A round-robin story
Part 13 by Bernard Doove © 2006

Hyjinx and Darkstreak didn't have to wait long before the door opened. However, the person who answered the door bell was not at all who they were anticipating. Although a taur, this was no chakat. In fact she wasn't even feline, but some kind of dog. Neither cub had even seen a German Shepherd taur before, and their surprise rendered them mute when she spoke.

"Yes? What can I do for you two?"

Hyjinx and Darkstreak just gaped her. Fortunately her sense of humour kicked in and she said, "That's odd, I don't recall ordering two chakat cub statues."

Hyjinx finally found hir voice. "I'm sorry, but we were looking for Chakat Flametail. We were told that shi lived here."

"Ah! I see. Sorry to disappoint you, but there's no one here by that name." As the cubs faces fell, she continued. "However, it's quite possible that shi did live here. This housing area is for transient immigrants. When people come to Chakona, many of them use this temporary housing until they either get assigned some place, or their permanent home is ready for them. We moved in here just a few days ago, so it's likely that this chakat whom you're looking for moved out just prior to that, and the records haven't been updated as yet."

"Do you know where shi's gone?" asked Darkstreak hopefully.

The canitaur shook her head and said sympathetically, "I wish that I could help you, but I haven't a clue. This was just a vacated house assigned to us until we also go to our permanent home."

"Oh. I see. Sorry to have bothered you, miss," Darkstreak said, and the two dejected cubs turned and started heading back to Moonglow, who was wondering what had gone wrong.

"Good luck!" called out the dogtaur before she closed the door.

The cubs explained what had happened to Moonglow, and the trio were wondering what to do next. Without updated records, Flametail might be very hard to track down. Then a small voice called out from behind the bushes of the house next door.

"Excuse me!"

Everyone looked around until they noticed a chakat cub, about four years old, peering from hir hiding spot behind a thick flowering shrub. Moonglow said, "What is it, little one?"

The cub shyly came out from behind the shrub, allowing them to see hir tiger-striped patterning. Shi came fairly close to them before stopping and saying, "I'm Tigerbright. Are you looking for shir Flametail?"

"Yes!" exclaimed Hyjinx. "Do you know where shi is?"

"No," replied Tigerbright, immediately dashing their hopes. "But mum and dad might. They said that we would be seeing them again soon when they moved out."

With their expectations rising and falling like a yoyo, Darkstreak asked, "Can we talk with them, please?"

"Dad's home. We like getting visitors," replied Tigerbright, and then bounded off towards hir house, calling out, "Dad! Dad!"

Moonglow accompanied the two cubs to the door this time, to be met not by a chakat as they expected, but a liontaur. He smiled amiably at them. "I gather that you're the people who got my little cub so excited?" he asked in a deep rumbling voice.

"That would be us," Moonglow replied. "If shi's your child, I gather that your mate is a chakat."

He grinned. "Yep. Shi made the lionesses seem tame in comparison, so I had to have hir as my lifemate. Fortunately Tigermoon liked this brash young lion and we hit it off. Didn't take long to have this little brat, hey, 'Bright?"

Tigerbright nodded silently. Shi was clinging shyly and affectionately to hir father. Despite him calling hir a brat, it was blindingly obvious that he doted on hir.

"Anyway, my name is Serengeti. How can I help you folks?"

"We were looking for Chakat Flametail, who was supposed to be living next door," Hyjinx said.

"Yes, shi did live there, but shi and Copperback left for their permanent home eight days ago. They're now on Ulara, part of the frontier community there. Copperback is a mining engineer whose company assigned hir to one of the richest platinum sources yet found on Chakona. Flametail is an environmental specialist who is working with the mining company to minimise harm to the ecology. They were very excited about their jobs there."

"How can we get there?" Darkstreak asked.

"I'm afraid that you don't, little one. It's a frontier mining town called Yarraville on an island far away. Access there is pretty much limited to company personnel and a few government departments. Unless you're freighting stuff in and out, nobody else goes there yet. Why did you need to go?"

Hyjinx held up the package. "We were delivering this to hir. It's come all the way from Earth by Cub Express!"

"Cub Express, hey?" Serengeti said as he eyed all the names on the package. "Hmmm. Well, I may have some good news for you after all. You see, Tigermoon and I also work for the same mining company, and we're waiting for our assignments also, which are due very soon. I believe I have another link in this Cub Express right here. What do you say, brat? Want to deliver a package to Shir Flametail?"

"Can I, dad? Shi's nice!" Tigerbright replied.

"That's up to these cubs, hon. It's their responsibility."

Hyjinx and Darkstreak looked at Moonglow, who shook hir head and said, "Don't look at me. I'm just the driver here. It's your call."

The cubs looked at each other and nodded. Hyjinx held out the package to Tigerbright. "Will you deliver this to Flametail for us, please?"

Tigerbright took the package and hugged it to hir body. "OK. I promise."

"Give me your contacts, and we'll let you know that it's been delivered," Serengeti said.

Moonglow exchanged details with him, and then they said their farewells. As Moonglow drove them back to the spaceport, Hyjinx and Darkstreak felt reasonably happy. Although they had been denied the satisfaction of completing the delivery, they felt that it was very close to being accomplished now.

Dear Sweetspot & Snowthaw,

I received a surprise visit from a young chakat named Tigerbright today. I met hir when I was waiting to be assigned to my permanent job in Yarraville on Ulara. (See my new contact details at the end of this letter.) Shi and hir parents joined us here just yesterday, and shi found out where we now live so that shi could bring me something. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was a package all the way from Earth, brought to me by a long list of cubs. Even better were the packets of scent memories that you sent to me. I nearly cried when I smelled the familiar perfume of the cootamundra tree in your yard, and your own scents on the cloth pads, amongst all the other cherished memories. I could not have received a finer present, and I will keep it in a drawer in the sleeping den so that I can use them whenever I'm feeling down. I miss you both so much, and this will help me a lot.

I'm attaching a list of those who helped deliver the package. Please thank them all for me.

All my love,

Auntie Flametail


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