Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission




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A Four Footed Tale

Part III

(Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur – used with permission)


The day began much like any other on the Planet of Pandora. Millions across the planet returning home, millions getting ready to start the day, all in relative peace and safety.


This annoyed one person on the planet to no end. He went by many names, and had many faces. In this instance, he wore the face of a young Vragr refugee, driven from their home systems by an incursion by unknowns, driving most of them rimward from the extents into the reaches of Known Space. Several hundred thousand of them had made it as far as Pandora, where they had relatives working on the planet.


It hadn't made any difference to Shaughnessy what the young pup had wanted. He had been simply been handy when he needed to swap bodies to avoid being caught. He was what they called an AP construct – essentially a person on a chip – that could be plugged into someone's Neural Interface Plugs, if they had them. Once jacked in, the AP took over the conscious control of the body, and went about its business, usually something unpleasant. Out on this end of space, N.I. gear wasn't all that common, which made it difficult to swap bodies.


I just need to be more careful, thought the AP to himself. His mission was to increase the interspecies tensions on this world, the antithesis of what his masters desired – a world where some five hundred sentient species lived together and worked in relative harmony. A shining example of what could be possible. His masters wanted it gone. Heavy handed methods had failed in the past – Pandora's intelligence and law enforcement agencies were highly skilled and motivated in dealing with such methods – so now they sent a single man in, with instructions for the long term; namely, increase racial tensions to the point where the Pandoran sphere didn't have the time to deal with external threats anymore.


His job had been made much easier by the presence of a small community of chakats on the planet. They made easy targets because of their unique physiology, which most uninformed people thought unnatural. He had talked to a few people who had friends, and they talked, and came up with some ideas of their own, and took it from there. Soon, the intolerance had spread to 'taurs and other multi-legged sentients, but it remained relatively minor stuff. A merchant couldn't refuse to do business with anyone if they wanted to keep their licenses, but they could make the experience miserable for customers they didn't want. Several places already had such policies in place, and more were doing the same thing every day.


However, for things to move forward, the hatred and the intolerance needed to be brought to a whole new level. Some racial violence was always refreshing, and could easily destroy even the most well educated society. So, he had started to put together what he would need, a gravitic munition, good for a 40G tidal surge, which would flatten most buildings, and reduce nearly any life form into a thin paste.


He set about the final assembly of the device, already thinking about a target.



Kryslin's day had started off reasonably well. Breakfast, therapy, a few items of personal business, and then, house cleaning. It went easily enough at first; Kryslin was a tidy individual, a holdover from her normal line of work, being a spacer. Everything on board a ship had a place it belonged. Unsecured items, under thrust, became dangerous airborne projectiles and debris which clogged up the filters on the life support system. So, there usually wasn't much to clean up, even with her daughters home.


That was before the equivalent of a tiger had moved in, complete with all the shedding problems that entailed. That meant some vacuuming needed to be done. It had started off well enough, the small housekeeping robots handling most of the work, right up to the point where one ran over the end of her tail, and proceeded to ingest the appendage.


Kryslin's bellow of surprise and pain was loud enough to be heard at her neighbor's place.


Jeeves had been dutiful enough to shut down the errant 'bot, but getting her tail out of it was going to require outside assistance. Hence, a call to the local EMT service for assistance.


“This is embarrassing,” she muttered as the paramedic set about freeing her tail, with its mangled end, out of the errant robot. A BnL robotics service rep came out immediately to check the machine, to make sure that this was simply an accident, or that the robot had been tampered with.


“The machine is clean,” he stated, as he put away his tools. “They'll need to have a software upgrade done, to handle a few extra items around the house, like your tail. I'd like to schedule another service call to have it done, since I don't have the tools with me.”


Kryslin nodded, and then winced, as the end of her tail was bandaged. “Schedule it for as soon as you can get it done. Jeeves,” she called to the air at large, “cancel anything on my schedule for the morning; they want to take me into the hospital.”


“Certainly, Ma'am. I've already scheduled the upgrades for the cleaning 'bots as well.”


Riding in an ambulance wasn't a novel experience for Kryslin. Not anymore. She'd been in one often enough, as patient and paramedic. The ride was brief, since the hospital was close by. Of course, Spirit was the ER physician. The universe has a weird sense of humor, she thought to herself.


“What happened this time?” Shi said as the bandages came away. “Looks like your tail got caught in a vacuum cleaner...” The chakat had noticed Kryslin's ears flushing red. “Oh, my. I meant it to be silly, but I hadn't realized...”


“No apology needed,” replied Kryslin. “Humanity has a proverb about being '...As nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” I guess the same could apply to chakats and vacuum cleaners as well.”


Spirit nodded, grinning. “Indeed it does. It’s the most common household accident with cubs, in fact. The damage doesn't appear to be too bad, mainly contusions and some missing fur. I'll re-bandage it, and I recommend keeping it clean. If you want to use an anti-biotic ointment, feel free. It should heal up naturally in a few days time, and you'll never know it had happened.” And with that, shi wrapped the end of Kryslin's tail back up in clean bandages, and wrapped a latex bandage around it, for added protection. “There, all done. I'll check up on it when I come see Sasha and you for therapy out at your place in the evening, in 2 days. Tail high,” she said, using the traditional chakat parting, “It's not only polite, it's your doctor's advice, too!”


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