I smiled and shook my head. Kids! The energy SaraChristine has sometimes is astounding, but I guess that's to be expected of even a seventeen year-old. And the way she took to those skis still amazes me. We've only been out here five days and already the Diff-2 slopes are no problem for her. I've been watching her schuss over the snow as if she were born on those damned slats. I imagine, however, that Naomi would have found passing a pair of skis difficult. Sara alone was no fun at birth.
Then again, Sara, being a Mustela, can't weigh more than 35 kilos, so that might be her advantage. She does sometimes seem to be just flying over moguls, catching air and sailing on to the next mound of snow and ice for more.
I watched her until she was about halfway down the slope, adjusted my glasses and followed after her. There was a time when I had sworn never to set foot on a pair of skis again. But technology makes all sorts of changes, and although my face felt frostbitten, the rest of me of was comfortably warm, especially the feet. That was the most important thing, the feet.
The reflexes were coming back to me now, after a few days on the slopes, and I was actually enjoying myself out here with my granddaughter. Of course, she insisted on doing this in nothing but a pair of skipants, insisting that her dense fur would keep the cold off the rest of her. Which it seemed to be doing quite well; I would have been freezing in her place. Sara has precious little bodyfat.
On the other hand, I was wearing an environment jumpsuit that, had I brought a helmet, would have been vacuum-worthy. I don't like the cold and wet, and that was one of the reasons I gave up most snow sports. I still like snow, though, which is why Shardik Castle is situated over such a huge weathervane.
I pushed off with my skis, handling the hill easily and joining her at the bottom of the slope. "You have to be careful, kiddo. You could take another fall, like yesterday's."
"Oh, Granfa," she said, "You worry too much."
"And I'm allowed, too. I'm gonna do Ruins tomorrow."
A small chill traveled up my spine. "You will do no such thing."
"Granfa, it's not that hard."
"Sara, The Ruins of Terra is the hardest slope on this entire mountain. It's virtually a cliff! I refuse to permit you to attempt that hill."
"The bowl's harder," the said tauntingly.
"The bowl is not harder. The bowl is just cluttered because it's not a real trail, so... Sure, you could hit a rock or a tree or something, but nowhere in the bowl is there a seventy degree drop to fall off of."
"I want to do it. And I'm going to." She pulled her right ski around and poled off in a huff, heading down the connecting trails for the SDisk back to the top. I followed after her and was relieved when I saw that she had waited for me.
I've been told that I'm too damned indulgent, that I let my kids get away with too much. But if she really wanted to do the Ruins, she was going to, with or without me, and it was better if she did them with me. As we crossed onto the LASDisk I said "T-three."
We teleported to the top of peak three, which from the base lodge would have been the leftmost mountain. The tallest of the three, it was the only one with two different sets of trails, one of which required that you ski completely around the back of the peak and then down into the trails for peak two. The other set, known as The Blacks, led down to a single SDisk. All of the Blacks were considered dangerous, the most treacherous slopes on the entire mountain range. And dead center of The Blacks lay The Ruins of Terra.
"What are we doing here?" Sara asked, shivering. Peak three's arrival SDisk was just above the tree-line, and the cold air cresting over the summit was finally digging under her fur. It's a pretty mountain against the magnificent blue sky, especially with the wind pulling the snow over the top in a constant wall of powered white.
We stepped aside to make room for a pair of Felinzi who wisely had chosen to wear jackets. "You said you wanted to do Ruins. Well, let's go do it."
"Are you sure?" I suppressed a smile when I heard the "I'm not" in the way she said that.
"Yes. I at least want to be there, so somebody will know where your body is when you get killed."
"Oh, Granfa." She stuck her pink tongue out at me. "You worry too much," she repeated.
"With good reason!" I called after her as she headed down into The Blacks. With a sigh, I poled down after her. When I caught up to her, she was standing at the head of The Ruins, looking down. For the first time that day, her face reflected uncertainty. "Well," I said, "You said you wanted to conquer the hardest hill in all of Lossumbo, and here it is."
"It didn't look this steep in the graphics." Her sleek Lutra form leaned over the break in the slope, looking carefully.
"Never does," I said, following her gaze. It nearly is a cliff for the first forty meters or so, almost straight down. Takes the edge off your skis rather quickly. Then the slope eases, only to become icy and uneven. The Ruins of Terra is an "ungroomed" slope. "Ready?"
"You're going to do it?" she asked, incredulous.
"I've done Ruins before." More than a century ago, I thought, but did not let her know that. "I'm going to watch you go first."
She took a final glance downward, then pushed in at an angle. The first bit of fun came when she had to make her turn before the cliff- face ended. At one point her skis would be pointed straight down.
She made the turn, but not easily. Near the end of the turn she flailed for balance. I smiled and headed out in the other direction, so that we'd essentially be 'stitching' our way down the hillside, meeting only where our ski-trails crossed in the middle. When we hit the moguls, she took off, however, completely ignoring me and sailing downwards, playing with air. Moguls seem to be her strong point; she reached the bottom of the hill at a speed that had my heart pounding. I took my time getting there. She smiled at me and said, "How was that?"
"Not bad," I said praisingly. "You didn't seem to enjoy the cliff, though."
"That was no fun," she admitted. "But when I got to the moguls, whee!"
I laughed. "I'm glad you liked it."
"Hey, can we get to the SDisk? I want to try The Hurlant next."
I sighed. "SaraChristine, for your fifth day on skis, are you sure you want to play in The Blacks all day?"
"Sure, why not?" she said, smiling and pushing off again.
I sighed. "Because I'm getting to be an old man?" I said under my breath before following after her. I was having trouble catching up to her... she was really speeding down the easier hills. She disappeared around a corner.
I turned the corner myself and she was nowhere to be seen. This section of trail was wide... there was no way she could have been that far enough ahead of me to be out of sight. Not without rockets.. I pushed my skis left, coming to a stop. "Sara?"
There was no reply. "SARA?" I shouted. I scanned the large expanse of trail where I stood. There were no other skiers around me. I found a single ski trail leading off the path and into wide stand of trees to my right. I poled over and followed the trail into the woods, calling. "Sara!"
"Grandfa?" Her voice was weak and full of pain, in front of me, somewhere. "I'm cold."
I followed the trail a little further and found her. I could still see the open slope from where she lay, propped up against a tree. Still, something about her looked.... wrong. With a quick flip of the locks I was free of the skis and ran over to her. "Are you okay?"
"I'm hurt...oh! My leg... I think, maybe, I broke it?"
"How bad does it hurt?"
"Really bad," she said, plaintively. There were tears in her eyes. It must have hurt. She hadn't even cried when I'd pulled one of her cubbing teeth.
"This one?" I asked.
"Yeh," she said, panting hard. Her eyes were wide and frightened. Those damned Mustela Lutra eyes.
"Sara," I said, "talk to me. Stay awake. You might go into shock, and out here that's not a good idea. Can you hear me?"
"I hear you, Granfa. It hurts!"
"I know, I know sweetheart. Just breathe easy. Take deep, slow breaths. Got that?"
"I understand," she said, putting a hand to her chest and counting her breaths. Dammit, Mustel legs are not supposed to be easy to break... the bones are at least as heavy as humans', and I should know. I figured that, being so short, with that bent-knee gait, they would need a heavier bone structure.
"Take it easy." There was snow all through her fur- she was going to be losing body heat fast. I had to get her to a lodge as soon as possible. I pulled out my pocket knife and located the leg she had indicated, slicing along the length of the waterproof pants she wore. "What are you doing?" she asked.
"Checking for blood. Okay, good." I put my hands on her leg gently... she whimpered, fearing the pain I might be about to inflict, but what I was actually doing was turning on the diagnostic sensors I had installed in my hands all those centuries ago and had never bothered to remove. "Sara, you've got one clean break, in the thigh." The thigh on a Mustel is very short; I moved up. Nothing. Moving down, I found something else. "You've also got a slight splinter in your kneecap. You must have hit the tree really hard. What happened?"
"I don't know. I hit a patch of ice and lost my left ski. I couldn't control where I was going and I ran into the woods."
"'Ran into' is a good description," I said. "Didn't bring a radio with you, did you?"
She shook her head. "Neither did I," I said. I cued the biocybe in my head, seriously in doubt as to the presence of an AI cell site anywhere near here, the middle of nowhere. Brainstatic. She was starting to shiver, and her eyes were glazing slightly. "Okay," I said, stripping off my jacket and handing it to her. "Put this on. I'm gonna have to carry you out of here. It's going to hurt, but we need to get you into warmth fast." She nodded. "Brave girl," I said.
I returned to my skis, snapping them on quickly and easing over to her. "Ready?"
"I think so," she said. I bent down and eased my hands under her knees and shoulders.
"On three," I said. "One, two-!" I hoisted her into the air. She gave a low, painful whimper right next to my ear, then began sobbing, gently.
"Okay?" I asked.
"No," she said, shivering. "Get me home, quickly, please?"
I nodded and headed out of the woods, slowly and carefully. Without my poles and with added weight, I was having trouble navigating, and I didn't want to think of what would happen if I dropped her. She put her arms around my neck and held on tight while I snowplowed most of the way to the SDisk. When we hit it I said, "Lodge."
We blinked to directly outside the lodge. The first thing out of my mouth was "Medical emergency! Help!"
We were almost instantly surrounded by people taking her out of my arms, telling her she was going to be okay, easing her into a stretcher and whisking her into the infirmary. The head of the team was a Ssphynx who identified himself as Leoni. "Don't worry. We'll have her on her feet in about a week."
"That bad?" I asked.
"Hard to say," he admitted. "But Mustel bones take a long time to knit... a lot of mass to crossknit with, you know."
"I know," I said, smiling.
"Oh... I'm sorry, Vatare'... I didn't mean to imply..."
"Leoni," I said. "I'm standing out here without my jacket, slowly freezing to death. Go take care of your patient and allow me to go and get something warm into me."
"Of course... I'm sorry, sir."
"Don't call me sir. And stop apologizing."
He smiled and gave me a mock salute. "If that's the way you want it. Should I tell you when she's ready to go?"
"'T'would be nice," I said.
"Later, then." He ran towards the infirmary. At first I had wondered about a Ssphynx as part of a ski rescue team, but I realized that he would probably use a gravflitter to get around the mountain and on the ground his running on all fours probably gave him more stability.
I wandered into the lodge, grabbing a cup of hot chocolate and downing it quickly, ignoring the fact that I was burning my tongue. I was cold! I got a second cup, allowing this one to cool a little before drinking it. I sat by the fireplace and waited.
A couple of hours passed before the Ssphynx wandered into the lodge waiting area and said "Shardik?"
"She's ready. I think you should pick her up. We had to secure the leg from thigh to calf. We didn't have to wrap the hip, fortunately, but she's going to be off her feet for at least two weeks."
I whistled low. "Ouch."
"Yes," he replied. "There was significant damage to the femur. It looks like crushing damage. I think she cracked the leg against the tree and then dropped onto her knee, ramming the two broken bones together and snapping that splinter in her cap."
I shuddered. "Where is she now?"
"In the infirmary. C'mon, I'll let you collect her."
"Just a sec," I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. "I think I should get her a jacket first."
He nodded. "That was yours, wasn't it? It seemed a little large for her."
I nodded, smiling. We stopped in the skishop to pick up a jacket sized for Mustela before making our way to the infirmary. As I walked in the first thing I heard was "Granfa!"
"Hiya sweetheart," I said, hugging her close. "How's it feel?"
"Hurts," she said. "But not as bad as before." She looked up at me, her black eyes glittering. "Thank you."
"I was serious when I said 'body.' You could have been killed."
"But I wasn't on Ruins!" she insisted as I helped her into the gravchair.
"But you forgot that you were in the Blacks. That trail looked easy, but you forgot that it's not groomed and so could have rocks, branches, and ice. You hit the ice and lost control."
She nodded. I leaned over and kissed her on the nose. "You'll be skiing again in two weeks."
She pouted, wrinkling her wide, black nose. "I don't think I ever wanna ski again."
"Oh, pooh, sweetheart. Of course you wanna ski again. It's too much fun! Just remember to be careful next time and take things slowly."
She nodded. "Can we go home?"
I nodded and we teleported back to the Castle. "Hiya, Dave."
"Hello, Ken. Aaden has not called since you last checked; he and Moclellan appear to have extended their outing several days. P'nyssa will be home in a few hours."
"What time is it locally?" I asked. The Lossumbo mountain range is in a different time zone from the Castle, and with SDisks making the change nearly instantaneous, that's a common question.
"Thirteen twelve," Dave replied casually. "Would you like me to make dinner?"
I thought about it; I hadn't had Dave cook me anything in over year. He's actually a reasonable cook. "What have you got in mind?"
"Sara?" Dave asked.
"Lasagne," Sara replied. I stifled a laugh as she said it; Lasagne seems to be the favorite food of the kids around here. I could never figure it out. But I've made it so often myself that I've got my recipe memorized.
"It will be ready in one hour," Dave replied. From the kitchen rose the sounds of pots clattering. Dave has always had something of a showy personality, for an AI. He didn't have to make pots clatter and clank, but he wanted to.
Sara directed her chair to take her to her bedroom, and I followed her. The number of people actually living in the Castle was at an all-time low; most people had found the old cube a depressing place to live in when P'nyssa and I had been declared missing and had moved out, finding new places to call their own.
I was grateful that Salta and Naomi had accepted my invitation to move in; Naomi had been one of the few early Mustela who I seemed to get along with. I still haven't figured out why it is, but some of my species didn't mesh well with my personality when they were decanted, making choices and interactions between them and the rest of Pendor difficult. My frustration with Dolphins and particularly the Ssphynx had inspired me to try and avoid that particular mindset in the Mustela. It hadn't worked.
Inside, Sara disappeared into the bedroom. I heard some clattering from within, followed by "Granfa!"
"You okay, sweetheart?"
Sighing, I descended into the bedroom. She was in the bathroom, sitting on the floor of the shower. "What's wrong?"
"I can't get up!" She pouted.
"But what are you doing down there?"
"I want to get washed up, but I fell down and I can't reach the shower!"
I smiled and reached up, handing her the showerhead. "Sara, would you like me to wash you?"
"Would you?" she asked, her eyes lighting up like twin beacons.
"Of course I would," I said, indulgently, as always. I turned on the water and adjusted the temperature until she said it was perfect, then began massaging her gently with it. Mustela Lutra, being an otter variant, have very dense fur and water's not supposed to get underneath it, but in Sara's case her father wasn't a Lutra but a Zebbara variant, having a very soft, almost downy fur. The combination in Sara was visually beautiful, but she did tend to get some rather disturbing skin infections. We had it mostly under control nowadays; part of it was just her going through puberty.
I grabbed the medicinal soap we used for her and began rubbing it softly into her back. There's something slightly disturbing to me about fondling, even functionally, someone as small as Sara, or most Mustela for that matter. I haven't figured that out either, although I feel sure it's something like what happened between Karen and I, this time the 'difference' being a matter of size. Am I afraid of "breaking" her because she's so small, or am I afraid of seeing her as immature for the same reason? I don't know.
Unaware of the thoughts going through my head, Sara just leaned forward as I soaped her completely, feeling the stiff, fine fur sliding under my fingertips. She was chittering gently, her eyes closed. I scrubbed the top of her head, taking care not to get soap into her ears or eyes, and worked my way further down her thick neck. As my hands stroked her back and worked around to her front, I hugged her tightly. "I'm glad you're okay, Sara. You had me so worried."
"I'm sorry, Granfa. I guess I should listen to you next time."
"I... I'll try," she said with that earnestness that all adolescents seem to have. She tilted her head up and turned it around, demonstrating the incredible flexibility that most of the Mustela have, and gave me a kiss on my neck. Then she giggled.
"What's so funny?"
"You're getting a hard-on."
I hadn't heard that particular phrase in so long it took me a whole second to figure out what she meant. "I am?" I asked, looking down. Sure enough, one had snuck up on me. "Sorry."
"That's okay," she said. "Would you like to do something with it?"
"You could make love to me."
"What, right here in the shower?"
"Why not? The shower's one of your design, made for that, remember?" She grinned wide. She turned the rest of her body around and sat down in my lap. "Is something wrong?" she asked, reading the expression on my face.
"I don't know," I admitted. "Hard as I am, I feel kinda strange even thinking about making love with you, Sara; I guess it's because you're so small, I'm afraid of 'breaking' you."
"You can't break me, Granfa. Well, no more than I'm already broken," she smiled, rapping her cast with her knuckles. "Come on; before it fades away," she said, indicating 'it' by reaching out and stroking my cock with her paws, making sure it wasn't about to fade away immediately.
"It's what you want, right?"
"Would I be asking you if I didn't, Granfa?" Her eyes were full of lust. It would have been hard to resist even if I had wanted to.
I smiled. "I guess not." I reached up over to the small inset rack where the soaps, shampoos and things are held, and realized that I wasn't in my bathroom. I chuckled.
"What's so funny?" she asked.
I shook my head to marshal my thoughts. "There's something about my shower, I think, that illustrates just perfectly what kind of people P'nyssa, Aaden and I are."
"Like the fact that in my shower, along with all this stuff there's also a bottle of lubricant."
She giggled. "I should have thought of that," she said, smiling. She grabbed my wrist and pulled my hand between her legs. "Feel. I think I'm wet enough."
"I think you are, too," I said, sliding my fingers along her cunt. She chirred softly as I did, and the lips of her pussy felt small in my hand as I cupped her mons. "So, what's a good position for a Mustela with a broken leg?"
"Well," she said, her twin black eyes smiling, "Since my leg is bent at the knee, the best position, I think, would be from behind, don't you?" She turned over onto her good knee and slowly eased herself over until she was kneeling in front of the sitting bench on the far wall of the showerstall. "Like this."
"Just like that, huh?" I said, coming up behind her and caressing her back. She sighed and laid her head down on the bench.
"Just like that," she sighed as I pressed my insistent erection against her full and puffy cunt. She was wet, inside and out, as my cock slid into her, nestling deep against the back wall of her cervix. And I was so lucky she was that wet, because her tiny size extended all the way down between her legs; her cunt was tighter than anything I could recall in my long and experienced memory.
I leaned over and kissed the top of her head. "Feel good?" I asked.
"Mm-hmm," she replied, pushing back against my hips until a small high-pitched groan escaped her. "I like that kind of depth."
"Really," she sighed. I began stroking back and forth, and was a little surprised at how steady she seemed to be; then I saw that her claws were extended into the padding of the bench, holding on as we made love.
I slowed down and watched as my cock stroked in and out of her cunt; it was perverse, the sight of her small body striking up against the bench with my every thrust, and the chirrs of pleasure escaping her muzzle were in some ways the only thing convincing me to keep going; that and the incredibly wonderful sensation of her tight, hot cunny sucking my cock in with every gently thrust.
"Gods, Sara, I love you," I said gently as I leaned over.
"Then do that harder," she sighed as she turned her head around to kiss me.
My favorite kind of female; one who tells me what she wants. She was small enough that I could join her in leaning over onto the bench. I could put my head right next to hers if I wanted, and I did. We looked at each other and I smiled; she smiled back. "Ready?"
"Good!" I snarled as I began stroking her hard, fucking her without pause. I had no intention of being gentle, and the moans coming from her were somewhere between pleasure and pain, but as long as she didn't voice a complaint I wasn't about to slow down. Our bodies slammed together, and soft grunts came from her on my every downstroke. "I'm getting closer," I said.
"So am I," she said through clenched teeth. "Hold out for me."
"I will," I whispered, fucking her so very hard I was afraid of crushing her. The shower filled with steam that may have been our own doing; I was starting to overheat, but I didn't give a care if I did. I wasn't going to fail her; I was going to give her what she wanted.
My cock began to respond on it's own, swelling with pleasure and approaching climax. "Sara..."
"I'm right there, Granfa..." she hissed. I gave her another hard stroke, and another, demanding my own orgasm stay down. Faster, harder, and then this quiet squeal began to come from her, building within her, and finally it burst out of her, echoing throughout the shower stall. Her body shivered and quaked underneath me, and I let my own climax loose, joining her scream with my own as I came.
I sat back onto my thighs; she followed suit, sitting next to me, positioning her broken leg carefully. I smiled and said "I hope I lived up to your standards."
"Oh, Granfa, you did more than that!" she said, leaning over to hug me; again, her arms barely reached around my torso. "I love you, Granfa."
"I love you too, sweetheart. But I think we should get cleaned up now."
"Okay," she said, her eyes alight again and a big smiled on her face. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," I replied as I soaped her body gently, cleaning off the lubricant and semen and whatever else from between her legs. "We should be careful not to get too much water into that cast. We have enough trouble with you and those skin infections."
"I know," she replied. "I'll just force some air down there afterwards. It'll be okay."
"Okay," I smiled. "You're the boss."
"Uh-huh," she said.
We cleaned and dried off, using a tight-nozzled hair dryer to force air down her cast.
We wandered back into the Castle, and dinner. Dave was, as always, the perfect cook. And I must have forced nearly a pound of the stuff into her. She needed calories to knit bone. And regain her strength.