A FOREST TALE 22: More Terrible Than Chains (a.k.a. Leannaís Story)
Part 3: Problems and Solutions
By Bernard Doove © 2004

Leanna woke from the soundest slumber that shi had experienced in years, momentarily dizzy from disorientation before shi remembered where shi was. Panic that had been growing within hir chest at the prospect of having overslept and hir master was awaiting hir with mounting displeasure. With a sigh of relief shi realised that, for the moment, shi had no master expecting to be attended. If hir hosts were to be believed, shi no longer had anyone to order hir around, and shi was now completely responsible for hir own destiny. Leanna didnít know which prospect frightened hir more.

Shi stretched languorously, revelling in feeling so well-rested. ĎI could get used to this lifestyle,í shi thought to hirself. ĎEven if they placed me in some sort of entertainment position, if I had this to come back to, Iíd be dozens of times better off than I used to be.í Then hir thoughts darkened. ĎAssuming of course that I survive beyond the next few days. My time is due any moment now, and I donít have a clue what will happen.í Shi laid there staring at the cabinís roof for a long time before deliberately shaking off the mood. ĎAt least if I die now, it will be free from that thrice-damned bastard! Ha! Itís not as if I expected to live long after killing him.í That took hir thoughts in directions that shi did not want them to go though because the memories of those supercharged moments brought back a surge of unwanted sexual desire for hir dead master. Angry that the dead human could have such control over hir still, shi used hir disgust and determination to bury those feelings. ĎI swear that if I live long enough, Iíll overcome these urges!í

In an effort to clear hir mind of unwanted thoughts, shi started reviewing what had occurred the previous day. The biggest puzzlement to hir was why shi had been so garrulous while with the family. It was not as if shi hadnít had plenty of practice at being quiet and discreet, but it seemed that shi could hardly stop hirself from talking when asked a question. There was something about these chakats that shi hadnít figured out as yet, but shi was determined to do so, if not for any other reason than pure curiosity!

"Good morning, sleepyhead!" Midnight greeted hir bleary-eyed mate.

"Jeez, what are you doing up so early?" Forestwalker asked as shi shuffled off to the galley to get some much-needed coffee.

Midnight laughed. "You obviously didnít hear it, but Ember was squawking for a feed, so I got up to attend hir. Anyway, it isnít all that early. Youíre just still tired from last nightís effort."

Forest grimaced. "Well, I donít regret it at all, but having your sex drive kicked into overdrive does seem to have its repercussions."

"So I see. I suggest that you donít do that too often then. Or if you do, go to bed earlier!"

"Youíre so sympathetic," Forest grumbled.

"Youíll survive, Iím sure. And Iím equally sure that youíll do it again." Shi got up and trotted over to hir mate and lick-kissed hir cheek. "And Iíll be looking forward to it too," shi added with a wink.

Forest gave hir a lopsided grin. "Youíre probably correct. Right now though, I just want this coffee!" Shi proceeded to imbibe large draughts of the hot, strong brew.

"Better wake up fast, hon. The cubs are already waking and theyíll be wanting breakfast. I have to go now to do a couple of things before my shift starts, so theyíre all yours."

Forest groaned. "We need a full-time nanny! I didnít think it was going to be this bad away from the rest of the family. If it wasnít for Yeoman díArmand, Iíd be exhausted!" Shi looked curiously at Midnight. "How is it that youíve been so chipper all this voyage anyway?"

Midnight finished settling hir uniform top and slung a tricorder over hir shoulder. "When youíre in the military, you learn to adapt. Youíre just not used to having two extra children along on this trip compared to the first time we travelled together. Think about the problem and consider the time and resources you have on hand. Youíll find a way to cope. Now I gotta go, love." Shi gave Forest a long hug and then stepped up to the door. As it slid aside, shi added, "You never know, the solution might be right under your nose!"

The door had barely closed before two excited cubs came barrelling out of the bedroom, Snowcloud holding a tail-ribbon in hir hand that evidently belonged to Patchwork, judging by the way shi kept trying to get it back from hir sister. As the two tore around the room like a whirlwind, Forest determinedly prepared some breakfast for them all. As soon as it was ready, shi stepped in front of Snowcloud at a strategic moment and deftly removed the ribbon from hir grasp, handing it over to Patchwork. "Okay you two, food is on the table. I want you to eat it in peace while I attend to your baby sister."

"Yes, mum!" they chorused, the incident with the ribbon forgotten in their eagerness to get to their breakfast.

Forest watched hir twin terrors for a moment, still proud and happy to have borne them, even if they sometimes made life hard. Still, there was another who needed more attention right now who could not cope for hirself as yet, and Forest went to fetch hir youngest child. Shi was lying entwined with hir cot-mate, Ember, stirring uneasily as the pangs of hunger penetrated hir sleep. Gently shi disengaged Windrunner from the other cub and brought hir into the living-room. Shi settled behind a table with hir huge bowl of cereal in front of hir, a spoon in one hand and the cub in the other, lifting hir to a breast. Both ate in silence to sate their gnawing hunger.

They were soon joined by Rosepetal, closely followed by Boyce. Forest had sensed their alertness long ago, and realised that they were preparing for the day before coming out into the main cabin. They both greeted Forest and the cubs cheerily before going into the galley to prepare breakfast for themselves. Boyce came back with a plate loaded with bacon, eggs and toast. Rosepetal had a selection of cold meats and fresh fruit to follow them. By this time, the cubs had finished their breakfast, but thankfully had gone off to quietly play with their toys, perhaps slowed down a bit by their full bellies. The adults concentrated on their food for a little while before conversation started, which immediately turned to the subject of their newest acquaintance.

"Leanna isnít quite what any of us expected," Rosepetal started. "Iíve never seen a sex slave that was so intelligent and determined. Frankly I thought we were going to have a harder time winning hir over than we did. Instead shi was positively talkative at dinner last night."

Boyce nodded. "After shi pulled that Ďmasterí crap on me, I thought that we were going to have to break a lot of conditioning over a period of days, or even weeks, before weíd get any real information out of hir."

Forest waved hir spoon to indicate shi wanted to say something while shi finished a mouthful of cereal. After swallowing, shi admitted, "I might have had something to do with that."

Rose looked at hir keenly. "And may I ask just how?"

Suddenly Forest felt a little uncomfortable under the scrutiny of hir senior co-mate. "Well, I was sort of projecting trust and sympathy on an empathic level all the time. Whenever shi started to balk with suspicion or fear, I projected reassurance to hir."

Rosepetal frowned. "I know all chakats have a certain degree of psionic empathy, but I donít know what youíre E-rating is."

"Both Goldie and I were tested when we were young. Shiís about average, but I was a strong E4, maybe even an E5 with training."

"E5!" exclaimed Rosepetal. "Thatís very strong. No wonder Leanna was so forthcoming. Arenít people with your degree of Talent supposed to get trained for special careers to make use of that level of Talent?"

"Yes, they wanted me to go into a special program for people who had that high a score, but I turned them down. I already knew what career that I wanted to pursue, and Empathic training wasnít required for a biologist. Although I do have to admit that it has come in handy occasionally for detecting some elusive beasties."

Boyce spoke up, "That time that Malena told us about, how you were able to let her experience the male physical sensations of lovemakingÖ that was a manifestation of that strong Talent, wasnít it?"

Forest nodded. "Thatís something that Goldfur hasnít been able to do for her. I didnít even know for sure that I could do it until I did, but even so I had the inner feeling that it was possible. I can Ďreadí peopleís feelings from far away quite easily if I concentrate. Iíve often used the Talent when dealing with difficult people."

Rosepetal still looked disapproving. "Thatís why people like you are expected to take that program. You shouldnít be influencing people like that without official sanction and training."

"Bullshit!" Forest said defiantly, refusing to let Rosepetal dictate hir life despite her seniority. "Chakats of all levels of Talent do things like that every day of their lives. Itís why our kind is known to be good at negotiations and leadership. We as a species desire pleasant relationships and mutually beneficial results, and this is good for everyone we interact with. Itís one of the reasons why a chakat is always desired as part of the crew of any starship. The authorities know what we do and how we do it, but theyíre usually wise enough to let it work by itself and not force it." Shi smiled briefly. "Although in Goldfur and Garrekís case, they were not above manipulating the circumstances in the hopes of getting a certain result. They actually got more than they bargained for, which is one reason why they shouldnít mess around at all. When our species was designed, our creators intended the Talent to operate mostly unconsciously to prevent misuse. Only those of us who showed an extraordinary level of Empathic Talent are trained for special purposes, usually those that the Turners never intended. I preferred not to do that training and I will choose when to use my Talent. Iím not perfect, but I think my judgement has been sound enough, and more honest than then the officially sanctioned ones."

Rosepetal struggled with this. One side of her, the part conditioned by Star Fleet, said that such Talents should always be trained and controlled, clamoured for ascendancy, but the other side of her, the part that was independent-minded and co-mate to the chakat, told her that Forest was right. Then Boyce put his arm around her and hugged her.

"Let it go, Rose. You canít dictate this to hir. Itís neither your right, nor your obligation."

Rosepetal looked at her mate, then sighed. "Yes, husband, you are right. My apologies, Forest."

Forestwalker smiled at her. "No problem, Rose. Everybody has their own opinions. Although I might add as a final word that if I was truly abusing my Talent, we wouldnít have had this disagreement in the first place, no?"

Rosepetal had to admit that that was probably true. "So, you arenít actually pushing Leanna to tell us all this information?"

"Nope. All I do is empathically reassure hir that we can be trusted and have nothing but hir best interests at heart. Shi actually wants to talk about this stuff. Itís just that shiís never had anyone to trust before, so itís a slow process, even if you think itís been unusually fast. Be patient and shiíll be forthcoming with everything you need to know. Maybe not everything you may want to know, but nobody has the right to be that nosey."

"This from a curious feline?" Boyce smirked.

"Oh, I might still ask the questions," shi said with a wink, "I just donít demand answers! And speaking of questions, I have some too. What is this great interest in Leanna about? Youíve got quite a load of former slaves on board. Why the special interest in hir?"

Boyce sighed deeply and then replied, "Because shiís a true rarity. Not for hir physical nature, but for hir keen intelligence. Do you know how few of the slaves that ever get liberated are actually smart enough to answer questions, let alone operate independently like Leanna did? Very, very few! There were only a handful in that entire shipload that could do more than speak more than a few dozen words, and of those, only a few were capable of acting on their own. One was Leanna, and another was a foxmorph trained as a major domo. The latter though is nowhere near as intelligent as Leanna, nor very flexible in his capabilities. He couldnít even answer many of the questions that we put to him. Leanna though has the capability of being a mine of information, especially in light of what shi told us shi was trained to do. Star Fleet Command is keen to get any insights into what is happening on any of the Non-Aligned Worlds."

It was Forestís turn to frown. "Is your only interest in Leanna as an informant? What about hir future as something other than a sex slave or spy? What about all the other former slaves who arenít any use to you? Are they just going to be dumped or have you some way of dealing with them?"

Boyce held up his hand in order to halt the stream of questions. "Forest, love, I admit we do have particular interest in Leanna because of what shi can tell us, but I assure you we also have hir best long-term interests at heart. In fact, shiís a much needed ray of hope in a very bleak outlook. That foxmorph, some trained kitchen staff and a few others of the smarter slaves will be found employment and accommodation in which they will be happy for the rest of their lives, but the conditioning that is bred into them will never be completely broken. Despite the best efforts of some very clever people, no one has ever managed to remove the subservient conditioning of any slave ever rescued or confiscated. The rest of the slaves are even worse. Leanna may well be the first to be able to have a full and independent life outside of slavery. After so many failures, Star Fleet needs a conspicuous success to boost morale."

Forest was partly mollified, but shi was still concerned about the other slaves. "You said that the rest of the slaves are worse off. Canít you treat them in some way and give them jobs too? Surely thereís some hope for them?"

Rosepetal and Boyce looked at each other, sadly aware of things that Forestwalker was ignorant of. Boyce looked back at Forest and said, "Youíve never met any other slave besides Leanna, have you?" When Forest shook hir head to indicate that shi hadnít, he continued, "After breakfast, you will come with me down to the bays where weíre holding the slaves. Youíre going to get a rude education."

"But what about my duty shift?" shi asked.

"Is there anything that youíre currently doing of great importance or that cannot be reassigned to another person?"

Forestwalker thought for a moment. "Well, Iíd prefer to finish what Iíve started, but other than that, I suppose not."

"Then as of now, Leanna is your assignment. Seeing as you have taken hir under your wing, you may as well keep on doing what you can to make our unusual fennec a useful and happy part of our society. Good luck, because it isnít going to be as easy as it sounds."

Forestwalker was about to protest a bit more when the door chime announced somebody wishing entry.

"Enter!" Rosepetal commanded, and the computer automatically unlocked the door and slid it open to reveal Yeoman díArmand.

She stepped inside and said, "Reporting for nanny duty!" she said with a salute and a smile.

"Good morning, Yeoman," Boyce said. "Shir Forestwalker and I will be going to be inspect the rescued slaves soon, but shi will be back a little later with Leanna Fennec whom I believe you met yesterday?" The yeoman nodded in confirmation. "Due to a change in circumstances, the times when your services will be required may vary after that. Forestwalker will indicate if and when youíre needed. If you are not, see Commander Rosepetal about reassignment."

"Understood, sir," she replied.

"In the meantime," Rosepetal added, "You can find out why my lazy daughter still hasnít come out of her room and started getting ready for classes yet."

DíArmand grinned. "Pardon me, Commander, but sheís like every cat Iíve ever owned Ė hates having her sleep interrupted!"

Rosepetal liked the yeoman, and so let her get away with the cheeky observation, especially as it was quite true in Kaylaís case.

Boyce got up from the table and took his and Roseís plates and utensils to the replicator to be cleaned while Forest took hir kitten, slumbering again after filling hir stomach, back to the cot to rejoin Ember. By the time shi returned, Kayla was sitting at the table disdainfully eyeing a bowl of what looked like kibble, but was actually the Caitian equivalent of breakfast cereal. Obviously shi thought it a poor substitute to continued sleep and Forest smiled sympathetically. Shi then went to don hir uniform and straighten hir hair, then met Boyce at the entry door.

Boyce touched the door sensor and it slid open. "After you, Specialist Forestwalker."

"Thank you, Captain Kline," shi replied, and with that they were both officially on duty.

"While a handful of those we rescued have been given a cabin, like Leanna," Boyce explained as they headed to their goal in the trans-lift, "We donít have more than a very few spares. Therefore weíve had to make most of them comfortable in a couple of the hangars. Frankly though, a cabin would have been wasted on most of them."

"Why do you say that?" Forest queried.

"Youíll soon see. Most cannot even appreciate what theyíre given."

"That sounds suspiciously like bigotry, which is most unlike you."

"As I said, you will see for yourself. If you have any suggestions after that, Iíll be glad to listen."

Forest was quietly confident that there had to be something that could be done to improve things for the refugees stay in the ship. Shi was soon going to regret that assumption.

"Here we are - port and starboard main hangars. Weíre going into the control room between them," Boyce directed. He let the chakat precede him and followed closely behind. He nodded acknowledgement to the crew members stationed there monitoring the living cargo. "Come over here to the direct observation window, Forestwalker," he said, walking over to the port window.

Forest did so and saw the huge number of morphs; feline, canine, vulpine, musteline, and many, many more. The first thing that shi noticed was that at least half of them were engaged in sexual acts of every imaginable kind. Shi carefully refrained from extending hir empathic senses into that morass of emotions. Then shi started noticing some of the more extreme body modifications on some of them and hir eyes were glued to the scene in horrid fascination.

Admiral Kline, who had seen this sort of thing several times before, was more inured to the sight, and he proceeded to explain some details. "About 95% of any slave cargo consists of sex slaves of one kind or another. Up until Leanna, not one of those has ever been found to have more than sufficient intelligence to eat, go to the toilet, bathe, and follow the basic instructions for sexual intercourse. Most can barely talk. All of them are programmed with a deeply ingrained desire to have sex, often and in many ways. If they do not have a master to take care of their lusts, they find the next best thing. None of these creatures are capable of appreciating a proper cabin, nor use any of its facilities other than the head or shower. The temporary facilities that we have set up here are more than adequate for those needs. By keeping them together, they can at least tend to their sexual needs. You donít want to see what happens if you keep them apart for a few days. And thatís just your standard sex slave. Then we have the exotics."

Forest was already beginning to get an idea of what Boyce meant by Ďexoticsí. Shi felt shi needed to say something, but hir jaw just hung slack and no words came out.

Boyce continued. "As you can see, some of them have been greatly modified to suit some personís particular fetish. Enormous breasts, some so big that the poor creature can barely walk with them. Some produce enough milk to put a dairy cow to shame, but with no control over the flow. A couple of pseudo-herms amongst this lot, not true herms like Leanna. Some incapable of walking upright despite obviously being a biped, and forced to move about on hands and knees like horses or cows. Some with extraÖ orifices, shall we say. Some even permanently pregnant and popping out virtual clones of themselves every few months. And this isnít even the full gamut of every kink Iíve ever seen."

Forest felt tears of pity welling in hir eyes. Here was everything about bio-engineering gone insane. How could people do this to living creatures?

Boyce put his hand on Forestís arm to steer hir over to the starboard observation window. Forest was reluctant to go, frightened of what shi was going to see there, but realising that shi had to witness everything to know fully what shi was talking about. "And now, the males. If you thought the females were bad, you should see some of the things that they do to the males."

Forest gasped as the scene hit hir senses and shi closed hir eyes in denial for a few moments before forcing hirself to look again.

Boyce continued stoically. "Again we have the common male sex slave, average build, but with a non-stop desire to have sex. Theyíre the lucky ones. Over there you can see several with permanent erections. And not because of a penile bone either. Imagine the pain of an erection that just wonít quit. Some have huge penises, probably too big for many females. One," Boyce pointed to a particular morph, "has a cock so big it drags on the floor. Utterly useless for intercourse, but apparently stroking it gets him off just as much. The size of their testes varies from large to ridiculously huge. Some of these creatures have huge appetites for food, half of which is to provide energy for constant sex, the other half to produce virtual rivers of semen. There may be far fewer males than females, but keeping their hangar clean is a far greater task than for the other. Once again we have those with extra appendages, several she-males, a couple of equinoids with hooves instead of hands that need help to perform various functions, and Iíve even seen one morph whose tongue is literally another penis, complete with semen produced in a scrotum under his chin. I wonder if he can properly taste food at all.

"And people have the nerve to say that chakats are sexual perversions," Forest murmured. "Those people should see this sort of thing before they judge anyone."

"Indeed," Boyce agreed. "And then there are the truly sad cases." He indicated a cluster of very beefy types who were just sitting around in a bunch, seemingly uninterested in anything. "Those are heavy labour morphs. They are built for strength and endurance, and theyíre utterly sexless. They are incapable of feeling any sort of physical pleasure, but because they have to be smart enough to follow complex instructions, they are also smart enough to know that they are missing out on something pleasurable. Their only reason for existence is to work until they drop."

"Enough!" cried Forestwalker, tears streaming from hir eyes, partially blinding hir as shi tried to make hir way out of the control room. Shi stopped outside, sobbing hir heart out. Boyce joined hir, putting his arm around hir shoulders in comfort. Eventually shi calmed down enough for him to say, "Now do you understand why dealing with rescued slaves is a difficult business?"

Forest nodded. "HowÖ what do you do with thoseÖ creatures?"

"As I said, most are incapable of doing anything except provide sexual services. If we neutralised their sex drives, they would literally sit around doing nothing until they keeled over from lack of interest in living. Frankly, there are no good solutions, only the least unacceptable ones. The best slaves are treated to bring them as close to normalcy as possible, and are usually found places at legal brothels where their needs are taken care of for the rest of their lives. They actually have very happy lives, better than any other alternative. The trick is to do the same for the more extreme cases. Not all can be helped. Some donít even want to keep living."

"I donít think I dare ask what happens to some of them," Forest admitted. "Can we go back to our cabin now? I need some time to recover."

"Definitely," Boyce agreed, and they both headed for the trans-lift. As it moved swiftly to their destination, Boyce asked, "Now do you understand why we find Leanna to be so important?"

"Because shiís intelligent and capable of making a life for hirself without constant intervention from Star Fleet," Forest speculated. "Shi will be a symbol of hope."

"Hope. Such a powerful emotion. We live in the hope of putting a halt to this cruel trade. All morphs deserve a better fate than those weíve just seen."

Forestwalker sipped at a soothing mug of tea. Boyce gave hir a hug and kiss before saying, "I have to go now, love. Other duties call. When youíre ready, go fetch Leanna and learn what you can about hir, and start teaching hir everything shi needs to know about fitting into Federation society. Shiís your number one priority until we get back to Earth."

"Okay Boyce. I mean yes, Captain."

Boyce smiled. "Leannaís lucky to have you to help hir." Then he left, the door swishing quietly closed behind him.

After Forest felt sufficiently revitalised, shi made hir way to Leannaís cabin. Touching the door chime brought an immediate response, and shi stepped inside the room to see Leanna seated in front of the computer, apparently looking up some information. "Find anything interesting?" Forest asked.

Leanna started apologetically, "I found it unlocked and I assumed that it was okay."

Forest held up a hand to stop hir. "Itís alright. If we didnít want you to use it, we would not have given you access to it. Sensitive military information and other subjects are only accessible to those with the appropriate clearance, so anything else you find on there is freely accessible to anyone. So, how are you feeling today?"

"Very good, thank you. Iím still wondering whatís in my future though."

"A lot of that is up to you, Leanna, but in the meantime, letís talk about each otherís lives. For starters, what would you like to be doing right now?"

Leanna looked thoughtful, then said, "Can we go play with your cubs?"

Forest was startled. "Why do you want to do that?" shi asked with a hint of suspicion, hir motherly protective instincts kicking into gear.

"You wanted to know about my life? Well, for a long time Iíve wanted a mate and children of my own, but youíve told me that there are no other fennec morphs to your knowledge, and my master told me that I canít have children, so the thing that most closely comes to fulfilling my desires is to play with and care for other peopleís cubs. My master wouldnít let me do that either. Will you?" Shi looked Forest directly in the eyes.

Forestwalker extended hir empathic senses to verify what shi was saying. Earnestness. Sincerity. Hope! Forestwalker relented. "If the cubs keep taking to you like they did yesterday, I canít see why not. I could do with a bit more help with them." ĎRight under my nose, Midnight told me. Shi may have been more right than shi had realised.í

The two made their way back to Forestís cabin. There they found Yeoman díArmand attending to an upset chakat cub. Ember had woken early, but without hir mother there to comfort hir, shi had been grizzling and misbehaving. "Any problems, Yeoman?" Forest asked.

"Nothing unusual," she replied with equanimity. "But seeing as youíre here, would you like to comfort Ember while I prepare a snack for hir to drink?"

"Actually, pass hir to Leanna," Forest replied. "Letís see if you have the touch, my dear."

The Yeoman carefully handed the cub over to the slightly nervous but willing fennec. Whether Leanna indeed had the touch, or whether Ember was merely distracted by the new friendly face, the child stopped hir griping and stared curiously at Leanna, who tickled hir under the chin and otherwise played with the cub. Soon shi was gurgling with laughter and Forest was quite pleased with the first encounter with the infant. Nevertheless, a chakat cub is considerably larger than a biped cub, and bigger again than a petite fennec child, so Leanna was soon showing the strain of holding hir. Forest gave Leanna a nudge and indicated that shi should put Ember down on a couch, which shi did so with a tinge of relief. The Yeoman held out a bottle of warmed chakat milk with a bit of honey mixed in it Ė a treat for a cub. Leanna put the teat to Emberís muzzle, and shi grabbed the bottle, pulling it closer to suckle on it enthusiastically. It was the first time Leanna had ever fed a baby, and the dream of it didnít match the pleasure of the real thing. Shi turned to look at Forestwalker.

"Could IÖ would I be able to feed herÖ hirÖ some of my own breast milk?

Forest smiled knowingly. "I can understand you wanting to do that, but I think weíd better get your milk tested first before we try that. Knowing something of whatís in it, I think weíd better be safe than sorry."

Leanna nodded, disappointed but understanding. Ember quickly finished the small snack and was now quite happy, fed and in the presence of several people paying attention to hir! Shi squirmed in Leannaís grasp and slid free to the floor, then toddling away, distracted by whatever trivial thing caught hir attention next.

"Well, I think thatís one vote in," said Forest with a smile. "Now, whatís keeping my two little terrors so quiet?"

Yeoman díArmand said, "A new game that I brought them today. Just one thing in my arsenal of child-minding tricks." She gave Forest a broad grin.

"I may have to get you to make a few notes for me, I reckon," Forest replied. "Come on Leanna, letís see if we can join in!"

And so Leanna was introduced into the family life of Forestwalker, who watched carefully as the little fennec indulged hir wildest dreams. Shi had wondered if the reality of child-care would live up to Leannaís long-held fantasies, but after a day spent playing, teaching, scolding, feeding, and all the myriad other things that raising children entails, Leanna came through with a blissful smile on hir face. Forest was much encouraged. Perhaps a sex toy could aspire be something more than what shiíd been made for. Forest earnestly hoped so.

Leanna participated in the family meal again that evening, and Rosepetal had made sure that shi was dressed as attractively as possible considering hir problem. The others made an effort to dress for the occasion too, because Boyce wanted to make it a semi-formal occasion to give Leanna hir due. It was a carefully orchestrated affair in order to bolster the fennecís ego and to help put hir more at ease with the rest of the family, but nevertheless it was quite sincere.

"So, you have a choice now, Leanna," Boyce told hir. "Weíre quite happy to let you use that cabin and its facilities until we put in at the Star Base, with no obligation from you, or else you can take on the important task of looking after our precious children. Everybody has given you glowing reports so far, and Iíd like to find out if this would suit you."

"Would it!" Leanna started enthusiastically before recalling hir incipient problem. A little more restrained, shi added, "I think Iíd like that, but perhaps we should wait one or two days before we finalise that?"

"That would probably be best anyway," Boyce added nodding. "A probationary period until all the family agrees that your dedication and abilities are no longer in question.

Leanna nodded agreement. "Thank you, everyone. I never expected in my wildest hopes to have been taken in by such wonderful Ö people such as yourselves." Leanna had almost slipped and said Ďmastersí, which shi knew would have annoyed them, even if shi still truly believed that shi was a slave and they were hir new owners, even though they were kind and considerate to a fault. This was how a master/slave relationship should be, and Leanna was content with the arrangement.

Forestwalker came looking for Leanna next morning in hir cabin. Shi had been expecting the fennec to turn up by hirself, but not only did shi fail to arrive, shi wasnít answering the intercom. Fortunately, Yeoman díArmand had turned up as usual, not having yet been reassigned, which left Forest free to investigate. The cabin door was locked, and no response was made to the call button. Forest contacted Midnight to get hir to override the security and went inside. Shi halted just within the doorway, brought up short by the intense scent in the air of the cabin. Male mating scent. Shi spotted Leanna on the bed, a huddled mass of matted fur slowly writhing. A soft moan came from hir.

"Nooo! Go away!" Leanna almost hissed.

Forest started approaching hir anyway though, only to be brought up short again as a wave of intense emotion struck hir empathic senses - a mixture of fear, despair, sadness, and above all, lust. Forest braced hirself and began walking forward again. Stopping at the bedside, shi could see that Leanna was sporting a huge erection. Although it wasn't quite Forestís own in size, for the little fennec, it seemed impossibly large. It was fully engorged, veins bulging, and the tip glistening with natural lubricant, yet there was no indication that Leanna had actually ejaculated. Not understanding what was happening, Forest watched for a moment before thinking, ĎLeannaís in high rut, but itís obvious shi hasnít given hirself relief. Why in heaven not? Shi looks like shiís been like this for ages

Shi reached out to Leanna who shrank away from Forestís touch and cried out, "No! Only the master!!!"

"The master? What do you mean, Leanna?" Forestwalker asked urgently.

For a brief moment, Leanna seemed to become more lucid. "Only my master may touch me when Iím in rut. Only the master can take my pleasures. Only he can help Leanna now. Bring me my master!" shi almost shrieked the last.

"Your master is dead, Leanna. Youíre free, remember? Canít I help you?" Forest implored.

Leanna panted heavily for a few moments, then said, "Leanna is never free. Her master controls her even now. He forbids Leanna to be with anyone else when she is in rut, or else he will punish Leanna. Punish Leanna. Punish! PUNISH! PUNISH!"

Forest reeled backed from the force of the emotion. Just when shi thought that shi couldnít be shocked any further, Leannaís desperate need and utter frustration tore at hir. ĎHir master conditioned hir to accept nobody else while shiís in rut! Shi will tear hirself apart if I donít do something.í Forest decided to help hir in the typical chakat manner, a decision shi would soon regret making so hastily. Shi reached out to Leanna again, straining hir untrained Talent to project calmness, reassurance and a desire to help. Leanna still flinched back from hir touch, but did not restart hir tirade. Encouraged, Forest slowly reached further until shi laid hir hand on Leannaís shoulder.

The fennec moaned, but didnít withdraw. Shi whimpered, "Help LeannaÖ helpÖme."

"Leanna," began Forest earnestly, "We Chakats go through rut also, and when we need relief, we seek a friend if we do not have a mate to help us. Let me be that friend. I can relieve your needs."

"No, must haveÖ master," Leanna grated out. However, Forestís attempts to soothe the distressed fennec were beginning to work, and some lucidity was beginning to return again. "But master... is dead. Leannaís master canít help hir now. LeannaÖ free?"

"Yes! Youíre free to choose, Leanna. Choose to relieve your needs with me. I will understand your needs and help you. Just donít let your dead master rule you anymore!"

Leannaís eyes finally met with Forestwalkerís, the desperation now tinged with hope, but strangely, also with concern. Forest could not understand why the latter emotion was present, but was willing to work with what was offered. Shi took the emotion of hope and stoked it with hir abilities, praying that shi was doing it correctly, and for the first time regretting not having taken the training that shi had been offered. "Let me be your partner, Leanna. Fulfil your need in me."

For a moment there was a glimpse of desperate clarity. "You donít know what youíre asking, Forest. Truly you donít."

"Let me be the judge of that, Leanna. I might not have been raised as a sex slave, but Iíve certainly had a lot of experience."

Leanna actually laughed at that, but it was a horrible humourless sound. "You have no idea what itís like to be a sex slave. You only think you understand. You donít want to understand!"

Forest was determined though. "All I know is that a friend is in need and I can help hir."

Leanna was about to argue more when another wave of hormones hit hir and shi shuddered under the impact. Hir reason was clouded again, but it left behind the one impression Ė the means to hir release. Hir desperation was such that it achieved what had never happened before. Shi looked at Forest consumed by raw desire.

Forest wasnít thrilled about the look of pure animal lust that Leanna gave hir, along with the matching wave of emotion, but shi was hardly going to back out now. Chakats werenít hampered by foolish notions about sex, and if this would help, then shi would go through with it. It couldnít be too bad. How wrong shi would realise shi was! Shi turned hir rear to Leanna, lifting hir tail in invitation.

Leannaís eyes locked on Forestís sex, then shi totally lost control. Shi surged up off the bed and, totally without any subtlety, rammed hir penis into Forestís waiting vagina. Forest yelped, utterly stunned by the violence of the entry, too shocked to react quickly. During that moment, Leanna took a death-grip on Forestís tail in one hand and a handful of fur in the other. Shi then drew back and thrust again with such power that it utterly belied the petite fennecís size. It took all of Forestís willpower to restrain the reflex to expel the offending appendage from within hir.

Forest was now doubly distressed. Hir empathic Talent worked best when in intimate contact with the subject. Now it was working far too well. Hir senses were instantly flooded with Leannaís raw emotions, an inexorable need for sex dominating hir. Forestís penis virtually exploded from its sheath as it engorged at an almost painfully fast pace, its ache to be utilised nearly matching Leannaís. In taking on Leannaís needs, shi had also taken on hir problems and shi now felt much of what Leanna had been suffering for hours. Nevertheless, shi gritted hir teeth and bore the brutal pounding of the fennecís mounting. For what seemed ages, Leanna thrust into the chakat again and again, but in fact it was only seconds before Leanna yelped in release as hir semen started pumping into Forestwalker. This barely slowed hir down though, because after only a brief pause, Leanna resumed hir thrusting. However, this time the torture lasted much longer before Leanna cried out again, pumping yet more of hir seed into the already flooded vagina.

Forest whimpered, only now fully comprehending Leannaís warning. Shi couldnít even seem to be able to break the empathic link that inexorably poured the full gamut of Leannaís emotions into hir. Yet there was one straw to grasp at in that flood, and Forest latched onto it in desperation. Shi sensed that Leanna was finally attaining the much-needed relief, and some semblance of sanity was returning to the chaos of emotions. Leanna resumed hir thrusting yet again, but unlike the first two times, the sheer desperation was gone. Now there was merely a strong need rather than a blind urge. The sex was rough but tolerable, and Forestís echoed need for sex was now abating. With a moan, Leanna climaxed for a third time, then slowly collapsed onto Forestwalkerís rump.

Forest looked back at Leanna, watching as the fennec panted raggedly. Shi took the moment to try to gather hir own scattered wits and wondering if shi would have to go through any more like that. Leanna finally stopped panting and stirred, then opened hir eyes, the light of sanity in them returning. Leanna returned Forestís gaze tiredly, then deliberately started disengaging from the aching chakat. "Iím sorry, Forest. I tried to warn you, but I have no restraint whatsoever when Iím in rut. I knew you would not like the experience."

"Yes, youíre right, but I survived and learned a lesson. How in the Makerís name did your master survive such treatment though?" Forest asked as Leanna withdrew that disturbingly large penis from hir vagina, noting that it was still erect and ready for action.

Leanna slumped up against the bed, too spent for the moment to bother getting off the floor. "He didnít have to. He also conditioned me to never harm him. Even at my worst, that conditioning prevented me from ever going beyond a certain point with him." ĎAlthough that eventually didnít stop me from overdosing him,í shi thought to hirself. "I had no such compulsion holding me back with you though, so you got the worst of it. I tried to stop you for that reason, but I couldnít get my thoughts together coherently." Shi looked down at the offending appendage. "This thing has ruled my existence every cycle of my lifetime."

"You didnít masturbate. Am I right in presuming that you were conditioned not to relieve yourself?"

"Thatís correct. He wanted nobody else to take my male pleasures during rut, not even myself. He controlled me utterly. He still controls me."

"No he doesnít. You broke the conditioning this time enough to seek relief with me. We can work on breaking that entirely. You donít know what our medical staff can achieve."

Leanna hesitated, hardly daring to hope that Forestwalker was correct. "I suppose I must believe that what science can do, it can also undo. At least the old-fashioned way has helped me for now."

"Yes, but youíre trying to fool me now. I can tell that you still need more."

Leanna wanted to deny it, but eventually nodded. "Youíre right, the urge is still there, but itís under control for the moment."

"Would one more time abate it completely?"

"Not totally, but for several hours at least. I canít ask you to do more than you have already though."

"Letís face it, Leanna. You couldnít do more to me than you already have. I can take another mounting at the level youíre at now and it would hardly affect me, but for you it would make a great difference. This may have been a partial mistake in the first place, but at least letís finish it so we can deal with it better afterwards."

Leanna was tempted to argue, but Forest had quite possibly saved hir by hir ill-considered actions, and shi did not wish to seem ungrateful for the chakatís sacrifice. Shi nodded agreement, and Forest resumed the position. This time though, the mounting was controlled, making the most of the time spent joined to salve Leannaís remaining urges. This time, when climax came, it was not merely a physical pleasure but an emotional one also.

Forest latched onto that emotion with relief. It soothed hir upset nerves and released the remnants of the lust imposed upon hir body. For the first time, Forest also orgasmed. The two sighed in unison as the mutual release drained the last of their energy. They laid together, still joined, until Leannaís penis finally became flaccid and retracted.

A long time passed before Forest felt they were both ready to proceed. Forest got up off the floor, then helped Leanna up also. "Letís both get cleaned up. I think Iíd better take you to see the doctor after that to see if we can do something a bit more permanent about your problem. I donít think I want to go through that experience ever again. I think thatís what I should have done in the first place."

Leanna paused as hir impulse to keep quiet warred with hir newly awakening sense of independence. Eventually shi said, "Yes, you should have. Forgive me if I seem ungrateful, but you had no right to do what you did. I was in no state to make a balanced decision, and if I am as free as you keep insisting, that should have been a consideration."

Forestwalker was startled, then hung hir head in shame. "Youíre right. I can only say in my defence that itís how we Chakats usually go about dealing with such problems, and itís a reliable and pleasant method. Sometimes I need to be reminded that not everyone thinks like a Chakat."

Leanna nodded, willing to let it go at that. Shi realised that shi needed to learn more about these creatures, not to mention the other species in this Federation, before shi started making too many waves. For the moment, shi would try to keep hir mouth shut and hir eyes and ears open.

The two cleaned up in Leannaís bathroom, Forest letting Leanna go first while shi prepared an energy drink for the fennec. After all that time in rut, shi had to be badly dehydrated and hungry. Leanna had to be restrained from drinking it too fast. Forest told hir to let it settle before having more if shi needed it, then went to have hir turn in the bathroom. When Forest was done, shi came out to find Leanna asleep on the couch, the empty glass slipped out of hir hand and dribbling its dregs onto the fabric. Forest was struck by how cute and innocent Leanna looked like that, in such stark contrast to how shi was really like.

Forest took advantage of the time to check back with Yeoman díArmand, then got clothing for Leanna ready for when they went to see the doctor. Shi then settled onto a rug to rest while shi waited for Leanna to wake. Without intending to do so, shi fell asleep also, worn out from the encounter.

Shi woke, disturbed by the sound of Leanna going to the bathroom. Despite hir tiredness, other neglected needs had awoken the fennec after only about an hour and a half. Shi smiled at the Chakat. "It seems I wasnít the only one to zonk out."

"Obviously not," Forest replied with a lopsided grin as shi got up off the rug. "Are you hungry, or would you like to go see the doctor now?"

"I need a bit more to drink, but then Iíll be ready. You want me to put on these clothes?" shi asked, indicating the apparel that Forest had left beside hir.

"Yep. Same reasons as before. We really need to get you outfitted better."

Leanna was dubious about that. Shi still felt uncomfortable when wearing anything but hir fur, but recognised that it was hir conditioning making hir feel that way, and this was a different culture. "Strange that you can get away with leaving your nether regions unclothed, while all the bipeds seem to require covering up."

Forest smiled broadly. "Yeah, itís a ítaur thing. Perhaps itís because our lower torsoes are so much like a natural animalís that bipeds seem to have a blind spot for that. Now just you see what happens if I try to get away with not wearing a top while on board this ship!"

Leanna actually smiled at that. It amused hir to think about those strange double standards of humans. Perhaps even some of the other morphs too, if hir observations were correct.

When Leanna was ready, Forest took hir up to sickbay. Upon entering, the only person that shi could see on duty was a rather tall Caitian who looked up from the samples she was examining and smiled at the newcomers. Forest smiled back and asked, "Would you happen to be Doctor MíLai Saarath?"

"Thatís correct. Let me guessÖ youíre Chakat Forestwalker. Midnight told me about you." She stepped up to Forest to give hir the traditional chakat greeting hug.

Forest responded in kind, appreciating MíLaiís pneumatic chest at the same time. "And shi told me about you too. Shiís rather impressed with you, but donít tell hir that I told you that!" shi added with a wink.

MíLai laughed. "You didnít mention what shi was impressed with. Anyway, I doubt that you came here to discuss that. What can I do for you, Forestwalker?"

"Iíd like you to meet Leanna Fennec. Shi is one of the morphs whom we liberated from the slaver ship. Shi has a problemÖ several problems actuallyÖ and weíre hoping that you can do something about them."

Leanna stepped forward. Shi gazed up at MíLaiís smiling face. At 193cm, she towered over both the chakat and the fennec. Shi observed MíLaiís strong build and extra large breasts, then asked, "Are you a lion morph? You seem to have been built for the sex trade also."

MíLai was startled by that ingenuous comment, then laughed. "No, Iím not from a former sex slave species. In fact Iím not even a morph. Iím a native of the planet Cait. My endowments, although unusual, are natural."

"A Caitian?" Leanna said in a puzzled voice. "Iíve met a Caitian named Rosepetal. I see a similarity, but she is far shorter than you, and with much smaller breasts. You also have a slightly different body language."

Both Forest and MíLai were startled by the keen observations. MíLai answered, "Youíre correct, and Commander Rosepetal is indeed a far more typical example of my species. Why Iím like this is a long story, and not one Iíll be talking about right now. I believe youíre the one who came in for examination, yes?" She smiled reassuringly at Leanna.

Leanna nodded, then got up onto the examination table that MíLai indicated.

MíLai asked, "So what are these problems that you want me to treat?" Forestwalker then explained Leannaís condition, with the fennec occasionally interjecting some comments. MíLai absorbed the information, fascinated by the task that had been laid upon her. When the two had finished giving her all the details, she said, "Okay, Iíll do a thorough scan of you, Leanna, and run a few tests. At this time, do you wish to ask Forestwalker to leave so that we can conduct the examination in privacy?"

Forest was startled by that, but quickly realised that the doctor was correct. As a free person, Leanna had the right to a confidential examination. Leanna was even more surprised. Nobody had ever given hir such rights before, and they sat uncomfortably on hir as much as clothing did. Nevertheless, shi made a decision and said, "No, let hir stay. Shi may need to know these answers also."

MíLai nodded, then started the examination. Firstly, she took a sample for DNA analysis. While that was running, automatic scanners built into the examination table dealt with many of the other tests. MíLai also brought out a variety of specialty equipment to take specific readings of various aspects of Leannaís unique anatomy. Finally the lengthy examination was completed, leaving a mountain of data for the doctor to analyse.

"Okay," MíLai began, "This is going to take a while to go through and thoroughly analyse, then start building a treatment program. I will get you to come back tomorrow for more information, but there are some things that I can do in the interim. Do you have any questions that I can deal with right now?"

Leanna said, "Yes. Is there anything that you can do to stop the rut that Iím going through right now."

MíLai answered, "Yes, but it would only be a stop-gap treatment at this stage. The problem would recur next cycle."

"What can you do for me right now?"

MíLai hesitated, then said, "I really must insist on privacy when discussing this with my patient, Shir Forestwalker. If shi chooses to discuss this with you later, thatís hir privilege."

Forest nodded. "Alright, but may I ask one question before I leave? Leanna may choose to not have it answered if shi wishes."

"Certainly. What would you like to know?"

"When I saw Leanna in rut, shi had a full erection. Hir penis was disproportionately large for hir body size. In fact I canít see how it could fit in hir sheath when flaccid. Can you tell me the reason why?"

MíLai looked at Leanna who said, "Actually Iíd like to know that also. My master never explained how it was like that, just the why Ė he liked big cocks. He wanted to have the biggest that could be inserted into him. I was the recipient of that desire. Why he should want a vixen to have a penis too, I fail to understand."

MíLai frowned in thought. "Leanna, do you think that youíre just a vixen with male equipment added?"

Leanna was surprised at the question. "Of course. I have the body of a female, all the lusts of a female when not in rut, and when Iím normal, all I ever think of is getting a male mate and starting a family with him. The male organs were just my masterís kinky fetish."

MíLai shook her head. "Leanna, the data says otherwise. You have a 100% integrated sexual reproduction system, and as far as I can see so far, every other aspect of a male. You are a true hermaphrodite, equally capable of siring a child as bearing one, just like a chakat. The equipment is not just for show or sex."

Leanna was a little disturbed by that news. Whatever else that had happened to hir, and despite the changes shi had already undergone recently, shi still thought of hirself as a vixen, albeit one burdened with extra equipment. This revelation was going to take a lot of thought and adjustment. It frightened hir. Then one fact MíLai mentioned came to the fore. "You said I could both sire and bear children, but my master told me that I was sterile, incapable of having kits."

MíLai double-checked her data. "No, youíre quite able to have children, once the contraceptive implants are removed. Werenít you aware of those?"

Leanna was shocked to the core. One of the most fundamental barriers to hir happiness had always been hir inability to bear children of hir own, and to learn that it was not the caseÖ. Leanna pounded the table with both hir fists. "That son-of-a-bitch LIED! That misbegotten bastard deceived me! He said that I could never have a family because he had made me infertile. Why? Why did he lie to me?"

Forestwalker said, "Because it made you easier to control. Because it made you feel bad, and he seems to have enjoyed doing that to you. He was probably looking forward to the day when he could reveal that you were in fact a future breeder, and still deny you a true mate. Iíll bet he planned to make you a baby factory."

Leanna was burning white hot with rage. Never in hir life had shi felt like this. Never had shi been in a position to be able to react. For the first time in hir miserable life, shi released all emotional restraint and screamed. Shi pounded the table, denting it with the force of hir blows. Shi lashed out at everything in reach until strong hands restrained hir. Shi wailed and burst into tears as shi struggled against the restraint. Eventually though, the catharsis of crying brought hir back to hir senses.

"You can let go now," shi told the others.

They did so, and MíLai fetched a cloth to wipe Leannaís tear-soaked fur.

"Thank you," Leanna said. "I apologise for the outburst. In a way though, this was a worse thing than my rutting ever was."

"No need to apologise, Leanna. We understand. And the good news is that you can look forward to eventually finding a mate and having a family if thatís what you wish."

Leanna smiled thinly. "First I have to figure out how I stand. Finding out that Iím as much male as female is going to take a bit of a mental adjustment. But youíre right, that is a goal that may be in my reach now."

"Donít let your bias fool you, Leanna. Iím a true herm, but I favour my female side. Midnight favours hir male side, and my sister, Goldfur, is pretty much middle of the road. The only constant is that we always enjoy the flip side of our sexuality also. You can be a herm, yet enjoy behaving like a vixen. Just donít lock out other possibilities also."

"Are you always going to be this full of advice, Forest?" Leanna asked with curiosity tinged with tolerant amusement.

"Iím afraid so," Forest answered with a smile. "Iíve a bad habit of wanting to get involved and helping people, whether they ask for it or not."

Leanna nodded. "I think I can live with that for now," shi decided. Then shi remembered something. Turning to MíLai, shi said, "You never did get a chance to answer that question about my penis."

MíLai called up an image on the screen and pointed out various features as she explained. "Itís pretty ingenious actually. Youíre right in suspecting that there canít possibly be enough room in your sheath to fit your flaccid penis. Your sheath is actually only an exit point for an opening that goes into your abdomen. It must have taken some fancy calculations to figure out how to do that without complications such as interfering with your female plumbing and passing through the abdominal wall, but the result is that you have room for a vastly larger penis than your size would normally allow, while making your non-aroused form look almost completely female. Thatís why I didnít realise that you were a herm until Forestwalker started using the herm pronouns in relation to you."

"I see. At least I can pass as a vixen if I really want to."

"Indeed," Forest said, "and youíll steal some hearts, Iím sure. Well, I got my answer, even if it was the long way around. Iíll leave you two in privacy now. Shall I wait outside, or will it be too long?"

MíLai said, "Suit yourself, but I recommend you do something else for a while. Iíll page you when weíre done."

"Okay. By the way, Doctor, have you met our Captain yet?" Forest asked.

"No, only Commander Rosepetal. I believe heís seen only the Chief Medical Officer so far on this voyage."

"Ah! Well I think he might be interested in meeting you."

"Oh? Why?"

"Letís just say that youíre his type," Forest said enigmatically as shi padded over to the examination roomís door.

MíLai frowned in puzzlement. "Not that I have anything against humans, but why would he be interested in me?"

"Did you know that he and Commander Rosepetal are lifemates?" shi asked with a grin as the door closed behind hir.

That surprised MíLai. While she frequently fraternised with humans as much as any other attractive males, she hadnít considered that one would want to actually want to be lifemated to a Caitian. Various thoughts were conjured up by this new piece of information, until Leannaís gentle cough brought her attention back to the fennec. "You knew that too?" she asked Leanna.

"Of course. I also know that Forest is also his lifemate. That human has got broad tastes, it seems. I originally thought he was a master who liked having several furries at his beck and call. Turns out that itís Rosepetal who runs the family even though the captain runs the ship."

"Thatís typical of a Caitian family structure. Maybe Forest was correct. I might have to find out for myself why a Caitian chose to have him as a mate." She shook her head to clear those thoughts. "But now, youíre my priority, and we have much to discuss. Make yourself comfortable in that chair, and Iíll go over the main data with you and answer any questions that I can. Iím warning you though that I wonít be able to answer everything until the full analysis is completed by the computer, and maybe not even then if thereís some aspect of your physiology that needs more detailed analysis. A starship sickbay has to cope with a very broad spectrum of possibilities, and is equipped for that purpose. A specialist facility back on Earth might be needed to fully understand you."

"Thanks, but I hope it wonít come down to that," Leanna acknowledged.

MíLai spent quite some time going over the most relevant details with Leanna, but shi had a preoccupation with one particular itemÖ.

"So youíre saying that I donít have to look for another fennec to have children? Forest said that shi wasnít sure that there were any fennec morphs on Earth anymore."

"I could do a database search for you, but it wonít necessarily tell us for sure if there are any other fennecs. I do know many subspecies on Earth were wiped out in the Gene Wars, but survived on the Non-Aligned Worlds. However, according to this data, any vulpine species should be able to interbreed with you, foxtaurs excluded of course. And thereís no shortage of foxmorphs on Earth, I assure you!"

"Thatís good news. Now what about dealing with my rut, and later with my heat period?"

"Is your estrus as bad as the rut?"

Leanna was silent for a while, debating how much shi wanted to say on the subject, then decided that it was likely that the doctor would find out anyway. "In a way, itís worse."

"Worse? You could die if you arenít serviced during your rut. How could there be something worse?"

"Because although Iím as desperate for sex as during the rut, that isnít what bothers me the most, especially since my master never limited me to just himself while I was on heat. No, the problem is that when the heat starts, my mind is quickly reduced to the level of a moron. All my thoughts are replaced by sexual ones, and all my higher intellectual abilities are swept away. I can actually feel myself getting stupider by the minute. Can you imagine what itís like feeling your mind reducing to that of a sex-crazed animal, and not just your body? My master deliberately made me this way, and I will do absolutely anything Iím told to do while in that state. He would then do things to me, or have things done to me that would utterly revolt me later. That is the true horror of the condition Ė I remember everything that happens while Iím in that state, and some of the things that I was made to do while in that condition were unspeakable. My masterís sadistic specialty was never physical. His trademark was mental cruelty."

MíLai almost felt ill at the images that revelation invoked. "Weíve got to make normalising your cycle a priority!"

"Agreed. So what can you do?"

MíLai looked at the results of the analysis again, but the facts hadnít improved. She sighed. "I have two options for you. Thereís the thorough but difficult way, and thereís the easy but incomplete solution."

"Whatís the easy way first?"

"I inject you with drugs that will counteract the hormones that trigger both the rut and the heat. That will stop both of those extremes from ever happening. However, you would have to continue using those drugs forever, and they might have unwanted side effects, maybe even prevent you from having the children that you say that you want. Of course the Terran laboratories might be able to figure out better drugs than I can provide, but take it from one who knows, theyíre not always a good solution. Your bodyís modifications are so complex that it defies a complete analysis, especially as it seems to be in a state of constant flux locked into your cycle."

"And the difficult way?"

"We let your cycle run its course. I will take thorough readings every day during one full cycle, and more often during the peaks. With that data, we should be able to start analysing every bit of that complex body of yours and unravel its secrets, thus enabling us to figure out how to work gene therapy on you that would have permanent results without the bad side effects. But youíll have to go through both the rut and the heat without drugs distorting the readings. So, would you be willing to endure one more estrus like what you described?"

As much as shi despised losing hir mental faculties during hir heat, it was what was done to hir during that period that had always been the worst problem. "If I take the latter option, would there be someone to protect me during my susceptible period?"

"Youíre in the care of a chakat. I donít think itís possible to have a better person protecting you."

"Thatís the impression that Iíve been getting lately. Unusual people, these chakats. However, what about during the remainder of my rut? After what I went through with Forestwalker, Iíd really not have to deal with hir again like that. It would bring back too many unpleasant memories for both of us, and I think shiís already done enough for me in that respect."

MíLai thought for a moment. There was one alternative she could suggest, but wasnít sure whether she should or not. After a few moments, she shrugged and decided to offer it anyway. "Leanna, let me tell you a little about myself and how it relates to you." MíLai then told Leanna the full story behind her childhood illness and the subsequent effects it had on her. "So unlike you, I have a permanent sexual need that is only partly compensated for by drugs. Now what I have to say next must be regarded strictly as a personal offer, and not as a doctorís recommendation. If youíd like, you could spend the remainder of your rut with me. You could work off your needs, and I could work off mine. There would be nothing more beyond that."

Leanna looked at MíLai curiously. "Donít your medical ethics prevent you from asking things like that of your patients?"

MíLai replied, "Well, Caitian ethics differ from standard Federation ethics, so I can stretch a point for this. Thatís why I strongly emphasised that this was a personal offer. Iím sure that Iíd be able to find other sexual partners, and the case is probably the same for you. With me though, you will still have as much confidentiality as you desire."

"Actually Iím only a little concerned about the question of ethics and more about your motives, but they seem quite transparent. Okay, I will take your offer as an option. That only leaves me to decide if I want to go through this cycle one more time, or to finally put an end to it."

"One last thing Ė itís quite possible that the Terran facilities can properly analyse you despite the drugs. I donít want you to think that thereís only two solutions even if theyíre the only ones that I can offer onboard."

Leanna smiled reassuringly at MíLai. "Stop worrying so much. As a sex slaveÖ or I should say former sex slave, having sex with you is not a problem. I donít think youíre taking advantage of me. For me, the prospect of having a family of my own at last is the most important thing, and the sooner that can happen, the better. If you can slap the results of a complete analysis into the hands of someone who can do something about it as soon as possible, then Iím prepared to endure one more cycle knowing that Iím in the hands of people who care for me, for whatever inexplicable reason!"

"I think thatís probably the best course, and Iím glad that you are taking it. How long will it be before you will need to be serviced again?

"Iím not exactly sure, but about eight hours from the first time. The period increases until the rut ends."

"Then perhaps you can rejoin Forestwalker until that time comes. Iíll be off-duty by then. I might have to arrange a duty break for the time after that, but thatís a minor problem."

"Okay, thatís what weíll do then. When do you want me to call you?"

"The moment that you feel that the urge start building again. I want to capture the data as the process is in its early stages. Then we can work on heading it off in the most enjoyable way before it becomes a problem."

"Sounds like a plan. Iíll head off to Forestís cabin now and call you in a few hours."

"Good. Do you want me to call Forest to take you back?"

"No need. I know the way, thanks."

MíLai watched the fennec walk confidently out of sickbay. "Look out universe, thatís one person whoís going to make a place for hirself, no matter what you throw at hir," she murmured to herself.

Leanna was greeted with delight by the cubs, and they all played together until dinnertime. Leanna gave them all a summary of what had been learned about hir, but omitted a few details, mostly pertaining to hir arrangement with MíLai. When the sexual urge returned, Leanna paged the doctor and excused hirself. Shi suspected that Midnight at the very least had figured out what shi was going to do, but was circumspect enough not to say anything.

Shi rendezvoused with MíLai at sickbay. Although the doctor was officially off-duty, she had arranged this special session with the other duty personnel to whom she introduced Leanna as her special patient. Leanna also got to meet Doctor Kelly, M'Lai's boss.

The actual scanning didnít take too long as the calibration for hir had been done already in the first scan. MíLai set the computer to compare and analyse in her absence, and the pair left for MíLaiís cabin. There she pulled out a surprise gift for the fennec.

"Whatís this?" Leanna asked.

"A bra especially designed for you."

"Iíve already explained that I canít wear a bra, or any other top for more than a short period."

"Youíre not the only person with hypersensitivity problems. When Iím in estrus, I often have the same problem, but I sure canít report for duty topless. That bra is built similarly to mine, and theyíre a variation on a maternity bra. Itís padded on the inside, the thickness of which increases the closer it gets to your nipples. Then the padding stops, leaving an open area for the nipple to fit inside without allowing it to actually touch the bra. This one was designed using the scans that Iíd made during your examination, so it should be a perfect fit. Itíll add a tad to your bustline, but youíll be able to wear tops when the occasion demands. Actually I think youíre quite pretty without a top, but now at least youíll have the option."

Leanna decided shi had nothing to lose, so shi tried it on. Once it was correctly fitted, it was very comfortable despite the fact that shi wasnít used to wearing anything, and amazingly, it did indeed do what MíLai claimed it would do Ė stop hir super sensitive nipples from being stimulated. Impulsively, shi hugged the Caitian. "Thanks, MíLai. I love it! Iíll definitely use it for special occasions."

"Youíre welcome, Leanna." She could feel the little fox reacting in other ways too though. "Now itís time to take it off again, as well as the rest of your clothing, no?"

Leanna smiled. "Yes, I think youíre right."

As shi undressed, MíLai noticed hir growing erection. Despite her empirical knowledge, she was still impressed by Leannaís fully erect penis. "An oversized cock for an oversized Caitian. How appropriate!" she murmured.

Leannaís large ears caught the comment and shi grinned. This was the first time ever that shi had chosen a partner for male sex, and the fact excited hir. To be free meant being able to choose, and that was proving to be a delicious thrill. That evening, shi chose to celebrate hir new freedom by giving MíLai the best night that hir skills were capable of doing. Hours later, two tired but very satisfied lovers fell asleep in each otherís arms.

Admiral Kline and Rosepetal Silpurr are the creations of Boyce Garald Kline Jr and are used with permission.
All other characters and this story are © 2004 Bernard Doove.

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To be continued in Forest Tales #23.

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