A condo in Amistad had a number of benefits: it allowed many people to live on a small plot of land, and put a great number of people closer to their jobs in and around the city area. But raising children in these urban jungles wasn’t really something that appealed to the chakat planners who had set down the rules and regulations governing city development and expansion the world over so many years ago. As such, the streets were lined with trees, roofs were covered with mini gardens, and every few city blocks there was a park.
Browneyes and hir family were lucky enough to live reasonably close to one of the larger parks in the city, and Honeymane and Sugarback played there whenever they could.
"Don’t go too far, sweeties," Makrana said as shi unclipped the cubs from their cub leashes. Now that Makrana had stayed with the family for a few days, Honeymane had finally convinced hir newly discovered Aunt to take them to the park. In all honesty, shi had hoped hir drawing of the situation three nights before would have done the trick, but in the end it came down to hir convincing arguments.
"’kay!" Honeymane shouted as shi dashed off with Sugarback, and into the underbrush of a nearby stand of trees.
After a few minutes, shi had located hir favorite tree and paused as hir younger aunt caught up with hir. Honeymane wasn’t sure why, but shi always seemed to be able to run a bit faster than Sugarback. Shi was a bit taller, too. Maybe it was because shi was older, but Honeymane wasn’t too sure -Sugarback was only a bit younger than shi. Honeymane seemed to be taller than other chakat cubs hir own age, and some even a bit older than hirself.
As shi waited, Honeymane laid down next to a pile of soft dirt shi had found on a previous trip to the park. It was part of why shi had enjoyed this small glade so much – that and the beautiful bush of flowers shi loved. To make sure shi could find the location again, shi had tried to mark the trees by peeing on them like shi had read about in hir nature book about how animals mark their territory. Hir mom hadn't been too pleased when shi found out.
Glancing around to make sure the mother figure in question wasn’t hiding in the bushes, shi looked at the soft pile of dirt and concentrated. Using hir talent on un-solid things was a lot more difficult than moving solid objects, and shi had to concentrate a whole lot more, but soon shi was surrounded by a ring of spinning dirt. Honeymane giggled and grinned, shi was getting good at this!
After a few minutes of spinning the dirt, Honeymane reformed it into a rough cylinder. Shi placed the cylinder on top of the other dirt left in the pile and tried to make it into a castle shape. Honeymane was still learning how to use hir talent, and shi still wasn’t quite able to keep hir mind focused long enough to keep the castle’s walls from collapsing. Every time this happened, shi became more and more frustrated until shi finally gave up, picked up a clump of dirt from hir failed masterpiece and threw it at a nearby tree. The clod broke up on impact and scared away some small creature or other.
Frowning in frustration, shi looked around and wondered where Sugarback had gone. Then hir eyes went wide as it hit her: shi had lost hir Aunt! For a moment shi panicked, before remembering what hir mother had taught hir about using hir empathy to locate someone. Using that technique, shi quickly located Sugarback and dashed off in hir direction as fast as shi could.
Sugarback, it turned out, was sitting in another small glade, looking up at the trees.
"Sugar!" Honeymane exclaimed, hugging hir younger aunt.
"I ’aw ’omething pretty!" Sugarback claimed proudly, still looking up at the trees, "’nd I followed it."
"What?" Honeymane shook hir head. Sometimes Sugarback wasn’t very clear.
The brown chakat pointed up at the trees, before saying anything, "Look!"
Honeymane looked where Sugarback was pointing, and stared in amazement. Up around the upper branches of the tree that Sugarback was pointing at floated a bulbous insect, colored a beautiful blue. It seemed to be doing something with the small flower-like structures on the branches.
"What is it?" Sugarback asked. Even though Honeymane was only slightly older than Sugarback, Sugarback still looked up to hir for advice.
Honeymane shrugged hir shoulders. Shi had no idea. Then shi had a brilliant one! Telling Sugarback to wait where shi was, shi dashed off, as fast as shi could, to where Makrana lay sprawled in the soft grass of the park.
"Hi Auntie!" Honeymane dived into the bag of supplies Makrana had brought along.
"Hi Honeymane," Makrana began, slightly surprised to find hir niece back so soon, "Where’s Sugar–"
The blonde-maned cub located what shi sought. Shi dashed off back to Sugarback with the PADD in hand, hastily cutting hir aunt off with a goodbye.
Once shi got back to the clearing, shi turned the PADD on; it displayed a title page of an e-book entitled ‘Shir Buggs’ Big Book of Bugs.’ Shi glanced back up at where hir best friend’s stare remained fixed. The bulbous insect didn’t seem to have any wings, but it was floating around quite quickly. Honeymane suspected that was hir first clue, and began scrolling through the images in the directory, looking for something that matched what shi saw. It took hir only a moment to find it. Shi selected it and began to read out loud for both cubs' benefit.
"This is the Azure Balloon-bug," Shi couldn’t read the weird words in brackets so shi skipped them and continued. "Although it has no large wings, the Azure Balloon-bug moves through the air quickly and silently using a com-bin-nation of methane gas and microscopic blue wings covering its gas-sack. These wings give the balloon-bug its iridescent colouring."
"I wanta touch it!" Sugar proclaimed, starting towards the tree.
"No!" Honeymane exclaimed, "You’ll hurt it! The book says so."
Sugar’s face screwed up as shi tried to come up with something to say. "But it’s so pretty ’Mane! I wanta touch it!"
"But you can’t!" the blonde haired chakat glanced down at the PADD again to read from it. "The gas-sack and scale-wings are very delicate. The Balloon-bug should under no circum-stances be handled, as it could be fatal to the creature. See Sugar?" Glancing up from the PADD, shi noticed Sugarback had taken the opportunity presented to hir by friend’s distraction to climb the tree and was nearly within arm’s reach of the bug.
"No Sugar! You mustn’t!" Honeymane dropped the book and dashed up the tree as fast as shi could. At the branch, shi jumped and landed on hir friend’s back, shaking the whole structure and scaring away the bug.
Sugar screamed in anger and pain and tried to flip the other cub off, but Honeymane hung onto the branch as best shi could… until hir aunt bit hir on the left wrist! Yelping, shi let go to cradle hir lightly bleeding limb, only to be surprised as Sugarback tried to flip hir off again. To hir horror shi saw the ground coming up to meet hir. Panicking, shi tried to remember what Starhands had said about levitation – but it was too late. With a sickening crunch, shi landed on hir right forelimb. Naturally shi cried out in pain.
Shi tried to move hir leg, but that only seemed to make the pain worse. Not knowing what to do – and being panicked, hurt, and scared – shi did the only thing shi could. Shi began to cry and scream for hir mother, both vocally and empathically.
Makrana appeared on the scene seconds later, and quickly assessed the situation. Sugarback was in the process of climbing down the trunk of a fairly large tree. Given the pain coming from Honeymane empathically and the awkward position of hir leg, shi had fallen from that same tree, and possibly broken hir forelimb. Running over to the injured cub, Makrana hugged and tried to comfort hir, while checking to see how much damage had been done to the limb in question.
Activating hir comm, Makrana quickly called for an ambulance. Shi wasn’t sure whether the leg was broken or not, not being a doctor by any measure. As shi waited, hir comm rang again. Makrana was fairly sure shi knew who was on the other end, but answered it anyway. Sure enough it was a very panicked Browneyes demanding to know what had happened to hir child. Luckily by this time Honeymane had stopped bawling, so Makrana handed the comm to hir.
Sniffling, shi spoke into it, "Mommy?"
"Are you okay, Honeymane?" Browneyes sounded calmer as shi heard the voice of hir child, but could undoubtedly tell shi was still in a great deal of pain.
"No mommy," Shi shook hir head even though hir mother couldn’t see hir. "My leg hurts a lot."
"I know sweetie," Browneyes told hir daughter. "Look, honey, Auntie Makrana says they’re going to take you to the hospital, so I’ll meet you there, okay?"
"Okay mommy, I love you," Honeymane said. Shi sniffled again and listened to hir mother’s reply before handing the device back to hir aunt. Makrana looked up to see two morphs weaving their way through the woods with a stretcher, and waved to attract their attention.
Honeymane smiled as Sugarback stuck hir head into Honeymane's room. Honeymane had been home from the hospital for some time now and had taken a nap, but now shi felt quite refreshed and was eager to play some more. Sadly, hir fall had managed to break hir foreleg, and because shi was too young to use something called a ‘bone knitter’ shi had to sit around with a cast on the limb. Shi was already bored, and glad to see hir friend.
"Hi." Sugar spent a few moments looking keenly at hir friend’s leg cast. "Sorry," shi said after a while.
Honeymane thought for a moment, then nodded. "Sorry about jumping on your back."
Sugarback looked down at the floor, and mumbled something about it not being Honeymane’s fault.
After a few more moments of silence, Sugarback said, "Does it hurt?"
The blonde-haired chakat shook hir head. "Not really."
After a few moments, Sugarback stepped forward and gave hir friend a careful hug, which Honeymane gladly returned. All was forgiven, and the two children were soon playing merrily again.
To be continued in Identity Crisis.
Chakats, Stellar Foxtaurs, Chakona and other concepts © 2009 Bernard Doove
Browneyes, Darktoes and other characters are copyright me, Honeymane
Feedback is greatly appreciated. Please send your questions, comments, etcetera to HoneymaneFeedback@gmail.com
And a special note of thanks for Sandwalker for his help putting these stories together.
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