Unusual Partners: Foreign Tiger 6:
Unpleasant News

by Fur and Fantasy
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Doctor Samantha Calison made a less than happy sound as she regarded the readouts on Jake's weekly checkup five Felsinor months into the pregnancy.

"What's wrong?" Jake focused sharply on Lioness.

"They seem to be developing in Primitive form." She said softly.

"Okay, so?" She looked between Healer and mate for an explanation why it mattered.

"There are subtle but important differences between the requirements of a pre-born in standard form, and one in Primitive form. Normally the mother's shifts to Primitive for the last two months instinctively, as the Primitive form can handle the difference in requirements." The Healer explained. "Even non-shifters carry the latent ability to shift, with very rare exception. They're body is able to temporarily shift to Primitive only shifting back when the kits are delivered. However, you aren't Felsin Jake, and you don't have the latent shapeshifting ability to trigger."

"Short list of options." Jake sighed and tried to relax back, not all that convinced it was going to be a problem. All the kittens she'd seen looked like cat kittens.

"Well, there's the use of technology to give you the shifting ability, much the same way non-shifters get it temporarily." She said simply. "The other option, and in my opinion the better one would be to transfer the kittens to G-tubes for the remainder of the pregnancy." She said calmly.

"So what happens to me with this for the next six months?" Jake asked quietly.

"I don't think it'll be six months." She smiled. "I'd give it another two, three months tops before the kits need to be transferred. They're developing fairly quickly. Up to that point, nothing will seem different because the special needs develop in the last two months, which is why the shift happens when it does."

"So what happens to me, with this transfer?" Jake asked again.

"You go under anesthesia, and wake up a few hours later, not pregnant." She said simply. "They'll be maybe a week of soreness as you heal from the operation, but it's fairly routine."

"Physically, an abortion, just they don't die?" He asked uncertainly, trying to correlate it to anything he understood.

"Nothing so brutal." She blanched. "It's a very delicate operation, and has saved numerous lives. It was developed from a procedure called artificial delivery, which was developed to save kits when the mother couldn't carry them to term, for whatever reason."

"What does it do to my shift back to a guy?"

"Once the kits have been transferred, we could begin the set-up for that procedure." She smiled. "Quite possibly have you back to male, before the kits are ready to be born."

"Are there any problems with transferring them earlier?" She focused sharply. At her estimate of half way through the pregnancy, she was well past sick of being bloated, sore, horny, sick and mentally and physically scrambled all of the time.

"It's possible." She said thoughtfully. "I'll have to study the latest set of readings to be determine how soon it'll be safe for both mother and kits."

"I am seriously sick of being pregnant." She muttered quietly. "It was bad enough when it wasn't showing, but this *sucks*."

"I'll let you know when I've figured out exactly how soon." She smiled. "Clearly, pregnancy doesn't agree with you psychologically. Not that that's surprising."

"No, I wasn't even much on kits as a guy." He sighed. "The length of the month here isn't helping me any. It feels like a lot longer than it really is."

"Hopefully, we can get you back to yourself soon enough."

"And I'll try to keep the negativity down until then." Jake murmured, starting to show the strain of the past few months more than usual.

"A little negativity is to be expected." She smiled. "All things considered it's a mild reaction."

"I guess," he nodded and closed his eyes. "I am just so looking forward to being a guy again."

"Makes two of us looking forward to that." Nathan said softly, as he reached over to brush his hand along Jake's cheek.

"Again not surprising." She smiled as the tom-turned-shekat turned into the contact and closed his eyes with a soft, appreciative sigh.

The next day Jake made the drive she did almost every day to spend time with the crew and occasional specialist brought in for the home that had quickly gotten dubbed 'the complex' both for it's pseudo-military multi-building layout and how simple a creation it was in from usage demands and aesthetics. Keeping up on the project had been the impetuous for her to push past the snarling fit that learning to drive the local vehicles had become, and while she still wasn't very good at it, but she'd passed the test for a license after a month of lessons.

Their general contractor had been a bit surprised at the moody pregnant female that walked and talked like a military tom when she'd first showed up to be involved, but she accepted Jake's presence with the grace required when doing dream homes and soon began to look forward to the cooperatively helpful presence that wasn't trying to do her job for all Jake got her nose involved in nearly everything.

Her crews also quickly learned that if they didn't bother the small, oddly colored female, she wouldn't bother them, and frequently found that she was a useful extra hand with a sharp mind and intuitive understanding of physics and material stress as well as what they were building.

At least when she wasn't in a mood from her condition.

Today Jake was in a reasonably good mood despite the chaos her body was creating for her. Between looking forward to seeing two days worth of work and the news that she'd be pregnant and female much less time than expected and no delivery issues. It was a pleasantly warm day she actually felt as she drove their large, technologied out SUV through forest on the way to the lakefront they'd claimed a sizeable chunk and intended to add to over the years with a buying plan from the government that owned it. They had first buy rights on the rest of the lake and much of the surrounding forest area. By the time their kits were grown they intended to own hundreds of acres.

While admittedly further from Dashkar than Nathan preferred, it had a reasonably sized town close enough to sooth his worries, and it was as close as anywhere on the world to fulfilling all their requests. They had made their real estate agent work hard for her commission.

Today she was expecting to be able to spend a reasonable amount of time loosing herself in rebuilding the light motorcycle attached to the back of the SUV. It was quite primitive by local standards, which put it right at that edge where she could still cope with it. She was desperately hoping that some quality time with technology she understood would allow some kind of breakthrough that would bring her talent into this world's reality.

She had to figure it out. She couldn't stand the way it hurt Nathan every time she ranted about it.

Cestil Kar'Dranor dearly hoped that the overpowered, and likely miscast, telepathic translation spell she'd cast six hours would wear off soon and allow her to return from this flying exile. The land was lovely, she did love trees and green, but the clear blue sky was not nearly as pleasant when she was avoiding people to keep the thoughts of a city from overwhelming her mind.

She could still hear a person now and then out here, and animals were everywhere, but it was calm enough she could take it without snarling at the nearest unfortunate warm body. It was times like this that she was immensely grateful that Grandmother Sunfire had given her the gift of true flight. She always loved to fly, but today she desperately needed it.

"*Damn it!*" an incredibly powerful mind slammed into hers with a litany of curses, pleading and demands that nearly knocked her out of the air. Despite the anger and pain of the assault, she could tell almost instantly that it wasn't an attack. The other mind didn't seem to be aware of her, and probably not even aware that he was broadcasting like that.

She veered away from the frustration, but couldn't help looking in that direction. Grandmother was big on the idea of helping, and whoever was down there pleading with a machine, did need help.

With a sigh for her own morals and the trouble they got her into, Cestil veered again, this time towards the construction site in the middle of the wilderness. The largely Felsin crew was working hard on the complex, but every one of them took note of her shadow as she circled the site, trying to zero in on the seemingly endless stream of abusive thoughts. The noise from the workers was a distraction, but none of them were nearly as strong as the one she was looking for.

When the lead contractor waved to her in an open space where the vehicles were parked, Cestil decided that manners would be useful and she glided down to a neat landing in front of the Lioness in full construction gear. This close to the ground, she knew the cursing was only mental, not vocal.

"Greetings," the Lioness inclined her head politely to the emerald green female Dracon. "I am Tama Lonta, the crew chief on this project. Is there something I can help you with?"

"I am Cestil Kar'Dranor, visiting from Draconea. I heard someone with considerable power in distress," she tapped the side of her slender draconic head. "Do you know who that might be?"

"None of my crew would likely qualify," she admitted. "Some are 'paths, but not that strong. One of our employers is on site though, and she might be. I don't think she's very happy right now."

"Where would she be?" Cestil asked politely, though she already knew from the thoughts bombarding her mind.

"Jake Clawson, and she's in the machine shop," Tama motioned towards one of the completed buildings on the lot.

"Thank you," Cestil nodded to the Lioness and walked purposefully to the building she was now sure contained the source of the silent snarls she knew even the telepaths here couldn't hear. How could someone that strong have avoided attention so long? She could feel that he ... she was sure it was a male mind ... wasn't broadcasting on any frequency she'd learned about in her studies so far.

"Hello?" she called out from the open bay door to the vehicle workshop as she took in a place that was clearly built to take better equipment than was in it at the moment. The odd-looking female Felsin, her fur a solid cinnamon with no apparent markings, looked up from where she was kneeling next to a primitive motorcycle.

"Hello," the female stood and wiped her greasy hands on a pair of plain coveralls, giving Cestil a clear view of her pregnant state. "Dracon, right?" she asked as she walked forward.

"Yes, I am a Dracon," she nodded. "I am Cestil Kar'Dranor. You would be Jake Clawson?"

"Yes," the feline nodded. "Can I help you?"

"Actually, I hope I can help you," she smiled, now more aware that she could focus much of what had Jake so bent out of shape. This was a male mind trapped in a pregnant female body. She still doubted that was what had him so upset. "I could hear your frustration from the air."

"Sorry," Jake ducked her head. "I didn't mean to disturb your flight."

"It is all right," Cestil knelt so she could be eye level with the odd-looking feline. "Beyond your physical condition, has something gone wrong?"

"I can't get machines to do what I want anymore," Jake signed, feeling a little guilty about complaining to a random stranger that had come up to her. "Ever since I left my homeworld, nothing has worked right anymore."

"Do not worry about complaining. I have little better to do for a while. You are not Felsin," Cestil said as several things clicked into place.

"No," Jake shook her head. "Not even from this galaxy."

"Have you visited the local 'path school, to see if they can teach you how to talk on the local frequency?" she asked, and caught utter bewilderment from Jake. It wasn't just something he hadn't thought of, he didn't even know why he would. "From what I heard, I believe you are what we call a cyberpath. Your difficulties may be related to frequency or language."

"You're ... serious?" Jake mumbled, trying to wrap her mind around the idea that what he'd always done was related to Nathan's empathy.

"Quite," she nodded. "You did not know it was a gift?"

"Not like that," Jake admitted, still floored by the entire idea that it wasn't just a talent with machines. "You mean, like they'd talk to me ... that's why I could do such amazing things?"

"If you are an untrained cyberpath or cybermage, yes," Cestil nodded. "I am not sure if there is an Academy of Magic on Felsinor, but I am sure you can afford to visit Draconea. We have several of the finest Academies of Magic in the Alliance. It also may have something to do with the transformation you underwent. Perhaps when you are male again, it will work better."

"But what I could do ... it was magic?" Jake repeated, still trying to wrap her mind around the concept. It wasn't the strangest she'd encountered, but it was by far the strangest she'd had directed at her personally.

"I do not have the skills to be sure, but I believe so. Magic or psionic talent," she confirmed as the sharp mind she was talking to began to work again. "You may find relief with a full test for talents. It is more common for hatchlings, but I am sure adults can be tested as well."

"Thank you," Jake murmured, working it over in her mind. "May I tell them you suggested the testing?"

"Yes," she smiled and stood, pleased that his mind had calmed down. "Though I am not sure how much weight it will carry. A cousin of mine is very fond of furry males and has much more pull. I can introduce him if you would like, when you are a male again."

"I would like that," Jake actually felt immeasurably better just to have a name for her troubles. "It'll probably only be a month or so now. The doc thinks they should finish growing in G tubes, and I wouldn't mind being a guy again sooner."

"Well then, I will drop by in a month or so to see how you are doing, and introduce Morin if he is willing to come," she smiled.

"Thank you, Cestil," Jake said earnestly as she stepped outside and launched into the air.

Nathan glanced up from his studying of the gender reassignment possess when the phone rang, but turned back when Trace answered it.

"Nathan, it's for you," the white bat, who now actually looked like a bat, brought the handset over. "Jake's *way* keyed up about something."

"Jake, are you..." he paused when he heard his mate's voice. Even without the empathy to back it up, he was sure Jake was fine.

"You know how pissed I've been about tech since we got here?" Jake asked, her voice almost trembling in excitement. "Well, this Dracon, Cestil Kar'Dranor, dropped by out of nowhere and said she thought my talent with machines back home was some kind of magic or psi, and my trouble is because of language issues or something. Said that a magic or psi academy could test me for it, maybe help me learn how to use it here."

"That's *great* news, love," Nathan cheered with her even as he cursed himself for not thinking of it. His father Cazi had only been the preeminent cyberwizard in the Alliance. "I'll look up who can do the testing and make a few appointments, unless you'd rather."

"Please, you get along with the search engine much better," Jake told him. "I'm going to leave the bike here and head home.

"I should have some answers by the time you get back." Nathan said as he, switched screens from the report to a directory of assessment services. "See you when you get here, love." He said as the call ended. It was kind of embarrassing to have overlooked the possibility of cyber-psionics or technomancy, he could just hear Cazi teasing him about it now, or at least he rather wished he could.

Neither talent was overly common, so the number of testing agencies wasn't huge but most were focused on children and adolescents; most Felsin were tested by puberty at the latest. There were a few though that handled adults, since there was the rare case of talents emerging late and a host of other unusual cases.

The call to the first agency was unproductive as they didn't feel competent to handle the testing of a non-Felsin. The second couldn't give him an answer right away as the chief tester was away at a conference, but they assured him that the evaluator would get back to him as soon as he returned. He was talking to the third agency when he heard Jake come in.

He smiled at his mate, and just beamed when he felt just how much more positive Jake's mind was. If he ever met Cestil Kar'Dranor he would have to thank her deeply for making his mate feel so much better with just a few words.

"Would you please describe his symptoms?" the female on the other end asked.

"Hay love," Jake purred as she stepped up and kissed Nathan on the cheek, mindful that he was on the phone.

"He's gone from being the most gifted engineer inventor on one world to having what I think could be called 'disagreements' with the technology on this world." Nathan replied, trying to explain something that he was still trying to make sense of. "It's not culture shock or inability to understand the technology," he added, taking care of the usual explanations. "I'm a trained empath, so I would've spotted those. It's closer to having a personality clash with the tech. The suggestion of a visiting Dracon was that it was most likely either psionic or magical in nature."

"Has he been tested before for any abilities?" she asked politely, her typing audible in the background.

"To the best of my knowledge there was no testing available on his homeworld, and he hasn't been tested since arriving." Nathan explained. "Oh, there is a complication. He's currently a she, and she's currently pregnant. Both of those conditions are already under medical care. The gender transformation is temporary."

"Noted," she said. "We have an opening on Tarsat at 2 in the afternoon. Would that work?"

"2 in the afternoon on Tarsat works fine, thank you." Nathan replied easily, since their schedule was still rather flexible. "And thank you for fitting him in so quickly." He added sincerely, using the male pronoun as he usually did, despite Jake's temporary change.

"You are welcome. If you could bring any medical records you have, it would be helpful," she told him. "Be aware that we can only reliably test for psionic abilities. If his talent is magical, we will need to consult with the University for a diagnosis."

"I'll have his physician copy his medical records to your office." Nathan said easily. "And I understand, I was planning on contacting the University myself."

"Is there anything else I can help you with?" she asked pleasantly.

"No, that will be all for now." Nathan smiled politely. "We'll be in on Tarsat." He added confirming the appointment before disconnecting, and turning to Jake. "Well, don't make any plans for Tarsat afternoon." He smiled. "Hopefully there won't be much delay between testing and results."

"From what the Dracon said, I almost knocked her out of the air screaming at the bike," she said sheepishly and sat in Nathan's lap. "I just didn't know I was broadcasting like that," she claimed a soft, lingering kiss. "I hope I'm something they know about. It will be good to have a real idea of what's going on."

"If the doctors at the clinic don't know, then I'm sure someone at the University will." Nathan smiled, returning the kiss gently. His internal conditioning still warred with his internal knowledge that it was Jake despite the female appearance, making for a very strange set of feelings. "I think I got too good at shielding while I was in MegaKat City or I would've heard that kind of noise." He added thoughtfully. "And if all else fails I could drop by the inventor's guild and look up a childhood friend." He chuckled at what was clearly a fond memory.

"Now that sounds like someone you should look up regardless," Jake purred as she snuggled close. "Next month is going to be so incredible. I'll probably know why tech seems to hates me here, I won't be pregnant and I'll be a *guy* again," she grinned and nuzzled him. "I can't wait until you won't have these mixed feelings about holding me."

"I will definitely be glad to be rid of the mixed feelings." Nathan nodded. "As for my childhood friend well, the Guild is just the easiest place to contact him." He chuckled. "On the other had he might just pop in when he notices I'm back on planet. Of course, if they can get your tech issues straightened out you'll probably have his attention even more than me." He shook his head in amusement.

"Oh?" Jake raised an eyebrow and claimed another kiss. "I hope he's still a good guy."

"Caito?" Nathan chuckled. "He's definitely a good guy, but talented inventors seriously interest him. It is worth noting that he's the original practical joker, and a shapeshifter to boot." He added, and then realized he might have forgotten to mention something. "Did I ever mention the Triad before?" He asked, not really sure whether Felsin religion had been something they discussed before.

"Bits and pieces," Jake nodded. "It didn't seem that important. You did mention that you dated Caito for a couple weeks in Midrasha before he said who he was," she snickered. "So if I get back up to speed like I was back home, he'd probably look me up?."

"Be surprised if he didn't." Nathan nodded. "I expect you'll meet all of them before too long." He chuckled. "The Triad have been sort of like family for most of my life. Obviously, it's a little more complicated than that, but it's not the relationship people usually associated with divinities." He shook his head. "Oh, just for reference Caito hates to be referred to as a god...the other two will accept the term but he gets annoyed."

"I'll try to remember that," Jake nuzzled him. "I know it's hard for you to talk about it, but I think I should know about your family before the kits arrive. They should hear about their grandparents and great-uncles."

"That's a long story." Nathan smiled fondly, though there was a definite sadness behind it. "Which is kinda of strange since I was only with them for five years. Which is about how long I was 'with' my adopted family, to the extent I was ever really one of them." He said quietly, making a silent note to remember to talk to the Felsinor Home Guard to see if there was ever anything done to shut down the kitten commando operations.

"I'd like to hear about the good times, who they were, what they were like ... what I might see in our kits from them," Jake smiled at him softly.

"Will you tell me about yours?" Nathan asked softly, stroking his mate's side as they snuggled on the office chair.

"What little I know, yes," Jake promised with a kiss.

Nathan and Jake walked through the ornate halls of the Royal University of Felsinor, headed for an appointment with the Chief Evaluator of the relatively new Department of Magical Studies. The building was a mixture of well-preserved wood and stone architecture that dated back centuries to the founding of the capital city.

"Excuse me, Medic Swiftclaw?" A mature female voice spoke from behind them, causing Nathan to turn and look. The speaker was a matronly leopardess in a very conservative grey dress.

"Yes?" Nathan replied wondering what she wanted with him, or if she was only addressing him because she knew his name.

"I'm Doctor Selina Telman with the Ancient History department." She explained formally. "Is it correct that you've actually visited the ancient homeworld?"

"So much for security of military records." Nathan muttered under his breath. "Yes, I live there for a time."

"I was wondering if you might be able to spare some time for an interview." She asked. "Until know we've only had the writings of the original settlers to develop an understanding of the homeworld from. A modern first hand account would be invaluable."

"Well, I'm sure it's a very different place from the time of the Exodus." He chuckled, not entirely sure about that with all the Omegas running around. "But you might want to consider talking to my mate, Jake as well, seeing as he's actually a native."

"So the rumors are true." She nodded, clearly pleased. "Perhaps you could arrange an introduction?" She asked politely.

"Nothing easier." Nathan chuckled. "Dr. Telman, this is my mate, Jake Clawson." He said indicating the shekat next to him. "Jake, this is Dr. Telman."

The doctor blinked in surprise, and looked curiously at Jake.

"Its a long story." Nathan shook his head. "She used to be a he, and will be again."

"A week and a half I go under for the change back, once the kits are safely out," Jake added. "History wasn't my field back home, but I'll tell you what I can. Perhaps after I'm a tom again?"

"Certainly, here's my card." She said handing a professionally printed card to Jake. "Call me when you feel up to it, and any details will be appreciated. So much of what we have is hard to tell from mythology." She nodded. "Well, I won't keep you from your appointment." She said, taking her leave of them.

"You realize she's not going to be the only one." Nathan shook his head, as they started walking once the professor was out of earshot. "The ancient homeworld is something of an obsession for some."

"It's something to give back to a world that's treated me very well when I had nothing to offer," she smiled up at him. "For the bats too."

"Starting out as refugees has made us sensitive to others who are displaced." Nathan said simply. "Our way of repaying Felsira as it were."

"True or not, it's something only I can offer," Jake said as they entered the reception area of the office of the Chief Evaluator of the Department of Magical Studies.

"Ah, Medic Swiftclaw." The secretary nodded as the two of them entered. "And Jake Clawson. You're a little early, the evaluator will be with you shortly." The Lynx said politely, as she checked some records in her computer. "I see all of Jake's records have arrived including the evaluation from the psionic clinic. That will speed things up."

"For all that it didn't accomplish much." Nathan commented dryly. "Given a Dracon started this, probably should've started with the University."

"Most people don't think about us right away, actually." The secretary chuckled. "Magic is something people are still adjusting to, at least in terms of it being real for us."

"Are there any forms to fill out while we wait?" Jake asked even as she sat down next to Nathan and snuggled close to her mate.

"All the data gathering was handled before you arrived." The secretary replied, reassuringly. "If the evaluation goes well and you decide to apply for admission, then there will be additional paperwork but not now."

Just then the door to the inner office opened and a graying lion wearing full-length maroon robes with gold trim came out. "Jake Clawson?" He asked looking around the room through the thick-lenses of silvery-metal rimmed glasses.

"Yes, sir," she stood. "Thank you for seeing me."

"My pleasure, Jake." The elderly tom smiled. "Please come into my office. I am Mage Cardanth Limarian," He said, and then turned to Nathan. "In order for the evaluation to be accurate I'll have to ask you to wait here." He said politely. "Strong talents can muddle readings."

"Of course, Professor." Nathan nodded, sitting back down. "I'll wait here, Jake."

"Okay," she nodded and followed the elderly Lion into his office. "Is this test anything like the Psi one?"

"There are probably similarities." The lion nodded as he closed the door. "But I was thinking of a more practical approach." He said easily. "Your mate said that even commonplace technology is uncooperative for you, is that accurate?"

"Yes," she nodded. "I seem to do okay up to what I was used to, but even at that level I'm no better than an average mechanic on the good days, and I used to be world class."

"That certainly sounds like the problem a blocked technomage would have, especially if the talent were used unconsciously." The Lion nodded thoughtfully. "Does it affect your ability to use technology, basic computer terminals for example?" He asked curiously.

"Far too much," Jake did her best not to growl in the absolute frustration it had caused. "If it helps, Nathan describes my homeworld as a tech level 7 or 8. We began putting communication satellites in orbit in my lifetime, and we haven't reached our own moon."

"Did you ever encounter technology on your world that was ahead of the general level, say from a crashed starship?" He asked, as a pen next to him made notes for him.

"Often, especially as I was a Protector ... the local military," Jake explained. "I was the one they usually gave stuff to figure it out. A couple times I couldn't, but I usually could. Off world tech was a lot harder to work with."

"I think I know what's the issue here." Cardanth smiled as a thought occurred. There was a sparkling sound and what appeared to be a piece of very old, and yet quite advanced technology appeared on a long table on one side of the room. "See what you can make of that." He suggested. "Just approach as you would have at home."

Jake nodded and took the metallic sphere in her hands, rotating it as she took it in with all of her senses. After several minutes of turning it this way and that she was well and truly oblivious to the fact that she was being studied as much as she was studying the sphere.

"It's some kind of sensor array. A UAV, I think," she mumbled to herself, playing her claws around the edge until she found the right place to tap to open it up. "Definitely autonomous, designed to gather data and relay it back."

"And you just figured out more in minutes, than several of our best technicians did in weeks." The Lion smiled. "There's no doubt about it, Jake, you are definitely a technomage." He said approvingly. "Your problem comes from the fact that you don't have any training, and use the talent innately." He explained. "This works fine on technology from your homeworld, and to a lesser extent for tech from your galaxy. However, you were never taught how to adapt to the different frequencies and languages each place imprints on its technology. The further apart to places are the more they differ." He explain. "Actually, I'm told it's a good deal more complex than that, but I'm a diviner not a technomage." He smiled, and then paused. "I imagine you have questions, please have a seat and I'll answer them as best I can."

Jake nodded and sat, relieved more than anything to finally have an answer, and a path forward. "How long will it take me, with training, to adapt to Felsinor?"

"That would be a question that an actual technomage would be better suited to answer, but I believe that most learn how to adjust frequencies over the course of a semester." He said thoughtfully. "Of course, it may be possible to speed that process if you put more time into it." He suggested. "You may also find meditative techniques helpful, instead of trying to work on a piece tech simply relax your mind and try to 'listen' to it." He added. "Would you like me to check and see if there's someone in the technomancy department who has time to see you today?" He offered.

"Yes, please," Jake nodded quickly. "What is the admissions system here?"

"We're mid-semester at the moment, so you'll have about a two month wait before the next semester." Cardanth explained. "You'll need to fill out an application for admission, though my opinion is that it will be a formality but I don't have the final say on admissions." He continued. "Unless you decide to take courses in other departments we don't need to worry about your prior educational credentials. If you decide you want to pick up courses in the engineering department, there will probably be some sort of evaluation exam to ensure that you have the proper background for the course." He added. "The application process is on-line which might be a problem, though it would be acceptable to have your mate do the actual typing if the computer won't cooperate." He suggested helpfully. "My secretary can give you a copy of the instruction and information packet we send to prospective students, while I call over to technomancy." He said standing, and leading the way out. "And please, feel free to call if you have any questions while filling out the application." He said leading the way out.

"Thank you," Jake nearly beamed. "I'm sure I'll be picking up other courses. I have a lot of odd gaps in my education at this point I want to fill in."

"Janet." He said, as the secretary turned to see them come out. "Please give Jake a prospective student packet, and route his file over to technomancy, please."

"Yes, Doctor." She nodded, and pulled a large envelope with the university seal on it. "Here you go, Jake." She smiled, handing it to him as the professor went back into his office.

"Things went well, I'm guessing." Nathan said, as he stood meet Jake and was all but tackled with a hug by his beaming mate.

"Very well," she nodded sharply and kissed him very soundly. "He said I was definitely a technomage, and the problems I've been having relate to not being trained to handle being so far from home. We've got a couple months before the next term starts, but I have a ton of placement tests for traditional departments to tackle while I'm at it."

"I knew there had to be some reasonable explanation." Nathan smiled, hugging his mate close. "And once you adapt I'm sure the megacorps will fighting over you, assuming you don't go with the guild which I'm told is popular with technomages." He chuckled.

"You are assuming that we don't try and keep him." Cardanth said, as he came out of his office. "We're still trying to build up our faculty in the department of magic studies. However, for now Mage Kar'Saldanth has some time open in her schedule to talk with you if you'd care to head over to the technomancy office. It's just down the hall."

"Sardanth?" Nathan asked curiously. "Technomancy is headed by Dracon then?"

"We were lucky to get her." The Lion nodded. "She's one of the top talents from the Great Academy on Draconea. I'm told it's a temporary assignment for her...but that could mean anything from a decade to a century or six." He chuckled.

"Oh, I know that." Nathan nodded, delighted beyond all reason at how happy his mate was. "Noble Dracon have a different view of time."

"I never thought of myself as a teacher, but who knows," Jake grinned at him, her mood bordering on giddy. "Thank you. Let's go see Mage Kar'Saldanth," she nuzzled Nathan affectionately.

"As I've always said, you can do anything you put your mind to love." Nathan said as they left the office of the chief evaluator. "It's great to see you in a good mood again."

"It's good to *be* in a good mood again," she purred deeply. "Have you made any plans for while I'm under, changing back to a tom?"

"Nothing too major, just a visit to the Healer Academy in Ketarin. Probably a day or two, unless some of my mother's colleagues recognize me, in which case it might be longer." Nathan said easily. "It's only a week after all, not a month."

"A week can be a very long time," she purred, leaning against him as they stepped into the office of the head of Technomancy.

"Not when you've got years to make up for." Nathan chuckled.

"Ah, Jake Clawson I presume." The eight foot tall metallic bronze female Dracon in silver-grey robes with black trim said, looking at Jake. "The Evaluator tells me you have some questions he couldn't handle." She added with a small smile. "If you'd care to step into my office I'll see if I can clear things up." She offered politely indicating the open door to the right of the secretary's desk.

"Thank you, Mage," Jake inclined her head and entered the office with Nathan. "The state of my gift has made even simple things such as driving and getting directions from a computer difficult," she said as the door was shut and everyone sat down. "I was wondering how long it would likely take me to get enough control to function as a normal adult again."

"So the Evaluator said." She nodded. "The gift of technomancy can always be a mixed blessing when it is first discovered. Though most have the problem of technology doing too much. You have the problem of not speaking the local 'dialect', so the technology thinks you're shouting gibberish at it." She clarified. "You're fortunate that you didn't have any the 'gibberish' misinterpreted as something dangerous."

"Oh, I'm not sure about that." Nathan shook his head. "The food processor a few weeks ago looked downright hostile. Of course, maybe it was just insulted."

"Either is possible." The Dracon nodded. "Even basic appliances can gain a rudimentary 'intelligence' when interacting with a powerful technomage, especially a powerful and untrained one."

"And very frustrated," Jake added sheepishly. "It's been a rough few months for me, and I've probably taken out more than a fair share of it on technology that I couldn't understand. I thought I was just a talented mechanic. That it might be something more ... it just never occurred to anyone until Cestil Kar'Dranor got an earful while flying overhead."

"That it was one of the Dranor clan is not surprising." The Mage chuckled. "There's a very strong vein of technomancy there, so it's not surprising she picked up on it. And magic is still very new on Felsinor, so it is not something many people think of right away."

"You may find that some of the technology you deal with has picked up a residual, rudimentary intelligence from your months of 'shouting' at it in 'gibberish' much the way a piece of metal will pick up a weak magnetic charge if continuously exposed to a magnetic field." She cautioned. "It shouldn't be too much trouble once you learn to speak the local 'dialect' but if it proves to troubling, contact this department and we'll send someone to help settle things."

"I'll keep that in mind," Jake promised.

"Technomagic poltergeists?" Nathan blinked, rather surprised at the idea. "So maybe the entertainment center has been turning itself on and changing programs and channels."

"It is possible," Arshianitha Kar'Saldanth nodded. "As for how long it will take it, it will depend largely on how much effort you put into learning, and how easily you adapt to it. The first I can see will be in abundance. The second we will simply have to see. Since it is impeding your daily life, I am willing to see that you have a tutor until you have a basic grasp of Felsinor's dialect."

"Thank you, Mage Kar'Saldanth," Jake breathed a deep sigh of relief.

"Mage Kar'Saldanth, Jake's scheduled to undergo two procedures involving high-tech medical equipment in the next several weeks. Is there any danger of his untrained talent unintentionally impacting the equipment?" Nathan asked, as it occurred to him just what could go wrong.

"There is a possibility, but if you'll provide my secretary with dates and locations we can have a fully trained technomage on hand to keep the equipment from being inadvertently 'annoyed'." She said, making a note on a computer screen, and then looked at Jake seriously. "I would recommend against space travel until you've had a chance to get a basic understanding of the local dialect. There are far too many chances for 'misunderstandings'."

"I understand, and it is not in my plans anytime soon," Jake assured her. "We'll give her the dates, and the assistance is appreciated. Our kittens depend on things going well. I was also wondering if you could give me a better understanding of how strong a technomage I am."

"I would say you're definitely in the top 5% of the Felsin technomages I've encountered." She said thoughtfully. "And probably in the top 5% among the races that don't have a strong magic heritage. However, strength is only one measure of a technomage, the other often more important talent is creativity since it is creativity that guides the power." She smiled. "It is the difference between wielding a jackhammer, and wielding a hammer and chisel. While the one is certainly more powerful, the other is more versatile."

"Based on what he did with tech level 7 and 8 equipment, I don't think there's any doubt about creativity." Nathan smiled proudly. "The way things were going, I don't think interstellar flight was out of the question."

The Dracon blinked, momentarily surprised. "Assuming that is not merely a mate's pride speaking, that does speak to a very high level of creativity."

"I was building fighters capable of reaching the moon, when the official space program hadn't yet," Jake offered, blushing a bit. "Several of them had cargo bays larger inside than out, and a range no one could duplicate. I knew I was good, but I never thought it was magic at work."

"Transdimensional physics without training." The Dracon nodded, clearly impressed. "Many technomages can't handle that concept with training. It violates one too many of their preconceptions."

"Actually, Haven had reached the moon." Nathan chuckled. "They just didn't let their big neighbor to the north know it. Amazing what can be concealed when you have stealth capabilities that are way ahead of other people's sensors. Jake's fighters were much better than the Haven space shuttles, however."

"I think it is a very good thing you came in for an evaluation when you did, Jake." The Dracon said seriously. "It is likely that your growing frustration would've become dangerous at some point."

"I'm beginning to grasp just how much," she nodded, more than a little surprised that Nathan knew about a space program success when she didn't. "I'm very much looking forward to learning how to control my talent."

"Once I locate a suitable tutor, I'll have them contact you to arrange things, and if you have any questions feel free to contact me." The Dracon replied. "But until then, try to cut back on your interaction with the technology as best you can. It will less frustrating for you, and easier on your equipment. Did you have any other questions?"

"No, ma'am," Jake shook her head as she stood with Nathan. "Thank you for seeing me so soon, and your assistance."

"Hay," Jake said groggily as she struggled against the anesthesia after the kittens had been removed from her wombs.

"Hey yourself." Nathan smiled as he met the hand reaching for him. "How are you feeling?"

"Groggy, not sore yet," she mumbled. "It go well?"

"Four healthy kittens transferred to G-tubes to complete gestation." Nathan said professionally. "Turned out it was a good thing that we had the technomage around, just to keep things quiet. Between your untrained talent, the magic inherent in the kittens, and my own magic there was a bit more noise than was good for the machinery. But everything is good now."

"Good," she smiled and squeezed his hand. "How long before they let me eat something?"

"Liquids at first, and if you can keep those down then try light food." Nathan cautioned. "Just to make sure the anesthetic has worn off, don't want to try swallowing when that reflex isn't working properly. Best to start with sips of water just to be careful."

"All right," she nodded in acceptance. "Can you tell anything about the kittens yet?"

"They're all healthy, and there's no sign of any congenital conditions that can be detected at this stage of development." Nathan said reassuringly. "All are in primal form, which means they've all inherited the shapeshifting ability. But that's not surprising considering my genetics. Two males and two females, but it's still too early to tell much else. If the residual magic present is any indicator, there's probably at least one with mage potential, but that's not a certainty."

"They do have one parent with a strong magical talent," Jake chuckled softly. "Too early for fur colors?"

"That's very difficult to tell until they're born." Nathan nodded. "With what I know about some traits in my makeup, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't a panther and a tiger among the four of them though."

"I never was very patient," Jake chuckled and shifted to sit up. "We are going to have such chaos at the ranch in three or four months."

"The real chaos comes when they figure how to shift." Nathan chuckled. "That's usually between six and twelve months, unless they take after me in which case it'll two years or more." He added. "One of the few things it took me longer than most to learn."

"Then when they start using magic, I bet," she grinned up at him and pulled him down for a tender kiss. "We are *so* going to have our hands full when they can walk."

"Well, there's the running on four legs that'll comes very quickly, and then the two leg version when they figure out shifting." Nathan chuckled. "Oh, just so you know ... when shifters figure out the four-leg to two-leg shift, they're quite capable of walking or should I say running on those two legs." He said, and then shook his head. "There is a also that possibility that one or more of them may have a form with wings."

"Since you do," Jake nodded. "That will be very interesting, but at least one of us can give them lessons, besides the bats."

"Lessons?" Nathan chuckled. "I never 'learned' to fly, I just *knew*. Actually, I didn't even know I could until that unplanned shift on Aristal."

"That's different," Jake said before she caught of an athletic red Vulpen with sapphire blue eyes wearing a silver tracksuit hovering by the door. "Yes?"

"Pardon my interruption." The Vulpen said politely. "I just came to check on the very unusual patient." He smiled.

"Jake, this is Mage Ardin Saros Tanaqueldor." Nathan introduced the flame red Vulpen. "He was the technomage who oversaw the transfer of the kittens."

"Most unusual encountering an adult with such a strong untrained talent." The technomage commented.

"So I've been told repeatedly," Jake chuckled. "It comes from being from a world without recognized magic. I understand that you got quite a workout keeping things under control."

"It was exciting there for a moment." Ardin chuckled. "You do have a talent for aggravating high tech equipment. But I was able to calm it down and white-noise out the noise being generated." He explained. "Oh, I guess I should mention that I'm also the tutor the Technomancy school found for you."

"Good to meet you," Jake extended her hand. "So now you have a first-hand experience of what I do without trying. I'm sure I *really* pissed off some of the equipment I was trying to get to do something. You'll be there for my next surgery?"

"Of course." He nodded. "That should be a little calmer, since we won't have the kittens magic to add to the mix. So, is it true that you're from another galaxy?" He asked curiously.

"Yes," Jake nodded. "From the Felsin world of Origin seems to be the general consensus. I'm used to much more primitive tech."

"Fascinating." He nodded. "By primitive are you talking steam age, internal combustion age or something earlier?" He asked, clearly interested.

"Nathan described it as between tech level seven and eight," Jake said. "We had jets that were good in the lower atmosphere, and a few satellites in orbit and early nuclear power and energy weapons, though most weapons are still ballistic."

"So you not only had to face tech that was far in advance of your own but that wasn't cooperating even on a basic level." The Vulpen nodded sympathetically. "That is such a frustrating experience, even for a trained technomage. When you don't even realize why there's a problem, it must be worse."

"I was far too close to a breakdown for anyone's comfort," Jake nodded. "If it wasn't for the kittens and Nathan, I would have probably lost it months ago. Right now, I'm looking forward to at least getting enough of the basics down that I don't piss things off by walking in the room."

"I know what you mean." Ardin agreed easily. "First time it happened to me I ran to monastery that had sworn off the use all technology newer than monastery's founding. Even when you don't speak the language, rope and pulley tech doesn't seem to care."

"True enough," Jake agreed. "Though if you do know how to convince them, they can do some impressive things," she grinned with memories of what she'd done in her youth. "What convinced you to come out?"

"A local technomage came to visit her brother who had joined the order. In addition to being a gifted mage, she was gifted in linguistics and telepathy. She figured out the 'frequency' problem and how to 'read' the 'frequency' of a new place; even a new galaxy. Once she taught me how, I was a lot more willing to travel."

"I bet," Jake nodded. "The language varies that much across the Alliance?"

"Across the Alliance isn't so bad, but I'm not from the Alliance originally." Ardin chuckled. "Actually, this is the third galaxy I've visited. I'm a bit burned out on the travel currently, hence the teaching career."

"How many of your travels were because you wanted to go?" Jake asked curiously.

"I used to travel between the Sanshun and Tyrsis galaxies a few times a year on assignments." He said after a bit of thought, and then chuckled. "Actually, I've visited four galaxies if you count alternate realities. The travel between Sanshun and Tyrsis was actually in a different reality. I did not go to that reality deliberately, it was kind of an accident. And I didn't leave my home galaxy of Madalora deliberately."

"Sounds like how I ended up here, though I'm beginning to appreciate the opportunity it presents," Jake squeezed her mate's hand. "Did you loose anyone when you ended up moving?"

"Family and friends." The Fox sighed. "I was new to my journeyman status and thought I had all the answers. Thought I could improve the FTL drive system that had been around for millennia. Instead of boosting the speed by half, I boosted it by three orders of magnitude somehow. Navigation blew out and the acceleration knocked me cold, by the time the drive burned itself out I was in the wrong galaxy with a mostly non-functional ship."

"Joy," Jake winced in sympathy. "It seems like you've adapted pretty well."

"If there's one thing we Faladril are, its flexible." He chuckled. "Adapt to anything, though those months hiding at the monastery did help. I'd never been much for religion, but that praying and meditating really helped with emotional balance." He nodded. "Felsinor is almost warm enough for me, if a bit wet."

"You've never been to Kalad-Mar have you?" Nathan chuckled.

"That's way too like the monastery for me, thank you." The Fox shook his head. "Nice vacation, wouldn't want to live there."

"So would it be okay to start my lessons on how not to piss of tech?" Jake asked hopefully.

"Hospitals are not good places to practice." Ardin said seriously. "But I expect you should be going home before dinner." He said looking over at Nathan, who nodded. "We can set up a lesson for tomorrow, if you'd like."

"Sounds great," Jake nodded quickly. "Thank you for your help, and if you come by around meal time, Nathan is a top-class chef, though he usually denies it."

"I've never had a cooking lesson in my life." Nathan protested, though it was clearly playful. "There must be a gene for cooking."

"Must be it." Ardin grinned back. "In that case, I'll stop by around noon and we can start after lunch. Sound good?"

"We'll set an extra plate for you," Nathan smiled warmly, thrilled and nearly glowing inside at how happy his mate was at the prospect of lessons and of the next big procedure.

"Do you know about the bats?" Jake asked.

"The bats?" Ardin blinked. "I'm guessing you're talking the gliding mammal kind, but beyond that I have no idea."

"Ah," Jake nodded. "Trace, our housemate, and his two sons. They are white Bats, basically. Quite unusual in the Alliance, but good guys."

"Ah yes, they are unusual here." Ardin nodded. "But quite common back home. There was a race of bats who were native to one of the moons of the largest gas giant in our system."

"I seriously doubt these are the same race as those, but you have the idea," Jake nodded as she shifted, testing to see how sore she was. She was a touch surprised when she barely felt bruised, much less worse.

"I'd be very surprised." He chuckled. "So were these bats native to your home galaxy?" The flame-red fox asked curiously.

"No, they were slaves on the Mephit ship that captured us," Jake explained. "They came with us when we escaped."

"Considering the nasty pieces of work the Mephits are, I don't blame them." Ardin nodded. "Give the Saurians back home a run for their money in the evil department, and I didn't think that was possible."

"I've learned that very little is impossible, in the right hands," Nathan chuckled lightly. "It sounds like we all have interesting lives."

"Well, if you'll excuse me." Ardin interrupted politely. "I have a class to teach in a hour, so I'll see you tomorrow."

"Thanks for stopping by, Ardin." Nathan smiled. "See you for lunch tomorrow."

"See you then," Jake grinned at him.

The Fox hadn't quite closed the door when his sharp ears caught Jake's next comment to his mate.

"That is what I call cute," the cinnamon feline purred.

Having the sharp ears of his kind, Ardin heard the comment, but he didn't pay it much attention. The fact that Jake was in recovery from anesthesia meant that he might not be entirely himself ... or was that herself?

The whole gender change made Ardin a little uneasy as well, since he wasn't sure what effect such a change might have on the thought processes of the individual. The hormone balance alone raised questions.

All in all, he felt it was just better to ignore it for the time being.

Unusual Partners: Foreign Tiger 6: Unpleasant News

Het Level is Low
Slash Level is
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

55 KB, Story is Complete, Series is in Progress
Written December 10, 2008 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Todd McCall

Setting: Galactic Alliance, Haven

Primary Races: Felsin, Kat, Mephit

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M).

Pairings: Jake Clawson/Nathan SwiftClaw/Trace

Notes: After being in limbo for 5 and a half years, long relegated to the 'Closed-Unfinished' pile, we have picked this one up again and have a solid plan for the next four chapters.

Blurb: Now half way through the pregnancy, Jake receives some good news, some bad news, and some answers to things that have been driving him to the brink of insanity.

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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