Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission

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(From Sasha's Journal)

Well, it's been a few days since I've written. We finally got out of the hospital and made our way home. We stopped at Taggart's on the way home, to catch a bite to eat. In my case, a 'bite' amounted to nearly a kilogram of meat; what I didn't eat, Grandma did. Taggart's is a nice place, somehow managing a cozy atmosphere with all the space required for 'taurs within the building. The food's good, the prices excellent, and it's just a nice place to sit down with friends, something I did a lot of there, even before I grew some extra legs.

Trouble seems to be following us around, because the rental van Dad had managed to snag on short notice was vandalized; smashed glass, slashed tires, and the like. Fortunately, Mr. Taggart caught the vandals in the act, and simply sat on them until the police arrived. I had to work at not laughing; it was such a funny sight. Mr. Taggart is the largest morph I've seen on Pandora, and that's saying a lot.

Unfortunately, the rental company for the van has a 'No Taurs' policy, which meant we had to pay to replace the van. Grandma handled that. She doesn't like people knowing that she has a lot of money, some from her work; others from litigation carried out in the distant past, and banked for when someone could be found to claim it. She also made a note that she wouldn't have her business do business with them until they changed their policy. I suspect the poor manager on the other end of the line got frostbite; her voice was so cold when she told him this.

Mrs. Taggart was nice enough to give us a ride home in her family's 'van' – Grandma commented she'd seen smaller armored personnel transports. It had to be huge, considering the size of her lifemate and one of her sons. Still, it rode smoothly, and we were able to get home in relative comfort without feeling like sardines packed in a tin. Of course, the thought of sardines reminded me I was hungry again, which got a round of laughter from everyone, until Grandma's stomachs rumbled as well.

Dad's a pretty good cook, when he sets his mind to it. He knows how to do quite a bit with whatever he's got on hand, and the mess of noodles, vegetables and meat he came up with was very tasty. It's a shame he can't get on Iron Chef Interstellar, because he works for the local media outlet for it here on Pandora. I think he'd do quite well. Anyway, he whipped enough food for three times our number, and Grandma took the leftovers home, because she had little left on the shelf. Normally, any one of my four aunts would have been home, but Sakura had gotten married, Ashalla was attending college half a planet away, and Silha and Golda were studying off planet. I'd often wondered if Grandma ever got lonely in that house, by herself....

My next day was spent getting some new clothes and school uniforms. Most of my tops still fit, especially the halter tops and t-shirts, but most of my nicer clothes needed to be altered to fit my new body a little better. Fortunately, the school uniforms were not much changed, since the normal one for a chakat was the jacket and a slightly altered top. We had a nice lunch out at one of the sidewalk cafés that were common in the shopping district, and then went home. We were pretty sure we saw Grandma out and about, heading towards one of the places she liked to eat at, but we had other things to do.

We met Dad after lunch – he took off from work early, “A slow day,” he'd said - and went looking at PTV's (Personal Transport Vehicles, for those of you not familiar with them) that were made or could be modified for Taur passengers or drivers. We full expected to see Grandma there as well, but I guess she had business elsewhere. We decided to get our van modified with a pair of seats that could be used either by taurs or by bipeds, and a small two-seater, similarly equipped. It would be a little expensive, but it's not like we didn't have any money, either.

As the Day wore on, I started getting nervous, mainly because I would be going back to school at the start of the new term, which would be tomorrow. Some of my girlfriends came over that evening, and let me know that I was still their friend, no matter how many feet I had. That boosted my lagging spirits greatly. The one that I'd heard nothing from in the last couple of months had been Aalekz, my would-be boyfriend. Despite their reassurances that everything would be fine, I couldn't shake this nagging doubt.

School went to Hell in a hand basket today. Classes weren't so bad, it was lunch. My nagging doubts about Aalekz, unfortunately, proved true. It turns out he thought I was some kind of freak, and didn't want anything more to do with me. I'm afraid I almost did something I would've regretted – my species was bred for a high gravity environment, and while nowhere near as strong as Grandma, I am stronger than I look. I could feel Aalekz' hatred, so cold and painful that it physically hurt. Things got a little hazy then, because the next thing I knew, people were starting to edge for the doors, and Connor Taggart had me in a restraining hold, keeping me from cuffing Aalekz, which probably would have snapped his neck.

Brightpaw got me calmed down to the point where I was just crying, instead of wanting to hit something, and hir sister, Jinx, had pulled Aalekz unceremoniously out of the way, when the only fur larger than Connor – Mr. Vilbowski, one of our vice-principles, came to collect his wayward students and sent them down to the office. I went to the counselor's office, with Brightpaw and Jinx, who were keeping me calm.

My guidance counselor is Mrs. Casull, who is also my homeroom teacher. It appears that I have some kind of talent – the polite word for the common powers of the mind – that had kicked in while I was upset. I knew Brightpaw and Jinx were empaths – nearly all chakats are, to some extent, and it appears I might be, too. I wasn't surprised at all. I mean, my life has been turned upside down and inside out in the last couple of months, so what's one more surprise?

A call, apparently, had gone home, because Grandma was there, waiting for us as we got out of school. She was dressed in some casual clothes, but there were two things that stood out. She had her PDS holstered in plain view at her side, which meant she was expecting trouble from some quarter, and the less serious item was the fact that the end of her tail was bandaged. After we had walked away from school, she sheepishly admitted “One of my cleaning bots decided to see what my tail tasted like.” That got a bunch of giggles from all of us, raising my spirits a bit.

I was actually glad to see her there, but there was going to be a time where I'd have to fight my own battles, and stop hiding behind my formidable relatives.

A stop at an Ice Cream shop got the lot of us a small snack from Grandma, who saw us all the way to the Tube Station, where we parted company. She saw me all the way home, and stayed to talk with mother for a while, before leaving.

I cried myself to sleep that night, a part of my world having come apart to reveal an ugly truth: You couldn't tell who hated you just by looking at them, and friends could become enemies in the blink of an eye, over small (or not so small) differences.

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Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission iconReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission

Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission iconPygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission iconSallie Bernard* Albert Enayati, B. S., Ch. E., M. S. M. E. Heidi Roger

Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission iconThe Project Gutenberg ebook of George Bernard Shaw, by Gilbert K. Chesterton

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Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission iconThis work is a compilation drawn, with permission, from the best on the

Chakats © Bernard Doove/Chakat Goldfur used with permission iconJames P. Chambers1,*, Bernard P. Arulanandam1, Leann L. Matta2, Alex Weis3, and James J. Valdes4

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