would happen when Powers clash." He said quietly. "But in truth I don't really care what happens to this place, though there are a great many decent people who simply lack the power to change anything."

"They're a threat to Mars." Shade said simply. "A threat to everything they can reach. They've proved it at least twice now."

Dread was quiet for a while. "Mars was vulnerable because her people had decided the fight was lost. Since the planet was already lost, it would not miss anyone." He said softly. "That is how the Agents work. They do not take anyone who's disappearance would disturb a living society." He sighed. "I do not defend them, but a war against them would be unwise. Mars does not have the luxury of unwise wars."

"They just don't give a damn if the individual would be missed, or finds death preferable to this."

"Not really." Dread agreed. "Certainly not the latter. The former they only care about from a societal standpoint. What the effect on society would be." He sighed. "Slavery has never really made much sense to me, but every culture practices it in one form or another at some time in their development."

"At least most of them don't resort to kidnapping from planets that don't even know they exist." Shade spat. "That's just damn cowardly, to never show your face."

"A slave's a slave." Dread shrugged. "Does it matter who the slaver is? And some of the slaves were bought legitimately in slave markets on their own worlds."

"It matters to me." Shade forced himself to cool down. "It matters that they condemned me to eternity and didn't even have the honor or guts to face me with it."

"Honor is a cheap commodity on this world." Dread said softly. "And they don't believe in eternity. According to local belief, spirits are reborn into new bodies after death. They don't believe in a next world or an afterlife."

"I noticed." The dark mouse spat. "They deserve whatever happens to them when Mayth and Tunnith notice this place."

"Another War between the Powers probably." The Wolf said quietly. "A great deal of destruction in many places, and millions or billions of lives lost. I suppose the universe needs a few more dead and dying worlds, heaven knows there aren't enough." He sighed deeply, feeling quite depressed.

"Just magic and technology refusing to work together, like things should be."

"If Powers try to meddle here, there will be a War between the Powers." The Wolf said with quiet conviction. "And who says that's the way things should be. This is hardly the only world that mixes the two."

"Not my concern." Shade shrugged. "They should have thought of that before they grabbed someone who knows how to point two irate Celestians their way for countering their orders."

"Then you accept the deaths that result from that action." Dread said softly. "I am not stating an opinion, but what I have seen. If outside Powers meddle here, the galaxy will explode in another War between the Powers, like there hasn't been in twenty-five millennia. Those two are not the only Celestians, or even the most powerful."

"Then they should have used their incredible resources to make sure I didn't have those connections either. Maybe Mars is dead, but we still know a few Powers, and how to rile them." Shade muttered. "As for the universe, between these freaks and the fishfaces, there doesn't seem to be much to morn the loss of."

"And when the star Mars orbits explodes into nova?" He said softly.

"So be it." Shade answered with a bitter hatred of one born knowing he had nothing to loose or gain except in their own mind.

Dread sighed quietly. "Over six billion lives dismissed with a 'So be it' for nothing more than vengeance." He said sadly. "Why should I care for the rebirth of a world where life has become so cheap and meaningless?"

"Vengeance is all the universe understands." Shade muttered angrily. "The strong take, the weak fight back before they die. You're right about Death Angel's son and the tribes, I don't mention anything. Some good came out of this. You're wrong, I'm going to enjoy seeing how much damage gets done before someone dissipates me."

"I am right." The Wolf said. "But I have a great deal of thinking to do." He said, as he stood, as got dressed. "It is time to go back." He said without preamble or leaving room for discussion, as the door appeared in the wall.

Shade nodded without comment, following his pack leader and, and knowing he'd relaxed and said too much.

"You should take some time to explore." Dread said quietly once they were in the hallway. "I have a workout with Master Kensho now." He said, as he headed downstairs, catching Shade nod and head the other direction, towards a large window.

Shade saw Dread from his rooftop perch as he considered just how to dive in into the large exercise/ recreational pool in a huge courtyard. The big Wolf was sitting by the edge of the large pool staring at it motionlessly, as if mesmerized by the two full moons shining in the still dark water.

He silently moved around to the deep end and launched himself, slipping under the cool water with little more than a ripple to come up on the far side, next to his packmate. The Wolf didn't seem to notice, still focused on the pool. There was an aura of heavy responsibility around him, along with a hint of sadness.

"I'm sorry, Dread." Shade spoke softly. "I'm going to be angry about this for a while, and I spoke rashly."

"Rashly in that you did not mean that you would cause a Great War for personal vengeance, or rashly in that you did not mean to tell me that?" He asked quietly.

"Rash as in even if I was angry enough to try after death, it's not something I could probably do." He said quietly. "I doubt I'd stay that angry long enough. I'm not even pulling it off in life. I'm no Death Angel or Walker of Stars that can call such powers to them."

There was a long silence as the Wolf considered both the mouse and his reflection in the water. Satisfied that the mouse was telling the truth he nodded, and relaxed. "That is good to hear, indeed better than you can imagine." He said quietly.

"What difference does it make?" He looked at his packmate curiously.

"Knowing that you would throw away billions of lives to gain a small amount of personal vengeance left me responsible for those lives." He said quietly. "I have never had the lives of so many in my hands before, and I do not like the feeling."

"I still think the atrocity that is technomagic should be obliterated," Shade said softly, resting his arms on the side of the pool. "But it's not my job either. The Ladies don't want to get along, it's their job to track down those defying their will."

"As the strands tell it, there are many among the Celestians who find those pronouncements to constitute excessive meddling in their domains, and therefore protect those who do defy them." He shrugged. "But I still don't see what the big deal about technomagic is." He said quietly. "Perhaps we should simply accept that there are some cultural differences between us and leave it at that."

"Plutarkians use a lot of it." The mouse said by way of explanation. "And yeah. I'm sure after this long, there will be some."

"Yes, and they probably use a lot of starships too. Does that make those abominations?" He shook his head, not comprehending why one would hate a tool. It was like hating a hammer because you hit your thumb with it. "Considering that our descent comes from wolf kinfolk, quite a bit."

"I noticed." Shade nodded, moving closer. "You're quite attractive, in an exotic ruffian way."

That brought a smile to the Wolf's face. "You're quite attractive as well, Shade."

Shade smiled slightly and shifted closer, setting his head on the big Wolf's thigh just below his shorts. "Do you leave the compound much?"

"Occasionally." The Wolf said, stroking the mouse's hair gently.

"What's out there? Beyond what I can see." He asked softly, relaxing in the water and his alpha's attentions.

"What do you know about big cities? I imagine it's been awhile since Mars had any, with the war and all." He asked gently, enjoying the presence of a packmate, something he'd almost forgotten what felt like.

"I've never seen one." Shade admitted. "The last settlement of more than a few hundred was destroyed not long after my birth."

"It would seem quite chaotic then." The Wolf said softly. "From what I've heard there are twenty million beings who willingly call this city home. There are the shops and markets needed to supply the needs of so many, and then there are the shops that cater to the wants and desires of those with money to spend." He said, as relaxed with his hand stroking the mouse's hair in a gentle, rhythmic pattern. "And there are places of learning, a great many of them since the Imperial rulers have always valued learning. And places of art and music where people go to feed their soul. And then there's the Great Park, in the center of the city."

"Are we permitted to learn?" Shade asked, closing his eyes.

"I've never been told not too." Dread said softly. "Though our duties here mean that we have to learn from books mostly, though I have managed to take a class once, what I wanted happened to meet during my free time. And I had earned in enough in winnings and successful wagers to afford it."

"Is it expensive?"

"For non-citizens, moderately so." He said gently. "But I think that once you get in the arena, money won't be a problem." He said confidently.

Shade chuckled. "Depends on who I'm matched with. I got put on my back today more times than the last twenty years combined."

"You were picking opponents you wouldn't get in the arena." The wolf grinned. "Seldrin makes effort to pick opponents of similar ability and skill, so that the fight is not over too quickly or too lopsided." He chuckled. "The crowds prefer tough, drawn out fights. Did Seldrin mention one of the things that sometimes happens at the end of a match?"

"Winner fucks the looser, and the Twins may ask for him afterwards." Shade glanced up to see if there was more.

"That covers it." The Wolf nodded. "He doesn't tell all the rookies that. Or that sometimes a citizen in the audience will pay to have a gladiator for a night. But Seldrin only allows that for warriors who are willing, and enjoy sex with the requesting gender."

"Vinnie'll have a royal fit when he finds out the first time." Shade shook his head. "Win or loose."

"If he wins, he doesn't have to." The Wolf said simply. "Though he won't be as popular as the ones who do. And there are others who won't as well, for varying reasons."

"I'm not sure if I want to be the first gladiator to try it on him." Shade shook his head. "But maybe he'll have chilled out some by then. I'm worried about him."

"I will have a quiet word with Seldrin, and suggest opponents who do not care to take their downed opponents that way." He said quietly. "No guarantees, but sometimes the Master takes suggestions from the Senior Gladiators." He added. "I am worried as well."

"I think we will both have our hands full keeping him in shape for his Bro." Shade sighed. "He's more ill-suited for this place than I am."

"You understand that there can be pleasure in sex between males." The Wolf said softly. "I don't think that's something that's occurred to Vinnie yet. He also doesn't seem as willing to roll with things and bide his time."

Shade nodded against his alpha's thigh. "I may rant and snarl and threaten sometimes, but I understand the value of bending before I break."

"Between the two of us we may be able to keep him from being broken." Dread said quietly. "But that will depend in part on him."

"Convincing him his Bro is coming for him will be the key, I'm sure." Shade sighed. "That could be excessively difficult."

Dread nodded. "I can't exactly show him the way I did you." He said quietly. "I don't even know if the mice outside Garou and Kinfolk have Seers."

"None I ever heard of, and he's not likely to take knowing what we are well." Shade murmured. "It's not too bad, but race-relations aren't exactly great."

"Perhaps we should avoid that issue as long as possible." He said quietly. "He has enough to be uncomfortable with as it is."

"Definitely." Shade nodded. "Let his leader explain things to him if we can."

"That would be my preference." The Wolf said softly, stroking the mouse's hair gently. "You're the only one here who knows what I am."

"I found out how poorly shapeshifters are taken around here." He sighed softly, though his pleasure at the contact was undeniable. "It seems so strange with what you said earlier."

"I said a great deal earlier." He smiled, as he continued the gentle motion. "What seemed strange?"

"That shapeshifters aren't here, but they have lycanthrope brigades." Shade explained, his body relaxing to an extent that was bordering on alien. "It would make for long, interesting fights."

"Gladiators can't shapeshift, for some reason." He said softly. "I can in that space I showed you, but it's a special place." He murmured. "But there are those who shapeshift outside these walls, and there are several shapeshifter species native to this world. It is one of those who make up the Lycanthrope brigades."

"Have you seen a real book, Dread?"

"A real book? Of course, the library is full of them." He said quietly. "I have several in my quarters."

"Library?" Shade looked up uncertainly.

"A place for storing books for use in learning, research and pleasure reading." The Wolf explained gently. "The Capitol has several fantastic ones. Any good place of learning needs one."

"Oh," the mouse murmured softly, slightly shocked at the concept. "You own books?" He asked, still slightly stunned.

"Several, and I have a few borrowed from the library." He smiled. "Books are not that expensive. Even a rookie with a few wins can afford them."

"I haven't seen a book since I was three, and mother read to me at night." Shade whispered, trying to conceptualize what he was being told.

"Has the knowledge been preserved in some form?" The Wolf asked softly, wondering if Mars had slid into a Dark Age during the war.

"The resistance had some books, and computer databases on technology." He nodded slightly. "Cultural was by word of mouth. I didn't associate with them much, we had so much to do."

"I understand." He said understandingly. "My people have only started recording our cultural information in the last two generations. We were fortunate that Summer's Morn and her mate Talons of Twilight taught us as much as they did."

"It's amazing how much difference one or two cane make."

"Especially when they are from before the Exodus." He said quietly. "They felt responsible for the Kinfolk colonies that were lost, and refused to accept being Remembered. Ten years ago they were finally satisfied that we could make it without them, and allowed us to Remember them on." He said with a strange glow in his eyes as he remember the powerfully moving ceremony. There had been so much about them to celebrate.

"There are several others, on Mars. From before and after, if the stories are right." Shade murmured softly. "Death Angel is one of them. I've seen her, watching over her last one. There may be much to celebrate in another decade or two."

"There may indeed." The Wolf said softly, as he leaned down to kiss the mouse gently. "Mars may be green and living once again."

"It will be." He said stubbornly. "We're too stubborn a breed to not pull it off."

"It will be something to see, a dead world returning to life." Dread rumbled softly, not questioning the mouse's belief.

"And we will see it, behind Death Angel's son."

"Well, I don't know if he will be leading." The Wolf said quietly. "The Garou leaders of the colonies will probably have a great deal to say about that. Unless, of course, the son of Death Angel is Garou."

"Not the survivor." Shade sighed sadly. "But he is a gifted leader, and Death Angel backs him with force."

"True, but we will see. Garou are not often inclined to follow Kinfolk, especially traditionalists." The Wolf said softly. "I would have no problem following him, but then I'm exactly very tradition bound."

"Obviously." Shade grinned up at him and nuzzled his thigh. "Stressful times can make or break traditions."

"I'm more prone to setting them aside, to be reconsidered in quieter times." He rumbled encouragingly at the mouse's nuzzle. "One of these days I'll even have actual quieter times." He chuckled ruefully.

"There's that too." Shade murmured and shifted between Dread's legs to nuzzle further up his inner thigh.

"Someone wants to play." Dread rumbled softly as he spread his legs to give mouse easier access. The musk of the wolf's arousal was strong near the swelling sheath.

"Usually do." Shade chuckled softly as he nosed under his leader's short's leg, his tongue sneaking out to reach further up.

"Well, if we're going to play." The Wolf rumbled lustily. "I should get rid of these." He said stripping of his clothes and setting them on the stone edge of the pool.

"So many ways, so little endurance." Shade rumbled just as lustfully before taking one large, gray-black furred ball in his mouth.

"Oh, yes, Shade." Dread moaned encouragingly, as one hand gently caressed one of the mouse's large ears.

The approval did not go unnoticed or unrewarded as Shade bent his full attention to what was in his mouth, his hands and tail moving up to caress his lover's body. A deep rumble of pleasure emanated from the Wolf's chest as his sheath swelled, and the tip of his cock slid out. The hand that wasn't propping the wolf up, gently caressed on of Shade's ears and then other before brushing his cheek in a tender, loving gesture.

"Gods you smell good." The mouse rumbled hotly between releasing one ball to take the other in his mouse, his hand continuing to fondle and caress the wet side as mouse arousal mixed with wolf in the wet air.

"And you taste good." The Wolf rumbled, bending to lick one large ear playfully. He moaned softly as his cock slid the rest of the way out, become a bright pink shaft in a dark gray landscape.

"But this tastes better." Shade wasted no time taking the large wolf into his mouth and most of the way down his throat, his tail sliding down to wrap around the just noticeable swelling of Dread's knot.

"Oh yes, that's good." Dread moaned loudly, not caring who heard as Shade moved his head up and down along the shaft, using his tongue and throat to add extra sensation to the wet heat of his mouth and suction.

The wolf's moans became louder and more urgent, as he lay back with both hands caressing the mouse's ears. As the mouse continued, Dread reached one paw up to very gently caress one of the thick red antennae. It drew of moan of pleasure he felt more than heard as Shade applied himself to the musky cock.

As Dread's breathing became ragged and quick he began to slowly buck his hips pushing up at the mouse, as a dribble of precum leaked from the rock hard cock to be eagerly licked up. With an eager rumble Shade picked up the pace, his tail tightening and pulling against the wolf's knot.

It didn't take much more before Dread's balls tightened and he let out an incredible howl. His hips thrust reflexively as he shot waves of seed down the mouse's relaxed, open throat. Smaller whimpers accompanied the later spasms that drained the wolf completely and left him panting as Shade licked him clean. "Gods, that was good, Shade." He rumbled breathlessly, as he came down.

"You taste good," the mouse murred. "Different, but good."

The Wolf grinned, and twisted to slip into the water next to Shade. "I see you're still excited." The wolf rumbled, as his hand cupped and fondled the mouse's balls and swollen sheath. "What kind of pleasure would you like" He murmured hotly in the mouse's ear. "And do you mind an audience?"

"Don't mind an audience," Shade breathed sharply as the contact. "Hold me, paw me off."

The wolf shifted so his back was against the wall of the pool. With one strong arm he held the mouse's back against his chest, while the other began fondling his balls and sheath, encouraging him the rest of the way hard. "Do you mind if he touches you?" The wolf asked hotly.

"No." Shade moaned as he stretched his arms up to lock around Dread's neck and his tail around their waists to hold them tightly together. "If he has a name."

"His name is Erikari Tel'Doran, of the Golden Falls clan." The Wolf said formally, as he nuzzled the mouse affectionately.

"Thank you, Ansari." The otter said respectfully as he stood upright, revealing the dark brown fur and tightly muscled chest and abs. "Erik, Tel or Dor will do for common use, Shade of Death." He said politely. "Thank you for letting me join in." He added politely as his hands caressed the mouse's chest and abs with firm confidence that noticeably increased Shade's arousal.

"Shade works, Erik." The dark mouse moaned under their dual attentions, his tail grudgingly unwinding to play along the Otter's body. "Good touch."

"Thank you, Shade." The otter purred as he worked his hands along the mouse's sides. "I have worked hard to be good at it."

"Good is an understatement." Dread rumbled hotly in Shade's ear, as he continued to gently but firmly fondle the mouse's balls, switching to stroking the hard pink cock when it emerged fully. "He does a full body massage that is heavenly."

If Shade had a reply it was lost in the passionately hot moan as he spread his legs further apart, his tail wrapped around Erik's waist to play with the Otter's balls and sheath.

The otter moaned passionately as his cock slid from his swollen sheath to stick out contrasting sharply with his dark, wet fur. As he caressed the mouse's muscular chest and tight abs, he leaned forward to run his tongue in teasing circles around the mouse's nipples, drawing more than one moaning shudder from him. Dread continued to stroke his lover's cock, while his own swelled to full hardness, pressing against the mouse's back.

"Fuck me, Dread." Shade managed to gasp out between moans.

"You don't need to ask twice." The wolf rumbled hotly, and exchanged glances with the otter over Shade's shoulder, as he lifted the mouse up and back to impale him on the wolf's cock. With strong sure hands, the wolf pulled the mouse back until he was fully buried in the warm, wet tunnel. As the wolf's hands became busy providing thrust and holding the mouse in place, a warm wet sensation engulfed the mouse's cock while a skilled tongue played at it.

"Oh, gods!" Shade howled at the duel pleasures he'd never felt at the same time before. Instinct and desire quickly overrode any attempt at being simply compliant and he did his best to thrust and push back, trying to take advantage of both bodies with him. While it lost a little skill, Shade's tail continued to work as well, wrapping around and stroking Erik's shaft as it continued to fondle and roll his balls.

Dread used his greater height to advantage as he gave a gentle lick to the sensitive antennae as he continued his slow and deep thrusts into the mouse's body. At the same time, Erik moan and ran his tongue in the mouse's slit as he sucked the cock eagerly, his lips forming a tight seal around the hard cock.

With a whimpering moan and tightening of Shade's tail Eric tasted the first, and only, rush of pre-cum before the dark mouse's body tightened and spasmed, pushed beyond any shred of control by the attention of the two males.

Erik eager swallowed all the seed the dark mouse shot into him, licking and sucking him clean after the mouse stopped coming. Behind Shade, Dread thrust a few more times before loud moan and grunt preceded his thrusting deep into the mouse as he came with a deep chested howl. That howl was followed by whimpering and barking as the otter pawed himself to orgasm while floating on his back with his head turned to keep the mouse's cock in it. His seed shot geyserlike into the air, some of it hitting Shade while most of it hit the otters face and chest.

No one did anything but pant and whimper as they regained their breath and calmed down.

"That was incredible." Shade finally murmured, though he hadn't moved from his spread out embrace of his alpha.

"Yes it was." Dread rumbled. "You are extremely hot."

"And he tastes good too." The otter laughed, a light barking sound, as he licked the last of the mouse's seed from his muzzle, with a lustful grin.

"So, are you usually in the pool after dark?" Shade asked Erik with a lustful look if his own as he recovered some coherence.

"I often sleep in the pool." He smiled. "It's more comfortable, unless I'm sharing Ansari's bed."

"Which you don't do very often, cub." The wolf teased. "You just like to stop by for quick fuck before bed." He chuckled.

"Is there something wrong with that?" The otter smirked back.

"Not that I know of." The Wolf laughed quietly.

"Me either." Shade grinned. "Evenings are shaping up to be a lot of fun."

"So, are you claiming him, Ansari?" The otter asked Dread as he floated on his back next to the standing pair.

"That wasn't a question was it, Erik?" He chuckled.

"Nope, just making sure I wasn't mistaken. Good choice though."

"Glad you think so. Just keep your big otter mouth shut about it till I actually make it formal." The Wolf said commandingly.

"Yes, Ansari." The Otter replied submissively. "I'm just glad you let him play with others, and that he wants to play with otters, I mean others." He said with a wise-ass grin.

"Playing with others is fun." Shade rumbled hotly. "And you have a talented mouth, to go with those talented hands."

"Talented enough that most of the males around here are willing to forgo my ass if they can get mouth and hand action." He smirked.

"I can see why." He rumbled, playing his tail along the Otter's body. "You have a gorgeous body too."

"You're pretty hot yourself, even better than that pretty boy white mouse I saw earlier." He shook his head. "That one really needs to chill with the attitude."

Shade sighed. "Patience and tolerance are not among Vinnie's virtues. And interrupting his search for his Bros was possibly the worst way get his cooperation with anything."

"Ranshaak doesn't want his cooperation." The otter said quietly. "Hell, he'd prefer pretty boy didn't cooperate. That lizard can smell virgin ass at a hundred paces, and it really turns him on." He said, shaking his head.

"If Ranshaak isn't damn careful, he'll find himself with a broken neck." Shade shook his head. "At least if Vinnie is half as violent as his reputation holds. We're going to try to avoid giving him the chance anyway."

Dread sighed. "Ranshaak is a professional gladiator, and Vinnie is simply not on his level. I'm not on his level, and I could take Vinnie if that was my way." He said softly. "But yes we're going to try to avoid that, if Vinnie will cooperate."

"You're going to claim him, Ansari?" The otter asked quietly.

"That's something else you can keep to yourself."

Shade was silent for a moment before wrapping his tail around Erik's body and lifting him effortlessly out of the water and wrapped once around his neck with warning pressure. "I understand forcing him down. I don't doubt most here could force Vinnie down if they chose. I'm not sure anyone here comprehends just what our tails are capable of when we're fighting desperately, or intent on stopping something." He said softly as he lowered the Otter back in the water and released him. "It's a tactic I've used often enough, and I've been watching. Few, if any, comprehend that my tail is more dangerous than my fists."

"We've all been trained to deal with tails like yours, Shade." Dread said quietly. "Though none of us have tails like that, some of the foreign gladiators we face do. I personally know three different nerve strikes that will immobilize a prehensile tail."

"You make a very unconvincing argument, after a day on the practice field with the closest thing to this tail as you've got." Shade shook his head softly. "Let's just try to keep it from becoming an issue, okay?

"That would be preferable." The wolf agreed.

"At last we have a few days, before it becomes a critical issue." Shade relaxed back and sighed. "He's not going to be easy, I expect."

"I very much doubt he will be." The Wolf said quietly. "Especially since in our first conversation he accused me of being disappointed because he wasn't on his knees sucking my cock. To quote Vinnie."

"Kind of arrogant of him to assume you'd want him to." The otter said quietly.

"That's Vinnie." Shade sighed. "He's as arrogant as anyone here. It's a survival trait on Mars too often, but he does take it a bit far."

Dread nodded and looked at Erik seriously. "I expect you will be nice to him, and refrain from hitting on him. I know he strikes you as a good target for teasing and mischief, but he will be difficult enough to convince as it is."

"Of course, Ansari." The otter agreed quietly.

"Thanks Erik." Shade smiled at him sincerely. "I know it be hard to not play with someone that up tight and teaseble."

"And hot." The otter added. "I'll be honest, I'd love to show him what I can do for him with my hands and mouth. He looks delicious."

Shade considered that. "Dread, I don't suppose you have a plan yet?"

"It wasn't really on my mind before you found me by the pool." He said softly. "There were larger concerns on my mind."

"Erik, interested in helping us convince him to go with this?" Shade turned to the Otter.

"If I can." The Otter said willingly. "I'd rather not see him get hurt."

"It's only half a plan, but it's a start." Shade explained as he tried to work out details. "The gist of it is to work him up to what has to happen. Start with making him feel a little too good to complain it's a male doing it. Between the three of us, we might be able to convince him it's not a bad thing, to bed one male, to avoid the sick ones."

The otter nodded. "Well, if I can get him to let me touch him, I can handle the feel good part." He smiled confidently.

"The four of us, Dread's quarters, and get him relaxed and worn out enough to stay put." Shade murmured. "It's missing a couple key points though, like how to get him there in the first place."

The Wolf nodded. "Normally the reluctant ones are grateful for a chance to get out of sight for awhile." He said quietly. "And the private quarters are the few places that's really possible." He added, a little uncertain if Vinnie would react that way.

"Which brings how how to get him there, without making him react like we're trying to jump him." Shade shook his head. "He's not exactly a match, but it sort of ruins the point if he gets angry with us."

"Tough to seduce someone who's considering hitting you." The Wolf nodded. "He might responded better if you suggested getting out of sight for a while."

"And a couple friends to meet." Shade considered. "Let the sex evolve out of more innocent conversations."

"Yeah, or maybe he'd be up for a massage." The Otter suggested. "He'll probably be pretty tense."

"That is an excellent idea." Blaze grinned at him. "And if he can't accept a massage in friendly company, we're in trouble."

"Most definitely, and Erik's hardly what even Vinnie should consider threatening." The Wolf chuckled, reaching to muss the Otter's hair.

"Beyond being gorgeous enough to fuck silly." The dark mouse licked his lips with a lewd gaze.

"Is that a promise?" The Otter smirked back lustfully.

"If you'll come up to play some more." Shade grinned, stroking Dread's body with his tail. "This is fun, but I like a bed for marathons."

Erik woof appreciatively, as he reached over kiss the mouse. "I've never turned town an invitation to Ansari's quarters, and that was before he had a hot mouse playmate."

Dread chuckled, and nuzzle Shade. "Marathon is right, Erik's the insatiable sort."

"I think we're up for the challenge." He grinned. "Wear him out enough to have an otter pillow tonight."

"That sounds like fun." The Otter woofed playfully, as he brushed his thick tail against the mouse's leg.

"So, back to my quarter's now?" The Wolf suggested, without actually moving.

"Sounds good to me." Shade grinned.

The Otter was out of the pool with an incredibly fluid grace. "Coming, guys?" He smirked playfully, as he started walking his tail flicking invitingly at them.

"That is a challenge is I ever saw one." Shade rumbled as he slipped off Dread's cock and slipped from the pool himself.

"Oh, it is." Dread rumbled as he slipped from the pool and picked up his clothes. "Otter sandwich?" He rumbled in the dark mouse's ear.

"It's a good start." Shade grinned. "Is he at all sensitive to energy?"

"I don't know." The wolf said curiously. "Why?"

"I know a few tricks with it if he's not Mute." The mouse grinned.

"I know a few too." He chuckled. "A few interesting spellweaver tricks, though I've never tried with him."

"Perhaps tonight is the time to find out."

"He's always up for new games." Dread rumbled. "It's part of his charm." He smiled, watching the slightly hyper Otter lead the way.

"Hay, Vinnie." Shade greeted the white mouse at dinner the next night. The white mouse's eyes flicked up from his meal, the sudden tension in him relaxing somewhat as he recognized the other mouse.

"Oh it's you."

"Folks trying to mess with you, Bro?" Shade asked with a mixture of concern and defensive loyalty as he sat down.

"Nothing I can't handle so far," Vinnie replied with a shrug.

"No one can touch you until after your first match." Shade commented as he worked into the food at a polite speed, just to give him in something to do for a while.

"That's good to know," Vinnie nodded. "I'll remember it."

"I've got access to a fairly private room, if you want to get away from staring eyes for as while." He commented quietly.

"It doesn't bother me that much," Vinnie said. "All they can do is look ... though that reptile guy is starting to get on my nerves."

"Ranshaak." Shade nodded. "Yeah, he's going to be first in line after your first match." He said softly. "Apparently he gets off on raping unwilling virgins."

"Gee, you're just full of the good news today."

"He's on the top rung around here too." Shade murmured. "Unfortunately the way to avoid him is only a little better."

"Let me guess, I get to turn professional whore." Vinnie made a face. "The reason I came here in the first place was to avoid all that."

"No, it's not that bad." Shade said quietly. "You take a mate, of one of the ranking gladiators. After that, no one can touch you without your, or their, consent."

"A mate?" Vinnie asked skeptically. "In the first place they're all guys. In the second place the only one I've even spoken to for more than three minutes is Dread."

"Two males can be mates, Vinnie." Shade said softly. "And I spent a good chunk of the day and all night with him. He's a good guy if you give him a chance to court you."

"Great. You'll have to forgive my not dancing in the aisles here."

"Vinnie, just give the guy a chance." He sighed. "He's not out to just fuck you, or anyone."

"And I'm not out to fuck anyone, period," Vinnie replied.

"Unfortunately, it basically amounts to accepting a male mate, or be the fucktoy of everyone who can take you down." Shade looked over at the white mouse. "Have you spent any time in the training areas yet? A solid third of those here can put me on my back in a fight."

"If that woman had mentioned any of this I would've been a fucking gardener like she said." Vinnie grumbled bitterly.

"At least you get to pound on people this way." Shade pointed out. "And sleeping with one guy who likes you isn't that terrible."

"If it wasn't for all this bullshit I wouldn't need to anywhere near as much," Vinnie snorted.

"Vinnie ... I found out something about Throttle, since we spoke last." He said softly. "He's alive, and coming here."

"How can you know that?" Vinnie asked, his situation forgotten as the discussion turned to more important things. "These people have never seen mice before us."

"They snag people from all over the galaxy." Shade answered softly. "At least one has, and has kept track of him to some extent."

"And Throttle's coming here? How? When?"

"How is in a spaceship. When ... that was less certain. It's a long trip from where he is."

"But you're sure he's coming? He's going to be here?"

Shade nodded with a conviction going well beyond hearsay. "I'm positive. He's coming. And he's coming for you. You just have to stay sane and whole for him."

"Throttle's coming," Vinnie murmured softly, leaning back in his seat. Beyond that sentence nothing seemed important.

"Yes," Shade nodded.

"At last. Do you realize how long I've been searching? At last it's gonna be over."

"A long time." He nodded. "You've been missing from Mars almost eight years."

"What about Modo?" Vinnie asked intently. "Do you know?"

"No, but that's no reason not to hope." Shade said softly. "Two of you survived, there is every chance he has too."

"He's tough. He'll make it."

"Yes he is." Shade nodded without a doubt. "You just have to be sane when Throttle gets here. You can't let this situation get the best of you."

"This would be the part where you tell me what's best for me, yeah?"

"No," Shade shook his head. "This is the part where I point out options you didn't necessarily know about. You weren't told everything about how this place works."

"Damn right I wasn't."

"Would you at least listen to Dread long enough to hear it out?" Shade asked with soft hope in his voice. "He's not going to make a move on you."

"As I recall he said he wasn't interested," Vinnie smirked.

"Not as long as you weren't willing." Shade chuckled. "He does think you're attractive, though."

"And you think I am now?" Vinnie shook his head. "Exactly what part of your brain was removed? It's a pretty simple sentence, really. I don't want to get fucked. At all."

"Then that lizard and half the gladiators here will take you and enjoy your screams and fighting." Shade shrugged. "Given that choice, I'd rather have a single male who's gentle than a couple dozen who just see me as a hole to put their cock in to get off."

"So I've heard," Vinnie smirked. "You're not the only one who can hear the skullbusters talking."

"You think it's funny?" Shade looked at him.

"I think it's funny that they want you, but can't have you."

"Unless I ask them." Shade nodded. "Or they beat me in the arena."

"Great. So what your saying is the wolf doesn't really offer any protection after all."

"He offers a lot." Shade looked at him sharply. "You're only paired with those of comparable skill in the area, and their right to take you ends if the crowd doesn't demand it, or they decline the demand. Those that could put either of us down in a real fight won't be the in area with us."

"Big deal." Vinnie wasn't buying it. "You told me if I do this then no-one else can touch me. That's bull ... it just means that now they have to do it in front of a crowd."

"You think you're going to loose that often?" Shade snorted. "It's still better than the alternative. No one can challenge or force me without facing Dread over it. I loose in the arena, I loose and that's the price. But that lizard won't touch me, or the ones who like to hurt."

"I'm still gonna get raped sooner or later," Vinnie told him bluntly. "If you think I'm gonna be cheering about it being in from of a zillion people then you're even more fucked up in the head than I thought."

"And that is a reason to leave yourself open to more than has to happen?" Shade looked at him with a mixture of disbelief and disgust.

"It's sure as hell a reason to be a little more careful about what people tell me. That's what got me into this fucking mess in the first place."

"So are you going to both listening or Dread or not?" Shade demanded, his patience failing.

"So far it seems the only thing that's changed is the audience," Vinnie said, turning his attention back to his meal. "If you want to whore yourself you go right ahead."

"Val was right, you are a brain dead coward." Shade muttered. "No wonder you want your leader back, to protect you again."

"He wouldn't be trying to sell me out to his new friends," Vinnie hissed. "You can be sure of that."

"No, because he'd take it himself, like he always did." Shade spat. "Why do you think no one took your ass in the camps? Such a pretty boy just screaming to be abused. Well he's not here to protect you this time. You're going to have to make those choices yourself."

It came out of nowhere, a backhand blow across Shade's nose that was instinctively rolled with. "You piece of shit," Vinnie hissed, trembling with rage as Shade rose to a combat stance between the tables. "Get the fuck away from me."

"Have a good first time." The dark mouse growled before forcefully pulling himself out of the killer mode and stalked off.

"Hi, Dread." Shade greeted his packmate as he entered their quarters that night in a less than stellar mood.

"Hello, Shade." The Wolf smiled from the large bed, as he set down the book he was reading. "Things did not go well with Vinnie." He said simply, as he patted the bed next to him invitingly.

"Putting it mildly." He growled in exasperation and dropped on the bed to lean against the Wolf, though his attention quickly focused on the book in fascination.

"He seems determined to be the lizard's plaything." Dread said quietly, as he put a muscular arm around his packmate. "A history of the Arenas." He said as he handed the book to Shade who handled it very carefully as he looked through it for pictures.

"I do not understand it." Shade sighed. "I get an aversion to getting fucked, but to insist on taking the worst option just because you can't have things your way I just don't understand."

"I can't claim to understand that either." Dread shook his head, while stroking the mouse's hair comfortingly. "I do not wish to see him hurt, but he seems determined. And the lizard is well-endowed." He said softly.

"And Vinnie is everything he dreams of." He leaned against the Wolf with a sigh. "It's hard to help someone who refuses to be helped."

"Very hard." He said quietly. "Maybe a day or two unprotected will open his eyes." He said in frustration.

"Maybe we'll all get lucky and he'll think about what I told him before his first match." Shade nuzzled Dread supportively. "I know I shouldn't have lashed out with the bit about hiding behind his leader, but it's true, and he was getting on my nerves."

"He may not have realized that Throttle was protecting him that way." The Wolf said gently as he nuzzled the mouse comfortingly. "And his insistence on keeping his eyes closed would get on anyone's nerves."

"Gods, if he didn't, he's keeping his eyes and nose glued shut." Shade snorted. "Everybody knew. Even those not in the camps knew." He shook his head. "Throttle got a lot out of those fishfaces, even keys and plans. He saved dozens directly, Mars only knows how many with what he got out of them."

"I believe the problem isn't his eyes and nose, but the mind behind them. He doesn't want to see such things, so he doesn't." The Wolf said gently. "He's not a leader, and he doesn't understand the choices leaders face."

"I'm an omega and I know." Shade snorted in frustration, then instantly chilled. "Sorry, the last few days have not been conductive for my temperament."

"I understand, Shade. This place can easily get on ones' nerves." He said hugging the mouse close. "You're an omega? Because you're Kinfolk in a Garou pack, right?"

"Not technically." He said softly, soaking up the contact. "But It's hard to make rank when you have to out-fight one to do it."

"Yes, that would be a problem." He said understandingly. "As skilled as you are, a Garou in Crinos would still be an incredible challenge." He said nuzzling the mouse. "Win or lose, I imagine you impressed them though."

"Oh, I did, in the field and in the challenge." Shade grinned. "They let me in the pack after all, and I've held the place for twelve years. Outsiders may grumble, but I pull my weight in the pack, and they defend me as any other."

"I don't doubt it, Shade." The Wolf smiled. "You would be an asset to any pack." He said sincerely.

"And I got a good one," he smiled longingly. "They tested me like any new pup, but once I proved my worth, I didn't hear another word about it."

"We'll get you back to them." Dread said confidently. "Maybe by a roundabout route, but you will see them again."

Shade nodded and relaxed into Dread's lap. "I think I know why shifters can't shift. It's those collars."

"That thought had occurred to me, but removing the collars isn't possible as far as I've been able to determine." He said gently. "It keeps the Arena fair, and makes escape less likely. Not that there's really anywhere to escape to."

"But it means when we leave, you won't be Kinfolk anymore." He smiled affectionately up at the Wolf. "There's a way to take them off, since both mine and Vinnie's got changed."

"Away from here I probably could get it off." He said quietly. "But certain things I don't try where the Twins might notice."

"Not like there's much point." Shade said softly. "Not while we're stuck here, anyway."

"Which won't be forever." The Wolf nuzzled Shade affectionately.

"No, it's not." He agreed stubbornly. "Any idea how long it takes to buy yourself?"

"All depends on your skill in the arena and skill with gambling." The Wolf said softly. "But we're rather expensive, I know that. But I think ten years is about the fastest anyone's done it. I know Ranshaak bought himself a few years ago."

"But he still fights here?" Shade looked up curiously.

Dread nodded. "Ranshaak likes it here. He gets to fight, he gets the kind of sex he likes and doesn't get in trouble for it, and I think he's saving his winnings for something. But I don't know what, cause I don't really talk to him much.

"Probably a slave of his own." Shade muttered. "One who doesn't want to be."

"That wouldn't surprise me." Dread said quietly. "I've always wondered where the Agents got him from, but on some level I don't really want to know.

"We could always hope he got snagged because he wasn't socially acceptable there. They have poor enough taste to do something like that." Shade muttered.

"Their 'taste' is almost entirely physical." Dread shook his head. "But that would be preferable to an entire society where his kind of behavior was acceptable."

"Do you know how they determine if an individual will be missed by society?" Shade asked quietly.

"Not really. The Agents have been doing this for millennia, and it's a very refined process. I think it's partially precognitive in nature, and also depends on the world the individual is from. Because of Mars' current state, they wouldn't view anyone as being missed."

"Who would know, that I could ask?" He focused on a half formed plan. "There has to be a way to protect Mars from those freaks once we take it back."

"Once Mars is taken back, the population will be low enough that everyone will be valuable. From what I've seen, they usually stick to dying worlds or stagnant worlds, and the occasional loner. They do try very hard not to disrupt societies, probably the only redeeming trait in them."

"And as we grow in numbers, we need to implement something to keep them away." Shade insisted. "Maybe they can't be stopped, but there must be some way to protect a society from them."

"There probably is." Dread nodded. "But I don't know what it would be. And I can't see them telling, it's hardly in their interests to give away their weakness."

"No, but with such a long record, it shouldn't be impossible to figure out." Shade rumbled as he began to plot. "And maybe we already know it."

"Assuming you can get the Agents historical records." He said softly. "Well, if you could keep everyone in the society vital enough that their absence would be disruptive, that would probably work. Tough to keep up as a society grows though."

"Don't need their records." Shade smirked. "We have the results of them right here. And disruptive to society could be as simple as keeping track of everyone and coming for them when they disappear."

"Perhaps." The Wolf said uncertainly. "Assuming there's a way to determine if they disappeared to here, and to get to here to come for them."

"Getting here isn't much trouble." Shade said certainly. "As for the rest, given their history, assuming guilt wouldn't be out of line. But that's for the leaders to decide. I still want to see them wiped from existence."

Dread shook his head. "They're not the only ones who do what they do." He said softly. "They didn't even invent the idea. And hopefully the leaders will be wise enough not to start such a war. It would be suicidal."

"I never suggested a war." He frowned up at the Wolf.

"You aren't going to wipe them out any other way." The Wolf said simply.

Shade blinked. "I said I still want to see them obliterated, not that it was something to do. I want to fuck that pretty white mouse when he comes off the field of his first match, but I'm not going to. Protecting Mars needs to be done, those are just wants."

Dread nodded. "Sorry, but when you've seen a path of possibility with the galaxy in flames, you get a little jumpy on certain subjects." He nuzzled the mouse gently. "I expect there'll be a line for the pretty white mouse." He said quietly. "Protecting Mars might not be that hard." He added thoughtfully, if the colonies have any spellweavers who understand the starbridges thoroughly."

"Considering the knowledge the supposedly went with them, I would hope so." Shade sighed and relaxed. "If not, it's something to do in a hurry."

"I think it may be possible to use the starbridges on Mars to screen Mars from the Agents. But I'm not really much of a spellweaver so I can't be sure." He said casually.

"That would work." Shade grinned. "But for now, any hints on how to keep from going ballistic around here?"

"What makes you feel like going ballistic?" He asked gently. "Assuming that it isn't captivity in general. That you just need to bide your time on."

"The instructors, the short hours, the lack of anything worth doing, Vinnie." He rumbled and snuggled into his packmate's lap. "I'm used to doing things. Making a difference. Being fucking useful."

Dread put his arms around the mouse comfortingly. "I'm afraid that there isn't anything worth doing. Everything is prep for the arena. That's our sole function in this society. What's bothering you about the instructors?"

"They won't teach me." He growled in frustration.

Dread looked at Shade skeptically. "That seems unlikely, Shade. I've never heard of them turning down an enthusiastic student. Is it they won't teach you, or that they aren't willing to give you as much time as you want?"

"Told me to be patient and chill out." He grumbled. "That this wasn't so important as I was making it."

"Well, it isn't." Dread said gently. "I know you grew up in a warzone, and that you're probably used to time being something there's never enough of, but it's not the case here. No one is going to die if things take a little longer."

"Yes, they will." Shade insisted stubbornly. "I'm going back to that warzone, even if I have to buy myself and make nice with the Twins to do it. The longer that takes, the more who die. The less I'm taught, the longer it takes."

"And your pack can't handle things while you're gone." He said, arching an eyebrow in curiosity.

"Not everything." He growled in distress. "I had a job, there was never enough time to train another to do it completely, and no one who really had a talent for it."

"And there was no contingency for what would happen if you died in combat?" He asked gently.

"There aren't the numbers or time for it." He said, very subdued. "Undercover assassin isn't exactly a simple set of skills, and sniper isn't much easier to teach a Garou."

"No, it wouldn't be. Garou are much more hand-to-hand fighters." He said quietly. "But in any case, you won't buy yourself free before Throttle gets here. No one is good enough to buy themselves that quickly."

"It's a goal, Bro." Shade said softly. "Or I'll go completely nuts in this place. I never thought there could be someplace worse than the Plutarkian camps."

"I've been in worse." The Wolf said quietly. "There's one instructor who might accommodate you. You probably missed him because he doesn't dress like an instructor. His name is Valen, and he's a dark brown almost black Marten, a little shorter than you with a muscular build. But getting him to train you has a price."

"Know what it is?" Shade asked easily.

"Yeah, the usual around here." He said quietly. "You gotta be his toy for the night. How often depends on how often and how much training you want. He doesn't expect you to sleep with him, when he falls asleep you can leave.

"So what's the unpleasant part?"

"Depends on how much you like kinky play."

"What kind of kink?" Shade raised an eyebrow.

"I won't claim to know all the details." The Wolf shrugged. "I've heard there isn't little he hasn't tried or won't try. But he's never actually hurt anyone beyond the limits of the agreed play, he's too good at judging people's physical condition."

"Probably nothing I haven't taken before." Shade shrugged. "But not something I'm going to go for right away, either."

"I don't blame you." The Wolf nodded and pulled the mouse close against him. "Give yourself a little time to settle in."

"And them a little time to realize it's not going to stop me." He said and snuggled in tight. "Gods, I'm glad we're together."

"As am I." The wolf rumbled. "I have missed having a pack, it's unnatural to be so alone. I mean, Erik is wonderful company but it's not the same."

"No, it's not." Shade murmured, wrapping his tail around Dread's waist.

"And it's nice to have a bedmate, who really snuggles." The wolf murred quietly, as he ran his hands gently through the mouse's fur.

"We always slept in a pile, touching, smelling, each other." Shade murmured. "It was the only real comfort we had."

"We did too." The Wolf said quietly. "Even if mates would sometimes form their own pile for a night or two, they usually came back."

"Mmm, we never bothered." Shade murmured, snuggling closer. "Wasn't anywhere to go."

"Yes, we did have the advantage of not being in a war." He said understandingly. "Peace gives you a lot of luxuries, which Mars will have again." He rumbled with stubborn confidence as he nuzzled Shade.

"Yes, it will." He rumbled with equal stubbornness.

A tray full of food clattered noisily as it was half set down, half dropped onto the table. It was followed by the unexpected form of a naked white mouse dropping into the chair opposite the big wolf, though he was offered only the briefest of greetings before his sudden companion started eating.

"Good to see you again too, Vinnie." The Wolf smiled. "You're in a good mood." He said between bites.

Vinnie snorted softly. "Big surprise."

"Yes, Ranshaak's interest can get tiresome. Though not as much as his attentions." He said quietly. "Did you actually listen to anything Shade told you?" He asked, with a surprising amount of gentleness.

Vinnie made a face. "Oh yes, mouse has been following me around making sure I know just how screwed I am. As if I didn't know already."

"There are ways to avoid the worst of it, you know." Dread said gently.

"He tried to tell me that too. Almost had me convinced, until he shot himself in the foot at the end. We both know you can't stop it from happening."

"The only thing I can't stop, is the occasional opponent in the Arena." He said quietly. "And not all gladiators will take an opponent that way. But unless you're planning on losing a lot, it will be an uncommon occurrence, and it won't be Ranshaak."

"Even you don't win all the time, I checked, and the crowds here are just as perverted as everyone else." The mouse sighed softly. "I should've become a gardener, like she said, only knowing this place they probably rape each other too."

"You're right, I don't." Dread admitted. "And even if the crowd demands it, the gladiator doesn't have to take his opponent." He explained. "But there is a custom, that ranking gladiators do not challenge each other for the ones they've claimed. That is why I can protect you, if you let me." He said gently.

"You just told me you couldn't save me in the arena," Vinnie snorted. "You admitted it yourself."

"Yes, I did." Dread nodded. "But once in a while, would be preferable to every night. At least, I'd think it would be." He said looking at the mouse curiously. "And in the Arena they do not have the time or toys to get creative."

"And so that makes it okay?" There was no longer any surprise, or even curiosity in the question. Only bitterness. "I can get raped as long as they're not creative."

"No, it just hurts less." The Wolf said bluntly. "I'm not suggesting that you have to like or enjoy what happens in the Arena. Hell, I don't like being fucked in the Arena." He admitted quietly. "What I am suggesting is that you can avoid getting raped on a daily basis outside the Arena."

"I can handle pain," Vinnie replied dismissively. "I was well and truly aware when they took my face off."

"No doubt." Dread said quietly. "But pain and humiliation on a daily basis? I doubt you've experienced that before."

"That's what we're here for," Vinnie replied as he finished his food. "Meat to entertain the audience."

"I was talking about after hours." The Wolf pointed out. "And yes the audience does get off on us. Some get off on the fighting, some on the hot bodies and some on the humiliation when the loser gets fucked." He shrugged. "Fucking barbaric world, but I've seen worse."

"Horay for you," Vinnie snarled darkly. "I know what the deal is, I'm not a complete moron. I get raped regardless of whether I let you touch me or not. Obviously just about everyone here thinks that's great except me, but somehow I can't get excited about it."

"Yes, you do." The Wolf growled lightly in frustration. "And while the situation sucks, you do have a choice of just how bad it can be. Unless of course you're determined to have Ranshaak fuck you raw, in which case just keep on doing what you're doing."

"That's what I've been trying to tell you, I don't have any choice. I get raped. All this stuff about making it easy is bullcrap."

"But you don't have to get raped as often or by Ranshaak and his crowd." The Wolf said with patience that was wearing thin. "It's not rape if you agree, and I won't touch you if you don't." He said quietly. "You might even learn to appreciate the pleasure that can occur between two males." He said gently.

Vinnie shook his head. "You have to fuck me or it doesn't count, and no matter how good a lay you are I doubt I'll come to see the finer side of buttfucking around here."

"Yes, you're right I do." He said bluntly. "But I would take a great deal more care not to hurt you, than others around here would. And I wouldn't treat you as a piece of meat to be fucked and discarded."

"You'd be the only one," the mouse replied, scowling as he caught sight of the reptile who'd been following him around. "But you'd be raping me too."

"It's only rape if you don't consent." The Wolf said quietly. "I won't take you if you don't."

"I don't want you," the mouse replied bluntly. "I don't want any of the fucks around here touching me that that way."

"Not all of them will listen to your refusal, like I do." The Wolf said quietly. "But it appears you'll find that out in time. Likely in a couple days after your first match. I don't expect you'll get to sleep much." Dread said bluntly. "I can't protect someone who's determined not to be."

"I don't screw guys," Vinnie replied, just as frank. "You thought that was gonna change because you wanted to play guardian angel then you were out of your mind."

"No, I just thought maybe you were smart enough to adapt and pick the easier option." Dread said quietly. "It appears I was mistaken. And you're still going to get fucked, just not by me."

"I know," the mouse said stonily, though most of his anger seemed to have subsided.

"Okay, I understand you don't want to have sex with guys." Dread said quietly. "But why are you trying to make this as hard on yourself as possible?"

"That not how it is," Vinnie replied, shaking his head slowly.

"Then tell me how it is, Vinnie." Dread said patiently.

The mouse was silent for a while, then shuddered, glancing over his shoulder. "Is there somewhere we can go? Private?"

"My quarters. I promise I won't try anything." The Wolf said quietly. "Follow me." He said standing with a fluid grace that belied his size. Vinnie followed along quietly, constantly glancing back behind him.

Dread's quarters were fairly comfortable and spacious. There was one large bed, and three smaller single beds in the room, along with several chairs and a small table. There was also a small bookshelf with a number of books. Dread sat down on the large bed. "Please, sit anywhere you feel comfortable."

Vinnie pulled out one of the chairs and sat, his eyes flicking across the room. "Nice," he said simply.

"Thank you. Took a lot of work to earn it." He said simply, waiting for the white mouse to feel like speaking.

"You've got it to yourself?"

"I only share it with any lesser rank gladiators I've claimed." He said simply.

Vinnie nodded, lapsing back into silence as he looked around.

Dread waited patiently, hoping that Shade would not come back until after dinner as was often the case. The white mouse obviously needed time to work up to what he wanted to say.

"That kat woman must be laughing her fucking ass of around about now," Vinnie muttered eventually.

"Perhaps." Dread granted. "But I don't think she really has a clue how gladiator society works. She did omit details about the Arena though."

"No kidding. Just after I'd turned her down flat on being a whore, too."

"Her little revenge, I imagine." Dread said quietly. "She'd probably been bragging about you, figuring you'd given in to being a pleasure slave easily. Then you refused and she had some explaining to do. Nothing as dangerous as a miffed female."

"Everyone here is fucked in the head," Vinnie snorted.

"Perhaps, but that's the world you have to deal with." The Wolf said lazily. "Saying it's fucked in the head, doesn't change it."

"Doesn't make it less true."

"Didn't say it did." Dread said patiently. "But the question is do you learn to roll with it and keep yourself together till Throttle gets here, or do you stubbornly ignore the truth of the situation and get splattered like a bug on windshield."

"No, the question is who ends up raping me. It really is that simple."

"With that view on things, it's going to end up being Ranshaak." The Wolf said bluntly. "I have never taken anyone who didn't consent. You told me before that you weren't trying to make things as hard on yourself as possible, but everything you say and do says that is exactly what you seek."

"What I seek is to be left the fuck alone," Vinnie said, "But there's fuck all chance of that."

"No there isn't." Dread agreed. "Best you can hope for is to be left mostly alone."

"In exchange for which I would have to ask you to screw me, and pretend to like it."

"Given how adamant you are about hating it, I wouldn't expect you to act otherwise. I doubt you're that good an actor." The Wolf sighed.

Vinnie snorted softly. "Forget that."

The Wolf was silent for a while. "Okay, I'll be blunt here. I do want to protect you, if you'll let me. And if you do, I won't touch you any more than is necessary. But I think you're passing up an opportunity to discover new pleasures. And I think you deserve better than to be treated like a piece of meat, fucked and discarded."

"This is hardly a situation to be talking about new pleasures," Vinnie growled softly.

"Take what good you can from a bad situation." The Wolf said calmly. "It makes things easier to take."

"I am so sick of hearing people say I should enjoy this," Vinnie snapped angrily.

"There's a difference between enjoying the situation, which I wouldn't suggest, and taking what little pleasure from it you can." The Wolf said patiently. "Of course you don't enjoy being forced into this, very few people do."

"But hey, as long as I'm being screwed up the ass I might as well try to like it, huh? Fucking hell, at least the fishes never expected us to like being mutilated."

"There is a world of difference between sex and mutilation." The Wolf said tiredly, his patience dwindling rapidly. "And your reaction to male-male sex is a fear reaction plain and simple. You know nothing about it, and it frightens you."

"How the fuck would you know?" Vinnie exploded angrily, getting to his feet. "I've had about enough of this bullcrap. The lizard might be a psycho but at least he doesn't expect me to enjoy him."

"No because he doesn't give a crap about you one way or the other as long as he gets off." The Wolf growled. "And I didn't say I expected you to enjoy it, because I don't. What I said was that you should try to enjoy it, because it would make things easier on you." He shook his head in frustration. "But you're having so much fun playing the rape victim to the hilt, I don't know why I'm bothering to try and make things easy for you."

"You think I'm enjoying this?"

"You must be. You're going to great lengths to ignore anything that would let you take a path that isn't full of daily rape and humiliation. If you don't enjoy it, I can't think of another reason."

"I don't have a choice!" Vinnie hissed. "You rape me, or he rapes me, and they rape me in front of a crowd. That's the way it is, and it's not something to be happy about."

"I never suggested you had to be happy about any of this." The wolf growled. "And you don't have to worry about me touching you. You don't see the difference between me and Ranshaak, go be his fucktoy 'cause that's what you're going to be. Him and half the barracks. But I'm sure it'll be great fuel for your stubborn righteous indignation." His growl dropped deeper. "Now take a hike, mouse. If you haven't the brains to spot a good deal when it's in front of you, I don't have time for you."

"Bullcrap," Vinnie snorted. "From the first fucking moment I met you, you were going on about how I should learn to enjoy this crap. Don't be in a hurry to do me any more favors, wolf." Vinnie slammed the door behind him as he left, only to have it rattle with the impact of a heavy body moving at speed.

"There are days I hate being a responsible packmate." Shade growled under his breath as he dragged the unconscious white mouse inside by the tail and shut the door more gently with his own.

"Hello, Shade." Dread said casually, without looking up from the thick hardcover he was reading.

"Help me get this lug in bed, will you?" He asked more politely.

"I thought he left." Dread said curiously as he put the book down. "Actually, I recall telling him to leave." He said as he swung his legs to the floor.

"He did." Shade shrugged. "The second thump was me fixing that."

"I see." Dread said curiously, as he lifted Vinnie into one of the smaller beds. "Just what are you hoping to accomplish?"

"What we have to." Shade looked at his packmate stubbornly. "You convinced me, we're going to keep him in one piece, against his will if necessary."

"I'm not going to rape him, Shade." Dread said firmly. "Besides, I can't claim him if he doesn't consent."

"Well, we're just going to have to make him see sense." The dark mouse replied with nothing-to-loose stubbornness. "You told him the bottom line yet?"

"That Ranshaak is going to fuck him senseless? Yeah, I told him. He's not listening, he doesn't seem to see that there's a difference between me and the lizard. I'm really tempted to let him find out for himself." The Wolf growled in irritation.

"Actually the one about being taken twice a week, or several times a day." Shade shrugged. "No gentle, no being nice about it, just volume. He might actually listen if we stop mentioning it can feel good and all the logical stuff and just appeal to his asses desire to stay intact."

"Perhaps, you want to give it a try? I'm seriously angry at the moment, I haven't been accused of being a rapist as many times in the last five years as I was in the last hour." He growled quietly.

"I know, brother." Shade said softly as he turned to focus on his lover, running strong, slender fingers through the fur of his chest. "It's fear speaking, not him."

"I know, Shade." Dread said as he took the strong hand in his. "He makes it difficult to continue wanting to help him."

"This isn't about helping him, Dread." He murmured, stretching up to kiss the Wolf. "This is about helping Death Angel's son, and the rebirth of Mars."

"If I hadn't seen it myself, I'd be hard pressed to believe that he's important to Death Angel's son." The Wolf said softly, as their lips parted.

"I know, it doesn't seem right, but they are Bros." Shade sighed. "And the loyalty runs both ways."

"I knew Death Angel's son was loyal to him, and I'm not surprised he returns it. When it comes down to it, he's very definitely a follower and Her son is a strong leader." The Wolf said quietly.

"And somewhere in that has got to be a way to get him to at last accept necessity." Shade shook his head. "I should have known it wouldn't be easy."

"The situation would grate on him anyway, and his aversion to sex with males only complicates the matter." The Wolf said quietly.

"Yes," he glanced at the mouse in question, "such the lady's mouse to refuse two pretty women on situational principle is really extreme."

"Yes, and the Twins could have shown him pleasures with females that he's never imagined. They still will if he goes to them." The Wolf said softly.

"Somehow, I think that's even less likely than convincing him we're on his side." Shade shook his head and leaned against the broad chest.

"Oh, I agree." The Wolf said quietly. "He's determined to take the hardest, ugliest road he can find."


"I suppose, though he doesn't seem the self-sacrificing type to me." The wolf said quietly. "I think the suffering just confirms what he thinks, and any enjoyment would challenge his preconceptions."

"Martyr without the honorable intentions." Shade actually chuckled a little, though it was an odd sound.

"Yes, that sounds about right." Dread smiled and nuzzled the dark mouse. "And we have to save him from himself."

"To save our people and homeworld." Shade murmured, snuggling into the embrace.

"Who would've figured that such a bullheaded mouse would achieve such significance." Dread wondered aloud with wry humor, as he held his mate close.

"There's a fine line before that as a virtue and fault." Shade murred with a soft sigh. "I don't suppose that door locks?"

"Yes, though it will open if Master Seldrin or one of the instructors tells it to." He said quietly. "I think the line is between determined and bull-headed. Determined stays the course, bull-headed refuses to see the obstacle on the course."

"It just needs to keep him in for a while." Shade said softly. "He's not going to like this, it'll be useful to keep him from storming out."

"It's that strong." Dread smiled. "Building was designed to keep outraged gladiators from doing structural damage, and some of them are very strong."

"I've noticed." The dark mouse chuckled softly. "Then lock the door and we can snuggle until he comes around."

"Excellent idea." Dread smiled as he left the bed to walk over and push a locking button on the door. "Done." He said as he climbed back into bed, and took the dark mouse in his arms.

Vinnie moaned softly, struggling up onto his elbows as he returned to consciousness.

"Welcome back to reality." Shade's voice was soft, and from a distance.

"Fuck," Vinnie swore solidly. "It would have to be you."

"Yes." He nodded.

"You're really starting to piss me off, you know?" The white mouse swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up. "Why don't you find someone else to stalk?"

The dark gray wolf said nothing, but merely lay on the bed with his arms around the darker charcoal mouse.

"Because it's important you're in as good a shape as possible when Throttle gets here." Shade shrugged. "I'll do what's required to accomplish that."

"You're an ass," Vinnie said bluntly, then crossed to the door. Much to his frustration it wouldn't open. "Let me out," he demanded angrily. "You can't keep me in here."

"Actually, I can." Shade said simply. "And I'm going to until you see reason, or succeed in taking both of us in a fight."

Vinnie rolled his eyes and leant up against the wall.

"Is that a willingness to explain something to me?" Shade asked quietly.

"I'm not the one who owes explanations here buddy."

"I never said you did." Shade shrugged. "You want me to explain something first?"

"Frankly, I don't care what you do."

"Because I insulted you?" Shade shook his head. "Your rep said a lot, but not that you were that soft."

"Because you've been making yourself a pain in my ass ever since we met," Vinnie replied.

"Not yet." Shade shrugged. "And I probably won't. But tell me something. Why choose to be gang-raped nightly, over a single male twice a week and the occasional arena loss?"

"That's none of your business."

"Unfortunately for all of us, it is." She sighed. "I made a promise, and I see them through."

"I don't want you anywhere near me, understand?" What little patience the white mouse had was rapidly evaporating. "Just leave me the fuck alone."

"Then answer my question."

"Go fuck yourself," Vinnie retorted. "I don't owe you any answers."

"No, you don't." Shade agreed. "But I'm going to keep asking until you tell me something that makes sense."

"Go ahead," Vinnie said with a smirk. "See how much good it does you."

"Why not say it?" Shade cocked his head. "What is there for you to loose."

Vinnie just glared at him.

"Dread, what exactly are the rules for challenging for sex?" Shade asked quietly early in the morning before both mice's first match.

"Simple, if you ask someone to have sex with you and they decline you can challenge their refusal. Essentially you challenge them to prove that they're both strong enough and determined enough to refuse you. If you beat them in single combat, they're yours until morning exercise. If you lose, no one else can touch them or challenge them until the next day unless they consent. A warrior who has fought one challenge fight in an evening, can not himself be challenged. Challenge fights are held after dinner."

"Is there any way to make sure one of us gets the first challenge in?" He asked softly.

"Challenge him before dinner." Dread said quietly. "No one usually challenges until after dinner, though there's nothing that forbids it."

Shade nodded. "I'm not planning on taking him, but I'd like to have the room for a couple hours after dinner anyway. There's no need for you to catch the fallout, or see it, if it goes bad."

"If you prefer to handle it alone that is fine with me. But I have no problem with catching fallout or seeing what happens. I don't think he could think any less of me."

"He can." He murmured. "He hates me a good deal more. In part because I'm a mouse, I think, but he only angry at you. He hates me." Shade sighed softly. "I may be good at it, but I'm not fond of what I'm capable of to get a job done. The fewer who witness that darkness, the better."

"You mean there's something worse in his book than a rapist?" The Wolf asked, surprised.

"Yeah, a traitor." Shade said grimily. "That even tops Plutarkian for hate-worthiness. You weren't part of the fight, you aren't a mouse, you can't be a traitor, like I am."

"I'm not quite sure how he concluded you're a traitor, but then I don't even pretend to understand him." The Wolf shook his head.

"It's easier than to accept I'm right." Shade shrugged. "At least that's my best guess. He'll never match my skill, so I don't have much to fear from him, and next to nothing to loose."

"True, it's not like he'll take the option to take you. Which is the winner's right." He said quietly.

"It's not like I'd actually object." Shade chuckled softly. "I've been taken by a lot less pleasant looking than him. Bigger too."

"More like the reptile?" Dread chuckled.

"Plutarkian." He shuddered. "Took a week to get the goo out of my fur."

"I've heard of them though I don't really know anything except they sound unpleasant. And sex with one sounds distinctly unappetizing." He said sympathetically.

You know how Ranshaak's a lizard? Well a Plutarkian is a fish. A huge, fat, bloated fish. With similar tastes in fun. They smell."

"A fish? Blech!" Dread made a disgusted face. "At least Ranshaak's muscular, and sort of attractive in a harsh way, on a purely visual level."

"There's nothing attractive about a fishface." Shade rumbled.

"Doesn't sound like it." Dread agreed. "I guess not much would seem bad after an experience like that."

"And I got lucky. I got out before they disfigured me, like they did the Biker Mice."

"You mean that half-mask Vinnie wears?" He asked curiously.

"Yes." Shade nodded. "Modo lost his arm, Throttle his eyes. They were a favorite target, since they were prominent in the fight."

"How the heck does he lead missing his eyes?" Dread asked curiously.

"They were replaced, sort of." He murmured. "They did a lot to him, that's not visible, if the rumors are to be believed. Considering he doesn't seem to sleep, they're pretty believable."

"That's unnatural, not sleeping. Without sleep the mind has no time to organize itself. It is the state of dreaming that lets the mind form new patterns." He said quietly.

"Yeah, well, when half your brain is cybernetic wiring, biology doesn't exactly apply anymore." Shade sighed softly.

The Wolf seemed seriously disturbed by that thought. "These Plutarkians truly are abominations."

"And as Vinnie told you, they were quite conscious for all of it." He murmured. "Everyone was. Tails, legs, arms, eyes, basic disfiguring ... you name it, they tried to remove and replace it on someone."

"Sounds like a species in need of extinction." Dread growled darkly.

"Couldn't agree with you more." Shade rumbled.

"But it'll have to wait. We've got other things to take care of first." Dread said stubbornly. "Like keeping that fool white mouse in one sane piece."

"His objections regardless." Shade nodded. "This is not going to be fun."

"No, I don't think it is." Dread said quietly.

The arena field had been changed again, as it often was between contests. Shade found himself facing the Rottweiler canid across a field of mud, full of rolling hills. Periodically a geyser of mud would erupt randomly from the field drenching everything nearby. The stands looked quite full, behind the safety forcefield. As protocol demanded the canid advanced toward the center of the field to meet his opponent.

Shade moved more slowly, sizing up the larger, heavier opponent carefully as he moved with a minimum of effort over the mess and reminded himself over and over that he was not to kill or maim here. That this was training, not a fight.

Karmis moved sure-footedly in the mud, as he approached the smaller mouse. He kept an eye on the tail he'd seen used so effectively in training, not entirely sure of a counter for it as his dark opponent began to circle, dropping into an aggressive stance low to the ground and careful kept his long, supple tail out of sight of his opponent.

The dark canine moved with his opponent, dropping into a balanced stance that allowed for offense or defense as he studied his opponent, watching the mouse move with a killer's grace before a dark blur came at him, the whip like tail contacting first with a snap at the nerve cluster next to the groin.

Karmis yelped in surprise and pain, but retained enough combat composure to connect an untelegraphed snap kick to the mouse's shoulder that Shade managed to partially roll with the momentum of, using his strong tail to help regain balance and drop back into a neutral combat stance.

"You're good." The Canid said softly as he took a low aggressive stance.

"I had to be." Shade rumbled softly, closing the distance between them but staying out of snap-kick range as he considered which of two favored options to take if his opponent didn't move soon.

With a swift, fluid grace Karmis dropped and swept out in a full body extension that connected across the knees, and felt significantly less resistance that he should have as Shade wrapped his tail around one sweeping leg as an anchor point to drive both feet into the Rottie's chest. An instant later all contact was gone as Shade landed well out of reach.

Karmis hit the ground and rolled backwards and to his feet, breathing a bit heavy from the blow to the chest. The tail was proving a major problem, and he still wasn't sure how to handle it. He dropped into a neutral stance and watched the mouse cautiously as he circled again, his inexperience in non-lethal combat showing to the seasoned arena gladiator.

The Canid moved swiftly, a barely telegraphed punch to the chest, followed by an untelegraphed sweep kick to the knees when the chest strike was being blocked, sending Shade to his back in the mud with an irritated growl of surprise, his tail reflexively lashing out to pull the Rottie's supporting leg out with the momentum of his fall. Karmis had been expecting the tail to do something, but still it was with difficulty that he managed to execute a proper roll and come to his feet, turning to move on the fallen mouse as Shade snapped o his feet, keeping an eye out for that tail that was making itself scarce again as the muddy-furred mouse began to circle him again.

Karmis fell into a loose but ready defensive posture, wanting to let the mouse move at him for a change. It wasn't long in coming, a lightning fast handstand snap kick to the chest, with that damnable tail coming in with the dodge to drop him to his back. Before the breath was even knocked out of him Karmis felt the nerve strike that stole his consciousness.

As the canine dropped to the ground, Shade could hear the crowd beginning to chant 'Tail, Tail, Tail' which Dread had explained meant they wanted him to take his opponent on the field though he wasn't required to.

Shade knelt and ran his fingers strongly along another nerve cluster to encourage awareness, hoping it would only take the moments it should.

Karmis shuddered as he regained consciousness. "Nice move, Shade." He mumbled. "You're fast."

The dark mouse nodded. "I won't take you if you don't agree." He said softly. "But they want it."

"It's okay." The canine said quietly. "You're attractive enough, that I'd let you even if you hadn't won fair and square."

Shade nodded again, his hands and tail running possessively over the much larger male as he urged him into position, his tail snaking under Karmis to stroke his balls and sheath while Shade roused himself enough to perform.

Karmis lifted his nub of a tail willingly and rumbled at the attention the furless tail was giving him. It was enough to get past the difficulty and Shade stroked himself hard enough to press into the tight ring of muscle of his conquest without too much trouble.

The canine moaned in pleasure as he felt the full sensation of having the mouse's cock inside him. He tightened his internal muscles to squeeze the shaft of flesh firmly, drawing a matching moan of pleasure from his partner as the fucking began; a leisurely, forceful thrusting that took a good deal of care, along with Shade's tail, for Karmis' pleasure.

Karmis moaned and whimpered his pleasure as the mouse fucked him, and the tail brought him to full hardness quickly only to spiral around his shaft to stroke and caress it much as if he was inside a lover of his own, causing Karmis to thrust into the sensation. That the canine was enjoying himself was obvious from the moans, whimpers, and the leak of precum from his rock hard cock.

While his tail spread the precum along the full length of Karmis' length, Shade teased the tip of his conquest's cock with the tip of his tail and a loop around the sheath-side base of the growing knot. Shade's moans and thrusts became stronger as the pleasure intensified with that of his bottom's.

The canine began a rhythm of thrusting into the tail, and then his hips back at Shade driving the mouse deeper into him. His moans and whimpers became louder and hungrier as the mouse continued fucking him. It was a combination Shade had little resistance to and he leaned forward, covering the Robbie's back as his fingers dug into Karmis' hips and tail tightened around the canine's thick shaft, gripping more than stroking as be began to grunt, very close to the edge.

Karmis could feel his top close to the edge, and he gripped firmly with his internal muscles, trying to pull the mouse over the edge as he continued his humping motions. Just a few more thrusts and the dark mouse roared, pushing deep into the willing ass as his entire body arched tightened with the first splash of hot seed into the Rottie's bowels.

The splash of hot seed had been what Karmis had been waiting for, and he howled loudly as he came, spraying his seed across the muddy landscape, while his spasming insides milked the mouse's cock powerfully.

Shade was shuddering and gasping deeply as he came down, his tail slipping from Karmis' cock as he ran his hands down the Rottie's side. "Look me up off duty sometime, if you feel like it." The dark mouse murmured softly as he pulled out.

"If you're that good here, you must really be good when there's time to play." The canine rumbled breathlessly.

"It may be for the crowd, but that's no excuse not to help my lover enjoy it too." Shade smiled slightly as he trailed his tail down Karmis' rump before stepping around to offer the bigger male a hand up.

Karmis willingly accepted it. "Not an attitude that's too common in the Arena." He smiled. "But thank you, and I think we both need to hit the showers." He grinned.

"Good a place as any to play." Shade grinned. "You've got a nice body."

"As do you." The canine smiled as he led the way to the showers. "And despite what the majority think, I happen to think you're more attractive than that white mouse."

"Thank you." Shade smiled a little shyly. "He's just the traditional pretty boy. My looks are just a side effect of good breeding and my life."

"I think that's why I like your looks, Shade." The Rottie said easily. "They're more honest."

That drew a small appreciative chuckle. "So's the attitude." He cracked a smile. "I don't think I've ever like this place, but most guys here seem pretty decent, with just a few very stellar exceptions."

"Most are, though we've all had to make adjustments to survive here." He said easily. "The Arena's one of the big ones, though its kind of accepted that nobody holds a grudge over getting fucked in there, even if they didn't want to be."

"I gathered as much." Shade nodded as they walked into the constantly spraying water of the sizeable shower room. "It's just not worth it, any more than a challenge fight lost."

"Yeah, that's pretty much the way of it." He said as he moved under the water, to let the mud rinse out of his fur. "Though some of the bruisers take things a little far, especially some of the professional gladiators."

"Like Ranshaak?" Shade looked over as he used his tail more than his hands to get rid of the mud in his short dark fur.

"He's pretty much the worst of them." Karmis nodded. "This is probably the one place he actually can live without being arrested for his sexual appetites." He said as he adjusted one nuzzle to a more intense stream to clean the mud out.

"If not shot." Shade chuckled darkly before shaking his head. "It is far too weird to actually try not to kill. Haven't had to fight like that ... every really. It's a strange concept if you aren't teaching."

"I know what you mean, Shade." Karmis chuckled. "I was one of the Emperor's WarDogs, an elite Commando unit, before I ended up here."

"I spent my entire life on the front line of a war with the Plutarkians." Shade shook his head. "Most of it as a sniper and assassin."

"I was the unit's forward scout, specialist in taking down lone targets before they knew what hit them." He said easily. "Scrub your back, Shade?" The canine offered, holding one of the shampoo bottles.

"That'd be great." He smiled and turned his back to the big Rottie as his tail made playful advances up his leg.

"Seeing as Dread's claimed you." Karmis said as put a generous amount of shampoo and starting with the mouse's shoulders. "Does he mind if you play?"

"Not in the least." Shade grinned, his tail working higher. "And I like to play."

"So I noticed." The Rottie grinned as he worked down the mouse's back, rumbling at the tail's attentions. "And that's good, cause I don't want to cross him."

"You and me both." Shade chuckled. "I like nights with him. Sleeping alone just feels so wrong."

"He is a good bedmate." The Rottie smiled. "And I have to admit, I don't sleep as well alone."

"So who's your regular sleep-mate?" Shade asked conversationally, enjoying the attention to his back.

"The room I'm in, the eight of us kind of rotate around. We all sleep with each other, and sometimes we just throw the bedding in the middle of the room and sleep in a big furpile." He said with a smile.

"Oh, that sounds nice." Shade rumbled at good memories.

"It is." He smiled, as he washed the mouse's ass with firm touch, running his hands between the globes of his ass and briefly brushing a finger across the pucker to an eager moan.

"That feels nice."

"Good." The Rottie rumbled as he repeated the caress. "So I take it you're not strictly top." He murred hotly in the mouse's ear.

"Gods no." He rumbled, leaning back into both touch and body warmth. "Pleasure is pleasure."

"Just checking." Karmis rumbled in amusement. "You'd be surprised the number of top-only males we've got around here." He said as his finger pressed more firmly against the pucker, while his other hand reached around to fondle the dark mouse's sheath and balls.

"Probably the ones who are only tolerating male attention in the first place." Shade murmured as his body welcomed the invading digit. "They obviously aren't careful about cultural compatibility."

"They don't much care." He rumbled quietly, as the finger slipped inside, followed by a second as he carefully stretched the mouse's entrance. "They claim they don't disrupt societies, but the truth is they simply steer clear of societies that can strike back at them if they figure things out."

"I figured that much out." Shade's tail snapped sharply against Karmis' leg. "Sorry, sore point."

"That's okay." The Kantin rumbled aroused, as he pushed a third finger in to make sure the mouse was properly stretched. "I get off on pain when I'm already hot and bothered. I know that sounds pretty weird." He said softly.

"Not much." Shade moaned softly. "Not that weird a kink."

Karmis smiled, removed his fingers and slid his cock in up to the knot as the supple tail that had been his bane in the area slid around his waist. He then began pounding the mouse's ass hard and deep, while one hand reached around to fondle and tease him to hardness. It was a process that didn't take long at all, the tip of Shade's tail sneaking under the Rottie's nub of a tail to press inside the already stretched pucker.

"Oh, yeah." The Rottie rumbled as he felt the tail enter him. He shifted his hand to firmly stroke the mouse's cock as he continued driving deep into the dark male to low but vocal encouragement as he was fucked by the slender length.

Karmis moaned and whimpered as the double pleasure of fucking and being fucked drove him rapidly toward his limit. He changed his thrust, looking for the special spot inside the mouse until he finally hit the small node. The effect on Shade was electric, his body tightening with a deep moan as the tip of his tail rattled inside the canine's body.

The canine moaned and whimpered as he hit the edge of his limit, and continued thrusting, hitting the spot repeatedly as he stroked the mouse's cock firmly, but with a more ragged pattern. Shade pulled his tail from his playmate, only to wrap it around the sheath edge of Karmis' knot before he lost control with a ragged howl and pulled forward with his looped tail.

As he heard his lover come and felt the pull on his knot, Karmis came with a howl that echoed through the shower area as his seed flood Shade's insides. He grunted and whimpered as his seed pumped into the dark mouse with powerful spasms until he was completely drained as they were standing very unsteadily.

"You're as fun on top and bottom." She rumbled between breathes as his tail slipped away to provide more support.

"So are you." The Rottie rumbled breathlessly. "Anytime you feel like a furpile, you can stop by and see what we're doing for the evening." He suggested, with a playful lick to Shade's ear. "Even bring Dread along if you like."

"Now that sounds good." Shade rumbled back. "Care to try to actually get clean this time?" He chuckled.

"We can try." Karmis chuckled, as he picked the shampoo back up. "From the top." He grinned, starting over with the mouse's shoulders. "You're just so hot." He rumbled.

"You're godda wear our eventually." Shade laughed playfully.

"Or maybe you'll wear out first." Karmis chuckled back, equally playful.

"Maybe." Shade's voice had a distinct challenge in it.

"I guess we'll just have to find out." The Rottie rumbled as he and his cock rose to the challenge.

"Spend the night with me?" Shade's voice left no doubt what was on his mind as he came up to Vinnie before he'd even made it to his bunk after the area.

"You've got to be kidding," Vinnie snorted, though his eyes weren't focused on the other mouse. They flicked back and forth over the exits to the room.

"You'd better be prepared to fight for it then." Shade actually grinned as he sank into a combat stance.

"I don't have time for this Shade," Vinnie snapped. "I have to get out of here."

"Too bad, until Throttle comes, the local law is it." The dark mouse struck out lightning fast, his fist aiming squarely for the hard white abs and his tail lashed around to strike Vinnie's back.

The move caught Vinnie completely unprepared, knocking the breath from his lungs and dropping him to his knees, wheezing, even before he realized everything below the waist wasn't responding.

"Submit?" Shade asked calmly, his tail and hands poised for and other strike.

"Like fuck I will," Vinnie snarled.

"Suit yourself." Shade shrugged as his tail snapped around his opponent's neck to strike behind and below the ear.

Vinnie came back to consciousness with his wrists bound above his head on a bed and his ankles tied to separate bedposts. A weight above him was running hands along his back.

"Don't tell me you actually thought you could take me."

"You fucking asshole," Vinnie shouted, pulling against his bonds. "Get off me."

"Not until morning exercises." The dark mouse rumbled lustfully. "Your body belongs to me until then."

"You are one twisted fuck, mouse," Vinnie replied, still struggling even though he was held tight.

"I'm an assassin, pretty." Shade laughed. "Did you think that produces normal people? But I must thank you for refusing Dread. It's been a long time since I got to take a virgin."

"I'm gonna beat the crap out of you for this, I swear."

"The day you can beat me, it's your turn to take me." Shade replied easily from over Vinnie's hips as his tail, heavily lubed with the pleasure enhancing jell, pressed against the white mouse's ass. "Until then, you belong to me, or whoever else can put you on your back and cares to."

"As if I'd want to," Vinnie shot back, his body trembling in revulsion at that first touch against his entrance.

"That's your choice." Shade shrugged, his tail pushing a little further in. "Me, I'll take the best option until Throttle comes and we can get back to business." Vinnie's back arched as Shade forced his way inside, his body clamping down around the unwelcome intrusion.

"No! Please don't do this," Vinnie hissed out between clenched teeth.

"Someone here will be your first," Shade's voice softened. "As unpleasant as rape is to me, I find it preferable to letting it be Ranshaak."

"Get off me!" Vinnie thrashed in his bonds, desperately trying to dislodge the weight from his back and the awful presence inside his body. All he succeeded was to have the slightly lighter mouse set his hands against strong white shoulders as he leaned forward and pressed his tail deeper.

"Only one way to get me to stop, Vinnie." He rumbled softly, running his tongue along quite thick red antennae. A long agonized moan tore out of the white mouse's chest as he felt Shade drive himself deeper, pressing his body down against the bed in a futile attempt to lessen the penetration.

"Gods, please," he moaned, the aggression in his voice gone, replaced with revulsion and humiliation. "Please stop."

"I won't permit Ranshaak to take you completely unprepared for it." Shade said softly, his weight along Vinnie's back as he spoke softly in the white mouse's' ear. "You can choose me, or another, but you will not leave here without your ass stretched a little."

Vinnie didn't reply, but in the split second Shade was expected one he snapped his head backward, slamming the back of it into the other mouse's face, sending the dark male back up to his haunches.

"Your choice has been accepted." Shade growled softly, unconcerned with the drops of blood staining his black fur, or the bright spots they made on Vinnie's back as he withdrew his tail and shifted back. "And your request."

"Let me go you stupid fuck," Vinnie snarled, lashing out with one foot, though the bindings meant he couldn't even get close to his target.

"You're the stupid one, Vinnie." Shade growled low in his chest as he pressed against the largely unprepared ass. "You chose to be raped every night by whoever gets to you first instead of fucked one person twice a week. I don't even care why anymore. You're just too stupid to see the reality of the situation."

Vinnie's body tensed up as he felt Shade positioning himself above his body, each and every muscle hard as he pulled against his bonds. Despite his best efforts he couldn't contain the Sharp cry as Shade pushed forward, his body trying to eject the mouse and pain he brought to no avail.

"Sweet, tight ... no wonder he's lusting after you." Shade moaned as he pressed forward into the unwilling body.

"No!" Vinnie cried out, the end of it cut of as the pain and violation made him gag. "I'm gonna fuck you up for this," he promised venomously. "You'll wish the fishes had got their hands on you."

"Oh, they have, pretty." Shade growled softly dangerous. "It takes forever to get that slime and stench out of your fur. You're not capable of anything that bad."

Vinnie was beyond speech as Shade relentless drove deeper, thrashing beneath his tormentor and raving. His words mixed threats with desperate pleading and just about everything in between, though there was never any mistaking the pain he was in, or his hatred for the mouse who brought it on.

For himself, Shade was trying to not think about what he was doing and just get it over with, the roiling in his own guts more for the part of him that was getting seriously turned by the power and pain he was commanding over his victim. Quickly he pushed himself, just wanting it to be over with.

His roar told both of them it was nearly over, and with a few more jerked thrusts he pulled out, panting softly. Vinnie just lay there beneath him, his face buried against the mattress and his body heaving with each ragged breath.

"How you could possibly want that several times a night over once or twice a week is beyond me." Shade shook his head and sat on the bed. Vinnie took another shot at the dark-furred mouse with his foot, though once again bonds kept him from actually making contact with his tormentor.

"You're going to make a lot of sickos very happy with that, you know."

"One satisfied customer," he mumbled softly, his voice mostly muffled by the mattress.

"So you want that number low or high by the time Throttle gets here?"

Vinnie didn't reply, doing his best to lie comfortably in his bonds though being stretched out like this made it hard.

"Do you want more?" Shade raised an eyebrow.

"What the fuck do you think?"

"Everything says yes." Shade looked at him quietly. "Your actions, words, and especially choices."

"So what are you waiting for, big mouse?" Vinnie's voice dripped with hatred.

"I don't know, maybe for it to make sense." Shade shrugged.

"You're asking the wrong guy. I don't get this place at all."

"Obviously." Shade rolled his eyes. "That you'd choose daily gang rape over getting it from one person twice a week says that loud and clear."

"I'm getting really sick of hearing you say that."

"Because it points out the logic error, or just because I'm right?" He looked down at the bound mouse.

"Because you're a pain in the ass," Vinnie insisted, though Shade caught the soft, wretched noise the mouse made as he realized just how far the sentence could be taken.

"I wouldn't have been, if you hadn't head butted me." He growled. "And denial isn't going to help you any."

"Don't try an make yourself my friend. Not after that."

"I'm not your friend, I don't want to be. Frankly, for as much of a jackass as you've been, I would have rather watched Ranshaak be your first." Shade snorted.

"So, what? You couldn't get tickets?"

"No, I have this stupid little concept called loyalty and honor, and I promised your Bro I'd do what I could to minimize the pain." Shade shrugged. "Your stupidity just really took down the number of options to really disagreeable ones."

If he'd been able to see the other mouse he would have glared. As it was the silence was so thick it would have qualified as a weapon in the area.

"We'll see if you still think I treated you so horribly after you spent a night with the lizard and his friends." Shade shook his head as his tail snapped the bindings holding Vinnie down, except for the straps securing tail to leg. "No one else will bother you for the rest of the night."

Vinnie didn't answer, didn't even stop to unbuckle the remaining straps. He stumbled to the door, his gait awkward enough to let anyone know exactly what had gone on, and made his way out into the corridor.

"It did not go well, I take it." Dread said softly as he came in and sat down on the bed next to Shade.

"Went worse than I expected." The dark mouse shook his head. "They guy has a gift for pissing me off."

"He is remarkably good at being aggravating." Dread agreed, as he put a comforting hand on the mouse's shoulder. "If he wasn't so important to Her son, I'd have given up by now."

"He doesn't even begin to get the concept that the fight is over when he goes down either." Shade sighed. "I've had impossible missions that went down easier and better than this."

"It'll just make him that much more enjoyable for Ranshaak. The lizard likes fight in his conquests. Especially once he has them bound for taking." He said quietly.

"He'll get plenty. Medics are going to be seeing a lot of that mouse."

"Maybe not." The Wolf said quietly. "I'm not giving up on him quite yet. But he's going to get fucked by Ranshaak at least once, that just can't be avoided now." He said softly, with a note of regret.

"Just not first." Shade stretched. "I tried so hard to be nice about it and not hurt him." He shook his head. "First time I lost control like that."

"You did what you could." Dread said softly, nuzzling the mouse reassuringly. "There's only so much you can do, for someone who refuses to be helped."

"I've tortured people to death and not felt this dirty about it." Shade shuddered, shifting against his mate. "I never thought he could make me angry enough to be rough about it. Never thought I could enjoy it either." He shuddered deep in his soul. "It's sick."

"The sense of power and control is a dangerous aphrodisiac." He said quietly. "But you realize it's sick because he wasn't consenting, so you're okay." He said reassuringly, pulling the mouse close. "It's the ones who don't feel sick afterwards who are dangerous."

"Like Ranshaak." Shade nodded. "I'm not that sick. Just an assassin with few morals when it comes to the job."

"It's not a job with room for many morals." Dread said quietly. "And in a desperate war, morals are the first victims usually anyway."

"Tack undercover to it all, and they surprise me when they show up." He pressed close to the large Wolf. "And I'm always grateful for those moments, even when they make me sick to my stomach."

"Grateful that they show you, that you still have them?" He asked softly.

"Yes," he nodded against thick gray fur. "I never want to be like the lost souls who don't have them. They're sad creatures."

"You're a good person, deep down. But war and necessity haven't been kind to you."

"Hasn't been kind to any of us, but it's given me what it took to survive, and hope for a day I don't have to suppress my better intentions."

"There will be such a day." Dread said confidently. "And it's not that distant anymore."

"Yes, we just have to keep that fool white mouse in one piece until then." Shade growled stubbornly. "What was your plan?"

"As much as it sickens me," He started quietly. "I'm going to let Ranshaak take him tomorrow night. He hasn't a prayer of beating the lizard. But I'm pretty sure I can get him from Ranshaak before the lizard lets his friends form a party line."

"How can you do that?" Shade looked up, worried. "I thought it was one challenge a night."

"It is." Dread nodded. "But once Ranshaak's had his fill, he'll be amenable to making a little cash by selling his remaining rights to Vinnie to me."

"Instead of one of his psycho friends?" Shade looked up hopefully.

"Oh, them he'd normally let have a ride free, just to watch Vinnie's face as he gets fucked by one after another. Assuming he's conscious after Ranshaak is done with him." He said with a serious note of disgust. "But the lizard likes money, more than a cheap thrill."

"Especially a cheep thrill he expects will be easy to get again." Shade murmured. "Whole barracks knows he refused your protection in a serious way, and after tonight, I doubt anyone will think I'm out to protect him when I challenge him, if I have to again."

"Well, I'm going to try again. Slight change in tactics, and maybe when he wakes up with me looking after him, and not having taken advantage of him it'll make a little progress into that thick skull of his."

"I'll stay elsewhere for the night then." Shade murmured. "He doesn't need to see me if you're trying to talk sense into him."

"I'll show you how to get into my private space, if you don't feel like company." Dread offered quietly.

"Thank you, love." Shade smiled and nuzzled the Wolf. "I was thinking of playing around a little, then practice in the courtyard. I sleep more here than I do in four days usually."

"Then you don't get enough sleep usually." The Wolf rumbled playfully. "If you want someone to sleep with, you could always grab Erik. He's very comfortable to sleep with." He smiled.

"I'm not much for sleeping in the water." Shade chuckled softly.

"He only sleeps in the water if he's by himself." Dread chuckled.

"Why doesn't he stay with you?" Shade asked curiously. "He certainly likes you."

"I'm not sure. I think it's partially because he does like to play with others a lot. But a lot of it, is that I think he's afraid of becoming emotionally attached."

"And even unintentionally, both our natures radiate that drive to form a pack." Shade nodded. "I'll probably crash with him then. He's a very nice body pillow. Such incredible fur."

"Yes, he is." Dread smiled. "And he's so very cuddly."

"I noticed." Shade grinned. "It's very nice." He snuggled close, a low rumble of pleasure in his chest. "Think he'll want to come with us?"

"I think so." Dread said softly. "And he might even let up on avoiding emotional attachment after he gets out of here."

"Hands that skilled would be more than enough to buy him a place in any pack, and I rather like him." Shade smiled slightly. "And obviously Throttle isn't too tied up with race. He took a human in once. No claws, no teeth, no fur ... but she had skill and smarts and he accepted her."

"I rather like him as well." Dread smiled. "It's why no one challenges him if he actually says no. I may not have claimed him, but the other gladiators act like I have." He said softly.

"Is Ranshaak going to be angry enough with me over today to try anything?" Shade asked very softly.

"What because you claimed Vinnie before he did? No, he'll be bit surprised he didn't think of that himself. You played by the rules, so it's okay."

"He respects the rules that much?" He asked, relieved but still uncertain. "He is way past out of my class."

"Very much so. He's very much a creature of laws and rules. It's why he stays as a gladiator, things he enjoys are allowed by the rules in here, whereas outside the law forbids it."

Shade nodded and relaxed. "It's still going to hurt like hell ... I'm not sure I helped much. I really meant to take my time and not hurt him. But after he head butted me when I offered his choice of anyone here ... I just struck back."

"Ranshaak will make sure it hurts like hell." Dread said softly, and then nuzzled the dark mouse. "You tried, but everyone has a limit to how much they'll take."

"Hopefully he'll take the money, and between us we can challenge Vinnie enough nights so he gets to sleep." Shade leaned into the nuzzled. "If the reptile does doesn't give him a reality check."

"Just remember, if you challenge for sex, sex of some sort has to happen or the challenge doesn't count as far as his avoiding another one." Dread said quietly.

"And if he stays here all night, it's not particularly relevant." Shade insisted hopefully. "And there's other kinds, than taking his ass."

"I don't think he'll stay here, unless he's tied up or unconscious." Dread sighed. "And I know there are, not that I think he'll be receptive to any of them."

The dark mouse sighed. "I know. I just keep hoping may, just maybe, he'll give us a break in protecting him."

"As do I." The Wolf said quietly. "But I have this awful feeling we're going to have to explain a broken mess of mouse to his Bro."

"Well, I'm not going to with without coving my tail every way I can." Shade growled softly. "SunWind may be outraged, but he's not getting a target in me if I can help it."

"I'd also rather not be target." Dread nodded. "If I have to I'll stuff Vinnie in my private space till Throttle arrives."

"Wouldn't that cause a lot of trouble?" Shade looked up at the big with curiously.

"A lot of confusion, yes." Dread said. "But I'd really rather not. That space is how I keep my sanity, and having Vinnie there would not be conducive."

"No doubt." Shade nodded. "Lets just hope his Bro gets here before we have to resort to something like that."

"I very much hope that." The wolf said quietly.

Dread walked in on a scene it took great force of will not to react violently to. A half dozen of the bigger gladiators were standing around stroking themselves and shouting encouragement as Ranshaak fucked the bound white mouse brutally. Judging from the seed and blood making a stream from the mouse's battered ass, it wasn't the first time the lizard had taken him. And judging from the lizard's seed dripping from the mouse's face and mouth, he'd been there too, though a special gag on the floor explained how he'd avoided the mouse's teeth. Dread could see a clamp on one of the mouse's nipples and guessed there was a matching one on the other. He could also see clips attached to the sensitive antenna.

"If you've got a moment, Ranshaak, perhaps we can talk business." Dread said loud enough to be heard over the noise after the lizard finished roaring his orgasm into the unconscious mouse. In the Wolf's hand was a black bag the jingled with the sound of coins.

The jingling more than Dread's words caught the lizard's attention and he nodded with a toothy grin before waving him over as he started to pound away again.

"Can we talk before you make the purchase not worth my while?" He said, as he closed the bag in his large hand, silencing it.

Ranshaak gave him a dirty look but stopped, though he left his huge cock buried in the mouse. "Make an offer."

"Two hundred gold solari for the rest of the evening." Dread said casually.

"For a near-virgin ass?" Ranshaak laughed. "Don't insult him. Four hundred and I finish this round."

"After you've been at him since dinner, he's closer to hamburger than virgin." The Wolf chuckled. "Two hundred fifty, and you don't."

"Three fifty."

"Three hundred."

"Three twenty five, take him or leave him." Ranshaak rumbled.

"Done. Though I should bill you for clean-up." Dread chuckled as he counted out the coins on table where Ranshaak could see them. "Your coins, my mouse." He said with an unmistakably predatory look at Vinnie.

"Have your other mouse do it." Ranshaak laughed and pulled out, his eyes on the coins. "They are quite the pair, night and day."

"And about as compatible." Dread chuckled as he unstrapped Vinnie, removed the clips and put the mouse over his shoulder. "Nice doing business with you, Ranshaak." He smiled as he carried the mouse out.

"Definitely, Dread." The lizard's pleased voice followed him out, along with the grumbles of his friends.

Shade dove into the deep end of the pool with supple grace for a land dweller, coming up next to the long, muscular body of the relaxing Otter. "Evening Erik."

"Evening, Shade." The Otter said, turning his head to smile at the dark mouse. "Congratulations on your first Arena win by the way."

"Thanks." He grinned. "Very different than what I was imagining it would be."

"They always are." Erik grinned back. "You never know quite what the Arena will be like. Though they do like the mudfights."

"So you free for the night?" The mouse trailed his tail along the dense, rich fur.

"If you're looking for company, sure." The Otter smiled. "I thought you spent nights with Dread." He said curiously.

"I do, but not tonight." Shade sighed. "He's trying to work on Vinnie. See if a round with Ranshaak would knock some sense into him."

The Otter winced. "Probably knocked the sense out of him. The lizard regularly fucks his conquests unconscious." He shook his head. "I'd love to spend the night with you."

"Good," he smiled and moved closer. "He did, though from the look of things it was a mercy, and gave Dread a chance to put Vinnie back together without trouble."

"Dread's got a good touch with the injured." The Otter smiled as he floated closed to Shade, and kissed him gently. "That mouse just doesn't get how lucky he is."

"This one does, though." Shade smiled and kissed Erik back. "I just Hope Vinnie chooses the lesser of two evils open to him."

Erik shook his head. "I guess I don't get it. I mean Dread is so gentle and considerate, why's Vinnie so afraid of him?" He said quietly. "He really wasn't like I expected a Wolf to be at all."

"It's not Dread, it's just having a male take him, in any context." Shade sighed. "He's just so far into the fear he can't even see the difference between being taken twice a week and nightly, even if it was Ranshaak doing it either way."

"Not that Ranshaak would ever settle for twice a week." Erik said softly. "And usually shares with his friends. Lizard likes an audience."

"No, but he can't tell the difference between any male taking him, though now he might." She murmured softly. "Though I doubt I helped much. That mouse is just infuriating."

"He sounds like it. Kind of shame, he's really hot." The Otter rumbled quietly.

"That he is." Shade agreed easily. "Though if he takes the easy way, he'll at least get a lot of experience of the good kind."

"Yeah, that he will." Erik grinned. "Better than with one of Ranshaak's canine friends."

Shade shuddered. "I'd rather not think about that one. It's supposed to be good to tie."

"It is when the canine is one you trust." Erik said quietly. "I couldn't believe how it felt the first time Dread tied with me."

"I'm looking forward to it." The mouse smiled. "But it's not something to rush."

"No it's not." The Otter agreed. "And Dread won't."

"He won't rush anything important." Shade smiled, nuzzling Erik. "You might get a few more nights as a mouse pillow before things settle down. But lets move this to a dry bed, mmm?"

"Sure, and I like that idea." He said as he lazily backstroked to the edge of the pool and slipped out, Shade not far behind.

"So do I, if I can't share Dread's bed." The mouse rumbled. "Though I really loved getting to be greedy and having both. There's something about big strong bodies curled up around me after a good orgy that's immensely satisfying."

"That was good." Erik said softly, as he padded toward the quarters. "I'd never done a threesome with Dread before."

"We should more often then." Shade licked his lips. "It was a lot of fun."

"Yeah, it was." Erik rumbled. "That's one incredible tail you've got."

"I do my best." Shade grinned back. "And I got a fair amount of practice back home." He slid his tail up around Erik's hip to tease inside his sheath.

"Practice must have been fun." The Otter murred as he ran his thick tail playfully up the mouse's leg, till it traced up under his tail.

"Oh, it was, and it did a lot for moral and pack cohesiveness after a bad day." Shade nodded, rumbled eagerly at the intimate touch by such luxurious fur.

"I'll bet it did." Erik rumbled quietly, as his tail made another pass up the inside of the mouse's leg.

"Mm, I just love your fur." Shade shivered slightly. "It's so soft and rich."

"Thank you." The Otter smiled. "I've always been rather proud of it." He grinned. "Though yours works very well to give definition to those hard muscles of yours." He smiled, and ran a hand across the mouse's chest.

"Not all your kind feel this way?" Shade murred as his hands and tail played patterns. "Let's set this to a bed. "I don't want to stop till we're too exhausted to move."

"Fur quality varies from Otter to Otter, some have more coarse fur than others." He smiled. "I know where there are some rooms where we won't be disturbed." He rumbled quietly, leading the way.

"Wonderful." Shade murmured and followed eagerly. "It's the same with mice, there even used to be some who had long, wavy fur."

"Well, you won't find any short-hair Otters." Erik chuckled as they headed upstairs. "The long fur is an adaptation to our natural environment, which is wet and a bit cold by local standards."

"I'd have never guessed." Shade chuckled softly, his tail running down Erik's back. "It is glorious to feel no matter how it came about."

"And you have a very nice touch when you feel it." Erik rumbled, as his tail was trailed up the front inside of the mouse's legs, and across his balls and sheath. "Here we are." He said as he opened a door on the fourth floor that led into a large bedroom, with an equally large and very luxurious looking four post bed.

"Very nice." Shade rumbled, eager to play and get his mind off being away from both his packs for the night.

"All sorts of possibilities for play." The Otter rumbled as he bounced on to the bed, and lay on his back looking at the mouse in a distinctly wanton fashion.

"As if the two of us aren't." Shade grinned as he lunged to play-tackle the Otter.

Vinnie noted several things as he regained consciousness; he didn't hurt nearly as much as he expected to, he couldn't smell the lizard anywhere, including on him, which was surprising considering the amount of seed he'd been sprayed with, and he was in a comfortable bed, not bound over a wood frame designed to keep him in the most vulnerable position possible. His antennae were still a bit sore from the clamps the lizard had placed on them. The one scent he did recognize was Dread, nearby and very calm, but there was a definite a tinge of concern in the Wolf's scent.

He tried to push himself up on his elbows, gritting his teeth as his body protested and then eventually failed, sending him tumbling back down into the bed.

"Don't push yourself, Vinnie." The Wolf's calm voice said quietly. "You've had a rough night."

"No, really?" Even beaten and bruised the mouse was no less a smart-mouth.

The Wolf actually found the smart mouth reassuring. "No, I'm kidding." He responded in a wise-ass tone of his own. "You actually just slept really hard."

"It wasn't sleep that was hard," Vinnie moaned, trying to sit up again and managing it this time.

Dread walked over and offered Vinnie a glass of red liquid. "This will get the taste of that lizard out of your mouth." He said gently.

The mouse reached out a trembling hand to take the glass, then ended up having to hold it in both to keep from spilling any. He made a face at the strong taste, but must have decided it was better than having the reminder of his ordeal in his mouth. He drained half the glass before setting it aside.

"Good. It'll also help speed your healing." He said casually. "Though a good night's sleep is also a good idea."

"I'll keep that in mind, thanks."

"You can sleep here if you like. No one will disturb you, tonight." The Wolf said gently.

"You better be careful," Vinnie smirked weakly. "Anyone'd think you were a stand-up guy. What I gotta do now is get up, and walk out. I'm not letting those fucks think they got the better of me."

The Wolf shook his head. "They don't really care. Whether you stumble out of here now, or walk out in the morning won't affect what they think one way or the other. 'Cause they're not paying any attention to you now. Ranshaak gets off on being refused and fought, and you gave him that in spades. He got his rocks off, and now he's forgotten about you, at least till he decides to take you again."

"I care," Vinnie insisted, swinging his legs out and very unsteadily getting to his feet.

Dread stepped in quickly to catch the mouse. "You really have no idea how badly Ranshaak worked you over." He said as he sat the mouse back down on the bed. "If you sleep now, you'll be able to walk out in the morning." He said quietly, patiently. "It's not going to kill you to sleep here."

Vinnie made a soft, disgusted noise in the back of his throat and turned his face away, lacking the strength to push the wolf away.

"Just lie down and sleep, no one will touch you tonight." The wolf said gently moving away. "But given the choice between being raped every night, and raped a couple times a week does it make sense to take it every night?"

"For fuck's sake," Vinnie swore, exasperated. "Start up again and I'm going, even if I have to crawl."

"That was all I was going to say." Dread said softly. "Good night, Vinnie." He said lying back on his bed, and turning off the light.

"Wake up, Vinnie." Dread's voice said firmly as he shook the mouse's shoulder. The white mouse winced as he returned to consciousness, stiff muscles protesting even the slightest of movements.

"Uggh. What time is it?"

"About half an hour to morning exercises."

"I need to get down there early and stretch," Vinnie replied, laboriously sitting up and then getting to his feet. "I'm about as flexible as a concrete block."

"Warm shower beforehand will help loosen you up." Dread suggested. "Through that door." He pointed across the room.

Vinnie nodded and made his way slowly across the room, pausing at the doorway. "Dread? Thanks for getting me out of there."

"My pleasure." Dread said easily, before Vinnie slipped through the door and closed it firmly behind him, the sound of running water heard shortly after. The white mouse only stayed in there for a couple of minutes, his fur still slightly damp as he headed for the door.

"Feeling better?" The Wolf asked casually.

"Some, yeah," Vinnie admitted, pausing for a moment by the door.

"I'm glad to hear that." Dread said, not bothering to hide the fact that he had been concerned.

"Yeah. Well, I'll see you round, right?"

"Of course," the big Wolf nodded before Vinnie disappeared through the door.

Are'th groaned softly as he regained consciousness and did a reflexive check of himself and his surroundings. He was naked, collared with a metal band and in decidedly luxurious surroundings. Slowly he opened his eyes to take in the empty room.

The room was done in very elaborate patterns, with elaborate carvings on the woodwork, and mural like paintings on the walls. He was lying on a pile of very soft pillows that seemed to serve as a bed, and there was a pool of water in the one corner.

"Uhgg." The long furred cream mouse got to his feet, the subtle gray stripes in his fur becoming more apparent as it settled into place and he walked to the pool to cup his hands and smell it before drinking deeply.

The water was warm and lightly scented, and appeared to be a bathing pool from the constant circulation of water. There was a brief knock and a petite orange and white female feline entered the room. She was wearing a lavender short silk robe, and was carrying a tray with a covered dish, a glass, and silvery metal pitcher.

"You're awake." She smiled. "I have food and water, if you're hungry or thirsty." She said in almost musical voice as she set the tray down on a small table near the bed pillows.

"Both." He stood and walked over, unconsciously moving to display his finely boned and fit body. "Where is here?"

"This is the Grand Palace of Maltera, pretty one." She said with a smile.

"How'd I get here?" He asked politely before drinking deeply of the water.

"One of the Agents brought you to the Great Marketplace." She said simply. "And I thought you had more potential than a simple labor slave."

"Agents?" He looked at her curiously, though his distaste for the second half of her comment was fairly clear.

"Yes, the Agents of the Great MarketPlace." She nodded. "They comb the Dominion looking for desirable merchandise for the MarketPlace. Different Agents specialize in different kinds of merchandise."

"Professional kidnapers, great." He hissed. "And I've got news for you, they go way out of the Dominion for their dirty work."

"Do you even know what the actual boundaries of the Dominion are?" She asked gently, though her tone was very much that she doubted he did.

"I know they don't have any right to hunt on my homeworld." He said bluntly. "And I'm in the wrong galaxy."

She smiled gently. "Galaxies, solar systems, worlds, none of these things define the Dominion. It is where the ancient star roads touch real space. Sometimes only a small portion of a world is included and other times whole system. But the Agents can only go where star roads go."

"Really." A very dangerous gleam flashed in his dark gray eyes. "That I understand, not that it's going to get you off the hook. They still don't have hunting rights in Garou lands, and kidnapping is a serious crime."

"The Agents operate under the authority of the Twins, whose authority is supreme. To be a crime, it would have to break the law of a higher authority, if one exists." She said with supreme confidence.

Are'th shrugged. "Get a clue into reality. No power is supreme, not even Chaos itself."

"I believe you are a little more in need of a clue into reality than I." She smiled sweetly. "You discuss rights and crimes and such when they are no longer of any relevance."

"Not to me, I know." He shrugged. "I understand the kidnapping-slavery concept. So how about getting to the point of dragging me here?"

"You were selected as one both attractive enough and perhaps mentally flexible enough to serve as one of the Twins pleasure slaves." She smiled. "Though you do not have to, there are other areas in which you can serve if that is your preference. But pleasure slaves have the least objectionable lots by far."

"So in exchange for my body, what do I get?" He asked bluntly, checking out the food offerings with a rather dubious look before eating them anyway.

"Better food, better quarters, more free time, a higher allowance to purchase those things not provided standard, more freedom to explore the city as you prove that you will not attempt to run away. You can also watch the Arena fights from the Twins private box."

"Better than what?" He asked carelessly as relaxed on the pillow bed. "I'm not from these parts, remember?"

"These are fairly typical for pleasure slave quarters, if a bit unpersonalized." She said simply. "Better than the barracks arrangements most slaves share. The food will be better prepared and of better quality than the mass chow lines that feed most slaves."

Never mind." Are'th rolled his eyes. "Can I change my mind later?"

"Yes, though if you choose to not be a pleasure slave at first, changing your mind will depend on the Twins still wanting you." She said gently.

"As long as I can change out of being their pet, I'll go where you're pushing." He told her. "Do I get to keep my name, or is this one of those places they like to rename slaves?"

"Renaming slaves is a bother, and half the time they don't respond to the new ones properly anyway." She shook her head. "No you can keep your name. What is your name anyway?"

"Are'th." He pronounced it more careful than most words. "What's yours?"

"Lyra." She smiled. "Are'th." She repeated, getting the pronunciation right. "I like that, it's a strong name." She smiled. "First thing to do, is get you cleaned up so you're presentable."

"Bathing pool?" He nodded at the water he'd been drinking from when she walked in. "Or somewhere more specific?"

"There's a much nicer bath just up the hallway." She smiled. "Follow me." She said opening the door and leading the way. Are'th nodded and stood, following her with an unconscious grace that made his lightly stripped fur flow and ripple beautifully over a trip body.

The bath in question was a large marble and tile affair with two large pools full of comfortably warm running water. Two young male black lab canines and a young caracal female, lounged around the sides in the steamy warmth of the room. When they spotted Lyra they quickly came down to her, and as they got closer Are'th good see that all three were wearing gold and silver collars.

"How may we assist, Mistress?" The Caracal said, clearly the leader from the deferential attitude of the two males.

"In the usual way, Taya." Lyra said as she slipped out of her robe, and handed it to the Caracal. "I have a new pleasure slave to prepare for presentation."

"Yes, mistress." She said nodding to the shorter of the two males, who quickly retrieved a tray of soaps, shampoos, combs and brushes.

"Into the pool, Are'th." Lyra commanded indicating the stairs that descended into the water.

He nodded and complied, though the flicker of his tail before it disappeared underwater spoke clearly of his shortening temper that tone hastened.

Lyra followed him into the water followed the three servants. "You take his front, Taya." She instructed as she began scrubbing the mouse's back with gentle, skilled hands that worked out tense muscles as they scrubbed starting at his shoulders. The Caracal did much the same thing, starting with his shoulders in front. Threw it all Are'th cooperated as best he could, holding generally still and shifted his arms and position as indicated.

Once they had finished, they guided him out into the deeper water, where Lyra began washing his hair, head and ears gently. As she washed his hair, her hand brushed against the thick red antennae that she didn't know what to make of, but the sharp gasp he gave she did. She got much the same sound when touching a male's swelling sheath particularly well.

Lyra smiled quietly, and filed the knowledge under 'things you don't do unless you mean it'. She then finished washing his hair, taking care not to brush the antennae again. "Okay submerge yourself in the deep end, and then climb out. Meet me in the other pool." She instructed without the command in her voice.

Are'th nodded and sank down with less of the subtle resistance, shaking a bit in the clear water as his long fur flowed with the motion and current as he swam half way to the stairs before wading out to join her with the same grace his displayed in nearly everything.

She guided him into the deeper water of the slightly warmer pool as she carefully made sure there was any soap left on him. She then led him up the stairs in the back of the room to a small room where warm jets of air blew from the floor. Lyra and Taya then made short work of getting the water out of his fur, and brushing his fur so it laid properly.

"Thank you, Karl." She said as one of the Labs handed her a folded pile of cloth, which she unwrapped and then wrapped around Are'th's waist, and secured it on his right side. The single piece of dark blue cloth covered him from waist to three inches above the knee. She stood back and looked the mouse over, walking around him a couple of times. "Yes, very presentable." She smiled. "You're even more attractive when cleaned up."

"Thank you." He inclined his head. "May I see?"

"Of course." She smiled and guided him to a full-length mirror.

"Is this what I will normally wear?" He asked as he considered the simple wrap that did show off the line of his hips and a good look at his tight ass where it dropped down to go under his tail.

"It is traditional for pleasure slaves, unless the Twins have given you something else. They will at times select other clothing for you, depending on what mood they're in or scene that wish to set." She explained gently.

Are'th nodded and considered the overall effect of his cream and gray stripped long fur and the dark blue cloth had. "It does bring out the blue in my eyes nicely. They're almost not gray."

"Yes, it does." She smiled. "I think the Twins will approve." She smiled, though there was a touch of nerves to it.

"So you present me next?" He looked at her, utterly calm in a disconcerting way.

"Yes. And you need to be polite with them." She said quietly. "Even if they're demanding. They'll examine you quite thoroughly, same as they do with any potential pleasure slave." She explained. "Even if you don't like something they do, don't say anything unless you absolutely have to. The don't expect every slave to be submissive but they do expect them to be respectful." She said firmly. "And whatever you do, don't lie to them."

Are'th nodded. "I can remember that."

"I hope so." She smiled. "After Myra's little disaster, I'm going out on a limb with another mouse." She said as she led the way out.

"What happened?" He asked curiously.

"Well, he was a really looker. Pretty white mouse with a really buff bod, and this sexy air about him." She grinned. "Myra made the mistake of building him up to the Twins as the best pleasure slave they'd ever had. And then he refused to be one, wouldn't even consider it. He actually went gladiator, though I expect that's 'cause Myra left out details about the gladiator lifestyle. Well, the Twins were not amused by the letdown. I believe Myra's now doing pleasure slave duty in one of the outlying provinces, with a rather sadistic lord."

"What was his name?" He asked with intent curiosity. "Is he still in the area?"

"Let me think." She said as her brow furrowed with intensity. "Oh, that's right his name's Vinnie. And yeah, he's part of the gladiator stable here, just won his first Arena victory yesterday."

"Are there any other mice like me in the area, with antennae?" He asked rather eagerly. "Any rules against us meeting?"

"Vinnie's got antennae, and there's another one I saw in the market ... his name was Shade of Death, he's a gladiator too." She said quietly. "And there's no rule against meeting, but you'll need to have permission from the Twins or their Castellan to leave the Palace, since you're new, and you'll need a guard to accompany you."

"I understand." He accepted easily, his curiosity peaked by two Martian Mice he did know about.

"But as long as you've been well-behaved, and they don't want you for something, they're usually good about letting you go out." She smiled. "They can be very generous to those who please them."

"Is there much on the expectations list beyond pleasure?" He asked curiously.

"Given how broad pleasure is defined, not really." She said quietly. "Pleasure won't always involve touching them, because they're also voyeurs." Then she paused. "Oh, well they do expect you to work out, keep yourself in shape, properly groomed and that sort of thing. Part of being a pleasure slave is being eye candy."

"Nothing I don't do normally." He nodded. "Will I be expected to attend events with them?"

"Not at first. But if you convince them that you have the poise and bearing for such events, they may chose you to accompany them. It's an honor for a slave to be so chosen, and it has to be earned." She explained gently, as they walked through the broad halls of the immense palace.

Are'th nodded and fell silent as he digested the information. "Who should I ask when I have a question?"

"I'm usually around, so you can ask me if you see me." She smiled. "Depending on the question, you could ask one of the other pleasure slaves, but your best bet would be to ask Kyra, she's in charge of the pleasure slaves, and very nice person, as long as you don't cause trouble."

"I'm a keeper." He said simply. "I don't start trouble."

"I'm not sure what you mean, but I'm glad to hear you don't cause trouble." She smiled.

"Keepers are the quiet part of the population. Shade and Vinnie are probably warriors. Rage incarnate."

"Well that certainly describes that hotheaded white mouse, but Shade was a lot more quiet. Though his performance in the Arena was quite impressive." She murred.

"With a name like Shade of Death, I'm hardly surprised." Are'th chuckled softly. "He's probably quite because he went more the assassin route than front line warrior. Name like that isn't easy to earn."

"Earn? You mean that's probably not his given name?"

"Almost certainly not." Are'th shook his head. "It is for one who brings death without conflict as only a shadow. An assassin of great skill and considerable success in war."

"That would explain why he seemed uncertain at first about the nature of Arena combat. Non-lethal combat is probably totally foreign to him."

"It's foreign to all of us." Are'th shrugged. "Garou don't play-fight, not even keepers."

"It's not strictly play-fighting, since the blows are quite real. It's just that the objective is to subdue your opponent, not to kill." She said simply.

"That's play fighting to us." He tried to explain. "Only teachers don't go full out when training. The rest of the time, if the point is not to kill, there is no point to the fight, even if no death results."

"Oh, I see. We have a long tradition of non-lethal combat." She said quietly.

"I'm sure I'll come to see." He nodded. "Am I barred from pleasure with other than those the Twins choose?" He asked curiously.

"If it doesn't interfere with your duties, and you haven't displeased the Twins." She nodded. "Like many things it is a privilege, but one the Twins frequently grant. They find that pleasure slaves who explore on their own, are often more creative and passionate in their duties."

"I'm not surprised." He nodded. "Do I serve any but the Twins by default?"

"No, the Castellan or Mistress Kyra can give you orders, but not in the area of sex. Only the Twins or one they tell you to serve can command you there. Those in the palace without collars, like myself, can give you orders in a very limited fashion unless given more authority by the Twins. Mostly things like stay out of certain areas."

"Largely common sense to me." He nodded. "Is there an easy way for me to tell relative rank for conflicting orders?"

"Earrings." She nodded, and turned her head so he could see the plain gold stud she wore. "The more complicated and the more of them, the higher the rank. Number of them is more important, three plain gold studs outranks two jewel-encrusted platinum dangles."

The long furred mouse nodded, his tail reflexively flicking up to his shoulder to feel for the four studs he normally wore in his right ear, which weren't there. It drew a soft grumbled from him, but he quickly let it go.

"They're in a small box in your quarters." She said quietly. "You can't wear them here, but I thought they might be of more significance than just ornamentation."

"Thank you." Are'th said softly. "They are, personally and culturally. They're from my first mate, and my lifemates."

"You're welcome." She smiled. "I know I may not have made the best impression, being the first person you encountered here, but I do try to make things easier, when I can."

He nodded. "And I try to return that with cooperation. For all I'd dearly enjoy seeing this entire freakish empire go up in a lovely fireball and reduced to cosmic dust, I do understand the concept that it's not always in my best interests to try for what I want. Such destruction is not for a keeper to inflict."

She nodded. "As a pleasure slave you have a better chance than most to earn your freedom and a way home." She said gently. "I started out as pleasure slave."

"What does that take?" He asked, his tone halfway between dead and hope.

"Just focus on pleasing the Twins. Be creative, passionate, and don't be too submissive. They like spirit, as long as it's respectful." She smiled. "Ideally you want to get chosen as a companion for events, and if you do, study up on the event and the cultural context for it. And nothing pleases them more than an attractive companion who can also manage intelligent conversation. You're allowed to select clothes other than the traditional garb, so make sure to pick things that enhance your appearance. And be subtlety seductive when they're around, even if they're not with you, make like you want their attention."

Are'th nodded, the fraction of hope he had smothered quietly.

"Here we are." She said quietly as they stopped before a large set of double doors. The marmalade shekat knocked and the doors opened. The room was done in much the same style as the first room Are'th had woken up in, only it was much larger. A dozen buff males of several species, all wearing no more than the simple wrap Are'th was wearing were lounging around the room on piles of pillows, usually in groupings of two or three. They were fondly and caressing each other as they watched a jet black tomkat getting fucked by a Malamute canine. Sitting on a raised dais were two thrones, occupied by two blond, dark gray shekats with piercing eyes. The one on the left had green eyes and the one on the right had blue eyes. The were both voluptuous and had a sultry air about them. They both wore an outfit constructed from layers of translucent silk. The green-eyed shekat nodded to Lyra when she noticed her.

"Divine Majesties, I present to you a new pleasure slave for your approval." She said with great deference. "His name is Are'th."

"We are pleased Lyra." The blue eyed one said imperiously. "That you have found a cooperative mouse for our pleasure."

"Thank you, Divine Dalia."

The two shekats stood from the thrones with an unconscious grace, and walked down the dais to where Are'th stood with a distinctly predatory air.

"Strip." The green eyed one commanded.

Are'th gave no hesitation in removing the wrap, shifting to display his body to it's best advantage for the pair as he slipped the cloth off with his tail, his gaze appraising the shekats as much as they appraised them.

"Very nice." Dalia purred as she ran her hand down his chest and abs to hold his balls in her hand to a low sound of pleasure.

"Very nice indeed." The green eyed shekat purred, as her hands explored the mouse's back and ass, including running a finger between the globes of his ass to caress the pucker. "So tell me Are'th. Have you ever been taken by a male?" She asked in sultry voice, with her finger pressed against the furless spot.

"Yes, ma'am." He rumbled eagerly. "One of my lifemates was male."

"Excellent." She purred, as she pressed forward till her finger entered the mouse's body without resistance and his obvious remembered pleasure.

"So have you been with females as well?" Dalia asked with a lick of her lips, as she rolled his balls in her hand. "Have you pleasured them with your tongue?"

"Yes," he murred hotly, his tail slipping up Corina's leg. "My other lifemate was female."

"And this." Corina stroked the base of his tail. "Can it be used for pleasure as easily as it becomes a weapon in the Arena?"

"Very much so." He slid his tail up to gently stroke the soft flesh between her legs. "Tails are of great use for pleasure, and many other things."

"So I see." She rumbled aroused, as her finger slowly fucked the very agreeable mouse.

"And these up here." Dalia purred, as she stroked his antennae gently to a sharp gasp of pleasure before he groaned softtly. "Are they for pleasure?"

"Yes, ma'am." He breathed, one hand reaching up to stroke her right breast.

"So many possibilities for pleasure." Dalia purred, as he touched her breast.

"What kinds of kinky things have you tried?" Corina asked seductively, as she added a second finger and continued finger fucking him.

"Very little, outside of regular multiple mates." He rumbled, his tail slipping inside her while continuously rubbing her clit. "But I'm open to explore."

Corina rumbled deeply. "That's very good, because explore we will." She purred, as she tightened her muscles to grip the tail gently.

"Have you ever been with a male canine?" Dalia purred. "Ever taken his knot and tied with him?"

"Yes," Are'th shivered in remember pleasure and tried to pay attention to both females.

"Oh you are going to be a joy." Dalia rumbled, as she stroked his cock firmly.

"Most definitely." Corina agreed as her fingers fucked the mouse deep. "Lyra, we accept this pleasure slave Are'th."

"We are very pleased with your choice, Lyra. You will be rewarded later, but for now please see Are'th to his new quarters so he can rest, we will want him later." Dalia purred as both shekats took their hands off him to his slight shock, but no protest. "Go with Lyra, we will call for you later."

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded, recovering his wits somewhat.

"Follow me." The marmalade tabby said softly, leading the way out. Are'th followed her with the same sensual grace, though it was more blatantly lustful for the attentions he'd received. He didn't bother trying to figure out how to get the wrap back on until after the throne room doors shut behind them.

"You did very well." Lyra purred as she showed him how the wrap went on.

"I guess they like my nature." He chuckled slightly as they began walking again.

"Your nature, your looks, your openness to explore kinky options." She smiled. "The fact that you played with them while they were inspecting you, also helped. I've seen a lot of males freeze in that blatant a sexual inventorying."

"I guess it doesn't seem very strange to me." He said softly. "And playing seemed the right thing to do, given the questions."

"Oh, it was very much the right thing to do." She smiled, as she opened a door. "These will be your quarters. They're very generic right now, but that's so you can personalize them."

The quarters were very much like the first room he woke up in, only instead of a bathing pool, there was a bathroom off his room. The sleeping surface was a pile of sleeping pillows. And there was a desk, chair and a set of empty bookshelves.

"The personalization, is that just with my allowance?" He asked as he did a cursory tour.

"Some things yes, some things no." She smiled. "If you prefer a bed over sleeping pillows that's free. As are most changes in the furnishings. Things you want to add come out of your allowance, which is pretty generous if you don't get carried away."

Are'th nodded, finishing his circuit. "Do I contact Kyra about such things, or someone else?"

"Mikal is in charge of procurement and distribution for this section of the Palace. He's a buff White Lion who has an office, at the end of this hallway."

"Should I stay here until they ask for me, or can you show me a couple places?" He asked as he tested the strength and adjustability of the bookshelves.

"What would you like to see?" She smiled. "Later means after dinner, and it's still mid-morning."

"The gym in particular, and an overview tour of major places and off limits areas. Where I eat, tend to clothes and such."

"Easily done." She smiled. "We can start with the gym. Off limits areas are easy to spot because there are guards at the entrance points, who will tell you." She said waiting just outside the door for him.

"That does make it easy." He nodded agreeably and followed with his usual sensual grace. "I have no interest in getting into trouble by ignorance."

"The Twins believe that off-limits areas should be plainly marked as such to avoid accidental missteps." She smiled, as they headed down a winding set of stairs.

"Hay Dread." Shade waved a greeting to the Wolf between sparing matches.

"Hi, Shade." The Wolf smiled as he stretched between matches. "How are things going?"

"Fairly decent," he grinned. "Erik's a good substitute bedmate for a while."

"This may take awhile." Dread muttered. "I'm not sure there's anything but bone and muscle between his ears."

Shade sighed. "I have never wanted to beat the blood out of a mouse before him." He shook his head. "Just as well we're not in the same class. I don't need that kind of temptation in the arena. It's hard enough as is to hold back."

"Even after what Ranshaak did to him, he still wouldn't even listen to the idea that it might be better to get raped less often." He shook his head.

"That I'll never understand." Shade let a breath out. "To think he survived the prison camps and everything with that mindset, even with his leader looking out for him. It's incredible."

"What astonishes me, is that Her son cares for him so much. There must be something I'm missing that inspires such loyalty." He said quietly.

"Who knows, maybe this isn't what he's normally like." Shade said with doubtful hope. "But I was wondering if it's an issue if I go out like this, or if clothing is required in the city. I'm curious about what I eared is actually worth."

"The loincloth would be sufficient, but as you haven't earned it yet the guard will give you a simple cloth wrap to wear on the outside that you return when you come back. Full nudity is considered uncouth in the city."

Shade nodded, filing that information away. "Do you have a day you usually go out?"

"Whenever I feel like it, and I have the free time." He smiled. "Sometimes I go out just for a change of menu."

"When would be a good time to ask to go out, then?" Shade glanced back to check he wasn't expected in the practice ring yet.

"Usually, early to mid-afternoon is best, or a bit later if you're going out to eat."

"Will you come, if I get cleared?" He asked quietly.

"If you'd like, sure." The Wolf smiled. "When we're you thinking of going?"

"Probably before my next match," he considered, catching the current match in his group ending. "I'll catch you at lunch." He grinned and trotted off.

"See you then." The big Wolf smiled.

A young black and orange tabby tom wearing a white wrap came up to Kyra and Are'th as they were nearing the end of dinner. "Are'th, their Divine Majesties wish to see you in one hour." He said politely before walking away, the light glinting off his gold collar.

"Would that be the throne room?" He asked her politely.

"The room where I presented you, yes. But that's not the real throne room, it's just the main playroom. The real throne room is toward the center of the palace, it's where the Twins hold audiences and greet visiting dignitaries." She explained casually. "Unless you're told otherwise, always go to the main playroom when they summon you."

"Understood." He nodded easily and finished eating.

"They usually give you an hour or two warning, so you can freshen up before you report to them." She explained over sips of coffee.

"Most definitely a good thing." He chuckled softly. "Do they mind if I show up early?"

"Not at all, some pleasure slaves spend hours in there watching, and fooling around with other slaves." She smiled.

"Good, it looked like a good place to hang out." He smiled slightly. "If you don't have other obligations, could I impose on you for more time tomorrow, when the Twins do not require me?"

"Of course." She smiled. "Just look around that wing of the Palace, I'm usually there somewhere. Except on Market Day, when I'm out most of the day."

"When is Market Day?" He asked and stood. "If you don't mind talking as we walk, and I clean up."

"Not at all." She said as she stood and carried her tray back to the dishroom entrance. "There are two Market Days in a week; Greater and Lesser. The Lesser is the one where Maltin sees that all the supplies for the Pleasure Wing are purchased and arranged for. I go along to handle translation for merchants whose language he doesn't speak." She explained. "The Greater is for slaves and livestock primarily. The Greater is the first day of work in the week, while the Lesser is the fourth day of work."

"You go for both?" He asked curiously as they walked back to his new quarters.

"Part of my job as one of the few real linguists." She smiled. "Though the Lesser doesn't eat up my whole day the way the Greater does."

"Unless you find something good that does." He chuckled softly.

"My big hazard on the Lesser is the booksellers." She chuckled softly. "I spend hours reading, if I don't something else doesn't occupying my time."

"What do you read?" He asked curiously.

"Oh, a little of everything." She smiled. "History, fiction, fantasy, science fiction. With so many worlds' literature to pick from I never run out of choices."

"Do the merchants steal those too?" He asked neutrally.

"Nope, they're all legitimately purchased. We have very good trade relations with a number of significant empires." She said easily. "A fair portion of the slaves are also purchased, in legal slave markets on their homeworlds."

"Sure they are." He muttered. "That's why you have to kidnap folks from worlds you don't even know the same of."

"I didn't deny that that happens." She said gently. "But more slaves are purchased than kidnapped. Some are purchased form legitimate slave markets, and others from governments who wish to reduce costs on prison operation."

"If you're going to lie, at least make it a logical one." He shook his head. "If you've got legitimate sources, you wouldn't need to steal just to sate your pleasures."

She sighed. "Each Agent is assigned to a particular area, and they work independently. Just because one has a legitimate source, doesn't mean the others do." She said quietly. "And just what reason do I have to lie to you?" She asked shortly.

"Beats me." He shrugged. "But what you say doesn't even begin to hold up to any form of reason, so why should I believe it? You're in an excessively poor position to try to say this culture has any form of honor or respect for anything but it's own lusts, even if you do. Who says you were told the truth?"

"Because I've seen the Agent manifests." She said stubbornly. "Each slave has to be documented as to location of acquisition and method of acquisition. There's a list of worlds we don't hunt on, and we have to make sure the Agents don't disregard it." She said stubbornly. "And it doesn't make sense to you. I'm sure you have traditions I would say make no sense and find just as barbaric. And you know next to nothing about this culture." She growled. "At least we don't consider violence and killing a primary method of solving problems, unlike a lot of so-called civilizations."

"No, just for entertainment and stealing people from their lives and mates and children to please you when you have no apparent need to." He shook his head. "And you may not like my traditions, but I do not force them on you by taking you away from everything you love for no reason other than I find you a pretty trinket and condemn you to an eternity of going slowly insane with no care for the consequences on anything but myself."

"No reason that you know of." She growled. "And I have no idea what you are talking about with this condemn to an eternity of going slowly insane, that makes no sense at all. No slave is kept forever."

"Mouse souls go on, I've met a few." He said quietly. "I'm in a situation I have no capability to survive sane, no mouse does. With no one to Remember me on, my soul will be stuck here, or wherever the Twins decide to banish the troublesome gibbering creature to. It's an eternity of slipping further and further from reality until I'm far enough gone I no longer notice. A few billion years like that, and I'll eventually dissipate. It's unlikely I'll even register the death of this body."

"Like I said no slave is kept her forever." She said quietly. "Twenty or thirty years, at most. Then they're put back where they came from. That's why detailed acquisition records are kept."

"I won't last five." He shrugged, accepting of his fate. "It's okay, I don't blame you. I'll see what pleasure I can until I'm far enough gone I don't notice anymore."

"They'll send you home before that." She said quietly. "There really is a reason for this." She said tiredly. "A generation ago we recalled all the Agents except for the ones with sources legally sanctioned by the world in question. Then we found out why things are done the way they are, the cost of finding out was terrible and most of our people still don't know, but I was Dalia's companion that day, and I saw what happened."

"And what part of that should make me feel any different?" He asked quietly. "They don't care for me or my people, why should I care for yours?"

"We don't do this because we want to. It's simply something we've adapted to." She said quietly. "You see the price wasn't one we suffered, but it was suffered by one of the worlds we left alone and didn't hunt on. As much as we'd like to stick to legitimate sources, we can't sacrifice other worlds to our pangs of conscience."

"Yeah, okay." He nodded.

"Still don't believe me?" She growled. "Would you like to see the aftermath of behaving the way you suggest, which is really what we'd prefer?"

"Lyra," Are'th said softly, "why does it matter what I believe? I won't be anything soon enough. The universe is fucked up. I know that. I never meant anything personal by this."

"I'm sorry." She sighed. "It's just a sore point, and it did sound personal." She said quietly. "And I don't like what you say is going to happen to you. Is there anyway to slowdown this madness you mentioned?"

"Yes," he said as he opened the door to his quarters. "It merely condemns more of my kind to this fate. It hardly matters if it is." He said as he untied the wrap and slipped into the bathing pool. "My mates and children will count me dead long before I return. There is little reason to go back, with a tainted soul."

"What about the mice like you who are already here?" She asked softly. "Do you need to be with others of your kind, does that slow the madness?"

"We're social creatures," he nodded. "We don't do well alone or in captivity." He said softly. "Though only Shade of Death is like me. Vinnie is a different kind, for all he looks like us."

"Would it help if you could spend time with him, when your duties don't require you here?" She asked gently, clearly very concerned.

"Depends on if he accepts me, and I can accept him, as a packmate." Are'th explained as he cleaned his fur. "And if we can sleep together. That's when most of the bonding and soothing is done."

"You find out if you two can get along." She said quietly. "I'll talk to the Twins about letting you sleep together if you do."

The long furred mouse nodded before he rinsed and stepped out to walk under the blowers. "Why do you stop my shape-shift?" He asked softly.

"I don't know why they do that." She said quietly. "I presume because the form is large and dangerous. It's not something I really know much about, only that no slave can shapeshift."

Are'th nodded again as he went to work on his fur with a brush, his skill at getting it to lay to best advantage clear in the speed and economy of motions. While he worked, a nearly visible change happened as he packaged up everything but his willingness and stored it carefully away, then double checked his locks on the hatred to make sure they were very secure.

"Ready?" She asked quietly when he seemed about done.

"Yes," he smiled at her, every fiver of his sexy and sensuous as he checked himself in the mirror one last time. "Thank you for explaining what you could."

"I do try, even if I do get defensive about it." She smiled. "After your duties are done, if you want to talk or just want company for the night, feel free to stop by my quarters." She said softly.

"Where are they?" He asked brightly.

"Up the stairs closest to the main playroom, and three doors outward on the right. The door has this design painted on it." She said showing him the delicate gold necklace with a flowery charm on the end of it.

"I probably will," he smiled sweetly to her and started for the playroom.

"Don't worry about the time." She said warmly, as she walked along with him as he made the way to the playroom without hesitation, pausing at the door guards, who let him in immediately.

Inside, Corina was playing with a gray and white Husky male who was bound in an upright frame, spread-eagle. He whimpered and moaned at the touch of the finger that Corina was brushing along his body. Are'th could see that the male had wide clips attached to his nipples and the handle to something protruding from his ass.

Reclining on a sofa near the throne, Dalia gestured to the mouse to approach her. Are'th didn't hesitate in walking up to her, and waited quietly for instruction.

"Sit beside me." She smiled and gestured at a pile of pillows next to her, and was easily obeyed. "How has your first day gone?" She asked gently, as she ran a hand gently down his chest while the canine whimpered needily in the background.

"Very informative." He said and leaded into the touch, his tail moving around to slide up her leg.

"That's good." She said softly, purring lightly at the tail. She sat up gracefully, and put her hands on his ears, stroking them lightly. "Does this feel good for you?" She asked in a sultry voice.

"Yes, ma'am." He murmured softly and reached one hand out to stroke her breast.

"That's right." She purred encouragingly, as she continued to stroke his ears. She looked over at Corina as the bounded canine's whimpering took on a whining pitch. "Oh, do let the poor dear cum, Corina." She said softly.

"I have, but it seems he needs a male's attention to release." She said a lightly offended tone, as she turned the frame around to face Dalia.

"Are'th, go get the canine off." She asked, though it was clearly a command. "However you like will be fine."

He nodded and stood to walk over to the Husky, considering the options and deciding for the most simple one. Without hesitation he ran his hands down the canine's body from muzzle to hips before easily dropping to his knees and taking the dripping cock in his mouth all the way to the base of the knot.

The canine arched his back and shuddered at the warm, wet sensation. "Oh gods, suck me." He rumbled eagerly.

Are'th's reply was to wrap his tail around the base of the canine's knot tightly as he used tongue and mouth with skill born of regular pack orgies. He lifted one hand to fondle the thick furred balls while the other rested on the Husky's muscular thigh.

There was no warning before the canine's seed shot into Are'th's mouth as the Husky howled, and then whimpered as the spasms drained him, leaving him hanging limply in the frame as Are'th licked the last of the cum from the canine's cock.

"Very nicely, done." Corina purred, as she ran a finger up the mouse's antenna. "You're quite skilled with your mouth."

"Thank you, ma'am." He shivered in pleasure and slid his tail from the Husky's cock to caress her mons.

"Oh, that's nice, Are'th." She purred, and then turned to look at the bound Husky as he made a series of rumbles and growls. "That's not necessary, Lytan." She said firmly, to which he responded stubbornly. "Well, if you insist." She smiled. "Are'th, it seems Lytan wants to repay you for getting him off."

The mouse nodded, uncertain how this was supposed to work. "Does he have a preference, ma'am?" He asked quietly, his tail slipping deeper between the swollen lips between her legs.

There was a brief rumble from the canine, as a male Tiger helped him out of the frame. "He'd prefer you fuck him." She smiled, as the big canine went on knees and elbows flipping his tail invitingly at the mouse, and gave him an honestly lusty look.

Are'th chuckled softly and moved to run his hands over the canine's hips. "Lube, ma'am?" He asked, slipping a finger into the well stretched opening.

The Tiger standing close by, silently handed him a squeeze tube, as the canine rumbled in anticipation.

"Thanks." Are'th nodded and quickly lubed his erection before sinking into the willing body with a soft groan.

The canine moaned and tightened his internal muscles to squeeze the shaft of flesh firmly. The move was repaid by a supple tail, slick with Corina's juices, teased the still-hard canine cock before wrapping around it to stroke it in a coil of furless skin in time with the mouse's thrusts.

Lytan rumbled deep in his chest and thrust his hips back at Are'th, burying the mouse deeper inside him, and then thrust into the coil of tail. It was a pattern the mouse easily fell into, thrusting hard as they came together, his tail tight around the canine's knot as the tip teased his slit and head.

Lytan's heavy breathing was punctuated by moans, grunts and soft whimpers as he grew more excited. The grip and release of his internal muscles on Are'th cock became erratic, but still firm. It eventually became more than the light furred mouse could take and his hips thrust forward hard with a grunting moan as his seed pumped into the canine's insides.

The Husky's ass tightened around Are'th's cock as he threw his head back and howled as his seed splashed on the floor beneath him and the tail around him. Each successive spasm was accompanied by a soft moan, until the orgasm passed leaving him drained and Are'th breathing hard against his back as the tail unwound.

"We were right." Corina purred as she ran her hand down Are'th back to caress his ass. "You are hot and sensual. When you've caught your breath, join me on the bench." She rumbled sensually, as she walked over to wide padded bench, and laid on her side watch the mouse and his bottom.

"Like that." The Husky said quietly as he regained his breath.

"Good." Are'th smiled and caressed Lytan's sides as he pulled out and stood to make his way to Corina to lie before to her on the bench, far enough down her full breasts were right and nuzzling level and he wouldn't interrupt her view.

"Your very hot performance with Lytan, has excited me." Corina purred lustily. "Show me what you know of pleasuring a female with your tongue and hands."

"Yes, ma'am." He murred, everything on the surface of mind and body sensual even as misery and revulsion roiled underneath. "May I use my tail as well?" He asked quietly as he sent his hands to explore her chest and back while his mouth attended to one breast.

"Yes, you may." She purred.

Perhaps twenty feet away, Lytan was similarly pleasuring Dalia, though the blue-eyed shekat was watching Are'th with intense curiosity as he worked on her twin.

"Please roll to your front, ma'am." Are'th said softly after a while. The purring shekat rolled on to her front with a fluid and seductive grace. He easily settled over the small of her back, his tail stroking and teasing between her legs as he set to work with the sensual massage so many of his pack had enjoyed.

The shekat slowly relaxed under his massage as her purr deepened, and her sex wet and scent thick with arousal while he worked down her back with skilled hands. He shifted when he reached the small of her back to settle to one side and give the same attention to her ass and legs, spending particularly long on her feet.

"Oh, yes." She purred deeply. "You have a marvelous touch, Are'th." She said encouragingly.

"Thank you, ma'am." He answered softly. "Roll over please."

She turned over with her legs slightly spread, revealing her wet sex. It wasn't something Are'th actually looked at as he moved up to straddle her waist again and set his tail to pleasuring her directly while his hands began to massage her front, starting with her neck.

"Sister dear, why don't we trade?" Dalia suggested in a sultry voice.

Corina looked over at the hard, eager Husky and smiled. "As you wish, Dalia." She said turning to Are'th. "Go see to my sister." She commanded as the Husky came padding across.

He wasted no time in going to the green eyed one, settling next to her and looking for her orders.

Dalia stood and slipped her shimmering turquoise robe on. "Put your wrap on and come with me." She commanded, though it was a far gentler tone than Corina's.

"Yes, ma'am." Are'th nodded and retrieved his blue wrap quickly, already moving to join her as he secured it.

She led him down the hall, and into a warm, dimly lit room. She slipped off her robe, and it seemed as though she softened somewhat. "Do you like the water, Are'th?" She asked softly.

"A great deal ma'am." He said softly and removed the wrap to join her.

"Then join me in the whirlpool." She invited as she sank into the warm, bubbling water of the pool carved from natural stone, and quickly had a warm, affectionate body next to her.

"Now, what was bothering you so much when you were with my sister?" She asked gently. "This is just between you and me, she won't hear anything."

"It will take me a while to accept being condemned, ma'am." He said softly, letting his hands drift in the water. "Even if I go home, my people will know the taint on my soul for being the pet of a Power, and reject me."

Dalia sighed softly. "I am sorry about that." She said quietly. "I've never encountered a culture with that belief before." She added, suddenly seeming far more average.

"Most Martian Garou do." He told her. "Even those from the outer colonies like me." He fell silent a moment. "I never thought something would make me look forward to the insanity, but it will be better than being turned away as a demon by my own kits."

"I wouldn't count on the insanity." She said quietly. "This place has way of denying such escapes." She said with a strange fatigue entering her voice.

"Then it will claim me when you are done with me." He murmured without recrimination. "Garou can't exist alone for long, and I now have eternity alone."

The shekat sighed deeply. "I am sorry you have to share our prison." She said quietly. "But there are two other Garou here, perhaps you should seek their company."

"If they will take me in." He nodded. "How can two Powers be imprisoned, ma'am?"

"By a Greater Power, Are'th." She said quietly. "Our disappointed, and terribly vindictive mother."

"What is she so angry about, ma'am?" He asked submissively, but very curious.

"My sister and I are by nature peaceful and perhaps a little hedonistic. We're lovers of the arts and patronesses of beauty, especially the beauty of the male body." She said quietly. "Our mother is Arashi, the Dark Lady of War and Chaos. Needless to say, we were a great disappointment to her. We tried to please her but war and violence is simply not in us. My sister made a little 'progress' when developed a taste for pain and bondage, but it wasn't enough." She sighed. "Mother wanted us out of general circulation so that the cosmos would not know of her shame and embarrassment."

Are'th blinked, trying to wrap his mind around the concept of rejecting your kits. "She failed though, quite badly."

"Not really." She said quietly. "No one knows our names outside this prison. And you speak of an eternity of madness, well, this prison is slowly warping who we are. And she gave us a responsibility that can only be fulfilled by disrupting the lives of others, and the failure to fulfill it, is the deaths of countless beings."

He fell silent for a moment, then figured he didn't have anything to loose. "Would you tell me of this duty?"

She nodded. "Fifty millennia ago, a race lived under the direct guidance of a Greater Power, Marthanok. Under his guidance they constructed a great network of roads to explore the universe. These Star Roads connected many worlds, sometimes touching a given world in different places." She spoke softly. "Then came a war between Powers, that threaten to set the galaxy on fire, and Marthanok removed his people to one of the worlds they had found, and removed all the Star Roads that led to that part of space. The rest of the Roads he left behind, untended and unused for millennia."

"Ten millennia ago, a new people arose on the world that Marthanok had abandoned. They built a great empire, through wars of conquest against their neighbors until they had conquered the entire world." Dalia continued. "In the fifth century of their world government, they had a great philosophical and spiritual transformation. They turned from war and destruction and embraced an ideology of peace, harmony and beauty. This angered the goddess, Arashi who had been their patroness from the early days. In anger she removed the protection she had given them against the power of the Star Roads, and several great cataclysms struck their world killing three of every five who lived." She sighed deeply.

"Then into this chaos and death she cast us, leaving the lives of these people in our hands. With great difficulty we were able to restrain the power of the Star Roads and calm the disasters." She said quietly. "In the Calm the Malterans rebuilt their civilization and discovered us. They declared that since they only survived by our power, they were bound to serve us. We allowed this, but kept our hands from anything but the most general of governance."

"Five decades into the Calm we discovered what else was happening. This wasn't the only world the Star Roads were damaging, others were being ravaged as well. Unable to control so much power, we appealed to mother in desperation and she told us what was going on. It was our charge she told us to dampen and siphon the energy of the Roads to protect the worlds that could not protect themselves. But the only way to do that was to use them, and to remove people from their worlds thus creating a resonance that would temporarily protect the world." She said quietly. "To our distress we could not simply take them and put them back immediately. Any less than twenty years and the protective resonance would be reversed."

She sighed. "On some worlds we discovered that they would sell us members of their own cultures. Slavery they called it, something we had abolished during the Enlightenment. The horrifying realization came that it was the most efficient way to remove people and keep them isolated till they could be returned home. But we needed something for them to do, and many of our initial purchases were warriors, so we came up with the Arena." She said softly. "And then one of our Agents came home with a new type of slave, one whose purpose was not fighting but pleasure. This appealed to Corina and I, because pleasure was still the core of our being. So we took attractive males to please us, and for us to give pleasure to."

Are'th ran that over and over in his mind, trying to figure out what she hadn't told him, the piece that would make it make some kind of sense. Eventually he gave up. "I have a few questions, if you don't mind, ma'am."

Dalia smiled. "I kind of expected you would. I condensed so much time into that story, I might have left something out."

Are'th nodded. "This resonance taking people leaves, what about returning the person dissipates it?"

"It's the effect a particular entity makes when entering or leaving the road from a given world. Entering the road causing when resonance wave, leaving the road to the same world generates an inverse of that wave that cancels it out."

"So why not return people by another means?" He asked hesitantly.

"We tried that." Dalia said quietly. "The inversion wave still occurred. The theory is that it's actually a kind of cataloging function, keeping track of who's on the planet and who isn't. How the road knows that they arrived on planet is uncertain, but then much of the roads nature is a mystery to us. The people who created it didn't leave any notes, and the Greater Power that gave it power doesn't care to answer questions."

"Why enslave those that are kidnapped, ma'am?" He asked softly.

"Because we always have." She started and then shook her head. "No, that's not an answer." She said, and then paused to think. "I think it was because we knew those kidnapped would resent what had happened, and rightfully so, but we didn't want them taking out that resentment on citizens who had had nothing to do with their kidnapping. And we didn't want the citizens lashing back against all abductees because of such violence. Keeping them isolated and giving them something to do seemed to make sense at the time." She said quietly. "This is kind of our first go at running a civilization."

Are'th sank into thought, a little disturbed by the concept that he was quizzing a Power on their behavior, but pressing forward all the same. "Have you tried to use the Roads as a relocation service for families? Not to here, but to another world in the network."

Dalia thought about that one for awhile. "No, I can't say we have. Though most of the worlds in the network are inhabited. I'm not sure what they'd think if we started dropping people on them. I know some of them wouldn't treat the strangers very well, worse than we do honestly."

"Not drop them, ma'am." He said softly. "But like a family moving from one village to another. Planned on both sides. "And it doesn't have to be on the Roads, either." He added, thinking fast as he fell into one of his specialties. "Between the Road network, the Bridge network, raw magic and spacecraft, I don't think it would be too difficult to set up some kind of interplanetary moving agency." Are'th paused and raised his hands, trying to access one of his Gifts for the first time here.

After a moment of accessing knowledge outside himself, a complex web of six different colors shimmered between his hands. "It's much bigger than anything I've attempted, but in principle, it should be little different than when the Demaric family moved from SeaGrass Forest to Emershift."

"Well, it's certainly an idea." Dalia said looking at it with interest. "It will take time to set up, and retrain some of the Agents. Finding families willing to relocate will be more complicated. But less destructive, I hope." She said quietly. "Maybe if we work off the network, we could relocate them to unclaimed worlds. That way nobody feels encroached on." She paused and looked at the web again. "Yes, this might work. I'll have to discuss the idea with Corina."

"It is a good way to colonize, and to relocate between world in the same alliance, like the three you've gotten Garou from." He smiled at the praise. "This was kind of my specialty back home, arranging such major moves between the dozen worlds we'd claimed."

"Thank you, Are'th." She said, impulsively kissing him on the cheek. "Sometimes when you've been looking at a problem for so long you don't see a way out, until you get a new perspective." Then she looked at him. "I'll probably want to discuss this idea with you again later."

"I would enjoy working on it, ma'am." He actually grinned a bit. "I've told I'm very good at finding the right place to put things."

"Are'th, how do you really feel about the play sessions?" Dalia asked gently.

"They're ... strange." He answered honestly. "I've always slept with my pack, but not having any connection is strange. Not having my other forms for it is even stranger."

"I could let you have your shapeshift back." She purred softly. "If you promised not to use the ability to make trouble."

"You have my word, ma'am." His voice and mind carrying just how binding he considered it, and his lack of intent for trouble in the first place.

"Very good." Dalia smiled, and a sensation like static electricity but alive passed through his body from the tips of his antennae to the soles of his feet and out to the tip of his tail. It reverberated to the core of his being awakening something that had been asleep. "Try it now."

Are'th nodded and shifted his position before attempting to shift to his canine form. When the familiar mass gain and lengthening of his limbs and neck began he mentally relaxed into the mindset of the four-limbed, lower center of gravity and paddled gently for a bit before diving down and coming up in his mouse form and kissed Dalia energetically and passionately, utterly forgetting for a moment what she was.

The shekat relaxed and returned his passion with her own, forgetting for a moment that they were anything but male and female. The sensation of making another happy on such an essential level reverberated through her in a way she hadn't felt in a long time. It was a reverberation that echoed into the mouse against her, drawing him fully out of his shell and into the passion that had begun as simply joy.

As the passion continued to build, Dalia reached one hand down to gently fondle his sheath and balls. With a skill from millennia of practice and a growing passion, it took little more to rouse him to full hardness as the kiss continued to several moans. Somewhere in it she felt him realize what he was with, and decide he didn't care.

"Take me, Are'th." She moaned eagerly, with no command in her voice only eager, needy passion. It took no more prompting to get him to shift, lifting her against the side of the pool before sinking into her eager body with a moan against her throat. With both arms wrapped around her body Are'th began to thrust eagerly, taking the energetic spontaneity of their kiss into their coupling.

With her arms wrapped around him so her hands could caress the curve of his ass, Dalia tightened her internal muscles to squeeze him tightly. With his moans hot in her ears and his thrusts gaining strength, she basked in the energetic passion of their coupling.

With all the pent up energy and strain of the day, Are'th couldn't last long, and his moans turned to whimpers as he tried to give pleasure for pleasure. The intense passion of having an honest lover for the first time in so long was more than Dalia could take, and she arched her back and moaned in loud pleasure as her body pulsed and quivered around his cock. It was more than Are'th could resist, or cared to, and he came with a roar.

Dalia lay back, pulling him with her as she lay recovering her breath. "That was wonderful." She purred still feeling the passion flowing.

"Yes," Are'th murmured as he panted against her. "You don't get loved enough, do you?"

"Not really." She said softly, as she kissed his cheek. "It's easy to be sated, but that's just sex."

Are'th nodded and nuzzled her. "Perhaps we can help each other survive this place."

"I would like that, Are'th." Dalia said softly. "For the first time in millennia, I find myself wanting to not share with my sister." She kissed him gently. "But if you wish to play with others, I won't object."

"Thank you." He smiled and kissed her gently. "I will see if I find another appealing, but I'm in no rush for it."

"Would you mind playing with a male while I watch." She purred softly. "You are so hot when you're with a male."

"Not at all." Are'th murmured back with a soft kiss. "May I choose him this time?"

"Of course, Are'th." She said softly. "I expect you have good taste in males."

"I certainly think I do." He grinned playfully at her. "But I rather doubt you have anything other than very attractive ones here."

"It is one of the criteria." She smiled. "Even the gladiators are quite attractive, if you like rough, buff warriors, which I do occasionally." She grinned.

"Oh, I definitely do, particularly of the canine variety." He rumbled eagerly. "My warrior-mates are all Garou, and big buff warriors."

"If you'd like to, you can go down to the barracks and check out the warriors." Dalia offered.

"That sounds delightful." Are'th grinned, nuzzling her.

"As long as you remember to bring something back." She teased playfully. "I'll have Silas accompany you, both to show you the way and because your status requires it, until I discuss what to do with you status with my sister."

"I won't forget to bring a playmate back, Dalia." He murred eagerly, running his hands down her body. "With a nice big wolf to fuck in Crinos."

"I look forward to it." She purred, running her hands down his body. "Bring him to my bedroom, three doors down from here, Silas can show you. Or you can wash him up in here first if you want."

"I'll see how messy he is." Are'th grinned. "Through I think I'd like more of you first." He murmured and kissed her with fairly clean passion.

"That you're welcome to." Dalia purred, and pulled him close with honest, if needy, passion.

"Want to try my Crinos?" He rumbled eagerly. "The blood runs so much hotter."

"Show me your Crinos." She purred hotly.

Are'th nodded and slipped back into the middle of the pool before shifting to his full ten foot six height with gold and silver spiraled horns between antennae and large mouse ears on a largely canine face. His long fur drifted in the moving water, its silky length doubled and some by the transformation.

Dalia stepped forward and ran her hand threw his long silky fur as she explored the new body, including the proportionally larger balls, sheath and full, canine cock. "A bit more than I can take without a little change on my part." She said with a smile, as she changed to a nine foot feline form that was more strongly animal that her normal. "Take me, you magnificent creature." She rumbled hotly at him.

"Tie with me?" His deep, rumbled voice left not doubt to the heat of his desire as he pushed her back to lie on the floor of the room with her legs in the warm water as he covered her, rubbing his hard length against her raised sex and abs.

"Oh, yes, my beautiful wolf-mouse." She purred wantonly as he thrust into her slick, throbbing passage, grunting as he held onto her to press his half-swollen knot into her.

"Oh, Sweet Mars." Are'th gasped as she closed around the most sensitive part of his body, enclosing the back of his knot in her moist heat.

"Oh, yes." Dalia rumbled passionately as she pulled him into deep passionate kiss, as her passage squeezed and fluttered around the knot. He eagerly returned the passion, his hands roving over her body as he thrusted the small amount he was able, his mind and body quickly overcome by the intensity of a sensation he only rarely experienced.

"Oh, gods." He whined before his body roared with an intensity he wasn't prepared for as he slammed as deep inside her body and pulled back hard to press the back of his knot against the inside of her pelvis. She arched her back and screamed in pleasure at the intense full sensation, slowly settling into a twitching, quivering state of pleasure as his roars mixed with screams as he spilled his balls into her, slowly settling into grunts as his knot kept pumping into her after he was spent.

"Wow," Are'th gasped out, his body still twitching on top of Dalia's from the pressure-pleasure of his knot.

"Very much so." She agreed breathlessly. "That was so intense."

"Now we get to relax in the water until it goes down." He grinned at her and used his greater mass and strength to maneuver them into the water with Dalia sitting on his lap.

"That sounds wonderfully relaxing." She purred deeply. "You're a wonderful lover in both forms."

"Thank you." He smiled and relaxed back, pulling her against his chest as he did so.

"Hay, Bro." Shade greeted Dread as he sat down next to him with a very light meal.

"Hi, Shade." The Wolf smiled a warm welcome.

"I got tomorrow afternoon off to see the city." He grinned. "Also, I was wondering if you could teach me to read."

"Excellent." Dread smiled, and then looked a bit stunned. "You don't know how?"

"A know the code-symbols we used, and how to read maps, but there were no books." He said softly. "It was more important to survival to be able to hunt and shoot than read something we'd probably never see."

"I understand." Dread said softly. "And I will teach you to read. Back home I would teach the four-legger Kinfolk when they learned to shift to two-legger form."

Shade blinked. "Kinfolk that shift?"

Dread chuckled. "Perhaps I should've said those we thought were Kinfolk, but turned out to be Garou. Sometimes I slip into the shorthand of home."

"Oh," the dark mouse nodded, eating lightly. "That makes more sense."

"Yes, I suppose it does, since Kinfolk don't shapeshift." He smiled.

"Not in a species we know of." Shade chuckled softly.

"True, it's a big universe, anything is possible."

"Yes, it is." Shade nodded. "Will we have much time together until Vinnie is dealt with?" He asked quietly.

"We can make time, Shade." Dread said quietly. "I won't neglect you for him." He rumbled softly.

"Just getting to spend the night in the room is enough." Shade said. "I can hold my temper." He promised.

"You could sleep with me, Shade." The Wolf said quietly. "It's not like he will."

"You aren't going to try to keep in the room again?" He looked at his mate.

"Once he's asleep, he won't notice you." He said quietly. "And if he can walk out of the room after Ranshaak had him first, I'll be surprised."

"Easily timed." Shade brightened. "I can slip out just before he wakes. I do think it's good he doesn't actually see me until we've given up on being reasonable with him."

"Which I'm trying not to do, too quickly despite his best efforts." The Wolf shook his head. "I'm very tempted to let the lizard keep him for the evening, just so he gets a full taste."

"You'll need too, eventually." Shade sighed. "And if last night didn't clue him in, I'm not sure any amount of time with him will."

"Neither am I, Shade." The Wolf sighed. "I've never met anyone who attached so much pride and self-worth to sex. To be resistant I understand, but he takes if far beyond."

"I'm not so sure he can be understood." Shade muttered. "Or if I want to. At least he's not kin."

"If he was maybe he wouldn't be this obstinate." Dread said quietly.

"Maybe." Shade admitted. "You'd think someone who hit on everything with tits wouldn't be so hung up about sex."

"Yeah, but he even turned down the Twins, and they certainly do." He chuckled. "Though he still would've ended up getting fucked."

"Considering the Arena, I am so not surprised." He shook his head. "But at least it probably wouldn't be by anything like Ranshaak."

"Not even close." Dread smiled. "The Twins are about pleasure, even if Corina does include pain and bondage in her definition."

"So does half the Garou population of Mars." Shade shrugged. "But given how fast we heal and it increases resistance to battle pain, it's not a bad idea."

"Oh, I don't mind myself." Dread smiled. "But it has been known to freak the occasional pleasure slave out the first time they run into it." He shrugged. "I guess liking pain is a pretty extreme kink in some places."

"Slavery itself is considered as bad as treason in a lot of places." Shade pointed out quietly.

"I know that. It is on my homeworld." Dread said easily. "And in some places its practiced with far more brutality than it is here." He shrugged.

"I've seen the results of that too." Shade nodded, subdued. "I'll never understand why cultures can't just stick to themselves if they insist their way is the only right one."

"That I don't know." The Wolf shook his head. "But then kidnapping and slavery seems to be the Malteran substitute for the wars of aggression other cultures engage in. As morally repulsive as slavery is, it does have a much lower death toll."

"Just a different way of abusing power." Shade shrugged. "Sacrificing a kit to save the pack is no less sick."

"Well, you'll get no argument from me on that one." He said quietly.

"Anything less depressing to talk about?" Shade murmured. "This place is suicidal enough as is."

"I saw they just a hunky new gladiator in today." Dread smiled. "A nicely built Malamute."

"Oh, is he playful?" The dark mouse smiled, focusing on this new subject with interest.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet, but if the look I exchanged with him is any indication, he is." Dread licked his lips.

"I think we will need to make time to get to know this one." He rumbled eagerly. "Perhaps with Erik."

"Oh, that does sound like fun." Dread murred lustily. "I'm sure Erik would enjoy it."

"Yes," the dark mouse grinned. "He's quite fond of furpiles in rest in as well as play with, as it turns out."

"That's a good thing, since he's a very nice addition to a furpile." The Wolf smiled fondly.

"Yes, he is indeed." Shade murred. "But he's a nice addition to almost anything."

"Yes, he is." Dread smiled. "Would you believe he'd never been in a fight before he came here?" He chuckled lightly.

"Pretty easily." Shade nodded. "He doesn't have the instincts from real combat."

"He was an architect and an artist." Dread smiled. "He's sketched a few of the buildings he designed for me. He has a real Gift for combining beauty and functionality."

"What in the world is he doing in here?" Shade raised an eyebrow, not for the first time doubting there was anything of virtue to these people.

"I'm not sure exactly." Dread said quietly. "Though I guess he gave pleasure slave a try, and just couldn't handle pleasuring a female. They gave him to one of the other senior gladiators as a pet, not knowing what else to do with him. He managed to talk Seldrin into training him to fight, 'cause he didn't want to be anyone's pet." He explained. "I really don't think anyone but me knows what his real talent is."

"So much for their vaunted choices." Shade spat, though he kept his voice down. "It's a miracle they get anything right."

"They don't pay much attention to any advanced or specialized talents they get." He shook his head. "They view slaves as filling either luxury needs, such as pleasure slaves and gladiators, or menial labor. Even if there's some reason that they have to keep grabbing people, there's a better way to make use of the talent."

"But that would require an interest in actually using their thefts to some benefit." Shade sneered. "They obviously aren't that intelligent."

"They're blinded by long adherence to tradition." Dread corrected softly. "But intelligence they have no shortage of. Despite the ugly practice of slavery, there is still beauty in this society." He said quietly. "And I have seen why they continue the adherence to the tradition of abduction." He said quietly, with a powerful emphasis on the word 'seen'.

"Blind is still stupid." Shade shrugged. "If kidnapping is so necessary, they could at least do it without destroying people and families all over reality."

"They make mistakes, I agree." He said quietly. "And the system does need work, as most millennia old ways of doing things do."

"And with two lust-addled Powers in charge of things, nothing ever will." The mouse spat, his hatred flaring hot enough to be felt.

"Perhaps, perhaps not." He said quietly. "I don't know that anyone's ever suggested any changes to the system to them. Most decide that they won't listen and don't bother saying anything. The rest are the ones that aren't bothered by how things are."

"So why haven't you?" Shade challenged his alpha.

"Lack of opportunity to speak with them." He said quietly. "It isn't exactly easy to get an audience with them. Unless they summon you, that is."

"So The Sluts don't like you." He nodded acceptingly. "Not letting information reach you is an effective method of getting to play at being benevolent."

"I don't play by their rules, I won't take opponents in the Arena. And I did turn down being a pleasure slave." He said quietly. "Good ways to be less than popular."

"Seems to be a pattern," the dark mouse muttered. "Anything intelligent can't stomach being close to them."

"Wasn't that, I just preferred being a gladiator. At least then I had some control over my life." He said quietly. "Keep up your performance in the Arena, and they might summon you. Then you could make suggestions." He said seriously.

That made Shade shudder in something closer to terror than anything so far, and left him pale as he recovered his composure. "I guess someone has to do it." He said softly, the air of doom stronger than when he first came before he shoved it away.

"Okay, Bro. What's so terrifying?" He asked quietly, not bothering to disguise the concern in his voice.

"I guess your line don't believe anymore." He said softly. "That to be claimed by a Power taints the soul. My pack would reject me at best, even if I got back to them."

"Agree to see them." He suggested softly. "Just to get an opening to talk to them. And specifically to talk to Dalia." He said quietly. "You can still avoid the sex part."

Shade looked at him a little funny. "How?"

"That's easy, start talking before sex actually happens." He smiled. "If you can get Dalia's interest, I hear she actually likes talking. But remember, get angry or spewing venom won't help. You need to make constructive suggestions. And don't bother with 'stop it altogether', they tried that one and from what I saw it went very badly."

The dark mouse nodded and tried to put both hatred and fear away. "That'll take a while to be ready for."

"Don't worry, I don't expect it will happen soon." He said putting a reassuring hand on Shade's shoulder. "And maybe we'll get out of here before it does."

"Only to happen to more." He said softly. "Someone has to find out if they are capable of seeing a solution better than Vinnie."

"We can hope." He said quietly. "I'm very tempted to let Vinnie enjoy Ranshaak's company tonight, and see if the new Malamute wants to play."

"You know I'm not going to object." Shade shook his head. "That mouse gets on my nerves."

"Mine as well, maybe we can just grab Eric and the new guy and have a furpile. Maybe after we've relaxed we'll feel more like solving the Vinnie problem. Might work better actually if you approach the new guy, your the same rank as him and it'll be less intimidating that way."

"Sure," Shade grinned, his mood much better, though it was still a little forced. "Just point him out, and you can go get Erik for the games."

"As soon as you're done eating." Dread said, as he finished his meal.

"I'm done," Shade smiled. "I'll get fat the way they feed us." He chuckled. "Especially with the lack of demands."

"I guess we'll just have to add more nighttime workouts." Dread smirked playfully, as he stood. "This way, I think I saw him going to the weight room."

"Cool," Shade chuckled softly. "But it'll never match up to the demands of my job."

"Well, we could always disappear for eight hours and go hunting." He said softly, as they walked.

"We can?" He looked over curiously. "Even without Gifts, that would be a nice break."

"We can, but they don't know about it. That's why we can only go for eight hours." He said softly.

"Oh," the mouse nodded. "It would be nice, sometime."

"I agree. Just the two of us, and lots of open green space." He rumbled.

That made Shade smile. "That would be incredible." He breathed in excitement.

"It is." Dread said quietly as they entered the weight room. "There he is, on the arm press machine." The Wolf said quietly indicating the buff black and white canine.

"Oh, he is handsome." He grinned and headed over with a smile and relaxed manner that was decidedly sensual. "Hello, there."

"Hello." The canine said as he lowered the weights back. "Somethin' I can do for you?" He asked, a little suspiciously.

"My name's Shade," he extended a friendly hand. "What do you like to be called?"

"Name's Whitefang." He said shaking the hand with a strong, firm grip. "But most just call me Fang."

"Well, Fang, my mate thought the look you gave him was of interest in joining him, or us, for a furpile tonight." Shade explained easily. "And that I might be less intimidating to extend the offer since we're the same rank, if you're interested."

Fang smiled broadly. "Well, that has to be the most honest request for sex I've had today." He chuckled. "So, the big Wolf is yours?"

"More like I'm his, but yes." Shade grinned. "Dread's my Alpha."

"Alpha?" The Malamute looked interested. "So you two are a pack?"

"Yes," Shade nodded. "We're both from pack cultures, it makes things a little more tolerable to have a packmate."

"Nice to meet somebody that understands that." He smiled. "These cats just don't understand."

"Well, they are cats." The mouse chuckled softly. "Though there are a few other canines around, and the Otters have very nice fur."

"I bet they do." He smiled. "But since when did mice run in packs?" He asked curiously.

"Since my line got crossed with Razorwolves." Shade explained with the almost truth that was good enough for most outsiders.

"Oh, so you're a mouse-wolf." He smiled. "I thought I saw predator in you."

"You did." Shade chuckled. "So what did you do before you landed here?"

"Hunter-scout of the GoldenClaw pack of the Shining Mountains Tribe." He said proudly.

"Assassin-Sniper of the Black Sun pack of Mars." Shade replied.

"I think we probably have some tools in common." He smiled. "A Hunter-scout is a promotion from sniper."

"Not for us, but I agree, we likely have a few tools in common." Shade grinned.

"Well, I like this furpile idea. I don't know about you, but sleeping alone just isn't something I'm used to." He said quietly. "But if you wouldn't mind, would you mind going a round or to with me sparring? I need a bit of workout before hand."

"It's way weird to me too, and I'd love too." Shade grinned. "Come on, I'll show you the sparing rings if you haven't found them already."

"That'd be cool. I think the Tiger showed me where they were, but I still kind of pissed off so I wasn't listening too good." He said as he followed after the mouse.

"You and me both." Shade shook his head. "I can't say I've gotten anything other than more angry in the last week, but I can't break out, so I bide my time and try to have as good a life as possible. It's better than the Plutarkian camps, even if those aren't too hard to get out of."

"Sounds like you could have a decent life, if you can put up with the captivity." He said quietly. "That challenge for sex thing is a bit weird, but it's not the first time I've had to use sex for survival."

"Me either, and from what I've seen you can have it pretty good, with that little exception." Shade acknowledged. "Though if you find a senior gladiator like mine to bed with, no one can challenge you. Doesn't count for the arena, but it does for the rest."

"Really, Seldrin didn't mention that possibility." He said with interest. "So tell me about your Alpha, what's he like?"

"I'm sure he didn't mention a lot of things." Shade said as they walked. "Dread is very caring, and reasonable. He doesn't take much flack, but neither do I. Have you seen the white mouse with the attitude problem yet?"

"I saw a white mouse, but I wasn't close enough to tell if he had an attitude problem or not."

"That would be Vinnie," Shade sighed. "If you ever want pointers on how not to handle this place, watch him, especially around the big lizard that likes him, Ranshaak. Dread and I are trying to keep him in one piece, but he's come to the conclusion that accepting Dread's protection and being fucked twice a week is somehow worse than being fucked to a bloody pulp nightly by Ranshaak and company."

Fang shook his head. "Is he brain damaged or something? I'll take getting fucked by an Alpha over getting fucked by that monster any day. Just why are you trying to keep someone that fucked up in one piece? He a relative of yours or something?"

"He's the packmate and Bro my world's Alpha." Shade sighed. "SunWind has seen enough torture in his life, seeing one of only two packmates broken isn't one he needs."

"Damn, you've got you're work cut out for you." Fang shook his head. "'Cause with an attitude like that, broken is what he's gonna end up."

"I know, that we both tend to be more inclined to try and kill each other than get along when we do cross paths isn't helping any." Shade grumbled. "That mouse grates my nerves in a big way."

"Well, his completely anti-survival behavior would grate on anybody who actually had a reason to care if he did or not."

"And he's still like that after Ranshaak has had him too." Shade shook his head in frustration. "Fucked him bloody and unconscious, and still he won't accept Dread's protection."

"Let the lizard have him a few nights in a row." The canine growled softly. "Maybe that'll adjust his attitude."

"Tonight Dread's probably not going to bail him out, let him stay the night with the entire crew." Shade rumbled. "See how he feels about it when he can't move in the morning."

"Serve him right. Turning down an Alpha's protection when you can't protect yourself is foolish."

"Especially when what they're asking for it is so much less than you're going to give up anyway." Shade shook his head. "And this from a mouse who's a certified slut for the female population."

"I still suspected brain damage." He muttered. "Maybe that mask is from a massive blunt trauma to the head."

"No, Plutarkians surgically took his face off as an experiment." Shade said quietly. "When he was fully conscious. The mask is vanity more than anything."

"Sounds like these Plutarkians are relatives of the Hargrim back home." He said quietly. "So he could handle surgery while conscious but can't handle getting fucked twice a week. Am I missing something here?"

"Yeah, whatever his logic is." Shade shook his head. "I wouldn't try too hard, it'll give you a headache."

"Let me guess you've already got one." He said sympathetically.

"Several, though not at the moment. I surrendered it to the unfathomable a while ago."

"You mean like what an Alpha sees in such an inflexible personality."

"I'm chalking that one up to two thirds of their lives spent with just the three of them and their bikes, and surviving the camps together." Shade shook his head. "The Biker Mice weren't seen much, even when they weren't making strikes."

"Commando teams can become very close, that's true." He said quietly. "Though how that white mouse survived a prison camp is quite beyond me."

"That one I know." Shade rubbed his jaw. "And I got decked for pointing out his Alpha was protecting him."

"What he didn't know that?" The Malamute said in amazement. "Of course his Alpha was protecting him, that's part of being Alpha."

"I know that, you know that, Dread knows that. I got decked for pointing out he had a loyal Alpha that did everything he could for him." Shade shook his head. "Though it makes how moody and withdrawn SunWind always was make a little more sense."

"Yeah, with a packmate like that to protect anyone would be."

"Ranshaak is thrilled though." Shade muttered. "Usually his conquests don't keep their fight after the first night."

"Probably either they become willing or they find protection." He shook his head. "And that lizard doesn't look like willing interests him too much."

"No, he doesn't." Shade shuddered slightly as they walked out into the afternoon sunlight. "I've pulled treason out of people doing less damage that he does, and they hadn't even gotten started on the real games."

"Well, that lizard is most seriously hung, and I'm sure lube is a foreign concept." The Malamute said quietly.

"Yes," the dark mouse nodded. "And he doesn't rely on natural endowments to make his conquests scream."

"He has toys?" The canine asked quietly.

"And a half dozen friends to fuck his conquest once it's passed out." Shade nodded.

"That doesn't bode well for keeping that white mouse in one piece." He said quietly.

"We know." Shade said grimly before stepping in to claim an empty ring. "Spar?"

"That was the idea." The Malamute nodded, as he dropped into a fluid stance.

No one who saw the pleasure slave mouse and his escort coming had a doubt his was on the hunt, as strange as that looked. To no doubt either was that he knew what he was looking for as he stalked through the warriors, taking each's measure and discarding the choice just as fast.

One sight caught his eye, a dark gray buff timber wolf male who was leaning against a post as he talked to a dark brown athletic male Otter. The timber wolf wore the traditional outfit of a senior gladiator, while the smaller male appeared to be of the second level. After a moment the wolf drew a familiar feeling of kinship from Are'th, and he smiled with a mixture of emotions not even he could sort out. Are'th murred nervously as he settled to a more neutral posture in deference to the warrior status the Garou.

"Who is he?" He asked Silas.

"His name is DreadClaw." The panther said casually. "A strong and talented warrior, and senior gladiator. He is not popular with the Twins. Though I think it is really the Divine Corina who does not care for him."

"Do you know why?" Are'th paused.

"He turned down being a pleasure slave, and he refuses to take defeated opponents in the arena." The Panther said quietly, though it was clear from his tone that he actually admired the Wolf for his decisions.

The pale mouse cocked his head and nodded to himself before walking up to Dread with both authority and deference in his manner. "DreadClaw?" He asked politely.

"Yes?" The Wolf turned with an easy grace to face the pale mouse. One eyebrow raised as he noted the pleasure slave outfit the mouse was wearing.

"I'm interested in you as a playmate today." Are'th explained simply.

"Is that your interest or theirs?" The Wolf said suspiciously, though he could feel a strange familiarity in the mouse that he had not felt on this world before, save in a more limited fashion with Shade.

"Mine, though Divine Dalia will watch." He explained, the strangeness of the title to him clear.

"Only the one?" The wolf asked his eyebrow went back up curiously.

"That was her intent when I left." He acknowledged the forces well beyond his control.

"What is your name, mouse?" Dread asked as he considered the proposal.

"Are'th, keeper of the River Moon pack of Tellon." He introduced himself.

"Very well, Are'th." Dread smiled. "I will play with you while She watches."

The pale mouse smiled. "Then come," he murred, his tail trailing up the Wolf's leg as he turned.

Dread made a series of finger motions to Erik as he turned to follow the mouse. The young Otter nodded and ran off in search of Shade.

Erik waited as canine and mouse sparred, closely matched by his estimation. They circled and feinted, until the canine made a swift move and put the mouse on his back, with his teeth playfully at the mouse's throat, who went submissively lax under the weight.

"That's two each. One more?" He asked and then noticed the waiting Otter. "Do you know a cute dark brown otter, Shade?"

Shade glanced over. "That's Erik, a regular playmate." He said and got up.

"I think he wants something." The canine smiled, as he stood.

Erik nodded. "Dread wanted me to let you know that he will be delayed in joining us for the furpile." He grinned. "But that we should start when we feel like it, and he will join us as soon as he can."

"After one more round." The mouse grinned. "We can't leave this tied."

Erik nodded, though it was clear something was bothering him.

"What's keeping him?" Shade demanded quietly.

"A mouse pleasure slave came and requested his company." He said softly. "And he agreed, though I don't know why."

"Another mouse?" Shade raided his eyebrow. "They're picking a lot of us up lately."

"It is most unusual. But why would he go with the pleasure slave, he knows he'd have to perform for Them." The Otter said quietly.

"If he's a keeper and not warrior, he may not have considered it much of a choice." Shade explained softly. "They don't fight except in defense of kits. It's their natural."

"I mean, why would Dread go with the pleasure slave?"

"Maybe he saw something worth pursuing in him." Shade shrugged as the circle they'd been using was claimed by another pair. "I'm sure he had a good reason." He put a reassuring hand on Erik's shoulder. "Come on, let's play till he gets back. Take all our minds off it."

"Will Whitefang be joining us?" He asked licking his lips at the buff canine.

"Yap." Shade grinned at the Malamutes as they headed off. "He likes sleeping along as much as I do."

"Ooh, a sleeping furpile as well as a play one?" He grinned hopefully.

"Well, he came for the games, and can stay for the rest." Shade chuckled, glancing at Fang to make sure the canine still agreed with that.

"If you're part of the pile, its even more interesting." Fang rumbled, as he ran his hand down the Otter's firm as, causing the sleek male to rumble excitedly.

"That would be a 'hell yes' in Erik-speak." Shade chuckled. "He likes to play. A lot."

"Don't let him give you the wrong idea." Erik smirked broadly. "Shade likes to play as much as I do. You shoulda heard the puppy he had howling in the showers."

Fang laughed broadly. "I like you two." He said walking between them so he could put arm around both. "Most interesting pack I've ever encountered."

"No kidding." Shade grinned, slipping his tail around Fang's waist. "But it's a good pack, and we have a good Alpha."

"He's certainly a good looking one, but Malamutes have always had a fascination with Wolves." He smiled lustily. "Either of you two tied with him yet?"

"Not yet, things haven't calmed down enough yet." Shade sighed. "I'm hoping soon."

"Yeah, I love that feeling." Erik rumbled, and brushed his tail between the buff canine's powerful legs.

"If he's taking tonight away from dealing with problems, you might consider asking him." Fang suggested.

"I'll see what kind of mood he's in when he returns." Shade smiled slightly. "Though I have a canine to play with in the meantime." He rumbled, his tail playing along Fang's sheath.

"Well, I'll tie you if you like." Fang suggested playfully, as his thick tail brushed against Shade's ass.

"Well, I was thinking a Fang sandwich to start with, and you ass looks better than your knot at the moment." Shade rumbled. "But definitely interested in it later, when I'm willing to be still long enough for it to come out."

"How about a Fang sandwich to start with, followed by a Shade sandwich?" The canine rumbled back. "Your ass looks pretty good too."

"Erik sandwich, then Shade sandwich." He grinned back. "I want to be nice and worn out first.

"I think we'll all be worn out by the time your Alpha gets back." He rumbled excitedly.

"He won't mind." Erik rumbled and caressed the canine's ass. "Especially if we're piled in the big bed so he can just climb in with us."

"Or in a nice pile with the bedding on the floor." Shade chuckled.

"Either works." Fang rumbled.

"I see you found what you were looking for." Dalia purred, as she walked up to Are'th and kissed him tenderly. "Did you enjoy the search?" She asked as Dread looked around the lavishly decorated bedroom, which was easily as big as one of the trainee barracks with a large bathroom off of it. The bed was a full third larger than king size, and looked very comfortable. There was a full-length mirror next to a large closet, as well as several chairs and a carved wooded desk. But what really caught Dread's attention was Dalia herself. While she was voluptuous and attractive, she was hardly overwhelming by her mere presence. In fact, when she kissed Are'th she seemed downright normal.

"Yes, very much so." He rumbled back and nuzzled he affectionately. "I have a request, if he will give his word to behave." Are'th shot a look at Dread.

"I will behave so long as it does not compromise my conscience." The Wolf said with a curious look at Are'th.

"Sufficient." Dalia nodded. "What request would that be, Are'th?" She smiled gently, as she nuzzled him back.

"Allow his shapeshifting as well." The mouse murred eagerly.

She smiled and turned to Dread. "I will allow it, but it will not work in the Arena, or in combat with another gladiator." She said firmly.

"I understand, Divine Dalia." He said, unnerved by the sudden revealing of his Shapeshift ability. Though from the look on her face, she'd know all along.

"Good." She smiled. "Strip down." She commanded gently.

"Yes, Divine One." He said and quickly removed his clothes, standing naked before the cat and mouse.

"Very nice taste." She purred gently to Are'th, as a pulsing electric tingling passed through the warrior, and penetrated him to the core of his being. "Now try."

The Wolf concentrated, and suddenly he was in his eleven-foot tall Crinos form with spiraling horns, and thick red antennae.

"He is incredible," Are'th rumbled deep in his chest as he stepped away from her and let his own form flow to his ten foot six Crinos. "And he is a fine warrior, I think." He added with a lustful and contact hungry look in his eyes as he pulled the wrap from his hips.

Dalia smiled. "He is. I've watched him many times in the Arena."

"Thank you, Divine One." Dread rumbled in his deep Crinos voice before shifting down to the canine form, curious about how restored his shifting was.

"Fully restored, DreadClaw." Dalia smiled. "But I think your playmate likes the bigger form better." She purred.

Dread nodded and returned to Crinos. He turned to face Are'th. "Thank you." He said softly. "I would never have asked."

"You are welcome, Dread." The silky furred Crinos rumbled as he closed the distance between them to run his hand along the jaw of his playmate. "Thank you for being willing to touch me." He said just as softly before closing their jaws in a kiss, his long mouse tail winding around to stroke Dread's balls from behind.

"Why wouldn't I be?" Dark furred Crinos asked curiously as their jaws parted, and he ran his hands down Are'th's body. "You're quite attractive, and it's been too long since I've had the company of another Garou."

The keeper hesitated, taking in Dread's body his hands and tail. "My people consider me demon-tainted." He said softly, and a little afraid. "No Garou or Kinfolk I know of would touch me after a Power has."

"My people abandoned that belief generations ago." He said reassuringly. "After Walks-Hidden-Paths loved a Power and brought back the cure for the Shuddering Plague, despite having been cast out for who he'd loved." He explained, as he caressed the powerful body under his hands that abruptly relaxed with a soul deep shudder of relief.

"Take me, warrior." Are'th said softly, his arms around Dread's neck as he caressed down the thick furred body. "I seek a pack if you will have me."

"I will have you." Dread rumbled, as his hands reached down to caress Are'th's ass. "As will my pack."

That drew a whimper of raw pleasure more intense than any physical release before Are'th claimed Dread's mouth again, his body demanding and willing in the Wolf's hands.

As their mouths parted, Dread turned the smaller male so Dread's chest was against his back with the Wolf's hard cock, rubbing against the mouse's ass as Are'th moaned eagerly and dropped to app fours, his ass high and long whip-like tail wrapping around Dread's waist to pull him closer. Dread reached around to fondle the mouse's cock and balls, as he ran cock down between the globes of his ass.

"Ohh, yes." Are'th moaned, pushing back eagerly, his cock full and thick below him.

Dread growled aggressively and sank his cock into the willing body beneath until his knot brushed the mouse's ass. "Have you ever tied in Crinos?" He rumbled hotly as he began fucking his bottom with a driving rhythm.

"Yes, take me!" He howled in unadulterated desire, his tail slinking down to stroke himself as he shuddered in pleasure both physical and mental. Dread rumbled and sank himself fully into smaller male, thrusting as much as the knot permitted. He continued stroke the mouse's cock, as he roughly nuzzled his neck.

Are'th wall-rattling roar exploded out of him without real warning, his arousal and relief pushing him over the edge long before physical pleasure would have.

It took only a few more thrusts before the combination of physical pleasure and aggressive arousal pushed Dread over the edge with a second room-shaking roar as he pumped his seed into the mouse's willing passageway. He grunted and moaned softly as he continued spraying seed into his new packmate.

"Mmm, that was good." Are'th mumbled as he relaxed down, willingly supporting his new Alpha's weight on his back as his tail curled up and around Dread's waist.

"Yes, it was." Dread rumbled. "I've missed being with another Garou, even if the one Kinfolk in my pack is pretty hot."

"Some things you just can't do to a Kinfolk." Are'th murmured happily in their inability to separate. "What's he like?"

"Powerful, quiet and deadly if angered." He smiled. "But then his name is 'Shade of Death'. He's a mouse like you, only shorter fur, very thick dense fur it really outlines his muscles nice. And he's dark furred, black mostly."

"Sounds wonderful." Are'th grinned. "He's a warrior, then?"

"Very much so. He actually was a member of a Garou pack before he came here." Dread smiled. "He's passionate, but he likes to just snuggle and sleep together also."

"I look forward to meeting him." He rumbled happily. "Do you have another keeper?

"There's Eric, and though he's a warrior now, I think that's just a survival role. His real gift is in architecture and art. He designs buildings that seem like works of art."

"Mmm, he sounds cuddly." Are'th sighed happily.

"Oh he is." Dread rumbled. "He's an Otter with the most dark brown fur. It's so soft and rich as you slide your fingers through it."

"What a delightful way to sleep." Are'th murred.

"Yeah, it is." Dread smiled. "I only recently formed the pack. I'd learned to deal with not having one, until Shade reminded me that I really missed having one."

"How could you stand it?" Are'th looked over his shoulder in wonder. "Being alone ...."

"My pack died before I came here." He said softly. "And I knew I had to stand it. There was something I had to do, something important." He said with the certainty of his visions.

"Oh," he murmured with a kind of awe for that kind of will.

"If you don't mind my asking, are you from one of the Exodus colonies?" He asked quietly.

Are'th nodded. "Tellon was settled by packs from Green Seas, when they became too many."

"Shade is from Mars." He said simply.

The double grunt of the impact with the floor when Are'th's strength fled was testimony to his shock. "So it's time." He said softly. "SunWind is coming."

"He's coming here, to get his Bro." Dread said quietly.


"I wish." Dread said in frustration. "No, another mouse named Vinnie. He's an all white prettyboy, with a very serious attitude problem, and an inability to adjust."

Are'th turned his face to look at Dalia imploringly. "He needs to be protected mistress." His throat was tight was the intensity of the drive. "Please."

"Tell me why, Are'th." She asked gently. "What is this mouse that he warrants my intervention?"

"Touch my antennae, and see." He whispered, lowering his mental defenses to let it flow to the surface.

"Very well, show me." She asked as she shifted to Crinos size and touched her head to his antennae letting the information flow to her.

For the briefest moment she felt his memories and knowledge of his people and the prophecy, then his mind became no more than a conduit for the source of it. In the darkness of space a firebird Phoenix rose to greet her.

"Hello, Phoenix." Dalia said politely, acknowledging the power of the one of original forces.

"Welcome, daughter of power." His voice was full of the destructive energy he wielded to make way for the rebirth his mate carried on her wings. "The energy of the universe is growing stale, the wielders of it complacent. In their complacency they are allowing the Laws to go unenforced, and their feelings prevent them from doing their duties.

"Time is at a crossroad. The balance may be restored by the fires of destruction, or the cold embrace of succession. The Wolf-Mice are the bringers of this fate. They have learned the impossible, in blending of the ultimate predator and the ultimate pray. They alone among those we appeared to understood what was coming, and set to their duty with the strength needed."

"Among the living is one," the female voice of the Phoenix-creator spoke. "The SunWind, Child of The Angel. His will and choices will determine whether my mate or myself with usher in the new balance well after his passing onto new lives."

"How does this white mouse relate, Phoenix?" She asked politely.

"He is dear and mate to The SunWind." The female Phoenix answered.

Dalia nodded. "I understand, Phoenix. I will see to him." She said softly.

A soft look crossed the bird's face for a moment. "I knew I was right to believe in you." Her words echoed in Dalia's mind as she found herself back in her own body with a very rattled and spaced out Are'th looking up at her with more concern on his face for her than himself.

Dalia stepped back and sat down on the bed still a bit shaken. "Amazing." She said softly.

"Dalia?" Are'th asked softly, stilled tied to the Crinos on his back. "Are you all right?"

"A little surprised." She said softly. "I wasn't expecting to contact Phoenix by touching you. Phoenix is one of the few powers older than mother."

The pale, stripped mouse nodded and stretched up a bit to lick her face supportively.

"Thank you, Are'th." She said bending down to claim a tender, loving kiss that was returned with both care and passion.

"I told Phoenix I would look after Vinnie." She said as their lips parted. "So I'm giving him to you Dread. He's yours as if you claimed him, but you don't have to."

"And the Arena, Divine one?" Dread asked quietly.

"He is a skilled warrior, I don't think he'll lose that often." She said softly. "But a little humility could do wonders for him. Besides not even all his loses will take him."

"No Divine one, they won't." He nodded. "Divine one, my rank only permits me three claimed ones, but I really have four."

"Vinnie does not count against your limit." She said simply. "You are looking after him for me." She rumbled before claiming another kiss from Are'th, who moaned into the contact.

"Dread?" Are'th looked over his shoulder at the other Crinos. "Both take her?"

"Divine one?" Dread asked looking at the Crinos-sized shekat.

"Oh yes. That's sounds delicious." She purred. "But I want Are'th in front of me, where I can see his handsome face."

"I like that." He rumbled, testing how much longer he'd be tied to Dread. "A double tie?"

"I like the way you think, handsome." She purred and brushed her hand along the side of Are'th's face.

Dread finally was able to slide himself out of the mouse's entrance. "Both in front, or one in each?"

"One in each." She purred lustily as Are'th rolled to his back.

"Settle yourself," Are'th rumbled, fully hard and panting in anticipation.

Are'th was utterly content to lie between Dread and Dalia, listening to his breath and her purr as they snuggled when the lusts had finally abated.

"Divine One." Dread said softly. "I should return to my pack for the evening."

"Of course, would you be willing to come again?" She asked softly.

"If Are'th is here, certainly."

"I enjoyed this." The mouse murred, nuzzling Dalia as his tail playing along Dread's body.

"As did I." The wolf said, a bit surprised.

"That makes three of us." Dalia smiled, and nuzzled Are'th. "I especially enjoy you, Are'th." She purred fondly as he snuggled close against her warm body.

"Good," the silky-furred mouse murmured against her fur. "Do you sleep?"

"Yes, I do." She smiled, as her hand ran lazy patterns in his silky fur.

"Good," he murmured, snuggling close. "I'm tired."

"Then sleep, Are'th." She said gently, pulling him close. "My handsome Garou." She added with a deep fondness, as she snuggled with him.

"I will return tomorrow. My pack is waiting for me." He said quietly, kissing Are'th on the cheek before he left, and receiving a tail caress in return.

Shade was the first to raise his head when his Alpha walked in the door, greeting him with a tired but very satisfied smiled from the multicolored pile of fur on the big bed.

Dread sat down on the edge of the bed nearest the dark mouse, and claimed a tender, loving kiss from him, as he stripped off his clothes. The dark mouse was staring at him when he looked again, his athletic body reflexively tensed and tail curled in a combat hold.

Shade made several attempts to say something, but his voice was gone to shock and horror.

Dread sighed, and looked away.

"She took you," the mouse's voice was small and desperate.

"Well, I'd say I took her." Dread said quietly. "But either way, I found a solution to our problem with Vinnie." He shook his head. "I realize your people still follow the old ways guided by ignorance and fear, but generations ago mine discovered that loving a Power is no more damning then any other sexual relation."

A low whimper found it's way out of Shade's chest, his tail lowering as his instincts fought with each other. The room was heavy with his fear, hatred, confusion and pain by the time one won out. Slowly he shifted and dropped his head back, submitting to the will and wisdom of his Alpha against things learned after birth.

"I know it is hard to believe, Shade." The Wolf said turning to caress the mouse's cheek with a gentle hand. "But in a very real way, Dalia is simply a very lonely female. And she did give me my shapeshift back." He said softly as his packmate leaned into the contact, still at odds with himself but trust in his pack leader winning out.

"That is good." He swallowed with difficulty. "Did you manage to talk to her?"

"No, but I didn't need to." He said quietly. "The other Garou already had, I could tell. I could sense the beginning of change, though like any major change it will take time." He said putting an arm around the dark mouse. "He'd also convinced her to give Vinnie to me. He's protected as though I'd taken him, but I don't have to."

"That is very good." Shade relaxed a lot, though not nearly to the extent he usually was with his mate. "Other Garou? The other mouse?"

"Yes, his name's Are'th and he's a keeper from one of the Exodus colonies." He said gently.

"You've taken him in too?" Shade looked up, the mixture of emotions on his face making it difficult to tell what he was hoping.

"He's a fellow Garou without a pack, how could I not?" Dread said quietly, nuzzling his packmate. "I barely survived the loneliness by strength of will alone, I wouldn't subject another to it. And if it wasn't for him, we would still be trying to figure out how to protect Vinnie."

"We all own him for that." Shade nodded. "You must be tired." He looked up with a shadow of a smile, obviously trying very hard to accept this, and beginning to succeed.

"Yes." He said, laying on the bed and finding his place in the mound of sex-sated males. "It's been years since I made love in Crinos, it's powerfully intense but it's also draining."

"I bet." Shade said longingly as he crawled over the sleeping ones to press submissively against his Alpha.

Dread pulled the dark mouse close to him, and nuzzled him affectionately. "I know this isn't easy for you." He said softly. "But never doubt that you are special to me, Shade."

He nodded against the thick fur. "It proves what is right, though." He said softly. "That I can still touch you."

"You don't know how glad I am for that." Dread rumbled softly.

"I know I am," Shade shivered slightly. "Beyond the rest, I like you. I just want the sick feeling to go away."

"Give it time, Shade." Dread said softly. "I think if you met her, you'd feel better about it. She's not how I expected a Power to be at all." He said quietly. "Do your people have any stories about Phoenix?" He asked softly.

"The Phoenix are the ones who told the Seers what to do." Shade murmured. "They are the primal forces of destruction and creation; the ultimate balance of order and growth through the chaos of pure destruction. Not popular or liked in my time, but still respected, and very feared."

Dread nodded. "I felt them talk to Dalia." He said quietly. "I don't know what they said, but the force of creation definitely approved of her."

"Oh," the dark mouse murmured in something akin to awe as he began to believe it really was the time of the prophecy's end.

"Yeah, she touched her head to Are'th's antennae so he could show her why it was important to protect Vinnie, and next thing I knew I could feel the Phoenix nearby. It was almost as if they were channeling their presence through him." He said in quiet amazement.

"He's okay, though, right?" He looked up at Dread in instinctive worry for a packmate and kin.

"Yes, quite okay. He decided to sleep with her, I think he wanted to give me time to talk to my pack." Dread said quietly. "His beliefs are much like yours when it comes to Powers, though he seems to have crossed some bridge of belief when it comes to her. Though he accepted my claim that my pack would accept him, I don't think he entirely believes that any Kinfolk or Garou will."

"It is your right to demand we do." Shade nodded. "And I will try to look past her touch for him." He promised softly as he snuggled closer. "It's not easy even with you, though."

"I know, though I have to admit I'm still getting to used to the idea of being Alpha." He smiled and gently stroked the mouse's hair. "Seers were never Alphas in my tribe, it just wasn't their role. They advised and guided the Alphas."

"Same here, but desperate times break the place rolls." Shade nodded. "Even keepers fought on Mars. Though we did our best to keep them in support rolls, it wasn't always possible."

Dread nodded. "In a war of survival roles will get very scrambled." He murmured. "And when you put a pack together without common culture, or even species, things get pretty scrambled too. But strange or not, I like this new pack."

"You're planning on bringing Fang in too, aren't you?" Shade nuzzled his Alpha with hesitant determination to get over his upbringing.

"If he wants that, and if you can accept him." Dread said softly. "He's wolf-kin."

Shade chuckled softly and traced his tail over the sleeping Malamute. "We hit it off very well, and he was quite impressed with what he saw and heard of you. And wondering what kind of brain damage Vinnie has." He snickered softly. "I'm afraid I rant about that mouse a bit."

"He does grate on the nerves a bit. I just hope the two of you can be in the same room without violence, if I'm going to protect him." He said softly.

"I'll figure out a way." Shade said stubbornly. "Sleeping along is an impressive motivator."

"You won't be doing that if I have to knock him out and tie him to the bed." Dread said seriously. "I may have to protect him, but I do not particularly like him."

"Give him a couple days to settle, Alpha." Shade said seriously. "I can sleep with Erik and maybe Karmis' group while Fang keeps you company. We have a large enough pack no one has to sleep alone."

"That's true." He nodded. "Karmis, your first opponent in the Arena?" He asked curiously.

"Yes, he's kinda cool." Shade grinned. "We've had some real fun, even with the rough start. He was pretty startled when I asked if he minded, and that I pleasured him to."

"Not many will ask in the Arena." Dread smiled, and nuzzled the mouse. "And I'm not surprised, I've always found the canines to be more fun, but then I'm a little biased." He chuckled.

"So am I." Shade murred at the affectionate contact. "Warriors are usually more wolf than mouse."

"I can tell, you may look like a mouse, but your body language is much more wolf-like." He said approvingly. "Even Erik has something distinctly canine about him. Though it's more Labrador retriever than wolf." He chuckled softly.

"He's a definite keeper forced warrior." Shade snuggled in. "It'll be good when he can be himself again."

"Yes, it will." he smiled softly. "He may be successful, but he's quite out of place in the Arena."

"It shows," the dark mouse murmured softly. "He doesn't have a warrior's soul, but he is so cuddly."

"Yes, he is. I would've loved having a keeper like him back home." The wolf rumbled. "Not that I didn't love the ones I had, but he's just so warm and cuddly."

"Tie with me, Dread?" Shade asked suddenly, running his hands along the Wolf's flank.

"I'd love to." The Wolf rumbled, running his hands down the mouse's back to caress his ass, and stroke the pucker under his tail.

"Dalia?" Are'th nuzzled the soft feline as the lay awake in the glorious morning light. "I've been thinking about this whole bridge problem."

"New idea, Are'th?" She asked curiously, as she gave him a gentle kiss that was returned before he spoke.

"More of a question," he chuckled sheepishly. "Did I understand correctly that you hold the destruction of the Bridges back on this world?"

"The joint effort of Corina and I, with significant difficult." She said softly.

"Is this world different from the others, in how the Bridges interact with it?" He asked softly.

"Yes, this world is the central nexus of the Bridges." She said quietly. "All the Star Roads connect here. This was the capital and homeworld of those who built the roads."

"So how is it different, beyond the designation?" He murmured gently, several ideas already racing through his mind.

"Because of the presence of multiple bridges so close together, there's no way to generate enough of the protective resonances that we use to protect other worlds." She sighed. "We have to drain the energies off by force of will and store them in massive batteries that provide power to much of this world."

"Any idea how it used to be one?" He asked curiously, scrapping a couple ideas.

"I don't think the builders had to." She said thoughtfully. "I think that the problem is that the system has deteriorated without maintenance for millennia." She said quietly. "We did try overdrawing the system once, and discovered we couldn't draw enough power out of the system to seriously impact it."

"Have you asked for help from other Powers?" He continued. "Or are you completely barred from trying?"

"We can't reach beyond the boundary of this system." She said quietly. "Mother wanted to be sure we didn't cause her anymore embarrassment."

"But others can come in, or is that just because of what Phoenix is?" He caressed her body gently.

"I don't know." She said, snuggling closer to him. "Phoenix is older and more powerful than mother. There are few Powers like that, that pay attention to this plane of existence any more."

Are'th lay still for a long time, chasing a half idea around until it solidified enough to be asked. "Have you tried removing animals or other living things to create this resonance?"

"Yes, they don't. Sentience seems to be required to create the resonance." She said softly, stroking his hair gently.

"That would be valuable to a lot of societies." He nuzzled her. "Just how many people have to be off a planet at any given time?" He asked curiously, plotting more ideas.

"Not many really. We don't remove more than a half dozen from any world in a given year. Less with some worlds." She said easily.

"Do they have been born there?" He asked, liking the odds of pulling this off.

"No, not at all." She shook her head. "They just have to be on the world."

"Perfect for a travel agency." He grinned. "A cruse liner to the world, bridge to come out. At least it would work for some worlds, like mine."

"It's an interesting idea, Are'th." Dalia smiled. "But anything that lets us reduce the number of unwilling removals would be good. You have no idea how depressing it is knowing you're responsible for the uprooting of people who've done nothing to deserve it."

"No, and I'm glad for it." He said softly, nuzzling her supportively. "You could even just pay people to travel from world to world by means other than the Bridges, to be taken out by them. I know a lot of people who would love a job like that, and a lot of young adults who would be very willing as a chance to see some of the universe without having to pay a fortune for it. If you take more than you need, does the resonance build up, create a reserve?"

"Only in that you have room to send people back. The resonance dissipates at a fixed rate so there's no way to store it for future use." She smiled. "It is a promising idea. Almost as good as Corina's recruiting agency." She chuckled lightly.

"What do they do?" He asked curiously.

"On worlds that allow it they actually advertise for people to take ten year assignments as pleasure slaves or gladiators. Everything explained upfront. I forget what she's offering in terms of pay, but it's half the ten-years when they sign up, and half when they finish the ten-years."

"Why so limited in scope?" He asked curiously.

She chuckled lightly. "Cause Corina likes looking at the photos of those applying for jobs like those. And because we were still kind of stuck in the old way of looking at things."

"Well, if you're game to open it up to just a paid relocation, especially if you'll offer schooling in anything in the deal, you'll be overrun on most worlds. Like a lot of militaries pay their officer's way through school in exchange for a set number of years service in the field. And they don't have to come here either. Just not back t their homeworld for the years."

"It would certainly be less destructive than our current approach." She nodded. "It will require time to set up the necessary infrastructure here, and a retraining of some of the Agents."

"Everything takes time." He murmured, kissing her soundly. "It might be worth quietly offering training and settlement to a world of their choice to those who have adapted the worst to slavery. I've gotten enough of a feel that some enjoy their lives, and a fair number of gladiators and pleasure slaves would stay even freed. You might find a few more real prizes if they're asked what they are good at." He smiled. "I would have said embarking and brainstorming. Who knows what skills are running around unexploited because the right question wasn't asked?"

"Who knows, indeed?" She smiled, pulling him into a passionate kiss and embrace that was eagerly returned with the energy of intellectual excitement and relief. "I knew there was something special about you when I watched you with Corina. But I had no idea how special."

"And I had no idea how good it would be to follow you into that pool." He murmured, kissing down her neck in the same honest, lustful passion as the first time he'd taken her.

"You let me forget that I'm anything but a simple shekat." She purred, relaxing lustfully into his kisses.

"Good." He smiled, working down to her breasts. "Do you think your sister would find it refreshing to be loved as well?"

"She might, I don't know." Dalia said honestly. "Her attempt to please mother, left a darkness in her I don't fully understand. But I do know she likes you."

"Perhaps you can suggest a night with the three of us, with no orders?" He suggested hopefully. "It might do her good, to be pleasured only by the desire of the one she is with."

"I will suggest it to her." She said quietly. "I know I like being with you without orders." She smiled and kissed him soundly.

"As do I." He smiled and kissed his way down her body again. "I enjoy making you feel good, the look on your face, in your voice, when mate."

"And you do make me feel good." She said softly. "On a level deeper than just physical pleasure. I only hope I make you feel as good." She said softly, massaging his ears and running one finger along his antennae.

"You feel like a packmate-mate." He murred with a pleasured shudder and slipped between her legs to nuzzle the moist fur there.

The deep purr was mostly in response to emotional pleasure though she shuddered a little at his touch. "Thank you, Are'th. That means a lot to me."

"Just a minute, Dread." Master Seldrin's deep voice called out as the Wolf headed for morning exercises.

"Yes, Master Seldrin?" The Wolf said politely.

"I got the message that the White Mouse is yours now. You better go pick him up."

"Pick him up, sir? Isn't he at morning exercise?"

"No, Ranshaak got in one last round before the announcement went into effect. He's outside Ranshaak's quarters. You take the day off and look after him." The Master said firmly.

"Yes, Master." Dread nodded and changed course.

Outside the reptile's quarters, he found Vinnie lying in an unconscious heap. From the smell, Dread could tell it hadn't been just the reptile. There was little of the mouse that wasn't covered in cum, dried and drying. He gently took off the clips that had been overlooked on the mouse's ears, nipples and antennae. The Wolf then gently picked up the mouse and carried him back to his quarters. Over the course of the next hour, he gently bathed the mouse, and then applied ointments to ease the pain and help the scrapes heal. He then lay the mouse in one of the four separate beds and sat quietly waiting for him to regain consciousness, occasionally running a cool cloth across the mouse's forehead.

Vinnie woke to the feeling of something cool and soft brushing his forehead, a lot of soreness and pain though less than expected, and the scent of Dread nearby.

"You just don't give up do you?" Vinnie rasped, wincing as he heard the hoarse and cracked sound of his voice.

"No, I keep patching you up when Ranshaak fucks you within an inch of your life." Dread shook his head, and picked a glass up. "Same as before, to get the taste out of your mouth." He said assisting the mouse's trembling hands in holding it.

"Thanks," the mouse murmured softly before lifting the glass to his lips, sipping it slowly.

"You're welcome." Dread said gently. "If you're hungry, I'll get something sent up. You're on injury restriction today, Master Seldrin's orders." He said simply.

Vinnie nodded, accepting the restriction quietly. "I'll eat a little later, if that's okay."

"That'll be fine." Dread nodded. "You don't have to worry about that happening again, 'cause it won't."

Vinnie smirked as he set the glass aside, closing his eye and leaning back into the bed. "Yeah, right. They're not gonna give me up, they made that pretty clear."

"Isn't their choice to make." Dread said quietly. "Outside of the occasional Arena loss, nobody touches you unless you want them too. That includes me." The Wolf said simply.

Vinnie actually laughed, though it was a fairly weak sound. "Oh yeah, right."

"Look." Dread growled lightly in frustration. "Frankly, I'm kind of tired of trying to help you and getting it thrown back at me. But because Shade asked me too, I made one last effort with the help of another Martian mouse and got the Twins to grant a favor. Essentially, you're mine but I don't have to touch you to keep it that way. Believe it or not, but you'll see a difference when you're recovered enough to get around."

Vinnie sighed and managed to look a little embarrassed. "I do appreciate the things you done for me Dread."

"You're welcome." Dread said, relaxing. "I know this hasn't been easy for you. And maybe I came on a little strong trying to get you to let me protect you. But that's past now."

"You're serious aren't you? The Twins made some sort of proclamation."

"Nothing so noisy, but everyone knows that you're hands off for sex unless you agree." Dread nodded.

Vinnie let out a long breath and relaxed visibly, the wolf only now getting some insight into the degree of tension the mouse had been carrying around since before they even met.

"A smaller benefit of being 'mine', is that you get to stay here, instead of in the barracks. Which means you can get a small measure of privacy when you want it." Dread explained quietly.

"That'd be nice," Vinnie agreed weakly, "The barracks suck."

"Yes, they do." Dread agreed easily. "There's only one thing here that may be a little difficult for you."

"Shade," Vinnie said flatly.

"Yes." Dread said simply. "I expect you two to be civil to each other. I know you don't like each other, but I expect to be able leave you alone without a fight breaking out."

"If he stays out of my way there won't be a problem. I don't want anything to do with him."

"I don't think that'll be a problem. He feels much the same way."

"Suits me fine."

"Good." Dread said. "There are two others who will be staying here as well, but you shouldn't have any problem with them."

"Got yourself quite the little clubhouse, huh?"

"Wolves are always more comfortable in packs." Dread shrugged. "Even if the closest thing to another wolf, is a Malamute canine."

Vinnie nodded, his eyes closing. "I think I'm gonna sleep a little while. It wasn't a restful night."

"I imagine not." Dread said sympathetically, as he picked up his book and sat down on the large bed. "Just let me know when you want something to eat."

There was a quiet knock on the door, and then a dark brown male Otter and a black and white buff Malamute walked in.

"Hello, Fang. Hello, Erik." The Wolf smiled, and walked over to hug them in greeting, which was warmly returned.

"Erik ,Fang, this is Vinnie, who's also mine." He said simply. "Vinnie the Malamute is Fang, and the Otter is Erik."

"Pleased to meet you, Vinnie." Erik said with a friendly smile, and an extended hand.

"Hey," Vinnie replied non committally, sitting up in the bed and swinging his legs over the side. "I guess you guys have come to keep Dread company, huh? He's been hovering around making sure I don't overdo it and hurt myself."

"He's our Alpha." Fang said simply. "And he's very dedicated in looking after those he's responsible for."

"Not to mention anyone else he happens to take a liking to," Vinnie said with a smirk.

"That isn't a really big group, Vinnie." The Otter grinned. "But he does have a thing for mice, it seems."

Vinnie shrugged. "That's his business, as long as he's smart enough not to make it mine. I'm sure Shade's happy enough to keep him entertained."

"Oh come on Vinnie." Dread chuckled. "I think I made it pretty clear that I wasn't going to make it your business. There's two other mice besides you anyway."

"Two?" Vinnie turned sharply to look at the wolf. "Who's the other one?"

"His name's Are'th, and he's a pleasure slave." Dread said easily. "He's the one who really managed to convince the Twins to change the rules for you."

"And here I thought you were taking all the credit," the mouse smirked.

"Not hardly." Dread chuckled. "But you were kind of out of it the last time I explained it."

"Yeah, I guess I was."

"You had good reason to be." Dread said easily.

"So where's Shade?" Fang asked Dread curiously.

"Still out, probably found a playmate." He smiled. "So what are you two up to till lights-out?"

"We're headed over to the pool." Erik smiled. "I'm gonna teach fang how to do something other than dog paddle."

"I'm gonna 'dog paddle' you, imp." Fang smirked at the Otter.

"Promises, promises." Erik snickered. "Come on. See you at lights out, Dread. See you later, Vinnie."

"Yeah, later guys." Fang smiled as he left.

"They're excitable," Vinnie smirked as the pair left.

"Yes, they are." Dread smiled. "Quite playful."

"Which you do doubt enjoy."

"Yes, I do." Dread smiled. "I'm not hiding the fact that I enjoy being with a willing male partner."

"I think we've had this discussion," Vinnie chuckled softly.

"I was only talking about myself, Vinnie." Dread chuckled. "And that I have fun with the others. I know you're not interested."

"Just so we're clear."

"We were clear days ago." The Wolf grinned. "You don't leave any room for misunderstandings on that score."

"Given the last couple of days are you surprised?"

"No, though you were that clear when I first met you."

"There's no problem then," Vinnie shrugged. "You keep your hands to yourself, Shade steers clear in general, everyone gets along fine."

"As much as you worry about my hands, you'd think you were irresistible or something." Dread chuckled in honest amusement.

"I've got my share of irresistible," Vinnie said defensively.

"Yes, I noticed that." Dread nodded. "Not that it affects me, mind you."

"Better make sure it doesn't," Vinnie said, though he was smiling again now.

"That won't be hard." Dread chuckled. "I've got my hands full as it is."

"Some people get all the luck."

Dread looked at Vinnie with a raised eyebrow, not sure what the mouse had meant by that remark.

"C'mon, it's not like there's even any female fighters around here."

Dread chuckled. "Not in here. But in the stands during the Arena fights. Try being a bit flashy, during your next fight. One of them might decide to ask for your company."

"That really happens?"

"Yes, it does. And you don't have to agree, it's your choice." Dread said casually.

"Now that's a hell of a lot better," Vinnie said, brightening slightly.

"Just look out, some of those female warriors are pretty lusty types." He grinned. "And some of them like to play interesting bedroom games."

"I'll have to keep an eye out," Vinnie smirked.

"There are a couple hints." Dread said conversationally. "If she's wearing a black leather collar she likes to play bondage games in the sub role. If the collar is steel links, she's a dom. If it's leather with chrome studs, she likes both."

"They're obsessed with collars around here, did you notice that?"

"Yeah, it's hard to miss." Dread chuckled fingering his own. "That and earrings."

"Well I'm not too much for earrings myself."

"That's okay, slaves can't wear them anyway." Dread shrugged. "They're a mark of status and rank."

"Like the collars and clothes," Vinnie rolled his eyes. "I've said it before, I'm saying it again. Everyone here is nuts."

"Nah, outside of slaves, the collars really aren't an indication of anything other than certain hobbies." He chuckled. "Or being married, if they're precious metals and jewels." He then shook his head. "But I think you're right, about everyone being nuts. But it's a harmless nuts with most of them."

"Yeah right, that's how places like this get built."

"The powers that be decided it would be, and the rest of the folks didn't get a say in it." Dread shrugged.

"You mean those Twins? They're the most screwed up of them all."

"That was kind of what I meant." He said quietly. "Though they just happen to be the top prisoners."

Vinnie rolled his eyes. "Yeah right. Do you make excuses for everyone?"

"I only state the truth." He said quietly. "They can no more leave this world than you or I."

"They're hardly in the same position as we are."

"Nope, they're the prisoners in charge." He chuckled ironically. "For all their power, all they can do is bully around us mortals. And all that power doesn't get them the one thing they both want, which is love."

"Spare me the sob story," Vinnie said, shaking his head. "They're doing pretty well."

"Relatively speaking that's true." Dread nodded. "The blue-eyed one is a good lay though." He smirked.

"I'm not gonna be lining up to find out for myself," Vinnie muttered, shaking his head.

"You'd probably enjoy one of the female warriors from the stands more anyway." Dread smiled. "Or maybe get yourself a lusty set of twins."

"We'll see what happens," Vinnie grinned.

"I'm sure we will." Dread grinned. "I bet you're a real show-off, when you want to be."

"Showing off has nothing to do with it," the white mouse retorted, grinning. "But when you're this good certain stuff just happens."

"I'll bet it does." Dread chuckled, honestly amused. "Despite the rough start, I think I like you Vinnie. In a strictly, hands-off buddy sort of way, of course." He smirked.

Vinnie laughed, leaning back against the wall. "You're not so bad yourself."

"But I can be." He smirked toothily. "Who do you think was the model for the 'big bad wolf'?"

"I bet wolves have been using that line since about the dawn of time."

"Only after others came up with it." He chuckled. "Our predatory reputation gets drastically blown out of proportion."

"Perhaps," Vinnie nodded. "Like I said, you don't seem so bad to me."

"Thank you." Dread smiled. "You've got another Arena match day after tomorrow. When you're back on your feet tomorrow, I can give you some pointers about your opponent, if you'd like."

"Thanks," Vinnie said with a smile. "That'd be great. I can use all the help I can get."

"My pleasure. Garzus gets on my nerves." He chuckled. "Pretentious Bulldog."

"Hi, Dread." Shade greeted his Alpha warmly as he walked in without preamble, ignoring Vinnie's presence entirely. The dark mouse's appearance quenched whatever it was that Vinnie was about to say, leaving him silent as his eyes followed the other mouse across the room to pick up a book from the shelf with a great deal more care than most would give the simple hard-bound volume.

"Hello, Shade." Dread smiled warmly at the dark mouse, patting the bed next to him invitingly and his lap was promptly being used as a reading pillow, though Shade still could only deal with pictures for the most part.

"How was your day?" The Wolf asked casually, while stroking the dark mouse's hair to obvious approval.

"Pretty good." Shade wound his tail around Dread's waist. "You know that tail-snap Droven keeps putting me down with? I finally got it figured out." He grinned. "Still got dropped, but it took him nine rounds this time."

"That's very good." Dread smiled, and kissed his mate playfully. "Droven is an experienced warrior, but you're doing quite well to have figured out the tail-snap so quickly."

"Surprised him good too." Shade smirked, obviously pleased with himself. "Feels good to actually have some time to work on new moves that isn't in the middle of a firefight."

"Every warrior can use time for learning when introspection is a permissible luxury." Dread said quietly. "Wars can be great teachers, but rarely forgiving ones."

"No, forgiving She is not." Shade said softly and nuzzled closer to the Wolf's groin.

"However, war does not come here, so it's not a problem." Dread rumbled, as he ran his hand down the mouse's back.

"Just insanity." Shade rumbled and nuzzled a little more insistently at Dread's groin through the cloth of his shorts. "You're terribly overdressed for bed."

"Not before you got here I wasn't." He rumbled back, as he slipped off his shorts and was almost immediately pounced on by the smaller male, who licked one large ball into his mouth to get what he wanted up. Dread rumbled, and it wasn't long before he was moaning as his cock emerged from his swelling sheath to full hardness under Shade's attentions.

"Tie?" He whispered hotly in Dread's ear, glancing for Vinnie.

"It's okay, he just stumbled out the door." Dread said easily

Shade licked his lips and claimed a kiss from where he was sprawled on top of Dread's chest. "We have time to take."

"Yes, we do." Dread rumbled as he returned the kiss with a fierce passion that was met and equaled by the smaller male on top of him.

On The Road Again 1: Change of Scenery

NC-17 for M/M, M/F
Het Level is HighHet Smut Level is Medium
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is High
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

327 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written September 1, 2002 by Rauhnee Ranshanka, Todd McCall, Vorex

Setting: Biker Mice from Mars, Haloeth, Mystera

Primary Races: Feline, God, Loup Maru, Martian Mice, Reptile, Wolf

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Fantasy, Rape (M on M), Romance, Violence (Sexual)

Pairings: Vinnie/Males, others

Notes: Vinnie here is solidly het, and destined to not be allowed the choice.

Blurb: Vinnie is kidnapped into a violent sexual slavery that he does not handle well at all. No matter what help he is given, it is not a pleasant road for him.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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