On The Road Again 4:
The Strangest Pack

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

The sated furpile on the huge main bed was just beginning to settle into sleep after a rare day off together, Tam's knot ready to slip out of Saytee when she found the inclination to move. Tam abruptly raised his head and growled a grumble before slipping into fox form and disappearing into the blankets and fur.

"Hay," Saytee complained in surprise before they all heard a series of low taps on the window in an obvious pattern.

Modo listened carefully as the pattern repeated. "No way." He said with disbelieving smile, as he got up and went cautiously to the window. He only knew one group that used that code, assuming it was what he thought it was.

Grinning at him with his tail tip against the window base was a tawny mouse, and behind him an even bigger tawny feline, both dressed for the night mission.

Modo's face broke into an ear to ear grin, as he threw open the window and wrapped his arms around the tawny mouse. "Throttle, Bro!" He shouted happily, pulling the mouse as close as the window and his injured shoulder allowed.

"Ready to get the hell out of here and go fetch pretty boy?" Throttle grinned and hugged him back before swinging in the window easily. "And who did you find?"

"Damn right I'm ready to get out of here." He said sincerely, as he saw the fox reappear between Thildon and Saytee. "This is my pack." He smiled. "The young warrior is Thildon. The young female is Saytee, and the fox is Tam. And in case the three of you haven't guessed." He grinned broadly. "This is my Bro, Throttle. And the Puma keeping watch outside is Lance."

"Saytee ... from FireRidge Valley?" Throttle looked startled. "There were survivors?"

"Yes, sir." The teenager nodded as she hurriedly dressed. "We moved off world."

"Told you I'd bring one of 'em back, Modo." Lance grinned from the window. "What the hell happened to your arm?"

"Yeah, you did." Modo smiled fondly. "My body rejected the more advanced replacement they gave me, so they had to put my old one back." He said softly.

"Hey, don't sweat it." Lance said reassuringly. "I was just worried these nutcases had been experimenting on you."

"Not physically, they're more into psyche experiments." He grumbled.

That drew a deeply hateful rumble from the rusty teenager who was helping gather up the few things they intended to bring. Next to him Saytee reached out calmingly with her tail.

"Pull your shorts on Bro, and we'll be gone." Thildon handed Modo his jean shorts with a fair amount of deference, the she-mouse and Fox behind him nodding with their few things in their hands.

Modo grinned, and pulled on his shorts. "Let's blow this joint before they notice." He grinned. "Lead the way, Bro. You know where you parked."

"Actually, I was driving." Lance chuckled.

"He thinks he's in charge," Throttle smirked with a grin as the four mice and fox left by the front door.

"Being captain of a ship does that sometimes." Modo chuckled as they walked through the forest surrounding the farm building.

"I missed you, Modo." Lance said as he came up next to the gray mouse and hugged him.

"Missed you too, Lance." Modo smiled, and looped his tail around the Puma's waist, before a sudden grimace crossed his face.

"Hey, what's wrong, Modo?" Lance asked as he stopped to look at the dark mouse.

"Shoulder's still not great." He said quietly. "Between Karbunkle's incompetence and the rejection, it hurts, sometimes worse than others."

"Nareena will be able to fix that, until a real fix is worked up." Throttle said with soft assurance. "She's putting my eyes back together, once we're in a safe-zone."

"Real fix, Bro?" Modo asked quietly, through the pain.

"As real as I want." He nodded as Thildon touched Modo's inner shoulder, trying to block a little more pain. "She knows how to grow them."

Modo looked seriously surprised. "Wow." He said as he felt the pain recede under Thildon's touch. "You know if she can pull that off for an arm?"

"I didn't ask." Throttle admitted quietly as they walked. "Lance thought you'd gotten a real arm somewhere. But she can do a hell of a lot better than what you've got."

"I can probably do better than that." Lance muttered looking at the squarish chrome arm. "I don't know who the bozo was who gave you this, but he sure as hell cut corners." He said before kissing Modo on the cheek. "But it doesn't change anything, so don't think it does."

"Thanks, Lance." Modo smiled softly. "And he cut a lot more than corners. Sounds like this Nareena might be able to put prettyboy's face right too."

"Probably the easiest fix of the lot of us." Throttle smiled slightly. "If you'll stay still through recovery, she's got two new eyes for you almost ready. I knew you still needed them."

"That makes two offers I got for new eyes." He said quietly. "And a new arm." He smiled. "I'll wanna see what color she made my eyes."

"Dark brown." Throttle supplied. "I picked it out to match your natural color."

"We gotta a lot to talk about, Bro. When we get back to the ship." He said quietly.

"Bro, you have no idea." Throttle sighed and shook his head.

"We're almost there." Lance said quietly, as a doorway appeared in the shuttle's holographic cloak.

"Nice." Saytee murred.

"Perk of being Naval Reserve." He smirked, as he opened the shuttle's hatch. He waited for everyone to board before following them and securing the hatch behind him. "We should be home in about two hours." He said, as he walked through the passenger compartment to the cockpit. "Everyone strap in, this is going to be a relatively high-G lift-off."

"He's not kidding either." Throttle said as he helped Saytee while Thildon tried to figure the straps out.

"Like this, Bro." Modo said gently, as he showed the young warrior how to work the straps. He hadn't seen this particular model, but they were pretty similar to others he'd seen.

"So who are the new guys?" Throttle asked as he glanced over everyone to make sure they were in properly strapped in before settling himself.

"Tam's a shapeshifting Fox who's been keeping me company since Lance went to find you. Probably kept me sane too, until Thildon showed up." He said fondly. "Thildon's a Garou from one of the Exodus colonies, and he's my mate." He smiled. "And Saytee's Kinfolk from FireRidge Valley, now located on another world. Well, truthfully they're all kind of my mates."

"You are gathering the strangest pack, Bro." Throttle shook his head, though the look he shot Saytee was more of concern than anything. "Good to see kin from the colonies, Thildon."

The rusty mouse nodded, more than a little stunned by everything. "You're SunWind, aren't you?" He blurted out.

"A long time ago," Throttle nodded. "Haven't gone by that in years."

Modo looked a little surprised. "Wow, so you're really Death Angel's kit." He said softly. "No wonder you're such a good leader." He said with honest admiration.

"I was raised to be one, Bro." Throttle said softly. "It's not as much talent as you might think."

"Maybe not, but you still come by it honestly." He smiled. "Well, that makes two of the Biker Mice who are Kinfolk."

"And one who at least used to have issues with them." Throttle sighed deeply and relaxed into the high G launch.

"Oh, Vinnie did?" Modo asked quietly as the forces settled out.

"Last time I saw him." The tawny mouse nodded. "Not skullbuster insane, but not friendly."

"That's a relief." Modo said quietly, with a very relieved edge to it.

"Yeah, I wondered about that for a while, but I think he'll be okay." Throttle murmured. "At least once he gets used to it. I kind of pegged him for unfriendly by ignorance and upbringing, rather than by experience."

"I hope so." Modo said sincerely. "I miss the cocky braggart." He grinned.

Throttle chuckled. "He'll be so much worse with his face back."

"Yeah, but it'll be good to see. Nareena will probably have one grateful white mouse on her hands." He grinned.

"No kidding." Throttle smirked. "Though I think that will be at least three grateful mice total."

"So you still trying to get his attention?" Modo asked softly. "He never did notice."

"I do'know," He murmured. "A lot's changed since I saw him, or you."

"Yeah, that it has." Modo smiled looking at his pack. "How are you and Lance getting along?" He asked curiously.

"Too well for my conscience, most of the time." Throttle sighed. "Rimfire's with us, with a boyfriend, and a Garou bitch trying for mate status rather hard." He shook his head. "It's been a wild trip."

"Too well for your conscience?" Modo asked concerned. "What's wrong?" He asked worried about both mate and Bro.

"I've got a lifemate of four years right now." He said softly. "It's going to hurt him bad enough when we part. That I'm going with someone that's very good at making me forget how long it's been isn't going to make telling him any easier."

"I'm sorry, Bro." Modo said softly. "But I'm glad the two of you are getting along." He sad sincerely. "How's Rimfire doing?"

"Pretty good, all things considered." Throttle chuckled softly. "His First Change was last week, and he's still getting the hang of it. He can't wait to see you, and he's still miffed at me. Did he mentioned anything about me before we got separated?"

"First Change? Then he's Garou?" Modo asked curiously.

"Yes, startled the hell out of him to." The tawny mouse grinned lustfully at the memory. "First time I'd heard of it happening with sex, though. It was quite a sight with the two of them."

"So which form were they in?" Modo asked curiously, realizing just how little he knew.

"First Chance is to Crinos." Throttle grinned. "He stands over ten foot tall, she's a bit shorter."

"Wow, that must have been something to see." Modo rumbled. "And no, Rimfire never said anything about you to me. Is there a problem?" He asked curiously.

"Not exactly," the tawny mouse hedged. "He says he's as hung up on me, as I was on Vinnie. And has been since he was fifteen."

"I kind of thought there was something." Modo admitted. "But he never talked to me about it. I figured he'd talk to you when he felt ready."

"You're fine with it though?" Throttle asked quietly.

"Bro, if he wants you, yeah I'm fine with it." He smiled. "Look at the pack I've got. I'm hardly gonna object when my nineteen year old nephew hits on you." He grinned. "Hell, the thought crossed my mind a few times, but you seemed pretty fixed on Vinnie." He murmured fondly.

Throttle looked ready to jump put of his skin for a moment. 'Yeah, I kinda was."

"What? You surprised I thought about you that way?" Modo asked quietly.

"Yes," Throttle chuckled weakly. "And that I didn't notice."

"I wasn't that obvious about, Bro." Modo said quietly. "But you're one hot mouse, why wouldn't I notice?" He smiled.

"You had a boyfriend." Throttle protested weakly.

"You knew about Jeremy." Modo said surprised. "Didn't think anybody did. But didn't mean I was any less attracted to you. Jeremy knew I was interested in you, he was cool with it."

Throttle just leaned back in the chair. "I guess we're all blind sometimes." He murmured softly.

"Yeah, basically." Modo nodded. "Guess I shoulda just said something."

"You have now." The tawny mouse replied, relaxing. "Last time I was in a pack this big I was ten." He murmured.

"This is the first time I've been in anything I called a pack." Modo said softly. "A whole culture I turn out to belong to, that I don't know much about."

"Unfortunately." Throttle nodded. "Some kinfolk families and settlements kept it a secret. You probably weren't old enough to be told when they hit." He sighed softly. "But look back, you were raised kinfolk, you sought out a pack, even if you didn't know why."

"Yeah, guess I did." He smiled. "Though my first pack would've been the Sharks." He said quietly.

"Akratha." Throttle murred quietly with a smile. "I remember a couple Sharks I hunted with once."

"Akratha?" Modo asked curiously as Thildon and Saytee perked up curiously.

"A warrior kinfolk pack." Throttle explained quietly. "As respected as any Garou pack. I shouldn't be surprised you managed to run with one."

"I joined them when I was fifteen." He said proud of the accomplishment.

Throttle smiled softly. "And now you are alpha in a pack with two Garou."

"Senior warrior I think." Modo chuckled softly. "But next to you and Vinnie I couldn't ask for a better pack."

"Now, yes," Throttle agreed with a smile. "But not before tonight. We've got four Garou now."

"So I guess we make one pack out of two?" Modo said not sure how the dynamics worked.

"Something like that." Throttle nodded. "Since we never actually disbanded, it's more along the lines of bringing new members in, unless you plan on challenging my leadership."

"Bro, I happen to like your leadership." Modo smiled. "As long as you're willing take these three."

"Not a problem." Throttle took the younger ones in with a more critical eye. "It'll be good to have a couple keepers in the pack."

"Yeah, we were kind of warrior heavy." Modo chuckled softly.

"Still are, Bro." He chuckled. "Three Garou, two kinfolk, two outlanders, four cyberbikes, and only two keepers. And that's before we find out what Vinnie's bringing back."

"You found my bike?" Modo's eyes lit up.

"She's why I was sure you were dead." He said softly, reaching down to pull the chain from under his shirt. "Took the better part of a year to patch her up again, but Lil Darln's running fine, and trying to date Lance's bike."

"Oh, man. That's just too much. I was sure I'd lost her for good." He said quietly, sincerely relieved. "You bring the bikes along?"

"Yap, though between the four Cybers on board, it's been interesting on that band." Throttle chuckled. "Three bikes and a ship."

"Yeah, Lance told me about the ship." He chuckled. "Vinnie's bike ever turn up?"

"No, but we have a beep on him." Throttle said softly. "He may still have his bike."

"Tracker's got him?" Modo asked softly.

"I think that's who Lance said." Throttle nodded. "My signal was just a lot stronger, so he came after me."

"I'm not surprised, and I'm glad he got you first."

"Me too Bro." Throttle said softly. "Me too."

"Now we go find Vinnie, and pull him out of whatever trouble he's gotten into." Modo grinned. "And you know he has, he always does."

"If that smart-mouthed mouse hasn't gotten himself into trouble, I'm going to be worried." Throttle smirked. "Cause something would have to be wrong with the universe."

"Or he landed somewhere by himself."

"Nah, he'd still find a way." Throttle chuckled. "This is Vinnie we talking about here."

"True, he'd find someone to smart-mouth." Modo snickered.

"Or hit on that didn't appreciate it." He smirked. "He's find some way to get hug by the tail."

"Or turn down someone bigger than he is, rudely."

Throttle motioned as if rolling his eyes. "Or that. Mouse has the damndest luck creating trouble from nothing."

"And Gods forbid there's actually something to create trouble from." Modo shook his head.

"Like there always is." Throttle chuckled softly.

"Vinnie will find it." He shook his head. "But I think we got enough of a pack to pull him out of whatever he's found this time. We always managed when it was just the two of us for pull his tail out."

"And a much smaller universe of potential trouble." Throttle chuckled. "Has Lance told you much about MegaKat City?"

"No, can't say he did." Modo said easily. "But then he's been a lot of places, and we were only together for three months."

"It's where I've been for five years." Throttle explained easily. "And where we're going to resupply and figure out where Vin is. It's a very strange place."

"Bro, as long as we're a pack, we can handle anyplace, no matter how weird." Modo said confidently.

"I have no doubt of that, though it will raise your bar for what constitutes 'strange shit' in a hurry." He chuckled. "Their Deputy Mayor is the obsession of time wizard who died a long time ago."

"That is 'weird shit' Bro." Modo shook his head. "With stuff like that, why's the place still standing?"

"I have no idea." He shrugged. "I'm putting my vote in with 'shear stubbornness' and a lot of practice rebuilding."

Modo chuckled. "Shear stubbornness will accomplish a lot. Though after a while I'd think a siege mentality would set in."

"They hit that phase long before I showed up." Throttle admitted quietly. "They've been at this longer than I've been alive, though it's accelerating."

"Maybe we could give 'em a bit of a hand, Biker Mice style." Modo grinned predatorily, and then winced a bit as the pain in his shoulder spiked.

"We'll be at the ship soon, Bro." Throttle said softly as Thildon unstrapped himself to try to help ease it. "And whether it's wanted or not, I think they will be getting some." He rumbled.

"Yeah, it wouldn't be like us to ignore trouble." Modo smile, and relaxed as Thildon's touch backed the pain down a little.

"And now we have some serious firepower to work with." Throttle rumbled with a grin that was pure predator.

"Yeah, that we do." Modo grinned. "A little special ops could be just what they need."

"It certainly can't do any more damage." Throttle chuckled darkly. "And get us back in the swing of things."

"Been way too long since I was in a good fight." Modo nodded. "Hunting burns off aggression, but it's not the same."

"No, it's not." Throttle chuckled softly. "Neither's good rough sex."

"Hadn't tried that." Modo said quietly.

The tawny mouse shot his Bro a concerned look as Thildon settled on Modo's lap and nuzzled him. "Not on the giving end at least?" He asked softly.

"No, not on the giving end." Modo said quietly.

"Ah, Bro," Thildon murmured softly. "I didn't even think you'd need it too."

"I don't know that I do." He said softly. "Just said I hadn't tried it."

"I still should have thought of it." He nuzzled Modo supportively. "I know even warrior kinfolk have Rage issues, same as Garou."

"Rage issues?" Modo asked curiously.

"Remember when we met? How wound up I was?" Thildon asked.

"Yeah, hard to forget. I thought you were gonna take a swing at me."

"Would have, if you hadn't been kin." He shook his head and rested his muzzle on Modo's shoulder. "Rage is part of what lets Garou do some of the really extraordinary things, but when it builds up without release, it can become toxic. That's why my cum burned those first few days, and a few other times. I know how to channel it out through sex and general violence, and a lot of warrior kinfolk have to be taught the same tricks, because they have the same kind of Rage."

"Wow." Modo said quietly. "No wonder you were a sexaholic those first few days." He chuckled fondly. "Guess maybe that explains why I get stronger the angrier I get. Always worked it out through weapon-less hunting on Mars, when I couldn't find a fight, which was pretty rare."

"Yes," Thildon nodded and nuzzled the gray furred neck. "And that is exactly the kind of thing Rage is meant to do. You didn't have as much trouble because you're kinfolk, and you've just got a lot more experience dealing with stuff than me. But I wasn't kidding when I said I'd have been completely insane in a matter of a year or two. That much Rage with nowhere to go can kill."

"Well, things are okay now." Modo said nuzzling his mate back. "We're out of that nuthouse."

"Yes," the rusty mouse shuddered. "I can't wait to be able to stretch my legs properly."

"Well, the ship's big enough to run in from what Lance told me." Modo smiled.

"Plenty big." Throttle grinned at the pair. "The hunting deck alone is quite enough for both Blaze and Rimfire to run properly in Crinos."

"Oh, that will be nice." Thildon rumbled eagerly.

"Advantage of a deep space starship built by a hunter race." Modo grinned.

"Yes," the rusty mouse rumbled and snuggled close, nuzzling his mate affectionately. "So how far to MegaKat City?" He asked before giving Modo a decidedly playful nip on the neck.

"Three weeks, give or take a couple days." Throttle smiled at the lovers with a fond sadness. "They even keep small animals to hunt, perfect for Lupo."

"Just keeps getting better." Thildon murmured, though most of his attention was focused on Modo.

"It'll be good to be somewhere where we're not watched all the time." Modo said quietly, as he nuzzled Thildon. "First thing I want is a nice long soak."

"First thing you get is a visit to the Healer so you stop wincing every twenty minutes." Thildon tapped Modo's nose. "The sooner I can stop blocking the pain, the better off we'll both be."

"Nareena will insist too." Throttle added with a chuckle.

"Never argue with the Healer." Modo chuckled. "Then we can get that soak." He grinned at Thildon.

"Yes, and spend time with the entire pack present when you're good and relaxed." He murmured happily.

"Which reminds me, just a heads up on Blaze." Throttle chuckled ruefully. "She's a three year old Lupo with a sex drive enough to exhaust Rimfire, and a very needy nature. Don't be surprised when she tries to nose in on things."

"I understand. Hopefully, she'll calm down with time." Modo nodded.

"Age and security should both help." He smiled slightly. "Her First Change was just before we lifted off from Aristal. She was Lance's pet dog before then. Well cared for, but even more clueless than Rimfire."

"And three years old probably makes her a teenager, right?" Modo asked curiously.

"About the same age as Saytee." Throttle nodded with another worried glance at the red striped tan she-mouse sitting quietly next to the Fox. "Nareena gave her a shot to keep her infertile until she cools off a bit."

"We better have Nareena check Saytee out." Modo said very softly. "She might be carrying."

Throttle nodded. "How long has she been with you?"

"About two months."

The tawny mouse nodded. "As good are kits are, I hope not yet." He murmured very quietly. "She's so young."

"I know." Modo said as Thildon ducked his head against the gray neck. "Wasn't much to be done, after the first time."

"We're as prepared as if we were at a Greater Caern to care for her and the kits, if she is." Throttle said with soft assurance. "We'll sort out earrings over the next few days."

"What is the significance of the earrings any way?" Modo asked curiously. It hadn't seemed all that important when they were stuck on the planet.

All three other mice looked at him curiously before Thildon explained with a nuzzle.

"A lot," he smiled softly. "Warriors wear them on the left, keepers on the right. In older times design and number indicated family, pack, tribe and rank. These days it's more a matter of taste. When a warrior mates with someone their first time, they give an earring in return. It's how we all got our first one. The second is given when we are accepted into a pack as an adult."

"Oh, so that's why Ceruso gave me this one." Modo said quietly, touching the bottom earring in his left ear.

"It's time you had this one back." Throttle finally stood and took the golden loop from its necklace and knelt to slip it in the months unused hole. "There will be a third one to add, when it can be created." He said softly.

"What's the third one for?" He asked curiously as Throttle put the earring back.

"The Endless Storm." Throttle smiled slightly. "You're a member of my pack, and I can finally acknowledge it."

Modo looked seriously impressed. "I'm seriously honored, Bro. That's a name with a very impressive history."

"And a strong future now, thanks to you." Throttle smiled, nuzzling the gray mouse's cheek after a fractional hesitation. "I have a successor and real pack again."

"Hardly planning on my part." Modo smiled. "They just showed up, and I liked the company. Guess pack-building is instinctive."

"Very much so." Thildon smiled a little shyly at Throttle before kissing Modo's neck. "Neither Garou or kinfolk like being alone."

"The kinship feeds something in our soul." Throttle nodded with a soft smile. "We need it as much as we need to breath."

"No, I didn't actually." Modo admitted quietly. "Though before Lance showed up, I could take it by kind of shutting down. Didn't work after he was gone, but thankfully Tam came back." He smiled fondly at the young fox, who came over and nuzzled Modo's neck on the side opposite Thildon.

"Bro, shutting down isn't living." Throttle said gently. "It's barely surviving. But I know what you mean. It's been lonely years."

"We do what we have to to survive." Modo shrugged. "Same way we got through the camps." He paused quietly. "Speaking of which, thank you for what you did to get us all out safely, especially the things you never told us about." He said quietly with a knowing look on his face.

A soft look, almost a blush, crossed Throttle cheeks. "I was Alpha." He said simply, squeezing Modo's shoulder. "And you backed me as well as any who raised me."

"You're my Bro, of course I backed you." He said leaning into the contact. "I just couldn't remember ever actually thanking you. And what you did deserves that at the very least."

"Then so is what you did, for me." Throttle smiled softly. "I think tonight we're long past time for a full pack furpile."

"I think so, Bro." Modo rumbled. "I think we'll need bigger quarters for it though." He chuckled softly, as his tail snaked up to brush Thildon's cheek in a gentle caress.

"I'm sure Lance can arrange it." He chuckled.

"Why don't you join us in the water, SunWind-ki?" Thildon offered softly, his tail more hesitant as it twined around Modo's to join the touch.

Throttle glanced at Modo, who smiled. "You're more than welcome to, Bro." He said invitingly.

"I think I will." He smiled before standing to take his seat again. "The water's nice."

"Warm water to soak in, is always nice." Modo rumbled.

"Yes," his tawny Bro almost smiled as the felt the shuttle slow down for docking.

"Must be about there." Modo said softly. "Home for the next three weeks."

"Yes, and the tip to get Vin, and to Mars." Throttle nodded.

"Does Lance know where Mars is?" Modo asked curiously as the shuttle touched down, and its engines went silent.

"Roughly." He nodded. "He needs maps and supplies for a year plus long trip there, and the return if needed. It's going to be a major trek to the other side of the galaxy."

"Yeah, but we might not want to go direct to Mars." Modo said. "Thildon thinks he can locate his colony. I think it would be better to go there initially."

"Then we won't be taking the ship to Mars." Throttle nodded, shifting to look at the rusty mouse. "If you can figure it out, that's definitely preferable."

"I'll try, sir." He nodded, suddenly nervous.

"Just give it your best shot, Thildon." Modo said reassuringly. "That's all anyone expects."

"I will." He murmured against Modo's neck.

"That's all I'm asking for, Thildon." Throttle said quietly.

"I get the impression Bro, that you've got a serious rep in places you haven't been yet." Modo said quietly, as he wrapped his tail around Thildon's waist affectionately.

"I'm the end of the prophecy that sent the Tribes to the stars." Throttle said quietly as they felt the slight bump of docking. "I'm Death Angel's heir. Her name and mine are known across the Tribes we lost contact with, by spirit whispers and gossip."

"Wow." Modo said quietly. "Guess that explains great-great-grandma's little motivational speech."

"Oh?" Throttle looked curiously at his Bro.

"I got really bad about four months into captivity." He said quietly. "No way out, didn't know where you or Vinnie where, if you were even alive. Hope was something I didn't really have left, and just letting go got pretty tempting. Then Gran told me that I needed to hold on, 'cause you'd need me, and that between the two of us we'd get Mars back on the right track. Knowing you were alive and that somehow we'd get back together, and that you'd need me gave me enough to hold it together till Lance arrived."

"How long were you in that place?" Throttle asked softly, something unreadable in his voice.

"Fifteen or eighteen months, I lost track." Modo said quietly. "It was worse than the prison camps, 'cause I was alone except when they wanted to use me in a show."

Throttle shuddered deeply, a tremor that was mirrored much stronger by the rusty mouse in Modo's arms.

"I think that makes you the most stubborn of this pack." Throttle murmured in something akin to respectful awe.

"I knew you needed me, and then I knew that Lance was going to be back and that gave me hope. And then Thildon came into my life, and I wasn't alone anymore." Modo said quietly, nuzzling Thildon reassuringly. "But gods, I'm so glad its over."

"I think everyone is, Bro." Throttle murmured and stood. "Come on, let's get everyone through Medical and on to more enjoyable things."

"Excellent idea." Lance said as he opened the hatch to let everyone out. "I'm going to check in with the bridge and set up our return trip. Throttle, you know where Medical is, so kind of lead the parade that way would you?" He smirked playfully.

"Of course." The tawny mouse chuckled back and waved the group to follow them with his tail, only to be assaulted by a licking canine blur of rusty, tan and brown fur.

"This must be Blaze." Modo laughed watching his Bro get seriously face-licked by the exceedingly excited canine.

"Okay, enough." Throttle laughed and pushed her back by her forelegs. "It's good to see you too."

The eager whines and frantically wagging tail continued as she dropped to all fours, then noticed the others and cocked her head.

"Come to medical, I'll run introductions on the way." Throttle chuckled again and moved off, with the remainder of the group close behind. Modo stayed just behind his bro looking around at the ship he'd heard about but hadn't seen. Tam stayed fairly close to Modo, though he kept looking at the canine curiously.

Saytee kept very close to Thildon, who was taking in the ship too, as well as conducting a silent test of rank with Blaze.

"Hello, Throttle, Hello Blaze." Nareena smiled as the group trouped into Medical. "I thought we were rescuing one mouse, I see three mice and one fox." She smiled curiously.

"Modo built a pack while Lance was gone." Throttle answered with obvious pride. "The rusty one is Thildon, a warrior Garou. The tan one with red stripes is Saytee, kinfolk keeper. And the Fox is Tam, a Garou keeper, though he's not a mouse-based Garou."

"A pleasure to meet you all." Nareena smiled gently, and then caught a wince from Modo. "Looks like I need to look you over first, Modo. Lie down on the sensor bed here." She said firmly.

"Yes, ma'am." He said complying easily.

"Your Bro's a polite one, Throttle." Nareena smiled, as she checked out various readings.

"His Mama brought him up very well." Throttle grinned affectionately as he leaned close to the table, but out of the Healer's way.

"Looks like the problem is in some of the connections in this low-grade prosthetic." She said quietly, and gave Modo an injection in his shoulder, which cause the mouse to relax significantly. "I'll have engineering constructed a proper replacement. Until they do, you'll want to take these." She took a bottle from a wall dispenser. "Two tablets every four hours."

"Yes, ma'am." Modo nodded. "You mean you can make a replacement that doesn't hurt all the time?"

"Yes, same as we made Throttle's new cybernetic eyes. Which are ready, by the way." She added.

The tawny mouse nodded. "How long is recovery?" He asked quietly.

"Five days to a week before the optic nerves adapt, and then another five days of getting used to the new sight. But three weeks minimum before you should do anything where vision is critical like combat, piloting, or driving." She said.

"Then in a few days." Throttle said softly. "When the two halves of this pack settle down."

"Just let me know when you're ready." She smiled. "Okay, Modo. You're in good health, not counting the poor cybernetics. You can get down." She looked at the other three. "Anybody else injured or have some problem I should look at next?"

Thildon paused before dropping to all fours and shaking his longer, thicker fur out with a happy woof and shifted back. "I'm good." He grinned.

"I might be carrying." Saytee said softly, earning her a look of undisguised jealously from Blaze.

"I'll still want to do a physical on you, Thildon." She smiled at the young warrior. "But Saytee first. Please get up here on the sensor bed." She said gently, to quick compliance from the teenager.

"She's carrying two." Nareena said after double-checking the readings. "Looks like a boy and a girl." She added. "But she's in good health, though I'm going to insist on regular checkups, considering how young she is."

"Yes, ma'am." Saytee nodded compliantly, shying away fractionally as Blaze growled, earning the canine a dirty look from Throttle.

Thildon growled back, dropping to all fours with his head and tail high in a clear threat display she returned, though not as firmly.

"That will be enough of that." Nareena said firmly. "I won't have that sort of behavior in Medical, from anyone."

"Let them fight it out here." Throttle asked quietly as the two canines backed away, still exchanging growls. "Better than further away from help."

The look on Nareena's face was decidedly chill. "This is a place of healing, not an arena. Is civilized behavior so much to expect?"

No one spoke, but Thildon shifted back to two legs and Blaze backed off. Though it was clear neither really got it, they weren't about to challenge her.

"Good." Nareena said still fixing the two with a steely gaze. "Fighting is not permitted aboard ship. So just learn to get along." She said evenly, even as her long thick tall swished with agitation.

"Nareena, it's not about that." Throttle said softly. "It's establishing who's top wolf as it were."

"She's going to be angry till it's settled." Saytee added, shifting closer to Throttle in a clear desire for protection, that his tail across her lap apparently gave.

"One structured challenged and it'll be over."

"Canines." Nareena rolled her eyes in exasperation. "You'll have to take it to the Captain. Even if I had the authority, my oath as a healer would forbid me from approving of fighting."

"I expect he'll let them, rather than sleep with the constant verbal bouts." Throttle chuckled softly. "It won't be much. Thildon'll win without much effort."

"If it's that obvious, why bother?" She asked perplexed.

"Cause she doesn't want to accept the statement it wasn't intentional." The rusty mouse shrugged, glaring at Blaze. "Since she ranks Saytee, she should have had first breeding rights. I guess there was some issues about that before?"

"Yes, issue as in she's too young." Nareena said quietly. "No matter what Throttle's mother may think."

"Or her, instinct, or our oldest laws." Throttle added quietly. "This is just agitating things again."

"She wants to be a parent at her age?" Modo asked in surprise.

"She's three," Throttle sighed. "She would have had her first heat a year ago."

"Yeah, and some girls can get pregnant at ten." Modo shook his head. "Just cause it's physically possible doesn't make it a good idea."

"Try explaining that to the Lupo who is very threatened by this." Throttle sighed as Blaze sulked away to find a corner to sit in. "Saytee's the same age, and it'll take a while to explain the 'not intended' concept in a way that sticks."

Modo shook his head. "I'm sure I don't get it, but okay."

"She hasn't had mouse senses long enough to realize that we can't tell fertility," Thildon realized softly. "Lupo can."

"Oh." Modo said quietly. "Wouldn't have changed anything if conception happened that first night."

"I was rather hoping to avoid explaining that." Thildon leaned against his mate.

"Oh, yeah I can see why you would." He said understandingly, as he put his arm around the young warrior.

"I take it it wasn't exactly your idea." Throttle said softly, with a little too much understanding.

"No, Alpha." Saytee shook her head. "Those ... cats ... enjoy watching it that way."

"In all fairness to present company, they weren't really cats." Modo said quietly. "I'm not actually sure what they evolved from." He added. "But she's right, they enjoy watching it that way, and worse."

Though the rest of him remained controlled, there was little missing the hate contained in Throttle's low growl. "A world we'll have to keep an eye on then." He rumbled. "To make sure they don't have any more mice to play with for long."

"Keep an eye out for crash landings and people falling off star bridges." Modo nodded.

Throttle's attention flicked away from those in the room for a moment. "I think that's being set up." He said absently, shaking his head. "Still taking these things rather personally."

"It's okay, Bro." Modo said quietly. "I take it kind of personally too."

"You haven't been dead for twenty-five years." Throttle chuckled. "She's supposed to trust me with these things by now."

"Huh?" Modo was a bit confused. "I take it your mother's up to something."

"She usually is." He sighed in exasperation. "Though she won't be able to do much more than order a couple Jagglings to keep an eye on the place and report back."

"Harmless enough." Modo nodded. "Someone should look out for wayward mice there."

"And she's better at getting spirit cooperation than anyone here." Throttle nodded. "Thildon, up on the table." He ordered quietly and helped Saytee down, though she made a point of keeping him between herself and Blaze.

"You're in very good health, Thildon." Nareena commented after an uneventful exam. "You can get down now." She smiled and then gestured to Tam. "You next Tam."

"Yes, Healer." The young fox said politely, as he hopped up on the table after the rusty mouse vacated it.

"What the?" Nareena said looking at the scanner readouts, and the checking the Fox's pulse, respiration and blood pressure manually.

"Machines not reading him well?" Throttle asked curiously.

"Machine insists that there's no one on the scanner bed." She said curiously.

The tawny mouse raised an eyebrow at Tam. "Explain?"

"My world got invaded by a race of intelligent machines. To survive we became invisible to them." He said quietly. "But even after the war ended, and the machines were driven back, we found that machines for the most part still couldn't see us."

"Saner than what I was thinking." Throttle chuckled softly.

"And something I can adjust the scanner to work around." Nareena nodded as she began making adjustments.

"What were you thinking?" Tam asked curiously.

"Oh, things like you weren't actually there, really." The tawny mouse chuckled. "Like Death Angel's 'real' form."

"Nope, I'm very real." He smirked. "Come over here and I'll show you." He said licking his lips at the buff tawny mouse.

"Did I mention that he's very friendly?" Modo chuckled playfully.

"Have I mentioned I have a pack of sexaholics on a ship full of them?" Throttle actually laughed deeply. "I'll catch you later, fuzzy."

"There are worse things to be addicted to." Modo grinned broadly.

"I certainly hope so." Tam smiled playfully.

"Oh, definitely." Throttle smirked. "Been there, not going back."

"Yeah, chemical addictions suck." Modo said quietly.

"We could probably keep that list going all day, Bro." Throttle shook his head. "But we have a watery furpile calling when we get out of here."

"Yes we do." Modo grinned.

"There we go." Nareena smiled as the machine began behaving normally. "As I expected, no health problems. You're all done here." She said, which Tam took as a cue to hop down.

"Blaze, go see if Rimfire wants to join us." Throttle instructed with a soft voice, sending the Lupo running at a fast lope. "Anything else, Nareena?"

"No, but I'll want to see Saytee back in a week for follow-up." She said simply.

"I'll come." The young mouse nodded submissively.

"I take it that Blaze likes Rimfire." Modo commented softly as he watched the Lupo leave.

"He's a mouse that didn't argue with her about having kits." Throttle muttered softly. "She's not thrilled with me over that one, or other choices."

"He probably didn't argue about it, 'cause they didn't discuss it." Modo nodded. "And kits often don't like things that responsible adults decide."

"Part of the job description." The tawny mouse chuckled softly as the walked to the hot tub room.

"Yeah, we try to keep them from repeating our mistakes, and watch as they find brand new ones." He chuckled softly.

"Which some ancestor will gleefully point out they knew about, and if we'd paid attention, it wouldn't have happened again." Throttle grinned, glancing around at the pack. "I think we just got officially promoted to Elders, Bro."

"Hell, neither of us is old enough for that." Modo chuckled broadly. "Let me guess, promotion by virtue of being the oldest in the pack?"

"By a lot." He glanced around. "I'd peg Tam as the next oldest, and not by much on Thildon or Rimfire."

"No, it's really close." Modo nodded. "Two years, maybe."

"Then there's our females in their mid-teens, and at least two kits on the way." Throttle said softly, a slight tremor passing through his frame before the door opened to let steam and the smell of hot water out.

"At least two?" Modo asked quietly.

"Yeah," the tawny mouse muttered so only his Bro could hear. "Something happened with S'lessa. She's carrying."

"Lance's first officer?" Modo asked softly, though surprised. "Okay, but what's that got to do with our pack?"

"Sire's either Rimfire, me, or both." Throttle murmured. "Not even Nareena came make sense of it."

"Sounds complicated, and unintended." Modo said quietly. "Part cat, part wolf, part mouse? That's certainly an unlikely mix."

"Never mind the cats are red-blooded." Throttle shook his head and stripped down, aware of the younger eyes on them, but keeping a respectful distance. "She's mutating. Into what, we don't know. Why we don't know. How we don't know. But she's pregnant from her last heat, which is about the only thing we are sure of."

"If Nareena's half as good as Lance says, she'll figure it out." Modo said as he stripped down.

"She is, and then some." Throttle sighed and moved to get in the warm water with a low moan for it's relaxing qualities. "Who used the Gift?"

"I did," Thildon said quietly, snuggled between Tam and Saytee in his arms. "You both looked kinda stressed."

"Nice choice." The tawny mouse murmured and leaned back to soak a few knots of tension away.

"Thank you." The rusty mouse smiled slightly and nuzzled the tan and red mouse in his arms.

"Oh, yeah." Modo rumbled as he sank into the water. "I love this one." He said as the water's relaxing power sank into him, and Throttle shifted his position to lean against the bigger mouse.

"None of us have done enough of this lately." He sighed, giving the impression his eyes were closing behind his shades.

"No we haven't." Modo rumbled softly, putting his arm around Throttle, as his tail reached over to brush Thildon's leg gently.

Throttle smiled fractionally and slipped his tail around Modo's waist, letting it drift down to rest on top of the gray mouse's sheath as the tip drew lazy patterns across his thigh.

Modo rumbled softly, and gave his Bro a gentle, loving kiss that the tawny mouse returned with a little more passion, though no true hunger. The gray mouse wasn't really surprised, considering how much his Bro had going in his head on the love life scene. He relaxed and let Throttle guide things, not wanting to push to far.

With a soft sigh they parted and Throttle settled his head against Modo's shoulder. "Missed this too much." He murmured.

Modo kept his arm around the tawny mouse gently. "It does feel right." He agreed softly as Rimfire walked in behind Blaze's wagging tail.

Modo was out of the pool in a flash when he saw his nephew. "Rimfire!" He said as he joyfully hugged the younger mouse. "Gods, I've missed you."

Blaze made something of a splash before shifting to mouse form and settling between Throttle and Tam, leaving room for Modo.

"Missed you too, uncle." He rumbled as he leaned into the strong arms. "You okay?"

"I'm fine, Rimfire." He smiled. "I hear you've got a new boyfriend." He smiled. "But get in the tub first." He grinned, and slipped back next to Throttle.

"Yeah, he's a gorgeous White Tiger." Rimfire grinned as he stripped down, and slipped into the water next to Throttle and received an arm over the shoulder.

"Rimfire, the rest of our pack." Throttle started introductions. "The Fox is Tam, the rusty guy is Thildon, and she's Saytee."

"Hello." Rimfire smiled in a friendly fashion. "More mice in one place than I've seen in a long time. I think I was five the last time."

Both new mice looked sorry for him, though Saytee's was understanding and Thildon was more disturbed, as they returned it. Saytee hesitantly slipped her tail over to caress his leg. Blaze glared at her, but backed down when Throttle glared back.

Rimfire smiled at the contact, but slipped his tail across the pool to caress Blaze's leg. "So what's next?" He asked looking at Throttle.

"Pack relaxes." He chuckled softly, leaning against Modo as his tail wrapped around his Bro's waist again.

"I mean, are we going back to Aristal or right out after Vinnie?" Rimfire elaborated.

"Back to Aristal, Rimfire." Modo explained as he put his arm around Throttle. "Tracker still has to locate Vinnie."

"And we'll have to resupply in all likelihood." Throttle nodded.

"Very likely." Modo agreed. "Vinnie's probably gotten himself stuck somewhere out of the way and difficult to get too." He chuckled.

"That'd be a first." Rimfire snickered. "Vinnie playing hard to get."

Throttle definitely rolled his eyes in exasperation. "I know at least four who would contest that."

"That wasn't 'hard to get', that was oblivious to what was in front of him." Rimfire smirked. "He's good at that."

"Okay, okay, I'll go with that." Throttle consented with a laugh. "Though how in the hell he missed someone he was lusting after is beyond me."

"Classic Vinnie." Modo chuckled. "Only one of us with an eye intact, and he still misses what in front of his nose."

"Much to everyone's frustration." Throttle chuckled and shook his head. "Though at least I had less lonely nights for it."

"Charley seemed happier for it." Modo smiled. "Truthfully, you're better for her anyway."

"We had a lot in common." He murmured softly. "It'll be good to see her again."

"Yeah, it will." Modo smiled softly. "I've missed her, almost as much as I missed my Bro's." He said and then thought of something. "She's really a Bro, isn't she? Our Sis." He murmured trying to get the wording right.

"Yes," Throttle nodded. "Has been for years. She's as much a part of the pack as anyone here."

"We really should tell her that, Bro." Modo said quietly. "I think she'd be thrilled to hear it."

"I was planning on it, when we see her again." Throttle murmured softly, leaning back into the healing water.

"Good to see we're on the same wavelength." Modo smiled as he sank down to get his shoulder under the water.

"It'll be good to see Mark again." Rimfire said quietly.

"Think he's more than a passing lover?" Throttle asked with idle curiosity.

"Maybe." Rimfire said uncertainly. "We're good friends if nothing else."

"That's a good thing, then." Throttle smiled. "When lovers can part friends."

"Yeah, he's really cool to hang with." Rimfire smiled. "I just hope he and Charley are okay."

"If anyone can survive, it's Charley." Throttle said certainly.

"Yeah, she's a tough one." Modo said quietly, causing Throttle to nod against his shoulder as the tawny mouse settled against his Bro with a low, contented sigh.

Rimfire gently settled against Throttle, hoping that the tawny mouse had already talked to his uncle and received a rather affectionate caress on the cheek for it. He rumbled happily and snuggled in closer as the entire oddball pack settled into quiet relaxation of trusted guards on watch.

"Sorry, I got sidetracked." Lance said as he came into the room.

"Nothing bad, I hope." Throttle looked over from where he was leaning on Modo with a level of lazy relaxation that was new.

"Not really." Lance said as he stripped down and slipped into the water between Rimfire and Saytee. "Hey, what's in the water? This feels good." He purred as he relaxed.

"It's a small Gift I know." Thildon answered quietly as he nuzzled the she-mouse in his lap.

"Very nice, Thildon." Lance smiled at the young warrior. "Now this is the way to wind down after a mission." He purred.

"Yes, it is." Throttle rumbled softly, his voice carrying the sleepiness of relaxation after a long tension.

"I set up a large room with lots of floor pillows, if we want somewhere dry to furpile." Lance said lazily.

"Oh, yeah." The tawny mouse rumbled eagerly. "Best idea I've heard of yet."

"Anybody hungry or thirsty?" Lance asked. "I can have the galley send some snacks and drinks to the furpile room."

"Just kind of tired." Thildon said quietly. "We all had a long workday before you showed up."

"No argument here." Throttle murmured, two-thirds asleep against Modo's side. Tam nodded agreement, half asleep in the water, against Modo's other side.

"Maybe we should dry off and move to the pillows before everyone's asleep in the water." Lance chuckled softly.

"Good idea," Throttle grudgingly moved to get out of the water as several of the youngsters did as well. Modo also grudgingly moved to the air jets, followed by the remaining youngsters, and Lance. Though Throttle seemed more interested in putting his hands on Modo, than getting either of them dry. Rimfire was equally interested in Throttle, while Tam had taken an interest in Lance, who was trying to dry the parts of Modo that Throttle wasn't occupying.

Lance woke next to Modo to possibly the strangest furpile he could remember. In the center were Throttle and Modo, the tawny mouse well entwined with his Bro for all they had only drifted off to sleep after the pack had relocated to the large space. Rimfire was sacked out against Throttle's back. Above them in the sort-of circle was the enormous form of Thildon's Crinos, stretched out along their heads with the new minute-looking form of Saytee curled against his chest, and backed by one muscular forearm. Blaze, in her natural form, was curled up under their feet, and seemed quite content to have feet and tails on top of her. Tam, in four-legged form was curled up against Modo's head looking very much like a furry red pillow.

As he took in the scene, he realized what was bugging him about it: Throttle's face. He could see all of it, including the unnatural circuitry that turned his eyes into dull gray balls with small sparks tracing across them. The mouse's shades were being held by his tail, draped over Lance's hip. He closed his eyes and visualized the mouse with the new eyes Nareena had for him. As attractive as Throttle was, he would definitely look better with the new eyes.

The Puma settled back to rest, snuggled against Modo as everyone seemed quite content to sleep late.

Rimfire felt Throttle stir against him, and he slipped his tail over to caress the tawny mouse's chest with a lover's touch, the tip tracing circles around his nipples. Throttle murmured softly in approval and slipped his shades back on his face before stretching in place under the touch, and his morning arousal.

Rimfire rumbled softly as he nuzzled the back of Throttle's neck, and slid his tail lower to brush tenderly along the inside of the mouse's thigh and across his balls to a low moan. The tawny mouse reached out to Modo, before he realized the gray mouse was far too out of it to be that coordinated.

With his tail coiling around Throttle's balls, Rimfire explored the tan mouse's sheath with the tip of his tail curious to see aroused he was. Meanwhile, his own swelling sheath was pressed against Throttle's back.

Throttle moaned softly and shifted to press into both contacts with a light shudder as the tail teased the tip of his emerging cock. Without really thinking his own tail slipped over his lover's hip and up along his back to caress sensitive antennae.

The effect on Rimfire was electric as he arched against Throttle's back with his tail squeezing Throttle's balls firmly. "Wow." The young mouse said it amazement.

"No one's touched you like that?" He asked softly as he turned to face the younger mouse.

"No, I didn't even know it felt like that." He said softly. "Sweet Mars, that felt wild."

"Yes, I still remember." Throttle said with a gentle smile. Slowly he shifted, kissing his way up Rimfire's forehead to the stripe of lighter hair in the middle. With a gentle caress of his tongue he brought one sensitive red length into his mouth.

"Oh, man." The young mouse rumbled as he cock swelled to full erection. "That's fantastic, Throttle." He rumbled as his tail teased the tan mouse's cock to full hardness. Throttle's only reply was to turn his full skill an antennae and blowjobs on what he was doing, just to find out how sensitive Rimfire was. It wasn't long before the stimulation was too much for Rimfire and he whimpered and moaned as his cocked splashed seed between them.

"Damn, you're good at that." He said, panting.

"And you're rather sensitive." The older mouse smiled as he let the antennae slid from his mouth.

"That was even more intense than the first time Krys sucked me off." He rumbled. "Does it feel that good for you too?" He said, as he caught his breath.

"Probably not quite that good," Throttle admitted with a soft chuckle. "But it is good."

Rimfire stretched up to run his tongue gently up the tan mouse's thick antenna before sucking it into his mouth, and running his tongue around it to encouraging moans and exploring hands. Throttle's scent was pungent with his passion.

"Roll over." He instructed as they parted.

Rimfire rolled over to knees and elbows, with his tail still caressing the sensitive antennae gently, and was pulled down to his side with his back against Throttle's chest. He was a little surprised, but went with it willingly, as his tail snaked down the tan mouse's body, to gently caress the pucker of his ass.

"Just relax, Fire." Throttle said softly as his hands ran down Rimfire's flanks to brace his hips. With only that Throttle shifted and pressed forward, sinking himself into his packmate's body with a low breath.

"Oh, yeah." The younger mouse rumbled, and moaned. "I've wanted you for so long."

"Sensation share?" Throttle asked softly in Rimfire's ear as he pulled out slowly.

"You know how that's done? Nobody ever showed me." Rimfire said quietly.

"I know, I'll teach you." He promised and sank back into the younger mouse's body, holding still when he was fully immersed and tipped Rimfire's head back to make it easy to touch antennae. "For now, relax your mind, let me in."

Rimfire nodded and relaxed, his curiosity about the experience lowering his guard as their antennae touched and the gentle brush of another presence, commanding and calm, began the flow of physical sensations before backing off. With the link complete, Rimfire felt his cock buried deep in his warm and willing body, and the glorious fullness of that cock deep inside his own.

"Oh, man. This is incredible." Rimfire rumbled, reflexively thrusting into the body he felt buried in, as he tail pushed its way past Throttle's pucker, only to be gently caught and entwined by the tan mouse's as the slow coupling began in earnest.

Rimfire relaxed into the coupling, letting the more experienced mouse guide things as he basked in the incredible sensations until it became to much, well before Throttle reached his own limit.

With a passionate whimpering and moaning, Rimfire came again, splashing his seed against the pillow he was on, and feeling more than hearing the groan Throttle gave as the feedback set him off. Layering on top of his own orgasm, Rimfire suddenly felt the full impact of Throttle's deep in his ass, which caused him to arch back against the tan mouse and moan deeply as their mutual orgasm rippled through them in waves of magnified pleasure until they were both spent.

"That was so wild and intense, Throttle." Rimfire panted as he came down.

"Yes, it usually is." He murmured as he broke the mental contact.

"You ever done that with Lance?" Rimfire asked curiously.

"Only works between mice," he said softly. "But they can do some very intense things with the energy charge."

"I'll have to ask Krys." He smiled quietly.

"Simple way to explain it to him. Whatever he sends in, gets sent directly into your brain. Pain, pleasure ... and raw energy does whatever it wants."

"Wow, no wonder it's so intense." He smiled and nuzzled back against Throttle as the tawny mouse pulled out of his body.

"Yeah, it can be pretty addictive too." Throttle chuckled.

"I could see that." He admitted, his attention drawn above by the soft moans of pleasure from above them as Thildon and Saytee moved together in their own pleasure. Then he felt Throttle fall away from his back as a decidedly warm weight came between them.

Rimfire's surprise was increased when Tam claimed an unexpected and passionate kiss from him, with the fluffy red tail teasing up the inside of his leg. The Fox's pleasant touch encouraged the young mouse to explore the unfamiliar body with his hands and tail.

"Bro?" Throttle chuckled with a well-hidden undercurrent of nervousness. "Can I steal you from Lance for a while?"

"Of course, Bro." The big gray mouse smiled up from his reading. "He's up on the bridge right now anyway."

"Nareena's going to do my eyes now." The tawny mouse said quietly as they emerged into the hallway.

"Don't worry, I'll stay with you." He said firmly, not mentioning how much he knew blindness, even temporary, scared his Bro.

"Should only be three or four days this time." Throttle added, his tail wrapping around Modo's waist.

"And this time, the doctor cares about you." Modo smiled gently. "You won't have to feel any pain. And you've got me and a whole pack to look after you afterwards."

"Yes," he squeezed his tail around the gray mouse, it more than anything betraying just how terrified Throttle was under the apparently calm exterior. "And no war to fight even if I could."

Modo put his arm around Throttle's shoulders and his tail around the tan mouse's waist. "It'll be all right, Bro." He said reassuringly. "You'll come out of this stronger than ever, and then we can work on getting Vinnie back." He said confidently.

"First we get you fixed up Bro." Throttle said quietly. "Your arm and eyes will be ready before we're ready to go after the pretty boy."

"After you're seeing on your own." Modo said firmly. "Can't have both of us blind at the same time."

"No, not even here." He nodded, the nervousness starting to surface as they came close to medical.

"Bro, you're gonna be fine." Modo said, giving the tan mouse a firm hug and a gentle reassuring kiss. "Nareena won't let anything bad happen to you, nor will I."

"I know." Throttle swallowed, then abruptly began to relax. "I know, Bro."

"Hello, Throttle." Nareena said gently, as the two mice walked into Medical. "You ready?"

"As I'll ever be." The tawny mouse nodded, uneasy despite the calming effect of both his Bro and mother.

"Any questions before we start?" She asked, as she led him back to the operating suite.

"How long will I be out?" Throttle asked quietly, his tail's near-deathgrip on Modo tightening again.

"I expect the operation will take less four hours." She said gently. "Have you ever been under anesthesia before?"

"No," Throttle shook his head.

"Have you ever taken medications to help you sleep? Not the over the counter kind, but prescription meds."

"A couple times," he nodded, the remembered grief at why almost palatable. "I used Feral's when I needed to not think for a while."

"Anesthesia is similar." She nodded. "You fall into a deep, dreamless sleep and when you wake up, the operation is done. You'll be a bit groggy when you wake up, and for six to twelve hours after."

The tawny mouse nodded. "Lets get it done then."

"Very well." She nodded. "Lie down here." She said indicating a table with a padded support for his neck and head.

Throttle nodded, his tail loosening from Modo's waist out of necessity, only to wrap just as tightly around his wrist as they shifted positions.

Modo stayed close as Nareena placed the nose and mouth mask on Throttle. He kept his hand on the tan mouse's shoulder as he watched his Bro fall into a deep, peaceful sleep. "He doesn't do that very often." He commented softly as Throttle's tail slowly lost strength and slipped from his wrist to hand limp.

"With the screwy hardware in his head, I'm not surprised." She said as she brought the surgical trays over.

Throttle woke slowly feeling a bit groggy, but aware of a strong hand on his shoulder and a tail draped across his chest. It was very dark however, and he could feel a needle in his arm, most likely an IV.

"Modo?" His voice sounded strange, slurred as it was to disoriented ears, and desperate to confirm what his nose told him.

"Yeah, Bro." The gray mouse's deep voice came back strong and certain. "Told you I wasn't going anywhere."

"I know, Bro." He murmured, trying to reach up with a weak, uncoordinated hand to grasp the one on his shoulder, his tail still limp at his side.

"How're you feeling?" Modo asked gently, as he placed Throttle's hand on his own.

"Weird." He managed, closing his fingers around Modo's. "Weak. It's dark, just ... just not cold this time."

"It'll just take a while for the anesthesia to wear off." He said softly. "The new eyes look a lot better, almost like your originals. Only they're black, Nareena said that's what you asked for though."

A small smile crossed Throttle face. "Yes. I always wanted black eyes."

"I kind of understand that now." Modo said softly. "According to my talkative spirit ancestor my eyes would've been black, if it wasn't for her spell that hid the distinctive traits that give away Kinfolk."

"I liked your brown eyes." Throttle said softly, slowly focusing more and trying to ignore the darkness that wouldn't fade away.

"Well, I'll still have them." Modo rumbled. "Nareena did mine brown." He smiled. "Though after all these years, it's kind of strange seeing you with eyelids."

"Kind of ... strange ... knowing it's not the lack of shades that has everything black." He tried not to shiver as increased awareness brought increased fear from a place he couldn't even name.

"Your brain is adapting to the new visual input. You should have sight back in three or four days, and complete adjustment after a week." Modo said reassuringly, squeezing the tan mouse's shoulder. "Thirsty?"

"What's in my arm?" Throttle asked softly.

"IV." Modo said simply. "Fluid to keep you from dehydrating, and antibiotics to protect against post-operative infection."

"If drink, does it come out?"

"Once the antibiotics are done, in about two hours." He said gently. "But the anesthesia has probably dried you out a bit, throat especially." He added. "You must have been tired, Bro. You slept for four hours after the Anesthesia sleeping effect wore off."

"I feel like hell." He murmured. "I'll try to drink."

"Here you go." Modo said as he helped Throttle hold a glass and guide it to his mouth. "Just sip. It's water, but Nareena said if you can keep the water down you can have more interesting liquids after."

Throttle carefully raised his head to sip at it, trying to think about anything but the absolute blackness around him by focusing on the liquid as it trickled down his throat and the warmth of his Bro so nearby.

"So, feel up to root beer, bro?" Modo said with a gentle smile in his voice, after Throttle had finished the water. "Lance tells me this is your preferred brand currently. It's pretty damn close to what we had in Chicago."

For the first time in most of his adult life, Throttle closed his eyes. "Not really, Bro. So tired."

"Then sleep, Bro." Modo said, his hand still on Throttle's shoulder. "I'll be here when you wake. I promise." He said, giving the tan mouse a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"All right," he murmured, drifting off with much less difficulty than usual, though as he sank into dreams, his body twitched and winced at whatever unpleasantness was there.

"It'll be okay, Bro." Modo said quietly, brushing his Bro's hair back.

Modo heard before he felt or saw Throttle wake as a low, thin cry of pure terror escaped the tawny mouse before he was awake enough to control it. "Bro?" He asked in concern not sure what was wrong.

"What happened?" Nareena asked as she ran into the room to a lightly panting Throttle as he came fully awake.

"Nothing, ma'am." Throttle's voice was strained from his waking. "Just dreaming."

"Throttle, you screamed." Modo said gently, concerned about his Bro.

"Usually do, when I slip that far down." The tawny mouse squeezed the hand still under his with a good deal more strength and coordination. "It's just dreams."

"As long as that's all it is, Bro." Modo said quietly.

"Just let me know if they prevent you from sleeping." Nareena said gently.

"Usually." He sighed, too worn down keeping the panic at bay to deny it.

"That's not a good thing, Throttle." She said seriously. "Lack of sleep can have serious health and judgment effects. How long have you had these dreams?"

"Since he first touched me." Throttle's voice was soft.

"The one who took your eyes?" Nareena asked gently.

"Karbunkle." He nodded slightly.

"Are you reliving what happened?" She asked gently.

"Sometimes," he answered wearily, his eyes drifting shut again despite his best attempts not to.

"If you'd like I can give you something to suppress the dreams, it's only a short term solution, but right now you need the sleep." She offered.

"Sure." Throttle mumbled, consenting to drugs without a fight for the first time in Modo's memory.

Nareena was away for a moment, and then came back with a high-tech looking device that she pressed against Throttle's arm. There was a brief hiss. "There. That won't actually make you drowsy, it just suppresses the part of the sleep cycle where deep dreaming occurs."

Modo patted Throttle's shoulder reassuringly. "Just relax, and get some sleep, Bro." He said gently as the tawny mouse's eyes drifted shut again. "I'll be here when you wake, and the anesthesia should have worn off by then too."

Unaccustomed as they were to being closed, Throttle's eyes opened first, well before most of his brain and body had checked in to the world again.

"Bro?" Throttle's voice was low and hesitant as he tried to place his location, and why things were dark.

"Right here, Bro." Modo said easily, squeezing the mouse's shoulder gently to reinforce that.

"I'm here too, Throttle." Rimfire's voice said from the other side of him as the tawny mouse relaxed a bit more, his tail reaching out to the younger mouse.

"Still going well?" He asked very quietly.

"Yeah." Rimfire said warmly as he stepped over so the tail found him. It immediately wrapped tightly around his wrist, the fractional tremors in it betraying the intensity of Throttle's fear. "How are you doing?"

"Tired, think she did more than eyes." He murmured quietly.

"She did." Modo said quietly. "Those implants in your brain just weren't good for you, I guess. They're still there, but they're shut down. Actually removing them would've been a lot more involved she said."

"Shouldn't have." Throttle tried to sit up with only partial success. "What kept me awake."

"You need to sleep, Bro." Modo said firmly as the tawny mouse sand back down. "There's no need for you to be awake all the time, and it's not good for you. 'Sides the implants weren't in great shape; probably would've shut down on their own sooner or later."

"Don't think I sleep this much in a month." He murmured in a half objection.

"Well, now you can join the rest of us." Modo chuckled. "And actually enjoy the sleeping part of a furpile, as opposed to waiting for everyone to wake up."

"Didn't usually wait." Throttle countered. "Just show up for the beginning and end."

"Bro, it's gonna be alright." Modo said reassuringly. "You'll get used to it. I mean you slept before Karbunkle stuck hardware in your brain."

That brought a pause from the tawny mouse, his new eyes shifting despite the lack of sight. "So long, barely remember what it's about."

"It'll come back to you." Modo said confidently.

"Yeah, like riding a bicycle." Rimfire said trying to encourage the tan mouse.

Throttle nodded. "How long before she lets me out of here?"

"Probably when she comes back from checking on S'lessa." Modo said easily. "It was mostly waiting for the anesthesia to wear off completely."

"Shouldn't that have been a while ago?" He asked with some concern. "Any breakthroughs with Blaze and Saytee?"

"I guess they settled it." Modo shrugged. "Lance wasn't thrilled about the situation, but allowed the fight. And she can't check while you're asleep."

"Then I'll stay awake this time." He said stubbornly. "How's it going with Lance, Bro?"

"Haven't really had much time to see." Modo smiled. "I was keeping an eye on you. Though he's been down a half dozen times or so to check on you."

"He looking for Packmate status?" Throttle chuckled softly with a bit of a smirk.

"Bro, Lance cares about you, a lot." He said gently. "If you weren't my Bro, I'd probably be jealous." He chuckled softly.

"Does he even understand the bond joining the pack at night creates?" Throttle asked softly.

"I doubt it." Modo said quietly. "I didn't understand before Thildon came into my life."

"Might be worth explaining, before he gets into something he wasn't expecting." The tawny mouse said softly. "Where is she?" He looked around with some irritation.

"Like I said, she's with S'lessa." Modo said simply. "You remember her, the pregnant feline?"

Throttle flinched and abruptly settled. "I remember."

"I guess it's not an easy pregnancy, for either mother or healer." Modo said quietly.

"I didn't know that." Throttle murmured.

"S'lessa's pregnant?" Rimfire asked in surprise.

"Yes," Throttle said softly, looking at the younger mouse with unseeing black eyes.

"But she was only with us during her heat." He said confused.

"Yes, Fire." Throttle said gently. "Impossible things happen."

"Any idea which one of us is the father?" The teenager asked quietly.

"Not yet." Throttle admitted quietly. "Or how many. I wasn't going to bring it up until we knew something."

"Oh." Rimfire said quietly. "This is kind of weird. I never figured on being a father."

"Even if they aren't yours, it's an idea to get used to." Throttle advised gently. "We have a population to rebuild."

"Hard to believe that's actually possible." Rimfire said softly.

"More or less hard than knowing we'll see Mars green and blue again?" He chuckled softly. "Because that is true too."

"About the same really." Rimfire shook his head. "Both seem like impossibilities."

"Well, we have one pregnant packmate already," He smiled gently at the teenager. "You'll have some time with Saytee's kits before S'lessa's come. Probably."

"So how does that work with S'lessa?" Rimfire asked curiously. "She's carrying either your kits or mine, but she's not a member of the pack, or is she?" He wondered, a bit confused.

"She's not now, though the kits probably will be, if they are even kinfolk." Throttle explained, a little uncertain himself. "We don't really have anything for this kind of thing."

"No guidelines for the impossible?" Rimfire grinned broadly, which showed in the impish tone of his voice.

"Not that impossibility." Throttle chuckled softly and shook his head.

"Guess we'll have to improve it." Rimfire chuckled.

"Nothing new about that MO." The tawny mouse smirked.

"I seem to recall that was usually plan B." Modo chuckled. "If Plan A doesn't work, punt."

"With a very large gun, or the pretty boy." Throttle chuckled at some of their better memories. "Gods, it's going to be good to have that mouse back."

"So we can start hitting on him again?" Rimfire smirked impishly, with it very clear in his voice.

"Or just pounce on him and spell it out that he can't show off that gorgeous bod without consequences." Throttle chuckled with a low rumbled in his voice.

"That sounds like fun." Rimfire chuckled broadly.

"It may turn into a pack pounce." Modo chuckled. "I described Vinnie to Tam and he pronounced him 'delicious'."

"He's right." Throttle rumbled in good humor. "And I know the girls will be after him."

"Which just leaves Thildon." Rimfire chuckled.

"I'll pounce him." Modo smirked broadly.

Assuming he doesn't want a share of the pretty boy." Throttle laughed. "He has quite varied tastes."

"Sounds like a definite welcome-home."

Throttle grinned. "A nice big writhing furpile until we all pass out. Definitely a welcome home."

The door opened and Throttle heard someone walk across the room. "Hello, Throttle." Lance's deep voice said quietly. "How're you feeling?" He asked, just before he kissed Throttle on the cheek.

Without missing a beat the tawny mouse shifted his head to claim a real kiss, one hand coming up to hold the Puma's head where it was.

"They're making me laugh." He smiled with real affection for the other mice.

"That's a good thing." Lance smiled, as their lips parted.

"Yes, it is." He smiled. "Thank you for allowing Thildon and Blaze to settle things."

"I don't pretend to understand it. But you seem to, and I'm willing to trust your judgment." Lance said gently.

"It's a Garou thing." The mouse smiled almost apologetically. "We don't make sense to wolves half the time."

"That's okay. You're attractive enough to make such quirks worth dealing with." He teased lightly.

"Good," Throttle smiled a little hesitantly. "Like the new eyes?"

"Much better than the old ones." Lance smiled. "Hard to tell they're cybernetic, but that is the point."

"That good?" He asked with a mixture of hope, curiousness and caution.

"Better than I'm even used to, but Nareena says they're acceptable according to her standards. I think cybernetics are more advanced in the Galactic Alliance than they are in the Hundred Worlds." He explained. "And the fact that you have actual eyelids makes a serious improvement aesthetically. And I didn't think you could be any more irresistible." Lance rumbled. "When Modo gets his new cybernetics, I don't think they're ever going to see me on the bridge." He laughed deeply.

Throttle smiled and reached out with a hand towards the Puma's voice. "Before we get there, I want you to understand something about us."

Lance guided the hand to his cheek, where he thought it was going. "I know Throttle, you already have a long term relationship, I understand that." He said softly.

"I won't be with Feral much longer." He closed his eyes painfully. "I meant the bigger we. The Endless Storm, my pack, and you. How you sleep with us, mate with us, share food with us."

"What about it?" He asked curiously.

"It's a canine thing." He said softly, hoping he could explain instinct to this feline. "We exist for the pack, and this is how we make and renew our bonds. You came to our den, slept among us, shared pleasure and food with us, and none have objected. You are part of our pack, accepted by the group despite what you are. You are one of us, if you continue to stay with us."

"I don't think I can do differently, Throttle." Lance said gently. "I love two of you already, and the others are beginning to grow on me, in a way I haven't experienced before. Your presence, and that of the others, is changing things on this ship but in a good way I think."

"That's a long-winded kittykat way of saying he likes furpiles." Modo teased, as his tail wrapped around Lance's waist.

"Good," Throttle smiled softly. "Just try to understand when some of us forget to are not Garou. It's a complement, even if it might be strange, or even scary."

"There is precious little that scares me, Throttle." Lance rumbled. "Oh, I found a way around that little problem that freighters have with non-R'Canthans." He whispered softly.

"Yes?" He looked up curiously, his eyes focusing on the voice even without sight.

"A little looking into the regs revealed that a captain can put the ship on military duty, if lending aid and assistance to a non-aligned world suffering from a planetwide disaster. From the descriptions of things I've heard I'd say that Mars qualifies, and if what I've heard from Modo is correct then getting you to one of these Exodus Colonies is exactly aid that Mars needs." He smiled. "Military vessels don't have the same cultural traditions as freighters."

"Would any of the crew actually care?" Throttle asked quietly.

"Sailors can be a funny bunch when it comes to traditions." Lance rumbled. "I know some of the older ones have been trying to figure out what's the deal exactly with the extra people on board. Change the ship's designation and it's all fine." He shrugged. "I guess both our cultures have behaviors that don't make sense."

"That would be good." Throttle smiled. "The Endless Storm is strong again." He rumbled with a decidedly strong note of pride.

"I don't know how things work. But I guess you could consider the crew of the Thunder as an allied pack." He said not sure how that sort of politics really worked. "In any case, you and Modo took the chip out of the picture."

"Extended family." Throttle smiled. "You are their leader, and you are part of our pack. It's not something to really worry about." He chuckled softly. "We just use different words to mean the same thing sometimes."

"How'd we take the chip out?" Throttle asked curiously.

"You got me to care enough." He said quietly. "Love and loyalty are two concepts that those who installed it don't understand well. That furpile the other night, cemented a lot of feelings that had been floating around." He said looking across at Modo. "Including the fact that Modo means more to me than anyone has in a long time."

The gray mouse grinned. "Kittykat are you saying what I think you're saying?"

"Yeah, mouse." He chuckled. "I want you as my mate."

"Kittykat, I don't think there was any doubt about that. I know I waned you that way." The big gray mouse rumbled. "And I don't even mind you playing with my Bro, even outside furpiles."

"Thanks, love." The Puma rumbled. "'Cause he and I play some games at times, I don't think would much interest you."

"Yap, Kittykat's pack." Throttle chuckled. "Welcome to the family, Bro."

"Thanks, Bro." Lance purred, and kissed the tan mouse soundly, and then stepped over to pull Modo into a seriously passionate kiss that the gray mouse met with passion of his own.

"Good thing Lance has a big place in MegaKat City." Rimfire rumbled quietly. "For when we're on Aristal." He said as he ran his hand up Throttle's arm, with his tail resting across the tan mouse's chest.

"Yes, and a very playfully puppy there too." Throttle rumbled, more than a little turned on by the fire rear his head.

"Puppy?" Modo asked with a curious look.

"I told you about Eric." He chuckled, nuzzling the gray mouse.

"Oh, him. I'd forgotten. Yeah, he did sound playful." Modo grinned.

"Need a little attention, Throttle?" Rimfire rumbled playfully, and claimed a playfully passionate kiss.

"This thing big enough for two?" He rumbled into the contact.

"I think you could probably have him walk you back to quarters." Nareena rumbled amusedly from the door.

"Much better." Throttle shifted his attention to her. "I can go now?"

"Yes. But I want you back here if you have any pain from the new implants." She said seriously.

Throttle looked at her a little funny before nodding. "Okay."

"They're not supposed to hurt." She said simply.

"Ready to go, Throttle?" Rimfire asked standing next to the bed.

"Very." The tawny mouse breathed a sigh of relief and moved to carefully shift off the bed without landing on his face with a glance towards where Modo had been.

"Here's my shoulder." Rimfire said, put the tan mouse's hand on his shoulder for support. "Lean on me."

"Bro, I'm gonna go with Lance for awhile." Modo said with very soft note in his deep voice. "You're in good hands. I'll catch up with you around dinner."

Only Modo could recognize the confused panic on his Bro's face before it was carefully schooled out and Throttle turned to Rimfire and moved his hand down to the brown mouse's as his tail wrapped around Rimfire's waist.

"Good to see you up and around, Throttle." Lance said fondly, hugging the tan mouse once he was standing.

"Good to be moving again." Throttle said before nudging Rimfire with his tail to get going.

"You okay with Modo going with Lance, Throttle?" Rimfire asked after they were a ways from Medical.

"I have to be." The tawny mouse said simply, making every attempt not to seem blind as they moved.

"It's just a few hours, Throttle." Rimfire said gently. "It's normal for new mates to want a little time together, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is." He agreed softly. "Just a surprised it was going to be now."

"So was Uncle Modo." Rimfire said softly. "I'm not really sure Lance had planned to ask, I think it just kind of happened."

"I forgot it even needed to be asked." He admitted.

"Yeah, I guess they never really discussed it as such before." He said quietly. "According to Krys, this is Lance's first long-term relationship in a long time, not counting Eric."

"Which is a very different thing." He shook his head and sighed, his tail tightening around Rimfire's waist as the walk continued.

"Things will be okay, you'll see." Rimfire said confidently, as he wrapped his tail around Throttle's waist.

"They aren't getting another choice in the matter." Throttle all but growled. "After everything we've been through, I'm not giving it another option."

"Okay, here we are." Rimfire said as he guided Throttle into a room to an audible breath of relief. "My quarters, for when I'm not with Krys." He said as he guided Throttle to the bed. "You thirsty, or hungry?"

"No, thanks." Throttle moaned softly as the tension and fear of the walk began to dissipate. "Just stay here."

"Of course." Rimfire said, as he sat down next to the tan mouse, and ran his hand along the inside of his leg gently. Hesitantly Throttle's hands found his shoulders, and tugged to guide him to lie down with him.

"Just don't leave me alone." Throttle's voice was very low, almost kit-like.

"Of course, I won't." Rimfire said as he put his arm around the tan mouse as Throttle pressed close to him, never completely relaxing, even if much of the tension dissipated. "You're not gonna be alone till your sight comes back."

"Hay, mousy." Krys grinned at Rimfire came into their quarters. "Lance down with your friends?"

"Yeah, he and Modo are keeping Throttle company." He smiled at the White Tiger, before putting his tail affectionately around his waist and being pulled into a passionately welcoming embrace and kiss.

"Good, I haven't seen nearly enough of you recently." He said softly.

"I'm sorry." Rimfire said nuzzling the Tiger affectionately. "But my Bro needed me, being blind even temporarily is rough on him."

"I understand." Krys purred at the attention and stroked his mouse's hair. "Come on, I think we need to talk, in bed." Rimfire stripped down quickly, and climbed into bed with his Tiger, snuggling up close against his side and was welcomed into the warm, strong embrace. "First off, this isn't a problem, okay?"

"Okay." Rimfire agreed easily, it didn't seem like a problem to him.

"I guess first off, you know you mean a lot to me?" He nuzzled the brown mouse affectionately.

"I kind of thought so." Rimfire smiled, and nuzzled him back. "You mean a lot to me too."

"A lot, more than a pet should." The White Tiger continued quietly.

"Oh?" Rimfire asked softly, not having been aware there were such rules.

"Yes," Krys kissed him gently. "You feel like a boyfriend, more than a pet."

"Is there anything wrong with that?" He asked curiously. "I'd rather have a boyfriend, given the choice."

"Except for the ship rules outside the room, nothing." He smiled at the smaller male and kissed him softly. "But it's an act I'm very sure the Captain's doing too."

"He's not even acting very much." Rimfire snickered, before kissing the Tiger soundly. "With either of them."

"And neither are they." Krys chuckled, stroking Rimfire's fine brown fur. "You have an interesting family there."

"Yeah, uncle Modo's cool." He smiled, relaxing the Tiger's touch. "So's the rest of the pack, it's like getting a whole new family."

"Who are all lovers." He chuckled softly. "Must make for some fun furpiles."

"Yeah, it does." He smiled. "Though I like spending the night with you just as well. I like having your attention focused on me."

"I like having you all to myself." Krys rumbled, claiming a passionate kiss for a moment. "But they are affecting us." He said softly. "I understand the need to be with family, but I don't really understand how your pack fits in with us."

Rimfire thought about that for awhile. "I wish I understood it better, I should understand it better but I was raised as just a normal mouse, and they don't really form packs." He sighed. "But I'm Garou, and we do. They're our strength and weakness. Sleeping, eating, sharing pleasure with the pack, its how we reinforce our bond and our place in the pack."

"And what place does an outside lover have in that pack?" He asked, a little worried.

"I don't know." Rimfire admitted. "Throttle's joined the pack." He said quietly.

"What do you want?" Krys asked quietly.

"I don't want to have to choose between you and them." Rimfire said quietly. "I know cats don't usually think in terms of packs, but do you think you could?" He asked hopefully.

"I can try." Krys nodded. "What does that mean? In real terms."

"It's a lot like family." He said trying to explain something he didn't fully understand on a conscious level. "And teammates, and lovers. The furpile is one of the big bonding activities, helps bring us together. Maybe there's more than that, Throttle would know better than I do, he was actually raised in a pack."

"Then when he's feeling more himself, we should ask him." Krys murmured. "I want us to work."

"So do I, Krys." Rimfire rumbled softly. "Did I ever show you my Crinos form?" He asked absently, somehow it seemed important.

"No, you haven't." He purred. "Is it safe too?"

"Ceiling's high enough, and I'm not actually angry or anything except turned on by you." He grinned. "But I better climb out of the bed first." He chuckled. "Other than that yeah, it should be safe."

"All right, mousy." Krys purred and let him go. "I bet it's a handsome creature."

"You'll see." Rimfire chuckled and slipped out of bed. He stepped away from the bed and then proceeded to try and shift. A bit of mental effort, and he ended up on four legs as a brown wolf with lighter brown stripes and spiraling horns, but no antenna. The expression on the wolf's face was distinctly, 'Oops', before the form shifted again to the not quite eleven foot tall brown Crinos form with spiraling horns and antenna.

"Wow," the White Tiger rumbled and stood up to stare up, and then down, the hard-muscled bulk of his lover. "Oh, wow."

Rimfire rumbled deeply, and caressed his lover with the stronger, thicker tail of the Crinos with its Razorwolf ridge of fur along the base third.

"This'll require some care," Krys murmured as he fondled the hand-sized balls set at chest level to him, then trailed his fingers up the thick sheath. "So is this canine, or mouse?" He asked curiously.

Rimfire hadn't quite worked out speech in Crinos, so he woofed, bringing the White Tiger's gaze up to his black eyes.

"I'm afraid I don't speak canine."

Rimfire carefully moved over to the desk and with great effort managed to pick up a pen between two fingers. On a piece of paper he wrote three letters D O G.

"Merrrr," Krys rumbled. "So is playing like this okay?"

It took longer but Rimfire managed to write a little more. DID WITH BLAZE.

"So I heard," The Tiger rumbled hungrily before pulling the bedding to the floor. "Come play with me?" He opened his arms for the creature so much bigger than himself.

Rimfire nodded, and dropped into the bedding, scooping the Tiger into his arms playfully. He gave Krys a playful lick on one ear, as his sheath began to swell under curious, eager hands.

"Damn, but this will be intense." The Tiger rumbled eagerly as he explored every inch of this new form. "And you probably aren't even fully filled out yet."

Rimfire didn't think so, so he shook his head. He also made a note to ask Thildon about talking in Crinos. He caressed the Tiger with his larger than usual hands, being careful of the form's great strength and his boyfriend began to shiver in excitement. Then Krys took a large, medium-brown ball into his mouth, licking and suckling the heavy globe. Rimfire rumbled excitedly, and ran his tail up under the tiger's tail to play teasingly at the furless pucker.

"Soon, handsome." Krys promised softly as he switched to the other side. "Grab the lube and you can start the prep."

Rimfire rumbled and grabbed the lube, as his massive cock slid from its sheath in front of the White Tiger to be licked and fondled to fullness.

"Oh, yeah, this'll take some prep for." Krys sounded eager. "You are just amazing in so many ways."

Rimfire woofed and licked the Tiger affectionately, as if to say 'So are you.' He then turned so that his muzzle was near his lover's cock. The Crinos then bent his neck and ran his large slick tongue across the Tiger's furless pucker.

"Oh, yeah." Krys rumbled as he angled the huge canine cock into his mouth. Rimfire lapped at the pucker of flesh until it was good and wet before he pressed one well-lubed finger against the entrance and pushed gently but firmly until it entered the tight, hot passageway to Krys' moans around his cock.

"Bro," Throttle's voice was very soft in Modo's ear three mornings after the operation. "The lights are on?"

"Low light, but yeah." Modo said a little excite. "You can tell, Bro?"

"Well, it's not pure black anymore." He nodded against the gray mouse's chest. "Can't really see anything, though."

"Gotta start somewhere, Bro." He nuzzled the tan mouse reassuringly. "From what Nareena said, things should come into focus over the twelve hours, give or take."

"Can't come soon enough." He sighed, fingers playing over short gray fur. "It's a lot easier than last time, though."

"This is a lot safer place to recover." Modo said quietly. "And you've got a real doctor looking out for you this time."

"Don't have to worry about touching wrong either," he said quietly as his hand drifting down the broad chest. "No one here cares."

"I don't think there's anyone here you can touch wrong." He smiled softly as he brushed his hand across Throttle's cheek. "And they don't care who touches who as long as all parties are okay with it."

"I've missed that the most." He murmured. "Sharing a bed and pleasure with friends. It always made things feel less honest."

"Yeah, when I ran with the Sharks we were close like that, but the resistance just didn't seem to be okay with that." He said quietly.

"The resistance were dominated my mice, not Garou." Throttle sighed. "And like it or not, by then we were all but gone. Most active packs met the battle early on."

"Yeah, I don't think there were any actual Garou in the Sharks, just Kinfolk like myself, who didn't know we were. There might have been a few who knew but they were pretty rare."

"Most likely, with most adults who knew gone before their time." He murmured sadly as his fingers ghosted over Modo's sheath to rest lightly on his balls.

"And even adults who knew rare in that area." He said quietly as he traced his fingers up Throttle's abs and chest to a soft sound of pleasured approval and more sure movement over his balls.

Modo traced lazy circles around Throttle's nipples with his finger as he nuzzled the tan mouse's neck affectionately. He felt his Bro relax against him as a trace of arousal entered the tawny mouse's scent and Throttle's hand became bolder. The gray mouse rumbled lustily, as his tail played teasingly up the inside of Throttle's leg, to loop teasingly around his balls.

"Yesss," Throttle gave a soft sigh and shifted one leg over Modo's to give that tail better access.

The tail gave Throttle's balls a gentle squeeze as the tip played along his sheath, encouraging him to hardness as the tawny mouse arched and moaned louder. Though his body language eager, if rather passive, Throttle's hand was not as he caressed and fondled Modo's sheath and balls with increasing desire. Modo's hands caressed his Bro's sides as his tail gently stroked the tan mouse's cock and balls, an attention that was more hesitantly returned by his Bro, though Throttle's heady scent and arousal said otherwise.

"Something wrong, Bro?" Modo asked quietly, still gently caressing Throttle's chest and sides with his hands.

"No," Throttle murmured softly as one hand found Modo's face to guide a tender, though clumsy, kiss. "Never realized how much I rely on seeing for this."

"Yeah, I can imagine." Modo said sympathetically. "Making love blindfolded never did sound like much fun." He said, though his hands never stopped caressing his Bro.

"It has its points." Throttle said very, very softly. "When you trust your lover to do what is right."

"I suppose it might." Modo granted. "Can't say I've ever tried it though. Mostly due to lack of opportunity. Can't seem to have a lover for more than three months without them disappearing on me. Or me disappearing on them."

"I won't, Modo." Throttle's voice was low. "We've made a lot longer than three months."

"You're way more than a lover, you're my Bro." Modo said hugging the tan mouse close. "But things will hold together this time, not gonna let 'em do otherwise."

"Right now, I want the lover, Bro." Throttle managed to say as he relaxed against gray fur covered muscle.

"Okay, Bro." Modo rumbled, and resumed running his hands and tail through the tan mouse's fur in a sensual caress that drew soft sounds of approval and pleasure from his lover.

"Yesss," he rumbled softly and pressed into the warm touch, his own hands and tail making an awkward attempt to return the pleasure.

"Don't try so hard love." Modo rumbled, as his tail snaked down to caress Throttle's cock and balls before looping around the hard cock and stroking gently. "It's a pleasure just holding and touching you." He murmured as he kissed the tan mouse gently and Throttle went still and compliant, willingly just soaking in the pleasure his Bro offered.

Modo gently kissed his way down Throttle's neck, chest and abs and then took the tan mouse's hard shaft in his mouth, licking and sucking it eagerly as the body under him stiffened with a low moan and searching hands touched his ears, then moved to his head with a gentle, caressing touch. His snaked his tail up to caress Throttle's muscular chest, teasing at his nipples, before slipping up to gently caress his thick, red antennae. With a shudder and deep moan Throttle gently tugged Modo's ears to bring the gray mouse up to his face.

"Yes, love?" Modo rumbled and kissed his Bro gently, only to be drawn into a much more demanding mouth-lock.

"Let me see through your eyes, when you take me." He said hotly.

"Do you remember how that's done? I haven't had anyone I was that sure of in a very long time." He rumbled, clearly willing.

"Just like a memory share," Throttle murmured with a smile, "but focus on sight and feel, and the now."

Modo nodded and leaned his head so their antennae touched. As he did so, he concentrated on staying focused on sight and touch in present time. He gently caressed Throttle's cheek as he did so, waiting until he could feel it on his own cheek. "Did I do it right, Bro?"

"Oh, yeah." The tawny mouse rumbled and moved his hands down Modo's back to caress his ass.

"Now I seem to recall you mentioning something about me taking you." Modo rumbled, and slipped his hand behind Throttle to caress his ass, and brush a finger playfully against the furless pucker.

"Yessss," he rumbled hotly, pressing back against the contact. "Been far too long."

"Gods, I've wanted this a long time." Modo rumbled and gently urged his willing Bro to knees and forearm as Throttle's tail found and gently stroked his erection, pulling the gray mouse forward. Modo didn't need any convincing as he gently pressed his hard cock against Throttle's entrance before burying himself slowly to the sheath in his Bro. The gray mouse moaned and whimpered at the incredible sensation of both being enveloped in the willing ass beneath him, and being filled and stretched at the same time.

"Oh, yeah." Throttle moaned unabashedly under him and wound his tail up to rub the base of Modo's antennae as he squeezed his ass slightly. "Take me, Bro."

"You got it Bro." Modo rumbled and began thrusting, having a difficult time keeping a good pace with the doubled sensation, but managed to find his Bro's special spot just the same. The second time he hit it, he snaked his tail up to stroke his Bro's antennae at the same time. The electric shock of pleasure reflected through him to nearly push him past his limit as Throttle trembled under him.

With increasingly desperate whimpering grunts Throttle shuddered and moaned, so close to his limit he was seriously considering not trying to hold out as the double sensations and simple pleasure of his Bro with him cascaded through his body relentlessly.

Several more thrusts and holding out wasn't an option for Modo. He roared and grunted as his orgasm flooded into Throttle, splashing his insides with hot cum. The doubled sensation only intensified Modo's orgasm causing him to roar and whimper as his balls drained into his Bro.

From the pleasure and skill of his lover Throttle shuddered one last time and surrendered to the demands of his body, roaring and claming down as he came hard in the mindless pleasure of the moment.

As he came down from his orgasm, Modo rolled the two of them to one side, pulling Throttle back against his chest and putting his arms around the tan mouse. "Gods, you smell and feel incredible." He rumbled as he nuzzled his Bro's neck.

"Smell?" The tawny mouse asked with a contented murr as he lay in the secure embrace of his most trusted Bro, relishing in the safe feeling he had here despite his lack of sight.

"Something just totally arousing about the way you smell right now." Modo murmured. "And yet it's relaxing as well, I think its cause I know I've got my Bro back, and we're together the way Thildon showed me packmates could be." He said quietly. "As young as he is, he's taught me a few things." He rumbled affectionately.

"Yes, he's Garou and Garou raised." Throttle smiled and let his eyes drift closed. "He knows the culture even I only got to know for a little while."

"Which is a lot more than I know." Modo murmured as he gently stroked his Bro's hair. "But I really like this whole pack idea. It just feels so right."

"It's instinct, Bro." Throttle murmured with a content rumble. "Our kind want to run in packs, even when we don't understand why."

"I understand that now." He smiled. "But being raised a mouse kind of screws with you when you're not. I just got lucky my village was pretty much all that way. I can't imagine what it would be like to have been a skullbuster, and then find out you were kinfolk."

"That would screw with your head pretty bad." Throttle agreed quietly. "Though it's not much of a danger, really. It's not like we can breed with a mouse."

"Yeah, but with all the orphans and villages getting wiped, it could've happened." He said quietly. "We can't? I take it the similarity is mostly superficial."

"Yes," Throttle nodded quietly. "For whatever reasons we needed to look like mice and razorwolves, so that's what we became, but Garou are Garou. We're even less similar to mice than we are to humans."

"Wow, that's strange. I mean that we're less similar to mice than to humans." He said, a bit amazed.

"It's not my much, but humans have some strange genes." He shrugged. "Shapeshifters don't crossbreed well."

"Good thing there's still a bunch of us in the colonies." He said. "You know, Thildon was telling me about his village. If we didn't have the war and everything, it sounds like a nice place. Calm and peaceful."

"Most probably are." Throttle smiled. "We may be vicious fighters, but we don't start wars."

"So the stories about the random killings on Mars are just that, stories?" Modo asked very softly.

"No kill was random." Throttle answered. "They served a purpose."

"I mean it wasn't cause the person did anything to deserve it."

"Most packs tried to keep to those who were trouble, like skullbusters." Throttle said quietly. "I've never been on a culling hunt. We stopped before the war."

"That's a relief." Modo said quietly. "Still makes me feel like a bit of an idiot."

"Why?" Throttle turned his head, even though he couldn't discern anything about his lover yet.

"I always said those stories were just stuff people like the skullbusters made up to justify what they did." He said quietly. "Turns I wasn't as right as I thought, and they weren't as wrong as I thought."

"Depends on when the stories were from. Culling was banned more than forty years ago. Any random kills were probably your standard disagreement turned fight."

"The stories that have gotten handed down from generation to generation." Modo said quietly. "The ones they used to push their view that the Garou were simply monsters preying on real mice. Mama always said the best lies contain elements of the truth, and that was what made them so dangerous."

"They weren't random, but we did cull the mice population, same as razorwolves." Throttle explained. "It was part of our duties from before mice could walk upright."

"That was a long time ago." Modo shook his head. "These stories are only two or three generations old."

"Duties millennia old aren't abandoned easy," Throttle said softly. "Especially in protectorates where culling was the only thing that kept things in balance."

"I know." Modo sighed. "But that culling is partly responsible for creating the skullbusters. They were overreacting, but the threat was there."

"And without the Plutarkian invasion, they were a very minor threat that was dealt with when found." Throttle shrugged. "It saved us from killing newborns."

"It's not a minor threat, when it's someone in your family." Modo said quietly. "Killing newborns? That's sick to even consider."

"Not as sick as it sounds," the tawny mouse sighed, clearly not happy with the idea either. "They have fewer attachments to the world, don't need to be Remembered to go on, and few suspect murder when one just stops breathing in their crib one night."

Modo shuddered. "There are some things about my heritage, I just didn't need to know." He said quietly. "I liked it better, thinking the skullbusters were completely wrong."

"I would have too," he murmured. "But I don't believe in hiding the truth from my packmates. It's not a tradition I have any intention of reinstating, or supporting. There are other ways now."

"It's not like there are enough Mice for it to be necessary." He sighed. "Probably won't be a generation beyond the current one."

"Mice, maybe, maybe not." Throttle said softly. "There will be if they survive till we get there."

"That's a pretty big if." Modo said quietly. "Gods, this is getting morbid." He shook his head.

"Yeah, when we have so much to be grateful for." Throttle smiled and twisted to kiss him.

"Yeah, we're back together and we've got a great pack too." He smiled, and claimed a passionate kiss.

"And a people to go home to." Throttle rumbled softly. "Mars may be deserted, but the colonies seem to have thrived."

"Over a hundred thousand Garou and Kinfolk combined from what Thildon said." Modo rumbled. "Hard to believe. It's been a long time since Mars had so many people."

"Yeah," Throttle murmured in more than a little shock. "Wow."

"Yeah, that's kind of what I said." Modo nodded. "But I guess they're spread over a bunch of worlds."

"Still, wow." The tawny mouse murmured. "Somehow, I don't think we'll have much trouble taking Mars and Earth back."

"I think like a third of those are Garou." Modo said quietly. "They've got a really aggressive breeding program, from what Thildon tells me."

"Third?" Throttle almost choked. "Damn, they must be."

"I think he mentioned something about if we were in the colonies I'd have to sire two litters by contract, or something like that." Modo said, still not sure on the concept. "He already has, and he's not quite twenty."

"But a third?" Throttle murmured. "Mars didn't have a one to ten ratio."

"They've been at it aggressively for six or seven generations." Modo shrugged. "Guess that's been a big thing though, preparing for the return."

"Well, it was why they went out." The tawny mouse murmured, then forced himself to relax and snuggled back against Modo's chest. "Have you decided when to get your eyes done?"

"Not till your sight is back." Modo said firmly.

"Thanks, Bro." Throttle smiled and rolled over to snuggle against the bigger mouse. "But just after that, or just go under once for eyes and arm?"

"I think I'd rather have my eyes already working when she does my arm." He said holding his Bro close.

"At least you have always have one working eye." He murmured softly. "Never thought to ask her to do just one side at a time."

"Probably better to do both at once Bro." He said gently. "Eyes should work together."

"Sure." He murmured sleepily. "You're used to one, maybe it bugs me more."

"Heh, my brain still keeps trying to see out the eye that isn't there. But Nareena's gonna replace 'em both, Bro." He smiled. "She said it should improve my ability to hit things at range."

Throttle chuckled deeply. "Depth perception does help with that."

"I'd kind of gotten used to not having much of that." Modo grinned. "It'll take some practice to get used to it again."

"I'm sure we can think of a good incentive for you to practice." Throttle grinned and played his tail up Modo's inner thigh.

"I bet you can, Bro." Modo rumbled, and ran his hand across Throttle's chest, teasing at both nipples.

"Mmmm, perhaps a list of fantasies? Having them fulfilled as your aim improves?"

"I'll have to think about that." Modo rumbled. "I just got my two big ones."

"What are those?"

"The biggest one for years has just been having you back." He smiled softly. "And it seemed like a serious fantasy at times." He sighed quietly. "And the other is having you as a lover. Which I never really thought was very likely."

"I guess I was too focused on Vinnie to see another male." Throttle murmured. "I would have liked that."

"You were pretty focused on him." Modo said quietly, nuzzling his Bro reassuringly. "But it's okay, I understood."

"Thanks, Bro." He smiled. "It still would have made Earth a lot more pleasant a stay, if I'd noticed you were like me."

"Yeah, it would have." Modo smiled. "Though I had my own obsession the last three months we were on Earth."

"Mmm, yes. Hopefully he'll still be there when we get back."

"He's a survivor, if anyone can he can. Even if he had to jump to Mars to do it." Modo said quietly.

"Like Charley."

"Wouldn't surprise me if we find them together." Modo smiled fondly. "They do know each other."

"I'd call that a very good thing. Two survivors together are very hard to take out."

"Especially when one knows the etherways connecting the planets in our solar system. He actually took me skiing on Pluto once." Modo chuckled softly. "Even with the protective enchantments it was cold."

"You're lover isn't very human."

"He's a human spellweaver." Modo shrugged. "Supposedly he's the direct descendant of their last great wizard, Merlin. Or least that's what he said."

"I didn't even realize that had magic left." Throttle shook his head.

"It's pretty rare, even in that family. I guess Jeremy triggered his own talented accidentally by getting caught in a flare of some sort that connected a place called Stonehenge to a similar place of power on Mars."

"One of the Greater Caerns."

"Could be." Modo nodded. "All I know is by the time he got back to Earth, his own talent was firmly established. It's actually how I met him, though nothing developed but friendship the first time we met."

"Sounds like you had an adventure you didn't tell us about." Throttle teased him lightly.

"Remember when our camp at Hawk Ridge got overrun and we got separated for a little over a year?" He asked quietly.

"A little too well."

"Well, I spent a good share of that year with Jeremy and a couple of the Sharks doing hit and run on Plutarkians." He smiled softly.

"Sounds like you had a lot more fun than I did."

"Dumb luck on my part." Modo chuckled. "I'd gotten cornered by the fishfaces when a glowing red wolf the size of a Chicago bus came running over the ridge. You shoulda seen the fishfaces panic and run."

"Damn, I bet." Throttle chuckled. "Yeah, that would have been a sight."

"What a chuckling Jeremy came over the ridge, and mind you I'd never seen a human before, I figured it was some sort of hologram." He shook his head. "Then I saw it dig its claws into one of the fishfaces transports, and I wasn't sure what the hell it was."

"Human magic." He nodded, finally putting a few other things together. "It does explain some of the things I heard that year, and after."

"An ancestral dire wolf spirit from Earth according to Jeremy." Modo smiled. "Apparently, his family has favors owed to them by a ton of spirits and elementals. At any case, I don't think those fishfaces slowed down till the hit Plutark. And yeah, Jeremy showed up periodically after the year was over. He'd also managed to teach a couple of Sharks, human magic."

"How many Sharks were left last time you had contact?"

"I think there were still four teams, though I don't know if all were full strength. My team, the Bloodfangs, was down two. But probably between sixteen and twenty-four. That was the biggest bunch of damn ornery survivors." He chuckled.

"We do tend to be." Throttle smiled with a chuckled of his own. "Can't believe I didn't put the reports together and figure it out."

"Which reports?"

"The ones on kinfolk activity, and the Sharks in particular. And the weird magic that started showing up with the furless creature before Hawk Ridge." Throttle explained quietly. "There weren't many Garou or those in the know left, and we were pretty spread out, but we kept in touch and traded info when we could."

"He'd arrived a few weeks before Hawk Ridge." Modo nodded. "He didn't really get focused till he hooked up with me and the Sharks."

"What a strange pack I'm building." Throttle murmured softly. "Maybe I'm more her son than I want to think about."

"Bro, you're building a pack of survivors." Modo nuzzled Throttle reassuringly. "That's the way of the Mars we learned from. But you notice that it was the mixed packs of survivors that survived the longest."

"Still seems strange to have mice, Garou, kinfolk, humans, cats, fox and whatever S'lessa's carrying all in the same pile." He murmured. "Just ... strange ... that it's so easy to accept."

"Yeah, but I think its cause we've seen so much and been so many places." He smiled. "A good packmate is more heart and spirit, than what covering they're wearing."

Throttle nodded, though he was quickly sinking into the broody quiet of having too much to think about, and not enough to keep his mind off it.

"Oh no you don't." Modo smirked, as he pulled Throttle into an intensely passionate kiss while his tail slipped down to playfully tease at his Bro's balls.

"I'm really not in the mood, Bro." He said quietly.

"Sorry, you just looked like you were getting broody." He said and backed off, as his scent dropped to completely neutral.

"It's okay, Bro." Throttle sighed. "Sometimes broody isn't so bad a thing. I've got a lot to come to terms with."

Modo nodded, and just lay quietly, figuring he'd probably just put his foot in his mouth if he said anything.

"You wanted to see me, ma'am?" Throttle's voice was low, still missing much of the determination that had marked his first few weeks on the ship.

"Yes, Throttle." She smiled warmly. "Please sit down." She said gesturing to a chair in her office. "I've been concentrating on fixing the physical damage you've suffered, but as a psych-healer it would be irresponsible of me to ignore the mental damage that's more severe and not healing on its own."

He froze, staring at her with sold black eyes that were still very expressive of his mixed confusion and fear. But it was her empathy that told her the most damning thing: resignation to a betrayal he was hoping against.

"Why would letting yourself heal, be a betrayal?" She asked gently, concern easily readable on her face.

The tawny mouse looked at her, too worn out to honestly put up much resistance, despite the strength of screams in his soul against submitting. "I knew it was too much to hope you'd be any different." He said softly, memories of Karbunkle and others too close to the surface to hide.

"Throttle, if you're not going to let me help you, then I won't." She said quietly. "We can end the conversation right here. I'm not forcing anything on you." She said tiredly. "There are enough people who want to get better, and stop being in pain." She added resigned.

He looked at her, not sure for a moment if he was really going to be allowed to leave, or if it was just going to make it worse. His new eyes never leaving her, he bolted for the door, fully expecting it not to open for him. It opened just as it always did, and closed behind him leaving an extremely frustrated Tigress on one side, and a more than slightly bewildered mouse on the other who he made short work of the distance to the room his pack called home.

Modo was lying on his stomach on the floor pillows, reading a large hardcover book, when Throttle came in.

"Hi, Bro." The tawny mouse greeted him, his eyes sweeping the room for others, and paused as they always did now, to look at his face in the mirror on one wall.

"Hey, Bro." Modo smiled, and put a page marker in his book before setting it aside. "What's got you so shaken?" He asked gently.

"Nareena asked to mess around in my head." He shuddered slightly, more willing to let his reactions happen with just the two of them there.

"Bro, she's a mind-healer." Modo said gently as Throttle sank on the bed next to him. "And she wouldn't have asked if she didn't think there was a real problem. She also won't do anything if you can't trust her."

"How are you so sure?"

"Because Lance trusts her, and he's had bad experience in camps too. He doesn't trust easily, and he trusts her." He said. "And I just know she can be trusted." He said quietly. "I can't explain why, but I just do." He said quietly. "Same way I know Vinnie's safe, even if he's not real happy about his situation."

"She can tell how I feel." He murmured. "She knows I'd be lying even if I said yes."

"Yes, she does." He said quietly. "But she has to ask, to let you know the healing is there if you can accept it. Same way a real doctor can't ignore someone who's bleeding openly."

"That's just a body." Throttle countered, his heart not really in it. "She wants in my head."

"And injured patient is an injured patient, to a real healer." Modo said gently. "She doesn't like to see anyone in pain, when she can help to relieve that pain. And don't worry about it, Bro. She's not gonna do anything, since I'm sure you made it pretty clear how you felt."

"I can't help how I feel, and she's holding that against me."

"No, she's just respecting the fact that you don't want her in your head." Modo said quietly. "I suppose she might be a bit hurt that you lump her in with Karbunkle, but then who wouldn't."

"I can't help it." He growled slightly, frustrated.

"Bro, you've been stubborn enough to make all sorts of things happen." Modo nuzzled his Bro gently. "Time you realized that the Plutarkians didn't have any real healers, and Karbunkle was no more a doctor than Limburger was."

"He wasn't the only one." Throttle sighed softly, clearly struggling with something. "I'm tired Bro. So tired of not having rights to my own life."

"Bro, just who says you don't?" Modo asked protectively.

"Fate, Death Angel, you ... for the main three." He murmured softly, closing his eyes. "Just different parts. Probably couldn't see a choice if I was given one. Never really got to have one."

Modo raised an eyebrow. "Don't know what you mean, I never forced anything on you."

"Forced, no." Throttle agreed. "Assumed, and demanded, you have." He said quietly. "That I'm the leader, that I live, even after Fate and my mother are done with me."

Modo sighed. "You always acted like a leader." He said quietly. "As for the living part, not much I can do if you decide to go off and end it all." He murmured, and stared up at the ceiling.

"A Garou's word is a bond, even if you weren't my Bro." Throttle explained quietly. "You've asked me to live. I will. It doesn't change that I'm very tired of dealing with it." He murmured. "I knew a long time ago I was my own worst enemy. That much hasn't changed."

"I don't recall asking anything, so don't go dumping this on me." Modo said tiredly. "We're all responsible for our own lives."

Throttle looked at him in a mixture of curiosity and confusion before he nodded. "Okay, you haven't asked anything of my now."

"We're Bros, and that means I care about you." Modo said softly. "That's all."

"Enough to force what I need, and can't do?" He asked very quietly, only just getting it out.

"If I can figure it out." Modo nodded.

Throttle's teeth clenched as he worked to get it out. "I need her help."

"That much I figured out, Bro." Modo looked at him very seriously. "But like it or not, you've got to let her help." He said firmly. "Which means getting your tail back down there and asking." He said in a very cut-the-crap tone of voice. "I'll haul you down there myself if I have to."

"You'll have to take Alpha for that." Throttle tried his best to help, by giving the tools that could turn one of his few stronger instincts against the fear.

"If that's the only way you're gonna get the help you need, then I guess I'll have to." Modo rumbled. "I look out for my Bros, even when they're too stubborn to take care of themselves."

"Just too fucked up." Throttle muttered, mostly at himself as he pressed close against Modo's side.

"Whatever, we're gonna get it taken care of." Modo rumbled. "So there anything unusual required here?" He asked curiously. "I know a lot of Alphas don't give up the top spot without being beaten out of it."

"Might come to that." Throttle admitted. "But right now it amounts to not backing down and holding it in the eyes of the pack."

"So can I drag you back down to Nareena now, or there something we gotta do first?" Modo asked, in a very 'let's-get-this-taken-care-of' voice.

"Since I'm not contesting your leadership, nothing really." He said a little skittishly.

"Good." Modo said as he rustled through the pillows till he found his shirt and shorts. "Lets go." He said as he stood, putting his tail around Throttle's waist encouragingly. The tawny mouse tensed, resisting the move for a moment before he ducked his head slightly, a submissive gesture Modo had seen Saytee use often enough, usually to appease Blaze.

"Bro, you don't have to appease me." Modo said gently. "I'm just trying to get you the help you need, that you know you need." He said softly, as he opened the door.

"It's a wolf thing." The tawny mouse chuckled weakly as he followed. "Reinforces status when there's a question somehow."

"Oh, something else I don't know." Modo chuckled lightly as they walked. "I may be Kinfolk, but I was raised mouse. I'm still trying to figure all this wolf stuff out."

"And I'm kinfolk raised wolf." Throttle chuckled. "Mouse doesn't come at all naturally."

"And Vinnie's mouse raised mouse, and somehow we still managed to be a pack." He chuckled softly.

"Most because we didn't ask questions, I think. There was just the time we fought together, nothing before that, really."

"Yeah, a luxury we don't have anymore." Modo said quietly. "Though knowing you were Kinfolk wouldn't have changed anything from my perspective, even if I didn't know what I was."

"Would knowing Death Angel was rarely for than ten paces away from me have?" He asked curiously.

"Would've been strange, Bro." Modo admitted. "But nothin' I couldn't deal with. I mean she is a major important figure."

"I wish you could have meet her under better circumstances." He smiled softly. "Mother really wasn't nearly such a big deal as everyone made of her. She was just stubborn as all hell."

"So do I, Bro." Modo smiled. "But better circumstances wasn't something any of us got to see for a long time."

"And are still coming."

"Yeah, that's still hard to believe." He said as they rounded the corner toward Medical. The sight of the door had a clear effect on Throttle as the mouse pulled back slightly for a moment. "Throttle." Modo said quietly. "You know you need her help. So just pull yourself together." He said firmly, but supportively.

The tawny mouse nodded and moved forward again, though each step was a struggle against himself. Modo stayed next to his reluctant Bro and followed him into Medical, making sure that he did in fact go into Medical.

"Modo, Throttle" Nareena acknowledged as she looked up from her desk. "Is something the matter?"

"Yes, I think you already know that." Modo said simply. "Throttle has something he needs to ask, don't you Bro?"

A startled, half panicked look crossed his face for a moment as he glanced at Modo, then swallowed and edged away from the healer unconsciously. "Help me." He just managed to whisper.

Nareena looked at the two mice very seriously for a moment and then nodded. "Throttle, have you ever had a healer before who didn't hurt you?" She asked very gently.

"No," he shook his head.

"Then you have never had a real healer." She said sympathetically. "Only frauds who have sullied an honored profession. But I understand why you're reluctant to let one touch your mind." She said gently. "Especially given that someone you trusted touched your mind to did harm."

The tawny mouse's face snapped up at that, startled before he accepted she knew.

"It's hard for an empath to not see the damage she left." Nareena said gently.

"Oh," he nodded. "Not used to covering it that way."

"Given that empaths aren't common, there's no reason to expend the energy required." She smiled gently. "But it is one of the major wounds that need healing."

Throttle nodded slightly. "I know."

"The other two big ones are the damage done by the creature who took your eyes, and your long-standing resentment of how your life has gone." She said quietly. "Strange that one who resents the dictates of those more powerful than himself, would choose to be a pet." She said, giving him a curious look over.

"Because it is my choice." Throttle sighed, repeating for her what was a rote conversation for him by now. "I like not being responsible for everything sometimes."

"However, the resentment still is perhaps the deepest of your injuries." She said gently. "But following the dictates of fate is also a choice, one can always say 'no' and choose differently."

A strange look somewhere between 'death before betrayal' and 'what the hell are you talking about' crossed his face as he tried to work that into something comprehendible enough to actually reply to.

"It was something I tried to explain to my son when he was little." She smiled softly. "He too got a prophecy hooked to him. As his mother, I felt it necessary to make sure he understood that he was still entitled to a real life. The fates are uncaring, and do not care whose lives they destroy or screw up." She said quietly. "Like all in power who behave in such a fashion they deserve neither obedience nor respect."

"My people do, though." He said softly, still very uncertain about this concept.

Nareena sighed quietly. "Because of a rational and logical decision, or simply because of belief?" She asked quietly.

"Because we sent six colonies out with the Soul of Mars to retake and rebuild our homeworld after this invasion, because of the prophecy." He said quietly. "I'm supposed to lead them home."

"And if you had gotten killed somewhere along the line?" She asked curiously.

"Why do you think the parental spirit unit never leaves me alone?" He grumbled softly. "Between my instincts and her interference, it's not going to happen. It's just not a permitted option."

Nareena chuckled softly. "It could've happened. If you'd been dropped in some less friendly parts of the universe. Your parental spirit unit is not so strong that a powerful sorcerer couldn't overcome her interference. Even on Aristal there are still a few left who have such power, though they've retired from real involvement with the mortal world."

"And none of those things happened." He shrugged. "A greater Power could have challenged Phoenix, but none have done that either."

"I don't claim to know what the Greater Powers are up to these days." She said quietly. "But perhaps we'd be best going to dealing with the mortal problems. Religion is rarely a good place to start."

Throttle nodded acceptably.

"Mind-healing merely strengthens the minds natural ability to heal itself. Sometimes when a mental wound is deep enough, it gets stuck and the natural healing doesn't affect it. A mind-healer helps direct the minds natural ability to focus on that wound and heal it, as it should have on its own." She explained gently.

"What will come of it?" He asked quietly, his tail wrapped tightly around Modo's waist.

"In time, the memories will be just that ... memories. They won't have the present-time intensity that causes so much pain. I can see that you have a very sharp memory, so you can't help but remember, but there's no reason that every remembering has to be a reliving."

Despite not quite getting it, Throttle nodded, accepting her authority through his Alpha.

"It will be easier to understand once you've had a little exposure." She said gently. "For now you need to relax physically, as well as relax any shields your keeping up. You have to let me in, for this to work."

Throttle nodded and curled against Modo, trying to find a way to feel physically safe with a doctor around before he even tried to sort out how to do what she was asking.

Modo sat down on the floor and held Throttle against him, wrapping his tail around the tan mouse's waist. "Just remember, she answers to Lance, and Lance really cares for you, you know that." He said reassuringly.

Throttle nodded and closed his eyes, lowering his shields the way he did for a memory share.

Nareena very gently touched the tan mouse's mind, keeping an aura of calm and healing around her touch and waited patiently for him to relax enough not to reflexively shy away from the contact. She searched for the most battered, painful part of the chaos that was Throttle's mind, careful to steer clear of the parts that were heavily integrated with belief.

Once she found a place, a burning memory of strangling a dusky brown female with his tail in self-defense after a year of captive abuse. Mental notes closely attached included 'Cara', 'LifeMate', 'beloved still' and 'not Remembered'.

She began to encourage and enhance the natural healing, accelerating it to gently blur and dull the painful moment so it matched earlier memories both in intensity and clarity. It was a heavily resisted process, both by guilt and near-instinctive distrust of anything that directly changed his mind. In the end though, his mental exhaustion and desire for a little peace won out, and let her sooth the pain.

She very carefully guided the healing so that the pleasant memories of the female mouse where above and masking the less pleasant ones, since it seemed the female had suffered some sort of mental breakdown. That healing done, she pulled out gently careful to smooth any trace of her passage, though it was likely Throttle was no longer aware of her, passed out as he was in Modo's arms.

"Is it alright to take him back to quarters?" Modo asked quietly.

Nareena nodded as she curled up on one of the medical beds to grab some sleep.

Modo gently picked up his passed out mate and carried him back to the pack's quarters.

Throttle whimpered softly even before he was fully awake, instinctively pressing closer to the warm body against his chest, and taking some comfort from the warmth and smell of his packmates nearby. The soft whimper caused the two males on either side of Throttle to snuggle closer, reflexively protecting their packmate.

Slowly glassy black eyes opened, confusion in their depths, but more relaxed than he had been in years.

"You okay, Throttle?" Lance's voice asked quietly, as deep green eyes looked at the tan mouse with quiet concern from in front.

"How you doing, Bro?" Modo asked quietly, as he nuzzled his Bro's neck from behind.

"Feels very strange." He murmured, not quite up to focusing with the sizable hole in the mass of pain and guilt that passed for consciousness. "But I think I like it."

"Good." Modo rumbled, as Lance claimed a gentle, loving kiss that was very willingly returned. "If you didn't like, it probably wouldn't be working."

"It will take more than one session to finish." Lance said gently. "But then a lifetime of injuries aren't going to clear up overnight."

Throttle nodded, still very uneasy about what he was letting Nareena do, but trusting Modo enough they were overridden. "Even if they take as long to undo as to set ... it'll be interesting to see which name suits what is left."

"Hey, she's not taking anything out, Bro." Modo said gently. "Just letting you move on, like most people do."

"I believe you," the tawny mouse nodded against Lance's chest and wrapped his tail around Modo's waist. "But both SunWind and Throttle are basically constructs to deal with what happened. It takes a lot of effort to maintain it."

"Well, you're my Bro no matter what." Modo said confidently.

Throttle rolled over in place to hug the gray mouse tightly. "Thanks."

Lance nuzzled the tan mouse affectionately from behind. "We'll get you through this, you'll see." He said supportively as Throttle's tail wrapped around him.

"She knows I didn't mean to hurt her, right?" He looked over his shoulder at the one who ranked the healer.

"She understands, Throttle." Lance said gently. "She's just sensitive about people who are healers misusing the title. And she doesn't take not being able to help well. The fact that you came back meant a lot too her."

"Good," he murmured, closing black eyes. "I'm not fighting her. She's been good to us."

"She understands that now." Lance nuzzled Jake quietly. "Of course, now you remind her a bit of the son she lost a long time ago." He shook his head.

"I kind of gathered that." He smiled sadly. "I'm glad she hasn't faced it, but she really doesn't understand what shaped my life. What it takes to fight when you know you'll be exterminated no matter what. Makes it hard to get her to understand."

"Yes, but it's difficult for many to understand what the point to fighting is if you have no chance to win." He said quietly. "From what I understand of the Felsin, they're a race of refugees, who fled a world on the brink of catastrophe seeking a world they could call home."

"That would have been a nice option."

"I was wondering about that." Lance said quietly. "Mars apparently had the ability to send people to distant worlds, why didn't they just get out of the invaders' way?"

"I don't think anyone remembers how the bridges work." Modo said quietly. "I think they all left for the colonies."

"Garou remembered," Throttle said quietly. "But there wasn't enough power left to open one any further than Earth at most, and that was considered as much a suicide run as facing down the Plutarkians for our homes."

"Like the kr'tan paths on R'cantha." Lance nodded. "Only now are the circles of stone becoming awake again."

"Yes, they are part of the network," Throttle said softly. "One of six types of paths cross-link most of the universe, and a seventh for traversing the variant lines and times. Large circles with symbols carved around them, and a control pedestal with a great red stone in the center?"

"Yes, built in ancient times by the Kr'tan, our sorcerer-priests." Lance nodded.

"Probably what we call Stargates," Throttle said and snuggled against Modo tightly. "Each of the seven has a distinctive appearance."

"Could be." Lance nodded, snuggled against the side of Throttle opposite Modo. "I don't know much about them."

"Interesting way to travel." Modo said quietly, with his arms around Throttle holding him close as his packmate let out a content sigh and relaxed to a kiss to the gray chest near his muzzle. Modo gently stroke his Bro's hair, in a comforting, loving fashion. Quiet times like this hadn't happened very often in either of their lives, and the gray mouse was going to let this one last.

Throttle, Rimfire, Lance and Modo watched Nareena closely as she reviewed the report a couple of times before saying anything.

"Turns out that there are four kits." Nareena said calmly. "Apparently that's quite common for S'lessa's family, especially first litter. Three males, one female and all quite healthy. The mother is also doing well, even if she's still weirded out by the unexpected pregnancy."

"She's not alone," Throttle said quietly, knowing full well the healer could tell he was freaked out to the very core of his soul at siring half-breeds.

"I'm still not sure how, or why, but none of the kits are of mixed breed." She said quietly. "One male R'Canthan kit, one female R'Canthan kit, and two male mice kits."

"Umm, so who's the other parents?" Throttle asked, trying hard to work that one out. The intense confusion from his mother not helping any.

"That's what doesn't make sense." Nareena shook her head in frustration. "I've run the genetic testing on the kits six times, and the two R'Canthan kits are coming up with S'lessa as mother, and you and Rimfire as the fathers. Which of course makes no sense since neither of you is R'Canthan, but there isn't a trace of anything but feline in those two. It's like something translated your mouse DNA to R'Canthan DNA."

"The mice, are they Garou, or Kinfolk?" Throttle asked quietly.

"Assuming I'm reading them right, and I do have a limited number of examples to work from, both the mice appear to be Garou." Nareena said easily. "No trace of feline in them, though S'lessa is clearly the mother."

The tawny mouse nodded, accepting what he knew he'd never understand. "Who's sire to who?"

"You're sire to one of the Garou and the female kit, while Rimfire is sire to the other two." She said easily.

"At least it's normal for a pack to raise all kits," he shook his head. "That's going to be a headache to explain." Throttle looked up at her. "Where's S'lessa now?"

"She's resting in her quarters. Tracker's been keeping an eye on her. He's been very interested in her, since she became pregnant." Nareena said quietly.

Throttle nodded and filed the info away. "Is there a medical reason she shouldn't talk to us now?"

"Medical, no." She said quietly. "But if she doesn't feel like talking, I expect you to respect that." She said firmly. "She had no plans to get pregnant, and she's very unsettled."

"I understand." Throttle's tone was very empathetic. "And I will. There are important things we need to sort out, and the sooner, the better."

"I'm sure. Just remember, the concept of unplanned pregnancy is unheard of among R'Canthans." She said gently. "This is probably a good time, she's usually in good spirits when she gets back to her quarters from the whirlpool bath."

"It's not exactly common among Garou." Throttle let the shiver pass through him and glanced at Modo before turning to leave.

Modo followed his Bro out of the office. "Kits, Bro?" He asked quietly.

"The two Garou need to be raised by the pack." He nodded, still very uneasy about this. "The other two ... they're pack if she is," he shook his head, trying to work out just how the hell that part worked. "If not ... they're not kin ... I think." He paused. "They'd belong to her family."

"But they'd still be siblings to the Garou, same mother and father." Modo said, uncertainly. "Talk about your weird family arrangements."

"Closest I can figure is a mating between two packs, where neither mate will transfer." Throttle said, still working on it. "Some kits go with each parent, to be raised by that parents pack. It's never been common, but it does happen."

"Well, just remember in this case the mother isn't just a different pack, she's a different culture." Modo said gently.

"That's why I want to start working on this now, before she's really showing, or the kits actually come. It's never an easy thing to work through."

"I think I need to talk to Rimfire." Modo said quietly. "I think he's in shock. Knowing they could be his, was a lot different from having it out point blank."

"Have you thought about Saytee's kits?" Throttle asked gently. "They're probably yours."

"Mine and Thildon's. I know." He said quietly. "Not exactly something I was planning on. Actually I never figured on having kits ever." He said very softly.

"Sounds like the entire pack needs to spend some time on this." Throttle put his hand on Modo's shoulder. "None of us were ready for this."

"Except for Blaze, who definitely wants kits." Modo shook his head.

"She's not carrying." Throttle suddenly froze. "She's not, right?"

"Right. And not happy about that fact either, judging from her reactions." Modo nodded. "I think she's the only one who'd really want to be, though."

"It's another wolf thing." Throttle said quietly. "It's the ranking female who gets to breed."

"Interesting." Modo said quietly. "Guess I'm just too much old-fashioned mouse on that score, 'cause I think S'lessa's the only one of the three who's old enough to have any business havin' kits. Like Mama always said, kits got no business havin' kits."

"I agree with you, but with Saytee her age, and S'lessa not even pack, she's not buying it." Throttle sighed. "A female her age would never make the alpha female position in a normal pack."

"If S'lessa ended up pack, which you indicated could happen, what's the likely reaction from Blaze?" Modo asked quietly.

"My best guess, grudging submission." Throttle said softly. "She's older, natural form stronger, and in the ship's rank structure, very high ranking. Blaze's rank comes from her association with Lance and me, and that she's the only female Garou, but I get the feeling she's not very domineering when it comes right down to it. Just loosing to a kinfolk keeper is just too much."

"Yeah, I could see that." Modo nodded. "But I think S'lessa's probably gonna need a bit of explanation of what pack means before a decision is possible."

"Probably a lot," he sighed. "Another reason I wanted to get this started soon."

"Bro, you know her, and I don't." Modo said quietly. "So, unless you want backup, I'll go look in on Rimfire and see how he's doing while you talk to S'lessa." Despite the gray mouse's genuine offer, it was pretty clear that he was focused on his nephew.

"I can handle this," he squeezed Modo's flesh shoulder. "You see to Rimfire."

"Okay, Bro." Modo smiled. "See you at dinner." He said as he turned at an intersection to head back toward their quarters.

Throttle drew a deep break as he knocked on S'lessa's door, a place he hadn't been since her heat.

"Who's there?" A tired and slightly irritable voice came from the intercom next to the door.

"Throttle," he answered, swallowing slightly. "Can we talk?"

"Come on in, Throttle." She said softly, as the door opened. The room was at about half light, and S'lessa was lying in bed as he stepped in and came over to sit next to her.

"Beyond the shock, how are you feeling?" He asked gently, reaching out to put a hand on her bare arm.

"Confused, though not as confused as I was." She said quietly, as she put her hand on Throttle's. "What do your people believe about the Powers?" She asked gently.

"In what context?" He asked softly. "That's a very big question."

"Do you believe they exist and involve themselves in mortal activities?" She elaborated though clearly a little uncertain.

"I know many do." He nodded. "Some more than others."

"Tracker's study the old writings, and he found something that I think explains what happened." She said quietly. "A long time ago there were two sentient species on R'Cantha, both feline but not genetically compatible. The one went into decline, I'm still not clear why, and eventually went extinct. A Power who's province is the preservation of life and creation changed some members of the remaining species so they could use the DNA of the other, even carry children of the other. They were drawn by instinct to the dying race, to mate with them, and carry their children. Not half-breeds, but purebreeds of the other." She paused to let that sink in.

"Your family among them." He said quietly.

"It was three to five thousand years ago." She said quietly. "The genetic potential for the melora, those who could carry both, got dispersed and forgotten as we no longer had the problem." She said quietly. "Throttle, are your people on the edge of extinction, or do they at least think they are?" She asked quietly.

He nodded slightly. "Less than a thousand natives left on Mars, only eighty or so of them Garou or our kinfolk. We all grew up knowing we were the last of our kind, prophecies or no."

"The blood of the Melora knew that, and awakened to try and save as it did before." She said quietly. "That's why the pheromones were so strong, to make sure what needed to happen would happen." She sighed. "It seems that destiny or fate as you will, had plans for us all."

"I can't say I'm surprised by that." He let out a resigned sigh of frustration.

"Neither am I now." She said quietly. "Though I was very surprised to find I carried blood of the Melora. I thought they were only a myth."

"Most myths are based in reality." Throttle murmured. "I am one, after all."

"You're a myth?" She asked dubiously.

"Most mice don't believe Garou are real." He almost chuckled. "Or at least not real like them."

"They don't?" She smiled. "Our world had Garou once, but they left during the occupation. Supposedly they settled a world called Sanctuary, somewhere along the edge of Galactic Core." She said quietly. "Most worlds I've encountered seem to have or have had Garou. How they're treated and perceived varies greatly though."

"It's kind of a catch-all term for five-form shapeshifts, like Blaze and Rimfire. Not all Garou are related in more than the name."

"Yes, I've noticed." She nodded. "It's odd how the term spread to so many worlds."

"Garou were born of creatures from the Umbra." He smiled gently at her. "We share an allegiance to several Powers in common, who call us all the same. Like all warm red blooded creatures tend to get lumped into 'mammal'."

"With notable exceptions such as avians." She chuckled weakly. "But I see your point." She smiled. "But that does leave as with kits of both of us, regardless of what manipulations of Powers were involved."

"And I'd advice not trying to figure out how that works with a green-blooded Martian Garou Kinfolk as sire." He shook his head with a bemused chuckle. "Strange, strange concept." He paused. "Do you kind have any shapeshifting ability?"

"It works because a Power gave the Melora the genetic ability to make it work." She smiled. "Like the Garou of Earth, the Garou of R'Cantha could breed with those neither Garou or Kin. My Grandfather was Garou, I was Kinfolk without the ability to shift but the Melora has had other ideas. In my dreams I can see the other shapes."

"Okay, this is a conversation I am not ready for." The tawny mouse made a desperate grab for self-control and managed to keep the bolt-kill gut reaction to a spike in tension.

"Then tell me what conversation you are ready for." She said quietly. "You did come to me."

He took a moment to gather his wits before answering. "The kits ... how we're going to work out who's raising who, if you want to join my family, or hold to your own." He tried to explain the utter mess it was in his own mind without running on too badly.

"Perhaps if you could explain what family means to you, I might have a better idea." She said gently.

"It's everything, but it's not based on blood so much as alliance." He tried to put instinct into words a feline might understand. "My new pack is my family, as much as my mother and those who raised me."

"Like the FireClaws." She said quietly. "Who is in your new pack?"

"Modo, Vinnie, Rimfire, Blaze, Thildon, Saytee, Tam and Lance."

S'lessa looked at him curiously. "Who is Vinnie? I recognize the other names."

"My third Bro, from before we were scattered to the stars." He smiled softly. "He's the one we're going after, after the resupply."

"What's he like?" She asked, genuinely curious. "The others I've met."

"He's a pretty boy showoff," Throttle summarized the white mouse, "and blind to those who want to share his bed, bragging aside."

"You speak from the experience of having wanted him." She said simply, and understandingly.

"Me, Rimfire, Charley, one of Rimfire's boyfriends." He shook his head. "And Charley he lusted after too."

"He must be very attractive indeed, to attract so many." She smiled gently.

"He is, and he's a major show-off."

"Sounds like my brother, Cameron." She smiled. "Adorable, yet often infuriating."

"Because they can get away with it." He chuckled softly.

"Yes, the little panda got away with a lot 'cause he was cute." She chuckled fondly.

"I'm not sure how your people handle raising young, but for Garou, it's a pack event." Throttle got back on the subject. "The two Garou kits must be raised by kin. The other two ... depends on how you want to handle it."

"It varies from family to family." She said quietly. "Some mated couples raise their kits on their own, while other kits are raised by large extended families. However, R'Canthan law is quite clear on a mother's right to raise her kits, no matter how many others may be involved." She said quietly. "I do not want this to get adversarial." She said firmly. "None of us need that, least of all Lance who will get caught in the middle."

"Neither do I," Throttle answered just as firmly. "But I have my priorities, and law doesn't happen to be one of them." He said more quietly. "I would like you to join the Endless Storm, my pack, with all four kits raised by us all. The options become less pleasant, but still viable, from there."

"I agree, and I like what you propose. But I think I need to spend time with your pack, before I'm sure." She said quietly. "We have seven months before the kits arrive, I think we can take a little time to get better acquainted."

"Agreed," he nodded, his fingers moving up her arm gently. "A Garou pack is a very different social entity that I think you're used to."

"Different, I'm sure." She smiled softly. "But maybe not as different as you think. The FireClaws were much more than just a military unit, still are."

"I can see it much of the time," Throttle smiled hesitantly. "Will you agree to the Garou kits being raised Garou, whether you join us or not?"

"That very much depends on whether that means to exclude me from their lives." She said quietly, though there was no mistaking the steel behind the words.

"Not unless you try to prevent it." Throttle replied in equal. "I have no issue with them knowing you, or you being their mother, but they will know what they are and the ways of their people."

"It would be foolish for them to not know what they are." She said with a soft smile. "And I find it unlikely I would object to them knowing the ways of the Garou."

"Then I think we can keep this from being too stressful."

"Good, 'cause I think we've both had enough of that." She smiled gently, and reached a hand up to brush Throttle's cheek gently. "Though I wish the circumstances had been different, I do like you Throttle."

"We'll just have to make them different," he sighed softly, leaning into the contact. "We have kits to raise."

"Yes we do." She purred lightly. "If I do join your pack, how is Blaze going to handle another pregnant female? She's clearly not happy as it is."

"It'll probably settle her, actually." He chuckled softly, his hand drifting from arm to between her breasts. "Since you are both a warrior and rank her."

"Is that the problem? That the one who is pregnant is not a warrior and is about the same age."

"Close," he nodded. "It's a rank thing. It's the alpha pair that has the right to breed, or choose who does. As the highest-ranking female and male, Blaze and I make up the alpha pair. If anyone bred, it should have been us. That a subordinate did and she isn't permitted is doing a real number on her."

"Would my presence change who the alpha pair is, or would that require some sort of formal challenge?" She asked as she began analyzing the new social structure.

"Yes," Throttle nodded. "It would make it you and Modo for now, you and me when I take command back. And a challenge depends on how determined she is to hold her position," he chuckled. "Most likely she'll just accept her place as beta, but if not she can challenge you."

"This combat challenge, assuming she's determined to hold her position, would I have to beat her in Crinos?" She asked quietly.

"Crinos, wolf, whatever forms she takes." He nodded. "It won't happen until after the kits are born. There are too many risks before that, and she risks far too much by pushing that."

"Any risks aside from the fact that a pregnant female should not be engaging in combat?"

"No, just our numbers make any such risk to kits unacceptable."

"Well, I'd say such risk to kits should be unacceptable regardless of numbers, but that's just me." She smiled gently. "But in any case, that's something else that wouldn't have to be dealt with for a while."

"No, we won't," he nodded agreement. "Which brings things to us."

"Since they're our kits, that's kind of important." She smiled softly as he hesitated again.

"That's ... I don't know what to start with there." Throttle admitted quietly.

"Maybe if you don't try to organize things." She suggested gently. "What's the first thing that comes to mind?"

"Hate you, love you," he said in one breath, not quite looking at her. "That certainly covers the emotional range." She said quietly. "Would I be totally off if I thought the hating me, had to do with the unplanned kits?"

He took a moment to untangle the background to it. "Much less than that you aren't Martian Garou. I may be the only one left that remembers, but cross-breeding ..." he paused, struggling to put into works just how horrible a taboo that was. "It's just not done."

"Well, we never cross-bred with other Garou either." She said quietly. "But it was never really an option, so we never developed a specific taboo about it. Is this problem with cross-breeding going to affect your reaction to the kits?" She asked seriously.

"It shouldn't," he shook his head. "Though I have doubts I'll actually recognize the feline ones."

"That's a problem." She said quietly.

"How so?" He looked at her curiously.

"I guess it's a cultural difference." She sighed. "But to have the father present, and not acknowledging kits is unheard of." She said softly.

"Oh, I'll acknowledge them, I just won't recognize them as mine. Same as if they had a different father."

"That's the problem, Throttle. They don't have a different father." She said quietly. "And the litter bond is going to tell them who their litter sibs are. Even kits are smart enough to put two and two together and get the right answer."

The mouse paused, wondering if this was a lingual quirk. "But two of them do have a different sire. I'll claim her as mine, but instinct won't back the words up if it comes down to something that forces a choice."

"Hopefully that won't happen, it shouldn't." She said quietly.

"Only thing I can think of is only being able to save one of them, or if food is very short. I can't help but favor by own Garou blood over an adopted kit. Same as my son will be favored over Rimfire's if I have to, and all four Garou kits over non-Garou."

"How's Rimfire taking the news?" She asked quietly. "He's so young to be a father."

"He's in shock." Throttle sighed. "Modo's looking after him."

"He's really too young." She said quietly. "More than just years. He may be nineteen, but in many ways he's younger. And I think between Lance and myself we can take care of the R'Canthan kits if it comes to that." She said quietly.

"Modo will no doubt help you too." He nodded. "I don't want it to come to that, but it was a reality I grew up with. Most young didn't survive, and most died by violence or starvation. With this ship and crew, I don't think it will come to that again."

"It was a reality we faced as well, during the occupation." She said quietly. "And no, I don't think so. Lance plans our supplies to well for that, save in a crash situation. And with the talents on-board, we can survive well anywhere."

"Even just the hunters I'm sure about could provide meat enough to keep most of the crew going, and I'm sure I don't know all the good hunters on board." He smiled softly and brushed his fingers over her whiskers and down her neck. "I have no doubts of Lance's abilities and planning, the what if's are just too close to me not to recognize the possibility, no matter how distant."

"I understand, Throttle. I'm not so far from them myself." She smiled. "Though I was serious about the litter-bond. The kits will know they're related even though they don't all have the same father. It's a very special connection, one that lasts a lifetime."

"Of course they are related," he smiled slightly at her. "You are their mother. Sires and fathers aside, they are all your blood." He chuckled softly. "We trace lineage and inheritance through the dam's line, not the sire's. A particularly renown or powerful sire might be noted well into the future, but it is the one that gave you birth that has actual first claim on your parentage."

"Similar to the way we trace it. Though most trace both father and mother's line." She smiled. "I will apologize now, for the next seven months. The first pregnancy is never easy, even when planned. Especially when one waits as long as I have."

"It'll be okay," he smiled gently at her. "I saw a daughter through her first. At least I have the option to hide from you for a while." Throttle grinned playfully.

"Only if I don't decide to look for you." She smirked playfully, and ran a hand up his arm. "And I would like to be with you, without the fire of the heat between us." She smiled softly.

"Do you have much choice in it?" He asked curiously.

"Much choice in what?"

"In feeling desire for the sire of your kits," he said simply, only curiosity in his black eyes.

"If you mean during heat, some. Heat doesn't make me attracted to anyone I wouldn't be attracted to normally. It just kind of kills inhibitions, makes me willing to got straight to having sex with someone I just met." She said quietly. "After heat's over, yeah it's entirely up to me."

"That's kind of odd to me."

"Which is?" She asked curiously.

"When mating produces kits, it creates a fairly strong bond between the mates." He explained quietly. "Even enemies find themselves drawn together with cooled tempers."

"Well, we don't normally produce kits unless there's a bond to begin with." She explained quietly. "So maybe we don't notice. I have to admit that I do feel closer to you than I'd expect to given this is the first time we've talked."

"I don't find that surprising," he murmured softly, his fingers trailing down between her breasts. "It's not something to bother about."

S'lessa smiled. "More curious than anything. Though Lance assures me that it's normal to find Martian mice irresistible." She chuckled playfully, as her hand roamed to free his shirt from his pants.

"It seems to be a feline thing," he chuckled softly and slipped his fingers under the cloth to brush teasingly along the edge of her nipple.

"Yes, it does." She purred at his touch, as her hands worked up under his shirt to caress his chest. "And Lance putting the ship back on military duty, means we can drop all the silly acting. While you make a perfectly delicious pet, you're much more attractive as an equal."

"It's much more natural too," he chuckled softly and trailed his fingers down her chest and belly.

"Yes, it is." She purred, as she leaned forward to kiss him gently. "Pets can be a great deal of fun and greatly relaxing, but I wouldn't have kits by one. To me that's something you share with an equal, even if they were pets in the past."

Throttle nodded. "It's how we usual do it to. It tends to make for a better pair-bond."

"So would I be reading you right if I guessed that you've had pets as well as being one?" She asked gently.

"And equal lovers too," he nodded. "Like most Garou, I can shift from alpha to beta to omega mindsets quickly."

"R'Canthans have little that formalized." She smiled gently. "Our social structures are much more freeform. Though we understand the more formal ones easy enough. Our earliest alien encounters were with the Dorzai, a race of biped wolves."

"Then you probably understand it, at least a little. Though a well-established pack won't seem to have a social structure. Everyone knows their place and job, and it just happens."

"I expect that level takes time to reach." She said quietly. "Especially with a pack that's as unusual as the one you're putting together seems to be. Is it normal for so many of a pack to be young?" She asked curiously.

"Not even close." He shook his head. "A normal pack, before the invasion, was two-thirds between my age and my mother's, a couple elders, two or three teenagers and upwards of half a dozen pre-teen kits of various ages. Few got to breed much younger than I am, when we were only maintaining our numbers."

"I think everything is quite stood on its ear." She said with quiet humor. "Assuming that I was to joining you, that would put you, Modo, Lance, myself and I presume Vinnie as the oldest, with entirely teenagers making up the rest. Plus kits when they arrive."

"Not Vinnie," Throttle smirked. "He may have the years, but he doesn't have the maturity to make any rank. No elders, only four adults, six adolescents and six kits." He shook his head. "Very strange pack makeup."

"And don't forget the FireClaws as extended family." She smiled. "It may be a strange makeup, but I think it's strong enough to handle anything." She smiled quietly. "The more I talk to you, the more right my joining feels."

"We are strong enough for anything," he nodded agreement. "Even the internal strife of building a pack in such an unnatural way."

"I know there was a little conflict between Blaze and Saytee, is there any other conflict you consider likely?" She asked curiously.

"Blaze and Thildon are a likely issue for some time, though it'll be low key for a couple years. Thildon and Vinnie are likely to be explosive for a while, Blaze and Vinnie even more so." He considered. "Those are the major ones. The entire situation with you, Lance, Modo and me are likely to have things unsettled for quite a while, especially with Blaze, Saytee and Thildon."

"Any particular reason why Blaze and Thildon are both going to have problems with Vinnie?" She asked curiously. "And how is the situation with four of us going to have things unsettled?" The shekat asked as she tried to analyze the situation.

"They're young, warriors and are going to be utterly unwilling to take flack from him just because of their age, and for Blaze, her gender. Lance runs the ship and is part of the pack, but I'm pack Alpha. That's an impossible rank dynamic, for him to both outrank and submit to me. That you are both felines makes it more difficult. Then I've voluntarily stepped down in favor of Modo, and not permanently, is just going to confuse the hell out of them."

"At least you aren't playing Lance's pet anymore." She shook her head. "That'd really confused the situation. Though it's not a rank dynamic we're unfamiliar with. We often have military personnel where the ranks interact so that two people can be subordinate to each other, depending on the exact nature of the situation." She said easily. "Is Vinnie likely to give them a lot of flack?"

"Unless he's grown up a lot, yes." He nodded. "He gives everyone flack, but young and female are primary targets. He's a pretty boy showoff." Throttle shrugged.

"And one with a lot of growing up to do." She said quietly. "I only hope that his flack doesn't reach the level of bullying. Lance has very little tolerance for bullies, and is more than willing to put someone on their tail to make a point."

"Nah, he's not like that." Throttle shook his head. "He would have gotten his throat slit a long time ago if he was that irritating."

"That's good." She smiled. "Sounds like it'll be more like teenagers bickering." She shook her head. "Guess us adults will just have to keep an eye on things."

"Yeah, just one of them thinks they're an adult," he chuckled. "It'll be interesting the first time he has to look up to Blaze."

"If he's like most prettyboys, that won't phase him much." She chuckled. "I know it wouldn't pause Panda more than a few."

"Oh, it might sink in when she pounds his tail into the ground." Throttle smirked. "He's got enough war behind him to take that seriously."

"We just have to keep it out of sight of Nareena." She chuckled. "In case you hadn't noticed, she heavily disapproves of group in-fighting."

"She's never faced the need." He shrugged. "One solid, out in the open fight is preferable to years of snipping and backstabbing."

"It's far more fundamental than that." She said quietly. "She's a Healer, with the strongest belief in preserving life I've ever encountered. She sees violence as a necessary tool for dealing with threats to life and family, not something to be indulged unnecessarily." The shekat shrugged. "But I might feel similarly if I'd lost my entirely family."

"Some of us handle things like that differently." He could only shrug.

"No one handles anything exactly the same." She shrugged. "That's what makes life interesting. If we were all the same, life would be very dull."

"And a lot less bloody," he murmured. "Sometimes I think that wouldn't be a bad thing."

"Maybe, but I'm not sure it would be worth bothering with." She sighed.

"It's not like we'll ever find out." He smiled slightly and brushed his fingers across her still-flat belly. "It's not possible for our kind."

"No, it's not." She smiled back softly, and brushed her fingers along his cheek. He turned his head to kiss her palm, then licked it playfully.

"It's very strange, to sit here, being what I am." He whispered. "To feel this way about a feline."

"A mix of canine and mouse, yes it is kind of strange." She nodded softly. "Though I will admit, I wouldn't have thought I'd be attracted to such a combination, if I'd ever thought of it. But I most definitely am." She said, though clearly she was speaking of more than physical attraction.

"Most of me is still screaming that this is an abomination," he admitted, wanting to get this part over with. "The rest doesn't care what you are."

"You'd hardly be the first to call the Melora an abomination." She sighed deeply. "Officially we don't even exist, never existed. But Tracker has sources outside of official channels. But we exist on a thousand worlds, wherever the Saver of the Lost has seen a sentient species facing extinction."

"It's not that, S'lessa." Throttle brought his hand up to brush her cheek. "Martian Garou have a millennia old law not to even try to breed with another race, not even Martian Mice or Razorwolves. The few kits that such a union produces are always badly twisted in mind and body, if complications don't kill mother and kits before they breathe their first." He shivered and closed his eyes. "Nareena swears they're healthy and it'll be okay, but she's flying in the face of everything I've ever been taught, the very core of Garou culture."

"That's the very nature of the Melora." She said quietly kissing him on the cheek. "It's why we're not even mentioned in the history of our race. We make the impossible, the unthinkable possible. Just goes to show what happens when one of the greater powers decides to meddle."

"So does Nareena and her technology," he tried not to react too much to the gut-wrenching rejection of the very thought.

"Nothing Nareena does affects this." She said gently. "The kits would be just fine without her. She really has nothing to do with this, other than telling us which kits are which. I'm not sure she could make it work, since from a science angle, it doesn't make sense."

"I heard otherwise," he said quietly. "That Modo and Lance could have kits by only their blood." He shook his head. "That hurts my head just to think about."

"Oh, I never actually asked about that." She said quietly. "I suppose it might be possible. Genetics was never my strong point. It's what every couple wants though, kits that are blood to both of them."

"That I'll never quite get," he shook his head with a shrug. "But as a male, kits were of the pack."

"Yes, but remember Lance is not from a culture where pack structure is really normal. Family units usually consist of parents and kits, but for same gender couples, there's no way short of adoption or science for there to be kits. Though poly has been gaining popularity in the last couple generations, pair-bonds are still the dominant personal social structure." She explained quietly. "I don't know Modo's cultural background, so I can't speak to it."

Throttle could only nod. "I understand, it just doesn't make much sense to me personally."

"Cultural differences often don't. It takes some work for me to think of kits belonging to a pack, instead of a couple. It seems very odd." She said quietly.

"From my understanding, a Garou pack is very similar to a tightly knit family, even if we aren't all related by blood." He tried to help. "Endless Storm isn't a normal pack by a long shot at any rate."

"Perhaps an extended family." She said thoughtfully. "And normal isn't something I'd expecting given you've gotten hooked up with the FireClaws."

"Anyone who knows me would say the same of you, because you hooked up with me." He chuckled softly, trying to let the strain of the situation dissipate.

"Apparently weirdness attracts more weirdness." She chuckled lightly.

"As strength and power attracts the same." Throttle added. "To be among similarly fated is a comfort."

"Yes, it is." She agreed. "And I've noticed a change in the atmosphere, since it became known that kits were coming. I think these kits will have an overwhelming number of uncles to spoil them." She chuckled.

"I honestly haven't noticed." He admitted softly. "I've been trying not to think of it, most of the time."

"I'm not surprised." She said, giving him a gentle kiss on the cheek. "I was doing the same thing initially. I just don't have quite the same luxury."

"No, you don't," he nodded. "It this against your culture, or just an unexpected shock?" He asked quietly.

"Unexpected shock in several respects. The big one being that it shouldn't have been possible with you and Rimfire at all." She said quietly. "I really wasn't planning on being a mother anytime soon, it just doesn't mesh well with my career."

"That's another oddity to me, a warrior raising kits," he shook his head. "Normally, the pack's keepers would. Saytee and Tam."

"Well, I wouldn't if I had a mate who was willing to stay home and raise the kits." She smiled. "But being single, I was kind of staying away from the motherhood thing till I had a permanent mate."

"You have that," he said softly. "Even if it's not quiet what you would think of."

"Hmm." She looked at him curiously. "Did I miss something? Wouldn't be surprised. Personal relationships have never been my strong point."

"Packmates are permanent mates," Throttle explained simply. "Even the ones you choose not to have sex with."

"Guess I never quite thought about it that way." She smiled. "So far I haven't seen any reason not to join your pack, like you offered. Though I'd better talk with Nareena, I don't want her to think I'm trying to get between her and Lance. The galaxy's slowest developing couple."

"Never a bad idea," he chuckled softly, then hesitated. "Mind if I stay with you tonight, before you move in with us?"

"No, in fact I'd like that very much." She smiled, and brushed her hand along his cheek. "Not what I imagined the father of my children would look like, but I could've done much much worse, and hard pressed to do better." She smiled fondly.

"Thank you," he closed his black eyes at the touch and slipped under the sheets with her, just holding the much larger black Lioness and stroking her chest gently.

"Mistress Healer?" Saytee's voice was respectful to the point of submission as she entered Medical. "Do you have a few moments, please?"

"Of course, Saytee." Nareena looked up from a holographic modeling program she was working on. "Is something wrong?"

"What you did for S'lessa, can you tell who sired my kits?" She asked hesitantly.

"Of course, it's fairly simple." She said easily. "You wanted to know?" She asked gently.

"Yes," she nodded. "Normally the Sept Healer and Seer see to figuring out those details, but we have neither."

"Well, those details should be in the computer by now." She smiled. "And I'm not sure what a Sept Healer is, but I'm the FireClaws Healer, and Lance's." She smiled as she pulled up the data. "Two male kits, one Garou, one kinfolk, both by Modo."

"Oh," she blinked in surprise, then a little concern that was quickly shoved away as being silly. "Thank you, Healer."

"You're welcome." She smiled. "Anything else bothering you?" She asked gently, in a very motherly fashion.

"I think we were both assuming at least one was Thildon's." She said quietly. "It really affected him."

"In a good way or a bad way?" She asked gently. "And there were three of you assuming at least one was Thildon's."

The young mouse hesitated, uncertain exactly how to answer that for a moment. "In a ... way he doesn't appreciate."

"Because it wasn't his or your choice?" She asked gently.

"Because he doesn't like finding a female his mate." She looked down. "They had to do a lot to make him do it that once. That he's responding now to me makes him upset." Saytee tried to explain a set of instincts that rarely mattered."

"I understand." She said quietly. "He's only really interested in males, and resents being manipulated, including by instinct. Perhaps now that it's not his kits he'll stop responding." She suggested softly. "And if it really upsets him that much, I can probably help."

"I don't know, I really like him, even before he'd mate." Saytee whispered, her eyes downcast. "And Modo ... he's not really right for me."

"Well, I think that's something you need to discuss with them." She said gently. "But if Thildon isn't really interested in females, it's not really fair to use instinct to manipulate him. He'll certainly never be happy with it that way. Modo, I don't know about though I think he's primarily interested in males."

"I'm not going to lie about it." She bristled sharply.

"That's good, because I've know far too many females who try to use kits to manipulate males." She said simply. "I'm glad to see you're not one of them."

"And rip the pack apart when they're born? Risk exile for a few months?" Saytee's tail lashed hard enough create a whip-crack. "Everyone will know as soon as they're born."

"It's occurred on enough worlds that its something I had to be concerned about." She said softly. "I don't actually know your cultural background, so I couldn't make a judgment. But it'll be that obvious who the father is?"

"Of course," the teenager tried to settle down. "Everyone can smell if it's their kit or not, and most packmates can tell which of the pack is."

"That's certainly a useful trait." Nareena nodded. "Most races can't tell without genetic testing."

"Most races are soul-dead." She shrugged. "It happens."

"That's nothing more than cultural chauvinism." Nareena shook her head. "Very few races are soul-dead, most of them have souls that work just fine. Even the evil ones, even though their souls are twisted and dark."

"They can't work right if they can't even recognize their own young." She protested.

"Different ways, and I expect that its scent, not soul, that's used to identify the young." She smiled gently. "And most species don't have quite as precise senses of smell as obviously your people still do. But without a soul, love is not possible, and I've only heard of a couple races that could be said of."

Saytee cocked her head, looking at the Tigress curiously. "We're talking about different things." She said simply. "You don't mean what I do, with 'soul'."

"Perhaps not." The Tigress allowed. "Given we're from two different cultures, that would not be surprising."

"I guess not." She said softly. "Thank you for the information. Modo, Thildon and I need to talk." She inclined her head and turned to leave.

"Yes, you do." Nareena agreed. "Feel free to stop by anytime you need to, even if it's just to talk." She said supportively.

"Hi, Modo." Saytee greeted the big gray mouse in the pack's quarters, unusually vacated in the midmorning.

"Morning, Saytee." Modo said with a pleasant smile.

"Nareena told me a little more about the kits I carry." She said quietly and sat down on the next against his ribs.

"Anything interesting?" He asked quietly, putting an arm around her.

"One Garou, one Kinfolk, both male, and both yours." She summarized quickly.

"Both mine?" He said, a bit surprised. "Well, I think Thildon will be relieved. I got the distinct impression he didn't really want to be a father. One Garou out of two kits, that's pretty good, isn't it?"

"Yes, it's very good," she smiled shyly at him. "Especially as we're both Kinfolk. Three Garou and a Kinfolk mouse this season is very good."

"Guess that explains why great-grandmother was smiling, when she appeared briefly." He said quietly. "That was really weird this morning after everyone left, a ghostly female Garou in Crinos appeared."

"Yes, she's a great-great grandmother of a Garou kit, and to your pack too."

"Or something like that ... I might be off a great or two." He smiled. "I didn't even know I had a Garou ancestor before she appeared. She said her name was Star's Breath."

"That is a very impressive lineage." Saytee murmured. "Star's Breath was a great Seer, and a spell-weaver of significant power. She has not gone on, yet?"

"Apparently, not." He smiled softly. "She didn't really explain much, but I guess she knew one of her descendants would get connected to the SunWind prophecy, and she felt she needed to be around, just in case."

"That makes two ancestor-mothers following this pack. A magic power and a political one."

"Yeah, and the political one's already gotten into an argument with the ship's captain and chief Healer from what I hear." He chuckled quietly.

"Death Angel is a war Alpha," Saytee reflexively protected the legend. "They don't take challenges quietly."

"Neither does Lance, he's a legendary Commando leader in his own right." Modo smiled. "And Nareena's got power I won't even pretend to understand, at least that's what Star's Breath said. However, I guess between the three of them and Throttle they managed to sort the problem out."

"And made Blaze very angry with me," she said softly.

"That's only because they didn't get forced into the same situation we did, Saytee." Modo said quietly. "Death Angel expected something of Throttle that she had no right to." He said, protective of his Bro.

"Not into our situation, Modo." She sighed softly. "She was willing, and he had bedded her already. You weren't raised knowing the pack social laws. It probably won't ever make sense, but there's a long set of social, instinctive, reasons for what Blaze wanted, and why she's so angry about my kits."

"Yeah, but he wasn't willing." Modo said quietly. "Still isn't. And you're right it doesn't make sense to me, breeding so young."

"It's not about age, Modo," she sighed. "It's about rank and social standing, and that she's very insecure about hers."

"It's about age for Throttle." Modo said simply. "And I think to a certain extent about being pushed into one thing to many. He's been manipulated so much, I think he finally found one thing he could say 'no' to and make it stick. Maybe it'll settle things a bit, if Throttle brings S'lessa into the pack the way I think he wants to."

"So I've gathered," Saytee nodded. "And it will. S'lessa would rank Blaze as a warrior, so it would make me just ranking female keeper, instead of ranking female."

"That'll be good, and it'll make the whole kit thing easier." He nodded. "I'm told R'Canthan litters share some sort of link, so it's best not to separate them."

"Given Lance is already pack, I really doubt she won't be by the time the kits arrive."

"Probably, I got the impression she's rather taken with Throttle anyway. A little more distressed by having a kit by Rimfire."

"Why?" She cocked her head before settling down alongside him and snuggling close to his strength.

"The age thing again." He said, putting an arm around her. "And the fact that she really didn't want to get pregnant in the first place."

"Kind of like why I like to snuggle with Thildon more, even without the sex." She nodded slightly. "It's kind of odd to be some someone older than my father."

"Even though he'd rather snuggle with me." Modo nodded. "I agree it is odd, being with someone younger than the nephew I helped raise."

"He'd rather snuggle with anyone in the pack but me," she sighed. "I know he really hates that he's responding to me because he though he was a sire."

"Females just don't interest him, Saytee." Modo said gently. "It isn't anything about you personally. My nephew, Rimfire, is only a little better off."

"I know," she nuzzled him gently. "This isn't a pack for females, and the three of us aren't much for other fems."

"Well, Throttle, Rimfire and myself haven't been around females that much recently." He nuzzled her back. "When I was a Shark we had more around, but I was never really involved with them."

"Neither has Lance, and Tam is sweet, but he really does prefer guys, same as you."

"Lance's big interest is Nareena actually." Modo chuckled. "Kind of tied with his interest in me, and Throttle."

"Which is two males to one female, and his casual mates are mostly male too."

"Very true." Modo nodded. "This pack's a bit heavy on the males."

"Kind of amazing there are any kits coming," she said quietly, closing her eyes. "It's not healthy to have this kind of imbalance."

"But hardly unexpected given the desires of those involved." He said gently. "Most of those involved desire males, so its kind of a given that more males would be drawn in."

"Three females isn't bad for numbers, I mean having the majority of the back strongly drawn to the same gender. None of the mice here would breed, given a choice. Rimfire might, in time, but he's about as fond of females as you and Throttle."

Modo sighed. "Saytee, the mice here with the exception of yourself, haven't really had a reason to breed in years. Breeding implies the expectation of a next generation, Mars doesn't have that, and hasn't had that in years. With the exception of the prophecy, and that didn't even require that anyone except SunWind survive."

"I spent eight years on Mars, I remember." She replied stubbornly. "That attitude was one of the biggest reasons we left. You fought, but you have up the only reason to fight, and any way to continue it." She shook her head and sighed, clearly upset. "Sorry, it's just so anti-survival."

"We didn't expect to survive, Saytee." Modo said gently. "We just wanted make sure we did as much damage as possible before the end. Besides, who wanted to bring kits into a dead world." He said quietly. "Mars is no place for kits anymore."

She lay silent at that, clearly rebelling inside but knowing a pointless argument when she faced one. "I guess so." She eventually consented.

Modo sighed. "I guess the colonies will resettle Mars, and somehow restore it. It'll be amazing to see Mars green again. Even if Mars won't ever really be what it was. But I guess a partial success is the best to be hoped for."

"Nothing is ever the way it was," she countered softly from a lesson taken to heart very young. "We lost the razor wolves ages ago, now we've lost the mice, both to outside invasions."

"I don't look forward to explaining that to Vinnie." Modo said quietly. "In some ways, I think it'd just be better if he died before we found him. I'm not sure I'm up to dealing with him, when he finds out that both Throttle and I are Kinfolk."

"Maybe it won't be that bad," she offered hopefully. "Not all mice were bad."

Modo sighed. "Just the way things tend to go. Besides, the fear of Garou and Kinfolk had been drilled into enough of them. Aided by enough reality to make the fiction seem believable."

"Some packs were never very nice," she nodded. "Even grandfather spoke against the actions of the more violent ones. Then tended to be the first to fall. Couldn't blend in with the mice at all, like Sunfire and the moderates like us."

"I just don't know how much of that fear, Vinnie has. We never talked about that sort of thing." He said quietly. "And until just recently, I didn't even know I was Kinfolk. I thought I was just a mouse."

"He's your Bro, surely he'll see that first."

"I hope so, Saytee." Modo sighed quietly. "But Vinnie's not an easy one to predict. Pretty-boy tends to do the unexpected."

"As opposed to anyone here," she teased.

"Vin tends to be a bit more chaotic about it." He chuckled fondly.

"Well, he is a pretty boy." She snickered. "They're like that."

"It's a shame he's just a mouse. 'Cause he's definitely interested in females." Modo chuckled.

"That still makes him a more willing bedmate," she shrugged slightly. "Though with the luck around here, he'll have an age problem too."

"That I haven't a clue about. We never talked about our dating habits." He shrugged. "Hell, we still don't."

"It's kind of obvious now," Saytee pointed out with a chuckle. "It's not we all haven't watched each other."

"I think there's still some people we haven't mentioned." Modo said quietly. "I know I've got at least two, and I'm sure Throttle's got as many."

"That will be joining the pack?" She asked curiously. "More gathering."

"I don't know." Modo said quietly. "Ceruso was my first boyfriend, first lover and first Alpha. I still care for him a lot." He sighed. "And Jeremy, I'm not sure. Humans are even less pack oriented than felines."

"I'm sure it'll turn out okay," Saytee said gently. "They don't have to be pack to stay in your life."

"That's good." Modo smiled. "I do wonder who Throttle's are though."

"Why don't you just ask him?" She asked curiously.

"'Cause if he wanted me to know he'd tell me." He said quietly. "Some parts of our lives, have always been separate."

"Do you want him to know about your others?" She asked curiously.

"I do now." Modo said quietly. "Things are getting serious with Jeremy."

"Who's Jeremy?"

"Jeremy Stormraven. My boyfriend, a human from Earth." He smiled fondly. "You might have heard of the Raven of the Fire Plains."

"The furless Shark?" Saytee blinked in surprise.

"The same." Modo grinned. "I first got involved with him on Mars."

"How long since you've seen him?"

"Since we got scattered to the stars." Modo sighed. "Three or four years maybe."

"I hope he hasn't changed much," she said softly and snuggled close. "That can be a long time with eventful lives."

"I don't think he'll change much." Modo said quietly. "Nothing seemed to touch him much. For as young as he is, he's very mature."

"Unlike a certain pretty-boy?" She teased.

"Kind of his opposite. He's mature in a way I don't think Vinnie ever will be." He smiled fondly. "Actually, he reminds me of Throttle in more than a few ways."

"I hope fate hasn't tortured him as much."

"I'm not sure." Modo said quietly. "Sometimes, he does seem like the entire planet rides on what he does."

"Probably why he reminds you of Throttle." She said softly. SunWind isn't in any better a position, if the legends are half correct."

"I didn't even know Throttle was SunWind until just recently."

"Changing his name didn't change him," Saytee said quietly. "Or what Fate demanded of him. He's very badly hurt by that burden."

"He's always seemed to be carrying some burden he never talked about." Modo said quietly.

"All three of you probably are."

"Maybe, but not the same way I think. Though I can't imagine Vinnie carrying any burden of significance. It's just not like him." He smiled fondly.

"Sometimes they're the ones who got hit the worse." Saytee sighed sadly. "You remember Xexiez?"

"Of course, your older brother." Modo nodded.

"He came home for a visit, his usual self. He was home a week." She closed her eyes tightly. "I remember him crying, kneeling next to his bed. I never saw anyone like that, and he'd been fine at dinner, mom even commented on it after he went to bed. Something hurt him out there he couldn't take. He came home to be Remembered."

"I'm so sorry, Saytee." Modo said pulling her close as she began to cry.

"We only found out after the Seer questioned his soul what happened." She managed through the sniffles. "He hid it that well."

"What happened, if you don't mind my asking?" He said quietly.

"I'm not old enough to be told," she said simply. "They don't know I saw him."

"You don't have to talk about it, if you don't want to." Modo said gently.

"I don't know what hurt him," she repeated with a sigh. "I just saw him with the blaster. I didn't know it was quiet, or so little blood. Pray's usually so messy when the hunters bring it home. Or it took so long to die with so little left between your ears."

"Suicide." He said quietly. "It must have been something awful, to drive him to that extreme."

"And he had everyone fooled up to just a few minutes before."

"It happens." He said quietly. "It's why suicide is so destructive. People think it only affects the person committing suicide, but they couldn't be more wrong."

"I don't think he was capable of seeing past himself right then." She murmured. "It never was his strong suit."

"That's usually when it happens. People get thinking they're alone, and forget there are people who love and support them." He said quietly. "It was something we had to be on the look out for constantly in the Sharks."

"Garou don't handle being alone well," she repeated knowledge she knew from rote much better than experience. "Kinfolk are no less a creature of the pack."

"And some react as badly to the misperception of being alone, as to the reality." Modo nodded. "I know, it was the danger of the last generation complex. Ceruso once said that it was a good thing we didn't have a way to blow up the planet, because there were enough who would've done just that, to get the last word on the fishfaces."

"I really don't doubt it," she said softly.

"I'm sure of it." He sighed. "The longer the war drags on, the fewer there are left, and the fewer still who believe in the Return." He said quietly. "To be honest, that evacuation four centuries ago was extremely damaging to morale in the current war. After all, if the strongest bugged out to avoid the war, what chance do the rest stand, was how the thinking went. I heard that a lot."

"None, just like they would have had none if they staid." She said softly. "It was never about winning a war, it was about salvaging something from what couldn't be avoided."

"Perhaps." Modo shrugged. "But why leave any behind? I never understood that. Why leave some behind knowing they'd be killed to no purpose?" He shook his head. "Never understood that. A lot of those left behind, just assumed it was politics of some sort. A way of consolidating power for those who left."

"Records say it was to keep Earth from controlling Mars, and because Phoenix warned they would loose their way once the colonies left."

"If the fishfaces were going to wipe Mars clean anyway, what difference did it make who was in control?" He shook his head. "I guess it doesn't really matter, Powers do pretty much whatever they like anyway. Abandon a few thousand to their deaths isn't anything much to them."

"I don't know," Saytee said quietly. "Just what was recorded. I'm not a war-leader."

"Me neither." Modo sighed, nuzzling her affectionately. "Even my Alpha, Ceruso, couldn't figure it out, and he is a war-leader."

"Just not in a situation anything like the ones that made the choice."

"I'm not convinced they made a decision, there was an awful lot of blind trust placed in the prophecy." He said quietly.

"Maybe not. And maybe the ones who stayed were those who did believe." She said softly. "Or maybe they were the rejects from a place in a better world. Either way, we survived, and the prophecy was correct. We know where they are."

"The prophecy got damned lucky any number of times." Modo said quietly. "And better world, maybe or maybe not."

"From Thildon's memories it sure is."

"Oh, you mean wherever he's from." Modo smiled. "Yeah, that sounds pretty nice. Though Mars was like that when they left."

"And he's from the colonies."

"Yeah, I know that." Modo shrugged. "It's not like I doubted they existed."

On The Road Again 4: The Strangest Pack

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

194 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written November 13, 2002 by Rauhnee Ranshanka, Todd McCall, Vorex

Setting: Biker Mice from Mars, S'karra, SWAT Kats

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Fantasy, Romance

Pairings: Vinnie/Males, Modo/Thildon, Throttle/Feral, Throttle/Lance, Throttle/Rimfire, Many Others

Blurb: Modo's rescue ends up bringing in a full Garou, a pregnant Kinfolk and an extra shapeshifter, and earns S'karra the undying hatred of a particular spirit with a very bad temper.

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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