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Sentinel Evolutions

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"Actually," Jane took a very cautious second nibble. "Christ, I hate to say it, but this isn't too bad." "Thank you. You have another slice to go, so I'm glad you like it," Scribe handed her a plate of stewed vegetables and roots. It had been agreed that the other Cores would share cooking duties for Jane's Core for the next month or so, to allow her as much rest as the mother of four active infants could get. "I'm getting pretty good at this cooking over an open fire gig if I do say so myself. I'm waiting on that oven the guys are supposed to be rigging up in the back wall, though. I can't wait to try baking. Simon sniffed out some soft mineral deposits that we think will act as a levening agent." She rolled her eyes heavenward. "Thank God we found that salt lick early on. And Blair located something very like sugar cane. I think if we boil it down, then strain it, we'll get a natural sweetener. After that," she rubbed her hands together. "We need only find a pseudo coaco tree, and we're a step or two away from chocolate!" Jane chuckled, gingerly eating another slice of roast liver. It really wasn't too bad, prepared like this. Scribe was a great believer in seasoning, and this world had a very vigorous species of plants that resembled onions and garlic. Jane cut a glance at where Jim and Blair were practicing the ancient art of preparing babyfood. Remy and Royal sat on their fathers' laps, watching as the two men chewed pieces of meat till they softened. The they took them out of their mouths and the babies eagerly opened their mouths, like little birds. Scribe noticed where she was looking, and made a face. "I still can't do that." "I'm surprised Ellison will. How long did it take you to persuade him?" "Just till Roy started crying and holding his tummy--in other words, about five minutes past his usual dinner time." "Scribe? Did you speak to Blairette, like I asked you to?" It had been discovered that Scribe had TWO gifts. Besides her fair telekinetic power (she really couldn't do too much unless she was emotionally charged), she had an uncanny knack for communicating with felines. ("Oh, hell, no, I'm not surprised," she'd told Blair. "As much of my life as I've spent with cats? I'm surprised I don't mew on a regular basis anyway.") This was working out splendidly with their new neighbors, and she had been appointed official interpreter, or 'Speaker With Two Tongues' as the Rwaar put it. (Rwaar was the Clan name--they had no name for their species. The were just 'we people'.) Scribe nodded. "And after the jokes I took off those two when they learned what my title of office was, I'm happy to help you." She put on a snotty tone of voice, "I know what you can do with BOTH those tongues, baby!" Jane laughed. "I swear, I'm trying to think up something REALLY embarrassing for them to name Jim and Blair. But Blairette will be happy to have her brood help out. She still hasn't forgiven Jim for that time he tried to bathe her after she found that interstellar pole cat." Jane nodded. "But I think the scars on his arms are kind of distinguished." "She's just waiting for the first night I manage to sleep on the outside. I'm shooting for it tonight. Remy is teething, and he might be a little fussy, so I'll tell them I need to sleep on the outside, in case I have to get up. Since they're both getting up early for that berrying expidition, it shouldn't be a problem."
It wasn't. After the sweetly familiar round of loving, Jim and Blair had made sure she was amply supplied with covers, then had snuggled down together and drifted off. Jim came awake just before dawn, as had become his habit. He yawned, then spit out hair. //Used to be if I woke up with hair in my mouth it was because I was spooned up behind Blair. Since I let my hair grow, it's just as likely to be mine, though.// He sniffed. //Phew. Well, SOMEONE farted last night. Hard to tell who, though. That's one scent I'm not going to concentrate on hard enough to be able to tell subtle nuances.// sniff //Though on an off guess I'd say a lot of fish was involved. Double phew. Eh, I love them anyway.// Blair ahd awakened, too. His thoughts ran along the line of, //Damn, I have to tell Scribe to ease up on the garlic if it's going to do THAT to Jim's breath. Ew. I love him, but I'm not kissing him till he has a go with the salt and soda. Maybe we can find some sort of mint plant and cultivate it for chewing. Sure don't have any TicTacs available, and SOMEBODY needs one.// Jim started to lift his head, eyes still closed, and felt a tug at his hair. He relaxed back, smiling. If you slept with two other people, sometimes someone's hair got caught. There was movement, kneading motions in his hair, and his smile broadened. Now Blair liked to play with his hair just as much as HE used to like to play with Blair's. But... But why did there seem to be THREE hands? Blair felt warm breath on his ear and giggled. Scribe must be feeling playful this morning, but boy, that tickled. It REALLY tickled. He didn't REMEMBER her having that sort of a mustache problem. Blair yawned. When the tiny, furry foot stepped into his mouth as its owner scamptered across his face, he woke up pretty fast. Jim had noticed the extra weight on his chest, and wondered if Blair or Scribe had decided to rest their head there. He opened his eyes, expecting to see a well loved face. Not exactly. Though he DID think someone was winking at him, till he realized that a black, plumy tail was waving right over the single pink eye. Jim and Blair both sat bolt upright, yelling. Hissing, squawlling kittens and an indignant Blairette went flying in every direction. That was, all except the two who remained tangled in Jim's hair, where they had been peacefully nesting. Before they managed to free themselves, they had made their displeasure known in the most basic way possible, and they had a chance to try out the new organic shampoo that Rafe had been working on with Megan. Scribe ended up with a lapful of distressed, fussing kittens, assuring her men that they should have realized that cats instinctively seek warmth, and since she was the one who was communicating with them the most, it was only natural that they would come to HER sleep area. They weren't greatly convince. On the other side of the cave, Jane chuckled, then burrowed back between a sleepy and bewildered Roy and Johnny. She sat quietly, listening to herself and shaking her head ruefully. "Jim." She said softly, "What would you say if I said I think I'm pregnant again?" She looked across the cavern at him, saw the expression of startled alarm, and shrugged. "I couldn't Hear myself when I carried the boys, and I can't now. My Sense are normal to the point of the dials having no value whatsoever. And I thinkI'm going to saddle you with the job of confirming, and telling Roy. Cause I think this batch is his. John's been too busy working with Blair, fine-tuning his skills...and I've missed three periods, including the first post- partem one. I really think my problem is more than just low iron. And besides, we have a new Cat here, an african lion. A big black maned male, right over there. He said he hadn't chosen a name, so I named him Mufasa, after the one in Lion King." She looked up at the touch of his shadow and shrugged when he frowned at her. Hands on hips, he sighed in resigned acceptance. "You're right, you are. Only one this time though." "Is that supposed to disappoint me in any way?" She grinned, then sighed, Roy isn't going to be happy. Two years between kids is better, not four months. I didn't even get my period back." She sighed again. "It's a good thing I made sure the rest of you got fine-tuned proerly, because I won't be up for much until I have this one." "Damn." "Tell me about it. Do you realize this is the first time in my life, since I was around six anyway, that I've gone and done something I know Roy and John aren't gonna like? It's hard to face them." She saw the raised eyebrow, and snapped. "Yeah, well it's different for you. You had to get the assholehood knocked out of you first. When I first got you up to that meadow on Earth, and saw how uncertain Blair still was, I wanted to kick your ass so much..." "Yeah, I noticed. I noticed John brought you up real fast, too." "Ellison, I'm red-dan. Master class. I can reach into your chest, grab your heart, and take it out, still beating." She said softly. John knows that. He saved your life, by reminding me of Blair and Scribe's presence. If you die, they will suicide. And I wouldn't, no sentinel would, risk harm to any Guide of any kind. The first few days, that knowledge was all that stayed my hand." He had gone dead white, he knew what a red dan master was. Someone who had mastered all known forms of the martial arts. He would be as defenseless as a babe, from such as she. "Oh cool it, you haven't been under threat for a long time, not since I figured out your behavior was simple stupidity, and not malice." He had regained his normal complexion, "Oh gee, thanks." He replied drily. "You think I'd trust to my Core to you, my Guides? Never mind the whole Clan if I didn't consider you housebroken now? If I didn't trust you?" She snorted rudely. "Get real." He laughed at her, earning a smile. "Get some rest, I'll talk to Roy." He turned to go, and then paused. "It's a girl, Jane. Your child is female." She looked at him, grinned. "Anna Marie. And as the youngest female, every adult male in the cave will spoil her rotten." Jim only chuckled since he knew that was quite likely. "He caressed the big lion on his way past, and saw three lionesses lying behind the large male. He warned her. "So? He's a LION, Jim! They 'never' get assigned by themselves. The males are always sent with a few females. And Anna gets them all. Four big Cats." She shrugged, "The same goes for juvenile cheetahs, you'll get three or four in a bunch. The only singles you get, are critters that aren't social in the wild, like your's or Scribe's: That's why Peja got a mama coon, a papa coon and their litter of twelve. Kata got a male Lynx, but if he'd been a female, or if claw or your's had been you might have gotten their litters too. Blair got a male wolf, and some wolves are loners. If he'd gotten a pack wolf like I did, he'd have gotten the whole pack, just like I did. If you think that's complicated, just imagine what would happen if "Shamu" was given to someone as a Spirit Guide? If we ever end up living on an island, someone may yet." She grinned at the look on his face. "Christ...." Soberly, she said in a quiet tone, "I may be weakened, but...." She shrugged. "John doesn't know everything. A lot of this is stuff I need to teach Blair. He has that professor stuff that will allow him to understand what John doesn't. And he will be the one to teach our children. "Teaching" is so much a part of who he is in his soul, that he isn't complete without it. A big part of what we're going to be doing, is literally building a new human society, from scratch." He stomped back over to her and stared at her in shock. "Wha...?" "And the largest portion of that task, is already in Blair's hands. I just haven't told him. I've decided that I'm going to let you drop that particular bombshell on him. After all, you are the alpha. It's your problem, now." She grinned at the stunned sentinel, lay down, and was asleep in under two minutes. Jim looked down at where Jane's former breakfast was decorating his left leg. His eyes narrowed. "Jane, care to comment on why you suddenly, for the first time since I've known you, felt the need for MY physical support right before THAT," he pointed at the odiferous mess, "happened." Jane was wiping her mouth with the back of her hand as Roy and Johnny hurried over. She looked at Jim, wide eyed. "You are SO suspicious. Sometimes things just HAPPEN, Jim." She smiled at him weakly. "SOMETIMES." She allowed her men to bundle her back to their sleeping area and check her over. When they were sure that her vitals were stable, they relaxed a little and started the fussing. Roy wrung out the cloth, then smoothed it over Jane's forehead again. She sighed, eyes closed. "Thanks, hon. That helps a lot." She felt the brush of his lips on her cheek, and smiled faintly. "Greater love hath no man tha to kiss his woman after she's thrown up." She felt Johnny stroking her hand. "If that tea that Blair is brewing doesn't work, I'm giving you a dose of bismol. Are you SURE that you haven't been eating anything unusual lately?" She cracked an eye at him. "You mean ASIDE from the rare liver?" "It's not rare, it's half raw," said Johnny. "Maybe that's part of it. Well done is always safer, and we have no way of knowing what sort of organisms we have here. And you can ease up on it now--your color is good again." "Don't wanna." "I don't get it," said Roy. "You used to HATE liver." "People can change." Blair bustled over with a steaming wooden mug. "Here ya go, Jane. I put a good lacing of that wild honey we found. Rufus was persuaded to kindly part with some of it." He laughed, handing her the cup. "Man, you should have heard Royal lacing into him in baby-talk. I think that bear managed to blush. Sip that--it's hot." Jane sipped gingerly. "Thanks, Curly. It's helping already." "And it's herbal, so you don't have to worry about the caffiene affecting..." Jane's gaze jerked up to him, warning, and he hesitated, "your... uh... nap time. You've been napping in the afternoon lately, and... it really seems to help, so... I think Scribe wants me." He scurried away. Johnny looked at Jane. "Jane?" "When is that boy going to learn that Scribe wants him ALL the time? I think next time I'll get him to put a little ginger in this." Roy said, "Jane, do you have something to tell us?" She lowered the mug, sighing, "Um, well... Look, I know that we hadn't planned on this. I mean, we hadn't planned on my having four instead of one, either, but..." They were just watching her. She said, "You two know already, don't you?" Johnny shrugged. "As well as we know you, you don't think we'd notice that big a difference? We've known for a couple of days now. The morning sickness clenched it." Roy said, "We've just been waiting for you to decide to tell us. I'm glad you didn't wait till you started showing. That would have been a little insulting." Jane could already sense the answer she'd get, but she needed assurance, she always needed assurance, so she asked anyway. "You aren't mad?" Johnny rolled his eyes before he joined Roy in hugging her. "For such a smart woman, you can have flashes of idiocy. Of course we aren't mad at you." Roy, his face in her hair, murmured, "I can't say that I'm happy about the strain it's going to put on your body, but another life, made with you? How can I not love that." "I'm glad to hear you say that," she caressed his cheek. "Because she's yours." Roy sat back quickly, looking stunned. Then his face slowly lit up. "Her?" Jane nodded. "Mine?" She nodded again. Roy took John's hand, and Jane, and pressed his with theirs to Jane's still flat belly. "Ours." Blair had been whispering to Jim, and now the Alpha Sentinel approached the little family. "Uh, Roy, we need to have a talk." "Cool it, Jim," said Jane serenely. "You're off the hook for this one. Blair spilled the beans, so I went ahead and turned over the pot, and it turned out I was just feeding them old news." "Ah." He paused. "Congratulations?" Johnny laughed, stood, and hugged Jim, thumping him on the back. "Of COURSE congratulations, you nit!" He shook the bigger man. "A GIRL, Jim! We get a little girl!" Jim sighed. "I'm glad we've produced at least one female. But if Scribe, Megan, Peja, and Kata don't get after it and have a few more," his eyes drifted over to the pen that held six very active little boys, "Things could get kinda tense in about fifteen years." Roy gave him a sharp look. "SEVENTEEN or EIGHTEEN years, Jim." Jim rubbed his face. "I'm delegating the 'talks of life' to Scribe and Blair, and they're gonna start WAY before the kid's voices get ready to drop." "Scribe? Come over here--we need to have a talk." "Just a sec, Jane." She quickly counted baby heads. Four--just as it should be. Jim and Simon had taken Royal and Alan fishing. Those two had been the only one's awake when they left. There had been talk of waking the others, but Scribe had quashed that firmly. She figured that the two of them just might be able to keep up with two of the boys, but SIX active toddlers around running water? Don't THINK so. The little ones were currently settled on a thick padding of furs, playing with a variety of toys. The Kreel turned out to be very talented at carving. They'd been doing wonderfully with their stone and bone tools, but when the Clan had presented them with a number of metal edged implements, they'd really taken off. Blair was gratified to see that the new technological advances were being used artistically. The Kreel were doing just fine with such things as hunting and food preparation with their old tools, and saw no need to change. Scribe had distributed a good number of carved wooden figures (all too large to be stuffed into a baby mouth), which were recognizable representations of some of the Clan's spirit animals. Scribe particularly liked the coon and otter figures. The coon was so roly-poly that it was almost round, and the otter figure almost seemed to FLOW. Satisfied that the little brood was pleasantly occupied, Scribe went over to sit beside Jane. "What's up? I noticed that you said we NEED to talk, rather than you WANT to talk." "I want to know when you're gonna grow a backbone." Scribe winced. "Gee, Jane, blunt much?" "Subtle might have been all right back on Earth, but this is pioneer land, Scribe, and you know it. We don't have time to mince words. I saw how Megan blew you off when you told her to wear her boots instead of her moccasins when she went hunting. What happened? She came back with a thorn in her foot, which took John ten minutes to work loose. He used one of the may I say LIMITED shots to prevent tetanus. She got herself hurt, and wasted Clan resources simply because she was being hard headed, and she was being hard headed simply because YOU were the one who was instructing her." Scribe sighed. "I know. She's got some sort of chip on her shoulder. She doesn't butt heads with Kata or Peja, just me and some of the men. She's even getting along with you these days." "That's because she doesn't see me as competition any more. I stepped down." "Competition?" Scribe's voice was dubious. "Oh, fuck, Scribe! You're gonna make me just come right out and say it, aren't you? All right, then. Jim is Alpha male--you're his mate. That makes you the natural Alpha female." "Ooooh, please." "Dammit, get over the fucking low self-esteem! It's just a habit with you now, and you know it! You've proved yourself. You've mated with two of the finest male specimens around, you've bourn two strapping children, and you're likely to have more. You've adapted to a totally unfamiliar environment, and you do your share and more in the work. You've showed time and again that you put Clan and family firmly before yourself. You're an Alpha, Scribe, and you need to act like one, and that means putting upstarts in their place, ESPECIALLY when their actions endanger the good of the Clan. Do I have to bring out the big guns? Fine." She pointed to where Remy was teething on a model of Tigre (the Kreel had even carved it from naturally dark wood). "Suppose there was something nasty creeping toward Remy, and Megan was the only one around, and she was moving slow because she had a limp from going out in inadiquate footwear AFTER she'd been warned." Scribe's expression hardened, and Jane nodded. "Exactly. Alpha's don't have the luxury of always being nice and easy going. If you have to be a hard ass, then you out-hardass anyone around." Scribe thought about this. She had a good idea of why Megan was being difficult. The Aussie had made her way in a profession that had only just accepted women. She'd probably spent her career, and possibly her LIFE, being patted on the head and told to stay out of the way. In reaction she had become just as agressive as any of the men she dealt with, and was prepared to 'out guy' the guys. She had a hard time yeilding authority to a woman who hadn't gone through the same sort of ordeal as she had. It had been different when Jane was leading--there was no doubt that the little woman was the only one qualified to direct things. But now Jane had stepped down, and Megan was testing limits. If Scribe didn't put her foot down--fast--there might be open rebellion. That would bring Jim into this, and Scribe didn't want that. She was his support, and she needed to let him know that he could count on her to help guide the dynamics of the clan, so that he would be free to concentrate on guarding them. Megan entered the cave, went to her group's area, and picked up her spear. She examined the head critically, then sat down and began sharpening it. Scribe looked at Jane, then called, "Megan, it's your turn to weed the garden patch." Megan didn't look up. "Uh? Okay, soon." "You need to do it before the sun gets too high. You know we have to be careful about overheating." "Right." She carefully planed an edge on her weapon. "I'll get Mike to do it. I found a hopper run nearby, and I think I can get us a few fat ones." Hoppers were native animals that looked something like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel (rabbit ears, but squirrel's bushy tail). Scribe exchanged a look with Jane, then stood up and went to stand by Megan. "Megan, it's YOUR turn to do the weeding, not Mike. Mike has his own chores." "Nothing important." She tested the edge with her thumb, deciding that it was suitable, and put away the whetstone. Scribe's expression stiffened, and she said softly, "I didn't hear you just say that." The cool tone surprised Megan, and she looked up at the woman standing over her. "What?" "Since when is what any of us do less important than the others? A lot of thought has been put into the distribution of chores and division of labor, Megan. If something unforseen happens, then changes can be made, of course. There can even be a little trading done with no harm. But you do NOT just decide that you don't want to do what was assigned to you and push it off on someone else while you do something you like better." Megan stood up, glaring at Scribe. "Who the fuck are you--my bleedin' mother?" Scribe didn't back down. Instead she showed the type of grit Megan had only ever seen her direct at her mates. She shorter woman stepped in, went on tip-toe, and got right in Megan's face. "I'm the fucking Alpha female, that's who I am! That means that after Jim, -I- have the say, and I'm not going to sit back and let you swan around doing as you damn well please just because you think that you're too good to take orders from another woman!" Megan stared at her. Scribe stared back. She didn't flinch. Megan said grudgingly. "Okay, I'll pull the weeds after I get a couple of hoppers." "We have a good supply of dried hopper meat, and a nice pile of skins. There's time for those later, but the weeds will strangle the roots of the plants if they're left alone. We've already seen that the weeds thrive a hell of a lot more than the food plants, so we have to be vigilent. You'll weed the garden NOW. If you get it done quickly, there should be time for you to hunt before afternoon chores." Megan was quiet for a moment, studying Scribe. Scribe folded her arms, arching an eyebrow and tapping a toe. Finally Megan nodded. "I ought to put some of that mulch on the berries, too, shouldn't I?" Scribe smiled, nodding. "Very good idea." She gave Megan's arm a pat. Megan gave her a small smile, put her spear away, got a shovel, and left. They noticed that she turned toward the garden. Scribe went back to Jane. "Well?" Jane shrugged. "You did your job. What do you want--applause?" Then she smiled, and winked. Two days later, Jane caught Megan muttering rebellion under her breath, and knocked her feet right out from under her with her walking stick, without warning. Conner hit the ground, hard. She was back on her a moment later, snarling. Jane knocked her upside her head. "Best you get one thing straight, girlfriend." Streeter spoke with soft-toned menace. "You ain't no cop no more, you are just one member of a community, and a mid-level member at that. I may not be in-charge, but that was my decision. That damned temper of your's is exactly and precisely why I didn't pick your Core to succeed me. Jim's Core includes Scribe as the Alpha Female, and Blair as the Prime Beta Male. I am still the Prime Beta Female, and my men are Ranked Betas. Peja is the Ranked Beta Female. And as of right now, you my fine friend are the Omega Female. The lowest ranked Core Leader in the Clan. You managed that all by yourself, with that uncontrolable temper of your's that insures that you can't be depended on to stay calm and keep your cool. That makes you unreliable. If you also become dangerous to the well being of the Clan as a whole, I will deal with you. Permanently, in my official position of Mage! Do you understand me?" Megan had gone ashen, and there was a look in Streeter's eyes that terrified her. The mage's hands and eyes had glowed with sheer power as she backed Scribe's bid for dominance. She nodded frantically. "I have other work to do, I don't have the time, or the health to hold both positions, and Jim is my Choice, and that means Blair and Scribe speak for me as well as themselves. If I ever catch you spouting such drivel again, I will personally give you to Jim to do with as he chooses, and I'll keep both Guides busy somewhere else so he can follow his natural inclinations in peace!" Now Conner turned dead-white: Scribe was as closely bonded to Jim as Blair was, and he would literally tear her, Megan, end from end if he even suspected she might behave like Alex! Jane stared at the frightened woman for a long moment before turning on her heel and striding angrily back into the cave. She glanced toward the river just as she was about to go inside, stopped, and turned to get a better look. She stared, then began to laugh at the sight before her eyes. Megan turned to look, and she also began to snort her amusement. "Mud Monsters! Two big mud monsters and two little bitty mud monsters!" Jane crowed, watching the slime covered men wince. "Oh my God! Hey, Scribe, Peja, Kata! Get out here! Get a load of THAT!" She pointed downslope at the approaching men whose weariness showed plainly in every step. They were covered in slimey, orange river mud. The kind that would stain Jim's skin and hair yellow, and they're nails the same shade of orange for days. Simon would have yellow hair with orange nails and lips. They knew it, too. Both men were cringing, especially when H., Kata, Blair, and Scribe took several steps back to avoid getting the stuff on their own skin or clothes. The orangey-yellow toddlers were grinning happily at the commotion, and one took the opportunity to climb over the one way baby-gate into the big play pen. Royale then proceeded to share his glowing self with the other four kids. Scribe shreiked in outrage when she realized what he was doing. She shook a trembling finger in Jim's face, and told him to 'Clean up those kids, then clean himself up, and do it FAST.' Then, Scribe looked over at Blair and said in sober tones, "Don't you dare let him take the children out to the river again unless you go with them to supervise Jim!" To make things a little simpler for new readers, I'm including a brief cast list of the Kreel, and a vocabulary of Kreelo. Kreel villagers-- Prrmm--headman Hrroah--headwoman Aowr--shaman Nrow--young female, brought to the Clan for her first mating. Kreelo vocabulary-- Kreel--the feline/humanoids of this planet Kreelo--of the Kreel hrau--form of greeting prris--babies, infants, kits roaw--friend (Marshal says this the first time he meets the Kreel, it's his word for cat, and he thoroughly charms them) mlar--honored, respected, important k'han--person arr--state of being, roughly equivalent to is or are mrrlean--heat, 'in season', sexually aroused fsst--first, new nur--mate, mating K'lann--the Clan ahm--man, male, tom prap--good, nice, wonderful, fantastic! The more rs added, the better it is
Sentinel Evolution, Chapter Six, Scribe #2 The recent tension melted away as Scribe stared at her dispirited husband and grinning baby boy, both head-to-foot yellow mud. Shecovered her eyes. Jim started, "Look, I can explain... Remy and Alan found this mud patch away from the edge of the river, and they were having such a good time, and I figured they'd be safe there while Simon and I fished... Oh, and we had a good run, too!" Simon silently held up a fat string of fish, as if to prove Jim's statement. "And they had a blast! I mean, I never heard such chuckling and crowing. Then we got ready to come back, and oh, man!" Blair was giggling, and Jim glared at him. The Guide tried to stop, but when he started choking, he gave up, sat down, and let the mirth flow. "So we were going to rinse them off before we came back, and we took them down to the water. Well, you know how Remy gets in the bath. I was trying to hang on, and I slipped. My feet knocked Simon's legs out from under, and he couldn't catch himself, since he was holding Alan, so he hit the mud, too, and then Remy was putting mud in my hair, so I HAD to fight back, and Alan was drawing patterns in the mud on Simon's head, so HE had to go and put mud down Alan's diaper, and..." He trailed off. Scribe was still covering her face, and her shoulders were shaking. "Aw, hon, don't be upset. It'll wash off." When she dropped her hands, her cheeks were streaked with tears, but she was grinning. "Oooh, God! I want a camera SO bad! I want a CAMCORDER! I want SLIDES! I want a scanner and the Internet so I can put that image ALL over the world!" Jim relaxed enough to smile in return. "Sandburg, I think it's a good thing that we're married to this woman in a primative environment." "What makes you think I wouldn't do the same thing?" Blair countered. He got up, pointing. "I'll go get changes of clothing. I'm glad we came up with that natural soap, 'cause it would take till the end of the Ice Age to get all that crap off you guys with plain water." Kata, holding her sides, said, "Well, since one of the mud monsters is mine, I'll help. I'll bring something to dry with. You slime beasts head toward the bathing spring, and we'll meet you there." As the two men took the babies toward the spring (Alan and Remy still happily drawing patterns in the tacky mud on their bare bellies and whatever skin they could reach on the adults), Blair said, "We gotta start working on getting some sort of scent into the soap." He patted Scribe on the arm. "Mama, it's a good thing you 'n me don't have Sentinel senses, 'cause otherwise we'd be smelling wet earth for a week." Jim complained that Blair was trying to remove his hair again during the cleansing. Blair informed him that if he was going to get it to scalp level he had to expect it. The mud stains stayed on their skin for about three days. It was a lot more noticable with Simon's coloring. He kept muttering something about 'being able to pass the damned paper bag test'*. Alan and Remy were a source of fascination to the other babies, who kept trying to rub the color off their skin.

The mud streaks had finally faded, and Blair and Scribe could make love to Jim without tracing patterns and giggling. It was just after the evening meal, and everyone was feeling pretty lazy and contented. Scribe and Blair were sprawled on the floor, each with a baby crawling on them. Jane's four were playing with any adult whose attention could be snagged, while taking turns cuddling with their mother and fathers. The non-parental Clan members were either playing with whatever toddler came by, or talking and cuddling quietly. Jim reflected that his friends had been dumped into a strange environment, but were now more peaceful and contented than they'd ever been. He heard the Kreel coming before they were half-way there from their village. The other Sentinels saw him going alert, and they picked it up quickly. Megan wrinkled her forehead. "Damn, it sounds like ALL of them." She looked to Jim. "I know they've been peaceful so far, but you don't suppose they're going to raid?" Her hand started to creep toward her spear. Jim shook his head quickly. "No. No, there's a good bit of adrenaline present, but it's not fighting level. They're just excited about something. And..." His eyebrows lifted. "Whoa!" Simon sniffed, then echoed Jim's sentiments, "Day-um!" When Kata poked him, he explained. "I'm getting a BLAST of pheromones, but it pretty much seems to be from one sorce." Blair stood up. "I THINK I know what this is about. Let's put the kids in the pen and step out to greet our visitors." The children were quickly corralled. Peja was poking Blair. "What? Huh? Huh? What?" "You'll find out. I don't want to spoil the surprise. And I just want everyone to keep in mind that the Kreelo social customs are different from ours, and anything that happens is an honor, and not an insult." They were waiting outside when the Kreel approached, and it did indeed seem to be the whole village, all the way down to the newest kit, a pale cream male with the faintest of lavender points, nursing at his mother's third breast. The group slowed slightly, murmuring to each other. It never ceased to impress them that the Clan always knew when they were coming. Blair drew Scribe and Jim forward as the headman and headwoman of the Kreel advanced. They exchanged bows. The headman started talking. "Hrau mlar k'han." Scribe smiled at him. "Greetings to you, too, honored one." He smiled, showing pointed teeth, eyes squeezing half shut in delight that he had understood her words. He gestured back at the group, and a little female Kreel slunk up to rub against his side. "Nrow." Nrow flicked green eyes over the three humans before her. She was an exceptionally pretty Kreel, with buff skin and chocolate hair and tail. She was slender, her breasts no more than half-handfuls, but very firm, with larger nipples than most of her sister Kreel. She was the equivalent of a late teenager in human age. She dipped her head. "Hrau." The Kreel were not yet comfortable enough with the Clan to be really placid around them, but Nrow was acting particularly agitated. Her tail was twitching quickly, and her toes were flexing, showing the points of her retractable claws. The headman, Err, patted Nrow. "Nrow arr mrrlean. Fsst mrrlean." Scribe's eyes widened. "Oh, my. Folks, Nrow is in heat for the very first time!" Jim nodded, nostrils flaring. "That explains it." Err said, "Kreelo Nrow lur K'lann ahm." He pushed Nrow toward the Clan group. Scribe gaped. "He just said that Nrow should mate with one of our men." Blair spread his hands and said quickly, "Don't anybody laugh or look upset in any way. This is a very great honor that's being offered to us--they want to join our two groups together in the most basic way--joining the bloods." "But..." H. said hesitantly, "They're... they're..." "They're not animals, H." said Blair firmly. "I know that, man," said H. "But they're not human, either." "They're pretty damn close, though," said Roy, quietly. "I don't think there's more than a few genes difference between us." "This is a very recognizable culteral event, guys," Blair said quietly. "It's traditional for tribes that want to have closer ties to have their members intermingle. We really, really need to do this. And it wouldn't be a hardship. She's awful pretty." Scribe poked him. "I say that in a strictly observational way. Let's see, how do I say okay in Kreelo? Um... Prrrap!" The Kreel immediately began to chuckle and elbow each other. "What? What did I say?" Scribe rolled her eyes. "You just said the Kreelo equivalent of 'goody-goody gumdrops'!" Nrow sidled forward, slinking. She went straight to Jim and began to rub up against him. The big Sentinel stood stock still, his gaze switching wildly between his two mates. Blair was grinning, but Scribe's eyes narrowed, and it wasn't in the happy-feline manner. Scribe said softly, "Blair, cultural significance if I kick her ass?" Blair cleared his throat. Nrow had her narrow backside against Jim's crotch, tail switched to the side, and was grinding. "Uh, in this case, the first offer would be to the Clan's headman, but that's just a formality. Jim isn't obligated to agree, just decline politely and send her to pick someone else, though THEY'D better be congenial. And Scribe? As his mate, you'd be perfectly within your rights to..." Jim was trying to gently push the little female away. Scribe didn't feel obliged to be so subtle. She grabbed Nrow by the scruff of the neck, dragging her away from Jim and lifting her up on the tips of her paws. Scribe made a loud, emphatic hiss, glaring at the younger female. Nrow, proving that she wasn't the village genius, flattened her ears and her whiskers and gave a water droplet-on-hot-griddle hiss in return. Scribe put her nose against the catwoman's pink nose and gave a long, low, threatening growl, then gave her a medium strength cuff on the side of the head. Most of the Clan watched the Kreel anxiously, but their neighbors expressed no anger. They simply watched the exchange with every evidence of interest. Nrow mewed, and turned her head to show Scribe her throat. Scribe accepted the submissive gesture by gripping the girl's throat for a moment, then releasing her. She gave her a little push toward the other men of the Clan. "Ladies, I really hope y'all aren't the jealous type." Peja, Kata, and Megan all exchanged grins, and Peja spoke up for them. "Hell, no. This should be interesting." Jane had taken a stance in front of Johnny and Roy, walking stick held casually, but ready, and the two men exchanged fond looks. Luckily Nrow went right past them with scarcely a glance. They had 'taken' imprinted all over them, too, and she wasn't ABOUT to deal with a higher ranking female with attitude when there seemed to be others who were just as interesting, and much more available. The amused Clan women poked their men out into a line so that the Kreelo girl could have a good look. Nrow prowled up and down the line, studying each man. The men reacted with emotions ranging from apprehension to amusement, but no disgust, Blair was happy to note. As the humans and Kreelo grew closer, the Clan members were learning to see the similarities instead of the differences. Nrow paused at Simon, giving his crotch a thorough sniff, making the big man shift nervously. He muttered, "Oh, man. It isn't that I wouldn't be complimented, but she's so damn TINY." He didn't have to worry. After rubbing her face against his stomach admiringly, Nrow moved on. She finally made her choice. Chet froze, swallowing hard as the Kreelo girl began to wind herself sensuously around him, purring roughly, making humming, chirping noises. He looked at Scribe desperately. She had to bite her lip hard before she could speak. "She... she admires your whiskers, Chet. She'd like her toms to have such distinguished whiskers." "I don't believe this!" Chet groaned.
Nrow was rubbing her rump against Chet's fly. The material was starting to get damp. Peja slapped him on the shoulder. "I'd say it's pretty hard to deny it's reality, Chet, honey. Congratulations," she grinned, "And anyone who can't take a really raunchy, bad pun--cover your ears." None of the Clan moved to censor what they were about to hear. Peja snickered. "Looks like you're about to get some pussy in every sense of the word." "But Peja," Chet whined. "You KNOW I'm not into being the agressor in sex." Nrow had gotten tired of waiting for the strange looking tom to get down to business. She had turned around and was trying to figure out how to get into the pants, tugging and growling impatiently. Peja smirked. "What makes you think YOU'LL be the aggressor?" "But I can't just do it out here in front of everybody!" Rafe elbowed him. "Oh, come on! Like we've had a cloak of invisibility and a cone of silence every time we get it on in the cave." "Yeah, but I KNOW them."
"Details, details," said Blair. "You can go in the cavern if you want, but I think the Kreel will want to witness this. It's pretty much a rite of passage. Scribe?" Scribe spoke to the Kreelo girl, indicating the cave. Nrow immediately began butting and shoving Chet toward the cave, muttering and hissing when he lagged. Simon said, "Excuse me. I have to go somewhere for a minute and laugh my ass off. I don't feel so bad about the green goo in my pants now." Mike observed, "Chet looks like he's about to shit a brick." "Well," Rafe observed, "He really IS a submissive. The only time he sticks it in something is when Peja pushes him down and jumps on him." The Kreelo had gathered around the cave entrance, jostling one another for a view. Since the humans were taller than they, on an average, they could see over their heads fairly easily. "I don't think that's going to be a problem," said Kata. "Scribe, you or Jane are going to have to stitch Chet's pants back up. Nrow just ripped them off him. Those retractable claws are pretty damn handy." "My little guy is interested," Peja informed them. "That's as nice a boner as I've ever seen." Jim shook his head. "With pheromones that strong, you don't have to be a Sentinel to react." Megan laughed. "Oh, that's so cute! She's crouched in front of him, tail up over her back, doing that little step dance with her back feet, kind of like Tigre does with Claw." Jim rolled his eyes. He was still a little embarrassed that his Spirit Guide joyfully bottomed for another male cat. Scribe had pointed out that he occasionally did it for Blair, but it hadn't helped much. Rafe called, "Go on, Chet, buddy! Make us proud." Chet's voice floated out. "She won't hold still, and I don't want to hurt her... YOW! OH MY GOD!" The sound that followed was made by Nrow, and could only be called a caterwaul. Rafe looked back at Jim, Blair, and Scribe, who were at the back of the group. "Chet is being raped. Nrow got tired of waiting and just shoved back on him. She has him pinned against a wall and is going after it." The mating sounds increased in volume and intensity. Scribe said, "Rafe, has Chet ever seen cats or the Kreel mating?" Rafe shrugged. "I have no idea. Why?"
"Well, I was just remembering how these sessions usually ended with my female cats, and I was wondering if I needed to warn Chet." Jane shook her head, grinning. "He'll know soon enough." There was a rising chant of, "Ohgodohgodohgod!" then a moment of silence. They a yowl, a hiss, and a surprised yell. Nrow came streaking out of the cavern, tail lashing. She danced around in a cirle on tip-paw, flirting her tail at every male she passed, then dashed off into the bushes. A half-dozen of the Kreel males followed her. The Kreel females, far from being upset, where giggling, and Scribe finally understood the expression 'it was enough to make a cat laugh'. Chet, clutching his ripped pants with one hand and rubbing his cheek with the other, came out of the cave, looking stunned. "I thought it was going good, but when I finished, she turned around and smacked me one. Had her claws part way out, too." He showed Peja the three puffed welts on his cheek. She cooed at him, kissed him, and led him off to get Roy to doctor the scratches, explaining that Nrow hadn't really meant anything by it--it was just a feline thing. Females usually rounded on their partners and cuffed them a little after sex. She thought it had something to do with the males having some sort of spiny protrusions on their members. Kata and Megan had turned pale at that, but Blair said, "Not to worry. I think that reaction is a genetic throwback. The Kreelo males DO have some protrusions, but they aren't spiny or stickery. It's more along the lines of bumps, like on a French tickler. That put thoughtful looks on the other women's faces. "Peja?" Jane called the other Sentinel over. "You need to have a talk with Chet. You remember how I said that the Kreel were only a few genes off us? Well, we're anatomically compatible, and there's a good chance that we're genetically compatable, too. There's no guaranty, but there's a good chance that if Nrow catches pregnant, at least one of the kits will be Chet's." "ONE of them?"
Jane shrugged. "Sure. As you just saw, the females take multiple partners when they're in heat, and like earth cats, they're capable of carrying babies by different sires simultaneously. The Kreel don't have as big of litters as earth cats, since they're moving more toward being human, but it's relaly rare for one to have less than two kits at once. The average is three or four. So," she smiled at Peja. "How would you like to be a stepmom?" *
John was worried, very worried. This gradual resurgance of Jane's younger style 'self' was not normal for her 'now'. She was staying within arm's reach of either him or Roy, or both, constantly. And not in a normal, Sentinel-Mage behavior pattern, either. She was...insecure as hell, frankly. Ever since that girl from the Kreelo village had claimed breeding rights with the males of the Clan, she'd stuck to them like glue. At the moment, she was curled up beside him with her head in his lap, both hands gripping his lower thigh, upper and under. He couldn't move without waking her. He couldn't wake her without seeing a scant instant of panic that he was trying to leave her. He stroked her hair thoughtfully, until he realized that this wasn't something 'her' Core could handle alone. This was something he suspected would require the Alpha Core. There was something else going on here, and something in Blair's eyes and tone this afternoon made him suspect that the young man might know what. Despite his years of experience as both a paramedic and a Shaman, Gage didn't have all answers and he knew it. He made a decision and the next time he got his apprentice's attention, waved him over. After listening to John's concerns, Blair took a deep breath and told him what he suspected: That Jane had stepped down so that a 'natural' alpha could take the role most natural to him, namely Jim. He also mentioned that since the alpha role was NOT natural to a Mage, so many months of having to maintain it was exhausting to her. She wanted her proper place back. She wanted to be pampered and taken care of for a few weeks, and her advancing pregnancy gave her a legitimate excuse. As Blair got up to leave, he paused and added. "Look, I'll tell Jim. As the rightful Clan-Leader, he needs to know anyway, and this is something that needs acknowledgement by my entire Core. And our support, as well. She's depressed, she's exhausted, she needs bedrest, and as much as I hate to say it, she'd getting a little out of control. She's been pushing herself too damned hard. You'll need me and Jim to enforce it and help control her. Scribe might not be effective: Jane knows too many ways of getting arround her or just plain, out-right ambushing her. And our wife knows that." He grinned a bit, looked around and added: "Oh boy, does she KNOW that!" Jim and Scribe listened attentatively as their mate filled them in on the situation. Finally Scribe nodded. "Makes sense. I mean, they've had studies out the wazoo about the hazards of stress. But there may be one or two of the Clan who are going to have a hard time seeing how important this is." She sighed, her eyes flicking toward where Megan was snuggling with Mike and Marco. "One in particular." Jim agreed. "Megan is just spoiling to get into a pissing contest with SOMEONE, and she's always chaffed at having to answer to someone she didn't think had 'earned' it. She knows what Jane went through as a child, and she sympathizes with that, but I don't think she fully comprehends what Jane has done as an adult--all that she's gone through setting up the Clan Cores and training them, culminating in this one." Blair sighed. "That's the gist of it. She's taken so many people, molded them into communities... HELL, families... and then she had to leave them. It had to be like losing your loved ones over and over and over... Is it any wonder that she's clinging to Johnny and Roy now?" Jim said, "But she has us now, she's with US. She isn't going to lose us, or leave us." "She knows that logically," Blair said, "But emotionally, it's another thing. She needs to be reassured in every way we can, and she needs to be MADE to take it easy. Sure, she's been doing that for the last couple of days, but indolence isn't in her nature. Pretty soon she's going to want to start doing again, even if she really doesn't feel up to it." He smiled faintly. "In other words, she'll be doing exactly what would get her to kick our asses if WE did it. Scribe," he smiled at her. "Babe, I have nothing but respect for you. You're doing a kick ass job as Alpha female, but when it comes to Jane..." "Say no more. I know when I'm outclassed. I'm just lucky that Jane is supportive of me, but if I tried to dictate to her specifically rather than on general Clan business... Well, her nature would over ride her sense of propriaty, and she'd feel like she had to buck me on general principles. So it's going to have to be you and Blair who lay down the law." She smiled. "But you have to make it clear that I'm the deputy, 'cause you two won't be around ALL the time." Jim and Blair wandered between the other Cores and, by ones and twos, they casually made their way outside. Jane slept on, this telling of her exhaustion more than anything else. Roy kissed her hair, kissed Johnny, then went out, too. Jim gathered the Clan a short distance from the cavern, and laid out the situation in the most basic manner possible, then Blair piped up. "You can all see the physical toll this has taken on Jane--the major stress of taking a leadership role she wasn't psychically suited for, and didn't really want, then the difficult pregnancy, and the strain of settling us all in, worrying that we wouldn't hit our stride before the winter put us in lock down. Well, we've shown that we can make it, and now the past year has caught up with her. She's fucking well near collapse--emotional AND physical. You all know how dangerous that is to her physically, but I want you to consider what it means that this is happening to a MAGE." Simon frowned. "Of course we want to do everything we can to help, Blair, and we don't want anything to happen to Jane, but as to her being a Mage, well... We're doing pretty good without the magic, aren't we?" Roy gave him a level look. "What makes you think you've been doing without the magic?" Simon looked a little taken aback. "Banks, do you think that there has to be a full moon, chicken blood, and chanting for magic to be worked? Jane uses her gifts all the time. How do you think we've been able to find so many safe plants, and sources of clean water? Why has the melding with the Kreel been so smooth? Yes, Scribe and Blair are the main reasons, but Jane's been projecting soothing auras that have kept the Kreel from being as nervous of strangers as they usually are. And here's an important point--we all need to be VERY careful of our relations with the Kreel during Jane's 'down time'. We don't want to do anything that would be offensive when that soothing aura might be a little thin." Megan had been looking speculative. Blair had heard a little about the confrontation between Megan and Scribe, and he didn't have to be a Sentinel to smell trouble brewing. He said loudly, "And another reason Jane needs to recuperatee--she's riding the ragged edge of control. No Mage EVER has one hundred per cent control of their power--that's the nature of it: it's a wild thing. I want you all to think for a moment of what could happen if Jane ever REALLY lost control, and struck out without thinking." Megan drew her breath in sharply, and some of the other Clan members looked worried. "Right. Jane is emotionally fragile right now. That and magic is NOT a good combination, so let's all do our best to keep Jane calm and peaceful. That means NO DISSENTION."
Three days later, Jane was feeling much better. At first she had tried to protest that she was all right, and could pull her own weight. A stern lecture from Johnny and Roy, with Jim standing behind them, scowling, had convinced her that she should do as they said. Her chores had been divided up among the rest of the Clan. Most of Johnny and Roy's had been redistributed, too, so that one of them could be with her at all times. It wasn't a hardship--as Scribe had told Megan, allowances could be made in special circumstances. Jane did little except sit or lie in bed, observe Clan activities, and reread a stash of zines that Kata, Peja, and Scribe had collected before leaving Earth. She got a kick out of how puzzled some of the men were by the women's fascination with what to them was gay porn. In the afternoons, Johnny or Roy would take her for short, easy walks, perhaps spending a little time sitting by the river or among some pretty wildflowers, enjoying the mild weather while it lasted. The babies were brought to her one at a time when they were clean and contented. Jane loved it, but after about three days she decided that it was time for her to get back into the swing of things. She thought that she'd start slow, by cleaning out her Core's hearth and laying a fresh fire. The only reason she got as far on it as she had was that Johnny had gone to empty one of the cavern's chamber pots. Scribe came in to find Jane shovelling ashes and bits of char into a bucket. "FREEZE!" Jane, much to her own surprise, froze. That voice hadn't been much like the Scribe she was used to. It had been very no-nonsense. Scribe marched over and snatched the shovel out of her hands before she thought to react. Jane started to bristle. "Now, listen here, Scribe..." "No, YOU listen, Jane! John and Roy said bed rest and NO WORK till THEY gave the all clear! I don't remember hearing them say anything about you resuming your chores." "Oh, for heaven... I'm just clearing up a little ash, is all." "And after you'd shoveled it all up, were you just going to leave it sit there, or were you going to try to haul it out to the compost heap?" Jane twitched, actually avoiding her eyes for a split second. "Uh huh. Get back to bed." Jane folded her arms, scowling. "Okay, Jane, let me remind you of something. Did you, or did you NOT, tell Megan that -I- was Alpha female, and as such, I spoke for you?" Jane nodded grudgingly. "Jim has ordered you to rest. Blair backs him up. I back him up. Your own MATES have told you that this is not just desirable, but NECESSARY." Her tone softened. "And you told Megan how irresponsible it was for her to disobey when it concerned the well being of the Clan. Do you think we'd be better off if anything happened to you because you were too stubborn to take the time that you need?" Jane was silent for a moment, then said, "Jim's orders, huh?" Scribe thought, I guess Megan isn't the only one who has trouble taking orders from a woman--but with Jane it isn't beligerence. "Yes, Jim's orders." "All right, then." Jane lay back down.
Johnny came back in, wiping out the clean pot with a rag. He stopped, surveying the scene. His voice not quite accusing he said, "Jane?" Scribe picked up the shovel and began filling the bucket again. "Have a talk with your mate, Gage. She can be SUCH a nudge. Imagine--giving me instructions on the best way to haul ash." He didn't have to say a word; the disappointment on his lean face was enough. She bowed her head avoiding his gaze and curled in on herself. Watching from a few feet away, Blair frowned at the response. He saw John's expression change to something he couldn't quite name. Johnny sighed and knelt down next to her. "I'm not mad." He told her quietly. "Do me and Roy have to make these orders?" She shrugged, but wiggled closer. He took the hint and pulled her onto his lap and into his arms for a cuddle. She was warm. Too warm. He hissed in surprise and began to go over her in detail. He cursed low at the 102f fever he found, Roy was harvesting grai, and wouldn't be back until late that afternoon. "Ellison!" He roared, "Get your ass over here!" He lay her back into her furs, and scrambled for his supplies. "Shit, should've known! She 'never' goes against our wishes! God damn it, where is your brain, Gage?" The Alpha Core skidded to a stop next to the Beta Core's hearth. "What?" Ellison rapped out. "Take and maintain her vitals, Jim. Roy's out on grai detail...and I need more hands than I have. DAMN IT! I should have KNOWN something was wrong! She 'never' disobeys us! Not in three decades has she 'ever' disobeyed us!" He ranted. "She read a 102F fever. THAT'S why she was working! Delirium! It's the 'only' thing that could have gotten her out of bed after Roy and I told her to stay in it!" Jim listened and looked at John a bit upset. "She's congested as hell and her heart rate is spiking like hell." "Fuck!" He got a couple of I.V.'s going, then yelled for Marco who took one look at the shift's former mascot and paled. He didn't have to be told what was needed, and grabbed Mike to go help locate DeSoto, fast. Chet, Rafe, H. and Simon were sent to the lower caverns where ice clung to the walls to chip a large amount into watertight baskets to bring to John. Gage, Ellison, and Sandburg manuvered the by flushed and groggy Jane into a long, narrow waterproof basket and began to pack her in ice to get that fever down. Ten minutes later the solid ice was ice water, melted by the girl's fever. By the time Roy got back she was on her third ice pack. That night, when the last Clan Member entered the Cave, a silver Mage-shield sealed the entrance. She collasped altogether with that energy thrust. Her Clan would remain indoors and safe while she was 'down'." "We've got to get this fever down," Johnny said, worried. "She can't take much more of this." "We've tried everything we have." Roy wss kneeling across from him, on Janey's other side. "And I'm afraid to give her much more, for fear of affecting the baby." He stroked Jane's brow, wincing at the heat. "God, I've never felt so helpless in my life." Blair had been watching and listening from nearby. Now he approached. "You know, I was thinking..." He hesitated. "Go on, Blair," said Johnny. "You're a part of this Clan, an important part. Healing is a natural part of being a Shaman." "It's just that what Jane has now, it has to be something native to this world, I think. We pretty much had the Earth viruses flushed out of us on the way here. If it's native to this world, then it might respond better to native treatments." Roy sighed, "I'm ready to try just about anything." "But the thing is, we haven't had a chance to learn many of the native cures yet. If I could just consult with the Kreel." He glanced toward the cave entrance. It was as if a sheet of frosted glass had dropped in place. "But that thing isn't budging. God forbid that anything should happen to Jane, but are you sure that thing will disappate if she isn't here to remove it?" "I can't be sure," Johnny admitted. "Jane threw everything she had into setting that up. It was an instictive, protective gesture. It's going to be strong." "I need to talk to the village healer," Blair said. "And since I can't go to them..." He stood up, went back to the center of the room and said quietly, "Shadow?" The big blue wolf appeared at his feet, tongue lolling. He butted his bonded with his big, rough head and received an affectionate scratch behind the ears. The blue merle looked over at where Jane's core was huddled, and whined. "Yeah, guy, it isn't good. I need you or some of the other Spirit Guides to get the Kreelo Kreisia, understand? Maybe Aowr, too. This is important." Shadow bit his flank for a moment, a nervous habit. //Mine, I think I will have Tigre come with me.// It wasn't easy for a wolf to shrug, but Shadow managed it. //These are felines, after all. They are still a little nervous about me and my kind. Tigre the respect, and trust.// Blair fondled his ears. "Whatever works best, buddy, but hurry. Tell them that Jane is sick, and we need help." Shadow winked out of sight. Almost immediately Blair heard a howl outside, and it was answered by a low, coughing cry. Blair went back to their hearth where Jim and Scribe were each holding a baby. Jane's quartet were being cared for by the other Cores. That was what a Clan did--they cared for their own. Blair hunkered down. "I'm going to need you to come to the front of the cave with me in a minute, babe. I'm still not sure that I can communicate well enough to let the Kreel know what we need." She nodded, handing Remy off to sit on Jim's other thigh, beside his brother. When the child fussed, she gave him a bit of the dried fruit paste they'd made from a local fruit that tasted like a cross between peaches and bananas. That meant that Roy began to fuss for a share, and that meant that Jim had something to keep him occupied. They walked to the entrance. Scribe reached out and laid her palm against the barrier. She shivered. "It's cold. Maybe it's drawn all the coolness out of Jane." "Entirely possible," said Blair. "You know, when this is over, I think we need to see if we can't set up some kind of emergency exit, just in case. Something well hidden from the outside, you know? Maybe with a pretty sturdy barrier that can only be removed from the inside. We connected to that other caver at the back, so there's no telling where this ends. We should be able to set up an exit far enough away from the main cave so that if we were ever besieged, we'd be able to sneak out if necessary." Scribe nodded. "Sounds logical. I mean, eventhough we haven't seen any hostiles so far, we'd be stupid to think that there weren't any. It's always better to be prepared." She straightened. "Here they come." There were three figures comeing--Prrmm--headman, Hrroah the headwoman and Kreisia, and Aowr, the Shaman. The black jaguar paced along before them, with Shadow bringing up the rear. All the Kreel looked solemn, and worried. The stopped abruptly a dozen yards from the cave, speaking together in sibilant hisses. Tigre growled at them softly, butting them with his head, and they resumed their approach, but slowly. The stopped again a few feet from the cavern entrance, their gazes darting around the edges of the entrance, obviously tracing the barrier. Aowr took another step closer, and inclined his head toward Blair. ""There is trouble with your tribe?** Blair nodded. They had no possition similar to Hrroah in the Clan, but she was recognized by the Kreel as the strongest magick user, so they had given her the equivalent Kreelo title. *Our Kreisia.* Hrroah's ears pricked, hearing that one of her own station was in danger, and she moved forward, ears and whiskers swept back in concern. *How so? How ails your Kreisia?* Blair looked to Scribe. She said, *Her body is weak. Her blood is thin, her body burns, her mind wanders the Spirit plane. We fear the fever will burn away her earthly body, and her soul will depart, never to return.* The tails of all three of the Kreel lashed, but Hrroah's was like an angry snake. *Must not, must not.* *But our medicines are the medicines of the place we came from. They cannot fight this. We need your medicines, my friends.* Hrroah nodded rapidly, and started forward. *No, wait!* She jumped back with a snarling yelp when she touched the shield, her fur fuzzing out. She trembled, but she did not run. *How? We cannot come in, you cannot go out.* Scribe translated. Blair said, "We've gathered substantial samples of all the vegitation in the area. If any of that will help..." Scribe quickly translated to the Kreel, and Hrroah pranced excitedly, nodding. They exchanged a few words, and she trotted off toward the village. Prrm and Aowr squatted before the entrance. Prrm started to draw patterns in the dust, chanting in a whining singsong, and Prrm echoed him. Blair recognized a call for protection by the Spirits, and a plea for energy to be directed toward healing. "Oh, man," he whispered. "Look at that." The area before the cave was slowly and silently filling with creatures of every description, both familiar and alien. Domestic housecats wove their way between the feet of a huge draft horse (either a Percheron or a Clydsdale, Blair couldn't tell), an Indian elephant swayed in the background, a small flock of mixed birds (Blair was sure he saw at least one parakeet) hopping on it's back. There were even a handful of tiny, bright orange and green frogs hopping near the barrier. "Whoa," said Scribe mildly. She turned around to see that all the Clan's personal Spirit animales were gathered quietly around the cavern's perimiters. Usually such a congregation would have been deafening, with the chittering of coons and the otter, Major T.'s rumblings, and the constant grumbling of the big cats. Now the silence was almost eerie. All the animals were staring toward where Jane lay in her restless semi-comatose state. Soon Hrroah came loping back up the slope to the cavern. She was carrying a small basket made of the brightly colored grai. Blair noted that small shells and bones had been woven into the basket--this was obviously an important vessel. Hrroah spoke to Scribe, lifting the basket. Scribe said, "She's brought samples of healing plants. We'll have to look at them and see if we have any of them in our stores." Hrroah took the lid off the basket and held up a thick sprig of green plant. "We have that!" Blair said excitedly. "I recognize the four lobe configuration on the leaves." "Good, that's the main one we need. It will lower temperature when it's brewed. And that silvery gray one prevents fluid loss. We'll have to make a weak solution of that, because once she stops losing fluids, we don't want her to retain too much, then need a diuretic--no yo-yo effect." "And how about those?"
"That berry is... um, it's kind of a 'fell good energizer', sort of like a big burst of caffiene and sugar, to give her when the fever has broken, and she's had a few hours rest. You know how frisky Rafe's otter got after he ate those." "Hell, I hardly notices. That beast is permanently hyper, anyway. Makes Peja's coons look mellow. I'll go get the supplies and we'll compair, just to be sure." Blair returned with a tray of likely ingredients and showed them to Hrroah, who studied them critically. She indicated the correct choices, making pleased sounds that Blair had found all of them at one try. Scribe called Johnny over, and he listened intently while she translated Hrroah's instructions on their use. Then he got busy. In a few minutes he was dribbling spoonfuls of the brewed fever tea into his mate's mouth, while Roy held her on his lap. The woman was wrapped in the thickest fur they had, but was still shivering, even though her skin was hot and dry to the touch. Once Johnny got a dose of fever tea down her, he managed to get her to swallow just a few drops of the fluid retention brew. Then they waited.
About an hour later Roy murmured, "She's stopped trembling." "Time for another dose."
Johnny held the spoon to Jane's lips, and she opened her eyes to look at him blearily. "Can't I get that in cherry flavored? And why is it so damned hot in here? Why am I wearing a damn fur robe?" Johnny smiled at her. "In order--no, you can't. It's not hot, it's just comfortable. And you're sick--you've been having chills and fever." Roy ran a hand gently over her forehead, and she leaned into his touch, eyes closing. He rubbed his fingers together, then showed them to Johnny. They were moist with Jane's sweat. "But I think the fever broke." "We'll see--AFTER this dose." Jane grumbled a little, but managed to take the cup and sip the brew instead of being spoon fed, though her hand did tremble a little. Afterward they took her temperature. "It's under 101. I think this may have done it. We'll check again in a half hour. If it's still going down, we'll do one more dose to be sure. One more dose of the fluid retainer, since you're going to be sweating like a piglet, but that should do it, little girl." Jane hummed, then said, "Oh, I sealed the cavern, didn't I? How long ago was that?" "Two days," said Roy. "But don't worry about that. We can manage comfortably for another few days. You're not going to try to take down that shield till you've regained a little of your strength." They took the temperature again, and it was down to 99 degrees. The tension in the cave went down appreciably. That was until the coons found the supply of energy berries... Recoperation was taking a while, she not only didn't have energy, but her motivation was lacking, as well. Aside from having Blair get Scribe into a trance so deep only he could call her out of it, and then implanting what Jane chose to call Shields 101, 202, and the whole 300 series in HIS mind as well as that of the Mage Apprentice, she couldn't seem to find energy to do anything but grow her baby. And Anna was getting huge. At 7 months, Streeter looked like she was full term; cumbersome and slow, moving was a chore. Megan, Peja, and Kata were all gestating nicely, too. Megan being the furthest along at five months. Apparently the change in leadership had come just in time, since Scribe was now the only female not currently with child. That three of the mothers-to-be were playing catch up didn't matter. The fact that all of them were carrying from two to five infants did. It was the fault of the coffee substitute, Blair had learned. The stuff made anyone who drank it fertile as hell! Jane was the only one not carrying multiples, and she never drank the stuff. As with Earth coffee, she had avoided it. But cops and firefighters had to have some form of caffeine, so.... Blair thought as he and the other males struggled to take the women's chores. He was a little better at it than most of the other men. His childhood wanderings had been filled with the learning of many crafts, and he used those skills with precision. John had been taught by his mother's people, and had in turn taught Roy, so that they had little trouble with the primitive skills needed for daily survival. The Cores were beginning to form that seamlessness they needed to function effectively. The Kreelo aided them greatly, for no one was so revered as a highly prolific village, and the Cave Dwellers were nothing if not baby makers. Chet's firstborn son was received in joy, for the little one was as black as Tigre, who doted on the little fellow. The big jag was less enthusiastic when the little boy tried to nurse him, though. The boy had inheirited the Guide Gene from Chet, and soon another wolf showed up. The new one was a silver-tip, with an underlying coat of ruddy hue. She seemed nearly pink because of the white guard hairs that over lay the red-ish fur. He tried to nurse her, as well. He was a hungry little mite, and it was Scribe to whom the duty of feeding him fell. She did so willingly until Peja's own milk came in early and she took over the task of feeding her new son. The short summer was drawing rapidly to a close, and the men went out daily on group hunts to store the maximum meat to last the frigid months of an ice age winter. Blair and the villagers went out daily as well, on gathering forays. For vegetable foods and medicines had to be stockpiled as well, so Scribe went with them, and left Gage and DeSoto to watch the children and the gestating women. They were the logical choice, after all. One afternoon Chet twisted his ankle on an afternoon hunt, and was therefore unable to join the hunters for several days. Instead, he limped along behind the women, and helped pick whatever they were picking at the time. It was on the last day of his enforced exclusion from the men's hunting that Chester B. chanced upon a sweet fruit hanging on a low growing tree. He tested it as John had taught him to test for toxins, and when that test came out negative he tasted it, liked it, and ate half a dozen. A shout of dismay from behind him made the short firefighter turn to see what was the matter, and saw the group staring at him. "Oh no, Chet! That's a TAU tree!" Blair shouted. Chet froze and stared at the sweetly fleshed, innocent looking fruit in his hands, and groaned. Then he stripped as he felt an uncomfortable protrusion behind him, and felt the newly grown tail slide free. As he watched, fur grew from his hands and arms, and he felt the other changes as he slid into the likeness of a born Kreelo. His wail was that of a sorrowing tomcat, and he took off running toward his Core. He wanted Peja and Rafe and he wanted them NOW. Back in the Cave he was met by his Spirit Guide who took one look and sighed in resignation, then alerted the other spirits to Chet's new 'look'. He looked like Sylvester. Black back and sides, tail, head, cheeks, and ears, and most of his legs. The rest was white, even his whiskers. Chet's tail lashed in fear and upset as he scrambled to his Sentinel, and hid his face in her armpit, still hissing. Tigre://This is what comes of not paying attention to natives when they warn you about the areas they live in. You were told that they were once pure human stock. Now you see that it wasn't genetics that caused the alteration, it was the damned Tau fruit. You were warned, human. You were told not to eat the fruit of the Tau. So, now you are Kreelo. If your Core chose to eat of it also, then your Core will be assigned here permanently. Joining your genes to the gene pool of the Kreelo.// The jag sighed as he rubbed against Claw in a bid for comfort. //Neither the Rat, nor the Otter, nor the Coons will mind. They have plenty in common with the Kreelo, and Earth born mates for them will arrive soon enough, if Peja should decide to make the Kreelo Village her home territory.// Claw added. //If she eats tau fruit now, her offspring will be Kreelo.// Peja smacked Chet rather hard, then pulled herself to her feet and looked at Rafe. "He's ours, let's go get some Kibble." Rafe muttered something, smacked Chet himself, harder, and followed his Sentinel. Two hours later they returned. Peja was now a lovely yellow marmalade, while rafe was a blue tortiseshell. Both of them were still occaisionally smacking Kelly. Jane slept through it. As she neared her time, she slept more than anything else. And that's what she was doing when the first contraction hit. She had several hours of it before they were strong enough to wake her to pain, and make her yell. It froze the Clan for a moment, then John was there, and Mike had gone to get Roy. Before long, Blair was called to assist, and Jim followed, leaving Scribe to maintain order and calm in the cave. By dawn, Anna was asleep against her mother, and her mother was wide awake for the first time in weeks. She was enjoying being pampered too.
Sentinel Evolution, Chapter Six, Scribe #5 Blair came back and dropped down beside Scribe. "Roy had to give Jane a mild sedative after she found out about Chet and got her first look at him. She couldn't stop laughing." "Why am I not surprised? I'm glad that the other girls are well along in their pregnancies," remarked Scribe as she watched Anna being handed off from one Clanmember to another. "If there are more girl babies soon, Anna may actually get a chance to learn how to walk, rather than being toted till she's four or five." "Do you realize," said Blair, "That in about four years, I'm going to have a full sized class. I'm going to have to start thinking about a more formalized method. With that many, the 'follow me and learn' method will only be effective in small doses." "You're gonna be the sexiest damn pre-school teacher -I- ever saw." Scribe snagged the back of Remy's diaper as he toddled past toward the cave entrance. "We're going to have to set up some sort of a baby gate across the front, too. It's hard enough to keep track with these six getting so mobile. We're gonna have at least nine more soon, and frankly, I only have one pair of eyes, and none of these little boogers seem to be very well acquainted with the concept of fear." Jim came back from changing Royal, and sat with them. "You're telling me? I almost peed my pants when I caught this one trying to teeth on that snake." Scribe gave a full body shudder. "I'm so glad that was you and not me. I don't want any white hair yet." Blair hugged her. "Just remember, babe, there are no poisonous snakes native to this planet." "My daddy was a country boy, doll, and he taught me one thing--you don't EVER pick up a snake. Maybe there aren't supposed to be any poisonous snakes around here, but there's such a thing as genetic mutations. I ain't risking it. Generally speaking, I don't like corporal punishment, but I think those spats on the leg you gave him was perfectly justified, Jim." "Well, I DID feel a little silly when it poofed out of sight, and it turned out it was a Spirit come to check out the impending babies. I guess he won't be claiming one of ours after I slung him up into the tree, and I can't say I'm too sorry," said Jim. "I have a feeling that the reptiles are going avoid our group. Well, except maybe a Komodo dragon..." Jim clapped a hand over Blair's mouth, hissing, "Don't even SAY that!" Scribe shuddered. "Yeah, if we HAVE to have something big and scaly with pointy teeth, let's shoot for an ACTUAL dragon. They'll come in handy for keeping the fires lit." Blair moved Jim's hand down. "C'mon, Scribe, dragons are mythical creatures. You might as well ask for a centaur or a unicorn, or..." Scribe held her hands in front of her and made typing motions. "Um..." "And need I remind you that I'm learning magic, and we're surrounded on all sides by animals who can talk and transport at will? Don't worry about the unicorn, anyway." She leered at her mates. "Y'all ruined my unicorn catcher status a long time ago." Megan came over to the trio, carrying a bowl of creamy white fluid. "Okay, Jim, Blair. I need you to check this latest concoction and see if we're getting close to a good formula." Jim handed Royal to his mother and took the bowl, beginning a detailed scrutinization of the contents. They were trying to come up with the optimum baby formula. It was going to be needed. Only Peja was going to be physically capable of easily nursing her entire litter herself--the other's were going to have to suppliment the babies' diets after the first month or so. Scribe had, with only a little griping, agreed to try to keep her milk flowing so she could help wet nurse the babies, at least at first, but they were still going to need help. "What's in this one?" Jim asked.
"Goat milk, from that nanny that showed up two days ago. Beautiful, patient animal, that, but her billy has already lofted Chet twice. I told him to try to keep from lashing his tail when he was around it--it provokes him, like waving a cape at a bull. Anyway, goat's milk, Sugar from the cane we found at the pond, and oil from that nut that looks like a peanut. I tell ya, mate, we're going to all develope nice bicepts from crushing those." Jim tasted and smelled, cataloging everything. He finally nodded. "I think this is a good bet. We've found that the goat milk is a little easier to digest than the moose, just a little of the sugar is good for energy, and the fat gives it needed calories. I think we might try addings some of the strained water from when we boil our greens, for nutrients." Scribe made a face. "Green baby formula?" Blair shrugged. "The kids won't know colors. If we don't act like it's weird, they won't think it's weird."
"Oh, for the days when you could stroll an aisle and choose between Infamil and Isomil, and laugh at the concept of Junior Foods, for parents who were too lazy to cut their toddler's food into little bits." Jim grunted. "I, personally, would rather have the Pampers." He went to change Royal again. Dawn gave way to chaos, the next morning. The adults were wakened by childish laughter, and ear-splitting shrieks of glee from every child in the cave. They 'loved' the Snake's replacement. And they were all taking turns riding it, too. When Jim's stunned eyes clapped onto the sight in front of him he caught his breath in wonder. The beast wasn't white, it was silvered white. It's long single spiraled horn wasn't gold, it was irridescent opal, it's hooves were dainty cloves, it's beard long and silky, it's mane and tail light and soft as air itself. And it had wings. Wide, long ones that spread over thirty feet, tip to tip. It pranced lightly on it's hooves, singing. No words did it utter, just simple bell-like tones. And it nuzzled Megan's protruding belly just as three more, smaller, copies of itself flew into the cave. The new ones were mares, the big one obviously male. Chimes sounded every time the wings of each alicorn spread, and with them all fluttering excitedly there were a lot of chimes going off. Nearby, several ill-made looking but still flighted reptiles lay curled up next to Kata, who was feeding them fresh meat. Even as Jim and the others watched, the little things were visibly growing. In a year, they would be mature. They wore all sorts of color combinations and patterns. No two were alike in that regard. Peja had five young foals nearby, and apparently their owners as well. Or so Ellison thought until the foals got up and he realized that centaurs were indeed real. he jumped when Tigre rubbed his big head against his hip. //Your Clan has matured enough to increase your Ranking. The Alpha and Beta Cores are about to get an additional extra Spirit Animal. The Species is up to you, so choose well, Jimbo.// He told the dazed Sentinel before strolling off. The eyes of every member of every Core stared in enchanted wonder the sight before the eyes of all. Jim had risen to his feet without even knowing it. Blair's eyes were huge in his face and a smile threatened to split his face to his ears. Scribe let out a long, low whistle and Rafe's Core were purring louder than anyone had ever heard from a feline; partial or otherwise. Ellison looked from the Alicorns, to the infant dragons, to the young Centaurs, and then to Tigre. "Centaur" He whispered, thinking of how long it'd been since Sandburg had found himself in trouble and needing rescue. He figured it couldn't last much longer, Blair being Blair. A Centaur would be damned handy. Tigre chuckled in fond agreement, being as he had pulled Blair's fat from the fire several times himself, wishing each time that he had hands! A centaur would indeed be a good partner at such times! He spoke to the Other Side in the secret language and in moments the sound of heavy hoofbeats rang on the paving stones they had laid down to prevent the children from getting muddy when it rained. A moment later a fully adult female Centaur trotted in and came to 'parade rest' at Jim's shoulder. "Ellison, I am Shadra. I am part Spirit, part mortal. And I will be an additional teacher." She cocked her head at him, "I was a mortal Sentinel in my last lifetime, you see. And I know all about the tendency all Guides have to get into mischief. My Guide is the stallion, yonder. And he got himself, and me, into all sorts of shit!" Across the cavern, the Alicorn stallion blew a raspberry at her, and she just grinned at him. "However, neither the dragons nor the mares are even part Spirit. That is not needed here. In fact, not one of the children born here, received actual spirits. Their's are all Guardians. There is a rather large difference. The Guardians will age at the same rate the children do. They will be with them throughout their lives, and when those lives end, then the Guardians will become Spirit Guides for about four hundred generations. After that, they will become Cores." Shadra grinned at the stunned expressions on the faces of humans. "So, now you know how you got all those instincts, and why they're all hardwired into you. Four hundred generations of Guide guiding and Sentinel control will do that to people." Blair stared at her. "I think I want a dragonette. New hatched." He said softly. "I'd really love to have one." Then he aimed his best Basset-eyes at her. She sighed, muttering: "Old as I am, and still suseptible to his blandishments." She sighed, giving in. "A trouble prone, accident prone Guide, a Guide Soul-Bonded with a Dragon. A mortal dragon, a fire-breather....truly, you will need someone with hands, Jim!" She warned him with a tight little smile, then turned to watch another infant dragon flap clumsily into the cave and into the Alpha Guide's arms. Jim's mind recoiled from the implications and he turned a long suffering look in Scribe's direction, then winced. She had another one on her lap. He moaned a little when he saw what Mitri had. Her's was a lot bigger. She had a half grown Wooley Mammoth. "What is it with you? First Major T and now a mammoth?" He groaned as he stared at his Core. Mitri laughed in his face and climbed onto Roger T's massive back. Another Alicorn stallion half-trotted and half-flew into the cave and landed lightly next to Jane's pallet, folded himself up to lay down next to her, and curled himself carefully around her. That choice had been made for her. She needed the healing power he possessed, badly. Two more, both mares, trotted up to Roy and John, for a simular reason, Alicorns made sense for the pair of paramedics as well. The Spirit Guides of the Alpha and Beta Cores now had their back-up. Back-up that they were soon going to need. Like in spring. When the KRach migration rolled over the area and brought trouble with it: Lots and lots of trouble. In a couple of months, the Clan would find themselves faced with a hostile force of warrior natives, for the first time. Their Kreelo neighbors were scared shitless of the KRach.... While the Clan was getting acquainted with the new members of the animal population, three people were fighting their way through unfamiliar vegetation. "Remind me again why we're doing this?" asked the female, following behind a taller male, careful to step where he had. "Because this is the way that it's supposed to be, TW. We are a Core, we were chosen to do this, this is what we do," The male behind the woman replied, shifting the pack he had on his back. The female grumbled. "I don't know why they chose me, a college student, to come here. You two? OK, I can see it. A doctor and a paramedic-cum-doctor can come in handy. But honestly, a COLLEGE student?!" The man leading the way stopped, causing the woman to crash into his back. He turned as their mate steadied her, fixing a stern glare on her. "TW, stop doing shit like that. Just because you're young doesn't mean you're worthless. You're my Guide, my Shaman. You're bonded to me and to Carter. Deal with what is thrown your way, ok?" TW nodded mutely, staring at Dave as he berated her quietly, pressing back against Carter. Dave sighed and reached out to pull her into his embrace. "I still love you, little girl. I just wish you'd stop being so down on yourself. You're brilliant, and you're needed, and you don't see it." TW snorted and pulled away, but before she could say a word, her tiger bounded up to her, tail twitching rapidly. She stood up on her hind legs, placing huge paws on TW's shoulders and licked the human's nose with her large rough tongue. TW laughed and pushed her tiger away. "Plette, what is it?" The tiger's tail swished as she stared up at her human. TW's gaze was caught, and held, by the golden eyes staring into hers. Carter and Dave watched, bemused, waiting for their mate to snap out of her rapport with her spirit guide. It didn't take long, and when she surfaced from her trance, TW looked slightly afraid. "Boys, we've got to get to the Clan. By the sounds of it, they're going to need our help even more now" Without waiting to see if her mates were following, TW dashed off into the foliage, following the orange and black blur that was Plette. Both doctors, one Sentinel, one Anchor, shook their heads and followed.

In the cave, which seemed to be getting smaller as more and more animals gathered to their Cores, Scribe was snuggling her newest friend, a tiny dragon baby. "Blair, watch out! Your hair!" Scribe said, without even looking up. Blair looked down, startled, just in time to pull a chunk of his hair out of harm's way. A tiny gout of flame splashed against the wall, leaving behind a scorch mark. Jim looked on in bemused wonderment. He had no idea what he was supposed to do with all these new animals running around, creatures that he would have thought never existed. Now, he was cuddling a sleeping dragon, holding a conversation with a centaur, and ducking the occasional alicorn wing that flipped overhead. Jane and her two men were also cuddling their animals, creating bonds that would never be broken. The rest looked on in amusement, corralling stray children and animals, talking with the other centaurs and just generally having a good time. Until the tiger came bounding into the cave. In an instant, Jim was in front of the children, followed in an instant by half of the other adults, while the other half backed away from the animal slowly. Tigre padded forward, sniffing cautiously at the female feline. //She's fine. She's a spirit guide as well. Her Guide is on her way, with her Core. Something is wrong// the jaguar reported to Jim. The Sentinel visibly relaxed. "Tigre says she's fine. We're going to have visitors." he turned towards the entrance, hearing dialed up just enough to hear the approaching footsteps, "right about.now." The word now was spoken in time with the appearance of two men and a woman in the entrance of the cave. The female stepped forward and bowed low. "I'm TW, Guide Shaman for Dave Malucci, Sentinel. John Carter is our Guide Anchor, and we've been sent to help you. Plette, the tiger, is my spirit guide. She's told us about a little problem that should be brought to your attention." Before she could say anymore, though, she was interrupted by an indignant squawk from the general vicinity of one of the men's feet. Everyone looked down to see two creatures that no one had ever expected to see as spirit guides. A duck and a platypus.
There was a moment of silence (which was DAMN unusual for a space as crammed with creatures and people as the cavern was), then a lone female voice said tentatively, "Steph?" TW looked around, surprised. She hadn't told anyone here her 'other' name. What was this? "Yes?" A plump young woman somewhere in her mid-to-late twenties, with a huge mass of curly brown hair, stepped forward. "That's right, you never saw a picture of me." She looked down at herself. "Um, and considering the changes I've gone through, you still might not have recognized me." She smiled, a little hopefully, Blair thought. "I'm Scribe." TW blinked rapidly several times, then squealed and leaped at the other woman. Blair grabbed Jim's arm when he tensed, whispering quickly, "No, Jim! Don't go protectorish on us now! This is just the female version of 'slap your back, grab your ass, damn, I haven't seen you for AGES!'." And it was. Scribe had been (Jim would later learn the term) glomphed by the younger girl, and was being thoroughly snuggled. Jim felt himself getting a little miffed, and noticed that the expressions on the faces of the two new men were both surprised and a tad greenish around the edges, too. Apparently all of them except Blair had a problem with their Core bondsmate being glomphed by someone outside the mated trio. The two women were jabbering to each other. TW: "What are you DOING here? There was a post from you on MakeBelieve just the day before I got grabbed out of our universe! Wait, you ARE from my universe, right?" Scribe: "How should I know? According to Jane I have an alterego who's continuing right along where I left off, so Mom and the weenie dog don't get traumatized by missing me. I'm assuming that's what happened to you, too?" TW: "I THINK so. At least that's what the guy who was in charge of trining me said. She's doing you proud, if it was her. She did a Looney Toons meets The Sentinel that made me spew on the monitor." Scribe: "Cool! Weirdness abounding. That's how I've managed to stay out of a straightjacket since this whole thing started. So, you're a Guide Shaman, huh? I'm an Anchor Mage." TW: "No! Really?"
Scribe: "Yep! Watch this!" Remy lifted off the floor where he'd been sitting by Blair's feet and floated into his mother's arms. "This is my kid, Remy. And the blonde sweety over there is my other one, Royal." TW: Scream "Omigawd! You had BABIES! I thought you were moving over into change of life range." Scribe: "I was. Then we had that whole 'age change to match the youngest member bit' and boom. There I was. I'm still trying to decide how much of a benefit it is." TW: "Soooo... Who's the daddy, if it won't get me slapped?" Scribe: Scribe nodded at Jim and Blair. "I'm not sure you'll recognize the big one with all the new hair, so TW, this is Jim Youknowwho and Blair Youknowwho." She grinned. "My hubbies." She twiddled her hand, making the two rings she wore flash. "Oh-ficial." TW: "Omigod! Will you get mad if I glomph them?" Blair looked at Jim. "Enthusiastic little thing, isn't she?" The taller of the new arrivals put a hand on TW's shoulder. "I think that's enough glomphing for one day." TW poked Scribe. "He's jealous. Isn't it cute?" Scribe wiggled her eyebrows at her friend. "Soo, it's pretty apparant that I'VE lost my membership to the club. Is it safe to assume that you are no longer a DMV?" TW whooped and turned bright red, hiding her face against Carter's chest. He hugged her, giving the other woman a confused look. "She's mentioned that before. I thought it meant that she used to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles, but that wasn't it. Every time I ask her, she just has a giggle fit. What does it mean?" Scribe grinned. "If she won't tell you, I sure won't. Besides, it's better if your significant other tells you things like that. TW, let's leave the men to grunt and scratch. Come on and I'll introduce you to the kids and the other girls." She bent and lifted the little dragon, which was about the size of a Chihuahua. "I wonder how big this one is going to get?" "Check the feet," suggested TW.
Scribe groaned. "Oh, NO! Clodhoppers. We're going to need to get a barn cavern or something nearby. Okay, see the orange cat lady? Guess who that is?" The women wandered off. Jim said, "Well, I think this calls for a little welcome celebration. We're caught up on our work, so that won't be a problem. The women are preoccupied, so what say we set the shindig up, guys?" There were assenting murmurs from Rafe, H., Simon and the others. Everyone but Jim, Blair, Roy, and Johnny scattered to begin the preparations. Simon and Rafe were discussing whether or not that first batch of berrywine would be ready, or if they should go with the fermented honey mead. There were more introductions, then a short silence. honk Quack!
"Chill, kids," said Malucci. "But they're right--we should introduce them. The platypus is mine. His name is Ned Kelly--Ned for short." Blair raised an eyebrow. "Ned Kelly?"
"It was the only Australian name I could think of right off the top of my head. I wasn't going to name him after the croc guys--Dundee OR Corwin." "Thank you for that," Jim said sincerely. As a Sentinel, it used to set his teeth on edge to see the way the Croc Hunter put himself in danger for what he thought could be nothing other than rating shares. "And this fella," Carter pointed at the duck, who was rubbing her bill on his calf affectionately, "Is Bugs." Blair raised both eyebrows. "A duck called Bugs?" Carter shrugged. "She watched the Warner cartoons, and she has a funny sense of humor. Luckily she doesn't have a personality like either of the characters. Um, TW gets a little... excited." Malucci nodded. "She bounces."
Blair was watching TW react to the alicorns. "She certainly does--all over." Jim poked him. "It was just an observation." Carter said, "TW seemed to... well, I got the impression that she sort of KNEW you guys." Blair nodded. "Apparently in the universe she and Scribe come from there's a television show that sort of parallels our lives, called The Sentinel, staring people who look EXACTLY like us." Malucci didn't quite gape. "No shit? TW told us the same thing, except supposedly we're from something called ER." Johnny was shaking his head. "Mysteries of the universe. We and some of the others are supposed to be from one called Emergency!" Jim grunted. "Look, are we entirely sure that the girls aren't just a little bit crazy?" Blair shrugged. "Sure they are, but why would we want them any different?" Jane watched the excitment with a small evil little grin that made Vanyel stir until he could crane his head around to look at her. She patted his nose and called Mitri over. After ten minutes of shielded conversation, the girl trotted away trying to stifle wicked laughter. There was so much bouncing going on, and so much conversation that not even the former cops realized they had a teenager up to no good in their midst. Not until Major T's heavy hoofbeats sounded right behind the newcomers and a big, sloppy, mucus covered tongue began slapping rythumically against Dave's face, and big mooselips started sucking at his scalp in lieu of hair. The moose slathered the duck and the duckbill with his affection, then plastered every inch of the new tiger's fur flat to her skin. Ignoring the exclaimations of digusted dismay, he then proceeded to pin Stef to the cave wall, and give her his version of a bath. Great slimey ropes of moose-drool dripped from her hair when he was done, and as he turned, his hip shoved Carter into another portion of wall to give him an extensive once over. Six revolted new-comers stared at themselves and each other in premature relief when he was done; only to have a big, hairy elephant take his turn at 'greeting' them. Both animals got carried away with the excitment, and just had to groom half the cave, each, before satisfied. Everyone except Blair and Jane's Core dripped spit when they were done. John and Roy had not wasted time in laughter as the others had, instead beating a fast retreat to their hearth, dragging Sandburg with them, and let her put up a weak shield. It had just enough strength to keep the huge beasts out of their living area. From safety, they watched the show, giggling and laughing at the rest of the Clan as Major and Roger literally plastered everyone else. Scribe wailed in revulsion as the moose spit trickled down her back inside her clothes, spitting out elephant wool as she did so. Jim was used a semi-sharp piece of flat wood to scrape the matted stuff off himself, and tried to shove the loving idiotic moose away only to find his arm, elbow deep inside the big deer's mouth, who then began to nurse it. Mitri watched from the cavemouth where she was perched on a wide ledge just high enough to mount the mammoth. She was laughing so hard she could barely breathe. Jim finally noticed that, and grimaced. She'd set them up, he realized. She saw him staring at her, choked off the laughter, and assumed an innocent expression. He didn't buy it, and shook his head at her, motioning for her to come to him. "Not now, later maybe. You think I wanna look like you do right now? Are you nuts, Pop?" She asked him, saw him shake his finger at her, and turn to help Scribe get the nasty scut off. Megan was cussing fit to bust, and even through the light shield Jane had erected over her hearth, Jim could hear Sandburgs laughter. Little shit sure knows when to scram He thought, looking affectionately in the direction of his Shaman. But I'm still gonna get him for those giggles!
Chapter #7: Jane #2
Jane looked the three over, grimacing when she saw Finch. She chuckled when she saw Jim's grin and heard him repeat the house breaking remarks to Johnny and it wasn't a nice one. "Ah, Jim. When you were house broken, I was so harsh with because you had a long-standing habit of badly hurting someone who loved you more than anything or anyone one earth, and the fact that the person was your Guide made that obscene. I've got the same set of instinct YOU have, boyo. It absolutely infuriated me to see a Sentinel treat his own Guide the way you used to treat Blair. I figured that if I didn't break you of it quick, you might get it into your head that I'd allow you to treat mine the way you were treating your's. At that point, Scribe and Blair would have been badly damaged because I would have literally killed you for the protection of the tribe, and I would have been justified in doing so. You were beginning to behave like Alex!" Jim went dead white at the accusation, went absolutely still, shame filling his expression. He reached blindly for Blair and Scribe, trembling and moaning a little. Both Guides worked together to calm and soothe the big alpha. But Scribe did not contradict Jane...what was more damning, was that neither did Blair. "However, you did learn better, and know everyone knows the warning signs. If I hadn't known you were past the dangerous point, I'd have allowed my own collapse before giving you the Leadership of the Clan. You must never forget the danger, but you are no longer a threat. Examine it, learn from it, and go on with life. Which is really what Blair means when he says he's 'Processing'." She paused to let that sink in, then said, "As for Finch, there: When I was in charge, housebreaking you was my responsibility. However, I'm no longer in charge. Ergo....Mr. Covert Ops, he's so he's your problem." She grinned at his groan. "As for information extraction, I've taken it as far as I can without killing this thing. I'm a Mage, not a Sentinel. Trying to do both jobs has got me in enough trouble and none of the other's have your background Mr. Ranger, so you're gonna have to apply your talents to finding out numbers, locations, strengths and all that other army-type stuff from this slimey git." Benton and Stanley were discussing something with Peja that had the older woman laughing her ass off. Jane started to listen in, trying desperately not to laugh her ass off, too. A moment later she came over and pulled Jim to one side, who laughed in a sneaky, mean-little-kid sort of way, turned to a giggling Blair and a red-faced, head shaking Scribe who shrugged while Blair scrambled over to get something from their hearth. He came back just as Fraiser came up, instructed the Mountie on how to prepare the tea he'd fetched, and how much to give Finch. "Oh Ben, let Finch think it's something new in the air for a few days while you and Stan teach him to enjoy himself. Tell him it ought to level out in his system after a week or so. That will give the Bond a chance to "set" properly." Jane told the big Canadian. "Oh, yes. And make a point of teaching the little fella manners, for me, will you?" "It will be my pleasure, Ma'am."
"Ben, my name is Jane. I suggest you use it. Ma'am makes me feel about twenty years older. Now, let me explain the other things that happen when a Bond has set properly. Like the age thing...." She paused, "Uh, looks like that'll have to wait. Um, I think I'm going to go put a sheild up and, um, sew. Yeah, sewing is something I need to catch up on." She scrambled for the hearth, snagging the Alpha Core and her men and all their kids on the way, shielding as soon as everyone was inside. Just in time.
Benton heard, recognizing the sound of the bellow at once, to see a huge bull moose trot up to Finch and start "Grooming" the little guy. He alternated between Finch and Stanley, since the two were small and it was a simple matter to pin both against the wall. He recalled Jane's haste to get under her 'shield' whatever that was, and made a point of immediately climbing up to a ledge that was well out of Moose reach. Then he watched as the bull spit-shined his friends from that safe-locale. Stanley and Finch were bellowing in disgusted outrage, while the rest of the clan members stood around and laughed at what was now accepted as a traditional welcome. You weren't official until you'd swum in the Moose Drool Pool, unless of course, Roger got you first. Benton felt something wrap itself around his waist, gently lifting him down to the floor, and stared in stunned disbelieve at a half-grown wooly mammoth for an instant. He saw a massive, slime covered tongue emerge and head right for his face. He yelled in revolted horror, but that was all the time he had before the wooly proceeded to lick him half to death. Dief was well out of the line of fire, standing in amid a small pack of other wolves, including an un-mated white bitch who was trying to entice him. The big wolf knew the wooly meant no harm to his overly tidy friend, and turned his attention to the lovely Star, instead. He did stop to stare at a slime covered Leopard and an equally slimey wolverine as they headed into the cave. He knew the wolverine was Stanley's. A ferret rode the Leopard's back, nearly invisible under the coat of mucusy spit covering him. The big 250 pound female black African Leopard was in a very bad mood, the wolf noted in amusement. The Wolverine didn't seem to mind, but then, as the wolf well knew, wolverines were carrion eaters and often smelled far worse than this one did at the moment. *
Scribe said quietly, "I know you're not ashamed to show your emotions, Blair, but I think this would be better somewhere private. Agreed?" He nodded numbly. "Jim, why don't you go grab our furs, while I take Blair a couple more turns back into the cave?" Jim nodded, gave Blair another squeeze, nuzzling his hair reassuringly, then headed toward the main cave. Scribe didn't give him more detailed instructions, because she knew damn good and well that a Sentinel would have no problem tracking his Guide and Anchor in an enclosed environment. "C'mon, sweetheart." Her arm around Blair's shoulders, she led him away. The other clan members parted to let them pass. The protective Sentinels were aching to reach out and comfort the distressed Guide, but they could tell that Blair was in the grip of some very unpleasant memories, and physical contact by all but his most intimate loved ones might do more harm than good. Mitri didn't have that concern, though. She caught her foster parents before they left the hall and gave Blair a fierce, silent hug. Blair stroked her shaggy, dark hair, accepting the comfort, then gently set her back. "I love you, Mitri, but..." "But this ain't anythin' I need to be in the middle of. Don't worry, Blairbear. You just go an' let Pops an' Scribe help you through this. You be sure to take all the time you need." She smiled up at him, her serious eyes in contrast to her sunny expression. "I reckon there'll be plenty to keep me busy out here." Jim had hauled ass. They had just arrived at the cavelet she'd chosen when he showed up, arms loaded down with furs. He went in first and built a nest on the floor, then he and Scribe drew Blair down, pulled a warm fur almost over their heads, and held him. He'd never stopped trembling, and now it graduated to shaking. The silent tears gave way to sobs that quickly graduated to violent, heatbreaking weeping. Any other time Scribe and Jim would have been frantic to get Blair to stop, but they knew better now. This was a purging--all the poisons that had built up inside their bubbly, gentle lover was were being expelled in a hot, painful gush. But he's been holding this down, and hurting, for a long time. This is going to be like lancing a boil. It went on a long time, and both Scribe and Jim ended up with large, salty damp patches on their chests and shoulders. When Blair had subsided into hiccups, Scribe said, "Blair, hon... We know the bare bones of what you went through, and I won't push you if you really aren't ready, but you're not going to feel better till YOU talk about it, not someone else." Blair wiped his nose on his sleeve. "I know." His voice was ragged. "I... It was a long time ago." Jim squeezed him. "It might as well have been yesterday, babe. Is this what gave you the nightmares--the ones you wouldn't discuss?" Blair nodded, and Jim sighed. "I should have known. No one is going to wake up sweating and shaking, or screaming, as often as you did unless there was something real nasty at the root." "Yeah, it was pretty nasty, all right." He took a deep breath. "I... I wasn't any older than Mitri is now when it happened." "Yes, well, Mitri is pretty mature for a kid her age. Living with a Core, she sort of had a crash course in sex, and..." Blair laughed harshly. "Christ, Jim, you don't think I was ignorant, do you? I was with Naomi-the original proponent of 'free love'. In Mom's case that meant pretty much screwing anything that was even marginally attractive. You don't think I always had a room to myself, do you? Most of the time I had a blanket on the floor of the bedroom she was sharing with whoever she was fucking at the moment. Most of the guys could have cared less if they had an audience, but I'M the one who decided to start leaving the room. I slept on a lot of sofas. I slept outside a lot, too, when the weather was good enough. Then Naomi took up with Clark." Blair's breathing speeded up again, and Jim and Scribe tightened their hold, stroking his back and face till he calmed a little. "Clark insisted that I not leave the room. He claimed it was because he didn't want me screwing around in his house unsupervised. I figured out that what he really wanted was for me to watch him having sex. I figured that out, but... But I swear, I had no idea he wanted... wanted to..." He swallowed. "He paid for Naomi to go to a women's seminar--an overnight one. I knew something was wrong. He just kept staring at me all night. He told me that since Naomi was gone, there was enough room for me to sleep in the bed. I told him I was cool with the floor. Then he told me to go in the bedroom, undress, and get in bed." Blair closed his eyes. "I tried to run, but he caught me. He dragged me into the bedroom, smacked me around--hard enough till I got dizzy, then tore my clothes off and raped me." He tucked his head against Scribe's shoulders, not able to stand looking at her pained expression. "He raped me again later, then he laid on top of me while he went to sleep, so I couldn't sneak out without waking him. Just before dawn he woke up and made me suck him off. He hadn't bothered to clean up, so I had the added thrill of blood and shit with my first load of come. Then he made me take a shower and get dressed. Before Naomi got home he sat me down and told me that it wouldn't do any good to tell Mom, because they'd discussed it before she left. She'd said that as long as he didn't 'damage' me, it was all right. She said it was about time I started to help pay the rent. I didn't believe him. When Naomi came back I waited till we were alone and told her what had happened. She asked if I was bleeding. Well, I wasn't--not by then. She said then what the hell was I complaining about?" Jim had started crying, but his tears were silent. Still, thought Scribe, That's good. It wasn't that long ago that he'd have shoved it down as hard as Blair did his own hurts. Blair had rolled on his back, and was staring blankly up at the ceiling. His voice was almost distant. "He left me alone for a week. Then Naomi told me that it was her time of the month, so I'd have to take care of Clark that night. We had a big fight, and she slapped me and called me an ungrateful brat. Then she sat on my arms while Clark raped me again. I had to do him at least three times a week till we left. I thought it would be over by then, but Naomi had found out that there were people who were willing to either give her things, or pay her, to be with me. After Clark, when she got low on cash and hadn't found a job she enjoyed, she'd go to a bar and bring someone home for me to take care of. I even asked her once why SHE didn't do it instead. She told me that a teenage boy could command more money than a grown woman, so it was only logical that I be the whore in the family." "You weren't the whore," said Jim angrily. "You were the victim. She may never have taken money for sex, but she's the biggest fucking whore I've ever heard of, and I just WISH I could get back to Earth and spend ten minutes with her." "You could have her after me," said Scribe coldly. "And I'd want a quiet room and a baseball bat." Blair gave a startled, watery chuckle. "What? You know I'm not as fit as Jim--I'd need a tool." "I got the scholarship to Rainier. She didn't want to let me go, even though it wasn't going to cost her a dime. She said that since my father hadn't offered to foot my bills, and she'd had to support me, it was time that I took care of her. You know how I got to Rainier? I told her that I wanted to work the streets by myself--that I could make more money that way than I could waiting for her to bring johns home. She bought it. I went to the university and talked to the counselor, told him I'd had a family emergency and needed to enter right away if I could. He pulled a few strings, and... and I took the physical. I'd had a really rough customer the night before, and the doctor knew. Bless him, he didn't just assume that I'd decided on an alternate lifestyle. He ASKED. I was so shocked to have someone sounding like they cared that I told him." "This detective from vice came down to the clinic and talked to me. He was so nice, so understanding. I told him everything." Blair smiled. "I don't think he was a Sentinel, but he kicked into Beloved Protector mode anyway. He had Naomi's ass in jail in less than an hour. Child Services wanted to put me in a group home, but Vickers fought them on that. With the doctor, my councelor, and Vickers pulling for me, they cut through some red tape, and I got to stay at the university. You know, Vickers told me I could talk to him any time I needed to. The first couple of years I'd call him several times a month, sometimes in the middle of the night, when I had bad dreams. He never complained, never sounded less than happy to hear from me. I got better, more confident, and it tapered off gradually, but I was still sending him cards on his birthday, and the holidays. He's one of the few things I really miss about Earth." Blair fell silent, exhausted physically, and emotionally. In a few moments he was asleep, breathing deeply and regularly. Jim looked over his sleeping lover at Scribe. "I WILL kill her, if I ever get the chance?" "Do you hear me protesting? I'll hold your coat while you beat her to death, then spit on the corpse, but that's enough of that for now. Let's go to sleep and get some rest." She caressed Blair's flushed cheek. "We're going to need our energy to love him long and hard when he wakes up." "Speaking of which," Jim said, just before he settled back down. "I wonder how things are going with Ben, Stanley, and Dennis?" *
Mitri stared, openly gaping at the sight before her as yet three more figures walked purposefully up the slope to the cave. She didn't have to ask who they were. She had seen both movies before they had gone to the training camp. Her Core was tied up, another new Core was 'adjusting', and she wasn't sure where Jane was. "What in the hell are you three doing here?" She asked with customary bluntness. "Christ-in-a-Miniskirt! Hell, at least you've got good timing!" Snape stared down his nose at the girl, feeling the unfamiliar power signature of the Shaman Gifted child and wondering at it. Potter sighed, and took it upon himself to explain that they'd been assigned to the Clan as combat veterans. "Hmmm...well, actually, the Clan needs you," She looked at Severus, "to experiment with local plants for right now. Our knowledge of available medicinals and foods is scanty. This place is mostly unexplored. BUT," She walked over to a Tau tree. "Don't eat the fruit of this tree. It's a Tau tree and has the nasty effect of turning humans into Creelo. We haven't found anything to reverse the effect, either. We have a Core who's Guide is a proven idiot who ate some, after being warned.." She recounted the incident. Snape sighed, agreeing with the scorn in the girl's voice at such stupidity. She looked them over, "Look, this ain't Earth, never mind England. Voldemort ain't here and never has been, and continuous rivalry and fights, and emotional upheavals aren't of any benefit to anyone." Her tone was odd, old for her age, low, soothing, leading. It hit Snape hard, like a blow to the gut. He'd never felt anything like it. "What are you doing to me?" He snapped suspicously. "I'm a Journeyman Shaman, Wizard. I'm Projecting, what did you think I was doing?" She snapped back, impatiently. "Her tone dripped with scorn on a level that Severus had never been able to match. Potter stared at her. "Shaman? I wondered about the power signature. I knew I'd never felt anything like it." The boy said quietly. "Hagrid?" "Oh, aye. Be shaman gifted on some o the isle I gets me pets from. She be young for journyman status, but then tis a small Clan. I can sense many shamans in the Cave, several witches, and something else I don't recognize. Plus lots of strange feeling spirits and a great many magickal creatures." He looked over at Snape. "There's a greater concentration of unicorns, alicorns, dragons, fire drakes, and other creatures in a ten mile area around this cave than in all of the Dark Forest combined. I can smell centaurs, as well." "I see. Well, are you going to introduce us?" "Not until Jane or Peja get here and approve you. Our alpha male is occupied as is our alpha female and the Head Shaman on Core business." She shrugged. "I'm Hearth Daughter to the Alpha Core, but as I said, it is Core business and of more importance than a couple of newbies. You'll have to wait here until one of the Spirit Animals alerts the Prime Beta Female or the High Magess." "Magess? Not witch?"
"Of course not! This project requires a wider range of skills than are taught to a low ranked hedge witch or wizard! Also, far more power." A new voice answered. "Mitri, escort young Harry to my hearth and introduce him to John and Roy. He'll link to me until he's an adult. Like me, he has mage-gift. He will one day be part of your Core. Can't you feel it girl?" Jane told her. The girl gasped, probed, gasped again, and giggled. Then she grabbed Harry's hand and dragged him toward the Cave, yelling for John. "I am High Mage of the Ellison Cave Clan. I am also the Interplanetary Magic User's Leader of Spacial Exploration and Colonization. Mr. Snape, did you bring a familiar with you? If not, it is within our ability to supply you with a newly hatched and as yet unbonded fire-drake." "I did not, and such a creature would be fitting. I am of the House of Slytherin, of Hogwart's School in England. The London Snapes, you know. Not the Yorkshire branch." He flickered his fingers in a dismissive gesture of contempt." "Mr. Snape, your lineage is of little matter on a planet over fifty billion lightyears, and four universes removed from Earth!" He gasped in shock. Hagrid stared at her. "Our Council promised you safe haven from Voldemort, did we not? A home, family, and all the things you thought you would never have? Do you really think a low grade warlock like that fool can locate you with the FULL council of Mages hiding you?" She smiled at him in benign pity. "You don't understand your worth in the least, do you? Well, you'll learn. While the Sentinels and their Cores fine-tune their skills, a subtle increase in the flow of the fabric of time is in play. At the end of the second summer (it is nearly the end of the first one now) we will all be removed from this planet by the Federation of Sentinent Planets, aboard the USS Enterprise, which will be under the command of a Captain of French Witchblood decent. One Jean-Luc Picard, to be precise. We, including your little trio, will remain on his ship for several years while the Clan gains the skill and knowledge they will need to establish Humans on a very special planet. The first true Seeded colony. All of the settlers will be genetically advantaged people. Witch, wizard, Shaman, Mage or Sentinel. From that planet and by those who live on it, Humans will be lead, Guided, taught, and ruled. THIS is the project for which you have been hand picked to serve. There is no one county involved, and the evil scuts like Riddle are being eliminated. Earth is due to experince a Transitional Shift within twenty years...we have to be ready!" "You mean, when the Physical Laws change and resettle into new patterns so that muggle sciences no longer function on the planet surface?" Hagrid hissed. "That would be the event we are preparing for, yes." She nodded, "and the sheer amount of work to be done is exhaustive!" Behind her an awed and distraught voice spoke. "Wonderful. Just great, fanfuckingtastic!" Peja moaned. "No wonder you waited for more Cores to show up before telling people that! SHIT!" "Well, it's either get ready for it, and be prepared to calm, counter and lead our species into a new era or stand by and watch while an estimeated 87.3488555348495734% of the human population dies...." Jane told her soberly. "You might better wait until Blair's settled and over his...hmmm, before you spring that one on Jim, though. I freely admit to cowardice when it comes to dumping this particular load on his innocent head!" A week later, Peja judged the time was right, took Jim's and Benny's Cores to one side, and quietly handed them a short, precise version of the schedule for the next several years. Then she told them what Jane had said, watched the two groups pale, shiver, and finally get over it. Then Jim went looking for Jane.... *
Sentinel Evolution (Jane-type Prod)
Tap, tap, tappetty, tap, CUSS, tapppp
"Just what do you think you're doing?"
"Oh, hi Simon. Fannie's happy other-self's just admitted to deliberately putting us off. I had suspected this, but never prodded her." She grinned up at the nervous former MC Captain. "Chill, there won't be all that much overlap. And it will only last six months." "Then how did you find out?"
"She made the critical error of saying so, onlist where I could see it. I did warn her that she was, and I quote, "Trouble" and I did shout the word. So she knows that something nefarious is headed in her direction. "Oh shit...' Came Jim's voice behind Jane, "OH FUCK, gotta get to my Core, fast...damn, damn, damn" Damn it, Fannie! Did you have to give her an excuse?" Jim's yell echoed off the cave walls. Simon stared at a purplish-red glow in the direction of Jim's Hearth. "What is that?" It's her hair. All of it!" Jane smirked as she signed out of the Council's link to the Earthian internet and shut down the laptop. "And she can't use my link since she doesn't have the rank to get into this computer. As she discovered the hard way, a long time ago. It was written in, rather than using a spell, so she's stuck with it. It won't be that bad for her Core, since I know that both Jim and Blair love the taste of blueberries." "It's flavored?"
"Oh yes. It should make Jim impossible to live with for a while." And Jane grinned evilly at the outraged shriek from Scribe as Jim shoved a hand mirror into her face and she got a good look at herself.

Sentinel Evolution, Chapter Seven, Scribe #5 Preface Paragraph
Somewhere, somewhen, Scribe groaned to herself. "Blueberry. She couldn't have gone for chocolate? Then I'd have had dark brown hair instead of deep purple. On second thought, maybe it's best she didn't. I know how I am about chocolate, and when PMS struck, I might've..." Scribe's eyes widened in horror, and she cut off that line of thought before the squick could slip in. "We now return you to our regularly scheduled insanity, though we take up the narritive right where Scribe section #4 left off." *
Benton stood outside the cavelet that housed the near hysterical Dennis Finch, eyeing the entrance critically. "Oh, dear. He HAS chosen a small one, has he not?" "Yeah, makes him feel more secure," said Simon. "Has he not? Don't you use contractions?" "He does," drawled Stanley, "but he has to be MOTIVATED." He pinched Benton's butt, and the big Mountie, even through his concern about Dennis, paused to give him an affectionate, amused glance. "I ya know what I mean. Are we all three going to be able to fit in there without grease and a shoehorn?" "It widens out a little once you're past the entrance," Simon assured him. "It's about the size of a small bedroom. H.? How about running to the store room and bringing back some furs for our new friends?" H. nodded and trotted off. Simon said, "We haven't been formally introduced." He offered his hand. "Simon Banks, formerly captain of the Cascade, Washington PD's Major Crimes Unit. You two should fit right in around here. Most of us are either cops, or have DEALT with cops extensively." "What about the others?" asked Stanley. "Fanfiction authors. They can handle just about anything you throw at them, even if they do bitch occasionally." H. returned, loaded down with soft furs and hides. He handed them over to Ben and Stanley, saying, "Good luck with your Guide, guys. Don't worry too much. Nature usually wins out, once the Bond kicks in." "Thank you kindly. Would one of you kind people please brew some of that tea that Miss Streeter mentioned and leave it outside the door?" Rafe snickered. "I almost hope Jane hears that. 'Miss Streeter'. Ow! Jane, watch it with that cane, willya? I was just repeating." "The boy can't help it if he was raised right," snapped Jane. "Ben, Stanley--you two don't worry about anything. We're gonna leave everything you need right outside here for the next few days. No need for any of you to come out till you feel you're ready." "What about nature breaks?" asked Stanley. "Ever heard of chamber pots?" He made a face. "Get used to the idea. One will be provided. Just leave it outside to be emptied. You'll find a niche in the front wall, and there'll be a bowl lamp there, along with a flint and steel. Can either of you make fire that way?" Benton beamed, and Stanley rolled his eyes. "Can he? I think he likes that naturalist survivalist stuff almost as much as foreplay." "Not nearly as much, Ray," protested Fraiser. "Now," Jane poked him and Stanley with the tip of her cane. "Go on! There's a hurting Guide in there, and it's making my whole clan anxious." "I do not believe we should simply stroll in," Benton ventured. "That would most likely have the effect of raising his anxiety. If you good folk would go on about your business?" "Your business IS our business," Peja warned him. "From now on. But yeah, we can give you some privacy." The rest of the clan headed back to the front of the cave. "Jane, what did you say about ANOTHER trio? Who's what in this one? They certainly had us fooled with these three..." Benton tried to figure out how to best go about communicating with Finch. He finally decided that, since the entrance was just a little shorter than he was, it would be better to squat, so he'd have a good view without killing his neck. He did so. "Dennis?" There was silence from the room. He sighed. "Dennis, you need not be afraid. Neither Stanley nor I have the slightest inclination to force our attentions on any uninterested party." "Translation: we won't jump your bones unless invited," Stanley supplied. Dennis's voice, still shaky, floated out. "I KNOW that, Mister Obvious. I worked on a MAGAZINE, okay? You know--reading material? Oh, wait, did you ever get past the centerfolds in Drummer?" Stanley rubbed his face. "He isn't going to make it easy, Benny." "Perhaps not, Ray, but one makes a special effort for one's mate." "WILL YOU STOP SAYING THINGS LIKE THAT?!" yelled Dennis. "Finch," said Stanley, "Calm down, huh?" Stanley had never acted as an Anchor before, but now his Guide was in deep distress, and his Sentinel was moving in that direction. He reacted to help balance them both emotionally. "Look, you have a cave full of cops out there. You've already seen that their first instinct is to run and help. I know you don't trust Benny and me yet, but you NEED to let us come in and talk to you. There's no other way that you're going to feel even REMOTELY right." Silence. Fraiser said quietly, "Dennis, you must be terribly uncomfortable. I noticed that you did not stop to retrieve your clothing, and, though this cave is an admirable example of its kind, it is still a CAVE. Let us bring in some furs, so that you can be more comfortable." "Well..."
He was wavering. "Let us in and talk with us," Stanley said slyly, "and I'll tell you about the time I went undercover as a bouncer in a biker tittie bar in Beaumont, Texas." There was a pause. "Does it involve tattoos?" "Tattoos AND rings in parts of the anatomy other than the earlobes." "All right, you can come in, but throw me one of those hides first. I'm not having you two in here while I'm starkers." Stanley chose the softest doeskin he could find and tossed it in. There was a rustle, and Dennis called. "Okay." "Stanley, allow me to enter first and ignite the lamp." Ben squeezed through the narrow opening. In a moment there was the click of flint-on-steel, and sparks. "I am afraid that if I gain any weight, I will not be able to exit this place without losing skin." "Yeah, well, don't worry, Big Red," said Dennis. "You won't be in here long enough for that to happen. Fraiser got the lamp burning steadily, and stepped aside to allow Stanley to enter, then they both looked at Dennis. The young man had managed to wrap the deerskin around his hips, and was now standing in a corner, back to the wall, arms crossed in a posture that was meant to be defiant, but screamed of insecurity. Instead of replying, Ben and Stanley quickly arranged the other furs into a comfortable nest. Stanley had seen the bruising on Finch's arms, legs, and chest, and was resolutely looking away, _expression grim. The dark marks stood out starkly on Dennis Finch's pale skin--stripes on his legs marking belt strikes, and bracelets on his upper arms showing where he was violently held. The son of a bitch wasn't so far gone that he didn't remember not to mark his face. He had enough presence of mind to try to hide evidence. Stanley noticed that Ben had gone very still. He looked up and saw that his friend was staring at Dennis with a mixture of horror and dawning rage. It was really being brought home to him, for the first time, that someone had violently abused his intended mate. Stanley heard a very faint rumble, and realized that Ben had started to growl. He whispered, "Stop it, Benny. -I- know what you're feeling, but you'll just scare him." Ben shot him a look of understanding.
"So," said Dennis. "Sorry I can't offer you hor-d'ovres and cocktails and I really shouldn't have said cocktails, should I?" Stanley shrugged. "I'll let you slide this time, but I'd watch my mouth around those women. From what little I've seen, they give new meaning to the term 'bawdy broads'. Ben, take off those boots before you sit down in our bedding, okay?" "Certainly, Stanley."
"Hey!" protested Finch. "Don't go getting all comfy-cozy, here. I haven't slept in the same room with other guys since my three day stay at Boy Scout camp--and they didn't want to get jiggy with me--just stuff me headfirst down the outhouse." Benton frowned. "I thought that the camps lasted at least a week." "Sunburn, poison ivy, outdoor plumbing, bugs--basically all the reasons that make me want to hop a shuttle away from here made me call my Dad and loosen one of his eardrums to get home. Now, I want my tittie bar story, and I want it NOW!" Ben and Stanley had sat down, and Ben patted the furs between them. "Me? Sit there? Let me think--NO!" "No sit, no tit," said Stanley.
"What I won't do for a sleazy story," muttered Dennis, moving to sit gingerly between the other two men. There was a shuffling outside the entrance, and Ben said, "One moment." He went out, and found a steaming cup of tea, and a note. It read, Guys, I made this one sort of weak to more ease him into your arms, rather than shoving him. He struck me as a little fragile. Peja Ben nodded his approval, took the tea, and left the note. He sat beside Dennis again, and offered the cup. "Here. We thought that your throat might be dry from all that, er, vocalizing." Dennis took the tea. Stanley gave Fraiser a questioning look, and recieved a minute nod. Dennis noticed the look and said, "You'll have to get your own--I'm not into sharing." "That could change," smirked Stanley.
"Ray," admonished Benton. "We are fine, Dennis. Ray, I believe you had promissed to relate your experiences in the gentlemen's club?" Stanley laughed. "No one there could be called a gentleman, and they'd have gone off on you if you tried. Where to start? Okay, the one who was my inside contact was a stripper called Six Ring Sally. She got that nickname for all the hoops she wore." Fraiser frowned. "I have never been able to understand the female desire to have multiple ear rings." "Ben, only TWO of the rings were in her ears, and she showed the other four every performance." Dennis grinned as he sipped the tea. "I wish I had a tape recorder."

"...so she said, okay for the Chihuahua, bet get that damn Great Dane away from me! That's when the fight broke out, and SWAT busted in five minutes later," Stanley finished. "What happened next?" Dennis asked.
"I don't know. It was all over by the time I woke up, sitting in the bar sink with a lapful of maraschino cherries, and smelling of peanut butter." Dennis cackled. Ben said, "Ray, you never told me about this." Stanley grinned at him. Ben shook his head. "Dennis, I am afraid that Ray may not have been strictly truthful." "Okay, I lied. But only about the cherries--it was actually pickled olives and lime twists." Finch was still giggling. There was none of the smug meanness that had marred his previous laughter, and the other two men knew that they were catching a brief glimpse of what Dennis Finch COULD be like. Dennis was squirming a little, rubbing his thighs together. "You okay, Finch? Looking a little antsy, there." "It's a little warm in here, but I'm okay. So, Captain Canuck, got any dirty stories?" "Well, I..."
Stanley snorted. "Tell about the time the Nature Study Group accidentally got a National Geographics tape that showed wildebeast mating." "Actually, I DO have a rather risque story. You see, when I was eighteen, my grandfather Fraiser decided that it was time that I lost my virginity--without my grandmother knowing, of course." Ray's jaw had dropped. "We were taking the bookmobile through some of the more deserted parts of Ontario then, so there was not an abundance of women. However, there WAS one professional lady who made her living visiting isolated trappers and rangers, travelling in a very nice motor home. My grandmother was helping a trapper's wife deliver a baby, and the husband offered to 'treat' Grandfather and myself..." Stanley's jaw was on his chest.
"...so I said, 'Thank you kindly', and stepped outside to allow Grandfather to come in," Ben concluded. A delighted Finch glanced at a staring Stanley. "I would say 'earth to Stanley', but that's hardly appropriate here, is it?" Stanley swallowed. "I---do---not---believe it." Ben smiled angelically. "Oh. Right." He looked at Finch. "With that face, you'd never believe he was such an accomplished fibber, would you?" Dennis noticed that, during the storytelling, Ben and Stanley had moved even closer, till they were flush against him on either side. For some reason, this didn't bother him. "So you both had those intense experiences, but you're GAY?" "Once again, I'm gay--he's bi," corrected Stanley. "But at the bar..."
"I was undercover. I'm a helluvan actor. Besides, remember the statistics--almost all men have at least one homosexual encounter in their lives." Dennis's _expression started to close up. He mumbled, "For some of us, one is enough." Stanley thought fast. "Ben, you're being inconsiderate." Ben blinked. "I am?"
"You are. That red serge can't be comfortable against' Dennis's bare skin. Take it off." Ben was no dummy. "Certainly, Ray." He began to undo brass buttons. "My apologies, Dennis. This is a good idea, in any case. It IS quite warm, and I have no desire to have the tunic sweat soaked. There are no dry cleaners available, and the mammoth saliva will be hard enough to get out." Stanley noticed that Dennis didn't turn his head, but he did cut his eyes sideways, and watch with evident interest as Fraiser peeled off first the tunic, then his ever present undershirt. "You're right, Ben. Dennis has the right idea about costuming." Stanley peeled his own T-shirt over his head, and was gratified when Dennis's gaze slid toward him, and lingered. "Ben, the damn fastenings on my jeans seem to have been welded shut by moose spit. Can you help me?" "Certainly, Ray." Ben reached across Finch, arms brushing firmly against the smaller man's body, and began to twiddle with the button and fly of Stanley's jeans. "My, they ARE stubborn." Fraiser's arm rubbed against Dennis's nipples, which quickly rose to stiff, pink points. "I am having a hard time, Ray. Could you possibly kneel up?" "I might fall over on Dennis if I do that. Dennis, any suggestion on how I could balance while Fraiser tries to help me out of my jeans?" Dennis's voice was a little breathless. "You could sorta brace against me." "You sure about that, buddy? I might knock you over, or something." "I'll risk it."
Benton's pupils were dilating as, for the first time, he recognized the rich, distinctive smell of his new mate's pheromones, mingling with his own, and those of his established mate. Stanley knelt, putting his hands on Dennis's shoulder, and spreading his knees slightly. "C'mon, Ben. These jeans must've shrunk, because I'm feeling strangled." "I do not believe it is a case of shrinkage, Ray. I believe it is a case of growth. What do you think, Dennis?" Dennis glanced down at Stanley's fly, which wasn't too far from his chin. There was a distinct bulge. The the damp patch was NOT animal spit. "I'd say that was possible." Fraiser finally, after much rubbing against Finch and Stanley, managed to get the pants open. Finch and Stanley both were beginning to pant, and Dennis had a palm pressed down into his lap--hard. His face was flushed, and the pink was gradually creeping down his neck toward his chest. Ben shoved Stanley's pants down his thighs, and the blond's hard cock leapt out to quiver before Dennis's face. Dennis swallowed. "Dennis," said Ben, "I am afraid that these bawdy tales have affected Stanley. It would be cruel to leave him unsatisfied, and I confess that I am in the same state myself. Please excuse our brazeness, but this should be taken care of immediately--for health reasons, to be sure." "Yeah, yeah," agreed Dennis. "At least that's what men have been saying since the beginning of recorded history. Go ahead, far be it from me to endanger your blood pressure." Ben put one hand on Dennis's other shoulder. "You are a considerate and compassionate man, Dennis. Excuse me." Ben leaned forward and lapped hungrily at Stanley's flushed cockhead. "Cripes," said Finch.
"Yes, I know. Usually we engage in more foreplay, but I'm afraid it is progressing very quickly. Apparently having a third party present is what Stanley would refere to as 'a turn on'?" "And what would you call it, Frase?" asked Stanley, amused and aroused, all at once. "Highly erotic."
"Jump me, you big, beautiful maple leaf lover!" Benton obliged. Dennis, caught between the two, found himself at the bottom of a pile of firm, male flesh--and liking it. Out of a sense of obligation, though, he sqirmed. The other two men seemed to like that, judging by the erections that pressed against him here and there as they rolled about on the furs. "Stanley," said Fraiser. "Stop that. We really MUST allow Dennis to get up." Benton resumed sucking a patch of skin on Finch's shoulder, while the smaller man lay giggling, face down on top of his partner. Somehow in the fray, all clothes had ended up in the corner, and everyone was naked. "Don't tell ME. I'm on the bottom right now. Not that I'm COMPLAINING, mind you. It's a lot easier to breath with Dennis on top of me than it is with you. Wanna ride, Dennis?" Before Dennis could reply, Stanley said, "Buckin' bronco!" and began to bounce the little man. Dennis's laughter increased, till Stanley spread his legs, letting him drop between his thighs, and their hard pricks met. Finch gave a surprised gasp. He'd certainly never expected to feel this good unless someone with XX chromosomes were involved. But it DID feel good, and he found that he had no desire for it to stop. He felt Fraiser's big, warm hand moving over his back. The Mountie said quietly, "Dennis, I'd like to ask your permission to move against you. No penetration, but you have a perfectly lovely ass, and I'd like to engage in a little frottage, if that would be acceptable. I'll try to make it pleasurable for you." Dennis had tensed just a little. Stanley gave him a reassuing squeeze. "It's all right, Dennis. The first time we did it, he got half-way in and I asked him to stop. He not only stopped, he wouldn't shut up till I told him that I didn't need a doctor, a drink, or an asperin." He grinned. "And he can make good on the pleasure part. Notice that he's been using contractions?" "Yeah," Dennis's surprise and horniness overcame his apprehension. "Why is that?" "It only happens when he's really horny." "Well... Okay. But just humping, okay?" "Yes," agreed Ben, moving up behind and over him. Dennis shuddered slightly as Ben caressed his buttocks. "Relax. No one here will hurt you," he soothed. "Nothing you don't want, Dennis. Never again." "I... um... I kinda had a bad experience..." Stanley took hold of Dennis's chin, making him meet his eyes. "Not now, Sugar, okay? You can tell us later, if you want to, but right now let's just make each other feel good." "I can do that." Dennis moved his hips. When Stanley groaned, arching up to him, he smirked, some of his normal cockiness coming back. But Dennis himself groaned as he felt Benton spread his buttocks. It was a good thing that he couldn't see the big man's _expression as he saw the redness and torn skin that indicated Finch's previous abuse. He never knew, because the gentleness of Fraiser's touch never wavered. He pressed against Finch, aligning his cock so that it was cradled lengthwise in the little man's ass crack. Then he began to move, sliding against the sensitive skin slowly and sensually. The pace increased, graduating to muttered endearments and obscenities. Hearing the ever-so-calm Fraiser whisper such graphic expressions made Finch even hotter. When he felt someone (he was never sure who, and he didn't CARE) reach down and tug gently at his balls, he came for the first time with another man... Men, other men, and why don't I want to scream and run? Why do I just want to cuddle down between them and sleep? Stanley and Ben were still moving. *AFTER I make them come." Finch was an expert at masturbation. He grabbed a prick in each hand and brough his two new lover's to grunting, moaning orgasm in a few strokes. When it was done they lay together, and Dennis said, "I'm still not gay." "Not gay," said Stanley sleepily. "Bi--like Ben." Fraiser got up and blew out the lamp, then returned to the two limp and sated men, petting each in turn and receiving pleased murmurs. Dennis said sleepily. "Something warm and fuzzy just curled up on my belly, and I know for a fact that neither one of you needs electrolysis on his dick." "That would be your ferret," said Benton. "Do you know his name now?" Finch thoughtfully stroked the little creature. There was a quiet chitter, and a gentle nibble at this fingers. "For some reason I'm thinking of the word 'Tiriaq'." Benton laughed. "Oh, dear. I am afraid that your Spirit Animal is a little vain, Dennis. Tiriaq is the Inuit name for an ermine." "Yeah?" Dennis sounded defensive. "And who says he isn't one?" He lay still for a moment, then said, "Did I hear right? The curly headed one with the big one and the short, furry one is named Fannie?" "That is correct," answered Benton.
"Hm. Fannypack, Fannie Flagg, Fannie Farmer, Fanny Hill..." He giggled wickedly. "Christ," sighed Stanley. "Just remember, Ben, when she goes to whack him on the head, he DESERVES it, and she's not really gonna be trying to hurt him..." NOTE From Scribe: Please be aware, people. I KNOW I'm setting myself up with Jane when I mail out some wide-open statement. It's just that I can't help myself. By the time I realize what I've said, it's already in the document, and I've fallen so in love with the phrasing that I can't bring myself to delete it. A very tired looking Scribe came staggering into the main cave, hitching her fur tunic up. "I would KILL for a good, cold Diet Pepsi right about now." "Really? Who?"
She froze. "Okay, I'm a sane woman..." This was greeted by howls of laughter. "Shut up! Compaired to certain lunatics around here (shall we all witness my new hair color?) I am! Anyway, I'm only marginally nuts, so I KNOW that voice couldn't belong to who I think it does. That is NOT Alan Rickman!" "No, madam, it is not." Severus, lounging in a chair that he had conjured up, disdaining the pile of furs that Harry and Hagrid were sitting in, regarded her with guarded interest. "I haven't seen anything like that since Neville Longbottom substituted toad for frog in a potion. Of course, HIS was a rather poncy lavender, while yours is a rather dignified royal purple." Mitri, who hadn't seen any of her core for several days (having been forbidden to peek), trotted over excitedly and hugged Scribe. "Scribe! I finally got someone my own age to mess with, 'stead of babies or you old farts." "I'm so happy for you." Scribe's voice was dry. "He's..."
Scribe rubbed Mitri's head. "You don't have to tell me, Mitri." She pointed. "Hagrid, Harry, and the ever supercilious Severus Snape." Harry poked his glasses back up on his nose. "She knows who we are, too." "Well, 'arry," said Hagrid reasonably, "There's always the chance that one of this lot could have told 'er." "You don't believe that."
"No, but I figgered one of us ought to play Devil's Advocate." Hagrid stood up, his head nearly brushing the cave's ceiling, and came over, hand outstretched. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, ma'am. Miss Jane 'as been telling us a lot about you." "Oh, I BET she has!"
"'arry! Stir your lazy bum and stand up to greet a lady." There were more howls. Scribe waved at her clanmates. "You know, and I know that calling me a lady is closer to an insult than a compliment, but he means well." Harry came over and shook hands. "Jane tells me that you've actually written something about me?" Scribe shot a horrified glance over at a smirking Jane, who had gotten word to Scribe (via notes) of some of what was happening with her 'other self'. "HE'S UNDERAGE, JANE! This version of him, anyway." "I didn't tell him what," Jane assured her. Scribe bent down toward the boy. "Listen to me very carefully. That woman is... um..." Jane was tapping her cane, waiting to see what Scribe said. "Crap. I can't say anything unless I want a moose bath or a coon infestation in my bed. Just be careful what you say around her. If you left an incarnation behind at home, be careful what HE says." Jim and Blair came wandering out of the back of the cave, looking smug and contented. They made a beeline for Scribe, who dragged Harry in front of her. "Stay away from me, you horndogs." Jim grinned. For good measure, Scribe slipped behind Hagrid. Hagrid sniffed, twisting his head around curiously. "Is that blueberries I be smelling? Now, I have no fault with the hospitality we've been shown so far, but I don't recall being offered any blueberries, and I'm that fond of them." Scribe scrambled behind Jim and Blair. "I think Ben, Stanley, and Dennis may be coming out soon. There were talking, nice and quiet, when I went past their place." "And if the sounds I heard were any indication," said Jim, "They'll be wanting to clean up pretty soon. There's only so much spunk you can clean off with a spit bath." Jane grinned, and Jim's eyes widened in horror at what he'd said. There was the eager bellow of a bull moose, and Major T started to wiggle his way into the cave. Jim headed for the back, hoping that he'd either be able to find a space too small for the moose to fit through, or that T would be distracted by another victim. As he ran, he yelled. "SPONGE bath! I meant SPONGE bath, goddamn it, Streeter, and you KNOW it!" Her cackles followed him as closely as the rapidly gaining moose. Snape's hair was in a slime-ridden point. With a curl on top from Major's tongue. Hagrid was in no better shape, having used his great strength to gently catch and hold the mammoth, he had no hands available to counter the moose now contentedly sucking on his head. Harry was smarter. Harry was on his broom several hundred feet above their heads, laughing helplessly, untouched. Blairhair was also matted, caked, and thick with moose drool. And from one side, Mitri commented, "Well, Mr. Snape, at least you know Major likes you." He didn't take his eyes off his soaked, dripping robes, spit-covered wand, and he shuddered at the feel of in running down the back of his neck. A moment later he was clean and dry, though. He looked up at the hovering youth.
"Thank you, Mr. Potter." He said with feeling. "That was most unpleasant. However, the beasts do appear friendly. Well, there is no point in cleaning up Hagrid until the beasts are done, is there?" "Actually, they have to do it to each core member, at least once in a while. Both creatures are Spirit Animals, and the saliva leaves a signature that identifies you as adult members of the Clan. Harry, they don't do it to the children, there is no need. Once you turn eighteen, however....." Jane shrugged. "ONE or more of the Spirit Guides would have to anyway. It's faster with these two though, and the Moose in particular enjoys it. He thinks licking you feels good. To you. I've never managed to successfully convince him otherwise." She shrugged, then yelled at the two animals. Both paused, looking disappointed, stopped what they were doing, and moved off downslope. Snape noticed that the moose kept looking back over his huge shoulder, rather hopefully. "Is he actually pouting?" "Who, Major? Oh yes. He enjoys it, as I said." "Is it safe?" Jim poked his head out. "Ah, yes, I see that they're gone. I thought so, but...." He grinned at Hagrid, watching Severus clean him up. Then looked up and saw Harry. He frowned. "Kid, get your ass down here! You don't go up without proper supervision, got me? I don't want you to get hurt and you haven't seen some of the hungrier samples of what passes for birds here. Four drumsticks, four WINGS and a beakful of teeth. If Snape or Hargid aren't with you, you don't go." "But...."
"But nothing! I mean it boy, you are a member of this Cave, of MY Clan, and you aren't going to be doing things that are dangerous or potentially so until and unless I am satisfied you know what you're doing!" Jim gripped Potter's shoulders gently, but firmly. "You are the Son of the Mage's Hearth and will eventually bond with my daughter and whoever your third is. I know your childhood has SUCKED up until now, but you will have one. All I want from you, is for you to be a boy. Let the adults deal with problems." And the big man hugged the suddenly trembling boy. "Don't worry about it kid, we know how to love children!" "Doesn't mean you won't have chores, though, son." Jane told him. "Everyone has to do their part. It does mean that there is NO darkling evil prince-wanna-be warlock * here *! And I am a mage, after all. Ask Severus how much of a chance a mere wizard has against one." "None, Mr. Potter. None at all."
"Severus, his name is Harry. Use it. This isn't Hogwarts, and though you are welcome to be a mentor you are not the primary teacher here. That's Blair's job and he's both good at it and likes it. This is NOT a school and we're not that formal here. I suggest you learn to relax." Scribe chided. "We're going to have to housebreak you, too, I think." "You will." Streeter snickered.
"Me?"
"Yeah, you. The lady with the purple hair." Jane paused. "Oh shit. Damn it. Snape, you have a problem. Approaching at 3 O'clock." "Damn!" He exploded. "I don't mind the Weasley boy, Miss Granger, or even Draco , but did NEVILLE have to tag along?" "The walking disaster area?" Jim inquired. "Precisely!" Snape groaned.
"Hmmm, this is going to seem a tad mean, but..." Jane said. "We'll let Peja handle him. "She needs something to keep her busy, anyway." As a result, as soon as the four kids landed, Streeter lead Neville to Peja's Hearth and handed him a half-dozen Tau fruits. Peja stared at her. "THAT'S NOT WHO I MEANT!"
Jane patted her on the shoulder as the witchblooded boy changed into a Siamese Seal Point Kreelo. Her hand-prints left green spots on Peja's fur of the same hue as the toy slime-in-a-trash-can kids on Earth play with. The spreading spots glowed. "But it is who you asked for."
Snape listened to Hermione's explaination for the children's presence, sighing in resignation. "At risk students are being routed to this location. By portkey!" Jim raised a brow. "And this is a bad thing? Let's get these other's placed at a hearth, and fed. We can work out details later. MEGAN!" He bellowed, bringing the Aussie outside with a startled look. He explained the situation. "This young lady is assigned to your hearth, I'll take the red-head, and Simon will deal with the blonde." The girl hesitated. He looked down at her, then squatted. "What's wrong, dear?" "Um, you're Jim Ellison, right?"
Startled, Jim looked at her again, "How did you know?" "Um, I used to watch The Sentinel on the telly, and this is weirder than finding out I was a witch...." She wavered. "Uh oh." Came another voice. "Let me handle this, Jim." Blair said softly. "She's scared." And Blair Sandburg put his arm around Hermione's shoulders and led her off for a little chat." Scribe watched and grinned at the dazed look on Jim's face. "Hey, we warned you." "Uh, yeah, you did." He stood, shaking his head. "It just startled me." "I can see that it did. Oh shit. You're not gonna... damn it!" She found herself pinned against the wall of the cave, with Jim sucking on her new hair. He was so intent on it, she couldn't get him Unzoned by herself. "BLAIR!" She wailed.
Simon watched as Ben stalked nude into the main chamber with a Tau fruit in his hand, said something to Gage who took it from him with a frown and explained rapidly. Benton returned to his mates and Johnny frowned angrily as he turned his attention toward the boys known as Ron and Draco. Gage gestured for Severus to join him, speaking quietly, but now Simon had his hearing turned up and was listening. He called for H. and joined the two men. At that point, Simon was reacting as pure parent-cop. "Now, I ain't saying they did anything, Severus. I'm just saying we need to know if they might have, or if it was just carelessness. This is not a fruit to have accidents with." John was finishing. "I noticed. It's amazing that such a clumsy boy would turn out to be such a graceful creature as Neville is now." Snape shook his head. "I had thought that Streeter was being somewhat cruel, when she fed him that stuff, but as it turns out, it seems to have been the best thing she could do for him. He's calm, steady, and quite content." He sounded bemused for a moment, then returned his attention to the matter at hand. He looked over at Potter and called the boy to him to explain. "Uh oh. It could go either way...Ron I know wouldn't do anything on purpose, and I don't think Draco would...." Harry paused, cocked his head, "Why is Fannie screaming at the top of her lungs, John?" John turned, hollered to Simon, who did an about face and went to find out. //And I thought I obeyed Sandburg fast, shit that man is powerful!// Banks snarked to himself as he rounded the corner of the entrance to the lodge and saw Ellison pinning Fannie to the outside wall of the cave. Jim was apparently eating her hair.... "Oh SHIT! Ellison! Damn it!" He muttered. "SANDBURG!" He bellowed, wincing when he hurt his own ears. But he heard Blair returning, so he folded his arms and waited. "Simon what...oh. Damn. Easy there, girl, I'll have him off in just a sec..." He crooned to Jim, patting his arm as he had done so many times, his voice low and soothing but insistent as he separated Ellison from his 'snack'. A moment later, Jim's eyes focused and he began to cough and spit out bits of glowing purple hair. "Jesus, oh man. Fannie....." Blair said in sympathy, looking at the spot where Jim had chew a good-sized chunk of hair off her head. "Look, I'll trim it tonight, okay?" "Trim it? Trim it? How much did he eat?" She moaned. "Uh, you don't really want to know that, okay, you don't, really, trust me." He bit his lip as Jim cleared the rest of the hair out of his mouth. Jim's teeth were purple, his lips nearly black, and somehow Blair just knew his sentinel's mouth was going to be glowing in the dark, inside and out. Fannie stared at him, groaned, and slithered down the wall. "Six months of this?" "Well, Jane said something to me on the side about multiple flavors. Something about a new one every week...." Blair wheedled. "Great, just great. I hope it gets to "Pineapple" fast." "Um, Jim hates pineapples."
"I know. That's the point." She complained. "When it does, I'm going to see if Snape can get it to stay there for the duration. Either that or treat him for hairballs." "Hey!" Jim barked. "I didn't do it on purpose!" "I know." She relented at the hurt on his face. "But I gotta do something." She patted his leg, which was still near where she sat on the ground at the base of he wall. " Now help me up and keep your lips out of my hair."

~Inside~
Snape glared at Draco who had just admitted to his face that he had slipped the Tau fruit into the Mounty's pack. "Shit, Snape, what does it matter? Their just muggles!" "Actually, they are NOT muggles, you stupid boy. They are magic users, not witches, no, but they aren't squibs nor are they muggles." "They're not?" He sounded stunned. Then why aren't they using any power?" "Who said we aren't, boy?" Came a hard voice from behind the little blonde. "There are more forms of power use than there are grains of sand on any beach you care to think about. Witchery is only one, and a fairly low level one at that." He turned to look at the woman who had spoken and the tall, dark figure of his Hearth Father who had followed her back inside. Jane literally glowed with power. She let him see it, register the fact, and released it without using it. "I knew leaving the Jedi out of this too long was a mistake." She grit out, then looked at Snape. "Draco lives at Simon's hearth, Simon will deal with his punishment as Hearth Father. His real son vanished two years before we Called this group to service, but that is the fault of the Jedi Council. One of their masters took the boy as a padawan when his powers surfaced out-of-control. They age regressed him to age three and started over. It'll be a while before he is allowed to remember who he is. Right now, they have to get his link to the Force under his control. He was simply dangerous to be near, at the time, requiring the attentions of experts. Young Daryl is fine, though. I told Simon this during one of our lessons while still on Earth. The point is, here, that Simon Banks is an experienced parent. He'll handle Draco just fine." Simon took the boy by his arm, bent him over without a word, and used his large, calloused palm on the blonde's ass. He spanked Draco hard, until he howled. When it was over, he held the kid, cuddling him, soothing his tears. "You were never curbed, ere now, youngster. And you must be, if you are to be a productive member of the Clan." Simon told him. "Now come along, and be fed." He told the crying boy as he led him away. "Corporal punishment was not permitted at Hogwart School, and his parents didn't bother. But he's needed that for a long time." Was all Severus said. "Well, he'll get it. As often as needed, now if you'll excuse me, I need to send out a Force Call." She said, and departed. Jane sought a location that was isolated, shielded up to prevent another abduction, and prepared her supplies. Unknown to her mates, she had been fasting for three days to prepare for this. As she chewed a peyote button, she sent her mind in search of Sandburg's, made contact, and told him what she was about to do. She also informed him that she had already ingested the peyote. His mental grimace made her chuckle a little, since she knew Blair was well aware that she would be high as the proverbial kite in a few short minutes: Particularly after taking the peyote on an empty stomach; in the wake of a three-day fast. //It drops the barriers of your mind as little else will, Shaman.// She told him formally. //Were you aware that I set us down in the Old Republic?// //Old Republic...oh gods...Star Wars, JEDI? THAT Old Republic?// He stuttered in disbelief. //Oh yes. Tell Snape I've got three new-made House Elves to offer the Jedi Council for their Cre`ches, maybe they can teach grace to a house elf. Draco snuck them along, and while there are few beings in existence with as much sheer power as an elf, a house elf is the single most clumsy being I know of. You definitely do not one the young ones around. Innocents, they are, but cause disasters also. Usually while trying to "help". Best get them masters from within the Temple. Anyway, I'm sending a Force Call to summon at least one Jedi team to assist. You people need lessons that I am not qualified to teach, now. I am so proud to be able to say that. You've all done so well."// Sandburg could hear little sentimental sniffles in his mind. // Are we supposed to become Jedi?// //Don't know. You'll have to ask Yoda.// Blair choked. //YODA? Crap!//
//Blair dear, the Clan has nearly caught up with me and my Core in skill. Now we must learn together. Until the Jedi Council indicates otherwise, anyway, this will be my final act as the High Council's Representative. Once the Call is made, it's going to be in Qui-Gon's very capable hands. He has the task of making of us whatever we are too be to get this done.// //Holy Cow, Batman!// Blair quipped.
//Smart-ass!// She laughed at him. //Now, give me mental stillness for an hour or so. And tell Scribe to shield the area, I'll give a mental call when I have recovered. Oh, and don't warn anyone but Jim.// //Why just Jim and not Scribe?//
//Because I want to enjoy the look on her face when Qui Gon and Obi arrive, and because you'll be swimming in moose drool for a week if you spoil it?// //Oh. Oh no, not a word, I promise.// He reassured her hastily. //I swear!// //I sorta thought you'd see it my way...// She burbled at him. Then she calmed. //Maintain your mental presence, Blair-bear. I want you to see how this is done.// She felt his affirmative, and sent her mind spiraling outward seeking a particular presence. It took hours, but finally she located him and tapped politely at his mental shielding. The Master Jedi was understandably startled, but allowed her communication. He recognized a mind he knew. //I had no idea you were so strong in the Force.// Qui Gon said after she finished her report. //Who is that with you, watching?// //This is Blair Sandburg, a full Shaman and a Guide to the strongest Sentinel I've ever seen. You may wish to inform the Temple that we have two Force Strong infants for the crches, also. They are of a species known for a combination of power, a willingness to do anything they can to make others happy and to serve, and for an appalling clumsiness. I don't know if you'll ever be able to train them fully, but you are the only folks I know with a chance in hell of doing so. I really hate to have to ask you to give it a try, though.// //That bad?//
//That clumsy? Oh yes. Imagine an infant with Yoda's power at birth, running at full blast, with NO controls...// Across the mental link, Blair could feel the other man's cringe. //And there are three of them. Not siblings, no, but they are age mates. Think you can get someone to retrieve them? And we want you and Obi to handle the Clan's First Transition. That'll give you about a year and a half worth of breather, keep you busy, and you'll still have plenty of time to train your padawan.// //I'm opening a secondary link to Yoda now.// //Best you let him know I'm using a drug to boost my range, then. I don't need a Force induced headache, thanks muchly. I'm over twenty-five parsecs from you and close to a hundred parsecs from the Temple.// Qui Gon laughed. //Yes, that would overstrain you a good bit. Twenty-five parsecs? How far could you reach without the drug.?// //Depends on who's handy. If a Jedi were close enough to provide the boost, I could talk to Yoda on my own. Without any boost at all, though, I'm rather limited. Can't get much past ten parsecs.// She paused at his gasp. //Oh hush, Qui Gon! What's your range?// //Barely three. Jane, Yoda can't project his mind ten parsecs without a boost!// Qui Gon was stunned. //He can't? Well, why not? It's quite simple.// //Simple?//
//Oh aye. You just catch a ride on a Force thread in the general direction you're going, and let the Force figure out how to get you there. Do you feel any energy drain from me at all? Really, Qui Gon, I would have thought that a Jedi your age would have...are you blushing?// //You can detect that? Damn it, woman!// He grumbled. //We're enroute. And a cre`che team has been dispatched from the temple.// //Your ETA?//
//Ten hours//
//Cool, oh, yeah. Do you know what a moose is, old friend? We have one here that's rather friendly. He's going to want to say hello. By licking you.// //There are worse ways of saying hello, I suppose. I've probably endured most of them, so I think I'll manage.// //Qui Gon, he's a pet, not a sentient. I'm just letting you know so you can shield up. My peyote is running down, dear heart. I need to return to my body. See you and the little lad in a few hours then. Bye.// She withdrew to his outraged //You did an unpowered OBO!// Leaving her laughter trailing behind her as she sank back into her corporate form. She looked at Blair, //I love doing that to him, too serious, our Qui Gon, by far// She roused herself and took the shields down. She was a little weak, but thought she could make it home without mishap. //You are sooo bad.// She felt him examine her and shake his head. //Hold tight. I'm sending Roy to you.// //Yeah, that's probably a good idea. Better tell John to get some dinner on for me, too. So, how's Scribe taking her potential new hairdo?// //Better than Jim's taking the hairballs.// He studied her, //Tired?// //Very, if I'm still out of it when they get here, tell Qui Gon I said for him to use his own judgment as far as bringing me out of it is concerned.// The newly arrived teenagers were gathered in a circle around Scribe and Blair. Scribe was sitting on a stool that Peja's men had constructed. 'Furniture' was a novel concept to the Kreel, and there were also several of them gathered around, watching this strange ritual. The Prime Beta male of the clan was performing some weird sort of grooming rite with his Alpha female mate. It involved clipping away parts of her mane. They didn't understand this. The newcomers were so woefully lacking in fur to begin with, and with the winter coming on, they would have expected them to keep as much as possible. Blair had the sharpest knife in the camp, and was carefully trimming away wisps of bright purple, irridescent hair, trying to keep it even. Scribe was grumbling. "And I thought I'd outgrown razor cuts. I HATE them! I used to get them when I was a kid, because they were fashionable, and it's like having your hair pulled for about a half-hour. And THEN later in life a beautician tells me that's the exact WRONG kind of cut to get with my type of hair, because it makes it frizz more.* "I'm sorry, babe, but it's the knife, or look lopsided till it grows out." "Then quit being wussy and CUT, Blair! Chop that shit OFF! Don't leave any bald patches, but I don't want any more than Mia Farrow had in her heyday." "When who had what when?" said Ron.
"God, the different layers of cultural reality are about to KILL me." "I think that might be partly a generational thing," commented Blair. Scribe looked at Ron. "Ever see Rosemary's Baby?" Ron answered politely, "No, ma'am. Does she live in England?" Hermionie frowned. "I saw it. That's the most DREADFUL sort of propaganda." Scribe made a sympathetic face at her. "I know, kid, I know. Those weren't WITCHES, they were SATANISTS. I know the difference. I had some good friends on earth who were Wiccan. When I got sick I not only got put on the prayer chain, I had candles lit and spells said for me." Jim came over and observed. "You just stand back." "It was the stress, Scribe. I have it under control now. Of course, the glow from my own lips is keeping me awake at night." "I don't mind," said Blair smugly. "Makes certain things easier to do during the night." "EARS!" Jim snapped. "YOUNG ears."
"Like kissing."
Jim came around and whispered in his ear. "Just remember that this stuff seems to transfer. Do you REALLY want to field questions about a glowing purple crotch later?" "I have a feeling it would be FAR from the weirdest thing this bunch has ever seen." Blair took off a last wisp of hair, and rubbed his palm over Scribe's head. "There. How do you like it?" Jim looked disappointed. "She has about as much as I did before you convinced me to let it grow." "Yep," said Scribe, "But mine is NATURALLY curly, tra la!" Severus came over. "Are you done? I think I have something that will accomplish what we discussed, but the less there is to affect--the better." "Go for it."
"Wait a minute," Jim protested. "I'm not sure I want hocus-pocus going on with one of my mates." "Tough. I don't want to risk being grazed into a Sinead O'Connor lookalike if you zone again," said Scribe. Severus pulled out his wand. He noticed the Hogwarts group watching him closely, and said, "This is NOT to be used lightly. In fact, it is purely cosmetic, and I heartily oppose using magic for such frivolities when the power could be conserved in case of emergency. I'm only doing this at the request of our head girl, as it were. It can be considered a gift of gratitude for sanctuary for us all. Madam, do hold still." He made several arcane motions with his wand, and intoned, "Tropicus bromiliade oro cosmitus." There was a shimmer, and Scribe's hair faded from purple to shining blonde. Blair blinked. "I've heard of yellow haired people, but DAMN, Scribe." Jim sniffed, then wrinkled his nose. "Pineapple?" Scribe shot both fists up in the air. "SAFE!" She looked at Snape quickly. "Wait--is ALL my hair like this?" He waved the wand again. "Mons pubis exacto. That should make..." He looked at his expectant former students. "Um, the rug should match the drapes, as it were." Scribe peeked into her pants, then grinned. Jim sighed. "If you notice it beginning to turn purple again, just let me know, and I'll renew the spell. Now, if you will excuse me, I do believe that one of the plants looks promising for relieving sniffles." He examined a slick trail on his sleeve, then looked down at Royal, who had toddled over and grabbed the hem of his robe. Royal grinned, then sneezed and rubbed his face on Snape's robe. Snape sighed and began to walk back to his study area. Scribe noticed, though, that he took small enough steps so that Royal could keep up. The Kreel headman entered the cave, and went right to Jim, who took him aside. There was a low conversation of mews and hisses. Hagrid respected the privacy of the two leaders, but watched in fascination. He was irresistably drawn to magical creatures, and had classified the Kreel as magical, though he had been assured that they were perfectly normal for this world. The Kreel sensed his immediate affection, and greatly admired his resplendent hair and beard. They also discovered quickly how good he was with the very young. At the moment three Kreelo kits, each about the size of a small dog, were crawling all over him, tangling in his beard, chirping and hissing fiercely. He plucked a tortoishell female from under his beard, wincing a little as a tuft of hair came away. "'Ere, now, little missy! I may 'ave use for that sometime, so you just leave it attached to my skin." The kit purred roughly, then began working her tiny paws against his bare arm, claws pricking. Hagrid smiled fondly. "Well, that's all right, then." Scribe stood up, dusting off hair. "I'd better go interpret." Blair laid a hand on her arm, shaking his head. "Jim's doing all right. We can't rely on you and Jane forever." "But..." Scribe watched as Jim rubbed his chin on his shoulder, mimicing the gesture that the Kreel used when they were pleased about something. "You're right. Heck, I'm the woman who used to grouse because we had people who'd been living in America for over twenty years and still didn't know the language." Her eyes narrowed. "But does he realize that that little whisker stroking motion he just made is telling the head man that he finds him attractive?" Luckily the head man was happily married to as many wives as he could handle, and politely declined. Jim turned beet red when he realized what he'd done. "You taught him that one, didn't you?" Blair grinned. "Now I know what my Daddy meant when he told me that if you had someone teaching you a language, you'd better be damn sure you could trust them." //Jane?// Came the soft mental voice into her mind. //Wake for me, will you little sister?// //Qui?//
//Aye. Quite a little group you have here. This is the final selection, then?// //Aye. And I'll tell you one thing: I can just am not cut out for that alpha thing, Qui. Have a good long look.// Qui Gon Jinn examined her memories, particularly the ones she didn't know she had, having been too ill to consciencely remember them. He sighed and gently soothed her still rough edges with the Force. //Thanks. Dunno why I couldn't get those. Sith-damned things wouldn't hold still long enough to get hold of.// //The type and placement would have required outside adjustment in any case, little sister.// //Ah. Damn, I'm glad you're here. Bring me up and out, Qui, I went a little deeper than I intended.// //I noticed.// He answered dryly, if Obi had done that.... //Obi dies inside a little bit every time he disappoints you, I hope you're aware of that.// //Is it like you are with your Guide and Anchor?// //You know, for a smart man, you sure are dumb. Yes, it's just like that, only without the Triad to complicate it. You are a pairing, so I suggest you accept it before you tear that kid apart. Hurt him long enough, and he'll do something drastic meant to get your attention.// //He is a padawan.//
//He's also a teenager.// She sat up, then, and glared at him. //Hormonally imbalanced since he's literally cell-soup right now, emotionally chaotic, which is perfectly normal in a 16-year-old male human, and energetic to the point of impossible. He needs to be allowed to play, Qui. Jedi Master you may be, but there's still alot that seems to go right over your head.// He paused, then shook himself and sighed. //Don't even go there, Qui. What happened with Xan was a failing of HIS not your's. Put bluntly, you were used by a coniving little brat of a boy. He fed you what you needed so he could get his own way. That's all. That happens to a lot of people. Get over it and grow up, will you? Obi needs you, we need you, and there are several hundreds of millions of people who are going to die if you can't get over yourself. And I mean die slowly, over time, as the Sith kill off hope and leave emptiness in it's place. I don't mean a phyical death, I mean Soul-Death. Is that what you want?// //Hell no!//
//Well? You best to get past it, then. Because the way you are right now, you are STILL allowing Xan to use you. He will continue to be able to use you until you stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with the business of living.// He stared at her, //You don't miss a damned thing, do you?// //Not when it concerns someone I care about.// She heaved herself to her feet.//We need to get back to the cave. Oh, before I forget...how is the other team managing with those House Elves?" "They took them aboard ship last night." He asnwered aloud now. "And immediately were treated to a good example of the "Maybe" assessment." "And?"
"Yoda is shipping out in a fast scout to meet them on the way in. They actually pleaded for his assistance in the matter." She chuckled unkindly. "He needs a challenge, anyway. He's starting to get fat and lazy." Qui Gon laughed, hard and long and loud. Obi Wan was staring at his master in shock. Jane grinned and put one arm around the youngster's waist and the other one around Jinn's. //Relax, kid. He's gotta loosen up or he's gonna break instead of bend.// She told Obi on a tight line. //So I want you to get into mischief. We have several Force Sensitive children here, some your age and some not. You get to know them. None are under jedi disapline. They learned a different path, but it's Lightside. You can feel free to 'trade' styles with them, if you like. Just get rid of some of that energy thru play. You need to loosen up, too, baby-boy.// //But my Master expects...//
//I'll handle Qui, Obi. I have for years. Did you know he's my brother?// //Whaaa?//
//Oh yes. Same parents. He is my oldest sibling. Which pretty much means I can say and do things, get things done, that noone else can get away with.// She grinned. //I'll even teach you how to tease the devil out of him, and get away with it.// He gave her a blinding grin.
"What did you tell him?" Qui groaned.
"You'll find out. Eventually."
"Jaaane...."
"Whaaat....?"
He groaned again. "You're gonna do what you did with Sarsia, aren't you?" "Oh yes. Most certainly. You are not God, Qui. It's time he understands that. You most certainly have feet of clay." Then she started tickling him, hard. Two seconds later, Obi had joined in and they both nailed the by then helplessly laughing Qui Gon. He had not one shred of dignity left by the time she stopped and motioned for Obi to step away. The boy was happy, laughing, and loving it. Qui was on his hands and knees in the dirt, gasping for breath, still giggling occaisionally, and twitching some five minutes later. "Jane, damn it sis...shit." He rolled to his side. "Damn it, it's been a long time. Too long." He panted. "Forgot how good it felt just to be loved." "Yeah, I noticed. Well, bro, I'm gonna remind you, and make sure Obi knows how to keep you reminded." "Uh oh. Damn...now I know I'm in trouble." He cast mournful eyes at his smug sister and grinning padawan. "Gimmie a hand up." "Uh, Obi? Don't do that. It's a trick." "SIS!"
"See?"
"Yes ma'am." He kept out of Qui's arm's length. "Did you just call me "Ma'am"? She glared at her brother. "Oh crap, now I'm in for it!" He lunged to his feet and pulled Obi behind him. "Come on, padawan. Hurry...she hates being called ma'am...oh HELL!" He stopped and looked over his shoulder at the wet blob in the middle of his back..."Padawan, what did she throw?" "Uh...you don't want to know, master. Really. Trust me on this." Qui could smell it, though and groaned. "Pasture Pie? How very...mature..." "Exactly. Besides, you aren't a Jedi to me. To me, you're just my brother. That makes you fair game, Qui. Actually, is river clay,and that's just as bad." "Why?"
"Oh, you'll see..." She said as she rubbed more into his hair. He noticed she was using the Force to make sure none of it touched her. He suddenly had a bad feeling about that clay. "Sis....?"
"Yup."
"Oh hell!"
"Yup. Just in time to meet everybody, too. Oh and Qui? They're ALL your new IN-LAWS." He moaned in mock dismay, but his eyes were twinkling.

Qui Gon blinked at the large number of people and assorted strange animals that were approaching. For him to think they were strange, it had to go some. After all, he'd been in some of the seediest cantinas in space--he KNEW from strange. "Jane, ALL of them?" Jane nodded happily. "That, brother, is the largest contingency you're likely to see in one place of Guides, Sentinels, Anchors, and Mages--at least any time soon." "But ALL of them?"
"A couple of the kids--no. Or at least they haven't manifested yet. And the tall, lugubrious looking dude is a simple wizard." She elbowed him. "Who is a little full of himself and his 'magic'." Qui Gon cocked an eyebrow. "Doesn't know about The Force, eh?" Jane shook her head. "And having him learn about it in a short, sharp manner wouldn't hurt my feelings any." Introductions were made all around. The two Jedi were amused to find that at least one of the Clan members felt she knew them from movies and stories in her own universe. "I'm glad to see we got the young version of you, Obi Wan. I have nothing but respect for Sir Alec, but Ewan McGregor is a babe and a half." Obi Wan eyed the very tall, very POSSESSIVE looking man hovering behind her. "Is this a wise discussion to have with your husband right here?" She shrugged. "I talk--he knows that. He also knows that I don't touch." She cocked her head. "Well, except my OTHER husband." Obi Wan blinked. "And you can't tell me you haven't run into polygamous societies in other worlds." "Yes, but usually it's multiple wives, single husbands." "So we're progressive. Love the braid." He fingered it, thinking that this tribe must attach a great deal of significance to hair, judging from the amount of it on display. Though most of the men were clean shaven, the one who DID sport facial hair had a formidable crop, and a number of the Clan members actually had fur. "Thank you." "Tell me, are the fanfictions true? Is it really good for steering when you..." "SCRIBE!" Jim was beet red.
"Please excuse her," said Blair. "I think she's getting Jim back for eating her hair. She knows that he still gets embarrassed fairly easily around newcomers. Scribe, behave." She stuck her tongue out at him. "No need to spring to my defense," Obi Wan assured him good naturedly. "I can take care of myself." He looked at Scribe, and she suddenly shot about twenty feet up into the air. "HEY! Jane, are you sure THIS one isn't your brother? BLAIR, STOP LAUGHING! And go catch Mitri. She's running for the Polaroid, and she still has film left. I WOULD wear a damn tunic instead of pants today." "She's taking it remarkably well," commented Qui Gon. The glowing green cat woman shrugged. Her speech was a little sibilant, but Qui Gon made it out. "Thisss isssn't NEARRRLY the weirrrdesssst thing to everrr happen to herrrrr." Harry, who had followed Mitri, came panting back, waving his broomstick. "I got the camera away from her and gave it to Roy," he informed them. "Can I go up and get her, Jim? Please? Everyone is here to supervise." Jim looked at Obi Wan. He was obviously torn between laughing and yelling. It was a strange situation, but it was clear that the grinning young man meant his mate no harm. "You can try, Harry." As the boy eagerly threw a leg over his broomstick and started upward, Jim called, "Scribe, I've TOLD you that your mouth gets you into trouble." "Tell me something I'm interested in hearing, Ellison." Harry was hovering in mid-air beside her. "Nice ride, kid. Seems to me it could be kind of painful, considering where that broomstick lies. I never COULD figure out how boys rode those bicycles without the dip." "Just climb on board, and I'll have you down in a tick." She sighed. "God, you're so young and optimistic. I'll try." She swung a leg over the broomstick, mounting up behind him. "Now, hang on to me tightly."
"Sweetie, I'm not sure that's such a good idea." "Safety," he said firmly. "It's the first thing we learn in broomstick riding class. You really ought to have a safety belt, as new as you are." "Okay, I'll hang on to you, but you're going to regret it. Trust me." She took a firm hold around Harry's waist. He directed the broomstick down. It went. Harry and Scribe, however, remained up in the air. The broom had slithered from Harry's grasp before he realized what was going on, and now it thumped to the ground directly in front of Snape. He raised a sardonic look to where Potter was dangling in Scribe's arms. The woman had an amused, long-suffering look on her face. "I did try to warn him. I could feel that my weight hadn't settled on the broom." Jim was chuckling. "Okay, that's enough. Bring them down, Obi Wan." "No need." Snape tossed a superior glance at the two Jedi as he pulled his wand from his robes. "I'll retrieve the reluctant aviators." Obi Wan looked at Qui Gon, and silent communication passed between them. The younger Jedi's smile spread into a grin as he folded his arms, waiting. Snape waved the wand. "Descendus." Nothing happened. He frowned, and repeated the spell. An insect that resembled a hand sized dragonfly dropped like a stone to flutter around his feet in confusion. Qui Gon drawled, "I hope you don't intend to be that abrupt with them." Snape frowned, then tried something else. The wave was a little more elaborate this time. "Subtractus elevatia." Nothing. "I don't understand this." He shoved his robe's sleeves back up his forearms. "Right. No mucking about now." He spread his arms and intoned. "ACCIO!" "Whoa!" Scribe and Harry jerked in mid-air, but stayed up. "Damn it, Severus, do ya think you could be a little rougher if you TRIED? I almost dropped him." "That's enough," said Qui Gon.
He hadn't needed to tell Obi Wan. The moment someone was endangered, it ceased to be all right. He lowered the woman and boy, slowly and gently. He smiled at them. "No hard feelings?" Harry beamed. "Are you joking? That was BRILLIANT!" Scribe shrugged. "What's a little levitation between friends? Come on in. You haven't met everyone yet. Ben, Stan, and Dennis are still honeymooning, and most of the babies had to stay in the cave, because they have colds." As they started toward the cave, Jane was still chortling, eyeing a very miffed Snape with glee. Scribe said to Qui Gon, "So, you sent the house elf kits off with Yoda?" He nodded. "If I remember correctly, they're at t heir clumsiest and most disaster prone when they're trying to be helpful, and they're the most helpful creatures around." He nodded again, smiling. "I'd pay to see that."

"Master Yoda, you have to DO something! One of them was trying to make you tea, and he set fire to the galley. I don't know how the hell he managed it, because everything is supposed to be fire-proof, but he DID it." Yoda sighed, putting a hand over his eyes. "And then we lost a roomful of equipment when one of them opened an air lock. Said she wanted to 'put out the trash'. I'll never know HOW the hell she managed to hang on to that grid till we got it closed up again, but we can now safely say that complete lack of oxygen doesn't damage them." Yoda sat down wearily.
"Then the third one insisted on doing the laundry. Every single article of clothing the crew has is now PINK, and that color has DISTINCT significance on the planet we're scheduled to have shore leave on. The crew memebers who AREN'T bi are severely pissed off." Yoda shook his head slowly. "Going crazy I am. A lot to answer for, has Qui Gon." His eyes squeezed half-shut in suspicion. "Or have I just been Janed?" "Did you hear that inquiry?" Qui asked his sister quietly. "Yup. Gonna let him stew, though."
"I have no idea how you managed to graduate." "Told a lot of lies, brother mine. And I'm better at making event arrangements than you'll ever be. Yoda found that out the hard way, years ago. He's safer with me in the field and out of the Temple and he knows it." "You mean he was safer."
"Well, yeah. Now he's got elves."
"Best part is, it could well take every active master to contain the little shits, and since there's only one of me, it's actually logical to send them to HQ." Qui mused. "Holy YODA'S UNDERDRAWERS! YUCK!" Obi yelled, Force shoving two large herbivores away from him but not before one of them had liberally smeared slobber all over the side of his face. Qui intervened, "suggesting" to the over friendly creatures that they were hungry. They wandered off without a fuss. "Eeeeewww!!!" Obi said in disgust. "Hmmm, you must be over sixteen; they don't scent-mark a body younger than that." Jane grinned. "Makes you the oldest child here, Obi. She scooped something up from the floor. "I don't care if Qui likes it or not, here. You are padawan to my brother and that makes you my family too. Here's a birthing-day gift. The Council knows me, so once they know who you got him from they won't give you a problem." She handed him a wolf's cub from the newest litter. The little male was three months old, and a silver-gray that matched Qui's hair. Obi mentioned that and Qui shot him a sharp look. "Don't say it, and don't think it." She hissed. "He's of the age of concent, and if he wants you as much as I think he does, and needs assistance in getting you, I'll make sure he gets it, big brother. Leave the matchmaking to me. You're rotten at it." "But..."
"You gonna take what happened with Xan out on Obi? He doesn't know I can kick your ass, but I'm more than willing to show him. And I won't stop when you start to stumble." "JANE!"
"Hey, like I said earlier. To Me you are nothing more important than my brother and if I think you need your tight little tail stuffed between your shoulder blades, I will make sure I get the job done." She paused, hands on her hips, to stare up at her tall brother. "And you know it!" "Empty hands."
"Of course, don't wanna hurt ya."
He groaned when he saw Obi staring at him like he'd grown a second head. "Master?" "Yes, I'm afraid so, padawan. I'm afraid so. But she's my sister so what can I do?" "Um...take it?" Scribe sniped at him.
He groaned again.
"Hey, Qui. Chill. Just let it happen. What will be, will be. Ain't you figured that out yet? Come on." She yanked him along toward the hearth. "You got four nephew and a niece to meet." "Five kids? Damn it, girl!"
"Five kids in under three years. You remember my mates, right? Obi, Roy's the best daddy in the cave and will act in that capacity for you while you and Qui are here. John is an excellant playmate." "Hey!" John laughed. "Obi, I've made a sleeping place for you over here. Qui, here's your's." "Rather open, isn't it?"
"Yup, and you'll just have to get used to hearing us have fun at night. Be better for both of you if you let that bond take." Obi Wan gaped at her. "How'd you know?" "Please. Do you really think I could kick his ass without being quite capable in Force Manipulation?" She just looked at him. "What are the teachers these days coming to? Shit, you never used to be so damned anal!" "JANE!"
"Well, you are!"
"FORCE, you never did learn how to pull a punch, did you?" "Oh, I can. But why bother? I've really missed you, Qui. I can say anything to you and you said that's what big brothers are for..." She saw his face soften. "You're right. We are." He sighed. "You're going to drive Yoda batty, aren't you?" "Nope, gonna let those three baby elves do it for me." "You Janed him, didn't you?"
"Hmmm, could be." She grinned at Qui, I sure hope so. I'd hate to think that much planning fell flat." Obi burst out laughing, he laughed until he got a belly ache, couldn't see through the tears in his eyes, and couldn't breathe through his stopped up nose."You know he deserved it, what with his constant plotting." "What goes around, comes around?"
"Exactly."
"So, this is payback for the Incident." "Ohhh yeah. Well, it's part of the payback." Qui stared at her in dread. "WHAT?"
Did you know that Yoda's race is genetically compatible with House Elves? Did you know I stuck an extra elf on that ship? Or that it's a female in heat?" "Oh Force...sweet, sweet FORCE!" Qui began to swear loudly and luridly. "Tiny, destructive hybrid yodas running all over the Temple? Oh no...." "Bet you're glad you're here instead, huh?" You better damned well believe it! Oh SHIT that's gonna be a mess!" "At least we don't have to either deal with it or clean up after it, Master." Qui Gon Jinn suddenly developed a most un-Jedi expression of glee on his face as he considered that, grinned at his giggling padawan, and sat down on his bedding to watch as his sister started supper. "Well, now. That is a good notion. We do, after all, have a job to do here. Can't just go haring off, can we, my Obi Wan?" "No master. I guess we'll just have to miss this one." "Undoubtedly."
Then they both busted out laughing as Yoda's thoughts were projected to them. Uncontrolled Chaos was the overall theme. Yoda Felt exhausted. He also informed them, with a mean snarl, that he had ordered the Council to assist him in the care of and control attempts of those lovable kids that had been wished on him." Qui cut the connection, shielding to hide his laughter. "Oh boy, Yoda won't forget reality again real soon. Damn!" In Space
"Master Yoda?"
Yoda groaned, turning over in his little sleep niche. "Sleep I must. Handle problems, YOU must." The Crewman Reynolds twitched. "Believe me, if it was just the usual crap, I wouldn't bother you. We're getting pretty good at handling the house elf situation, though it would be a lot easier if you'd just let us stuff them in a storage locker till we landed and could hand them off." "Cruel that would be."
"Look, when it comes down to survival, sometimes you can't be the perfect host. Anyway, it isn't the three little ones who are the problem right now--it's the female." Yoda frowned. The three house elf kits were named Bucket, Plimsole, and Modesse (he had a mental image of a woman with impossibly golden hair swatting a large, chuckling, green glowing cat for some reason, every time he heard that name. It was as if it held some significance)--two boys, and a girl. "But a tiny little girl she is, not even up to your knee." "Not that one--the OTHER one. We have a stowaway." This would have to be dealt with. While they were no longer at the stage in space flight where one unexpected passenger could change dangerously change the logistics of the flight, it still had to be dealt with. Yoda reluctantly got up. "Where is this one?" Reynolds led the shuffling Jedi master out into the hall. "Someone had put her into a personel locker, aparently after giving her some sort of sedative, or something. She's been sleeping peacefully, up until a few minutes ago. Then..." He rolled his eyes. "Hooo, boy." "Frightened, is she?"
"No, that's not the problem. I'd say she's angry." There was a clang from up ahead. "Make that pissed." They could hear a high pitched screeching, and the crewman winced. "Crap. I had a Siamese cat once who sounded like that a few days every month till we got her fixed." Crewman Toliver and Crewman Booj came flying out of the room up ahead, wide-eyed. "I wouldn't go in there," Booj advised. "Sure, she's short--but so is a wolverine." "Poor thing is frightened, yes," said Yoda sympathetically. The crewmen all exchanged looks. Finally Toliver said, "He's not going to believe us unless he sees it himself. Yoda, just LISTEN, will you? Let us lock the door and leave her in there till we land and get reinforcements. We can pipe soup under the door to feed her." The screeching voice had become a little easier to understand. "My time! My time, and here I am! Poor Teacup! No sweet house elf to cuddle. All alone, all alone. Except for GREAT HULKING HUMAN MUGGLES! What use? Tree trunk to keyhole that would be, and I'm desperate, but not stupid, I ain't. Poor Teacup. No kits for Teacup." The voice rose in a howl. "Muggle come back and maybe Teacup scratch you down to size!" Yoda handed his walking stick to one of the crewmen. "Think I am armed, she must not. Wait. I will calm her." He walked into the room. Again the men exchanged looks. "I REALLY don't think he knows what he's doing," said Toliver. "Hey," said Reynolds, "have you ever tried to second guess a senior Jedi master if you don't have The Force? It's easier to get a brick wall to notice you." A metal cup flew over Yoda's head, narrowly missing one large ear. "Miss, calm down you must." The little creature, not quite as tall as he was, had its back to him. He knew it was female from the assurances of the crewman, and the voice DID have a slightly feminine tremor, but otherwise the scrawny body clad in the shapeless rag looked fairly sexless. The hair WAS long, falling over narrow shoulders in lank brown locks to swirl around where the waist should have been. Yoda blinked a little, realizing that the creature's ears were as large and floppy as his own. He felt an odd stir that he hadn't felt for several centuries, but quickly ignored it, since he had a duty to fulfil. The elf was stamping and muttering in a language that Yoda didn't recognize, but he was fairly sure that it was swearing--very unladylike language. "Go away big hulking useless Muggle. Unless you are wizard boy and can make yourself my size, you no use to me!" "Not a Muggle I am, Teacup. Want to help, I do." Teacup whirled, and Yoda blinked. There HAD been a tiny jiggle of movement under the loose shift, so she WAS definitely female. She also had absolutely huge, moist, dark eyes. Yoda had a tiny nose and mouth himself, and he found the house elf's proud beak of a probiscus and wide, thin mouth oddly compelling. Teacup stopped in mid-swear and stared at the squat, handsome, MALE, and sexy creature before her. Her wide mouth stretched in a smile that seemed to go half-around her head, and she batted almost non-existant eyelashes. "Ooo," she crooned. "Green house elf." Yoda looked to either side, puzzled. When he looked back, Teacup was slinking toward him, licking her lips. "Um... Miss, elf I am not." "Caring I am not." She pounced. "Fit you will!" CLANG!
Booj winced as the howling and screeching, now in sopranno as well as falsetto, started up. "Reynolds, are you SURE we should be doing this?" "Trust me--I remember from my cat. Sex is the ONLY thing that's going to shut her up and make us even marginally safe. Besides," the sounds were more enthusiastic than upset now, "Maybe Master Yoda won't be such a tightass, once he's gotten laid."
Sentinel Evolutions, Chapter 8, Jane #6 Qui Gon had forgotten what a handful his sister could be, and was trying very hard not to laugh while she outlined Yoda's comeuppance. He felt a little guilty for telling her how much advantage the council had been taking of himself and Obi. He'd given her a brief history of the last several years, but she had then hauled his padawan off to some sort of game the other kids were playing. While his attention was on something else, she had grilled him in a way that he hadn't realized what she was doing. Now his little sister was bent on making her displeasure at the way he'd been treated known in an unmistakable and lasting fashion. "And you see," She continued to explain, "they will each be so "helpful" that each "infant" will cause as much mischief as all the other Padawans, combined. Yes, I said other Padawans. Can you see the Council allowing creatures with that much control over the Force to go untrained and unchecked? Considering how much sheer power House Elves have, the Darkside is in serious trouble." <>
"Well, considering how clumsy they are, so is the Temple, but at least the Jedi's will have a chance to learn how to see trouble coming and know when to duck, dodge, or just flat run to get out of the way...." He was appalled as he listened to her tell him just exactly what else she'd arranged for, as she put it, "Mr. Great Grand Master Jedi Yoda" and she said it in the most disrespectful tone of voice possible. "And it's a breeding heat. He's going to be a new daddy...and won't that set the Jedi Council on it's collective ear! The Gestation period of female elves is a scant two weeks, after all, they aren't just Force Sensitive, elves are Force BEINGS. There's big difference, ya know. They can have litters of up to 30 babies." She told her horrified brother. "Yoda's ship is still gonna be several weeks away from the relative safety of the Temple when she gives birth. And baby House Elves are capable of running and getting into trouble within days of birth...Yoda is going to find himself in all sorts of trouble via his offspring. He won't be so staid and stuff after this particular trip. Exhausted but not so anal." She finished with a great deal of personal satisfaction. "I'll teach that little green shit not to mess with my brother!" "Oh my. Gods of Our Childhood, this is just...." Qui finally desolved into laughter. There just wasn't anything else to do. It was done. "Little girl, mama would've whipped your ass so hard...." "No, she wouldn't. After you left father was so mad he...." She broke it off, paling a little and refused to look at him. Nor could he get to tell her what their father had done. She left the hearth leaving him to stare after her. A hand touched his shoulder and he looked into the dark-haired man's eyes, seeing the deep soul that lay there. "There's some things you need to know, Qui Gon." And John quietly told him what his father had done to his sister. "She finally got found in a search when she was twelve, and matters proceeded normally enough after that. She said you had your hands full with that Xan boy, and as far as she could tell, you didn't even know she was a padawan. I think you know how that made her feel." John paused, then said, "She wants her brother back." Qui had gone as still and as quiet as a stone, sitting without any motion at all until Obi, drawn by his master's distress ran into the Cave. The bond was wide open, and Obi got the details immediately. "Oh Force...oh my poor master...." Obi breathed in compassion as he pulled the older Jedi into his strong young arms and simply rocked his master gently for a long time. John watched for a while, monitoring them both until Jinn seemed to snap out of it, the Jedi seemed to have aged five years in thirty minutes. "She's fine, Qui. Now. Just...try not to hurt my wife again, will you. She always thinks it her own fault. And she takes it to heart." "I was pretty well ruled by my crotch, in those days." He said soberly, at last. "My judgement of Xanatos was not good, and everyone knew it except me. I like to think I've done a better job this time." "Oh master, I swear to you..." Obi started, then saw the sad, proud smile on his master's face as the Jedi shushed him. "I know, she's already chewed my ass on the subject. And she's right." He snorted, "She usually is." He looked up at Gage, "She never told me about our...sire." "No. She doesn't speak of it. Ever, not even to me and Roy." "Do you know why?"
"No, but she told us once that you would. Some reference to living and time." "Living in the Moment. Yes." He relaxed against Obi's chest. "Again, she is right." "Master?"
"It's time to start practicing what I teach, Obi. You are not Xan and I shouldn't act as though I think you're going to act like he did. And she did threaten to kick my ass if I didn't stop using the whole incident to feel sorry for myself. She's correct. Self-pity and the Jedi Way do not mix." "It's about time!" The boy exclaimed, hugging Qui hard. Then , just to change the mood, Obi himself applied recent lessons taught to him by his master's sister, and began to tickle the tar out of Qui Gon Jinn.

Sentinel Evolutions, Chapter 8, Jane #6b Qui let it go on for a while, but Obi didn't know all of his sister's tricks to keep him from accessing the Force, so he ended it himself when his ribs were sore from laughing. Obi wasn't too startled to find himself shoved gently to one side, but he grinned when he realized that his master had been unable to stop him without using the Force. He said so, too, laughing in delight. Qui Gon chuckled at his grinning padawan, admitting this. "Master, with a human opponent...is there any remote possibility that tickling could...be considered a weapon?" He trailed off at the started expression on his elder's face. "Let me consider that, padawan. It never occurred to me, frankly. But you could have something, there." He had a weird look on his face as he considered it. "Force could be used to do the tickling from a safe distance...particularly for an enemy who has done no wrong, is only afraid of you and fights only because of that fear. This could save someone from an avoidable and undeserved death or maiming at our hands " He smiled broadly at his padawan. "At times like this, you make me so proud that you are my padawan, Obi Wan." He said quietly. "Oh master," The boy breathed, his face lighting up at the rare praise. Qui was ashamed of himself, he seldom told Obi how he felt, and the startled happiness pained him because it was startled. "Come here, padawan." He told Obi and enfolded the lad in his arms for a hug when his apprentice obeyed. "My sister's going to have my hide when she figures out what I've done to you, padawan." "What do you mean, when?" Her voice sounded behind him. "I'll deal with that later, though. Qui, I hate to say this, but I'm about to put you to work. Officially."

He looked up at her sharply. "There aren't very damned many things that are bad enough to make you say that to me. What's wrong?" "There's a non-sentient lifeform here that finds the young of any species tasty, for one thing. Qui, have you noticed the ages of my children? The first four were by C-section and Annie is only a couple of months old. We don't have medi-droids, Qui, so the surgery method was more than a little barbaric. I'm not physically capable of dealing with it. I'm sorry but I'm not. I'm mostly healed, but I'm still a long way from having my endurance back. OBI would have a better chance of handling the current situation than I would, regardless of inexperience, simply because he's healthy. That's one thing, the other thing is, I got rather sick trying to handle all of the details by myself, and handle so many alphas at the same time, especially since I'm NOT an alpha, and my strength was predictably sapped from that, too. To be blunt, we may both be Jedi, but you're healthy, and I'm not. Plus, you're my brother. Bond of Blood or Bond of Calling, would you tell me no?" He blanched. "Of course not! Damn it, how could you think I..." He stared at her. "Got suckered into the position of Senior Master, didn't I?" She grinned at him. "Thanks, bro. Hope the senior shit includes hugs, this time. You forgot, before." He knew she was thinking of her years in the Temple and knew he'd hurt her. "Force, I am so sorry, little one." "Nah, he wouldn't have understood, hellfires, Qui, I knew that then. Why do you think I didn't just cave in your door once I knew how?" "Cave in the door?"
"Master or not, you're still just my brother. I tell Yoda that and you can bet your sweet ass I'd've got away with it." She grinned a good bit. "And he'd've reamed you a new ass for ignoring me like that. Good thing I read you that good, huh?" He sighed, she was right and he knew it. "Um...I sent a message to the Council requesting Masters for the other kids. Even Mitri since being Shaman trained, her Force Signature is rather distinctive. Neither she nor the children from the Wizard school are aware that it's the Force they've been using, and not Magick at all. I also asked for the Master's sent to be simple Jedis. Just knights, not like you or that hooligan you used to run with." "Hooligan? Oh! Mace!" He grinned at her. "Hooligan, indeed. And what of his opinion when I report that nickname to him?" "And what of his response to you when he says, "Oh Shit! Is your sister still calling me that?" "You didn't?"
"Wanna bet?"
"Oh damn. No wonder he kept referring to disrespectful names and frowning at me." "He's your year mate, by definition..." "Hey!"
"Wait til I tattle on you to Obi."
"HEY!"
"Tattle?" Obi's head came up and he stared at the siblings one at a time. "Master doesn't do bad things." "Not anymore, but I can tell tales of his padawanship that will curl your hair, Obi. Or for that matter, stuff he got into before he got searched. Like that time with the hertisiwis eggs...." "Gods..."
"Or that time when you and Lin Cui Matthewson got into Mrs. Forester's...." "Enough!" Qui Gon yelped. "Enough!"
He heard "Obi Giggles" as he protested the tale-bearing and sighed. "Who has the information on the baby-eaters?" "That would be Ellison. I turned over Clan Leadership to him months ago, once he'd been properly housebroken." "I HEARD THAT, STREETER!" Jim hollered across the cave. "Was counting on it, Jim. Wanna join this pow-pow or are you gonna just sit there?" "I get no respect, none. She picks on me, constantly." Jim said by way of greeting to Qui. "You mean you didn't know?"
"Know what?"
"She only picks on people she really likes a lot." If she tends to give you your way all or most of the time, she not only likes you, she sees you as both vulnerable and precious." Jim froze and stared at Jane, who shrugged. "Fannie knows that, she could have informed you at any time." "She didn't." Jim thought for a moment. "She never contradicts Blair anymore. Ever." "Well, then. Picks on you and allows your husband free rein. She must love you both a great deal." Jim turned to look at her, but she had already slipped away to deal with issues that she had not handed over to the older Jedi. "Why'd she leave?" "She is not comfortable with what she terms "Mush". " Qui answered quietly. "Every time she picks on you, though, she's telling you she cares. Keep it in mind. It can take years to get her to let you in, but the wait is worth it." "She's just like you, isn't she, Master?" Qui looked down at Obi's wonder-filled face. "In a way, I suppose. I don't pick as much, though." "When I've been your padawan for enough years, will you let me in?" Obi Wan asked wistfully. Hot tears suddenly gathered behind Jinn's eyes as his apprentice revealed his lonely wait with that simple question. He hadn't meant to hurt the boy. "You're already in, Obi. You're already in." "I am?" Obi looked surprised.
//Shit, what the hell have I been doing to my padawan?// He wondered. //No wonder she was all over my case!// He put it aside for the moment, though and began to question Jim on the subject of the baby-eaters. "Ah, yes. The K`Rach is what the natives call the beasts," Jim began as he started to tell Qui what little they knew of the creatures. "The 'K' in the language means that something is alive, Rach apparently means wicked or evil. My wife and husband are better at the language than I am." "So, living wickedness or living evil." "They sound like Sith, master." Obi said with a shiver. Qui rubbed the teenager's back in silent comfort, but addressed Ellison. "Have you sent anyone to check them out yet." "No, not yet. The children have colds and there's nothing like sick toddlers to keep adults busy enough to require all available hands. He went pinch-faced at the thought of the extra smelly diapers he'd been changing lately. "I'm glad you're kin to her, though, Qui. It means she won't let you out of your turn on Baby Detail."

"This, believe, I do not." Yoda muttered as his ship docked at the Temple with twenty-two children bouncing off every structure of the ship. Twenty five, counting the slightly older three. He found himself remembering the night the House Elf had rocked his world. "Force-strong I am, but not so strong as she. "With very little sense, a being of Force, she is. And no more so, the younglings do have. Live this down, I shall not." The Grand Master sighed in resignation as his children bounced down the gangplank and into the waiting hands of an equal number of un-partnered Jedae. (Plural) Force put the youngsters in close to the new masters, many being Masters but not all. Several were merely powerful Knights. In the ten minutes it took to walk to the Temple itself, bonds had already formed due, Yoda suspected, to the fact that the Force was very much aware of the doings at the Temple where so many accessed it continually. It apparently did not wish so many younglings so able to manipulate it at so young an age to go unmonitored any longer than the minimum period of time possible. The fact that the Force had attached one of the little males of the original trio to Yoda himself made the little green master sigh. Shortly after entering the building, Mace found himself with the other male and a very surprised Bant got to watch as the little female darted into the Master's Mess hall to survey the "Pickings".
Before any of them had really registered her presence she had picked one out for herself and the training bond flared brightly between herself and the startled Master she had chosen. He was an experienced Master, though, and recognized it instantly. He smiled down at the little Elvess in reassurance. "Well, little one. This was unexpected, but a bond that attaches at that speed is Force Chosen. I will not contest it. I will be your Master." She cocked her head and looked up at him, sensing a difference in the way this man meant the term 'master' and the way those who had enslaved her ancestors had meant the word. She had no shields yet, and every knight in the mess hall heard her. Including her horrified new master. He lifted her to his lap immediately and reassured her. Then he got Elven history from her, and she got a solid wave of reassurances from every adult in the room. She knew what an apprentice was, and she liked the fact that the term Master was indeed different in this nice place. That was born in on her quickly, as he obtained clothes for her immediately. But no amount of warning could have helped the newest padawans' masters prepare for the Elven-Style Hell Week. The gardens had never felt Elf Touch, and the health and growth the touch of an Elf imparted. In minutes the unchecked Flow of Force created a jungle in each Meditation Garden, the Agro-Gardens tripled their production, and the two Pleasure Gardens had sprouted fragrant flowers on plants thought to be long dormant. The Kitchens produced masterworks for the Elven padawans' master's table, for the instinct to serve was strong in the House Elf blood, and they prepared out of love what had been demanded from them in contempt on Earth. Leaving the kitchens in shambles and the regular cooks nearly in tears, when they finally departed. They attempted to clothe their chosen Jedi richly, which their masters refused. So they made sure, instead that the dull-hued cloth was of the finest materials. On that issue they would not be budged, claiming that anything less would shame them. Every Jedi in the Temple found themselves possessed of a pet. A very special pet. One that would act as backup for those who had partners and solid defense to those who did not. Ridged-Backed Mini-Dragons were wise not to anger, and were quickly identified as developing sentiments. Close to real sentience in fact, that the Jedi were needed to oversee the process anyway. Particularly since, according to the pureblood trio, they had been hunted for their hides nearly to extinction. All that remained were those who had been paired with the Jedi. With some misgivings, the pairings were allowed.

Jim, Qui, Snape and Ben had gone out to have a good look at the K`Rach horde, each studying different details of the predators prey, weaknesses, strengths, habits and social order. They looked for sick or ill animals and Qui tested them for any trace of sentience. Finding none, he finally nodded. "Animals, all of them. Neither sentience nor developing sentience do I sense." "That makes planning and execution of those plans much easier on heart and soul." Jim commented. "True. At least there won't be a war over this." "Oh? That was said in the tone of a man who would know what it feels like to be the unwilling pawn or cause of more than one. Jane gets that way, sometimes." "I am a Jedi." Was all Qui said in response. "Yeah, well you're also a human being, so stop selling tickets on yourself, will ya?" "You don't waste words, do you?"
"Not often, no. I got screwed once and that was enough." "How so?"
"Ask Blair or Scribe. Like Jane, there are things I don't discuss. Actually, haven given my oath not to, I can't, now can I? I was a soldier, and like any mission gone bad, my superiors had it classified." Jim shrugged. "Ah." This time the tone was of complete understanding. Their eyes met and both men nodded. "Do we have what we need?" Fraiser asked, taking in nods all around. "Then shall we return?" He asked of the Jedi. "I wish to check on my Guide. He is not the most secure person, and tends to try to cover that with sarcasm. I hope Ray has been able to cope." "Indeed," Snape said with feeling. "He is more sarcastic and has a sharper tongue than myself at my worse." "It is fear of being hurt." And Benton explained, with Jim filling in details when the hurt closed Benny's throat. The other two men listened in compassion, and nodded when everything had been said. "I will be wary of what we say and do, and leave his recovery in the hands of his mate." Snape told him. "And I shall assist with the Force where I may." Qui Gon added in quiet reassurance. "We'll get him past it and into the happiness of a healthy soul."
Obi was trading training with Harry, Ron, Draco and Herminone. The Witchblooded children were stunned at not having to be dependent on wands to focus with and were excitedly experimenting when a transport landed to deliver several Jedae to the planet surface. When the Jedae approached, Obi bowed low in respect. "My master is with the men of the Cave, observing the predators called K`Rach. They are not yet returned. My master's sister is in the Cave, masters." "Sister? Qui Gon's sister is here? Oh crap!" Muttered one youngish knight. He sighed and turned his attention to the waiting children. One by one each Jedi Knight or Master Jedi offered his hand to one child, until only Harry and the knight who had spoken remained. They looked each other over for a moment, then the thirty-five-year-old Knight Haron-Ki held his hand out the distrustful Harry. "Come, padawan. I will not harm you. And there is a very great deal for you to learn." But it was Ron who told his master why Harry was so distrustful and therefore it was Master Lui-Bei who told Haron-Ki what the problem was. Haron-Ki knew that having already been betrayed several times, Harry would not be easily fooled by the Dark Side of the Force or by those who served it. But that would also make the training bond imperative. He, Heron-Ki, must be trusted, after all, or the boy would learn little.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the same planet, but not too far away?

TW crept out of the bushes, shaken and scared, her tiger pressed close to her side. Behind them, Carter and Malucci, with their animals, crept just as silently. They?d all witnessed the horrors of the K?Rach, though they hadn?t stayed around long enough to know that that?s what they were called, and were more than willing to go home. They?d only just now found their way to the place they?d been transported to when they had first arrived on the planet.

TW, being the boldest, was the one who yelled towards the sky. "Get us off this godforsaken planet!! We can?t stand it any more. I can?t stand it any more!!"

The response, however, didn?t come from a source that the distraught woman expected.

Plette was the one who spoke. Or thought, since tigers can?t speak.

TW sputtered. "How?wh-who?er?what?huh?" she finally finished intelligently.

<>

Dave finally caught up with TW, carrying Ned, since the little platypus, though fast enough in water, couldn?t keep up on land. Carter followed seconds later, carrying Bugs for similar reasons. And were treated to the sight of their mate crumpling to the ground in tears.

"TW, honey, what is it?" asked Carter in alarm.

"We?I?that is?" her words were punctuated by sobs and gasps as she attempted to speak through her tears. Malucci figured it out before Carter. It didn?t take a whole lot of detective work, since Plette was Sitting in front of TW, tail twitching, a strange look of pity on her face, which was amusing on all on it?s own.

"We can?t go home, can we?" he whispered, settling on the ground next to his mate.

She shook her head, wiping tears away from her eyes. "No. And we have to go back. Plette's going to show us the easiest way in the morning. Apparently, we?ve been going pretty much in circles, and we aren?t all that far away. Half a day?s walk."

Both men marveled at TW?s lightning fast change of mood. Her ability in that had always astounded them.

The next morning, refreshed from a solid night's sleep, the three Core members gathered up their few possessions, decided who was going to carry which of the two spirit animals first, and set out for the cave, and their new permanent home. They just hoped it wouldn?t be too cold of a welcome.

Sentinel Evolution, Chapter 8 Scribe #6

"Jim, do you have any idea why my padawan is laughing like a lunatic?"

Jim looked up from the hopper he was skinning. "Who's he with?"

"Your wife."

"She's probably corrupting him."

Qui frowned. "I don't sense any of the Dark Side in her."

"Don't let HER hear you say that," warned Blair. He watched the couple, who were off to one, near the river. "Judging from the way she's shifting her shoulders, I'd say she's singing to him."

Qui's forehead wrinkled. "But could that be so funny?"

"You don't know the sort of songs she knows. Sometimes I really wish I could have a chance to visit her previous universe," said Jim, "If only to appreciate the relative sanity of my own."

Obi Wan was kicking weakly, tears rolling down his cheeks. He struggled to his feet and staggered over to the other men, chuckling weakly. When he plopped down beside them, Qui Gon said, "And what was so amusing?" That set him off again. Jim shook his head and carried the hopper back to their hearth to toss it into the pot for lunch. Blair sat patiently, sure that it would be worth waiting for.

Qui gave the younger man a concerned look. Blair shrugged. "The last time I had that reaction, she'd sung What Lies Beneath the Kilt to me."

Finally Obi Wan sat up, gasping, "I... I'm sorry, mah-master." giggle "She knows a song about Yoda."

Qui frowned. "Yoda is a well known and respected..." Obi Wan went into another giggle fit, and Qui Gon talked over him, "respected Jedi master, but I've never heard any ballads about him."

Blair was laughing, too. "I've heard this one! I didn't even get the cultural references to the movie characters, and Obi couldn't have gotten the musical reference to The Kinks, but it's still..." He started snickering. Finally he waved his wife over. "Do it for Qui. I can't--I'll laugh too hard."

She smiled and bowed, then started singing to a cheerful, bouncy melody. "I met him on a swamp down on Dagobah, where it bubbles all the time like a giant carbonated soda. S-O-D-A, soda. I saw the little runt sitting there on a log. I asked him his name and in a raspy voice, he said, "Yoda." Y-O-D-A, Yoda. Yo yo yo yo, Yoda..."

Qui Gon's mouth dropped open as she continued singing. Blair and Obi were rolling on the ground, helpless. Blair was right--he DIDN'T grasp a lot of the concepts, and he had no idea how Obi Wan had gotten into the song, but the total irreverence came through loud and clear. When she stopped singing, he just sat there, looking stunned. Obi was still chuckling, but he eyed Qui with disappointment. He'd hoped the song would help continue to loosen him up, be something they could share. He sighed. "You didn't like it at all?"

Scribe smiled at the young padawan. "Wait for it." Suddenly Qui Gon HOWLED, falling back on the ground. There was even a little fist pounding in there. Scribe smiled. "Never underestimate the power of Weird Al. It just takes a little longer to sink in for some people."

Qui Gon was red faced and gasping, holding his sides. "Oh... oh... oh, that is just AWFUL! Wonderful." sniff "But you know, it very neatly sums up one of our principles when it says 'stay away from the darker side, and if you start to go astray, let the Force be your giude'."

Scribe pointed at him. "If you DARE to find some deep, philosophical meaning in that, I will tell Heart that around your hearth is the new 'housebreaking' area for all the wolf pups." Jim came back out of the cave, moving rapidly, with a spear in his hands. "Uh oh. Everybody get ready to run for the cave. That's 'this could be business' if I ever saw it." Jim stopped near them, cocking his head as he listened intently. Then his expression smoothed out, and he looked at Scribe. She said, "Good news?"

"I guess it'll make you happy. I'm not sure how Jane will feel about it."

He started back toward the cave. "I hate it when you're mysterious!" she yelled.

A couple of minutes later a very sheepish looking TW, her two companions, and their spirit animals stumbled into the clearing. TW said, "Um, Scribe, look, I know I sort of flew off the handle, there, but you gotta understand that I was pretty stressed out. Anyway, I'm sorry, and I hope you won't be too mad, and we can..."

Scribe walked over and glomphed her. "Shut up, idiot. As if I settled into this thing without kicking and screaming a little." She stepped back and swatted her friend lightly. "I AM pissed with you for running off into unfamiliar territory like that. You only THINK getting stranded in a bad neighborhood at home was dangerous. You're lucky something didn't take you as a snack," she smiled at Carter and Maluci, "though I suppose those two and the tiger might have had something to say about it. C'mon back to the cave. You have people to meet."

They started back. "I thought we'd pretty much met everyone," she said.

"Oh, that was several plot twists ago. Are you familiar with Due South, Just Shoot Me, and the Harry Potter fandom?"

"Some more than others. We got some of them?"

"Among others, Benton, Stanley, and Snape." She wiggled her eyebrows.

TW squealed excitedly. Maluci and Carter exchanged looks, and sighed.yo yo yo Yoda Chapter 8 Jane #7 (NC-17 HET WARNING)

(Since this is a co-write, I see no reason not to post here, too.)

Jane looked up, sighed and nudged John. "I'm not going to say a word. Guess the planet must've introduced itself."

"That would be my bet, yeah. Come on, girl. Roy's about to be very busy...Obi can't stop laughing."

"Nuh, you're about to be very busy. Got something to show you. In the back of the second level cavern system." She hid her grin as she led John down the twisting narrow corridors. OH YEAH, she had something to show him all right. "In here."

He looked around a little cavelet that had all the appointments of a little lovenest. At a whisper of sound he turned his head in time to watch her cloak hit the floor. He smiled, "Naughty girl."

"Horny girl, big difference." She stepped toward him as he removed his shirt then his leggings. "It's been days, what with Qui and Ben's Core getting here," She sighed, "Feel how wet I am!"

He put gentle fingers into her shaved cleft, rubbing softly. "Yeah," He said hoarsely, "But why back here?"

"Qui's not quite up to having his sister have sex in what he'd view as public and Obi is really not ready for it. I don't think the Hogwart's kids are, either, for that matter." She said as he bore her to the waiting furs, covering her lithe form with his lean one. She sighed as he spread her legs to look at her dripping snatch, he made a small sound of longing, then lowered his mouth to her slot.

Johnny licked her slowly, lapping up her juices with increasing passion. His erection was full and thick as he savored his girl's flavor, but experience told him she'd been like this, ready, for too long for him to make her wait. Her undulating form called to him in a silent plea for relief. John moved over her, lined up and pushed. He heard her low moan more as a vibration than as sound and his hips began to move....

Qui Gon shuddered unexpectedly at a surge of pure joy in the Force, identified the signature as his sister's and turned bright red. //I am a Jedi! SHE is a Jedi! The fact that it's my sister who's having an orgasm has no bearing!// He scolded himself silently. It didn't help much, though. She was his baby sister!

{Shut up, QUI!} He heard in his mind and sighed.//Like she'd let me get away with that...//

{Shut UP! I bet Yoda is ready to explode and needs an ass to chew by now. Want I should ask him to discuss this with you?//

{I'm shutting, no Force NO, I'm quiet...see?}

Obi watched Qui in confusion for a moment, then comprehension lit the boy's face and he looked soberly at his master. "I guess you need that, I know I do...I don't suppose we could, um..."

Qui stared at his padawan.

Obi squirmed under the stunned gaze. "I want you, Master."

"Let me think about this, Padawan. You startled me."

"That's not what Jane said yesterday."

//Oh FORCE! SISTERS!// "Ummm..."

Yoda was ready to scream. The Temple Infirmery was in shambles all due to the efforts of his "Oh, Please, let me help, Master" offspring. The infirmery had never been so full of well dressed, well fed, cut up, bruised and concussed Jedi. The true elves were no problem now that they had masters. On the contrary, they were quite adept at all forms of Force Use they'd put their minds too, which didn't surprise the little Jedi Master. The purebloods were made from and of Force, children of the Force itself. It made sense that as their parent, it came much more easily to their hands than any other being, himself included. Yalrn, his Elven Apprentice, could do nearly anything with it. It was training clumsiness out of him that was going to take time. He was so attuned to the intangibility aspects of the Force that the physical ones were hard for Yalrn to grasp.

Yoda suspected that was the problem with his children, that, and being hybrids. New, never seen before hybrids, at that. No one knew what their strengths and weaknesses were, yet. But the Jedi were learning, ohhh yes, one injury at a time they were being educated rapidly.

It helped to know that the Senate was, if anything, in worse shape...one of the purebloods had accidently incinerated all of their records, burning the Senate Building to the Foundations in a split second while harming nothing else, and physically damaging the High Chancellor in the process to the extent of mindlessness. The man had gone mad, revealed himself to be a SITH LORD, and had been immediately attacked by several Jedi and slain finally by Mace.

Which meant that the Council couldn't even be angry about the several Centuries worth of destroyed archives. They just groaned and notified all Jedae in the field of the events and told them to start doing inventories of planetary records, to be forwarded to the Temple where Senior Padawans would organize it, then turn it over to Knights to be code-worded and re-archived.

Yoda sighed as he considered all the Sith-damned secrets such a venture was bound to uncover. "Loving, generous, Beings of Light, are they." He grumbled. "Clumsy, also, and mortal. Where but here for such? Innocents, also, are they." Yoda felt yet another pounding headache coming on.

"Master Yoda! Master YODA!" A panicky padawan squalled as he ran to the little green Grand Master, and dove behind him to hide. Yoda stared in consarnation at the horde of trueblooded House Elves running toward him. ADULTS About forty of them. No wonder the padawan wanted somewhere to hide! All knelt in submission before the dagoite. "Master." They intoned as one. "Thou hast freed our kind by they mating with one of us. Thou art the Master, how may we serve thee?"

Then they all started singing Weird Al like it was his family Anthem

//Qui Gon, GET you for this, I will.//
Sentinel Evolutions, Chapter 8, TW#2

TW allowed herself to be pulled towards a part of the cave that she hadn?t been in, eagerly anticipating a meeting with Snape, Benny, and lots of other nummy males. She waved at Carter and Malucci. "I?ll be back later. You stay here and be good. Perhaps you should explain what we saw in the woods?"

Both men paled at that, but couldn?t see a reason why they shouldn?t, especially when Jim all but stabbed them with his piercing stare. "What was it that you saw in the woods?"

"Disgusting evil beings devouring children," said Malucci bluntly. He?d never been one to mince words, and wasn?t about to start now. "I think they were of the same species as that thing that took over Jane?s form here just before we left, but I wouldn?t swear to it. We couldn?t watch for long."

Blair nodded in sympathy. "I?m certain I can understand. The Kreel call them ?Living Evil?, basically. And yes, they eat young."

Carter shuddered. He looked towards the part of the cave that served as the nursery, for both human and non-human young. And then he thought of TW. This was so not going to be fun.

TW was so relieved that Scribe wasn?t angry with her that she didn?t protest when Royal was handed to her for snugglage. It did take her a moment, though, to figure out why there seemed to be almost twice as many kids as there had been before.

"Harry?" she asked in astonishment, looking at a smallish black-haired boy.

Scribe laughed. "Well, I told you Snape was here, you didn?t figure that some of the kids were too?"

TW swallowed." Well, so far, I?ve been the youngest to come over here?" TW blinked as she trailed off. "Speaking of which?why are y?all still my young age of 20? Why haven?t you revered to 14 or 15?"

"I have a theory about that, actually. I believe that only the bonded Cores age, or effect aging. Since none of the young ones here have bonded into a core, none of the other cores are effected."

TW froze, recognizing that voice in an instant. She turned ever so slightly so she could see Scribe. The grin on her friend?s face answered everything, so TW finished turning and faced Professor Severus Snape for the first time.

Scribe watched as TW eyes widened and her jaw dropped. She thought it prudent to take her child before he was smushed, and did so-not a moment too soon.

With a squeal, TW leaped at the potions master and glomphed him, babbling at high speeds.

"OhmigawdIcan?tbelieveit?stheAlanRickmanversionheissogorgeousScribeyouaresolucky\ thatyouhavebeenabletohavehimherethisissoincrediblycoolSnapeyourockthisissocool."

Snape looked nonplussed as he carefully disengaged his body leech. "Nice to meet you too, Miss TW, but I do hope there won?t be a repeat of this kind of reaction?"

Scribe laughed and pulled TW back gently, depositing the baby back in her arms. "You?ll have to forgive her, Snape. She?s been out alone?well, almost alone?in the woods for weeks. I don?t think she?s quite realized what?s going on.

While TW had been attached to the potion?s master, all of the Hogwarts kids had been taken away to meet their Jedi masters, leaving the three adults with the rest of the babies.

Snape was watching TW play with the children, who had grown immensely while she was gone. There was something about her, but he just couldn?t put his finger on it?

TW, however, was oblivious to his scrutiny, and was finding out all the things that she?d missed.

"Turns out that Jane?s a Jedi, and her brother is Qui-Gon Jinn. She sent three house elves away with Yoda, and got a bunch of Jedi masters to be sent here, to train the kids and us. Oh, and I taught Obi yo yo yo yo Yoda."

TW started giggling. "You didn?t. Well, of course you did, that?s right up your alley. You didn?t happen to think of Livin? La Vida Yoda, did you?"

Scribe shook her head. "No, I never learned the words to that one, actually. Ricky Martin may have a cute bon bon, but?" she shrugged her shoulders. "He just wasn?t it."

TW laughed. "Yeah, I know what you mean, but that song was pernicious. If you got it in your head, you were just SOL, because it?d be there for days and days."

Scribe snickered. "Most songs are like that."

Just then, Obi-Wan came into the Alcove where they were sitting. From the look on his face, he wasn?t too happy, and had come for the anodyne of the babies. And it worked, too. The minute he sat down, he had a lapful of wriggling squirming, giggling babies, and the storminess had cleared from his face.

TW shared a look with Scribe, then moved over to sit next to the morose boy. "Hey, what?s wrong?"

Obi-wan shook his head. "Nothing that hasn?t been wrong before. I don?t know. I mean,..." his voice trailed off.

Scribe got a look of dawning comprehension in her eyes. "He turned you down again, didn?t he?"

Snape, TW, and Obi all looked at her in surprise. Obi stuttered, "H-h-how did you kn-n-now?"

Scribe smiled slightly, eyes flicking down to her children. "Because, sweetheart, I understand. And it?s rather obvious that you love him, and that he is too tied up to realize it."

TW?s confused look suddenly changed to one of comprehension. "It?ll be all right, honey. With you stuck here with us, now, y?all will work things out, and he?ll realize just how much he loves you."

Obi sniffled just a tiny bit before looking up at both women hopefully. "Really?"

"Really."

Chapter 8, Scribe #7

"Okay, when you put aside the lack of indoor plumbing, central air and heat, and carbonated soda, and you dodge the fact that there are creatures that would like to devour you, this is pretty much our perfect world, TW," Scribe philosophized as they sat around the hearth that evening.

TW's trio were joining Scribe's group for the evening meal. What with the new influx of teenagers and adults, there was now a higher ration of babysitters to babies, and the parents of the clan were taking full advantage. The sight of Severus Snape trying to change a cranky, just walking infant (who had gotten into something that wasn't at all good for his potty habits) WITHOUT magic was priceless.

"How do you see that?" asked her friend. She was settling into the idea that her life had been forever changed, but damn sure wasn't ready to be happy about it.

"Think about it--what did we do with a major portion of our time back home? Wrote slash stories about gorgeous, fascinating men, and stories about US being with gorgeous, fascinating, sexually adventurous men, who wouldn't mind having us in a threesome." She waved a hand at Jim, Blair, Carter, and Malucci. "Well?"

TW nodded in agreement. She was watching as Harry bounced Royal on his knee, while Ron fed Remy. Both boys seemed contented, since family was very important to them--Ron's because he'd been so close with his own family, and Harry because he'd never really had one. TW whispered, "I'm glad the Hogwarts kids didn't have access to our world's Internet. Do you know what your other self was doing when we left?"

"God knows."

Tw's voice went even lower. "Harry Potter fic."

Scribe's eyes got round. "I thought I'd manage to avoid that. I aged them up, didn't I?"

"Oh, sure--seventeen. But," TW leaned forward, "You got Ron pregnant by Draco."

Scribe clapped a hand over her own mouth. "I DIDN'T! Tell me this isn't a comedy?"

"Well, it has some humorous moments, like most of your fic, but no. It hadn't progressed all that far by the time I left, but it seemed to be heading toward Angstcity."

"But isn't Ron in love with Harry, and vice-versa?"

TW snorted. "Of course."

"Oh, God, I'm a SUCH a snot! Don't let them know. Ron's a sweety, and I wouldn't want to upset him or Harry. I'm glad the hormones haven't really hit yet, though I'm not looking forward to it. Imagine all those rapid chemical and emotional changes in a group of force-magic weilding adolescents."

Jim winced. "Please, you're making my head hurt."

Ben, Stanley, and Dennis ventured out into the cave proper, gazing around at the crowd. Dennis arched an eyebrow. "I haven't seen a group like this since Blush sponsered a multi-media sci-fi fantasy fan convention." He blinked as a baby dragon waddled past, followed by Hagrid. "Of course there most of it was foam latex and artificial hair. When does the Wicked Witch of the West show up?"

Jane looked up from her spot at her own hearth, and cocked an eye at a suddenly quiet Scribe and TW. Scribe said, "If you think I'm touching that line with a ten foot pole and latex gloves, you have another think coming. TW, guys, scoot over. Fellas, join us."

The trio came over and sat, Benton saying, "Thank you kindly, but will will only join for companionship. Our nutritional needs have been met in a most gratifying manner since our arrival."

"Yes, well, one or more of you lot had better either know how to cook on an open fire, or learn REAL fast, because while we help each other out, everyone does a share around here," Scribe warned. Ben smiled charmingly, causing Scribe and TW to both shiver a little, and earning disgruntled looks from Carter, Malucci, and Jim, and amusement from Blair. "That will not be a problem. Camp cooking was drilled into me long before I joined the Mounties, and I will be able to instruct both Stanley and Dennis."

"Speak for yourself, John," drawled Dennis. "Do I LOOK like Emeril Legasse?"

Stanley poked him. "You don't have his cute accent, either, Princess, but you'll learn to do your turn, or you won't eat." Dennis smirked at him and batted his eyelashes. "Okay, you won't eat anything that has to be cooked, but you can't live on a liquid diet alone, Sport. And you've moved over into this guy-to-guy thing a lot easier than I expected, given how far you jumped at first."

Dennis shrugged. "What can I say? I'm one of Nature's wonders when it comes to sex." He leered at the two women. "Demonstrations provided upon appointment."

Jim gave a small growl, and Dennis climbed quickly into Ben's lap. Ben patted Dennis. "He did not really mean it, Jim."

"That's what I figured, Ben, otherwise he'd be sticking to the wall right now."

"Are you guys ready to give up your honeymoon suite?" asked Scribe. "The other men set up a hearth area for you. It's getting pretty crowded in here, but there was room for one more."

Ben gave his two mates a questioning look, and received nods in return. "That would be fine."

"Good. We need it." She grinned at Jane, who winked back.

Jane tapped Qui Gon on the knee with her stick. "When you're ready to go to bed, just let me know, and I'll see to it that you and your padawan are shown to your place."

"Oh. I thought that Obi and I would settle in with two of the groups out here," said the Jedi master.

"No," said Jane firmly. "While we aren't inhospitable to visitors, you're a PART of the Clan now, and the individual mating groups need what little privacy they have." She cocked her head. "You remember how you got just when Johnny and I had our fun in another part of the cave? Imagine laying within a foot of another couple, or trio, when they're getting passionate. No, you'll have your own little place." She noticed the hopeful look on Obi Wan's face, and tipped the boy a wink. She shielded her thoughts from anyone else but the boy, and sent, *And if you can't get him to come across when you're alone in the dark, with happy, humping people pouring sexual energy into the Force all around you, boy, then maybe you AREN'T ready for this yet.* Obi got a determined gleam in his eyes, studying Qui Gon. Jane chuckled, muttering under her breath, "Qui's gonna get some. Qui's gonna get some." Chapter 8, Jane #8

Right in front of his master, without Qui being aware of anything at all, Obi asked his master's sister for some tea. It was the way he stressed the word that got her attention.

"That sounds nice, padawan."

"You got a bellyache, too, Qui?"

"Bellyache? No?oh. A medicinal tea, then. Ah, too bad. I could use something to help me relax."

"Try meditating, Qui. I shouldn't have to tell you that!"

"Hmmm, well the last few days?"

"Yeah, I know! The last few days you've actually had the nerve to openly argue with the Force! It's got the Force Threads in the area all sorts of tangled. You've been screwing up MY attempts to meditate, and let me tell ya, Qui Gon Jinn, I do NOT appreciate coming out of trances in a nervous wreck because of it!" He stared at her. "Sweet Force, Jane?I'm sorry?shit!"

"Let the Lifebond take before the Force takes away any control you have. I'd really, really do not want to have to clean up after the results!"

Qui went dead white. "No," He answered shakily.

"Here, drink this, give Obi a cup, go to your own sleep-platform, get naked, and cuddle. This will take care of any inhibitions you think you have."

He drank it without asking what it was, he knew he could trust his sister. He took his startled padawan, made him drink it as he had, and obeyed the rest of her orders. In a few minutes, he had his very naked padawan held tightly in his arms as he apologized for trying to deny what he felt for the youth.

"Holy SHIT!" He knew the instant the tea took affect. "No, padawan?do not purge it. Oh hell, hold on Obi?just let me?oh yessss."

"Let me try some of that stuff." TW asked with a stubborn expression.

Jane rolled her eyes, then looked at Fannie with a raised eyebrow.

"She asked for it." Fannie chuckled wickedly.

"Better make her men drink a cup, each, first."

"Okay, whatever, just lemme have some, will ya?" Steph insisted after calling her Core to Jane's Hearth.

{Thirty-Minutes Later}

"HOLY SHIT! Why am I so damned horny?"

"Well, you did ask for it."

"Ask for it?I just wanted?the?tea? The TEA? That damned tea is an?" She stared toward Qui's hearth at the wildly humping pair, and squalled. Then she yanked her husbands urgently to their own bedding at their own hearth.

"Well, that'll keep her occupied for a while, anyway." Fannie murmured.

"Hmm, that's one way to describe what it'll keep her?" Jane replied. They looked at each other, Then they busted out laughing.

Sentinel Evolution, Chapter 8, TW#3

In their own private alcove-well, at least as private as they could get, within the confines of the cave-the trio who?d drank the aphrodisiac tea was snuggled together, TW in the middle, Carter and Malucci snuggled against either side of her.

"Well, I really should know better to demand something around here," the woman said with a sigh, tucking herself closer into Carter?s side. "Especially when Jane looks at Fannie like that. I really should know better."

Malucci snickered. "Yeah, but it was fun, wasn?t it?"

TW grinned. "Yeah, it was, but lemme tell ya, I hope she didn?t expect it to make me pregnant, or anything."

Carter smiled softly down at his mate. "Well, probably not, considering the fact that we have to worry about a species that eats the young of everything."

TW sighed at that. "Well, it?s just a little too late now. About 3 months late."

At the Jedi Temple, some sort of order was finally starting to prevail. The baby house elf-degobians had finally grown up enough that they knew not to bother their father while he was working in the library. After all the files had been compiled, the elves had tried to help their father by helping to organize them. All they?d managed to do was throw the files into complete disarray.

"Pay for this, Qui-gon will. And Jane. Pay they both will," muttered Yoda, as he ducked a flying tome.

And somewhere, deep within the force, there was a laugh, deeply disturbing, and yet, hardly malicious?just disturbing? Sentinel Evolution, Chapter 8, Scribe #8

"Well, TW," said Scribe, "The plus side is that there are plenty of people to help you out when you have the baby. It'll be like having a dozen or so fawning aunts, uncles, and in-laws arguing over who gets to help with the baby this time." She grinned. "At least for the first couple of weeks. Then you'll be back to changing the majority of diapers yourself. Downside is, of course, no Pampers."

"Is it just me," TW asked, "or is this group growing at an astronomical rate? I mean, multiple births all over the place."

"Can't blame it on the environment, since Jane and I dropped ourse before we arrived. I'd say it has something to do with manifest destiny. We're supposed to pretty much populate a planet, so I guess nature is giving us a jump. I just hope nature remembers to give us the strength for it. Human females weren't meant to reproduce all that often or prolifically. That's one reason why our ancestresses had such a low average life expectancy."

Hermione Granger came over to the hearth where the two women were talking, accompanied by Mitri. "Scribe, you're head woman. I need to get your advice on something."

"Tell him no till you're at least three years older," she said promptly.

Hermione blushed. "What? No, that's not it."

Mitri volunteered. "Looks like that there Ron is going to be stubborn. He's still tellin' himself that girls are sort of a nuisance. I told Hermione that he'd see the light onc't his hormones kicked in."

"Thank you, Dr. Ruth," said Scribe dryly. "I don't know why I'm surprised. The Kreelo mature much more quickly than humans, and the new kids are, of course, hanging out with them a lot."

"And that's where the advice somes in," said Hermione. "You know Palu?" Scribe nodded. Palu was a particularly pretty Kreelo girl, not far along in adolescence. While she was the same chronological age as the Hogwarts students, about thirteen, physiologically and emotionally, she was several years older. She was a smoky blue gray color, with eyes that were even greener than Harry's, set in a piquant, heart shaped face. While the Kreelo didn't make much out of a female's mammary endowments (as long as they could feed kits, that was all that mattered), Palu had more up top than most Kreelo females--Her top set of breasts was almost as big as a human B cup. Being Kreelo, she didn't bother with wearing anything above the waist, and the Clan men had been driven to have a talk with the newly arrived Hogwarts boys (and Dennis) about the proper attitude--namely to act as if there was absolutely nothing remarkable about a humanoid female baring three or four sets of teats. Some of them were having a harder time grasping this than others.

"Maybe you've noticed that Palu likes human boys. She's been spending a lot of time with us, and..." Hermione continued.

"She's got the hots for that there Malfoy, an' she wants Hermie to help her figure out how to catch him," said Mitri bluntly. "I don't know why. Mosta the Kreelo women are pretty direct about it when they want a man. They just back their rump right up, an'..."

"Yes, Mitri--I know. You say she has a crush on Malfoy? Well, he IS a strinking looking boy, even if he is a bit of a snot."

Hermione was glaring at Mitri. "She just asked me what I thought Draco might find attractive." Hermione made a face. "Knowing how he's acted in the past just because I'm not of pure wisard bloodstock, I'm hesitant to help her. I don't want to see her get her feelings hurt."

"How has Draco acted so far?"

"Well, he doesn't interact much with the Kreelo. When he does, he's sort of smirking and condescending, but he's like that with everyone."

"Give her whatever tips you think will help, Hermione. We all have to live together here, after all. Anything that would bring the two clans closer is a good thing." Hermione nodded, and the two girls left. Palu was at the cave entrance, rubbing nervously against the wall. Hermione spoke with her for a minute, then went to her hearth and dug in the back pack she'd brought along. Then the three adolescent girls, witch, human, and Kreelo, sat together. They giggled as Mitri and Hermione wove yellow satin ribbons through Palu's soft, long head and neck fur. Scribe shook her head. "I guess there are some things that are pretty much universal. Girls talking guys is one of them."

Later that evening, a number of the clan went to the Kreelo village to visit. There was usually an informal gathering in the main section of the village--people strolling from group to group, visiting. Things were going well till there was a sudden, shrill yowl, and then a rising babble of voices.

Jim's Alpha instincts led him right to the center of the hubbub. He wasn't all that surprised to find Draco Malfoy there, too. He was standing between Ron and Harry, who were scowling at him. He looked a little nervous, but unrepentant. Palu was clinging to her father's arm (he was a big, black fellow who looked a lot like Tigre might if he'd decided to go upright on two legs). She was bouncing up and down excitedly, making little hisses and chirps.

Jim asked the assemblage in general, "What happened?"

Ron snapped, "Malfoy pulled one of his stunts. I'm surprised Palu's Da didn't knock his block off."

"Hae is usually pretty even tempered, but not when it comes to his children," said Jim. "Luckily Palu doesn't seem upset. She actually seems HAPPY, so I suppose that's why he didn't deck Draco."

Hae was, however, watching the pale wizard VERY closely, with a measuring look. He looked down at his daughter and spoke to her, the Kreelo words rumbling in his deep chest. His tone was questioning. Palu answered quickly, nodding happily, and turned soft eyes on Draco. Jim was beginning to get a bad feeling about this. "Scribe, get over here."

Scribe came over. "What's up?"

"I'm not sure. I do pretty good with the Kreelo language, but Palu's talking fast, and Hae is talking low, and I can't figure it out. Draco did something."

She looked at Draco. "What did you do?"

He shrugged. "I just tugged her tail."

"WHAT?!"

He blinked. "It wasn't very hard. She was hanging around me, waving it practically in my face. It was like she was DARING me to do it."

Scribe clapped a hand over her eyes. "Oh, man. Didn't you listen at all when Blair told you about the cultural significance of the tail, and the protocols?"

"I listened to some of it."

"Well you should have listened a lot close, sonny boy. Opposite sex tail tugging past the age of puberty is considered to be serious courtship."

"What? She thinks I was flirting with her?"

"You WERE, you nit," snarled Scribe. "Even if you don't realize that you were, believe me, your subconscious was involved. And it's WAY more serious than flirting."

Draco swallowed. "How serious?

Hae walked over to Draco and tapped him on the head. "Mua hunona kane."

"He just called you future son-in-law." Sentinel Evolutions: 8, Jane #8?

//Hold it, Qui. Let Jim handle this. Call the master who claimed Draco as his padawan, though.//

//Someone was dumb enough to master that kid?//

//Yep. Draco has it in him to be a damned fine Jedi. However, he's been spoiled rotten by his parents, so he thinks a lot like Xan did. He's young enough for us to fix that, though.// She put her hand on his shoulder. //Steady, brother. I have no intentions of allowing

Draco off this planet. He and his new master have been assigned here, under you, permanently. To both guard and guide these people. You did know about the new Temple being built about fifty klicks west of here, didn't you?//

//Not until I got my daily update this morning. There are about three hundred masters raising the walls at this time. None of them have padawans.//

"Hmmm, I can fix that in a few years, Qui.'" Jane said aloud, "Blair, Mitri and John

are going to have their hands full building a new society, we only have those three who are fully trained Shaman. When the youngest of the Guides and Anchors need certain kinds of training I'm going to send them over there to get it done. Some of them are likely to find the other members of their Cores from among the Jedi. Count on it."

She turned her attention to Master Heri who was just arriving, listened as Jim updated him on his new padawan's predicament.

"There's nothing to be done unless you want to be directly responsible for starting a war, though. He's betrothed, and that's all there is to it." Jane told his master.

Jedi Heri sighed, and accepted it. There wasn't

Anything else he could do. Except train the lad into an acceptable man, then Jedi.

"Heri, I suggest you teach him to automatically recall everything he hears, whether he's paying attention or not. That's a useful skill anyway, and nightly quizzes from you on the events of his day will, perhaps, lower the amounts of trouble he gets into."

"Or not." Blair murmured. She shot a look at him. He met her gaze calmly.

//Blairbear?//

He sighed, smiling a little. //Blairbear. Damn, if Jim ever hears that nickname?// He sighed again. //I'll tell you later, okay?//

//Much later, because you need to tell Master Heri, first. He's taken responsibility or raising and training Draco. Tell him first, and yes, he does hear us// She met Heri's gaze over Draco's head and he nodded to her that, yes, he was following the conversation. //Later tonight I think it's a good idea if Qui, Snape, your Core, My Core and the other Jedi assigned to the Clan have a little meeting at your hearth. That means I'm going to have Obi and Harry take over babysitting this evening.//

//Speaking of Obi?what was in that damned tea last night, little girl?//

//Nothing that wasn't originally in the plant it came from. You were being a jackass and I got tired of having Obi hurt from an unfullfilled Lifebond.//

Heri's eyes went wide, then he glared at Qui for the same reason Jane was glaring at him. Qui sighed. //So?you arranged?//

//Arranged hell, I gave you both the same amount of a tea the whole Clan knows is a potent aphrodisiac.//

Qui Gon stared at his baby sister in shock.

//Hey, I want you settled down. The Lifebond just insures Obi is the right person, or at least one of them. You might get between one and three more, depending. A Core which contains an Active Jedi, never mind two, is often much larger than an non-Jedi or non-active Jedi Core.//

"Shit, Qui, you know all that!"

"Does the Council?"

"Hell no, why give another advantage to people who have enough of them already? I'm not going to do their jobs for them, I have enough to do!"

Both masters groaned.

"Besides, if Heri takes a decent look, he'll notice that what he has with Draco is no training bond, and he's already bonded the same way with Palu, as well. //Sorry, Heri, but that's a Core Bond you've got, and I suspect it's Draco who's about to come online. If I'm right, we'll all be fifteen by morning. You included.//

Blair's eyes went wide and he hustled over to Jim and Fannie, talking fast. Both of them stared at the top of Draco's head in helpless dismay. Jim turned an leveled a look at Jane who shrugged and said calmly, "Look at the bright side, Ellison, we'll all get to see what you look like with a FULL head of hair!"

"B,b,b,but..."

"And a Cave full of raging hormones is going to be so much fun!"

Fannie sat down, hard, looking at Blair with a dazed expression. "CRAP!" Sentinel Evolutions, Chapter 8 TW#4

After Jane?s pronouncement from the previous evening, every one of the established cores in the clan woke up with a feeling of dread. After all, who really wanted to return to their 15 year old selves?

But they hadn?t. Not one of them was any younger then the 20 years old that they?d turned when TW and her core had shown up. Well, with the obvious exception of the kids.

Jane looked vaguely disappointed, and sat by her fire trying to puzzle it out. But it was Scribe, talking with Blair and TW, who finally did so.

"Do ya think that it could be because they haven?t been here long?" asked TW, carefully weaving a basket as she spoke.

"No, because we all changed over night the day that you got here," responded Blair.

"Oh yeah?well, do you have any ideas, Dr. Sandburg?" TW had taken to calling Blair Doctor because of his degree in anthropology. Since the girl had left Earth as an anthropology major, she tended to consider Blair as her professor and accorded him the courtesy that she?d accorded her Earth professors, title and all.

"Not really?" Blair trailed off as he looked at Scribe, who was thoughtfully watching the new Core try and adjust to each other. "Scribe, honey, do you have a theory?"

Scribe sighed. "A theory, yes. An explanation? Not hardly."

TW grinned. "Well, theories are what humanity thrives on. What?s your idea?"

Scribe glanced at the children in the nursery area and then at TW?s slightly rounded tummy before responding. "Well, first of all, if you were to regress to 15, what would happen to your baby?"

TW blanched at that, and placed a hand protectively over her abdomen. Scribe nodded and continued. "Exactly. And what would happen to all of our babies, with only teenagers to take care of them? Granted, we?d take all of our wisdom with us, but let?s face it, there are certain things that fully grown adults can do that teenagers can?t. And that?s the other thing. If we reverted to 15, how on earth would we have kids?"

Blair coughed. "You know, Scribe, that those stories of teenage mothers that are 14 and 15 aren?t exaggerated."

TW sighed. "Yeah, they may not be, but it?s dangerous. Girls aren?t fully grown, or changed, yet, when they?re 14, 15, or 16. Often, teenage mothers have problems with later pregnancies, if they can even GET pregnant."

Blair sighed. He was just full of all kinds of depressed sounds. "OK, so we?re all gonna be 20, and just age from their, obviously. What about them?"

He pointed at Draco, Heri, and Palu, who were seated in a tiny circle, staring at each other, as if they were utterly bewildered by each other. And he couldn?t blame them. Draco and Palu had seemed to grow up in the middle of the night, and Heri had dropped 20 years off his appearance. After all, every established core was 20, so they had had to adjust to match.

Scribe grinned. "They?re going to learn the same way that we all did. Through a lot of trial and error."

Elsewhere in the cave, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Won Kenobi were staring at the beautiful redheaded girl in front of them. She looked familiar to them, but they just couldn?t wrap their Jedi minds around what she was trying to tell them.

"I have no idea why, but I?m drawn to the pair of you. Can you please tell me why I?m suddenly 20 years old and have an increase in my magic? Please?" Ginny sounded weary, and well she should. She?d said the same thing 10 times now, trying to get the men in front of her to talk.

Qui-Gon, for his part, was more in shock because of his suddenly youthful appearance and energy than because of the Weasley before him. Obi-Wan on the other hand, was too busy staring at the pretty face before him to notice anything else. In fact?

"Obi? Obi-Wan? Hello?" Ginny waved her hand in front of his face. And nothing happened.

Qui-Gon blinked as instinct kicked in. He started to talk to Obi, drawing the newly awakened Sentinel back to reality, pulling him out of his senses.

Obi-Wan blinked. And grinned sheepishly. "Sorry about that. I guess I?m the Sentinel, huh?"

Ginny grinned. "Yeah, I guess so. Does that bother you? I mean, Qui-Gon seems to be the Guide, so that makes me the Anchor. Do you mind?"

Obi-Wan smiled back. "Not at all." He reached out and pulled her close, snuggling her slight frame against his body. "Means that you?re mine."

Qui-Gon rolled his eyes. This was going to be interesting.

Further away from the group, but close enough to see what was going on, Jane was rolling on her sleeping furs, laughing hysterically. Ahhh, it was perfect. Her brother with Obi and Ginny. Life?s revenge couldn?t be sweeter. Sentinel Evolution, Chapter 8, Scribe #9

Dennis was sitting with Neville and Ron. He was gingerly shuffling a deck of cards, which he'd fashioned from some native leaves (they were all squarish, uniform in size, and almost as stiff as cardboard). "All right, time to ante up." He tossed a quarter into the center of the circle.

Neville held up a silver coin. "All I have are sickles. Are they equal to that thing?"

"Let me see." Dennis took the coin and examined it. "Hm." He bounced it on a rock. It rang musically, and his eyes widened at the sound of pure silver, something that hadn't been in American Muggle circulation since the early sixties. And it was heavy, too. "Oh, uh... It's a LITTLE less valuable, but for the sake of sportsmanship, we'll just go ahead and call it even. You boys have any more of those?"

Ron and Neville dug in their pockets, pulling out handfuls of silver and gold coins, Neville a bit clumsily (not surprising, but this time it was because his more feline hands weren't designed to handle small, slippery objects). When Dennis saw the gold, his eyes nearly bugged out. They showed them to Dennis. "Our families raided the vacation accounts when word came that we were being shipped out," said Ron. "It was all they could manage on short notice. Of course Harry has lots more than we do."

"Harry--he's the one who was raised in the, uh, Muggle world, right?"

"Yesss," said Neville. "We ought to go get him to play. I bet he already knowsss how to play this pokie."

"Poker," said Finch, "And let's not bother him. If he knows it, he'd probably be bored." Dennis started to deal the 'cards' "Now, don't worry about knowing what beats what. You just show me your cards, and I'll tell you."

"DENNIS!"

Dennis flinched, and swiveled his head. He was looking right at a pair of knees. He looked up, WAY up. Benton, arms folded over his chest, was frowning down at him. "Oh, hi, Benny. I was just going to have a nice, friendly game of Old Maid with the kids."

"But I thought you said it was called poker," protested Ron. "You said you'd teach us all about straights and full homes."

Neville piped, "And when a hand of nothing alike can beat one with four of the sssame kind."

Ben shook his head. "When Stanley told me that you were planning on fleecing these young ones, I didn't believe him."

"I was NOT going to fleece them--I was going to teach them a life lesson, and how the hell did Stanley know that?"

"He saw you marking the cards."

"Well," said Ron reasonably, "he HAD to mark them. If we didn't have the pips on the cards, how would we know what they were?"

"As much as I hate to shatter your youthful innocence," said Ben, "I was referring to those tiny nicks and bends in the corners that indicate what the cards are."

Neville gaped. "You mean he wasss going to CHEAT?" He gave Dennis a woeful look.

Dennis fidgeted. "Don't give me the puppy dog eyes, kid. There was nothing personal about it."

There was a low hiss, and Dennis flinched again. Peja was glaring at him, golden eyes slitted, and a human sized catwoman, green glow gently fading, was an impressive sight, especially since she was flexing her hands, making the needle sharp nails appear and disappear. "Finch, you ssssnot! He's jussst a kid! And what the hell do you think you'd do with MONEY around here, anyway? If the Kreel want shiny thingsss, they jussst pick shellsss out of the river."

"What--no monetary system?" Dennis seemed truly shocked. "They're not civilized."

"You'd better believe that," said Jim grimly, coming up behind the others. "And Neville's one of their own now. They take a VERY dim view of dishonest and cheating, and PARTICULARLY of an adult taking advantage in ANY way of a child. You're just lucky we found out about it before it went any farther than it did. Dennis, there are CONSEQUENCES for you actions around here, and you won't spend several months in litigation, then get off with community service."

"And besides," Scribe joined them. "Have you stopped to consider the fact that Ron is a magic user? Granted, he's not as up on transformations as Herionie is, but..." she bit back a smile as she noticed the narrow way Ron was watching Dennis. "Actually, Ron might not NEED the magic. I expect he's learned a lot from his two older brothers--Fred and George."

"Too bloody right," said Ron. He scrambled up. "Potions might not have ever been my best class, but I may just go watch Snape for a bit and see if I can figure out what sort of things there are around here that we can use to substitute for the ingredients we had at home." He stalked away.

Scribe smiled at Dennis, who'd gone a little pale. "If I were you, I'd be very careful what I eat or drink for awhile. It was more of a spell than a potion, but he DOES know something that causes people to upchuck slugs."

Dennis turned green and darted away. Neville said, "Missss Scribe, Ron made HIMSELF..."

"Yeah." She winked at Neville, who giggled. "But Dennis doesn't have to know that."

Later Blair looked over when he heard Hagrid saying, "Well, now, Mister Finch, it be right nice of you to offer me first bit o' that nice sweetcake your man Benton fixed up. I'm mortal fond of sweets."

Blair looked at Ron, who'd dropped by their hearth to visit. "How long are you going to let him stew?"

Ron shrugged. "I'm not really going to slip anything nasty in his tucker." He laughed. "I know myself too well to risk it--I might actually hurt him. But I see no reason why Mister Finch shouldn't spend a few days in suspence..." He watched as Hagrid's 'taste' consumed a good two-thirds of Dennis' dessert. "and Hagrid can always use more food."

Sentinel Evolutions #8: Jane #9

Qui stalked up the slope behind the cave toward a figure sitting quietly on the crest above. It had been a weird few days, ever since "The Night of the Tea" and the next morning when he and Obi had co-bonded with Virginia Weasley. He did not care for the shortened version of her name. He felt it undignified?although a shouting match with the girl had taught him to keep that opinion to himself. The girl was no padawan, nor did she intend to be. She had made that quite clear. She was a witch, was proud to be a witch, and he was just going to have to live with it.

"She's giving you fits, again, huh?"

"You could say so, yes." Qui Gon sighed as he settled down next to his sister. He stared at her profile. "You should read today's daily reports?one of those "children" incinerated the Senate Building, exposed a Sith Master, and then incinerated him also"

"Well, that's not really a bad thing, the fewer siths about the better. You and Obi nailed his apprentice, the elflets nailed the master."

"What I do not understand is why the elflet went undetected?"

"The elflet was probably trying to help?honestly. And that's all that there would have been to sense. Ergo?"

"So, he was allowed to?oh dear." Qui's odd sense of humor hit and he started to chuckle. "I bet that was rich."

She looked at him?"Not to mention finding secure new facilities for all of those little bloodless wars the Senate is so fond of. Which, you being here instead of there, don't have to deal with. And it should be fun to watch the High Council manage, impeded as the are by the oh, so-helpful young elves."

"They mature faster than most, don't they?"

"To a point. They'll be the equivilent of a ten-year-old human in about six months?after that they age at the same rate?but they stop aging altogether at around age 200. At that point?" She grinned at Qui.

"At that point what?"

"Well, that's the age-rate for the true elves?the hybrids will live to be a couple of thousand years old, each?"

"And? What aren't you telling me?"

"That they were picked."

Qui Gon paled. "All of them?"

"Oh yes. I told you the Council wouldn't let beings that Force Sensitive go untrained."

"Twenty-two of the clumiest padawans known to ever have existed?who will live at least twenty centuries if they aren't killed, plus the three Elves, who are known immortals? As Jedi?"

"Their kind are immune from the Dark Side, Qui?born and bred to the Light."

She shrugged. "And anyway, that's the least of the trouble in the Temple."

"What did you do?"

"Moi?"

"Yes, you. Don't even try to go there?I know better."

"Yeah, I guess you do." She smiled up at him. "Every freed House Elf on Earth was sent to Yoda?under the belief that his mating with a female of their kind freed their race?and?"

"What?" Qui finally rapped out sharply.

"Someone taught them Fannie's Yoda Song before they left Earth?I understand that all of the padawans are singing it, every chance they get?and half the masters as well?"

He stared at her for a long moment?trying desperately not to laugh. "Yoda knows, of course?"

"Oh, hell yeah. There were about forty elves in that first transport, and the first thing they did when they cornered him was to kneel and sing it to him, in person, as though it were some sort of Official Anthem."

"Oh Force! And I had to miss that?" He grinned. "I am so glad you're light sided. I wouldn't want you for an enemy."

"Lemmie tell you something, bro. I'm light-sided because you are. Don't you ever drop that ball, though. Because I wouldn't be the only one to cross that line with you." He tone was utterly serious. Qui just looked at her, knowing that with the multiple bonds and the interactive ones in the Clan, that there'd be one hell of a mess if someone Turned. Too much power here.

"I see what you mean." He picked at some purple striped long-grass. "We're going to take several of the older Hogwart kids out to catch K`Rach in the morning. Harry and Draco?and Herminone. Obi's staying here. Jim said our bond isn't stable enough yet for Virginia to not have at least one of us close by, at all times."

Harry's master will be going, and so will Draco's. You stay here and work on taking over the Interclan politics. Jim's too blunt and Simon got rid of his authority on purpose?and you're senior. Let the other masters get some of the limelight, for once."

"That would work."

"And test Snape to find out just how good he is. It's Force he's using, but I don't think he knows that: And he has learned ways of manipulating it that, quite frankly, we don't."

"True." He nodded. "I'll go tell Jim and assign the masters?it's time Harry and Draco saw some mission time, anyway. And this won't be minor." He started to get to his feet.

"Qui."

Her tone stopped him. "Yes?"

"Without knowing what he faced, or how dangerous it was, and without losing himself, Harry faced and defeated TWICE, defeated the strongest Sith Adept I've ever encountered. Harry still has no idea just what he faced. He's sooo strong."

"Solidly in the Light, too."

"Yes. Tell his master, though. Since this something that poor guy really needs to know. Trust does not come easily to Harry Potter. And that is to be expected after the trials he faced."

"Yes. It is?poor lad."

Sentinel Evolutions, Chapter 8, TW#5
Note: //Words inside here are the thoughts of the characters// And I've decided to make the K'Rach language-less, since they aren't really sentient or sapient...

//What the hell is going on out there?// TW could hear a racket, but she wasn't quite awake yet. If she had been, she might have been just a little on the nervous side...

Outside the entrance to the cave, a guard of Kreelo stood watch, instinctively knowing that their enemy was near. And they didn't know how right they were.

Three miles away, a swarm of K'Rach was moving towards the cave where the Clan slept, unaware of the danger that was heading their way. The K'Rach were hungry...they needed fresh meat...the winter was coming soon, and they would hibernate, and so they needed meat...fresh, warm, tender, young meat...The many-mind of the swarm knew that there was young nearby. They could smell them. And, after all, hadn't they seen them? This was going to be a profitable hunt...that much the many-mind knew. Sentinel Evolution, Chapter 8 Scribe #10

The afternoon sunlight filtered through the leaves of the trees, but little reached the ground in the spot that the K`Rach had chosen for their daily rest. The K`Rach slept twined together in a mass. The pile was never completely still. It heaved gently with the massed breathing, and the occasional twitch of limbs. If Blair had seen this, it would have reminded him of a rattlesnake pit he'd run across while excavating an Anasazi dig. He wouldn't have been far off. The K`Rach were just as cold blooded, just as ruthless. They had no poison, but they were even more dangerous than the earth reptiles, because they shared a sort of low intelligence--and a common purpose. The K`Rach aimed not only to survive, but to survive WELL. That was why they had targetted the Kreel, and most particularly, The Clan.

They had sensed that the winter was coming, and were going to prepare for it as always--by glutting themselves before going to ground to hybernate through the long, cold months. They had no way of knowing that this winter would be different, that it would be the Great Winter, the one that would last for years. It was beyond their concept--they had no real knowledge of time, preparing for the seasonal sleeps solely through insinct.

Each year they gathered as much flesh as they could, storing it in their underground lairs where the constant cold would keep it for long periods. Before they went below ground they would go on a killing rampage that would decimate the animal population for miles around. The smaller ones would be seized and devoured immediately, the larger dragged back for storage. One the largest predators were safe, and they only if they were cautious. More than once the K`Rach, emboldened by need, had swarmed a creature many times their size. They always lost members, but the individuals mattered little. There were no parents, mates, siblings, or children to mourn the fallen. Indeed, their bodies were consumed as well, though they were never first choice--the K`Rach did not particularly enjoy the taste of their own kind.

No, they preferred their prey warm, young, and preferrably still alive. This year there was an unbelievable bounty waiting harvest. There was a new sort of animal in their territory. A search group had been scouting the way for their coming raids at the Kreelo village, and had discovered them. Only one of the group had returned, but that was of little import. K`Rach died--that was the way of things.

This new animal was warm blooded, and had very little fur, no scales. It's teeth were small and blunt, as were it's claws. The K`Rach didn't really think about it, but there was a vague feeling that this was another of the grass eaters, the easy prey. The fact that one of their kind had been taken, and did not return was forgotten in the news that the one who HAD returned had scented Young on the one they had captured for a time. Not just one Young, but MANY.

This had diverted them entirely from their plans to invade the Kreel village. Their collective memory, though dim, told them that there was scant chance of taking anything significant there. The Kreel usually fled, and at most they could hope for one or two adults who had somehow lagged behind. But this...

The captured K`Rach had sent back impressions of many, many Young, and many of the older things. The older ones would be piled in the depths of the Lair, to allow their flesh to rot deliciously before consumption. The Young, though, would be a feast--the final glut before the long sleep.

Now they slept the short sleep, twitching with formless not-quite-dreams of plenty. They had little competition on this planet, and it never occurred to them that they might be the hunted instead of the hunter.

Hermione said, "But you're talking about possibly wiping out an entire species."

The Clan was having a council. All but the babies were included. The tiniest Clan members were secreted in the deepest part of the cavern maze, in a section that could only be approached by one or two people at a time. Peja's core was watching them. It had been agreed that since they were all now Kreel, they could fight effectively with tooth and claw if their weapons were lost. Even Chet, the group's submissive, had learned to use his natural weapons effectively.

It hadn't been easy for him. Peja and Rafe had insisted that he learn to fight--it was vital that every Clan member be able to at least defend themselves. He had protested, hissing and howling as he was cuffed and wrestled, his mates trying to force him to act. Finally he'd laid his ears flat and struck back. Rafe had received a gash across his chest, and Peja had been knocked on her rump. Poor Chet had crouched, tail lashing, whining in distress, sure that he was about to have is ass kicked. Instead he had been tackled and promptly nuzzled and licked into purring ecstacy by his approving mates. He practiced after that. Any K`Rach who looked at his smaller statue and assumed he'd be the easiest to take in a group would get a nasty surprise.

"Hermie," said Blair gently, "I can understand that you're confused and conflicted about this. Believe me, it goes against my grain, too. Hey, I donated to Save the Whales ever since I could gather pennies. I made a trip to the Arctic and hugged a baby seal to keep it from getting its brain bashed out. But, little girl, these weren't creatures that systematically set out to eliminate others of my kind."

Jim nodded. "If these things go unchecked, have no doubt that they WILL come for us. Hermione--they'll be coming for the babies."

The fluffy haired girl turned pale. TW said, "We didn't go into details, because we didn't want to upset you and the others too much. I saw what they do." Her eyes teared up. "They'd caught a Kreel mother and child who'd gone too far gathering food. They broke the mother's back so she couldn't move, then took the little one, and..."

TW choked up. Carter and Malucci surrounded her, holding her. "Don't," whispered Carter. "We'll all have nightmares about that for a long, long time. Hermione, I'm a doctor. I've dedicated my life to healing people, keeping them safe from harm. Life is sacred to me. But those THINGS... That isn't life."

Snape spoke up. "That was one thing that worried me about the struggle with Voldemorte. The ones in charge of the Light side..." He took a deep breath. "I won't say they're cowards--they aren't. But they kept WAITING for attack. I can't help but think that there are times when the battle must be brought to the enemy."

Jim nodded at him, smiling grimly. "The best defense is a good offence. Ranger mentality, Snape."

"Knew there was something I liked about him," grinned Megan.

"Hermione," said Qui Gonn Jin, "this species is doomed, in any case. An Ice Age is approaching, and they are cold blooded. They would not survive. It's much like what happened in your home world. An Ice Age comes, and species become extinct. It's nature's way. If we strike at them, there will be no significant damage to the environment, and it will save many lives--lives that are strong in the Force. Lives that are destined to make a great difference in the universe."

Hermione lifted her chin. "All right, I can see that. Sorry."

Obi Wan patted her shoulder. "Don't apologize, Hermione. That's what a council is about--to allow all to express thoughts and opinions, to thrash things out."

Qui Gon agreed. "And your concern was valid. Have we assuaged them?" She nodded. "I'm glad." He looked at Jim. "Our Jedi have located where the K`Rach are resting. They settled to sleep only a couple of hours ago. It is to our advantage that they sleep during the day and hunt at night. They know enough about us to know that our habits are the opposite. Any attack now will have the element of surprise."

"How quickly can the Masters be ready?"

"Less than an hour. The padawans can come to help guard the cave, so that most of the Clan adults can join us."

"Let's do it, then. There are things out there who want to eat my children, and I'm not going to sleep well until I'm washing their blood off my hands."

It was decided that Jedi Masters and Sentinels would lead the attack, with Anchors, Guides, and Mages in the second rank. While no one doubted the bravery or skill of the second group, it was well known that it wasn't a good idea to get in the way of a Sentinel in Blessed Protector mode. They figured that the Jedi could hold their own, but that the Sentinels didn't need to be distracted by the urge they'd feel to protect any Guide or Anchor who was nearby. They needed to concentrate.

It was amazing how quiet such a large group could be, moving through the jungle. But the K`Rach did not stir in their sleep as the implacable hunters approached their sleeping mass.

They found the clutch of K`Rach, and hunkered down in the brush, just within sight. //So many of them.//

Qui Gon's voice echoed in Jim's mind. It was a little disconcerting to communicate without words, but Jim knew the value of silence. //There could be over a thousand of them. I had no idea there were no many of them. This is going to be rougher than I'd thought. If there were fewer, I'd have had everyone go in silently with knives and start killing from the outside in, but I don't see any way that would work now. There'd be some sort of outcry, the others would wake, and anyone that close would be a goner. I'm afraid this is going to have to be an out and out attack.// Jim was silent for a moment. //All those padawans--they have their lightsabers, and aren't afraid to use them, right? My kids are back there.//

Qui Gon put a hand on his shoulder. //They will die before they allow anything to happen to the little ones, Jim, and I will die to keep these things from getting that close. Remember, there are two that I love there also.//

Jim thought of Obi Wan, and Ginny Weasley, the grim love that had been on both young faces as they'd seen their mate go off to battle. //Yeah. Pass the word along--when I give the signal.// He waited as the Jedi sent the message to the mind of every Jedi and Clan member gathered around the K`Rach.

Jim took a deep breath. Even as he leaped from cover, his head went back, and he was raising a howl toward the moon--a howl of rage and vengeance that was as old and primitive as the moon itself.

Then the killing began.

It was a blood bath. The K`Rach had impressive teeth and talons, but they had no other weapons. The Clan attacked with knives and spears, the women just as ferocious as the men. The sight of Megan using a knife that would have made Crocodile Dundee weep with admiration, gutting a squalling, slashing K`Rach, would have made the men who used to drool over her legs or ass seriously rethink their attitudes about women.

The Jedi had spread themselves around the perimeter of the mass. They worked steadily, lightsabers flashing and buzzing. Heads and limbs flew, but there was little blood, because the lightsabers cauterized as they cut. This was the first time the Clan had seen Jedi fight, but they'd have to wait till later to be impressed--they were busy now.

Some of the K`Rach escapted the circle--it was inevitable. They did not pause to help the others of their kind who were battling, but just surged for the open. Having no emotioal ties to the ones dying around you made escape easier. The warriors didn't dare to turn and pursue them, as that would leave them vulnerable to attack from behind. They had to just pray as they killed that the defenders at the cave would manage until they could dispose of those in the forest, and go back to help.

The K`Rach who escaped the first wave of attackers ran into the second. They discovered that roused Guides and Anchors could be impressive fighters, too. Snape, Harry, and Ron were in this group (Ginny and Hermione had protested vehemently at being told to remain behind, but had grudgingly accepted when it was pointed out that they needed to keep some magic users at the cave to protect the children.) Snape, who was a practical man, hadn't the least hesitation to use the Avada Kedavra curse. Ron and Harry had to overcome their reluctance to use the forbidden killing curse, but they saw the necessity, and accounted for over a dozen K`Rach each.

But still some got through. Any sentient being would have fled and hid, but the K`Rach mind was fixed stubbornly on the delectable feast waiting in the cave, and the few who got through kept heading for the cave.

They were met at the edge of the clearing by the padawans, who fought in a manner made their Master's proud. One or two recieved minor wounds, but the other's quickly dispatched any K`Rach who managed to draw blood.

The council's defense plan was proved to be well thought out, the many layers of defense necessary--because several K`Rach managed to reach the cave. They never made it any closer to the babies, because Scribe, Ginny, Hermione, Neville, and Dennis were stationed inside as the last defense before the section guarded by Peja's Core.

One of the K`Rach grabbed at Ginny, and Hermione, furious, raised her wand. But she hesitated. They were too close. She couldn't risk hitting her friend instead. She didn't have to worry. Neville Longbottom, new fur bristling madly, leaped on the creature, biting and clawing. It released Ginny to deal with the furry creature attacking it. But Ginny didn't run, as it had expected. She snatched a small knife. It wasn't much of a knife, short bladed, and used only for idle carving, but it sank smoothly into the beast's back. Hermione finally used the curse on the other K`Rach who was coming up behind Ginny.

Scribe had lost a spear when it stuck in the body of another K`Rach. She was trying to jerk it free when the remaining K`Rach tackled her. Her breath was knocked out as she landed with the thing on top of her. She scrabbled for her knife, wheezing, but the thing had her throat in its hands, and was leaning down for the first bite, fangs glistening. She had a brief thought thst she was going to die without being able to see her loved ones again, but that they were safe--HAD to be safe, because this was the last, and the others would get it while it finished her.

There was a sickening, crunching thud. The creature on top of her jerked, then collapsed, the hands on her throat flexing, then going limp. It was jerked off of her. Dennis Finch, wide-eyed, was bending over her, clutching a blood and brains spattered rock. "You okay?" Scribe nodded. "Good. I wouldn't mind having Jim after my ass, but not like THAT." She started to struggle up, but he pushed her back down. "Rest a minute. I think that's the last of them."

Obi Wan, disheveled, came in, lightsaber burning. He looked around quickly, then relaxed slightly, letting the saber go dark again. "The others are on their way back. The Masters are searching the Force as they go. None will escape." He sighed, suddenly looking very young.

Scribe, rubbing her throat, said, "Just imagine Yoda's expression when he hears about this."

The young Jedi laughed. "From what Jane has said, he may very well wish he had been here--for the relative peace and quiet."

Sentinel Evolutions: #8: Jane #10

The Clan was subdued for the next few days following the Battle. It was seldom that so many Jedi had been needed to deal with such a threat, and all of the masters realized once they reviewed the event, that without the rest of the Clan members, that they would have been too few. Low level flights over the continent had shown that just as there were other Kreelo Clans, so there were other Hives?and more than once they found a decimated village. Others they moved to locations outside the home territory of the local Village, but within the area cleared of K`Rach. The local Village immediately sent some of its young adults to the new Villages and received an exchange of members from their's to mate with still theiryoung Kreelo. This established ties of blood and family and interlocked the new Villages with the long established one, and raised the Clan's neighbor's status within the area Villages to alpha. This was a welcome change.

Qui was also studying the terrain for another purpose?to locate a spot for a new branch Temple. He mentioned this to Jim who smiled and gestured toward one of the speeders that the masters had brought along in the Temple Vessel's cargo hold.

"I know just the place." He was about to show Jane's brother when they were interrupted.

"QUI?!"

He turned to look behind them, at said sister who was trotting up.

"There's no polite way to put this, so I'll just go ahead and say it." She took a deep breath, and both men stepped back nervously. A nervous Jane was one that was sort of scary.

Qui centered himself and stepped forward again, to lay his hand on his nervous sibling's shoulder.

"Tell me." He ignored the look from Jim that clearly indicated he thought the Jedi was nuts.

"Ginny's pregnant."

Qui paled, shivered and then sat down abruptly with Jane and Jim grabbing him to steady the poor man so he didn't fall wrong on his way to the floor. He didn't even register Jane's bellow of "OBI-WAN!"

Obi raced into the area that had been used as a parking place for the speeders. "Master!" He cried out as he slid to his knees, reaching out to cradle Jinn. He looked up in alarm at his master's sister, "What happened?"

Ginny's pregnant?and I told him so. He was apparently a bit under-educated as to just what sort of regular activity does that to women." She answered him dryly. "Don't worry, just do what he's done for you so many times over the years. Use your training bond with him to center him, once he realized what you're doing, he'll be fine."

Obi looked a little embarrassed, but he did as he'd been told, and a moment later his master shuddered once, then steadied a bit. Qui's eyes closed as Obi backed off a bit and let him finish centering.

"Thank you, padawan."

"Sure, felt a little weird, though."

Qui looked at his apprentice and smiled a little. "Of a surety. The last person who had to help me find my center was Yoda?over 25 years ago." He sighed. "She told you?"

"Uh, yeah." He shivered?I'm a bottom?most of the time," He said deliberately looking at Jim instead of Jane. "And when I do top it's with my master, sooo."

"So, the children are likely to be Qui's." Jim shrugged.

"Children? Plural?"

"Uh oh?no one told you about the, um, effects, of the coffee substitute, huh?"

"Effects?" Qui glared at his sister while listening to Ellison explain.

"So?how many?"

"Peja said three?"

"Triplets?" Qui moaned a bit in dismay.

"Girls."

He looked up at his sister. "Three little girls?" He asked softly.

"Uh huh, looks like you're hooked. Ginny said you're each of you going to name one?."

"My master is to have three baby girls?" Obi grinned, "Three to be born to the Core and who should be very strong in the Light?"

"And yet another reason why he's not going to be leaving anytime soon. When they're old enough their masters can come here. I've already alerted the entire Jedi personnel body as to the due date. That way, in a few years, when the time is right, masters will know to be extra sensitive to the Force. They'll be waiting for a Call. Unless we get really lucky and they're sent even earlier."

"Now, come on and learn how to handle and care for small infants before you need the information, Obi. Qui has something he was about to go do with Jim, I think. Oh, yes, Bro?Yoda was laughing his ass off at the idea of you being a daddy?so I told him at least your girls aren't hybrids and there is NO elf in any of them?for some reason he shut up at that point. I think I heard some crashing or something in the background. Oh, and the whole planet is singing what's now called Yoda's Song?" She paused as he started to laugh, and winked at Obi. She knew Qui was back to normal, now. He'd meditate later, and find a workable balance with the idea of being a blood parent to three tiny lives, she knew.

~~~~~~~~TWO HOURS and 50 KLICKS LATER~~~~~~~~~

"This is a lovely spot for a Temple, Jim!" Qui Gon smiled. "Thank you!"

"I'm glad you're pleased. The other masters, those that do not have padawans who are members of the Clan should have pleasing surroundings. I thought this would do."

Qui looked at him, brow raised. "Yes, I see the truth of this. Did you think I would take my mates and bail? I am a JEDI, sir. I never bail." He said mildly.

Jim watched and listened to the other man, then nodded. After a moment, he started to move rocks by brute strength to outline a foundation. Then, in a quiet voice he began to talk as he labored, telling Jane's brother all of the things she had revealed to himself over the last eighteen months. When he had finished, he paused to look at the other man's strong profile.

Qui Gon Jinn absorbed the information, then knelt to meditate on what he had just been told. After several hours, he came out of it and confirmed the information. "She is being Force Guided." He sighed then, and nodded his head. "My sister is an odd woman, her skill at Foretelling is formidable. She has never failed to Foresee True. Yoda knows this. The whole Jedi population does, and she hasn't been active in many decades. For her to push like this?" He sighed. "And she asked me to take over for her on all matters Jedi. This will keep me bound to this world, for a very long time. It is an important mission, a vital one, now that I have all the information. But it is also a lifetime commitment, this is my home, now. Not Coruscant. And I think it will remain so."

"I know. She made that fact fairly clear to me, a long time ago. I am a Sentinel, Jinn. I am the Alpha Sentinel of this world, just as you are now the Alpha Jedi, here. Would it be possible to make this world the hub of such a haven? Do we have to move the Clan?"

Qui Gon concentrated on the Force for several moments, then released its flow and looked at Ellison. "No, we do not have to move the Clan. The Force insists that this is the Place and this is the Time to begin building. That may be why she handed the position of Senior Master to me. Her skill is to Foresee, but her skills at living in the moment are not so well developed." He smiled a little, "That is my best skill. The Place is here, and the Time to Act is now."

"Then let us begin by building you your new Temple." The Sentinel said, giving Qui Gon Jinn a clear view of the ancient Spirit within the modern man. That was enough to tell the master Jedi many things, and he nodded to acknowledge them. He would forward his new insight to Yoda as soon as they got back to the Cave.

This development was definitely something the Jedi High Council needed to know about. And Jinn suddenly realized that for all the fun they were having at Yoda's expense over the Elf situation, the Elves would likely play a vital role in the next few years. Memory sounded in his mind, his sister's Voice telling him, "Born and Bred of the Light", "Immune to the Dark Side" and he understood. They had to be trained, yes, and rid of the tendencies toward accidents, but once they had been?. Once presented with the information, Yoda was more than strong enough in the Force to confirm it?.

"Oh My Sweet Force!" He breathed in awe. "I never realized just how Strong my sister is?to Foresee such as this!"

"There's something else you may have overlooked."

"Which is?"

"To be well-loved by such a woman is no bad thing?no matter how much she picks on you. That's why I've never fought her on any of it." Jim was back in the man's eyes, as he looked at the Jedi. "It was worth it to gain her regard. She was a tad put out with me when we met."

"Oh was she? And you survived her sharp tongue with your wits? Congratulations!" END:

End

Sentinel Evolutions by Royslady51, Scribe, Tequila Sarcasm and Kata
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