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    Cia
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Ancalagon - 77. Chapter 77

As if sensing my distress, Bouncer stood, his tail whipping. He bounced on his forelegs and rumbled. I interrupted Garjah before he could say anything else about the planet. “I think it’s time to break for today,” I said.

Bouncer insinuated his head under Garjah’s hand not joined with mine, and I leaned forward to rub his back. He’d been more than patient, but he struggled when cooped up and it’d been too long for him.

“We have space at the Institute that would be safe,” Dr. Chabney said. He stood from his seat and moved down the tiers. We both stood and Bouncer performed a prime example of his naming around me. “I can take you and your family.”

I looked behind us. My mother and father were standing with Dr. Vikrish, so apparently they weren’t done with us.

“What an excellent idea, Paell. Are you thinking about the south field?”

“That’s exactly what I was thinking. It should be clear this time of day.” They ushered us out, but Garjah refused their offer of a transport.

We did follow at a sedate speed behind their transport—much, much slower than what we were capable of.

“Do you think we should take off our suits?” I asked. “We aren’t going to be in front of all those bigwigs.”

“Just one. And the head of the Institute, and your parents.”

“Maybe it’s time to show a little trust.”

Garjah turned on the auto pilot. He hit the button his suit and it retracted. Large expanses of his skin were on display, his muscles no longer hidden behind the metal. Just like when I’d first met him. Maybe they should see him like this.

Then he hit the button on my suit, and I second-guessed that decision. I was not standing in front of my parents and anyone who might walk into the grounds of the park at the south field in what amounted to nut hugging fabric that went up the crack of my ass like a second skin. It hid nothing.

Nope. Not doing it. I turned to the storage cabinet that held clothing. I was getting dressed and so was he. “Here.” I tossed him a wrap. He casually crossed it around his waist and did the complicated twist fold that held it in place.

I put on some of the clothes we’d pulled out of the skimmer. The loose trousers were black and wrinkled, and the fire red shirt would never work with the second set of arms. I blinked and then smiled when the pale green tunic was held out in front of me. “Thanks.” I had to fold the front flap in on itself; even with the thicker bones and extra set of arms, Garjah dwarfed me.

“Very nice.” He ran a finger through the deep v that exposed my chest. I shivered.

“Not right now.”

“Later?”

“Yes.” I wasn’t sure where we’d be staying, but we’d be staying together and I’d make sure we’d have a nice bed. One not in a ship. Bouncer came first, and whatever politics my parents were playing. It certainly wasn’t family togetherness.

We set down just beyond the hedge that led to the field in the south garden. The trees were short, stunted compared to what I’d seen on Garjah’s planet. The field was a thin strip of manicured blue grass surrounded by pale white and yellow flowers.

There wasn’t an animal to be found, not even bugs. One of the reasons this place had always bothered me. It wasn’t natural. They called it a garden, and I guess it was that. It wasn’t right though.

Bouncer didn’t care about the lack of real nature. He brought his own wildness with him, tearing across the grass with huge bounds. He yipped, spinning and leaping back. I laughed and rubbed his head. “Yes, go have fun.”

We were not going to have as much fun. My mother’s nostrils flared as she looked at our outfits. Maybe we should have stayed in the suits. Then again, fuck it.

“He really isn’t tame, is he?” Dr. Chabney asked.

“No. His planet, the one your people are exploring, is wild. Full of animals that are out to eat or be eaten. He has armored skin, multiple eyes, huge ears, a mouth of razor sharp teeth, and claws that are tipped with poison. Yet only half of his generation will survive. Starvation, bigger predators, even prey will take its toll. They are fierce and dangerous.”

The whole time Garjah explained this, Bouncer was gleefully running around the garden. He didn’t give the grass any mind, tufts coming up as he stretched and flexed in great leaps but he landed between the flowers every time.

I took a few steps toward him, and he ran to me. Leaping up, he put his forelegs on my shoulders. Man, he’d gotten big when I hadn’t noticed. All the food we were feeding him. I stroked his head behind his ears. “Good boy.”

“Wild but safe?” my father asked.

Bouncer dropped down beside me and stared up at my father. He took a step back. I suppressed a smirk. “Depends on who you are, I guess.”

“This is not what we expected from your first assignment,” my mother said.

“Captain Sonez was biased. And a gropey bastard.” I refused to mince words for her sensibilities. We’d put enough distance between us and the Institute, though I knew Garjah’s more sensitive hearing would pick up our conversation. Just like I caught my mother’s inhaled gasp and huff but ignored it.

“He is highly decorated.”

“Doesn’t change reality. I needed to make my name.”

My father hadn’t looked away from Bouncer once. “You have done that. It’s not gone far, but those in charge have been talking about you.”

“Don’t say that like it’s a good thing,” Mother snapped.

Copyright © 2020 Cia; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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