A FOREST TALE 21: More Terrible Than Chains (a.k.a. Leanna’s Story)
Part 2: Unexpected Revelations
By Bernard Doove © 2004

Like most of the other people on board, Forestwalker had been warned to stay at hir station and avoid the influx of slave morphs. However, shi’d also been asked to stand by in case they needed some extra hands. Mostly they were trying to scan all the slaves for identification, classification and check their health after being left alone in a dying ship for a while, and as a biologist, Forest was qualified to do all those procedures. Shi hadn’t really been expecting to be called though, and was surprised to be proven wrong. Shi was directed to a private cabin where the one shi was supposed to examine had been taken. All the spare rooms had already been requisitioned for other uses, so this was the only alternative.

Shi reached the cabin. It had been locked from the outside, so the slave had been left there alone. Forest touched the door control and the door slid quietly into the wall. Shi stepped inside and stopped. The slave was just inside the room, lying on the floor with just some cushions for padding. Forest was wondering why the couch at the back of the room was ignored, when the slave turned around and looked at hir. The fennec’s eyes bulged in surprise and confusion while the Forest regarded hir with great curiosity. While foxes were a common morph species, hir creator had obviously chosen a fennec fox as hir model, a species Forest believed hadn’t existed since before the Gene Wars. Forest estimated that shi would be just under five foot tall, not counting hir ears which easily added another eight inches to hir height. Hir build was lean but wiry, suggesting more than average strength for hir size. Light beige fur shaded into cream on hir face, breasts, belly and inner thighs, and hir head was topped with waist-long light brown hair. Firm C-cup breasts with proud pink nipples sticking out of the fur beautifully complimented hir sensually curved female form, which only made it more unexpected to see the sheath with the tip of a penis just showing from it. Yet it was clear that shi wasn’t merely a feminine-looking male. The lack of a scrotum clearly showed the labia that would lead to the vagina.

While Forest was examining the fennec, Leanna was struggling to make sense of what shi was looking at. That this creature was a morph was obvious; based on a jaguar, shi guessed. However, the configuration of this morph was completely weird. It had four legs! It had an upper body similar to many feline morphs, yet from the waist down looked mostly like a feral animal. Yet it was clear that this was no animal. Besides the keen intelligence in its eyes, it was wearing a uniform top similar to the others, only in green this time. It also had some sort of device slung over its shoulder. The breasts that filled out the uniform quite well told Leanna that it had to be a female. ‘What sort of weird slave is this?’ shi wondered. ‘And why is she allowed to wear clothes?’ Slaves almost never got to wear clothes. If they were outdoors, at most they got panties or a breechcloth, and perhaps something to protect them from inclement weather. Leanna had seen a couple of male personal servants wearing a fancy vest when serving their masters, but had never seen a female slave wearing any sort of top outside of something exotic in the bedroom. The masters in the Federation had to have different dress standards for their slaves. The creature approached, and Leanna noticed the really long tail being held alertly in the air, seemingly moving with a life of its own. Leanna was wondering what purpose such a bizarre creature fulfilled when it spoke…

"Hello there. I am Chakat Forestwalker, but you can call me just Forest. I’m here to check you over. First though, what’s your name?"

Leanna noticed that there was a certain amount of authority in her voice. Even amongst slaves, some had higher standing than others. Leanna surmised that this was an overseer – a slave in charge of a group of slaves – and reasoned that it would be best to be careful how shi responded. "This one is named Leanna, mistress," Leanna replied.

Forest frowned. "I’m not a mistress, and as I said, call me Forest. Tell me, why were you lying on the floor instead of the couch?"

"Mistress know slaves be under masters. Leanna not use couch unless her master say so," Leanna answered a little nervously. Despite hir confusion, Leanna carefully maintained the use of the idiot-talk that shi’d used before to fool people into thinking shi was stupid like all sex-slaves.

Forest inwardly groaned when Leanna failed to stop calling hir ‘mistress’, and noted the way shi referred to hirself in the third person. Heavily ingrained slave speech obviously. "Leanna, you are no longer a slave. Once we rescued you from that ship, you came under Federation protection. Your former masters can never get you back now. You’re free!"

Leanna listened and understood the words, but hir mind refused to comprehend the possibility that morphs could be anything other than slaves. Perhaps this Federation had a different idea of how to deal with hir kind? Or maybe it was a trick? Shi decided to humour this strange morph for now and try to work out for hirself exactly what really was going on. "Yes, mistress, Leanna free. What want Leanna do now?"

Forest sighed. This was going nowhere fast. Shi had a job to do though, so shi might as well get on with that. Shi lifted hir scanner. "I need to scan you thoroughly and report my findings back to my department head." Shi started recording. In a firm voice, shi said, "Subject name: Leanna. Species: fennec fox. Gender: herm. Assigned refugee number P235-096. Beginning full bio scan... now!"

Leanna stood obediently still as Forest scanned hir, mildly curious about the compact yet sophisticated device. From everything that shi’d seen so far, it seemed that this Federation had a much higher degree of technology at their disposal than the Non-Aligned Worlds, and judging by this Chakat Forestwalker, they were no slouches at genetic engineering either. The examination was quickly completed and Forest set hir scanner to transmit the details to the person in charge. Now shi should get back to hir own normal work, but instead hir curiosity was well and truly aroused.

"Leanna, why don’t you pick up those cushions and put them back on the couch and sit down so we can have a talk?"

Leanna did pick up the cushions and replaced them, but remained standing. "What mistress want?" shi asked.

Now Forest was getting annoyed. "I told you, I am not a mistress or a master of any kind. Now call me Forest and sit down!"

"Yes, Forest," Leanna said meekly and complied.

Forest groaned. Leanna still wasn’t convinced. Shi realised that the fennec had done as shi had asked because shi'd phrased it as a firm order. Shi padded over to the food replicator. "Black tea, hot, one sugar!" shi ordered the computer. A steaming mug materialised in front of hir. Hir empathic senses picked up a burst of surprise from Leanna. ‘So, no food replicators either where shi comes from,’ shi thought. Shi turned to Leanna and asked, "Would you like some tea also?"

"Leanna not know tea, Forest."

Forest handed over hir mug to Leanna. "Try that and see what you think." Leanna obeyed, careful of the hot liquid. "So, what do you think?"

"Good, Forest."

"Keep the mug. I’ll get another." Forest did so, then settled on hir haunches facing Leanna. Shi sipped the hot brew, watching as the fennec continued sampling the tea, and considered what to do next. It wasn’t as if shi had to do anything at all. Hir only duty was to assess this refugee and then shi was out of hir hands. However, hir senses were telling hir that there was far more to this person than met the eye though. Shi was doing a great job of concealing it, but Leanna was definitely smarter than shi was acting, and thus the fennec was trying to hide something from hir. Maybe shi could draw it out.

"Okay, Leanna, let me fill you in on a few details. First of all, I am a chakat. My kind is one of several taur species developed on Earth, our home world. The word ‘taur’ refers to any species which has an upper and lower torso, with four legs on the lower, and two arms and a head in a humanoid configuration on the upper. Otherwise we’re not so different from other morph species. There are cattaurs, foxtaurs, skunktaurs, wolftaurs and even equitaurs." Forest had hir empathic senses scanning Leanna. Shi sensed curiosity and comprehension. No, this certainly was no dummy! "We were all developed after what were called the Gene Wars, and like all other morphs after the wars ended, we were also completely free and independent, equals to humans." A surge of disbelief went through Leanna, mirrored only by a slight widening of hir eyes. "I’m not making this up, Leanna. In the Federation, by law, all morph species have the same rights and privileges as humans. There are no masters or slaves. That may be hard for you to believe, but you will soon see that there are many different species on this ship, and they are crewmembers, not slaves. Now that you have been taken from the clutches of your former masters, you are no longer a slave either. In fact, once you’re given some sort of orientation, you’re going to have to start being an independent person. That’s a pretty scary prospect after a lifetime of security as a slave, don’t you think?"

Forest had definitely been right in one thing – Leanna did find it hard to believe, and yet, everything that had occurred so far indicated that Forest was telling the truth. For the first time in ages, Leanna dared hope that hir dreams weren’t quite so impossible as shi had always thought. Still, stubbornly shi refused to accept anything completely without seeing for hirself. Shi had to be careful. So far shi had concealed most of hir nature from almost everyone. This chakat seemed more perceptive than most however, and shi didn’t want to jeopardise hir plans until shi was sure of the facts, so shi just nodded in general agreement, not committing to anything.

Forest wasn’t giving away anything either though. Shi sensed each of Leanna’s emotions as they passed through hir. By the time Leanna gave hir non-committal agreement, Forest was sure that the fennec was playing it cagey. Hir admiration went up a notch. Any slave that could confidently try pulling the wool over a superior’s eyes was someone worth getting to know better. Forest got back onto all fours and put hir mug back on the food replicator’s shelf where it automatically was recycled a few moments later. Shi beckoned to Leanna. "Follow me. We’re going to get something appropriate for you to wear." Shi stepped into the bedroom.

Leanna blinked in surprise. "Something to wear, Forest?" shi asked as shi obediently followed the chakat into the other room.

"Yep," Forest begun. "While I don’t have a problem with you walking about nude, this is a military ship with rules and dress standards. We’re going to get you ready for a little tour of the ship. You need to see some things for yourself. Now stand on this spot," shi said, indicating a place in front of a full-length mirror. Leanna complied. "Computer! Scan subject’s clothing statistics."

The compliance tone sounded. After a moment, the computer voice said, "State subject’s name."

"Leanna Fennec," Forestwalker answered.

"Leanna Fennec is not listed on the ship’s roster," the computer complained in its unemotional way.

"Add Leanna Fennec to database. Refer to refugee listing P235-096. Status: refugee."

"Database updated. Leanna Fennec, please state your name for voice identity record."

Leanna looked a little startled. The computers that shi was used to dealing with weren’t this interactive. That was a slave’s job! "This one is named Leanna Fennec."

"Voice ident recorded. Please raise your arms to shoulder level for comparison scan."

Leanna obeyed, saying to Forest as shi did, "Leanna always just called Leanna, not Leanna Fennec."

"Scan completed," stated the computer.

Forest smiled back at Leanna. "Believe me, it’ll be simpler to have that surname on record. Just remember to use it for official records. Almost always you’ll just be called Leanna anyway. Sorry I wasn’t a bit more creative, but it seemed a simple and obvious name to use though. It’s not as if it’s common anyway, and it can always be changed later if you really wish to."

Leanna was curious. "May Leanna know why no more fennec?"

Forest replied, "I don’t believe I’ve ever come across any other fennec morphs. I might be wrong, but I don’t think they were one of the species to survive the Wars, unlike several other species of fox morphs."

Leanna was hugely disappointed at this news. Shi had long ago accepted that there were no others of hir kind on the world shi had been created on, but had begun to hope that the situation might be otherwise in this Federation. "I see."

"So you can say ‘I’ after all," Forest said slyly.

Leanna cursed herself. Too many of those slips and shi would give herself away. "Leanna is sorry. Leanna not make mistake again."

"Uh-uh! You’re not getting away with it that easily. There’s a brain behind that slave talk, and you’re not fooling me. I have a few talents of my own that you don’t know about, and deceiving a chakat isn’t that easy." Forest took the pressure off after a few moments. "Leanna, I realise that you’re worried about what will happen to you, but believe me, things are only going to get better from now on. In the meantime, I want you to stop referring to yourself in the third person. Nobody on this ship will find the slightest thing unusual about you using the word, ‘I’. In fact, quite the opposite! If you really want to be conspicuous, keep saying Leanna do this and Leanna do that in your slave talk style."

Leanna digested what Forest told her, then concluded that shi wasn’t fooling Forest. Shi replied, "I understand. Forgive me if I slip up. A lifetime of habit won’t be easy to shake."

Forest nodded. "That’s better. Now let’s get you dressed. Computer! Subject: Leanna. Bikini briefs, herm style." An item materialised on the replicator shelf. Forest took the plain white bikini style underpants and gave them to Leanna. "Here, put this on."

Having had to wear similar things when out in public, shi had no problem with wearing the pants. It was only the method of manufacture that intrigued hir. Obviously it had to be the same technology that had produced the tea. Shi noticed that although they were a female style, they were designed to allow for hir sheathed penis. While donning them, Forest ordered the computer to create a halter-top, and shi held that out for Leanna to put on. Leanna eyed them with uncertainty. "Forest, I can’t wear that," shi said apologetically.

Forest was puzzled. "Not that you need it, in my opinion, but why not?"

"Leanna was… I mean I was forbidden to wear anything else. In fact, no female slave may wear anything but panties, breechcloth, or the like. The only exceptions were sexually attractive items only ever used for special occasions, or protective gear if we had to be outside in bad weather. I… can’t wear that."

"Well, I can see how conditioning would make you feel that way, but believe me, it’s quite okay to wear such things here. In fact it’ll be a lot less conspicuous."

Leanna hung hir head. "There’s more to it than just that."

Forest waited a moment. "Well? Are you going to tell me, or am I going to have to drag out every revelation?"

Leanna decided that there was no harm in telling Forest. "You must realise that I was designed as a special sex slave."

"That was pretty obvious, although your intelligence seems strangely counter to that goal."

Leanna knew that was true, but preferred to steer away from that subject for now. "As such, my body has been primed for sexual response. Amongst other places, my nipples are hypersensitive to stimulation. After just a few minutes of wearing that top, I would be just about screaming in sexual desire, all other thoughts being driven out of my mind."

Forest stared, then the corner of hir mouth twitched as shi tried to control the laughter shi felt welling up. Obviously it wasn’t a laughing matter to Leanna, but it tickled Forest to realise that here was a person with a medical excuse for walking around bare-breasted. Shi chucked aside the halter-top. "Okay, no tops. The crew will just have to deal with the situation. We’ll just have to try to figure out something a bit more flattering than just undies later. Thank the heavens those aren’t a problem though." Forest tapped hir communicator badge. "Forestwalker to Midnight."

After a brief pause, a voice replied. "Midnight here."

"Is it okay yet for us to move freely about the ship again?"

"We’ve just quartered the last of the slaves, so I would say it’s fine."

"Thanks Midnight. Be advised that I’ll be taking one of the refugees around with me to see some of the ship and its crew." Forest refused to use the word ‘slave’ in regards to Leanna.

Even from this distance, Forest could sense hir mate’s surprise. "May I ask why?"

"It’s a bit complicated. I’ll explain later. Forestwalker out." Shi turned to Leanna. "Shall we start our little tour?"

Leanna nodded and followed the chakat. Out in the corridor, Forest took the fennec’s hand. "Just stick with me. If you want to look at anything more carefully, just let me know."

With the curious fennec fox in tow, Forestwalker headed off in the direction of the trans-lift to take them to the upper decks. When the doors opened, it was onto a broad walkway with a high ceiling, large view ports and stylish architecture. Leanna’s jaw dropped in amazement. Shi’d only ever seen the most utilitarian of ships, or hir master’s private space-yacht. This was awe-inspiring! Forest smiled and towed the bedazzled fennec along the promenade, while Leanna craned hir neck to see all the wonders of this ship.

"I suppose that you’re wondering why the ship is so fancy?" Forestwalker queried. Leanna nodded distractedly without looking at the chakat. "This is the flagship of Admiral Kline, and as such, it is used for ambassadorial and ceremonial purposes as well as the usual military purposes. This section of the ship was deliberately designed to impress."

"It certainly has achieved its aim then," Leanna acknowledged.

Just then, a group of crewmembers overtook the dawdling pair. Three out of five of them were morphs, a fact that Leanna immediately noticed, and they were obviously not only crew, but a group of friends discussing a game they were about to attend. One of the morphs, a vixen, even had an extra rank pip… she was the human’s superior officer! Leanna could scarcely believe that a morph species that was so synonymous with slow-minded sex-slaves on the non-aligned worlds was not only obviously quite intelligent, but also in a position of responsibility. Leanna came to a halt. Shi stopped looking at the distracting architecture and started observing the people who were coming and going.

Forestwalker stood back and let Leanna observe. This is what shi’d hoped would happen, in fact. Leanna needed to see for hirself that morphs were not only not slaves, but equals with humans which no amount of talking would be sufficient to do. This way shi could convince hirself, and the intelligent fennec was very quickly realizing that everything that Forest had said was true. Several times shi received curious glances from both humans and morphs, but nothing that shi could attribute to disapproval, but plenty shi could either chalk up to mere curiosity or normal casual sexual attraction. For the first time in hir life, Leanna felt underdressed for the occasion!

Forest cleared hir throat and Leanna took the hint. The chakat led the fennec to another section of the ship where they could observe the crew at work. It was the final evidence needed to convince Leanna. There was no way that morphs would be allowed to do the things that they were doing if they were indeed a servant species. And yet it all seemed far too good to be true. Leanna wondered if perhaps this had all been laid on for hir benefit, yet such a conspiracy theory seemed equally unlikely. Still, if this was the carrot they were offering hir, shi’d take a chance and see how events turned out. It wasn’t as if shi had terribly many choices available, and cooperating with them might bring opportunities that shi could use to hir benefit. Leanna turned to Forestwalker and said, "Okay, I believe I understand now. Strange, but it’s going to be hard for me to get used to the idea that I will no longer be a slave." Shi paused a moment, then continued, "I think that it’s even going to be a little bit frightening. I’ll have to take care of all my own needs and be responsible for all my actions, unlike a slave." Shi hoped that was what the chakat wanted to hear, and that shi projected enough sincerity to fool Forest.

"That’s okay, Leanna. You won’t be expected to know everything, nor will you have to do so without help. If you wish, I’ll help you adjust," Forest offered.

"Thanks, Forest. I’d appreciate that. Can we go back to the room now? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by all this."

"That’s understandable. However, I was thinking of taking you back to my cabin. I thought that you might appreciate some normalcy, or at least what passes for such in a chakat family," Forest added with a grin.

"Could I get something to eat too?" Leanna asked hopefully.

Forest laughed. "Easily done. We appreciate a good meal also." Shi beckoned to the fennec to follow, and shi took hir up to hir cabin. When the door opened, shi was pounced by hir cubs whose empathic senses had picked up hir approach. After initial nuzzling, hugging and verbal greetings, the cubs turned their boundless curiosity on the new person. Their noses quivering as they sniffed at the stranger, they decided they liked this newcomer’s scent and proceeded to rub up against hir legs and purr.

Leanna was delighted. "How adorable! These are your children, Forest?" Shi scratched behind the ears of one. Then the other reared up and put hir forepaws on Leanna’s thighs, looking for the same treatment. Leanna laughed and complied.

Forest was pleased with hir cubs’ response. They were excellent judges of character despite their youth, and the response they provoked often gave insights into a person’s nature. "Yes, they’re my firstborns, twins sired by my lifemate, Midnight."

"Oh, the one you talked to on your comm.?"

"Yep. Shi’s a totally black-furred chakat, so you won’t mistake hir when you see hir. Anyway, the one with the snow-leopard patterning is Snowcloud, and the tortoiseshell imp playing with your tail is called Patchwork, although we usually just call hir Patches. I’d gently dissuade hir from doing that to your tail though, or else shi might end up doing that constantly."

"If you say so. I don’t really mind though."

Forest shrugged. "It’s your decision." Shi then turned to the crewperson who had been quietly and patiently waiting while the introductions were being made. "Thanks, Yeoman. I trust that they haven’t wreaked too much havoc?"

Yeoman D’Armand grinned. "No more than other children left in my charge anyway. Windrunner and Ember have been mostly asleep, but I reckon that your early return is fortuitous because Windrunner will be due for a feed soon, and I know that you prefer feeding hir in person rather than the stored milk."

"Didn’t take you long to realize that!" Forest laughed. "Anyway, you can go now. I’m going to be spending the rest of my duty period here."

The yeoman grabbed her PADD and shoved it into a satchel. "Okay. Same shift tomorrow?" Forest nodded. "Have a good evening then." She then left with just a passing fond stroke to each of the chakat cubs who took it gracefully, but were still more interested in the newcomer.

Forestwalker turned to Leanna and asked, "You said you were hungry?"

Leanna suddenly remembered that shi was very hungry. The recent events had pushed the sensation aside, but once reminded of it, it came back clamouring for attention. "Yes, I am. We weren’t getting as well-fed as we should have been due to the breakdown of the ship’s systems, and it’s been a while since my last meal."

"We can soon fix that." Forest started heading for the replicator.

"You have a servant to prepare your food?" Leanna hazarded a guess.

"Nope. Better than that." Shi pointed at the replicator. "This device is a food replicator like the one that made the tea, only a little more sophisticated. Part of its mechanism is based on the Transporter technology that beamed you over here. Watch and listen. Computer - unlock replicator." The compliance tone sounded. "Computer – grant access to this replicator to Leanna Fennec." Another tone. Forest turned to Leanna. "We had to put a lock on it because since the cubs began talking, they’ve wreaked havoc with voice-commanded devices whenever given a chance. Anyway, just touch this panel and the unit will be activated and await your order, like so…" Shi touched the panel and said, "Hamburger with the lot!"

Leanna watched as a sparkling began inside the replicator’s bay that rapidly resolved into a steaming-hot hamburger. ‘That’s how I must have looked like coming through the teleporter,’ Leanna mused.

Forest took out the hamburger and promptly took a large bite out of. "Mmmm! Perfect! I needed a snack before settling down with Windrunner. Anyway, feel free to order whatever you like. If it’s in the computer’s memory bank, it will replicate it for you."

Leanna’s mouth was watering from the smell of the hamburger. "I think I’ll try one of those too." Shi imitated Forest and took out the hamburger. Shi looked at it closely. "It looks exactly the same as yours."

"It is. They’re replicated from the same pattern, so they’ll always be virtually identical."

Leanna was impressed, and even more so when shi took a bite out of the burger. "It’s delicious! And you say that I can order any food at all?"

"As long as it’s in the replicator’s memory, or you program in something new, yes you can."

"Amazing!" Leanna then devoted hir efforts to finishing off the hamburger.

Forest grinned. "Feel free to experiment and eat and drink as much as you like. I’m going to look in on my kitten. I sense hir stirring."

"You can feel your baby from here?" Leanna asked curiously.

"We chakats have an empathic sense, and it’s particularly sensitive when it comes to our children. I can clearly feel hir waking up and being hungry." A mewling cry came from a nearby room. Forest smiled. "Right on cue!"

Leanna was impressed again. It seemed to be one revelation after the other, non-stop. While Forest padded off to the other room, Leanna turned hir attention to the replicator. Touching the panel, shi ordered, "Orange juice." Moments later, shi took out the glass and sipped the chilled juice. ‘No doubt about these Federation people, they like the best-tasting food!’ shi thought.

Forestwalker returned with a Siamese cat coloured infant chakat in hir arms. "Would you hold hir for a moment, Leanna?"

Leanna took the gently protesting kitten into hir arms and looked it over carefully. So adorable! Shi looked up to see Forest pulling off hir uniform top, revealing breasts that were even larger than shi had previously thought, now that they weren’t restrained by the fabric. "Are you sure your kind wasn’t made for physical pleasures?" shi asked.

Forest looked down at hir proud breasts and grinned. "Well, these beauties are somewhat larger than average, but the only people they were intended to pleasure are our children and lovers, never a master. Besides, you’ll learn that their extra capacity is very useful to us. Taur children drink a lot more, and they certainly came in handy when the twins were born!" Shi settled comfortably on a lounging rug, then reached out for Windrunner and Leanna handed hir back over. Forest continued, eyes on hir child, "Shi can’t drink more than the contents of one breast though, so my lovers still get to enjoy my milk too." Shi put Windrunner to one nipple and the kitten began to suck enthusiastically.

Leanna watched enviously. After a moment though, shi asked a question to take hir mind off that wish. "You have been using the words ‘shay’ and ‘herr’ with your child, and I heard one of the crew using those terms when talking about me. What do they mean?"

Forest looked thoughtful. "I suppose it’s not surprising that those terms are unknown on your world. They’re pronouns used specifically for hermaphrodites. ‘Shi’ is used in place of ‘she’ or ‘he’, and ‘hir’ replaces ‘her’, etcetera.

Leanna nearly choked on hir orange juice. "You… you mean your child is a hermaphrodite too?" shi sputtered.

Forest looked at Leanna with a little concern. "Of course. All chakats are herms. Didn’t you know that?"

"Obviously not! You keep telling me that your kind weren’t made as slaves or sex-toys, but everything that I learn about you seems to point otherwise."

"I suppose that’s what it could look like, but in fact chakats were created to be an ideal blend of male and female, amongst other things. This has proven to be very successful and chakats are so numerous now that a new world was colonized for our kind to grow."

Leanna shook hir head in disbelief. "My master created me purely to serve his particular sexual pleasures, and as far as I know, there weren’t any others exactly like me on my world."

"I believe that there are some pseudo-herms on most human-inhabited worlds, but I really don’t know much beyond that."

"Pseudo-herms? What are they?" Leanna asked.

"Morphs that have the opposite gender’s sexual equipment, but no reproductive ability whatsoever. A female may possess a penis, but no testes, or a male may possess large breasts and/or a vagina, but no ovaries, and neither has the genetic coding to produce a herm child anyway. Are you a true herm or a pseudo?" Forest asked curiously.

"Ah! You mean the exotics. Yes, I know a few like that, but I think I’m designed as a true herm because I both go into heat and I can ejaculate semen. However, my master told me once when I asked if I could have a child that I was incapable of having any because I was sterile."

"Hmmm. That could be just because of imperfect genetic coding rather than because your genitalia are purely for sexual pleasure, or maybe some other reason. Maybe he even lied. I might have to get the doctor to give you a thorough examination. No hurry on that though. The bottom line is that chakats are completely dual-sexed, and while I have only been a mother so far, I can and will be a sire one day." Forest rolled over on hir side, careful not to disturb the suckling kitten, and lifted a hind leg to reveal the sheath there before rolling back upright. "Midnight will be the mother when that time comes."

Leanna was overwhelmed by the concept of a happy and successful hermaphrodite species. It reignited hir own hopes and desires to have a family. So many days spent looking out the office window into the park next door, watching the children at play and their doting parents, had fanned the flames of longing for a child to call hir own. And yet there was still hir master’s pronouncement on hir fertility. Perhaps this Federation’s wonderful technology could do something about that?

Both Windrunner and Leanna ate in thoughtful silence for a while.

Forestwalker spent the rest of the shift acquainting Leanna with as many of the basics of ship life as possible, ranging from various equipment that shi could use, to the protocols between passengers and crew. Forest wanted the fennec to not feel lost amidst so many unfamiliar things, and to prepare hir for the arrival of the others. When the shift ended, it wasn’t an adult who turned up first though, but a young Caitian girl. She came into the cabin and stopped in surprise when she saw Leanna.

Forest was quick to reassure the girl. "Kayla, this is Leanna, a guest of mine. Leanna, this is the daughter of my mate and his first mate, Rosepetal. Kayla has just finished school for the day."

Leanna got up from hir chair and walked over to the girl, giving her a quick assessment. Her tan fur and brown hair weren’t exactly remarkable, but the hazel eyes seemed to be unusual. Shi judged hir to be around nine years of age, and shi was already approaching Leanna’s full grown height of 150cm. She wore a comfortable but stylish day-robe that allowed free movement of her long tail. "Hi, Kayla," shi said with a smile.

"Hello," replied Kayla who’d been similarly assessing Leanna. "Why are you just wearing undies?" she asked ingenuously.

Leanna blinked in surprise. For only the second time in hir life, shi felt improperly attired. "I… I don’t have any other clothes," was all shi could say.

"Oh. Okay!" Kayla shrugged. "Seeya!" She headed off to her room.

Forest watched in amusement as Leanna stared after the child in slight shock. "You know, you’d have gotten less of a reaction if you’d been completely nude. We don’t dress much in the privacy of our quarters. Then again, she might have been intrigued to meet another herm species."

Leanna turned to Forest and said, "I never thought I’d say this in my life, but I think I need to get some proper clothing."

"Hmmm, a bit of a challenge when you can’t wear anything over your breasts, but I’m sure that we can work out something appropriate for the rest of you. I might suggest that you try getting the services of someone with better fashion sense than me."

"You mean to say you’ve even got shops on this ship?" Leanna asked incredulously.

"No, not as such, but we do have a general store for the civilians aboard. They’re usually the mates and family of the Star Fleet personnel, and they frequently do non-essential services that free up the crewmembers. A couple of them run the school for the children aboard, where Kayla just came from. There’s often someone who likes to design clothing or help others with their fashion choices. A quick enquiry should find this out, and we can outfit you in something suitable."

"I’d appreciate that." Shi looked down at the underwear shi had on. "Do you think I should keep these on or not?"

"No one in this family will particularly notice you’re nude, so suit yourself."

Leanna sighed in relief and pulled off the underwear. "I’ve worn clothing before, such as harem costumes, but not for so long, nor out in public. This’ll take a bit of getting used to."

"Nobody should blame you for that, Leanna. You no longer have to answer to a master, and our society is far more tolerant of eccentricities. Take your time and find your niche."

As with Forest’s previous statements about slaves, Leanna took these with a grain of salt. "Thanks, Forest," Leanna said just as the door opened again to admit an all-black chakat who was instantly mobbed by two cubs calling, "Daddy!!!" and hugging and nuzzling hir. After greeting hir cubs, Midnight and Leanna looked each other over. Midnight was curious about what was obviously a new herm species, while Leanna noticed that this chakat was significantly less busty than Forest, but otherwise very similar in build. Hir crystal blue eyes made a startling contrast to the deep black fur. Leanna spoke first, "Midnight, I presume?"

"Correct," Midnight replied. "And would you be the refugee that Forest said shi was taking out?"

"That’s right. My name is Leanna."

"Good to meet you, Leanna. Pardon me, but I need to freshen up. We’ll talk more soon." Midnight first gave hir mate a cuddle, then took a cub under each arm. "Bath-time, kids!" shi announced. The children squealed in a mixture of anticipation and indignation as they headed towards the bathroom. The door barely closed before another person arrived. This time it was another Caitian, a full-grown female this time in a Star Fleet jumpsuit style uniform.

Rosepetal looked at Forestwalker questioningly. Forest took hir cue. "Leanna, this is Commander Rosepetal Silpurr, second-in-command on this starship, but more importantly to me at least, she is my co-mate and mother to Kayla. She’s the one to whom you will have to answer for just about anything to do with this ship. Rose, please meet Leanna Fennec, one of the refugees we just rescued."

"Indeed," Rosepetal said. "I’m pleased to meet you Leanna. I hope you’re settling in well."

"Forest has been helping me with that, Commander. Shi’s been very understanding."

"Shi’s like that, although I’m wondering why you in particular," she said, looking in Forest’s direction.

Forest gave her a lopsided grin. "Shi caught my interest for several reasons."

"I see. Aside from hir unusual gender, I perceive that shi is intelligent, unlike most slaves we’ve encountered."

Leanna was startled. Shi had completely forgotten to put on hir dull-witted act. Fortunately, it seemed it wouldn’t be needed with these people. Shi looked hard at the Caitian and realised that there was an even sharper mind than hers in this female who was little taller than hirself. Shi reminded hirself that this person wouldn’t be second in command for nothing.

Rosepetal smiled warmly. "You’re welcome here, Leanna. It’s nice to see a former slave who for once has such potential. Now please excuse me while I change out of my uniform." She headed off to her bedroom.

Forest smiled at Leanna’s reactions. "You’ll get used to her."

Leanna grimaced. "I hope so. Anything more to watch out for?"

"Well, now that you mention it, I’d better warn you about the person who is mate to all of us. His name is Admiral Boyce Kline, and he’s the captain of this vessel. Most importantly though…." Shi was interrupted by the door opening to admit a man. "… he’s a human," shi finished belatedly.

Leanna was instantly shocked and cowed. After meeting all these different morphs and aliens, shi hadn’t been expecting a human to come into the cabin. Now all hir ingrained conditioning came crashing down on hir again.

"Hello, who have we got here?" Boyce asked cheerfully, unaware of what effect he’d had on the fennec.

"This one is called Leanna, master," Leanna spoke deferentially, eyes downcast.

Boyce frowned. "I’m not your master, and you’re nobody’s slave!" he said more sharply than he’d intended. Naturally the commanding tone only made things more confusing.

Forestwalker padded over to Leanna and took hir into a gentle embrace. "It’s okay, Leanna. This human is a good man. He’s also my denmate and father to Windrunner. You couldn’t find a human more sympathetic to your situation if you tried."

Leanna looked up timorously to see Boyce looking at hir with concern. With a tremulous sigh, shi relaxed, disgusted with hirself and hir lack of control. Shi’d been caught by surprise though, and it was timely reminder that although shi might not be slave anymore, shi was still a captive to a lifetime of conditioning that would not be overcome in a single day.

Boyce had taken the time to change into some casual clothing, emerging from the bedroom in the company of Rosepetal. They had settled onto a couch together while Forest served up refreshments. Even Leanna was seated, although shi didn’t feel at all comfortable while under their scrutiny.

"Your voice," began Boyce. "I believe I’m familiar with it. The last I heard it, the owner of that voice said that they were one of the cargo." He looked at Rosepetal. "I believe we’ve found our intelligent slave."

Rosepetal nodded. "You’re right, I recognise it now. I hadn’t expected to find the owner of that voice in our cabin though."

Leanna was chagrined. After all hir efforts to avoid being identified, shi had walked straight into the company of the very people shi’d been trying to avoid.

"Why were you hiding from us?" Boyce asked. "We were answering your distress call, after all."

"Let’s just say that I haven’t exactly heard good things about the Federation. I wasn’t sure how accurate those reports were, but I wasn’t about to be singled out for special attention in case they were true."

"If you were so worried about those rumours, why did you call us at all?" Rosepetal asked.

"While I was prepared to die, I didn’t think every other slave on that ship deserved that fate, so I had to do something, and the alternative was almost certain death."

The admiral looked angry, and Leanna wondered if shi’d said something wrong. Shi was relieved when he said, "Damned propaganda! All that misinformation and lies has made our job so much harder. Even those worst affected by the practices of the Non-Aligned Worlds are afraid to deal with the Federation because they think it’s even worse than what they have already." He looked squarely at the fennec. "Leanna, I’m not going to blow smoke in your eyes. The Stellar Federation is not perfect. We have our problems too, and currently we’re dealing with a major problem affecting all morph species. However, overall the Federation is enormously better for you and your fellow former slaves, especially the intelligent ones, however few there are. You’ve must have seen many of the crew of this ship and the humans have no more status nor rights than the morphs or aliens, other than the rank they’ve earned. It’s merely a coincidence that this ship is commanded by a human, myself. There are far more out there that are commanded by non-humans, even those based from Terra. Every morph has the potential to make the most of their destinies within the Federation, while they have no choices whatsoever on one of the human-settled Non-Aligned Worlds. Believe me, I’ve been patrolling the Gosper Fringe long enough to know what I’m talking about!"

Rosepetal laid a hand on Boyce’s arm. "Calm down, dear. You’re beginning to sound preachy."

Boyce gave her a look, then grimaced. "I suppose I am." He turned back to Leanna. "I’ll just end it then by saying that you’ve nothing to fear. And seeing as you’re Forest’s guest, you’re welcome here for as long as you wish."

Leanna nodded. Hir suspicions of hir hosts’ veracity was getting more and more shaky. "Thank you, Admiral. I admit that this seems a bit too good to be true, but I’m prepared to make the most of it while it lasts."

"You’re not a crewmember. You can call me Boyce if you wish."

"I’d rather stick to your title, sir. I’m not yet comfortable with dealing with you so personally."

"Fair enough. We’ll see if we can do something about that over the next few days while we head back to the Starbase."

Just then, Midnight arrived with two freshly scrubbed cubs. "Looks like the gang’s all here. What did I miss?" Shi looked a little puzzled when everyone broke into laughter.

Forestwalker came over to nuzzle hir lifemate. "Don’t worry, love. Just a minor crisis. Let’s all have a formal dinner and have some conversation. I think we all have plenty to talk about. Boyce, would you care to make a batch of your best coffee for us?"

"Coming right up!" he said, hoisting himself out of the chair. Leanna was again surprised by Boyce taking orders from one of the others when he was supposedly the head honcho.

There was a period of organised chaos while everyone got busy. Even Leanna was conscripted to keep the cubs amused while the rest were busy, and shi was a little dazed at how well they worked together in order to get results exceptionally fast. "So this is a family? I wonder if they’re all like this?" shi thought to hirself.

Soon, the table was laden with plates of delicious-smelling food, with a large pot of steaming coffee waiting to be poured. Forest beckoned Leanna over to a chair. "You sit here. We chakats don’t need chairs, of course."

"Are you sure it’s okay to be at the table like this?" Leanna was still uncertain if a naked sex-slave fitted in at this table, even though both chakats were obviously comfortable topless.

"Leanna is right," Rosepetal said. "This was announced as a formal meal, so you two chakats go put on one of your good tops. Leanna, let’s fix you up with something."

Leanna looked at Forest who grinned back at hir. "Don’t look at me! On this ship, we go by Caitian family custom normally, and she’s senior wife!" Shi winked at Leanna and headed off to get a top, closely followed by Midnight.

Rosepetal took Leanna’s arm and steered hir in the direction of another room. Leanna protested, "But I can’t wear a top." Shi then explained briefly why not.

"Hmmm, that’s a problem. However, we can still fix you up with something smart for the time being. Perhaps a sarong that wraps around your waist with a sash that goes over your shoulder and passes between the breasts? That will avoid your sensitive nipples. Yes, I think that will work nicely. We’ll work on something better some time when we don’t have food getting cold on the table."

Minutes later, the two rejoined the others. Forest gave Leanna a purr of approval at hir outfit. Leanna’s inner ears pinked in a blush at the unaccustomed attention and appreciation that was not aimed at hir specifically for sexual reasons. It felt good!

The main meal went well. Nobody pressed Leanna for any details beyond what shi offered voluntarily, but as shi relaxed, shi began to talk more and more about hir past. "I suppose you could say that I was my former master’s ultimate creation, able to do far more than the average morph slave due mostly to my intelligence, something nobody ever expected to find it in an exotic sex-slave. That was my master’s most clever idea. While I was sent ostensibly to service a guest’s every whim, in fact my main purpose was to ferret out information that could be used in his or her business dealings. I was very good at this, and I thought my master was pleased with me. I found out how little I really meant to him though, and I could no longer bear the other humiliations that were heaped upon me. His death meant my freedom, even though I was still a slave."

"You were fortunate that he died at an early age," commented Midnight.

"Yes, fortunate," agreed Leanna in a strange tone of voice. Midnight gave hir a keen look that unnerved the fennec, and shi decided to say no more on the subject.

With dessert finished, and the coffee too, all were feeling replete. Leanna had learned a lot more about the people in this family than they had learned about hir, but shi wasn’t ready yet to tell them everything yet. Only shi knew that all their good intentions wouldn’t help hir when hir time came, and that time was near.

Forest opened the door to the cabin nearby to their own and waved Leanna in. Rosepetal had agreed that Leanna needed a room of hir own, but they didn’t have one to spare. However, shi did manage to locate a small cabin that nobody wanted, but was perfect for the fennec’s requirements. "Welcome to your new abode! Or at least until we get back to Earth anyway."

"Earth? I thought you were dropping us off at a Starbase?" Leanna queried.

"Well, yes, but you’re a special case. You don’t really want to be treated as one of the herd, do you?"

"I suppose not," shi shrugged. "In fact, I could get to like this."

Forest grinned. "It’ll be great. Just wait and see!"

Leanna thought that Forest was a hopeless optimist, but then again, who could argue with someone who was so obviously leading a happy life? Shi looked about the room and nodded in satisfaction. Although it was very basic by the ship’s standards, it was very well appointed by a slave’s standards; positively luxurious in fact.

"You’ve got all the basic computer functions here, as well as a basic replicator. If you have any problems, just address the computer as you’ve heard us do, and get it to help you. I’m betting that you’re pretty tired by now, so I’ll leave you now. I’ll drop in on you tomorrow morning before I go on to my work shift, okay?"

Leanna nodded. "Thanks, Forest. I’ll see you then."

Forest gave a cheery wave as shi exited. Leanna sighed as shi sat down on the edge of the bed. Shi needed a shower, something shi’d not been able to have since being herded onto the slave ship. It was a wonder the others hadn’t complained about the look and smell of hir fur, but they were a courteous and understanding lot. However, there was one need that took precedence over that, and shi began to attend it immediately, only to be surprised by the door opening again.

Forest entered, saying, "Sorry, I forgot to tell you how to key the door to yourself, so that… people won’t… just barge..… in." Hir voice trailed off as shi saw what Leanna was doing. Leanna’s right hand had lifted hir left breast up to meet hir muzzle and shi had been strongly sucking on it. "I’m sorry, my fault for intruding."

"Wait! It’s okay, Forest. I suppose I could have told you about this."

"What’s to tell? It’s your privilege to do what you want to do in the privacy of your own room."

"That’s just it. It’s not something I particularly want to do, but something I have to do."

That comment aroused Forest’s insatiable curiosity. "Oh? Why so?"

"My master designed me to lactate. Many clients love to suckle on their sex slaves, so naturally I was designed to do so too. However, like everything else about me, it was done to an extreme. In some ways, I’m more like a dairy cow. I produce lots of milk, and it never stops. If my breasts aren’t emptied, they will fill until it begins to hurt, and keep filling until it becomes agony. I need to drain my own milk every day if no one does it for me."

"I see. I bet your former master took a lot of pleasure in suckling on you."

"He did, but not as much as you might think. You see, he liked the fact that I had to be milked, and he would sometimes delay it just for the sadistic pleasure of watching my discomfort grow. Also, he actually preferred to watch me suck on myself when he would let me relieve my burden of milk. In fact, the man sucked on this…" shi pointed towards hir penis, "… more often than he sucked on these! That was just one of his many quirks."

"His loss," Forest judged. "Umm… I don’t want to be too forward, but I have my own fetishes, and... well... suckling someone’s milk is one of them. If you ever want a little help...." Shi trailed off with a hopeful tone of voice.

Leanna stared at the chakat who had a wistful expression on hir face, then nodded. "I suppose I owe you a lot, so go ahead." It was something that Leanna had been designed to do, and it certainly couldn’t hurt to humour the chakat.

"No," Forest said firmly. Leanna was deeply surprised. "Leanna, you don’t owe me for anything. There was no price for what we all did for you. If you’d rather I didn’t drink your milk, then just say so and I’ll leave with no ill feelings. As I said, it’s just a personal fetish which I indulge with people who enjoy that sort of thing. I certainly won’t force myself upon you." Shi turned to leave.

"Wait!" Leanna said urgently. "I’m... not used to people asking my permission to do something. It’s hard for me to offer something rather than be expected to give it. What I’m saying is that I’m grateful for all you’ve done, and I’d truly like to offer something in return. If this would give you pleasure, then please indulge yourself. It doesn’t bother me, and it will relieve me immensely too. In fact, it would give me pleasure to let you do so." Shi said the last with a touch of wonder in hir voice. To have the power to control hir destiny in a way that put hir own desires first and still please somebody was amazing to hir.

Forest grinned. "That’s more like it! I can genuinely enjoy this now." Shi sat in front of the fennec and lowered hir muzzle to hir right nipple, sealing hir lips to it and started to suck. Leanna’s milk was warm and sweet, and subtly different from any shi had drunk before.

Leanna had no great emotional involvement in the act aside from the new sensation of doing something of hir own volition, but the physical involvement was great. As shi had told Forest, any stimulation of the breasts would get hir very horny very quickly. Actually suckling on them quickly brought hir to climax. Shi leaned hir head back with eyes closed and panted in pleasure as small orgasms constantly swept over hir.

When Forest had drained the first breast, Leanna offered the other, and shi suckled eagerly on that one too. When it was also finished, Forest leaned back with a satisfied sigh. "Thanks, Leanna. That was very nice. You’re quite tasty."

Choking back the stimulation of the session, Leanna managed to reply, "So I’ve been told, and I quite like the taste of my milk too. I’ll be happy to let you do this again sometime in the future, but right now I’d like to shower and get some sleep."

"Right! I’ll be going now. The others will be wondering why I’m taking so long." Shi headed for the door.

"Forest..." Leanna said.


"Aren’t you forgetting something?"

Forestwalker slapped hir forehead. "D’oh! The door lock!" Shi gave Leanna the simple instructions and bade hir a goodnight.

"Enjoy your night too," Leanna replied cryptically. Forest shrugged it off as being an unusual way that they said goodnight on the world shi came from. Later though, in bed with Midnight, shi had an overwhelming urge to make love to hir mate in the male mode. It provoked an amused comment from Midnight that Forest was trying to screw hir brains out, not that shi particularly minded. When shi was finally exhausted, and thought about hir mood that night, Leanna’s words came back to hir.

"Well, I’ll be damned!" shi said aloud.

"Why?" Midnight replied dreamily. "Not for that performance anyway."

"Nope. I was just thinking what a sneaky idea it was to design a naturally occurring aphrodisiac into breast milk. If you’re going to use a sex slave as a spy, that’d be a very useful tool."

"No need to ask what delayed you tonight then. Go to sleep! We all need to get up early."

Forest snuggled up to hir lifemate and happily complied.

Admiral Kline and Rosepetal Silpurr are the creations of Boyce Garald Kline Jr and are used with permission.
All other characters and this story are © 2004 Bernard Doove.

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To be continued in Forest Tales #22.

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