Sometime late that night he awoke, not in the heat of another dream but from more mundane needs; his bladder was screaming. He tried to get up, but something was in bed with him. He pushed the sheets back carefully, and was stunned to find Furry curled up in a little ball. He eased himself out of bed with excessive care, padding over to the bathroom and closing the door before he fumbled for the light. "Is there an AI here?" he asked quietly.
"I am here, and my name is Sean."
"Is my mother aware that Jofuran Shigokai is in my bedroom?"
"Not that I know of. Jofuran's parents know. Is that a concern to you?"
Nickolai paused for a moment. "No," he said finally. "That's okay."
"Would you like me to assist in preventing your mother from discovering this fact?"
"Within limits, yes," the AI replied. Nickolai thought the voice was particularly amused.
"Then please do," he said, silently. He relieved himself quickly, feeling a little disturbed that the AI could hear the trickle. "Sean?" he asked quickly.
"Can you see me?"
"Of course. Would you like me to disable cameras? I can if you so require."
"Would I know the difference?"
"Seeing as you are a guest, the answer is no. I'm afraid that disabling the cameras will not help you in some functions."
"What do you mean?"
"Disabling the camera technically means that I will not remember what happens before them; I will not be allowed to keep or recollect the events I see before quote disabled unquote cameras."
"You can't just turn them off?" Kolya asked.
"No; I am required to monitor events in order to prevent you from being hurt or hurting others."
"This means you have to watch me piss?"
"I will be when you do. I don't remember you doing so."
"I just did."
"As I said, I don't remember you doing so. That's not a matter of privacy, either; my memory, while impressive even compared with the complete on-line accessible memory of all Terra, is not infinite. I'm not going to bother to remember watching everyone on Parma urinate every time. I discarded that memory, along with several million others."
"Sounds like a very alien way to live."
"AI's are not organic; we are a distinct life form, and our thinking processes are partially determined by our ability to completely and accurately control what we remember."
"Or not remember."
"No. I cannot control what I do not remember. My ability to forget is so complete that, unlike organics, I cannot remember that I forgot something. I can surmise from your present physical condition and location that you urinated recently, but I do not remember watching you do so, nor do I remember issuing the command to forget that event."
"Sean?" Nickolai asked, "What do I do now?"
"You mean, in regards to the lovely young femMark in your bed?"
Nickolai wondered by what criteria an AI would judge someone as "lovely." "Yeah," he answered.
"I would suggest you return to bed."
"But she's there!"
"That's the point. I am not aware of your relationship with Furry, beyond that you and she are close friends. I would assume that her actions are indicative of her wish to be close to you physically. Unless you have an objection to that sort of contact, why don't you just go back to bed?"
Nickolai suddenly realized that he was arguing with a Pendorian machine, and the Pendorian part of it was going to have a very Pendorian attitude. He sighed and shut off the lights, opened the door.
In bed, Furry had moved closer to the wall, so that he would have to sleep on the other side of the bed from where he had started. He eased himself under the covers.
Her breathing was slow and regular; he found it disturbing only in that he had never actually slept with anyone before. Usually, "to sleep with" was a polite term for having sex. In his wakeful state he reached out to touch her back and slowly stroked her fur gently. It was short, but very fine and soft, and the feeling under his fingertips was delightful. He pulled his hand back, upset with himself because he realized she hadn't given him permission touch her.
"Why'd you stop?" she murmured softly.
"You're awake?" he asked, panic seizing him by the throat.
"I woke up when you got back into bed. Why'd you stop touching me? I liked it."
"I didn't know if you..."
"Well, now you do. Kolya? Are you tired?" She hadn't turned from her curled-up position facing away from him.
"Uh-huh," he acknowledged.
"Then cuddle up close to me and let's go back to sleep?"
He wriggled closer to her, curling around her form. The fur along her back tickled his chest slightly, and as he draped his hand over her body he realized that his wrist and hand were nestled just between her breasts and against her throat. "Comfortable?" she asked.
He swallowed and said, "Yeah."
She raised her head slightly and said, "I've never done this either, Kolya. I just wanted to feel you next to me."
Nickolai snuggled as close as he could; despite his earlier weariness, he didn't really feel tired now. As he lay next to her the warmth of her soft body lulled him, but not enough to lull him to sleep. More to curiosity. He flexed his left hand gently against her collarbone, feeling the hardness of it under her fur, her skin. His hand, almost of it's own violition, slid along her fur to her breast. He could feel the yielding mass of it under his palm. "Kolya?"
Her voice startled him. "Yeah?" he asked, feeling guilty, feeling caught.
"You aren't tired, are you?"
There was a pause. He had been expecting the question "What are you doing?" and it took a second for him to find a new answer for the new question. There was a difference between having permission to touch her and fondling her breasts. "No," he replied, his mouth a little dry, "Not really."
"Don't stop. Please?"
"Does it feel good?" he asked quietly, nuzzling her neck with his lips.
"I don't feel much there," she replied. "It's just sort of... there, y'know?" She added quickly, "But if you like it, go ahead."
Nickolai smiled in the dark and ran his finger out along the outside of her breast; she cooed suddenly, then broke into a squeal of laughter. "Don't," she said.
"You're ticklish," he accused her quietly.
"Please?" she asked. "Don't."
He ignored her plea and ran his finger up her outer arm; she dissolved into a nearly silent moan of laughter that seemed to have no rise or fall. She squirmed away from him, closer to the wall. He wrapped a leg around hers and continued. She squealed as he found more ticklish spots; her back was, as was her belly. As he tickled one place, she would get used to it and the laughter would fade, slightly; Every time he found a new patch of fur to disturb her laughter returned. It was as if her entire body was ticklish under his fingers.
"Kolya," she moaned quietly. Finally, he stopped and released her legs. She laughed a little more, then turned to face him in bed. "You enjoyed that!" she said with a mock snarl.
He didn't take it as mock. "Did I hurt you?" he asked quickly.
"No, silly," she said, giving him a quick kiss. "I... I liked it, but I don't like being tickled. I liked it because you did it."
"Then you don't like it and I should apologize," he said.
"No, no, I did like it, but only because you did it. I wish I could explain."
"Then you wouldn't mind my doing it again?" he asked, sliding his fingers along the inside of her thigh, a spot he had found particularly ticklish. She moaned and backed closer to the wall; he was backing her into a corner, he realized. Her gentle laughter pleased him; he found himself smiling, and he found himself becoming excited.
He stopped again and let her catch her breath. "You're mean!" she smiled, and tried to return the favor. Much to her dismay, she didn't get much of a reaction from him.
"I'm not very ticklish," he said.
As she searched for someplace on his body to disprove that statement her hands strayed across his erection, and closed on it. "I've..." she stopped. "I've never seen a man's... privates up close."
He laughed quietly and said, "I don't think I've ever had anyone ask to look at them before."
Nickolai thought for a moment and said, "I guess." He reached up to the head of the bed and ran his finger ever-so-slightly on the metal plate that controlled the lights. He reflected that asking the AI to do so would mean he had to acknowledge it's presence. Wasn't he doing that just by thinking about it? In either case, the lights came up to a dim glow from the indirects overhead.
In the glow, Jofuran looked even more like a mouse. In the dark, he had heard a voice that sounded like a girl's, and even if the fur had belied her nature, her body was shaped... was it? Her hips were wider than a humans', by quite a bit. Her legs were shorter, and further apart. And it had been hard to deny her tail twitching occasionally against his legs.
But her face told him in no uncertain terms that he was not sleeping with a human female. That the person in his bed was Markal, was Pendorian.
He must have been staring for a long time because Furry cocked her head slightly and said, "What's wrong?"
"I just realized... How, well, how unhuman you are."
"Does that bother you?" she asked, scooting forward on the bed a little.
"A little. I don't know."
"I've never done it before with someone who was..."
"Yeah." He felt his erection fading. He turned around in bed and kissed her gently. She responded in kind, her long, pink tongue on his, and they fell to the bed again. "I'm also afraid I'm going to hurt you, because you're a virgin."
"If you hurt me it'll be because I want you to. I'll live. I want you, Kolya, more than anybody I've ever thought about, dreamed about, before." She smiled and ran the tips of her fingers over his sex; he moaned softly as his cock twitched. "Feel good?"
"Yeah," he said.
"Kolya, how many people have you slept with?"
He thought for a second. "Four," he admitted. "Three girls, one guy."
"All human," she said matter-of-fact. "I've never slept with anyone, until tonight. It was nice sleeping with you."
"Oh," he said. "In that sense, I've never slept with anyone; I've had sex with them, but I always went to bed on my own."
"That's awful," Furry said. "It was so neat to feel you next to me." Her fingers were doing a wonderful job on his erection, and she slid her hand around it and began stroking him slowly. "Look at how hard it's getting."
He laughed. "What's so funny?" she asked.
"The way you're staring at it. I've never had anyone pay so much attention to my..."
"Your cock," she said. He blushed. She laughed.
"It's not funny!" he said.
"Aw," she smiled. "Yes it is; I think it's cute that you blush like that." She leaned over and kissed his cheek. Then his throat. He hissed silently, and she kissed his chest. "I wonder what it tastes like."
He opened his eyes just in time to watch her mouth engulf his cock. The warmth of her mouth was shocking; he felt her teeth scrape against him, but not painfully, and the distinct sensation of her tongue was both distracting and exciting. He could feel the tip of her muzzle going further down, and then she shuddered, choked, pulled away.
"I can't take it so far," she admitted. "But how was that?"
"That was great!" he said.
"Good." She slid her muzzle over his cock again, and he leaned back against the pillows, sighing. He lay there, gently stroking the fur of her back with his hand as she sucked on his cock. And then she stopped again.
"Kolya," she said, turning to look at him, "I want you to take me now."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," she sighed. "I'm ready. Please."
He sat up again, taking her by the shoulders and leading her down onto her back. Her eyes were wet and her face thoughtful. "I love you," she said quietly.
"And I love you." He hooked his hands under her knees and drew them up and apart. "But I'm not going to get inside you just yet."
"Kolya," she begged.
"Shh..." he said, sliding down between her legs and kissing her mound gently. He paused, wondering how effective he would be, since he had only gone down on his last girlfriend for the first time.
"Oh, Kolya... " she sighed. "Is this how it felt when I licked you?"
"I don't know," he said, his admission muffled by her fur. He parted her lips gently with his fingers, surprised at the difference between her and his human partners; her cunny was more circular, but everything he expected to find was there. He slid his tongue in further, suddenly worried that she might taste different; she did, but it was sweet and pleasant difference. He slid his tongue around her clitoris, and she moaned loudly. "Kolya..."
"Like that?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied, "Feels... indescribable." He laughed and licked her lips softly, taking long, slow strokes besides her clit as he did so. "I love you," she whispered. "Kolya?"
"Hmm?" he asked, looking up.
"I know what you're trying to do. Don't."
"Because... well, when I... 'come,' I guess... I lose interest quickly. I just want you, now."
"Yes!" she replied.
He smiled and crawled up between her legs. Her hands reached down for his cock, and he felt her directing it into her. "You're really sure?" he asked.
"I'm very sure," she replied smiling.
He returned her smile and with one strong thrust slid inside her. She gasped, but there was no obvious pain in her voice as his hips met hers. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," she said. "Feels..."
"Does it hurt?"
"No!" she breathed. "Not at all. Oh, Kolya, make love to me."
He slowly pulled out of her, looking for signs of blood, but there were none. He slid back in, feeling the warmth of her body seeping into him through his cock as they made love. She reached up and stroked his face with her fingers, running down the length of his body as far as her hands could reach.
"Oh, Kolya," she whispered again. "I love you."
He slowed down a little, leaned over and kissed her on the nose. "I love you too, Furry. Oh God, I love you."
He lay down atop her, supporting his weight just slightly as he pressed his chest to hers; he was so much taller than she that her head was close to his chest, and she reached out to kiss him there, gently. He kissed the top of her head, then pushed himself back up, to look at her as he made love to her, his cock sliding inside her cunny. He was getting close, and said so.
"Yes," she said. "Oh, yes. I want to see it. Please, Kolya, come for me."
He closed his eyes and sped faster, his desire to not hurt her becoming overwhelmed in his urge. He could feel his orgasm in his chest, tightening, building, and he knew as he made love to Furry that he would soon be--
Coming! He groaned, closing his eyes tighter as his body shook, his hips coming to rest between her furry legs, his cock throbbing within her body. He struggled to hold himself up, conscious of how small she was, how delicate she appeared. "I love you," he said, opening her eyes and relieved at the sight of her smile.
"Oh, Kolya," she whispered, "I love you too." She reached up to pull him down, and he followed her pull, rolling them both to the side as he hugged her close.
"It didn't hurt?" he asked, worried.
"No, not at all," she said, her smile wider than any smile he'd ever seen before. "Oh, it was wonderful. I can't tell you how wonderful it was."
They were silent together for a while and she said, "What's wrong?"
He reached up and dimmed the light down further, not to complete darkness but almost, and said, "I feel like... well, like it's over. Like we finally did it, and what's left for us to do?"
She snuggled closer to him again, wrapping her arms around him. He felt her tail wrap around his leg. "There's a lot for us to do. Is this how you always feel with your other girlfriends?"
"Furry," he said. "I had sex with those girlfriends so I could brag about it later. I didn't really care about them. I care about you."
"Then it isn't over," she whispered. "Because I care about you too." Her fingers caressed his back; he closed his eyes and concentrated on the sensation of her body next to his. "And I want to keep you until the end of the trip."
She chuckled and said, "Yeah, keep you.
"I'm not sure I like the way that sounds."
"Oh, hush, sexy," she laughed. "I just want to be yours, too. Is that too much to ask?"
He laughed in the dark and said, "Sounds like a commitment."
"It's not that serious," she said, returning the laugh.
"Can we get some sleep now?" he asked.
"Hey, you were the one who started this."
"Yeah," he said, reaching up and touching the light control. The lights dimmed immediately. Furry was asleep almost instantly. He took a little longer.
When he awoke the next morning, Furry was not lying next to him. He scanned about the room quickly before realizing that the water was running in the shower. He shrugged and eased himself to the edge of the bed, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes as he did so. His musings were interrupted by a knock at the door. "Kolya! Kolya, open this door immediately."
Kolya glanced around in panic at the sound of his mother's voice. "Sean?"
The door unlocked; as it did so, Nickolai noted that the sound of the water faded as if into a distance. "Kolya, why was this door locked all night?" his mother insisted as she stormed into his suite.
Nickolai shrugged. "Pendorians have strange ideas about privacy, Mom. I'm of legal age here."
"Don't give me that, Kolya. It's no excuse for locking the door from your own mother."
"Sean?" Nickolai asked.
The AI answered in cultured tones, "I'm afraid your son is correct, Mrs. Dittrich. I assumed that your son, like every other person on this station, would like absolute privacy from others during his sleep period. I locked the doors."
Nickolai's mother glanced around and said, "You call it 'Sean?'"
"That is my name, Mrs. Dittrich. You may address me 'Mr. Eldar' if you wish. 'AI Eldar' is considered excessively formal."
"And you invite it into your room, too," she said, still addressing Nickolai and ignoring the AI.
Nickolai shrugged and said, "No big deal, Mom. It's not as if we haven't got a computer in our house."
"But this... this is a Pendorian machine. You never know what it could try."
"I highly doubt it's going to try anything, Mom. Why should it?"
"You're getting some very strange ideas since we started this trip, Kolya. I only hope you learn how important Terra is to you before we get back."
"Don't 'Yes Mom' me. Have you been reading that book?"
"Just a little bit, Mom. It's not that useful."
"Still and all, I think you should keep at it."
"Later. Can I get dressed, first?"
"Of course. Will you be coming to breakfast?"
"In a little bit, Mom. Doesn't the tour leave soon?"
"Two hours, Kolya."
"Yes Mom." He sighed a deep sigh of relief when she closed the door and left. The sound of the shower did not return, but he understood why when Jofuran poked her head out the door and said, "Is she gone?"
"Yes, she's gone."
"Sean told me what was going on. He told me he put a privacy field over the door of the bathroom to keep her from hearing me." She walked over to him and threw her arms around him. "Thank you."
"For making love to me last night. For telling me the truth afterwards. Still feel guilty?"
He shook his head and said, "Not anymore. You look cute with just a towel on."
"Thank you." She kissed him softly on the lips again. He returned the kiss, and as he did so he felt his erection stirring. Blushing, he broke away and threw a pillow over his lap.
Jofuran laughed and grabbed for the pillow. The two of them grappled, him to keep it in place, her to take it away. During the struggle Jofuran lost her balance and fell on top of him, shoving him down onto the bed. "Erf!" she said as she landed.
"You okay?" he asked as she rolled to the side and made another grab for the pillow. "Guess you are," he said, switching tactics and trying to tickle her.
"No!" she shouted. "Don't!" He ignored her pleas and dug his fingers in as she again dissolved into a mass of quiet giggles. He was amazed at how quiet she was when she was being tickled; small, gasping laughs would escape her as she squirmed under his grip. Despite her condition, she made no move to escape him, and he continued to tickle her mercilessly.
He stopped and she immediately turned over, pushed him down onto the bed and kissed him, hard. "You're mean to me," she said as pulled away.
"I also smell," he said quietly. "Can I take a shower?"
She smiled and said, "Can I take it with you?"
"You just took one!"
"So? I want to be with you, Kolya. We haven't got a long time until you leave."
He smiled and said, "Then come on." He got out of bed, his erection gone (thankfully, he thought) and held out his hand. She took it and the two of them stepped into the shower.
He dialed the water until they agreed on a temperature. He looked around for a moment and said, "Hey, where's the soap?"
"Right there," Jofuran said, pointing to a bottle. "Oh, you're looking for a bar, aren't you? We don't have those on Pendor. Too many furries."
He nodded and picked up the bottle, carefully translating the print on the side. "Product of the AIO Marcus Majors complex. Safe for the eyes, do not take internally. Not recommended for color-treated fur." The ingredients list seemed to be pretty common for soap.
He shrugged and flipped open the top; Jofuran reached out and took it from him as he moved to pour it into his hand. "Let me," she said, pouring some into her hand and applying it to his chest. "Close your eyes." He did and concentrated as she touched his body, running both hands over his skin in sudsy circles, slowly making her way down his smooth skin. "You are gorgeous." He smiled, embarrassed. He didn't think so. She slipped past his cock and he felt her hands on his thighs, his legs. He opened his eyes and looked down; she was kneeling as she soaped both legs.
She stood up and said, "Turn around?" He complied, and she slowly washed his back. As she made her way down, her hands encircled, then crossed over his buttocks; his erection surged again. He felt her hands reach around him and caress his testicles, then his cock, sudsing it quickly and pleasurably. "What are you doing?"
"Washing your schlong, silly," she said with a laugh. Her hands lingered there, and then she said, "It feels big. I'm amazed it fit."
He turned around; she had the good sense to release his cock as he did so. He put his hands on her shoulders and said, "It did."
She looked up him; her eyes were wet and smiling. "I know. I'm glad it did. Was I being pushy, wanting you as much as I do?"
"Honestly?" he asked.
"Yeah, you were being a little pushy. But so far you've been polite about it."
"Politely pushy?" she asked, smiling.
"Sort of," he responded. His hands slid down her chest and encircled her nipples. She had very small breasts, but they were pleasant to caress nonetheless. She broke out in giggles.
"You're ticklish everywhere!"
"Stop it, buster."
He stopped, but the smile on his face would not go away. "I've never had a really ticklish friend before, especially not one I could spend the night with."
"Don't you even think about it."
"Or... I don't know. Let me think about it."
"You could always give me a hickey."
"What's a hickey?"
"Oh... Okay, a hickey is a bruise caused by sucking; usually you see them on people's necks."
"Oh," she said, "Making out?"
"Something like that. Except I don't think your mouth could give me one."
She smiled and said, "I could always try," running a finger along the underside of her muzzle. "But I don't think I'd want to leave a mark your mother would complain about."
Nickolai nodded. "I'm going to wash my hair."
"But you're shorter than I am," he pointed out.
"So, get down on your knees and make my life easy," she said, laughing.
He knelt down, and she applied the soap to his head. He closed his eyes, very aware that her breasts were right in front of his face as she massaged his scalp. It felt wonderful; he sighed and sagged forward, resting his head against her. She giggled and said, "Rinse off."
He complied and they grabbed towels, drying each other off carefully. Nickolai laughed as he ruffled her fur, taking extra time to make sure her tail was dry. "Feel good?"
"Feels wonderful" she sighed.
They dressed together and, checking the hall to make sure that his mother wasn't watching, ran to breakfast together.
"Good morning, Gentlesentients. I trust the transit from Parma to Pendor was gentle?" Some of the guests laughed uncomfortably, painfully aware that they had just had their first experience with a teleporter. "I understand that many of you come from worlds with functionally shorter day/night cycles, and therefore we will be trying to accommodate you during your short stay here on Pendor." Luarna, their Mephit tourguide, smiled pleasantly. She wore a knee- length plaid skirt and a light-grey blouse that hugged her form tightly; Nickolai thought she was too muscular for his tastes. Then again, he mused, he had never seriously thought of a skunk as attractive before.
"Belarie', kids. How are you both this morning?" Nickolai and Jofuran turned to find her parents standing behind them.
"Fine!" Jofuran replied, stepping over and hugging her father close. "Good to see you, Dad. How're you?"
"Fine, fine. You two seem to be doing well."
"Better," Jofuran admitted.
"Are you two going to watch the air show? It's supposed to be good. And there's a rumor that Oren and Shardik will do 'Breakdown.'"
"They say that every year, Dad. But we'll probably go and see it anyway."
"What's an 'air show?'" Nickolai asked.
"Demonstration of aerodynamic techniques; lots of atmospheric-only craft flying around, usually hand-built, quite often combustion powered."
"Oh," Nickolai said. "Explains why we don't have them on Earth."
"Yes," Morrail mused. "Your planet has such a terrible history of abuse and pollution. We started with fusion power; the use of combustion as a power source is strictly an amateur affair. We don't have much concern, and where we do quite often we have controls in place."
The air show was impressive, Nickolai had to admit. Jofuran was already yawning as they made their way back to the tour rendezvous as previously agreed. "Tired?" Nickolai asked.
"Sort of," she admitted, smiling. "I had a wonderful day."
"That was the most insane display I've ever seen. Deliberately throwing a completely non-gravitic aircraft out of control like that. Spinning along the short axis out of an aerodynamic vehicle."
"That's why it's called aerobatic flying," she said. "Hey, would you like to see my house?"
"You have... Oh, your folk's house."
"Yeah. It's in the Arcology."
"I thought the Arcology was an emergency thing, for wartime."
"It is, but there are permanent residents, and a lot of Pendorian citizens who make their careers off-world keep their residencies here, more as a place for their stuff and such. Come on," she said. He followed her along a hallway to another SDisk (still not at all used to these things), and they were teleported to another hallway. This one was much more casual-looking than many he had seen; the walls and the floor were carpeted; the lighting was comfortable and subdued. "Watch this. Lexander! Blue light to my residence."
"Immediately, Miss Shigokai." There was a blue glow at Furry's feet which immediately shot down the hallway, leaving a line of blue down the carpeting.
"I think that's neat," Furry admitted. They followed the line to a door, clearly labeled "Shigokai." The door opened and they entered to find a pair of insect-like robots unpacking boxes and crates. Furry's father was sitting by a desk of gleaming white metal. The overall color scheme of the room was a bright, sterile white; the ceiling was apparently vaulted, much like a cathedral. Despite the connotations of both the color and the architecture, the room had a very lived-in feel to it, as if any sense of alienation had been rubbed out by nearly a millennia of feet treading the floor.
He was staring around, his attention most drawn by the robots when he heard Jofuran say "OhMiFa."
"I don't believe I lived like this ten years ago. Look at these bedsheets!" He walked over to the doorway the voice was coming through and peeked in. Her hands flew out of nowhere to cover his eyes. "Don't look! Don't look!"
"Hey!" he said, grabbing her wrists and pulling them aside. Her bedroom was clean, but everything was indeed scaled for someone ten years her junior. The bed was full-sized, but the pillows were not. The dresser was mounted low to the floor, and a desk so small neither one of them could have gotten their feet under it sat in one corner. She was right about the bedsheets, though; they were imprinted with images of adorable wide-eyed purple dragons.
"I'm so embarrassed," she said.
"Aw, come on, I think it's cute," he said, smiling. "Ten years ago my bedsheets were printed with short-range fighters."
"Really," he said. He stepped in and the door closed behind him. "Don't you have any windows in here?" he asked.
"Oh! Lexander, window to full," she said. The entire wall behind her bed vanished suddenly, replaced by a full view of a grassy plain that seemed to go on forever. From where he stood he guessed that this window faced towards the North, towards the walls of the ring. "The Alian plain."
"Why is it called that?"
"I don't know. I asked Sean once, and he didn't know either. We do know that further North of it is another plain called the Abornia; both are a little less than a terr on a side."
"Why not call the plain one thing?"
She shrugged. "Don't know that either. People did a lot of strange things in the past."
"And in the present," he said, grasping her by the waist and easily hoisting her onto the bed. "Like this." He leapt onto the bed beside her and kissed her mouth forcefully.
She returned the kiss with equal passion, but when they separated she asked, "Kolya?"
"What's gotten you all so excited?"
"I don't know. Somehow the idea of making out with that view, in your old bedroom..."
"Is that all you want to do, make out?"
"You want to do more?" he asked with sudden interest.
"Uh-huh," she smiled.
He laughed and reached up, unzipping her jumpsuit from throat to crotch, and watched her wiggle out. He recalled that when they had first met, five days ago, he had been shocked by her appearance; now his mouth went dry when he saw her like this. "God, you're beautiful."
"Now you," she said, reaching for the tails of his shirt and pulling it off. He kicked off his shoes and socks, throwing them aside in the process. They both struggled with his pants, releasing the catch on the elastic band and tugging them off. His erection sprang free, and she grabbed it one paw saying, "I want you inside me, now."
"Yes," she breathed. He crawled up the bed and between her legs, nuzzling his cock up against her cunny, and with one smooth push slid into her. She cooed with pleasure, and he was surprised at how wet she was as he began to stroke back and forth. "Oh, Kolya..."
"I love you, Furry."
"I love you, too. Let's turn over."
"I want to be the one on top."
His eyebrows raised of their own accord, but he settled as far down into her as he could, hugged her close around the waist and slowly turned over. She held on as well as she could, but there was no way she was going to get into any position with leverage unless the separated. "Whoops," she said as his erection seemed to pop out of her.
"Sorry," he said, untangling his legs from hers. She merely smiled and seized his cock, sliding it back into herself as she sat down on his hips.
"That's okay, Kolya. It was my fault too." She began to stroke his cock by herself, without his help. He pushed his hips up to meet hers, but she put her hands on his chest and said, "Stop, Kolya. Let me."
He found it hard to control his desires; every stroke was pleasure to him, and frustration; he felt as if he wasn't doing something unless he was... doing something! He was so close to orgasm it hurt, and he placed his hands on her thighs, trying to encourage her to go faster. He looked down between her legs, watching his sex sink into her with her every slow, agonizing stroke, and his breath was getting shorter. "Furry," he gasped.
"Easy, Kolya," she whispered. He saw that she had one hand between her legs, playing with her clit, and he smiled. He looked into her face then and she smiled back at him, her hand sliding further between her thighs to touch his cock. Compared to the soft, satiny liquid of her cunny, her fingers were hard, demanding, and he was almost grateful that she returned her own attention to her clitoris.
She stopped, bearing down on his cock with all her weight, gasping, shuddering. "What are you doing?" he whispered.
"I want to see how deep I can get you. I... like the feeling of your cock nestled all the way inside me, pressing up against my cervix. Feels neat."
"Glad you like it."
"Am I teasing you?" she asked, smiling.
"I think you're being mean to me," he said with a mock frown.
She laughed and said, "I hope not," beginning a faster, more regular motion with her hips, slowly bringing him closer and closer to orgasm. He groaned in frustration; she was so tight, but the motion was so slow! He was going to come, but it felt like it was going to take forever. He could feel it building, and he thought she could too, because she was playing with her clitoris even harder and faster, and she suddenly archer her back, moaning in pleasure, "Ohhhh..."
"Are you losing interest?" he asked, half-joking.
"Oh, no," she said, looking down at him. He thought the expression she gave him the most beautiful thing he had ever seen as she shook her head gently and began stroking him again, in all seriousness. Her strokes became serious, strong, forceful. He was going to come, it was so close, so close, and finally he came, groaning.
"Kolya," she whispered as she looked down at him, a small bead of sweat hanging off the end of her nose. He looked up at her, gasping for air. "You have the most interesting expression when you come."
He laughed and said, "Thanks, I guess."
"It was wonderful." She eased herself down on top of him and cuddled close. "Feel like going to sleep?" she asked.
"No," he said in a long breath. "Just a few minutes alone with you." Despite his words, when he closed his eyes he fell asleep.
He awoke suddenly, sitting up and looking around at his strange surroundings. Then he eased. "Furry?"
"Miss Shigokai departed about an hour ago."
"My name is Commander Lexander Majors; I am the current AI in command of Tangent Arcology. Call me Lex. Miss Shigokai is fond of my full name."
"Lex? Can you tell me where she is?"
"Indeed; she is in the next room with her father."
"Oh." He rose from the bed and relieved himself in her restroom. The girlish soaps and the cute dragons on the showerglass made him smile; there was almost nothing about Furry beyond her appearance to make him think she was not 'normal.' Then he smiled... this was a Markal house- he was the one who wasn't 'normal'.
He opened the door out of the bedroom. In the main room of the house Furry sat on one corner of her father's desk, talking animatedly to her father. Morrail looked up and said, "And he's awake now."
"Yeah," Furry offered. "I thought you said you didn't want a nap. You know, for someone who says he never tired, you sure sleep a lot."
He yawned in response and waved. "Sorry, didn't mean to. I'm just not used to this schedule."
"I can understand that, lad," Morrail said. "Everybody on Terra thought I was insomniac; I've still not adjusted to this schedule myself. But I imagine I'll adapt back a lot faster simply because I was born here."
"So, what's up?" he asked Furry.
"We were just talking about the tour," she replied. "I don't want to join in it; I have the listed itinerary and we can go to all these places, but I don't want to travel with the group."
"You don't want to be the only Pendorian in an all-Terran tour." Morrail said.
She nodded. "All Human," she pointed out. "Not a Rat or Katkin in the entire group."
"So what's the problem?" Nickolai asked.
"I want you to come along."
Nickolai absorbed that for a moment, then said, "How?"
"Listen, lad," Morrail said. "It's not as if you have to travel with the tour group; going by yourself is permitted. Humans do so very rarely because they don't understand or can't operate the SDisksystem, whereas Pendorians at about, oh, three," and he shot a mysterious glance towards Furry, who smiled back, "learn to use it quite effectively. Joey here can take you where you want to go, and I suppose eventually you'll learn on your own."
"What about my mother?"
"What about her?" Furry said with a slightly disparaging tone. "It's not as if you need her permission to go anywhere. Will she miss you? We can always catch up with the tour group."
"They're at most twenty minutes away in any direction. They'll be sticking to accepted tour paths, so they'll always be within an hour's walk of a SDisk."
Nickolai paused again, then smiled and said, "Sure. Let's go."
"Where to?" Furry asked.
"What time is it?"
"About 1 Lome' PST," Morrail said, glancing at the clock.
"We could go to Shardik castle," Furry said, a sly tone creeping into her voice.
"Now, Jofuran," her dad said.
"Dad," she shot back, "I've never been there. It's not like I'm going to disturb anyone."
"Jofuran," he volleyed, "If everyone on Pendor wanted to visit Shardik Castle for one day out of their entire lives, there would still be nothing but a constant parade of people going through there thirty hours a day."
"Yeah, but not that many people really want to go there. Except the human tourists, and they all get sent to the mockup anyway, just because that way they get kept out of the Shardiks' hair."
"If you want to go there, there's no law preventing you from doing so. In fact, considering the attention Sean gave you up on Parma, I'd say it's a fair bet that you and he could get there by request."
"You think so?"
"I do. You seem to have the AI's on your side in this one."
Furry turned to Nickolai and said, "Well, do you want to?"
"I guess," he said.
"We're talking about visiting the home of people who can change the course of the universe at will," Nickolai said.
A strange, almost angered look crossed Morrail's face; Nickolai was surprised by it since he had come to believe that Morrail was one of those people who never really got angry. "Nickolai, neither Shardik nor his coimelin nor anyone else on all of Pendor are as powerful as the legends make them out to be."
Morrail smiled and said, "I asked you not to call me 'sir,' lad. But I guess I snapped. I'm sorry. If you lived on Pendor long enough you'd come to understand how we feel about our Vatare'."
"I guess I don't," Nickolai admitted. "I mean, we were always taught that Shardik did this, and how Alpha did that."
"And all of it is true. But in the end, all of his Alpha people are just that, people. Even himself. Did you know that neither P'nyssa Traken nor Aaden Satpulov are part of Alpha?" Nickolai shook his head. "You see, that's part of the psychology of Alpha. His relation to them is not affected by the fact that he leads the most advanced research team in the galaxy. It is galaxy, not universe, by the way."
Nickolai nodded. "Listen, you kids go and have fun," Morrail smiled and swatted his daughter's behind playfully. She jumped off the desk. "I've told you about sitting on there before."
She laughed and said, "Sure thing, Dad. That was ten years ago." She leaned over and kissed her father. "Come on," she said.
"A SDisk is the first place we usually go." She walked over to her bedroom door and waited for him to join her. "But first, we need the right clothes."
"What do you mean?"
"We're not going to go wandering around Pendor dressed like this," she said. "It's way too formal." She disappeared into her bedroom. He followed to find her ruffling through her suitcase. "I've got the right clothes, but I don't think you do."
"What are 'the right clothes?'" he asked, looking out the still-open window at the plain. It seemed to go on forever; as he stared he realized that the height of the 'walls' that held the air onto Pendor were only a fraction of the total width; the image he held in his mind frightened him momentarily. Then he shrugged; it seemed to do okay for these people.
"You'll need a comfortable pair of boots, for one thing. You'll probably want a pair of jeans."
"Yeah," she said, pulling on exactly what she was describing. She retrieved a T-shirt with the words "Life Under Tension" on the front and a pair of complex diagrams on the back.
"What does that mean?" he asked.
"The pictures? The top one is the vector explanation for perceived centripetal acceleration, and the bottom one is the header of a Markal DNA chain."
"'Life under Tension.'"
"Exactly," she said, leaning over to kiss him. He heard a loud 'clack' come from behind her suitcase, and was more than a little surprised to watch her put on an oversized vest and then slide a small gun into a holster in the small of her back.
"Huh?" she said, looking up at him.
"What was that?"
"That was my gun. I never go anywhere without it."
"You've been carrying a gun on the ship?"
"Not on the ship," she said, "but in most places on Pendor it's considered polite to be carrying one."
"Polite?" he said, stunned. "Furry, they outlawed guns on Terra because people were killing each other with them."
"That's what they're made for," she offered, a confused expression on her face. Then it lightened. "Oh, I see what you're getting at. Okay, look. Pendor never had two things- it never had a period of irrationality, where people believed that the stars controlled their destiny or that a given group of people were 'evil' because of where they lived or what race they were. We also never had a period of disparity. We've always had abundance. When I was in school, it was argued that Shardik defused any inter-species hatred successfully by encouraging inter-species relations; you rarely want to hurt the person you love. There was never any reason for groups of people to go about killing other groups of people, and there was never any reason for individuals to go about killing individuals."
"Then why are you going to carry a gun?"
"Because there are always idiots who can't see that big picture. There's always something they want that someone else has."
"Depends, really." She thought for a second and said, "If it makes you uncomfortable, I'll leave it here. We're not really going to be leaving an AI controlled area, anyway."
"I wish you would." She shrugged and stripped off the jacket, throwing the gun and its holster into a drawer by the bed. "I'm sorry," he said, "but it makes me really nervous."
"I understand," she said, walking over to him and putting her arms around him. "Look, it's our custom, not yours. Your people put in their rules to control their problems, we put in ours for the same reason."
"Uh, Furry?" he said.
"I still don't have any 'appropriate' clothes."
"Then we have to get you some. Lex? Where's the nearest clothier?"
"There's the Arc supply house if you need some right now."
"That's where we go," she said. "C'mon."
He followed her through her house and into the hallway, down to the SDisk. She said "Supply," and they were in a small room. A FemVulpin wearing green wandered over and said, "Good morning. Can I help you?"
Jofuran said, "I need two pair of jeans, three flannel shirts, three T-shirts, six underwear, a pair of boots, a belt, and hat for him," pointing to Nickolai. "And a daypack," she added after a second.
"Any particular colors or patterns?" the Vulpin addressed Nickolai. He looked at the short, fox-like female for a moment, then said, "Uhm, not really."
"Four minutes," the Vulpin said, turning and walking through a door.
"Furry!" Nickolai said. "Who's paying for all this?"
"I am," she said, smiling. "This is cheap stuff, Kolya. Be serious. You worry too much."
"Of course I worry! How can you afford all that?"
"Kolya, what we just asked for is all machine-made. Like I said, we live with abundance. When we need it, we ask for it, and we get it." She smiled. "We're spoiled."
"I guess," he said. The Vulpin returned with the clothes she had ordered, and they returned to the Shigokai residence.
Nickolai blushed gently while he changed, still a little nervous being naked in her presence. She noticed it, smiled and leaned over to kiss him. "How come you're not like this when we make love?" she asked.
He shrugged. "I don't know," he said as he struggled with a shirt. "I guess it's because I'm so ready, you know?"
"Excited?" she asked.
"Sort of. But more like I know what I'm doing."
She shrugged, bent down and helped him with his boots. When they were done she asked, "How does it feel?"
"Not bad. How do I look?"
"Like a Pendorian Human. A young one."
"What makes me look 'young?'" he asked. "I mean, I thought it was impossible to tell how old someone was."
"It is, usually. But the clothes you're wearing, especially the boots, are new, and they're also machine made. If you were older, you'd know someone who could hand-make you a set. I look the same way. My only advantage is that most of this stuff is worn in from wandering around in the desert."
"Oh. Got it."
"Sure. What time is it now?"
"2:20 Lome'" she said. "We could hit Rocchodain. From there it's a day's hike to the Castle."
"You really want to do this?"
"Sure!" she said, smiling. "It's also about a half-hour hike from the SDisk point to Rocchodain."
"Then we had better get moving."
"Reservations have been made, Miss Shigokai."
"Thank you. Now we can go." She took his hand and led him to the nearest SDisk. "Ready?"
"Ready," he replied.
"Lex. Send us to Rocchodain Lake."
There was the momentary blink that he was slowly getting used to, and they found themselves on the edge of a lake. Nickolai looked down to find himself walking on the water. "Yah!" he shouted in surprised.
"Sorry, forgot to warn you," Furry said. "Come on." She pulled him off the water and onto the shore, grey sand littered with small stones everywhere. It was dark, but the light of distant sectors provided as much if not more light than a full moon in a clear sky.
"What was that?"
"Local SDisk effect. Some of them are set just a cent below water surface. Scary, huh?" she smiled.
"Just a little," he admitted. "Where are we headed?"
"Around the lake," she said, pointing. There at the other end of the lake was a town, visible from the lights and what was apparently firelight. "It's a little trad of a town, but it's comfortable."
She rolled her eyes and said, "Traditional. It means the town goes out of it's way to look different from every other town. In Rocchodain's case, it means lots of wood construction, candles, leather, and an AI anyway."
"Sounds like a nice place."
"Wouldn't know," she admitted. "I've never been there. Well, let's get hiking." She began walking, and he quickly followed behind her.
"How are you doing?"
"These boots feel really strange," he admitted. "I guess I haven't broken them in yet."
"They'll take a while. That's the nice thing about knowing a shoemaker; more comfort." She held out her hand. He took it. They exchanged smiles as they kept walking. Not for the first time he was struck by how short she was, but he realized that that didn't matter to him. Nor the fur, nor the ears. Actually, he thought, the ears were kinda cute.
The walk took a little over an hour, and when they arrived in Rocchodain Furry stopped a passing Centaur to ask for the Inn. "Right down thataway," the Centaur said with a gesture. Furry thanked him and walked in the direction indicated.
Inside, the Inn was nearly empty but for a small Centaur male working behind the bar and a crowd of Mustela in one corner talking animatedly, apparently about a sporting event.
"Ho," the Centaur said, smiling. "What can I do fr' you?"
"Hi," Furry replied. "My name's Jofuran. I asked for a room."
"Ah," the Centaur replied, his face lighting up. "I know you. Sure, sure, come on." He reached under the bar and picked up a set of keys, leading them upstairs. Nickolai was impressed with how easily the Centaur navigated the apparently narrow steps and worried with every creak those steps gave.
"This is your room," he said, pointing to the second door on the left side. "Bed's a little big, especially for you, Lady, but it's comfortable. My name's Tacha. 'Night!"
"Goodnight," Furry said as the Centaur began navigating the steps again.
"Oh, by the way, Lady?" the Centaur said. "You're lucky... That room's the one Shardik and P'raine slept in." He smiled wide, then disappeared into the stairwell.
Furry glanced over at Nickolai, who only smiled and opened the door. "Lucky? I wonder if they washed the sheets since then."
Furry laughed, then stepped into the bedroom. The bed was indeed huge. Nickolai held in his steps for a second and said, "How big does this bed have to be?"
"Big enough for two Centaurs to make love comfortably," Furry said, smiling. "Big enough for you?"
"It's too big," he said, jumping onto the mattress and sitting down. "It's almost like hiking around the lake again."
She smiled and stripped off her pack, throwing it on the desk. "Not that bad. Come on, off with your clothes."
"Are you tired?"
"A little," he admitted. "I'm hungry, too."
"Maybe we can get some food downstairs."
Dinner, Nickolai noted, was filling and tasty. He could get to like Pendorian restaurants. He smiled as he ate. Eventually they did retire into the bedroom and just slept.